jamie fraser cowl

Folks, please find for your enjoyment, a new, free knitting pattern developed by yours truly!

In May, Hugh and I traveled to the UK. We had a fabulous trip, visiting Exeter, Oxford, London, Islay, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Birmingham and Cheltenham. Hugh’s parents purchased first class BritRail passes for us and it was the best thing ever! It made covering all of that distance so much easier and worry-free.

Hugh and I made a bit of a deal for this trip that I would humour him visiting all the distilleries he wanted, if he humoured me visiting all of the wool shops I wanted. It worked out quite well! From Exeter, we visited nearby Devon, where I knew there was a museum in an old woollen mill, and I had reason to believe they sold knitting wool.

Coldharbour Mill Museum was fantastic! Even Hugh enjoyed it and was a bit inspired to look into spinning wheels. I think he liked the large factory feel to it. I made sure to purchase enough wool to make a sweater, but they also had a bargain bin full of unlabelled skeins. I grabbed all of this chunky, dark green wool that I could, 2 full-sized hanks and one smaller one.

While on the train between destinations, I started sketching out what I wanted this wool to become. Inspired by the dreich but beautiful gloom of Scottish weather, and probably as a result of watching too much Outlander, I’m quite pleased with the result.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, the Jamie Fraser cowl (I prefer to call it the James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser cowl, but that was a bit wordy for publication). Scroll to bottom to download the pattern in PDF.

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This unisex cowl is knit in the round and incorporates trios of cables and panels of seed stitch knit in super bulky yarn. Pair it with your favourite tartan and be sure to enjoy with a fine dram of whisky.

Use any bulky, super bulky or chunky wool and size 7.0mm (US 10.75) circular needles (or size appropriate for your wool). My finished cowl is 92cm in circumference and 26cm in height, but these measurements can be easily modified by using a thinner wool and knitting fewer rounds.

abbreviations

c2f: Cable 2 front. Worked over 4 sts. Slip 2 stitches to cable needle and let hang in front; knit the next 2 stitches from the left-hand needle, then knit the 2 stitches from the cable needle.

c2b: Cable 2 back. Worked over 4 sts. Slip 2 stitches to the cable needle and let hang in back; knit the next 2 stitches from the left-hand needle, then knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.

c4f: Cable 4 front. Worked over 8 sts. Slip 4 stitches to cable needle and let hang in front; knit the next 4 stitches from the left-hand needle, then knit the 4 stitches from the cable needle.

pattern

Cast on 124 sts, place marker and join to work in the round.

Rnd 1 (and all odd-numbered rounds): [(k1, p1) 3 times, k1, p2, k4, p2, k8, p2, k4, p2] 4 times.

Rnd 2: [(p1, k1) x3, p3, k4, p2, k8, p2, k4, p2] x4.

Rnd 4: [(k1, p1) x3, k1, p2, c2f, p2, k8, p2, c2b, p2] x4.

Rnd 6: [(p1, k1) x3, p3, k4, p2, k8, p2, k4, p2] x4.

Rnd 8: [(k1, p1) x3, k1, p2, c2f, p2, c4f, p2, c2b, p2] x4.

Repeat rounds 1 – 8 a total of five times (or until you have reached desired length), then repeat rounds 1 – 7.

Bind off.

finishing

Weave in ends and give Laird Fraser a warm bath with some wool wash. Block to desired measurements.

Download PDF jamie fraser cowl pattern

 

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Unexpected twists

I recently grabbed a knitting book from the library called Sereknity (sidenote: Adelaide libraries are fantastic!) It includes patterns inspired by yoga positions and concepts of mindfulness. I probably wouldn’t buy it for myself because more than half of the patterns are actually crochet, but it really is a lovely book.

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I decided to knit a very meditative pattern called infinite. It is a garter stitch möbius cowl, meaning that you knit it in the round, being sure to twist your stitches when you join. For years, I’ve hated garter stitch for being boring and not aesthetically pleasing, but I have recently started to appreciate it for its meditative qualities. There is a beauty to performing the same stitch over and over and over again.

