Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goal Setting and Resolutions

Good morning.  This is it, the last day of 2016.  Over the last week, I've read a lot about goal setting, resolutions, and saying goodbye to 2016.

Just a few days ago I was asked about my goals for 2017.  It's always fascinating to me how so many people are always so gun-hoe about "making a fresh start" with the ringing in of the new year, then as the year goes on many of those "fresh starts" are lost along the way.  Why do you need a new year to make a "fresh start" or to set new goals?  But I digress.

I confess I don't set goals and I don't make resolutions.  When I was in my 20's I used to fall victim to the resolution trap, only to fail by the end of January or at best late February.  Then I felt terrible for days and beat myself up about the failure.  Then one year I stopped.  I stopped setting myself up for the failures.  Since then I've figured out the connection between the world of goals/resolutions and me.  I feel very much the way Susannah Conway does in the first paragraph of this article.  Goals and resolutions make me feel trapped and uninspired.

As a creative person, I need to be inspired by something before I make it part of my daily life.  Inspired to make the change, the commitment and the follow through.  I really think we need to stop tieing so much weight to the beginning of a new year.   Really, isn't starting a new year enough?

So, what about saying goodbye to 2016?  Yeah, not really my style either.  It's a year, not a good friend.  It's time to start another chapter and take one more trip around the sun.  This year was filled with all kinds of emotions for so many of us, but every year is filled with emotions.  Some Years are more emotional than others, just part of life.  Every year celebrities die.  Every year babies are born.  Every year life brings us challenges, obstacles, and trials.

What about you?  Do goals and resolutions work for you?  Do they inspire you?  Or are you like me and feel trapped and uninspired?  Maybe you bid the year goodbye like an old friend.  Whatever you choose to do, may 2017 be filled with more joy than sorrow and more laughter than tears.  Happy New Year to you and yours and here's to one more trip around the sun.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Back From Break

Where have you been?  Oh, wait.  You're probably asking me that, aren't you?  Well, I ran away to paradise for a couple of weeks.  I've been on an island, soaking up the vitamin D, and enjoying 10 hours of daylight.  Did you just read that and think "What?  Who talks like this?"  If you aren't from Alaska and have never lived here then this might sound like some fresh brand of crazy talk, but it's not.  Okay, fine I'll explain.

When you live in the Interior of Alaska, you experience the shortest day of the year, known as "Winter Solstice," in a totally different way.  On this day our area has only about four hours of daylight.  No, don't adjust your glasses or your computer screen.  You read that right.  FOUR FREAKING HOURS - that's it!!  You view this day as a right of passage and begin counting the minutes that will become hours of daylight.  You've survived the darkness.  With the lack of light, comes a lack of vitamin D.  This is the only place I've ever lived, where vitamin D deficiency is as common as old men in a coffee shop.

So, when you take a vacation in December you pick a warm place with lots of sunlight, a place where you can soak up vitamin D and enjoy the daylight for longer than that short, dim, four hours.  Somewhere where you can sit on a lanai and listen to the rain while drinking coffee, barefoot, in shorts.

When we escape the Alaskan winter, it's not just to escape the dark and the cold.  For me, it's also a way to rest, relax, and reset my creativity.  In October, I often find myself running out of creative gas.  By November, I've lost all interest.  Once Dember hits, I've often set myself up for ideas of things to create on vacation, many of which are high expectations that I never follow through on.  This year was slightly different.

I took a knitting project, which didn't pan out quite as planned but, stay with me.  I packed yarn, needles and stitch markers, but the yarn was a bust.  In fact, as I write this, it's sitting on my desk mocking me.  Lucky for me, I found two, okay more than two, but I only went to two yarn stores.  I bought yarn I love.  Four different types, two skeins of each and I set about creating a project.  What's more, I finished that project and started a second, all while on vacation.

It felt so good to knit, and not be judged for making yet another cowl.  First of all, I love making cowls and scarves.  I enjoy making small projects that have a quick end.  This winter I picked my knitting hobby back up after a long hiatus.

