Life Happens… Checklist or Not

Since I last posted here at Teish Knits, I turned 39, we had two unexpected doctor visits (everyone is fine and it was nothing serious), the dryer started giving me attitude, we wrapped up the reports for the 2018-2019 academic year, and I quit coffee. I have not gotten as much reading done as I planned.

If there’s one constant in life, it’s that life will always end up derailing my nicely laid-out planning checklists. Sort of like in this comic from The Awkward Yeti:

(Seriously, you should follow this website because the Heart and Brain comics are hilariously accurate!)

All joking aside, I do tend to be the one with a checklist for everything, and difficulty adapting to the things that were not on the checklist or needing to complete the checklist *gasp* out of order.

Even if things didn’t go exactly by the checklist, the end of year school reports got done. Cleaning out the laundry room was technically on my list, so this is a chance to do that a little earlier. Giving up the coffee is one thing that I really need to do for my health. (I’m not giving up tea though. That’s just crazy-talk!) I’ll move things around on my checklist and adjust. Incidentally, this is why I have come to love FriXion erasable pens for my planning.

There is plenty on my to-do list for this weekend, but I’m going to make it a point to do some reading! Hopefully that means that there will be a reading update on Tuesday with my thoughts on at least one finished book.

What about you? What have you been reading this week? What off-the-checklist stuff has life thrown at you? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Thoughts for Tuesday on Wednesday, May 29th

Outside my windows… it’s cloudy and cold. The lawn is growing nicely, but I’m not sure if it’s still too cold to be planting outside in my flower beds.

Inside my house… the seedlings I started this spring are not exactly thriving. some of them gave up before sprouting. I may have to go visit the greenhouse at some point.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful that my kiddos enjoy being outside and exploring nature!

Prayers of the heart… for the busy summer coming; that we’ll be able to fit in everything we need to and let go of the rest.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… Munchkin is trying out my favorite baked mac&cheese recipe, while her brothers are playing a new board game that Grandma introduced us to!

From my playlist… Catchy Song from the LEGO Movie 2. My kids have mixed feelings about this.

From my reading list… I’m actually thinking about which books I want to read for the Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge! Post about that coming next week, so don’t miss it! (Get a sneak peek at the printables by clicking on the Downloads tab in the main menu.)

From my needlework basket… I’m knitting the hood of my hooded sweater. Once that’s done I’ll just have the sleeves left to do. I’m still undecided about whether I’ll knit them on double-point needles or circular needles.

In the learning room… the kiddos have finished up more subjects for the year, so they are enjoying a little extra free time. They’re hoping for better weather soon!

Random ramblings… Tuesday this week was a little crazy. Thoughts for Tuesday posts are going away for the summer, so I wanted to do one last post in the series, even if it’s very, very late!

Profound ponderings… “I am and always will be–the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes. The dreamer of improbable dreams.” — Quote from Doctor Who

Caught on film…

Storage Space

I just took 13 huge trash bags of stuff to the dump. One of the workers commented that that was a lot of bags since I’d been there with our regular trash just this past Saturday.

“I was storing a bunch of stuff for someone who’d passed away,” was the most concise explanation I could come up with on the spot.

It’s true. I was basically using one room and one closet in my house for storing things that belonged to people who had passed away. Since I enjoy sewing and knitting, I’ve been given a fair amount of crafting supplies over the years. Usually it’s because someone’s grandmother or aunt passed away, and the loved ones going through all of their stuff thought of me when they came to the craft stash. I honestly do appreciate the kind intentions behind it, but when it gets to the point that I have the knitting needle collections for 5 people, not including my own knitting needles… it’s just too much.

It was hard bringing myself to throw all that excess stuff away. Part of me felt guilty because a fair bit of it had belonged to people I knew and loved. Part of me thought that it was terribly wasteful to just discard it when it’s possible that someone else might be able to use it. In the meantime, I had a closet and a sewing room overflowing with boxes of stuff, to the point that I didn’t even know what was in most of the boxes anymore.

An argument can certainly be made that I could have tried to re-home all of the stuff I just tossed. The problem with that is the sheer amount of stuff. Who wants to haul 13+ trash bags of craft stuff to their house? Trying to find a new home for each individual item would take far more time than I have to spend at it. (I suspect that’s why I’ve been the recipient of bags and boxes of random craft stuff over the years!) The stuff that I wasn’t actually going to use myself just had to go all at once.