I knit in the round a lot, and I’m always careful not to twist my stitches when joining, but every now and again, I get a few rows into the pattern and find that I’ve twisted them. At this point, there is nothing you can do to untwist; you either frog it and start over, or you knit a jumper that is half inside out. Hm…pattern ideas forming…just kidding.

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Anyway, the twist in the infinite pattern is intentional, to make a finished object that doesn’t lay flat, that is non-orientable. As the author says, sometimes life feels this way, non-orientable, like you’re walking a long, winding path that somehow leads you right back where you started. While that can be frustrating, it can also be pleasantly surprising, even magical. Or at least a learning opportunity!

I started infinite the other night and made sure I had a twist in there. And then I knitted several rows and realised that I didn’t have a twist in there…I had two. This presents a quandary, a decision to be made.

Do I practice non-attachment towards the hours of work I’ve already put into it and undo the whole thing to start fresh?

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Or do I accept mistakes and imperfections as a normal part of life (and knitting) and commit to my over-twisted cowl? 

If I continue on, will I end up with a beautiful representation of the chaos of everyday life? Or will I end up with the equivalent of a jumper that’s half inside out? Will the extra twist be an intriguing design element, or an awkward design failure?

Is it weird that I’m willing to knit the whole thing just to find out??

Still waters

The beach continues to teach me lessons.

I skipped the gym one night recently and told myself I’d make up for it by going swimming. It was warm and I had cycled home, so I was pretty sweaty and looking forward to a cleansing dip. I walked down to the beach and was amazed by the stillness of the water. The water gently lapped at the shore. This is gonna be great, I thought to myself. No scary waves to knock me over, nothing to pull me out to sea. I found a spot without many rocks and waded in. I dunked my head a couple times until I felt cooler. Then I figured it was time to get some of that exercise I’d promised myself, so I earnestly started doing breast stroke (I never quite mastered this stroke in swimming lessons). I was just starting to get into a groove, when I felt a scratchy sensation in my armpit, that very quickly turned into a stinging sensation. I looked around in the water for the culprit, but couldn’t see anything around me, or anywhere else. As the stinging turned to burning, I muttered the F word repeatedly and headed for shore.

Hugh had told me previously that there are no jellyfish in South Australia that can kill you. Which is very reassuring, until you get stung by a jellyfish and your entire arm is on fire and tingling and feels like it might go numb and angry red welts are forming from your elbow, up through your armpit and all the way down the side of your left boob and it’s throbbing. Then it’s suddenly not so reassuring. And when your husband is on Kangaroo Island with limited cell service and he doesn’t answer the phone and you’re trying not to panic as you google “jellyfish sting” and find no helpful information, it can be difficult to know what to do. Having this little factoid tucked away in the recesses of your brain might convince you that it’s not an emergency, but is kind of a problem, so you look for a non-emergency health hotline to call, but the recorded introductory message goes on for so long that you think your arm might fall off or the neurotoxins might reach your heart and cause it to stop beating before someone actually answers the phone, so you hang up in frustration and panic and dial emergency services because you think there’s a slight possibility that maybe you might just die, or at least lose an arm. And the operator answers and asks if you need fire, police, or ambulance and your voice is a mixture of panic and embarrassment as you explain to her that you’re not actually sure if it is an emergency…


So yeah, I called an ambulance. And the paramedics were very sympathetic and understanding as they iced my arm and assured me that I probably wasn’t going to die, but that there wasn’t much I could do beyond putting vinegar and ice on it.

Here’s the lesson to be found in all this: You’re never fucking safe! Even in still waters, there are perils lurking. Even when life seems calm, you can’t let your guard down! Something might just attack you in the armpit!

Or, the alternative lessons could be: actually, you’re fine. Even when things are shit, and they hurt a lot, you’re probably not gonna die, so that’s a win overall, right?