When we moved here four years ago, I learned to knit and joined a knitting group at the library.  I made fast, close friends with a fellow knitter but she made big projects, wrote her own patterns, and started a knitting business.  Then it happened.  The judgment.  It came dressed as encouragement, subtle and quiet, with a smile.  The encouragement in sheep's clothing started to drain the fun out of both the knitting and friendship.

I quit.  I stopped knitting because I had no interest nor desire to knit a sweater, not because I couldn't, but because I wasn't interested large projects.  I stopped knitting because I let her make me feel bad about what I chose to knit.  I let that feeling steal the joy out of the yarn and the needles I'd grown to love.  I put down the needles, stuffed them in a drawer with the yarn and forgot about it.  I walked away from knitting.

When October rolled around, I opened the drawer pulled out a set of needles and some yarn.  I started making cowls and scarves again.  What's more, I found the joy in again.  It was always there, but I let someone else convince me it wasn't enough.  In reality, it is.  It's enough and I'm enough.  I'm happy to be knitting and loving my yarn and needles again.

This was a big revelation for me when I was sitting on the lanai knitting and pondering why I quit in the first place.  It's very healing to admit this kind of thing to yourself, to find your strength and take back your life and your joy.

The moral of the story - Don't ever let anyone crush your happiness, just because it isn't their happiness.  You do you and I'll to me, it's that easy, and if we support each other's happy that'll make twice the happy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Currently December 2016

The flu!  Is there anything worse?  Yeah, I can't think of anything either.  I got sick over the weekend, spent most of two days in bed.  I finally feel human again, after three days!  The only upside, I lost 3.6 pounds.  It's a hell of a way to lose weight.  I'll spare the details, but this little bug sucked.  I'm thrilled it was just a few days of hell.  I'm not a good sick person, not that anyone is a good sick person, but I'm a terrible sick person.  I'm whiny, hard to be around, and unable to make decisions about anything.  I also spend a lot of time apologizing for things that I really can't control.  These are all things that are not a part of my natural personality, but we'll save that discussion for another day.

So, now that the flu is over where do I go from here?  Moving past the flu, I've added a couple of new blogs to my reading list:

  • Against All Grain - really inspiring to me, as of late I've been giving a lot of thought to cutting back on the amount of bread/carbs/gluten I consume.  Ok, let's be honest, I've been considering changing a lot of things about my diet, but I need to pick one thing to start with and go from there.  I just can't do a complete revamp/purge.  This blog has some great recipes that are easy to make and sound delicious, a healthy place for me to start.
  • Love, Laugh, Leap! - I stumbled upon this blog through my Facebook feed this morning.  If you'd like to read about living off-grid in Alaska this could be a good fit for you.  I started with the Dutch Oven post, which isn't my typical kind of blog reading, but I like her style.  I'll follow along for a while and see where her writing takes me.  
In other thoughts and things.  I've been trying to do a photo a day, following the Capture Your 365 Photo Prompts.  Photo a day, was totally doable when I set my mind to it before getting sick.  Using the prompts, not so much.  I think I'm starting to see a pattern here.  I've tried about three other "prompt based" daily things and I quit all of them.  Can we just say prompts aren't for me?

What's happening on your end?  Hopefully, you don't have and won't get the flu.  Are you ready for the holidays?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Alaskan Winter December 2016

Winter storm warning, it's started snowing since 5:30 am yesterday morning.  It's more of the fine, dry snow.  The kind that limits visibility when a car passes you on the road.  The temp has risen to five below zero.  Regular heat wave here in the Interior.  I'm guessing when I say we got about four to five inches.

I've officially reached an age where the cold bothers me.  This is the first winter where cold has really bothered my hands, as in my hands hurt and I'm still looking for the right gloves kind of hurt.