What about that guilt over tossing my great-aunts’ knitting needles, or that yarn that my Mom had that I’ll never use because I don’t like knitting with it? I had to realize something very important: People are not their things. Throwing away those knitting needles doesn’t mean that I didn’t love my great-aunts. Discarding yarn that belonged to Mom doesn’t mean that I didn’t value her. I don’t have to love and value the belongings of someone who has passed away to prove that I loved and valued them.

Oh, part of me still feels a prick of guilt over throwing away “perfectly good stuff”, but a bigger part of me feels relieved and somehow lighter. In throwing away stuff, I didn’t lose any of the things that were really important to me. I still have the memories of the people I cared about, and what is left are the things I will actually use and enjoy, and the room to do that!

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past week about the future as I worked through all of that stuff. Someday, my grandkids will be going through my stuff. I can’t think of anyone that I know and love who I’d want to burden with things that they don’t like or need, just because it belonged to me. I hope that my friends and family would all feel comfortable saying, “I loved Teish, but I don’t love her stuff. I’m happy with just the memories that I have of her.”

I don’t think I’ll ever truly be a minimalist. I love my books too much! I am learning to be more selective about the things I keep though. Sure, some of the things that I keep are strange, like the faded NY mug that Mom brought back from a trip. I’m sure the grandkids will look at it and wonder, “Why on earth was Gram keeping this old thing?” It reminds me of Mom every time I use it, and so it’s worth something to me because of that. I don’t expect it to be worth anything to anyone else though, and I’m OK with that! I don’t want my family to end up storing stuff for someone who has passed away and isn’t going to be needing it anymore. I’ve done too much of that myself, and it’s not worth it.

It’s an interesting shift to look at it from that perspective. Am I just storing this for someone who has passed away? It does sound pretty silly when we frame it like that. If you’re using part of your home as a storage space for someone who won’t be coming back for their things, then it’s OK to bag it up and take it to the thrift store, or even throw it away! If it’s like the NY mug of mine and you keep and use it because it honestly means something to you, then don’t feel bad about keeping that item instead of one of the “newer” or “nicer” ones.

So, what’s the weirdest thing that you keep and value? I’ve shared about my faded NY mug, now I want to know what item your grandkids will chuckle over! Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Encircled – An Ever Afters Anthology

I received an ARC of Encircled from the publisher. All opinions expressed are completely my own. I received no monetary compensation in exchange for posting a review on my blog. I just like promoting good speculative fiction books! 🙂

I’ve got something of a soft spot for a good fairy tale retelling, particularly if there’s a sci fi twist! The Encircled anthology includes short stories by six talented authors. The two stories with a sci fi spin were what grabbed my attention, but I enjoyed reading all six, and could hardly put the book down!

The Songbird’s Citadel and Beyond the Stars, Past the Moons were both a delightful blend of familiar fairy tale and science fiction fun. Honestly, if either story were continued in a series of novels, I’d be on the pre-order list!

A Heart’s Desire was another favorite. A unique take on Beauty and the Beast, I fell in love with the ending. (It’s a prequel, so in this case, I can read more of the story!) The Last Mrs. Bluebeard was just chilling enough to keep me turning pages without becoming too creepy.

To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Snow White. I am, however, a fan of Edged in Silver! The contemporary fantasy twist was fun, and I’m intrigued by the worldbuilding in such a short tale! The Nutcracker is another story that I was never particularly fond of, but A Spell’s End was wonderful and even though it was late, I had to stay up and finish it to find out how the story ended.

Short stories are a hard format to write in many ways, but all six of the Encircled authors did a lovely job fitting in character development and world building that made their stories shine. The lovely thing about anthologies like this is that you have a chance to try out new genres and authors, and add some more books to your reading list as a result! (Can you ever have too many books in your TBR stack? I don’t think so.)

Fans of fairy tales and speculative fiction alike won’t want to miss the Encircled anthology. The stories are short enough that you can enjoy one on your lunch break. Or, you can spend an evening reading through the whole collection because you can’t put it down! Either way, it’s a lovely collection and is releasing on April 16th!

When the Muse is Awake at 4AM…

Robert Frost is credited with the following quote: “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

I had thought my poetry writing days were firmly behind me. I found myself still awake at 4AM one morning this week, and writing poetry of all things! Initially, I wasn’t going to share it with anyone. There are times when I wish I could compose music because words alone don’t seem to say enough. I’ll never be a musician, so the closest I can get is poetry…

When the things your heart most needs,
Are turned against you —
Love weaponized —
Your heart breaks and finally bleeds.