The photo above was taken two days after the incident. The wound continued to sting for a few days, but then slowly started improving, until eight days after the incident, when I discovered that jellyfish stings are a gift that keeps on giving! Apparently, it’s relatively common to have a delayed hypersensitivity reaction about a week later. And this can recur for up to two months!

TWO MONTHS!! So this is me 11 days later, just pretty much loving life.

Clearing the mental clutter

{post by Karen}

I’m planning to do a proper blog post soon (a follow-up to Learning to Surf, wherein I have my first truly Australian wildlife experience), but I just read this post from Ryder at The Bulletjournalist and it struck a chord, so I thought I’d share.

mental-clutter

The article is about mental clutter and the way it can hold us back. It recommends decluttering by writing down all of the to-do items that are swirling around in your head,  then getting Marie Kondo on it.

  • Is this task vital?
  • Does it really matter to me or someone I love?

If not, let it go.

It’s like throwing out all the stuff you don’t love when you’re moving homes. Cut the dead weight. Bring only the things that continue to inspire you.

Ahh, doesn’t it feel great to bask in the peacefulness inside our cleared heads? haha! Funny joke, right? Okay, so maybe it sometimes takes a bit more than just writing things down. Prioritising your tasks is certainly important, but I often find that I’m still overwhelmed by my task list, even when I ignore those items that are less important. So what’s the solution?

Let’s have a look back at Julia’s post from last May, about finding Yin. She recommends making purposeful changes, taking deliberate actions to break ourselves out of stress-induced ruts. It almost doesn’t really matter what the action is, whether it crosses anything off your to-do list, as long as you have mindfully made a decision to do something, as opposed to mindlessly doing anything to avoid making decisions. I don’t know about you guys, but I find that making a conscious, deliberate effort to accomplish one thing, regardless of what it is, helps me to find the brain-space to tackle my to-do list. It seems the more I do, the more energy I have. How does that work?

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Maybe I get so overwhelmed by the things I need to remember to do, that I can’t see the wood for the trees. But if I pick a tree, any old tree, and give it my mindful attention, the rest of the forest becomes clearer. And I guess that the whole point of mindful practice – focusing on one single thing, in order to clear the mental clutter, so that everything else in our lives becomes clearer.

Learning to surf

[post by Karen]

A stranger once asked me what brought me to Melbourne (I’m American), and when I told her that I followed a boy from Edinburgh to Adelaide, and then to Melbourne because he got a job there, she responded dismissively, “Oh, so you’re just along for the ride.”

As someone who has uprooted her life several times to live in a variety of locations around the world, usually on her own, I felt defensive. I’m not along for the ride, I thought to myself. I’m…I’m surfing. I’m catching waves!

Now, I don’t actually know how to surf. And I’m what Julia calls “cognitively inflexible.” I react badly, even rudely, when things don’t go the way I expect them to. At times, I’m wholly incapable of going with the flow, riding the waves as they come. Which is why I’m attracted to the practice of mindfulness – I hope that it can help me increase my cognitive flexibility.

I’ve quite liked using surfing as a metaphor for life. I’m terrible at surfing, and it scares the crap out of me. Just like life! Then I discovered that the man who brought mindfulness to the western world, Jon Kabat-Zinn, uses a surfing metaphor for finding balance in life. He says:

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

This month, I moved to the beach. It’s seriously, seriously amazing. I love it. But the first week we were here, I went down for a swim alone and discovered that (a) the beach is super rocky down this end, and (b) waves are f@$&ing terrifying! They are powerful and relentless and unforgiving. I couldn’t find footing on the slippery rocks before the next wave came crashing into me, and in the end, I gave up after 10 or 15 minutes having ventured less than a meter into the surf and having been knocked down several times. I decided that waves are a terrible metaphor for life! They pound and pound and pound you until you have no hope and no energy left. Who wants a life like that?

And then I went down to the beach a couple days later and discovered something I should have known already – the waves change. From hour to hour, from day to day, they change direction, speed, size, force. Some days there’s hardly more than an innocent roll of green pushing to shore. And if you walk up our beach several metres, you get to a long stretch with none of those slippery, pointy rocks.

