Begin Anyhow: Living with Discomfort

Begin Anyhow: Learning to Live with Discomfort

Begin Anyhow: Learning to Live with Discomfort

Art credit: Lisa Congdon

Lately I’ve been having a lot of new ideas. Ideas for my business, ideas for redoing our backyard, ideas for new knitting projects, the list goes on. I’m great at ideas!  New ideas are fun and creative and give me a ton energy.

Something inevitably creeps up between the idea stage and the action stage: discomfort.

At its best, this gnawing feeling of discomfort can be mildly annoying, persisting in the background of daily life. It’s something you can choose to ignore, to push away.

Discomfort will also show itself in the form of self-doubt, fear, uncertainty.  Every decision is difficult. You start to feel unfocused, scattered, and overwhelmed.

At its worst, this discomfort can become terrifying and paralyzing. It will jump onto your back and cripple you with its weight.  It stops you from moving forward in your daily tasks with any ease.  Your mind is anxious, wrestling with the excitement of your idea and the uncertainty that wants to crush it.

I have felt this way before every major thing I’ve created or changed in my life. 

Two years ago I had the first inkling of wanting to start a podcast for creatives. I held the idea close to my heart for months, too afraid too even tell anyone about it.

Starting a podcast was an idea that I couldn’t shake; I thought about it all the time! The creative spark had been ignited, and I was having constantly having new thoughts and ideas for the podcast.  Looking back, I know that was my intuition trying to get my attention, to counteract the self-doubt that was starting to creep in.

You see, I was SO afraid of putting myself out there in a new way.  Discomfort would follow me around and assert its presence at inconvenient moments, reminding me of my insecurities.  The thought of sharing my ideas and opinions over live audio was scary!  I didn’t know where to begin or what steps to take.  I worried no one would listen.

These fears and uncertainties followed me for months until it just started to feel silly.  Eventually I knew that the discomfort of not knowing how it would go or what I would do wasn’t so bad compared to the idea of not trying at all.

I needed to feel the discomfort and begin anyway.

I took action and sought out supportive mentors, found tutorials for starting a podcast, and reached out to my first set of guests. Suddenly it didn’t feel so scary anymore!

Every uncertain step I took in the direction of my dream to start a podcast added momentum, and eventually I was running forward, too inspired to look back at what I was so afraid of!

I recently put out the Season 2 finale episode of my podcast, featuring an interview with artist Lisa Congdon. Getting to speak with such interesting and inspiring creatives has been such a joy; I can’t believe I almost let discomfort hold me back!

Don’t let fear or uncertainty stop you. Let it motivate you.

It’s good to pay attention to that feeling of uncertainty and fear. But it is in this moment that you have some thinking to do.  You can let it stop you, or you can feel it, work with it and let it propel you.

Somewhere along the way, this discomfort is something that I have learned to live with.  I started asking myself if the discomfort would be something I could live with if I never took the risk. I use discomfort as a tool to tap into my intuition, to ask myself: is the risk I am about to take worth it?  Would I regret not going for it?


Is there a time you pushed through discomfort to discover something great?  The more you do this, the easier it becomes. Share your wins below so we can celebrate with you!

Creativity, Self-Care & The Mama Advantage

themamaadvantage-episode2

I recently had the honor of joining my business coach Megan Flatt and fellow Mama CEO and writer Parrish Wilson on a new podcast: The Mama Advantage.  Megan’s premise for the podcast is that as women, mothers, and entrepreneurs, we bring added value to all of our roles. She’s exploring this idea alongside some very rich topics. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Listen in to Episode 2 to hear each of our stories of rising up and starting our own businesses while also having young kids. Parrish and I share what creativity and self-care mean to us, and we even share our own Mama Advantages.  I dive into my views on the role of creativity and the value of self care in my life; and I enjoyed hearing the other women’s views as well.

I’d love for you to give it a listen and let me know what you think!

Click here to listen to the podcast. 

Yarn Along:: Finish, Frog, or Slog Along

From Yarn Along with Ginny:  ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? 

These socks have been on the needles far too long.  Inspired by the Finish, Frog, or Slog activity over on the Doubleknit Podcast Fans group, I’m trying to finish one of my more long-term knitting projects.  I worked the leg of sock #2 while traveling in March, then set them aside when I got to the gusset.  I then picked them back up while in Seattle last weekend and started working on all Cookie A. magic gusset business.  Now I am literally forcing myself to work on them at home, not bringing out anything simpler or more shiny and new until they’re finished.  I don’t know what my problem is; the yarn is lovely and the pattern is engaging and fun.  I guess they just take too much concentration when, more often than not, I’m in the mood for simple knitting at home.

On my nightstand right now is The Wierd Sisters, a smart, funny look at three sisters who return home to help care for their ill mother.  Raised in a house of devoted readers by a Shakespearean scholar father, these women are intelligent, competitive, and prone to carrying out some of the character traits of their literary namesakes (Bianca, Rosalind, and Cordelia).  I’m not quite half-way through yet, but am really enjoying the story so far.