When you crave the gentle brush of fingertips,
But hands caused hurts —
Love weaponized —
You cringe from the caress of loving lips.

When you desire words that fall like healing rain,
But they became a raging storm —
Love weaponized —
You can’t trust words that don’t inflict pain.

When the ones you should place trust in,
Betrayed in the worst way —
Love weaponized —
It’s harder than you’d think to ever trust again.

When the dearest things turned against you,
Have left you shattered —
Love weaponized —
The shards may cut the one who dares love true.

When all the broken glass is fused together,
And the pieces illuminated —
Love redeemed —
The world’s awash in brilliant color.

Behind Closed Doors

10 years ago, my mom passed away in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Mom was one of those people who you couldn’t help but love because she had so much love and compassion for others. She had a faith that I can only aspire to. If you needed someone to pray for you, she’s the one you’d ask. Her sense of humor was something else, and her laugh was positively infectious. She was a strong woman, and had a stubborn streak that seems to be rather genetic. Mom was also in an abusive relationship.

I came across a book in this past year: Healing From Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas. I picked it up because it’s one of the rare resources I’ve found written by a Christian that deals with the aftermath of psychological abuse. I had to keep putting the book down and walking away because things the author mentioned were exactly the sort of things I saw play out in my mom’s relationship. I’d feel sick to my stomach and wonder, “How could I not see this for what it was before now?”

I was one of those foolish people who used to say things like, “Why don’t they just leave?” or, “Why don’t they just cut ties with them?” when hearing about someone in an abusive relationship. It’s funny the things that you get used to, the things you can explain away, and the behavior you make excuses for when you’re in the middle of it. The irony is, while I was judging all of those people who insisted on maintaining a relationship with someone who was mistreating them horribly, I couldn’t see the truth of my mom’s relationship, or the abusive one I spent decades in. Actually, it wasn’t until after the abuser cut ties with me a few years back that I started to see things clearly.

When someone asked me, “Why didn’t you, your mom, or your sister say anything?” I struggled to explain. The short answer is: I didn’t realize that there was anything wrong with what was going on. When you grow up in a certain environment, you just think it’s normal. But it’s more complicated than that. I was afraid to say anything because I’d been conditioned to be afraid of saying anything. I felt too embarrassed and ashamed to speak up. I believed that it was my fault — that it wasn’t really abuse, and so I felt guilty for being upset and angry about it. I know that all of this sounds crazy from the perspective of normal, healthy relationships, but psychological abuse is insidious. The stuff you end up believing is crazy, and on some level you know it’s crazy, but you can’t shake that deep belief that all of those lies are true.

So why write about any of this? I can’t change what my mom went through. I can’t change what I went through. Why say anything?

First, because I want to tell people that sometimes the person being abused does not fit any of the stereotypes. Sometimes it’s the strong, independent, outgoing person who’s being abused. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, and those closed doors are in every neighborhood and demographic. Sometimes the abuser is the person who’s in some sort of church leadership position. The kind of person who fills in when the pastor is on vacation and leads Bible studies. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Appearances can be very deceiving, and abusers can be very good at projecting a good front. The scary part is how good they are at getting the people they are abusing to help them put up a good front. We can’t assume because everything looks OK on the outside, that everything is OK.

Second, because telling our stories is a powerful thing. I’ve heard some truly awful stories, but sometimes those stories had remarkable things that came after all of the awful. Stories where people not only survived the abuse and survived getting out of the relationship, but stories of people who are healthier, stronger, and have a deeper faith than ever. It can take a really, really long time — many years — but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Those stories give me something to hold onto, something to look forward to.

I can’t change Mom’s story or my own and edit out the ugly parts, much as I might wish to. What I can do, is hold tight to my faith just like she did. By the grace of God, I’m going to get to the other side of this, even if it takes years.

Note: If you’re in an abusive relationship, or are dealing with the aftermath of one, please take care of yourself and stay safe. If you need to make arrangements for your own safety, or seek professional help for your mental and physical health, then please do get the help that you need.

Thoughts for Tuesday, January 15th

Outside my windows… it’s crazy-cold, but that means that the night sky has been spectacular these past few nights.

Inside my house… I’ve started sifting through books and packing some to give away. I know, that sounds crazy for someone who adores books as much as I do! But, there are some books that I enjoyed, or helped me at one time, but I don’t need them any longer. I’d rather pass them along to someone who would read them than let them sit on my shelves never to be picked up again.