That’s a lot like life, isn’t it? Some days, it’s gorgeous and gentle and clear and you feel like you could do this forever, just floating along with no worries. And other days knock the wind out of you, barrel roll you, drag you across the rocks, pull you out to where you can’t reach the ground anymore. Some days, there are sharks.

And that gets at Kabat-Zinn’s point about balance. Living a balanced life isn’t about removing the things that cause us pain or stress or suffering. It’s about learning to deal with them, knowing they are temporary. It’s about taking the good with the bad, riding the highs and the lows, knowing that this too shall pass.

I’ve had a lot of great ups lately, but this weekend has left me feeling out to sea. I can barely process what is happening in my home country right now. But I need to learn to take the lows in stride, for my mental health. I need to learn to ride the waves that come, and see if I can’t use them to my advantage. Maybe even have a bit of fun with life!

Tutorial: headphone wrap

Julia is planning to post next week about the difference between Type A and Type B personalities, but to pre-empt her a bit, I’ll go ahead and state that I’m definitely a Type A. As such, I have a lot of silly, little pet peeves. One of them is the way headphone cords always get horribly tangled, no matter how neatly you wrap and store them. Why do phone companies insist on using that weird rubber coating that grabs itself and never lets go?!

Years ago, I followed a tutorial for covering headphone cords with yarn or thread. It used a knot that I used as a child to make friendship bracelets, the hitch knot. This creates a wrap around the cord, with a row of knots that spiral down the cord.


(My old headphones)

For Christmas, I got a new phone. Which came with new headphones. And I saw a new tutorial for wrapping headphones on Pinterest, using a crochet stitch!
The thing is, I’m well known for not being a fan of crochet. While playing softball, my husband liked to confuse the other team by shouting, “Smash the ball, Karen – imagine it’s crochet!” But I see the value of crochet when used for embellishment, and when I saw Kirsten Kapur’s photos of her phone charger cord wrapped with variegated wool in gorgeous colours, I was in love. I like the way the row of knots doesn’t spiral around the cord, but can sit in a happy, straight line.

The instructions from Kirsten are simple: tie a knot around the cord, then do single crochet along the length of the cord. Too easy, right? Hm, maybe if you’re familiar with crochet. For a croch-hater like me, even that simple instruction stumped me. Yeah, I know how to do the single crochet, but around a cord? It took me a good 15 minutes of experimenting to figure it out. So I thought I’d supply some step-by-step instructions, for those interested in giving it a try.


First, tie your yarn around your cord and double-knot it.


Second, hold the crochet hook and leading yarn in your right hand, and the cord in your left. (I don’t have a tripod so the photos were a bit tricky!) Dip the crochet hook under the cord and wrap the yarn around it once.


Third, pull the hook back towards you and position above the cord (the yarn will be coming from behind the cord now).


Fourth, wrap the yarn around the crochet hook, and pull through the first loop.



This is your first stitch. Yay, pat yourselves on the back!

Fifth, dip the hook under the cord again, and wrap the wool around once. Pull the hook towards you and above the cord again, and wrap the yarn once more. Then pull that through both of the other loops on the hook. This is the single crochet stitch.


Repeat step five (the single crochet) all the way up the cord:  dip, wrap, up, wrap, and through. And that’s it!


Kirsten edited her original post after she got concerns from readers that the wool on her cord might cause static electricity, which, I don’t know, I guess could spark and cause a fire. That’s probably a legitimate concern; what do I know? So here’s a disclaimer: I take no responsibility if you blow up your phone or computer or house. Cotton is probably a safer option than wool as a quick google search informs me that it is neutral and does not create static electricity, unlike wool, which causes a moderate amount of static. I foolishly covered my cords in quite a hairy, fuzzy wool, so I’m really living life on the edge!

Wrapping your cords doesn’t mean they won’t get tangled, but they shouldn’t grip themselves and stop you from untangling them. Which makes this Miss Type A very happy!

