Looking back on 2019…

It’s that time of year again, everyone is reflecting on their previous year and setting goals for the current one. As I sit here reflecting on all that I have accomplished during 2019, it’s hard not to feel some pride at what I have done, even amongst the things I didn’t do.

In 2019 I:

  • Didn’t hit my knitting goal of 35 projects or 16,000 yards (whichever came first). But I did spend time experimenting with sewing, embroidery and weaving. Enjoying new techniques and the thrill of learning something new. I made my first dress and wove my planned project.
  • Didn’t use up my stash before investing in new yarn, but I did buy yarn sparingly and found creative ways to use up the yarn that I have. I’m currently working on the …against all odds (Max) sweater in two yarns that were gifted to me at different times. I never would have paired the two yarns together without the goal of using what I have, in fact they probably would have just become socks while I waited for my new yarn to arrive (which wouldn’t have been the worst thing).
  • Didn’t redo my kitchen or fix any windows, but I did repaint everything minus the kitchen and organize my space to reflect how I use it most. I found curtains to accent my guestroom’s walls and artwork to hang in my bedroom. While none of these things involved a major facelift and didn’t really teach me new home-owning skills, I feel more at home than I did when I first bought my house and feel confident that it will continue to feel like home.
  • Didn’t run the covered bridges half marathon that I fundraised for due to a foot injury, but I did run a race in Northern Maine that gives back to the town that it’s in (More on that in the next few weeks, it was so much fun! I can’t believe that I haven’t written about it yet).
  • Didn’t vacation in any new places, but I was able to visit Chicago for the first time due to a work conference and saw Hamilton (it was fantastic, thank you for asking). I was also able to explore a new part of Canada during another conference.
  • Didn’t swim in the lake I live on. While this is embarrassing, I did swim in the CT river for the first time and jumped in several brooks while hiking.
  • Was my sister’s maid of honor and gave a speech that I struggled to read because it was so heartfelt.
  • Tried and failed at the whole online dating thing. But I did meet some interesting people during the process and had a date for my sister’s wedding (which in hindsight means my family met someone way before they should have, and he didn’t even stay the whole time…). When it was all over, I found someone when I wasn’t looking who I am very grateful to have in my life.
  • Took measures into getting my debt under control and am feeling less stressed about money.
  • Attended my first Renaissance Fair and will maybe attend a different one in 2020. I’m told by one of my new friends that the one I went to was actually not that good of one.
  • Made new friends and made an effort to put myself out there more. As an introvert, this involved a lot of “putting on my party pants” and reminding myself that I would have fun when I got there and could always leave if was didn’t. This allowed me to meet more crafters, gamers and my first experience dyeing with natural dyes!
  • Tried out being a DM for Dungeons and Dragons. It was actually very fun, too bad the group didn’t last beyond the initial get together.
  • Participated in my first trail races, what a fun way to push your mind and body while being surrounded by like-minded individuals. Loche also ran his first race this year, I can’t wait to participate in it with him again next year.

I spent 2019 trying to slow down and enjoy my surroundings, something that I felt I struggled with following graduating from library school. After two years of go-go-go, it was easy to see that I had lost sight of why I found enjoyment in the things that I did and the places that I went. As I rediscovered who I am, I found myself coming out of my shell, having more confidence and being happier. I could not have asked for a better year, despite the challenges that 2019 poised.

On one stitch at a time

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June 29th, 2019

It happened — my little sister married her long-time boyfriend. It was a beautiful day filled with laughter, glitter, and tears. Lots and lots of happy tears. As Maid of Honor, I was required to give a speech, something that did not daunt me in the slightest. Perhaps I would have been more nervous if I hadn’t been logging hours of presenting time between conference presentations and teaching. Still, it took me hours and a poetic friend to finally feel as though I had perfected my speech.

Things changed as the wedding drew nearer and I started running through my speech for the last couple of times before officially reading it — suddenly I couldn’t get through the speech without choking up. I had worked so hard to pack emotion into the speech so that everyone else would be able to relate to what I was saying, that my words suddenly had too much meaning for me to get through. Still, I didn’t feel nervous. It’s just a speech I told myself, no big deal. I’ve spoken in front of crowds hundreds of times, I can do this.