Counting 1000 gifts… sunshine on the snow. It may be bitterly cold, but it’s still a pretty view.

Prayers of the heart… for upcoming work stuff and good decisions.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… There’s a mix of art projects and trying out a new game that Grandma sent home for them to borrow for a bit!

From my playlist… The main theme to “The Right Stuff” is my track of choice right now because even if you’re just writing a blog post, you still need an epic soundtrack.

From my reading list… Leaving Legalism by Kendra Fletcher. I just finished it and I don’t think I’ve ever highlighted so much of a book in my life. I may have just finished reading it, but I’m reading through it again because it was that good.

From my needlework basket… socks for me, because I only knit for myself at the beginning of the year!

In the learning room… Getting back into our post-holiday routine has been good, and challenging, but maybe more challenging for me than for the kiddos!

Random ramblings… I have some baggage, and I’ve said more than once that Aaron (my IT Staff!) is practically a saint for all he’s put up with and for helping me unpack so much of that baggage. In spite of everything, I have a family I adore, and a home that’s a place where I feel safe. I don’t think think I realize how much of a treasure that is nearly as often as I should.

Profound ponderings… “And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.” — J.R.R. Tolkien (Still think this is the most romantic line I’ve ever read, about my favorite literary couple ever.)

Caught on film…

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Mr. Q learning the secret family bisquit recipe!

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Thoughts for Tuesday, January 8th

Outside my windows… it’s been snowing again today. It’s dark but still snowing, so I don’t know how much has accumulated so far.

Inside my house… my waterbed sprung a leak today. It’s not as bad as it sounds. No sudden tidal wave or anything like that. Just enough work to be a bit of a frustration. At least Amazon offers one day shipping options.

Counting 1000 gifts… online ordering and overnight shipping!

Prayers of the heart… for folks going through tough times, and for my own still-sore back.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… they are working on some perler bead projects. They’ve all been such a huge help while my back is healing, and I’m so thankful for their good attitudes towards helping out!

From my playlist… I’m not listening to music at the moment. Can you believe that?!

From my reading list… I have been listening to an audiobook after the kiddos go to bed though. The Magic Art of Tidying Up. I listened to it first a few years back and go through part of my paring down when life happened. With the kids help, I’ve gone through my clothes, and my IT staff’s and pared those down a bit, though neither of us had a huge amount of clothes to begin with. Some of the stuff in the book is a bit out there, but it is the book that made me finally understand that Mom wouldn’t want me to hold onto stuff that was hers that I didn’t like or use just because it was hers. That was a tremendous shift in how I was thinking about the things I kept!

From my needlework basket… switching off between socks, a sweater, and a shawl. All of them are things I’m knitting for myself. After all of the gift knitting during the last part of the year, I usually start off the new year working on projects that I can wear.

In the learning room… It was back to school last week, and the kids did really well getting back into the groove. It’s sort of nice to be back to a regular routine.

Random ramblings… There’s a cool app for my tablet called ISS HD Live. I’m mesmerized by the live video of Earth as seen from the ISS, and always sad when I check the app and there’s no live stream up at the moment. It’s so beautiful and peaceful to watch. Maybe sometimes we just need a bit of distance from the up close of our daily lives to realize just how good God’s creation is.

Profound ponderings… “There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

Caught on film…

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Mr. Q learning the secret family bisquit recipe!

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The Best Laid Plans… And Grace

I had plans.

This was a rare 4-day weekend where I didn’t have to work, and the kids didn’t have school, and I had plans.

Of course, taking down the Christmas tree was at the top of my list. I was going to go through the clothes closet for the adults in our house and get that sorted. I was going to drop several bags of clothes off at the thrift shop. Grocery shopping was definitely in my plans. I would finish my Powersheets goal setting for 2019, maybe do some writing.

Saturday morning, I picked up a bag of coal just like I have about a thousand times since moving into our house. The only difference is that I threw my back out. To the point where, on Tuesday, it still hurts and brushing my teeth is a bit weird since I can’t exactly bend far enough to spit toothpaste into the sink. I do feel better than I did initially, but it’s becoming apparent that this is going to be slow going before I’m back to normal. Let’s just say, I’m not the most patient person ever.