How I attempt to stay organised

{post by Karen}

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: time to buy a new diary!

This will come as a surprise to few, but I’m a stationery addict. I have a bookshelf full of untouched or partially completed notebooks, and I keep buying more. Last night, I dreamt that I was shopping for my 2017 diary, and after browsing a couple options, decided to take the advice of two Asian shoppers who didn’t speak English, but led me to the cutest option (the best diaries come out of Asia).

The thing is, I’m very picky about my diaries. I want them to be cute, keep me interested all year long with a variety of engaging illustrations, and they need to be functional. Because I work in research, my job on any given day or week might involve a great variety of different types of tasks associated with several different research projects. Some will be urgent, some won’t be. In 2015, in my quest to find the perfect diary, I purchased three different diaries and debated buying a fourth. Sadly, I still haven’t found a yearly diary to meet all my preferences, but there are some good compromises out there.

Now, I realise that getting or staying organised is a completely personal, individualised process. Everyone does it differently. Some thrive without doing it at all. But here’s what I look for in a diary, in an attempt to keep myself organised and on track. For the record, I used to use an A6 weekly diary, because I like things to be as small as possible, and that suited my needs for a while, back when I worked in retail or worked on one specific research project. Then things started getting busier and more varied at work, my social life got busier (thanks softball!), I joined the softball team committee, and I started planning a wedding. Suddenly, there wasn’t enough space on the page!

What I look for in a diary

  • A5 size – alllllll the space!
  • A monthly view – I use this to see the month’s birthdays at a glance, and to keep track of my finances. I use an orange erasable gel pen to mark spending, and a green one to record income and totals.
  • Day-to-a-page views – again, allllll the space. Here, I can keep track of meetings as well as specific tasks to accomplish. Work tasks go up top, and things to complete at home go towards the bottom. I also track daily spending on my Qantas cash card (frequent flyer points, y’all!)
  • Address pages – yeah, I know this is a bit of analog redundancy, since I keep all my friends’ and family’s addresses in my phone. But I’m a pen and paper enthusiast and it makes me happy to recopy them every year, not to mention reminding me to update addresses.
  • Notes pages – confession: I keep all my online passwords in my diary. They’re in shorthand so you couldn’t guess them, but I use this cheat sheet CONSTANTLY, at least a couple times a week.
  • Two ribbon bookmarks
  • An envelope for bits and bobs

When I write a task in my diary, I put a box next to it. When I complete the task, I put a check in the box. If I don’t complete the task that day but still need to do it, I put an arrow in the box and copy the task to the following day (I put feathers on my arrows so they’re cuter 😊). Tasks that are no longer relevant can just be crossed out, or ones that have been scheduled to deal with later can be marked with a circle. I’m not great at this but it’s a good idea to keep tasks bite-sized and specific, so that you can check them off easily and get the satisfaction of feeling like you’ve accomplished things.

I’ve used kikki.K diaries for the last few years, and I do love them, especially their Sweet range (unfortunately, there’s not a Sweet daily diary). In 2016, I used their A5 daily diary. I could have bought the same one this year (and in mint), but I found it a bit…dull. I considered getting their Cute daily diary, but it’s not super professional. I decided to check Notemaker for other options, and found a Japanese diary that I decided to take a chance on. I’m so glad I did! I can’t say it’s less dull than the basic kikki.K diary, but it’s smaller in width, height and thickness (did I mention I like compact things?) while still having plenty of space on the page. The cover is soft, which pleases me. It has all the elements I look for, plus more yearly and monthly planning pages, more notes pages, more space for addresses, a world map with time zones, and subway maps for all the major cities of the world! Just in case I find myself in Tokyo or Paris. It evens tells me famous people who were born or died on any given day. The only thing it’s missing is an envelope at the back, but I can easily paste  a cute one in.

Want to learn more about staying organised using good old fashioned pen and paper?

What’s the point of meditating?