And just as I’m anxious to get through those socks and on to some simpler knitting, I’m eager to finish up this book so I can get back to the Hunger Games trilogy.  Don’t judge… ; )

What’s on your nightstand and in your project bag this week?

Knitting Catch Up

I have been in somewhat of a knitting funk since opening Stash last month.  Overwhelmed with all the lovely yarn and patterns crossing the threshold of the shop, I have found that committing to one project is nearly impossible.  I have been casting on and swatching for a lot of things, but oftentimes rip them out and head back to the search.  When there’s so much of a good thing around, it can be difficult to narrow one’s focus.  So I’m trying to go with my knitter’s intuition and just cast on when the mood strikes, knit with abandon, and enjoy every stitch.  This also means that I haven’t really been finishing much…

Max is curled up on my open laptop while I listen, sip, and knit.

I have been on a cast on spree for both shop and personal knitting. These past two days off from work have been really productive knit-wise.  I’ve been spending a lot of time with PB’s Cowgirl Butterfly Astronaut Vest, and at this moment I just need to complete the second sleeve ruffle and the button band.  I also cast on for the Cambrian Cowl from Coastal Knits in Imperial Yarn Native Twist.  That bulky yarn is just flying off the needles, and is now waiting for me to pick up stitches and knit the flared yoke portion at the bottom.

While working on these two projects, I have also been catching up on podcasts (Stash and Burn, Knitmore Girls) and television (The Walking Dead season 2).  It feels really good to spend some time catching up on these simple activities in between the tasks and concerns of everyday life.  What are you watching or listening to as you knit this week?

Bet You Can’t Knit Just One

Not much to report on this Monday.  We had a quiet weekend full of relaxing, completing some little projects around the house, movie watching, and some sewing and bib-knitting.  Seriously, I cannot stop knitting cotton bibs.  I don’t know what has come over me, whether it’s the Lays potato chip phenomenon (“Bet you can’t knit just one”), or an inability to focus on anything other than garter stitch, but it’s out of control.  I have literally pulled all the cotton out of my stash and put it next to my knitting chair and am methodically knitting my way through it.  When I realized I had a skein each of white, cream, and a different shade of cream left, I had to go out and buy some colors to go with all those neutrals.  And thus the cycle continues.

IMG_1503

My main knitting spot.

After listening to the most recent episode of Stash and Burn, I am feeling validated in this approach.  Not only am I using up more yarn than I have purchased (at least for this particular project set), I am ostensibly getting a head start on Single Skein September.  This is a little thing they do over there each September which urges listeners to knit smaller projects to use up some of the single skeins in our stashes.  I’m fairly sure I participated last year by knitting one neck-warmer after another.  Hmmm…another knitting phase I went through…

Anyway, I am thinking about participating since all I can really handle these days is the smaller, instant-gratification type knits.  Plus, I have plenty of single skeins in my stash that I have accumulated over the last year.  I even have some single skeing projects on the needles that I would like to finish up in September, so any way you look at it I’ll be playing along.  If you want to play too, go over to the Stash and Burn Groupies group on Ravelry and check it out.  There will be prizes…

Satisfied.

I’ve had a pretty great summer so far.  Two wonderful trips to visit friends and family, lazy afternoons reading and napping, and more recently knitting and baking again.  All good things in my book.  And yet there was something so perfect about this past Saturday that it stands out among all the other Saturdays of summer.

My day started with a yoga class that was both relaxing and invigorating.  On my way home, I decided to stop at our local farm stand to see what looked good.  I love just looking over the farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, touching and smelling, then deciding what I will eat that day.  It’s an ideal way to cook, I think, one I wish I could do year round.  But on this day, it was fruit that stood out to me; rotund peaches, glimmering raspberries, and bejeweled blueberries. I ate half the pint of raspberries on the drive home.  The six-minute drive home…

100_4546

The rest I left out in the kitchen while I sat on the deck to knit and catch up on the Cast-On podcast.  I was a woeful 5 episodes behind in her newest series called Make Do & Mend.  Now I’m down to two episodes to go and feeling inspired to use it up and wear it out in my material life. I got a little taste of this doing the Wardrobe Refashion challenge last spring, but I feel ready to try some new ideas for reusing, re-purposing, and generally using less.  This has been happening in my knitting all summer long as I first look to my stash for new projects.  And in my efforts to organize and prepare the house for the new arrival, I have come across plenty of items that could be made into something new.  Now I just need to settle in and tackle some of these projects!

While listening, I finished my little cardigan; it’s just waiting for a wash, block, and buttons.  More on that later.  It felt so peaceful to sit outside in the sunshine, listening to great work on knitting and crafting, and daydreaming about what to do with my peaches.  I eventually had to ask myself: What would Ina do?