I can sit on my yoga ball office chair the most comfortably, so at least I’ll be able to work on Wednesday. It also means that I’ve been able to sit at the dining room table. I discovered that I enjoy this new diamond art thing, and I have just about gotten my Powersheets prep done. I’m writing a blog post today, so that counts as writing. I feel a bit more productive, but still somewhat grumpy that I’m going to be stuck asking for help and relying on other people to do the heavy lifting for a bit longer.

It’s a little ironic. One of my goal for 2019 is to take better care of my own health. I’m very good at ignoring my health and picking up habits that are less than helpful in this area. I have a tendency to skip meals, get through the day on too much caffeine and sugar, quit exercising because I keep getting interrupted, and pretty much ignore how I don’t feel great until I can’t ignore it any longer. As Mom used to say, “You’re your own worst enemy kiddo.” Mom was usually right about these things. I guess all of those stretches and strengthening exercises that I’ve been neglecting will be going to the top of my to-do list.

I know that it can seem selfish to take time and energy to work on things like your own health, and your own personal and spiritual development. Most of my 2019 goals have to do with these things, and I’ll admit to feeling more than a little guilt! It’s not selfish though. My family will benefit if I’m healthy, if my faith is strong, and if I’m growing as a person. I know we all hear the comparison about putting on your own oxygen mask first, and if you’re like me, you roll your eyes at that point. It’s true though. If I’m not healthy, it not just me who suffers, it’s my family too. If I don’t invest in my faith, I can’t encourage my family in theirs. If I’m not actively pursuing the things that will make me grow and become more like the person God created me to be, then what sort of example am I setting for my kids? I can’t sit here and tell them how important it is for them to deepen their faith, take good care of their health, learn new things, or grow in character if I’m not doing those things too.

All of these “selfish” goals about my health, my faith, and my personal growth are not just about me. They’re about being a better wife and mom too. There’s a reason why Jesus told His followers to get the beam out of their own eye first! How can we build up others in their faith if ours is withering from neglect?

2018 was an interesting year. Hard in some ways, but sometimes you have to face a few of your own dragons to be ready to grow a bit more. I will say, the older I get, the more I realize how much I still have to learn! My desire for 2019 is that it will be a year where I get a little closer to being the version of myself that God has in mind. I’ve spent too many years trying to be the version of myself that will make people happy, and it’s taken me a few decades to understand what an empty pursuit that is. I’ve chased a lot of things looking for peace and fulfillment, and none of them have brought more than a fleeting taste of either. Part of me is ashamed because I know better, but I guess the stubborn part of me just has to learn some lessons the difficult way. Thankfully, there’s grace even for stubborn idiots like me!

What are you looking forward to in 2019? What happened in 2018 that still stands out to you? Let me know in the comments!

Thoughts for Tuesday, October 30th

Outside my windows… we’ve had snow dust my yard a few times now, but it hasn’t stuck around for long. Yet.

Inside my house… the spot next to the coal stove has once again become everyone’s favorite place to sit!

Counting 1000 gifts… Beautiful things — and beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

Prayers of the heart… for wisdom and words in November.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… working on sewing projects and playing games while they wait for dinner to finish cooking.

From my playlist… today it’s just the sound of the coal stove and dishwasher humming away that break up the silence.

From my reading list… Little Book of Hygge. I’ll be chipping away at it as I have time in between life and writing this month. Interesting little read so far though.

From my needlework basket… fingerless mitts from my favorite pattern. The perfect project for a special ball of yarn, and tremendously useful to boot. They make lovely little gifts as well! You can find that pattern here:

In the learning room… we’re in our last 6-week block of school before Christmas break. The thing that I love most about year-round school is that it allows us to take an extra long break in December!

Random ramblings… NaNoWriMo begins on Thursday, and I’m looking towards it with a mixture of excitement and terror. I said at the beginning of this year that I wanted to “write the hard”. Ironically, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to write about hard things. (I know how foolish that sounds, but my brain works in weird ways…) Hard doesn’t always mean bad though. Doing hard things can be the most rewarding and make the most difference. Sometimes we say hard when we really mean “awful”, and perhaps it was a mistake for me to phrase things as I did. Maybe I should say, “I’m going to write about awful things that happened, and that will be hard to do.” It’s not the hard part that’s bad, because the hard part of that is what will help me find the beautiful mosaic amongst the broken pieces.

Profound ponderings… “The darkest day. The blackest hour. Chin up, shoulders back. Let’s see what we’re made of, you and I.” — The 12th Doctor

Caught on film…