Remember all that talk about life settling down? Ha! This is adulthood; it never settles down!

I have now moved to Renmark! Except that I’ve only spent one day there in the past two and a half weeks, and we’ll probably be moving out in a couple more weeks! In the past three weeks, I’ve been to Adelaide, Melbourne, Geelong, Adelaide, Renmark, Melbourne, Renmark (for one hour), and Adelaide. The Hubby is coming down to Adelaide this weekend for Christmas shopping, so I didn’t bother going to Renmark this week. Maybe next week?

The Hubby is not happy with his job, and has been offered a new one by an old friend on Kangaroo Island. I’ll be moving to Adelaide full-time (yay!) and the Hubby will move to KI part-time. So you can probably imagine that I’m a bit knackered and relatively wound-up from all the change and travel!

As we were driving the 8 hours back from Melbourne last weekend, I was really tired and irritable. I tried to nap, but was too exhausted to fall asleep! With my eyes closed and my neck pillow cushioning my head, I found myself remembering elements of a guided meditation from my “Mindfulness for Dummies” book. I hadn’t tried meditating for a couple months, but it just seemed to happen. I focused on my breathing and the rhythm of the road, and though it wasn’t truly mindful because i let my mind wander a bit, after 20 minutes, I felt more relaxed and rested than I had in weeks. The irritability was gone. I felt a certain gentleness and compassion towards the world, which sounds super wanky, but is kinda the point of mindfulness!

The next day at my new job (which I LOVE!), I joined the weekly, pre-lunch, guided meditation. My coworker gently guided us through compassionate statements toward ourselves, then someone we love unconditionally, then someone we feel neutral towards, then someone we struggle to feel love for. Afterwards, the tension I normally carry around in my shoulders was gone and I felt at ease.

“Mindfulness for Dummies” warns us not to have too many expectations for meditation. The argument is that it’s a practice worth engaging in regardless of what you get out of it, if anything. And if we go into with expectations, we may be disappointed with the results and abandon the practice. I haven’t been meditating regularly at all, and when I have meditated, I haven’t always felt significantly different. But those times when I do feel better – less stressed, less anxious, less cranky – they make me want to keep practicing.

On a completely different note, here are some photos of knitting projects I’ve been working on lately! First we have the Knit Your Own Dog kit, in beagle variety. My sister in law gave me the kit last Christmas, and I figured it was about time to make some progress on it. I’ll do a separate post on how this all works out.


Next, we have the Honeycomb vest, a pattern by Sarah Castor for knitty.com. The father in law gave me this wool for my birthday four years ago! I started the vest about three and a half years ago, and it has been almost complete for over a year. All I needed to do was finish the ribbing on the neckline and armholes. Why was that so daunting??

Next, we have a very special penguin. Jayne insisted that I make Clyde for her as a sort of apology/punishment for moving away 😆 Clyde is based on Anna Maltz’s Pinglewin pattern, from her gorgeous book, Penguin: a knit collection. Clyde is an albino penguin and he has knit himself a black hoodie so he doesn’t get stared at while at the shops. But for the moment, he is focused on cheering up Jayne and Richard and being there for them at a tough time. He’s a really good listener and loves a cuddle. (Sorry he/I missed your birthday, Jayne!)

Check that negativity

I’ve been a particularly stressy stress-head for the last few months. I had two big things on the horizon (a wedding and an interstate move), plus two jobs that I didn’t have enough working hours to complete to a high standard.

I thought once the wedding was over, life would settle down and I’d be less stressed and more…happy. But life never really settles down, does it? And as a stress addict, I create anxiety even when life is going pretty smoothly.

Our wedding was three weeks ago and it was wonderful. I had such a great time! We spent three weeks in Hawaii, prepping for the wedding, partying, catching up with friends and family, and generally honeymooning. (In case you were wondering, yes, we did purchase rings in Hawaii and it was the easiest, most stress-free decision we made.) I came back to Melbourne relaxed and a bit dazed. My brain hadn’t quite returned to real life yet.