She would make a peach and blueberry cobbler, of course!  And since Sweetie doesn’t happen to like peaches or blueberries, I would get this all to myself.  I decided to split the recipe between two smaller baking containers–one for now and one for later.

100_4548

This method worked out perfectly, as I enjoyed part of one about 3 minutes after it came out of the oven, and the rest for dessert later that night.  The second cobbler is just waiting in the fridge to be baked.  It could be dessert tonight, I suppose.  Don’t want to let it sit for too long, now would I?!

100_4550

Saturday was a simple day full of some of my favorite things.  I love it when the hours fall together better than you could have imagined when you woke up in the morning, and by the time you’re ready for bed you feel full and satisfied with your day.  Don’t you?

Gratitude

I have received a generous outpouring of kindness and support this past week, both in the comments and via email.  Thank you.  It has really made a difference for me during a very difficult time to go onto the computer and read your thoughtful, friendly, and often funny comments.   Your responses were welcome and much-needed.

From Sweetie

From Sweetie

Unfortunately I have no finished objects to show you.  I had hoped to finish a sock this week, but a vicious stomach virus attacked me and I was literally unable to stand or sit up straight for two days.  Knitting was not, for once, at the front of my mind.  I did catch up on some great podcasts while I was laid up, among them Cast-On, Stash & Burn, and my new favorite, Craft Lit.

Heather Ordover does a wonderful job of combining literary discussion with her craft life, then plays a chapter or two from a classic novel each episode.  Since I just started listening, I jumped in with the most recent book, Jekyll & Hyde.  It’s fantastic!  I’m almost certain that I would find the text a little dry if I were reading this myself, but the guy doing the reading has a deliciously wry British accent that punctuates this Gothic tale to perfection.  The book seems to be wrapping up, and next will be The Scarlet Letter.  This is turning into a wonderful way to be entertained while knitting, walking the dog, or cleaning house, while at the same time getting a brief education on some classic literature.  Love it.

100_4185

Now that I’m on the mend, I have been focusing my attention on finishing up the Queen of Beads socks from the STR sock club.  I’m about halfway finished with the second sock and look forward to grafting that toe closed in a couple of days.  Believe it or not, I have the opposite of Second Sock Syndrome right now, a syndrome in which I feel highly motivated to finish both pairs of socks I have lying around.  Maybe it’s more of that urge to spring clean, start with a clean slate or something. Whatever it is, I’m giving in to the feeling and getting socks off the needles!

Knitting is Really Cutting Into My Knitting Time.

I can’t stop thinking about knitting.

And yet I don’t seem to be knitting all that much.

I’m addicted to virtual knitting, or reading about yarn, patterns, and other people’s projects online. Blogs, Ravelry, Knitty, etc. have me transfixed, and instead of using my spare moments to knit a few rows, I use them to read about knitting. Here is my daily reading list:

Ravelry

Knit & Tonic

The Yarn Harlot

Lolly Knitting Around

Of course, as I read these, I am inevitably drawn into other websites, increasing the amount of time I spend reading about knitting. I love to see photos of yarn, works in progress, new patterns, and can never stop at just one.

I think I’ll blame Ravelry. You see, this all started when I got my invite into the coven of knitting. First, I loaded all my FOs into the site, then joined a few groups, then started looking for new things to knit, and got distracted by links to people’s blogs, and before long, an hour or a week or, in my case 2 months have passed with very little knitting to show for it all. Actually, I have been really good about finishing projects more quickly because I am excited to post them onto this blog, or change the status on my project page in Ravelry.

To make matters worse (or better, depending) I just discovered knitting podcasts. If the cleanliness of my house, the balance of my checkbook, and the neatness of my laundry basket haven’t suffered enough, they’re about to. Of course, the upside to listening to podcasts is that you can do other things at the same time. Ideally, you could knit. Or you can listen while you work, drive, fold laundry, or grocery shop (people looked at me and my earbuds a little strangely today at Stop & Shop). Podcasts are also a great friend when you can’t sleep at night but want to stay in bed.

I’m currently working my way through all the episodes of Stash and Burn. Their conversational style is easy to listen to while doing other things, and there’s ample information about knitting, their projects, yarn, etc. These girls are smart, funny, and interesting to listen to. And the music is fun too.

Also enjoyable is the new podcast, Yarncraft. These ladies are also enjoyable to listen to, once you get past all the adverts for Lion Brand yarn and the NYC background noise. They recently had a long interview with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee which was wonderful.

Knitpicks has a very informative podcast as well, but I find Kelly Petkun’s reading a little hard to listen to. She is clearly reading aloud, and she does so very slowly. But the content is rich and educational.

So this is what’s keeping me from my knitting (and household chores) lately. Perhaps this is why my lace scarf is progressing so very slowly…