Fast forward to just after the ceremony, after briefly stopping traffic to capture a couple photos on a local bridge, and just after walking into the reception. I hand the microphone to my Dad so he can welcome everyone and say thank you for coming. As he hands the microphone to my Mom so she can say a few words as well, I notice tears in his eyes. My mom wipes her eyes as she hands the microphone to me and all I can think is sh!t. How am I supposed to get through a 2-minute speech when they could barely get through 20 seconds?

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Photo credit: Amazon

Two lines in it happened, a lump formed in my throat and I struggled to breathe. Mutterings of you can do it came from all around me. My mom came up to comfort me and I (more politely than I remember) informed her that if she touches me I’ll cry. For a brief moment, I considered passing the speech off to the bridesmaid to my right. Then I took a breath and continued the speech, one word at a time.

As I continued to read what I had written, my words gained strength and conviction. I made people laugh and later learned that many in the room had cried with me. Giving that speech was harder than any speech or presentation that I had to do simply because I had created an intimate moment between myself, my sister and her new husband that was being shared with the world. I had accidentally made my feelings raw and real in a way that I had not mentally prepared myself to do, dropping walls that I hadn’t realized were in place and opening the room to experience with me the true joy that comes with being an older sister. 

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Fiddlehead Mittens, Knit in 2016

This one word a time mentality is not something that I came up with on the fly, it’s a mentality that I have used to get myself through numerous difficult situations. It all started when I starting knitting things more complicated than a simple garter scarf. Staring at patterns that seemed complex and intricate, I was reminded by a fellow knitter than knitting is the manipulation of stitches to create a larger object. Fair Isle, braided cables, socks heels, and intarsia are all possible because the knitter makes one stitch after another. Even beautiful lace patterns are made up of a combination of knits and purls (with a couple of yarn overs thrown in here and there).

The one stitch at a time mentality transformed me as a knitter. I was suddenly willing to take on projects that were just outside my skill level and later made me more willing to modify patterns. It’s gotten me through hard races (one step at a time), heartbreak (one day at a time), a speech (one word at a time) and I’m sure it will get me through many other moments of my life. I will always strive to remind myself that even when something feels too big and impossible, it can be broken down into manageable parts.

My Maid of Honor speech:

Over the years that Sara and Ty have loved one another, many of us have been witness the beautiful moments—both large and small—that they have shared. They have both graduated high school and set their sights on impassioned futures. They have traveled together—enjoying adventures that have taken them from the sunny beaches of Bermuda to various snowy ski slopes of New England, bought a house which they have transformed into a loving home, and so much more. I have observed Ty support and empower my Sister in challenging her fears, pushing her to harness the courage and strength we have all seen within her. I have watched my sister fuel Ty’s passions, supporting and encouraging him to consider all the possibilities he is capable of.

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed in my desire for a sister. I never wavered in my pleas to my mother, and was enthralled as Sara was brought into the world. And all that I ever dreamt a perfect sister could be, stands before us. Mom, Dad, you made the best little sister anyone could have hoped for. I was brought up being told to look after my sister, to protect her, and to keep her out of trouble. And here she stand at 22—relatively intact, beautiful, intelligent, funny, and kind. And as much as I wish to take credit, the true credit belongs to her for being the beautiful human she has grown to be.

On the flip side, I did not ask for a brother—but I got one. I never had any expectations or ideas as to what a brother should be or would be like. But over the years, Ty, you have quickly filled that place in my heart and shown me what joy a brother can bring. Ty, I am so happy to have you officially take the role in my life. As your older sister, I pass the mantel to you. Look at the young woman sitting beside you— treasure her, adore her, and grow in your affection for all the facets that make her who she is. Look after her, and remember this includes holding her hand in public and taking millions of pictures together just because you know it will make her smile. Protect her, sometimes this will mean turning on a light in a dark room in case there are monsters and sometimes this will mean holding her tight while watching a scary movie pretending you’re not frightened as well. Finally, do not lose sight of why you fell in love. The years of marriage will be a journey both vast and winding—and it is by constantly reinforcing your love for one another that you will weather the storms and relish the springs.

Thank you for inviting us to see you off on this path you have chosen to travel together and I hope that your days are filled with a resounding happiness and contentment. Please raise your glasses to Sara and Ty, congratulations on your new marriage. May you have a long and happy life together.