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But it did. Oh man, did it. My husband still lives in South Australia, while I still live in Melbourne. We still spend five nights a week apart. He still drives 16 hours round trip to spend the weekends with me. I still have a big house full of crap to pack up (how do we own so much crap??) My job is still here, and it still sucks. There is still more work than I have time to do. And now I have even less time to do it than I thought, because I’m quitting in order to start a new job.

Wait, what? A new job? But that’s wonderful, isn’t it? Yes, it is, and I’m super excited about it, but I’ve let it cause me stress as well. I’ve let my thoughts become a dust storm inside my head, and I haven’t been able to think straight. The various things I’m trying to coordinate just keep whipping past and as I try to process one thought, another one slams into it. I slipped into a depression for a few days and I was blaming everything and everyone else until Hugh pointed out that it was me making a bigger deal of things than was necessary.

You mean, whether I get stressed out or anxious is a CHOICE? You mean, my ability to be mindful isn’t controlled by what’s going on in my life? There’s a novel thought.

I think part of the way I whip myself up into an anxious frenzy is by entertaining negativity and not allowing myself to believe that everything will work out just fine. I come to this realisation once every year or so, and then I start on something I call a Positivity Project that usually lasts about a week. It involves repeating positive mantras, and ignoring the niggling negative thoughts that I tend to prefer.

Everything WILL be okay. You WILL get your work done and your bosses WON’T hate you if you don’t. The new job WILL be great. The move WILL go smoothly. Living three days a week in one town and the other four in another WILL work and WILL be fun! You WILL get all the packing and cleaning and gardening done. And then you WILL live in matrimonial bliss with your new husband and your boxes and boxes of wool.

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How can I be more resilient?

I’ve been pretty dang stressed out lately. I mean, I’m always stressed out. But what with two jobs, two bosses who don’t communicate well with each other, a ton of deadlines looming, a destination wedding to plan, an interstate move coming up and a fiancé in another state, I’ve started feeling like I might crack under the pressure.

When I get busy and start to feel overwhelmed, I try to make to-do lists so that nothing will get forgotten or neglected. In a way, this can help me to make order out of the chaos, and makes me feel like I have a bit more control over the situation. But it can also make the problem worse. I tend to prioritise everything on the list equally, despite the fact that the world won’t end if I don’t get a couple things taken care of this week. For example, if Hugh and I get to Hawaii without having purchased wedding rings, is that really a problem? Surely, we can buy some lovely jewelry when we get there. Or even buy plastic toy rings from a vending machine. Our wedding will be wonderful and meaningful regardless of whether we have some expensive metal bands to “seal the deal.”

Furthermore, once I’ve made a long list of to-do’s, I have a tendency to mentally turn the items on the list into bricks, which I then stack on my shoulders and carry around with me for days. Not super healthy. No wonder I have back problems!

There are days when I’m not sure I’ll make it to the weekend. There are days when I’m not sure I’ll make it to 5 o’clock! But I do. And then I spend the evening relaxing, whether with friends or on my own, and I feel better the next day. Every time I think to myself, “this is it, this is where I crack!” it doesn’t happen. I make it through another day.

cat friday

I found this article the other day that explained how I manage to feel better despite having the same number of stressors: because resilience isn’t about how strong or tough you are or how well you endure hardship, it’s about how you recharge. By treating myself gently in the evenings instead of trying to tough it out and get a couple extra hours of work done, I allow my weary mind and tense shoulders to recover, even just a little. When we did Christmas in July, the weekend was super busy and I didn’t relax much, but being around some of my favourite people helped me recharge all the same (that’s not to say I wasn’t a miserable git at softball that Sunday…)

I’ve been doing yoga once a week with Julia, and I know she tries to fit in as much yoga as possible around her long hours of work. The effects may not last long, but if we can relax for even an hour or two, I know that’s doing us a world of good!

So be kind to yourselves this week, lovies. We don’t have to be soldiers! We just need to learn to power down and recharge.

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