Up until now, I've always been loyal to Isotoner gloves.  I love them.  They were the perfect gloves, warm enough, yet still great for functionality.  I own a pair of what I'll call ski gloves for lack of a better description, they're the big bulky kind.  Super warm, but totally dysfunctional for handling anything but ski poles.  Currently, I'm wearing a pair of Hubby's mittens with the flip-top, that exposes fingerless mitts.  While these are warmer and more functional, I'm still not sure this Goldilocks has found the right gloves.

Should I mention that these mitts have magnets in them that help keep the flaps folded open and in place?  This is the weirdest part of wearing these mitts.  Anything metal, yep you guessed it, I can stick to it.  Which is completely weird!  These magnets are on the back of the hand when the mitts are closed it can make opening the car door interesting.

So while I search for the right gloves to provide both function and warmth in below zero temps, please enlighten me to your favorite glove choices and why you love them.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Do Your Friends Know You Love Them?

Do your best friends know you love them?  No, I mean it.  The friends you've had the longest, the ones who could tell your secrets.  When was the last time you told them you cared?  I know there are zillions of people who've had the same best friend for their entire lives.  I'm not one of those zillions.  My best friends are the people I've picked up along the road of life.

My oldest friend and I knew each other before we were born.  Yeah, go ahead and laugh, but it's true.  Our mom's bowled together, were pregnant at the same time and we were born days apart.  We grew up together.  We went to church together.  We teased each other through junior and senior high.  We haven't seen each other in over ten years and we live thousands of miles apart, but we stay in touch on Facebook.  He's a cop and I pray for his safety every day.

In junior high, I met an upperclassman that took a liking to me.  I was in the eighth grade.  We've been friends ever since, even with a time gap where we didn't stay in touch.  Our memories are filled with laughter, dancing, and stories.  We both have lives and are married now.  We also live thousands of miles apart, but I know if I need anything he'd be there.

One of my best friends came into my life when I was 22.  Oh, the stories he could tell if I'd let him.  We're not as close as we once were, but there's still a little line of connection there.

Girlfriends are harder for me to stay connected with, but there are a few.  One of them has been my crafting bestie for ages.  We've stayed in touch across the miles and through all the moves.  She's probably the only gal pal I have that gets the crafty chatter and excitement that happens when you create something you're so tickled with.  That's a bond that's hard to beat.

In recent years I've bonded with a woman that's twice my age.  She's full of spunk and life and laughter.  She's Alaskan born and raised, filled with tales of what it was like to live here when the pipeline was built and when the wild buffalo still tormented the town of Delta.

These are the family you build as you travel the road of life.  These are just a few of the friends I hold dear.  Some friends don't stay in our lives, but those that do need to know how much they mean to us.  Tell your best friends you love them.  Life's short, stay connected.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Cabin in the Snow

How's the weather there?  The cold is starting to settle in.  It was below zero for a few days in a row.  Snow on the ground, cars plugged in, people nestled in cozy houses.  Winter has finally arrived in Alaska.  Today the wind has picked up and will blow away much of the powdery snow.

The past couple of years we've had "mild" winters.  Temps dipping down to 20 or 30 below, but never staying there very long.  Limited snowfall, mostly of the dry powdery variety.  We haven't seen a really cold "traditional" winter since 2012 when we moved to Alaska.

I'm pushing myself to take more winter photographs.  For help on this journey, I'm using the Capture Your 365 photo prompts.  Sharing my perspective of the world through the lens, any lens.

This shot of a cabin I pass nearly every day, on my way to work.  I've played with a few editing effects, adding the border, the snow falling, and the focal blur, along with a little color adjustment.  Playing with the artistic part of photography.  I enjoy good classic photography, but sometimes a photograph just begs to be played with.  I don't use any fancy software.  I'm a Picmonkey lover.  I pay for the royal membership, but you can use fewer features for free.  You should try it.  , o they aren't paying to say that.  I just love it that much.  You can see more of my photography in my online portfolio - Stacy Petersen Photography.