Lifelines

I have schedules. Plenty. Run training, hot yoga, and gym sessions take up most of my week. I even schedule time with my friends. I like the consistency of it; I like how regular it is.

Saturday was not regular. Saturday was a day of no plans. I opted out of my long run to let my body heal and rest and found myself staring at a full day with no plan in sight. Naturally, I took myself to brunch at The Sprout for a tofu scrambler so I could mull over what I could possibly do with a whole day to myself. Got in on a little cupcake action too…

cupcake

Once finished with brunch, I found myself wandering towards the local knit shop, Cast on Cast Off. The owner, Katie, is a wonderful, encouraging yarn enthusiast who knows her fiber! As I wandered around looking at yarn for some knitted gifts, women started gathering in the shop. One by one, they sat down and took out a knitting project and started knitting. Not sure if it was the pull of the yarn or the warmth of the people, but I found myself sitting and casting on a pair of socks. I sat, knit, and listened to the natural flow of conversation of women who clearly had been knitting together for some time. Then I heard it. One word. Lifeline.

Despite being a knitter for about 5 years, I have never knit a lifeline into my work. I was gobsmacked that such a brilliant thing existed. Basically, it is a piece of waste yarn that you strand into a row below a difficult part of the pattern (video here). This lifeline sits there. Waiting. Just in case the pattern you set out to complete gets too tricky. Too complicated. Too messy. Reach a point where you cannot continue and you just rip back to the lifeline so you don’t lose the whole project.

I was amazed. What a simple concept. I thought about the projects I ripped apart with the intention of starting over only to abandon because starting over seemed too much. I thought of the beautiful knits I had wanted to create and the projects I had avoided due to the trickiness of them. Lifelines can let me tackle the harder projects without the fear of having to start from scratch every single time I mess up.

Training for my 2014 race schedule requires me to run long distances that sometimes, I just lose all motivation to run. Being a running coach with other people depending on me to show up and run has given me a lifeline. If my own plans go to pot, then I have my group to fall back on in case running becomes overwhelming. I didn’t want to run this past Saturday, but I showed up and ran 8.5km with my group on Sunday…because they are my lifeline.

Constantly balancing between feeling like I am capable of doing anything, and terrified I’m trying to do too much happens. Often. Emotional eating or destructive thoughts were, and sometimes continue to be, part of the negative lifelines I use when I struggle. Slowly, I am replacing these with people, groups, and strategies that keep me afloat when everything goes wonky. Slowly, I am threading in new lifelines so the plan isn’t abandoned, so I don’t have to fear starting over from scratch.

 

On Birthdays

A friend of mine congratulated me last year for my successful circumnavigation of the sun. My birthday. Chuckling at his wit, I sat and pondered his statement. At first, I read the words, and then, I began to feel them. I let the idea of spinning masses flying through space around a fixed point really, truly sink into my brain. It was life-changing. In that moment, I felt just how small I really was.

Not a single thing I do really changes this yearly passing. The sun remains fixed and good old Mother Earth keeps spinning us around. The days ebb and flow and pass without recognition of the daily minutiae I experience. And that was it. Experience. We have a multitude of experiences that pass by our lives and we choose how we interact with them. The people, the events, the jobs, the stressors and the joys…all experiences that we choose to face or to walk away from. Some of these experiences leave us gasping for air and sanity, while others fill us with purpose and joy. Within the last year, I have gained friends, but lost others. I found joy in running and an appreciation of the strength of my body. I lost a job, but started a new career. I grew closer to my partner, but lost time with him. I allowed myself to be vulnerable, but grew all the stronger.

As I am getting closer to another successful spin around the universe’s dance floor, I see the sparkle of the stars in my life and those black holes that I know I best avoid. This hasn’t be my best year, but it has been far from my worst. And maybe, that has more to do with knowing no matter how I choose to dance, the world keeps on spinning.