The Intentional Weekend

The Intentional Weekend

How do you slow down when life feels so quick? Join me in taking some time over the weekend to fully appreciate life, and allow ourselves to just be for a little while. 

Grow. Explore. Advocate. Part 3

This is going to be a difficult post to write. If you're familiar with me personally, I tend to post my political beliefs in the vague way that everyone else does on Facebook: I read articles then repost them if I feel they're important. So actually spelling them out here feels a little forceful. A little more solidifiying to others, even though I am sure all of you know where I stand. However, it's putting a side of myself out into the world that I am mostly silent about day to day and in real conversations with others. I am a social and eco justice warrior. Soon, I would like to see myself as an Ally, but I have a lot more work to do to achieve that title. 

I am a person who, at my core, believes that everyone deserves to be treated with human decency.

When my son was born and I experienced postpartum depression it was like all of the feelings of the world were magnified. I felt everything that was happening around me. The Syrian refugee crisis was in full swing. Humans of New York was posting from Greece, highlighting people who risked their lives to escape war. These were people who saw the risk and decided that risk was better than staying in Syria. Then I saw the horrible treatment that these people were getting from Europe. The ugly side of humanity was in my face right then, it's all I could see and I had this little infant who was lucky enough to be born with us and still completely depended on me for life. The breaking point for me was when the little boy washed up on the shore in Greece. My pain and anger at the injustices of the world wouldn't be silenced anymore. That was the day to open myself up and be more vocal about what I believe we, as humans sharing this world together, should be doing. 

I am a person who, at my core, believes that everyone deserves to be treated with human decency. In some ways, I've always been an advocate for those who have been oppressed and marginalized, it just took motherhood for me to find my courage and spell it out. My life and education has brought me to this point. When I was a christian, I went to other countries to help out the poor. When I was in college, I learned how people exploit others for profit and gain. When I was poor, I learned exactly how expensive being poor was. When I lived in the mountains, I learned how important being outside and keeping our air and land clean was. As a mother and military wife, I see where our daily actions are taking us and what that means for our children.

My pain and anger at the injustices of the world wouldn’t be silenced anymore.

I advocate for the people that I would have likely become if I hadn't gotten really lucky in life. People who work extremely hard, but can't seem to find a way out of poverty or depression. People who live with fear and anxiety. People who aren't accepted based on their race, gender identity, sexual identity, and social class can have a space and a voice. I advocate so that one day my sons will be able to embrace nature without for profit corporations getting in the way. I advocate for fresh air. I advocate for universal love. It's time we start letting people have the chance to be people, whole and free. It's time we realize that we are making a mess and we need to clean it up. 

Spruce Knits was made to give light to people who are doing good work in our country and our world. A part of the proceeds from every pattern I sell goes to certain charities, some are personal for me, some are more global in scale. Each one is doing it's best to do it's part to create a healthy and safe environment for our future selves. Know that this is where your money is going if you don't share my beliefs, know that I hold no ill will toward you and know that you are free to take your money elsewhere. It's a part of the game. I am a person with a strong value center, so you wont hurt my feelings. My cause is bigger than my feelings. 

Here are my stances: 
I stand with Women: As a woman in the world, I see the systemic frustrations that we face every single day. I stand with the idea that we are the autonomous leaders of our bodies. I stand for the right to choose. I stand for the right to say no. I stand for equal pay for equal work. I stand for intersectional feminism, all women deserve equal rights. 

I stand with the Marginalized: LGBTQ people should be free to live the life that they identify with, without hate and condemnation, without their fundamental rights being taken away from them. I stand with immigrants (not aliens- they're human beings for god sakes) and minorities and refugees. I stand for the homeless and mentally ill. These people continue to fight an uphill battle for basic dignity. It's time we stop and lend a neighborly hand to those who need it. 

I stand with Science: Global warming is not a hoax y'all. Greenland's ice cap has melted beyond the point of no return, and it's still winter. Heat waves in north Canada are also troubling. Each year the Earth gets warmer and warmer. This is our fault. It's only going to get worse if we don't do something. I stand with scientific research, cancer can be cured, Huntington's disease can be treated. 

Most importantly, I stand with Love: One of the greatest things we can do is love one another. It's as simple as that. Look at your neighbor and ask yourself if your political actions are going to hurt that person. Look at the beggar on the street as a human being, rather than a drug addict. Look at the person who prays to a different God than you as a brother/sister without thinking that they need to change faiths for you to accept them. Kindness is courageous. Hatred is the coward's way out. 

Spruce Knits was made to give light to people who are doing good work in our country and our world. A part of the proceeds from every pattern I sell goes to certain charities, some are personal for me, some are more global in scale.

Every day, I try to find the kindness and love in my heart... every day I work for the betterment of our society. It's especially important in times like these. Hold tight to the love you have, it may be the very thing that get's us through this. If you're still with me after reading this giant of a post, thank you. Whether you agree with me or disagree, I love you. 

Grow. Explore. Advocate. Part 2

Grow. Explore. Advocate. Part 2

A large part of my life is about Exploration, I want to embrace it more and find my way out of the general comfort zones that I’ve fallen into.

As a person who grew up in the literal middle of nowhere, I have a special place in my heart for nature. One of the things I love about living in California is that there are so many opportunities to explore. Maybe not right outside my front door like the olden days of my youth, but they're within a reasonable driving distance. And if I am honest, I kind of want to get out of my house before things get to "round" around here. (Looking at you belly) I also want my son to be able to experience the natural world while the air is still clean and the water is still fresh. (More on that in Advocate) 

As a kid, I had a tree that I would go to when I needed to get away from my family for a few quiet moments. Sometimes that was a lot. I had some tumultuous teenage years thanks to some severe health issues going on in my family. It was a time where I felt as though no one could, or wanted to, understand my stress. When life got to be too much I went outside. I would hike up to my tree and sit underneath it, take in the smell of the pine needles, listen to the wind flow through the valley, maybe see a hawk or hear the far away sound of a semi-truck go down the highway. It was grounding. I felt connected to something that was bigger than myself. In those moments my problems seemed smaller. This feeling continues as I get older. When life, inevitably, gets difficult I desire to be outside. 

