Comfort & Joy

I’m not ready to unpack 2020 yet. It still feels heavy and outside of COVID it was a tremendously difficult year personally. I’m a person who powers through, then unpacks when there’s a moment to catch my breath so there’s no doubt that you’ll hear about 2020 in the coming months now that I’m back in this space, but there’s time …

Reading has always been a huge part of my life. It’s funny, one day I was reading while commuting on the train in NYC and a former colleague who I hadn’t seen in 15 years came up to me and said “still reading I see!” I remember him now and that comment because reading is one of the things that got me through 2020. Reading comforted me at every turn. Every book felt like an old friend making space for me, reaffirming how much its there for me — in good times and in tough.

One of the books I received in 2020 (as a gift) from my friend Becca is Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko. It’s been reported that this YA author had been plotting this book since she was 13. In August 2020, she published it 2 days before her 27th birthday. I didn’t read this one in 2020 but I reached for it on January 6th 2021. Like so many of us, I needed to escape, I needed comfort. The book’s themes of change, equity, justice and righteous fight are welcomed as we usher in a new President and Vice President today. The cover art is stunning but more than that, it’s been a joy to read so far. The characters are vibrant, the writing rich! Although I’m only about a third the way in, I’m already excited for Book 2 in the series.

(Photo credit: TeniKomo Photography/Cover courtesy of Abrams)

Supported spindling is a newish addition to my yarn spinning arsenal and that’s what I did in 2020 craft-wise. Not a lick of knitting or crochet, just spinning — by wheel and by spindles — mostly supported spindling. As the lock-down lengthened (I’m still working remotely since March 2020), as COVID numbers surged, as flight after flight got cancelled trying to get my mom home before her holiday visa ran out, as the medical personnel in my family and everywhere else were crushed by the volume of patients, suffering and death, as people ignored the advice of professionals and the validity of science, as I watched the murder of a black man in broad daylight, as I learned of another black man being gunned down while jogging, as we got the news of Breonna Taylor being murdered in her home, I spun yarn. I spun, and spun and spun and spun. The meditative quality of spinning helped me zone out when the news, the state of the country and the world at large threatened to crush us.

The nuns of Inglenook Fibers fame are hands down, geniuses with fiber. I missed the sign up for their advent fiber calendar but as life goes, blessings sneak in between the tough times. A dear friend split her pack in half then sent me my own advent kit as a Christmas gift. I’ve been spinning the pack since the day after Christmas. Work interrupted my spinning but here we are: Comfort and Joy.

I finished the last color bump 3 nights ago and the goal is to ply them (2 ply) over the coming weekend … or maybe I might play hooky and ply during the inauguration today. The new administration brings a level of competence we were sorely missing during the last four years. More than that, it’s about time we’re comforted from 2020’s losses by a kind, empathetic President. It’s about time we feel more concrete, longer lasting joy.

Linking with Kat and friends today at Unraveled Wednesdays to share what we’re reading and crafting

Book Review: Design The Life You Love

I’ve had this book since January and  wanted to take my time with it.   You know how it is, the year starts and we want to work on our lives, make it better, make positive changes.  I wasn’t sure what expect from “Design The Life You Love”; I hoped it was not going to be trite and unrealistic and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

The author,  Ayse Birsel, used the skills she’s known for — design — to cement the idea that our lives are worthy of looking at introspectively and creatively so we can live them to the fullest.  She likens life to a design project and encourages the reader to deconstruct,  look at his/her life from a different perspective, reconstruct, then give whatever positive changes we develop expression or form.  These concepts were not foreign at all, that’s exactly how we makers tackle knit and other fiber arts projects.  She uses drawing and design to explain her theories/ideas, but although I absolutely suck at drawing, as a yarn/fiber artist, the concepts were still easy to grasp.  For the exercises, anything I couldn’t draw, I crafted with yarn or pictures cut out from a magazine.  😀

I know others who have used this book didn’t like the fact that the author used her specific creative medium to share the concepts and I can see how that is limiting.  However, I believe everyone has creativity in them and all readers should use whatever mediums they have at their disposal to assess the principles shared.

The layout of the book is clear and very easy to use.  The author recommends spending 20 minutes a day with the content/exercises and your life’s design and I agree.  The content provides enough interaction and food for thought in that amount of time.  Plus the structured time limit allows you to pace yourself and really savor the experience of each session instead of barreling through the book.  The typography used provides many opportunities to do some coloring and I really enjoy doing that.  That in itself allows for even more creative expression.

Let me say however, this book is not a fix-it all book.  Although it encourages us to look at our lives as design projects, to embrace the constraints and limitations as opportunities to change our perception, it’s not a magic pill or a substitute for anyone needing clinical therapy.  It provides a starting point, encouragement to explore, a different perspective and some good ole common sense.

I am enjoying reading/using it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as a starting point for anyone who’s willing to look at designing a life he/she loves a little differently, a little more creatively, with just the right amount of playfulness.

Disclaimer: this review was done through my affiliation with Blogging For Books.  Although I received a copy for review, the thoughts expressed are entirely my own.