I... want my son to be able to experience the natural world while the air is still clean and the water is still fresh.

I am lucky that I found a life partner that feels similarly about nature. (Now if I could just get him to slow down on hikes, ha) That's probably the benefit of finding love in Colorado though. We have dreams of going on long hikes with our kids when they get older. We love just being outside. 

This love for nature has also found it's way into my design work. It's difficult for me to make a design that isn't inspired by something from the Earth. It was even the inspiration for this website and business. I have to be true to myself, and a large part of that is nature. 

For the Explore portion of my goals this year I hope to: 

~Get out and get into nature more. It could be difficult with a baby coming in August, but I am going to do what I have to do. I also have a toddler, so it's not like I am going to be hiking to mountain summits any time soon. It's amazing what a small nature trail and some fresh air will do to the soul though. 

~Find my tribe. I know that I am not the only knitter out there who feels similarly about nature. Look at all the designers who use nature to inspire their work. It's a part of the fabric of our DNA. I want to look for people who understand the need to be outside by searching out knitting groups, and more local yarn stores. 

~Seek out instruction. We all need mentors. Lord knows I could use one in my life. (He just rolled his eyes and said, "Yes, find this woman a guru... stat" at least I think he did) I want this business to go somewhere, and I am not going to be able to do that on my own. As much as I love being a quiet loner. 

~Experiment with new patterns and techniques. This sounds a lot like growing. Sorry. Some of the ideas bleed over into each other. But a part of exploration is experimentation and growth. I want to try patterns that I've been afraid to in the past. Or look for new techniques that help streamline the pattern making/ knitting processes. 

A large part of my life is about Exploration, I want to embrace it more and find my way out of the general comfort zones that I've fallen into. They're lonely, and I miss my people. 

Part 3 is a post you won't want to miss. Keep your eyes out for my post about Advocating. 

Holiday Self Care

When I was a child, my mother did everything to make the holidays a magical time. She put the tree up, and let it stay up well into January. She would dance to Christmas music in the car on the way to school. She would let us stay up late and watch the Christmas specials on tv. My favorite was the Christmas Eve tradition of driving around and looking at the lights on the houses, visit my Grandma and rush home to be in bed before Santa came. Christmas was my favorite tiof year, thanks to my mom. She worked hard to make the holidays perfect. 

I think a lot of us feel that similar pressure to make the holidays the better than the last year. It can be stressful, especially with the nostalgia from our childhood memories. Feeling the pressure to be "on" all season, to find perfect gifts for your in laws and extended family, not to mention gifts for the close family. I get it. Add hosting duties and it's over. It doesn't matter what religious background you come from, December can be a tough month. 

I am writing to you today to tell you that it's okay to take care of yourself. Your family won't remember the perfect christmases, especially since perfect doesn't exist. My list sounds a lot like mindfulness, and it is. Being present during the holidays has helped me get through some of the rough ones. It's okay to want to take care of yourself.

1. Step Back

It's so easy to get caught up in the need to make everything magical and perfect. So easy that we tend to forget what it is that we are actually spending time to celebrate. When this happens to me, I try to step back and practice a little mindfulness. Think about what you need to do in this moment. Think about your problems within the larger scope of the world. Think about all you have, rather than what you don't have. (Trust me this one is hard for me, everyone knows how much I love shopping) We really do have so much, even if all we can be thankful for is the breath in our lungs. 

2. Find Your Tradition. 

We all have the tradition that we love. What is the one thing that can make you really enjoy the holidays? For me it's walking around my neighborhood at night, slowly taking in my neighbors light displays. For someone else, it might be attending an Advent church service. Hell, I even love having a fire in the fireplace with my knitting and a big glass of wine. (But that's everyday, so I don't know if it counts) Either way, find something that you can do that makes you enjoy your time. 

3. Set Boundaries

You can't do everything, and really, who wants to? If you're knitting or making hand made gifts, allow yourself some time to make them, and make them for people who will appreciate it. (We have the term Knit Worthy for a reason ha ha) If you're going to be stressed out by that one racist uncle at your holiday party, remove yourself from the conversation. Christmas is my happy space. I don't mind making things for people and I definitely don't mind engaging when someone is being rude, but if that person is in my happy space either physically or mentally and they're draining my joy, they can leave. It's that simple. If they want to engage in controversial topics, they can take it outside. If I wonder if I am wasting my time on a gift that wont be appreciated, I buy them something easy instead. My sacred space is for me and the joy of my family, and I welcome people to join me there. It doesn't mean that I have to let people take advantage of my love. 

4. Give Back

The holidays are a time to remember that we aren't alone in this world, and that there are people who are having a more difficult time than we are. The whole basis of this design company is to give back to people who work hard all year to make the world a better place to live in. Find some way to give back this holiday season. Seek out a charity or program that could use you. Volunteer at a food bank. Give money to those in need. It might not seem like it, but giving back is the single most important thing you can do during the holidays that will bring you joy. I know what it's like to be poor and unsure of where my next meal is going to come from. I know what it's like to work hard for almost nothing. These people deserve our love and respect. We are in this life together, help each other. Love each other. 

These are some of the things that help me bring back my Holiday Joy. What are some of yours? Do you have any special traditions that you absolutely love? What makes this time of year special to you? Add yours in the comments below.