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2019- The Year of ‘Challenge’

Happy 2019! It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone, and once I again, I need to reset my intentions for the following year. Resolutions are easy to make, and easier to break, so instead of resolutions, I try to focus on a word that will guide me throughout the year. Last year, my focus was ‘joy’- finding joy by trying ‘all the things’. The nice thing is that is a journey that I am still on, and connects with my focus for this upcoming year.

This year, I have decided to make my word ‘challenge’. I want to look at the things in my life (both creatively and personally), that I have pushed aside, or given up on in the past and try again. I also want to push myself beyond my comfort zone and try new things that I may have said ‘pass’ to in the past. Below I have listed some of the ways in which I am challenging myself this year! I’m sure that this list will grow as the year progresses, and I promise to share them as I go!

Knitting

knitting

In my first year of university, I was looking for extra-curricular activities to engage in (and provide an outlet from the stresses of university life), when I saw an advertisement looking for people to make knitted scarves for children from low-income families. If you provided your own yarn and knitting needles, they would teach you how to knit in exchange for donating completed scarves. I really enjoyed it, but found the ‘purling’ stitch to be really challenging (possibly because I’m a lefty?), and since I was trying to make as many scarves as possible, just stuck to the knit stitch. I produced a lot of scarves, but was limited in making really anything else with only one stitch under my belt, so knitting faded away.

Recently, having seen fellow crocheters knitting, and taking up knitting successfully, I’ve been inspired to try again! My first project is the Greenpoint Cowl pattern from Lion Brand, which can be found here! There is also a matching hat pattern, which I may try as well after I complete the cowl. I will be sharing my first knitting attempt in a future blog post, so keep an eye out!

Wheel-Throwing

I started taking pottery lessons in the summer of 2017, with a focus both on hand building and wheel-throwing. I found myself both becoming more creative in hand building (especially where fairy houses are concerned!), and quickly found skill in throwing on the wheel. I started throwing bigger pieces, with thinner edges, that looked really good (in my opinion anyways!). I made a variety of plates, bowls, pots and bird feeders that I absolutely adore (the photos above are a selection of some of the pieces that I have made). All of a sudden, in the fall of 2018, it all fell apart on me. I was feeling significantly unwell most days (the joys of chronic illness), and my attempts at throwing clay became almost symbols of my ongoing struggle. I was unhappy with just about everything I threw, and was wasting a lot of clay in the process. I switched solely to hand-building, which I have to admit was a lot of fun, as I had more time to build a very complex fairy house!

After my hiatus, I’ve decided to try again. I’m starting small again, slowing down, and focusing on one solid piece a week. If I have one solid mug, bowl, and plate by February, I’ll be a very happy potter.

I’ve also been quite inspired by the bubble glazing technique which I am desperate to try. Check out this article from Ceramic Arts Network on bubble glazing- how fun!!

Mindfulness

Mindfulness, which is the practice of living in the moment, is something that has been important to me for a while. While I have continued to utilize the skills and tools taught in mindfulness to reduce anxiety, I have slipped in some ways in living in the moment. I find myself rushing from one thing to the next (especially in crochet) instead of slowing down and appreciate what I am currently working on or experiencing. I find my mind racing, and feel the need to be doing instead of ‘being’.

To become a more mindful person, I’m refocusing by bringing two activities back into my practice. Firstly, I’m starting to meditate again. I have used the Headspace app in the past, and have been really pleased with it. I like that it provides meditation sessions for a variety of situations and experiences, and that it has both guided and unguided meditation. There are however lots of apps, videos and other ways to meditate.

I have also restarted my yoga practice. I first tried yoga about 5 years ago, and found it to be a real mixed bag. I started out with a ‘Yoga with Adriene’ 30 days of Yoga program and absolutely loved it, so looked for more opportunities to further my practice beyond my family room floor. I quickly learned that yoga is taught in a lot of different ways. I tried Les Mills ‘yoga’, which was fast paced and had very little meditative components. Great workout for the body, but not so much for the mind, and if I’m being honest, not a lot of focus on form which can cause injury. I know lots of people who love this type of yoga though, and that is awesome if it works for you! I also tried regular yoga class, but taught by a fitness instructor which was a bit slower, with more modifications, but still felt very formulaic and still missing that mind-body connection. Again, great for some people, which is also awesome. I then tried taking yoga taught by a yoga instructor. Total difference.

However, I soon became ill, and yoga fell to the wayside. I have now come circle, and at the beginning of the year started again ‘Yoga with Adriene’, following her new 30 Day Yoga program called Dedicate. If you are interested in joining me, you can sign up here, or check out her Youtube channel for all of her videos, which are free!! There are lots of great yoga instructors and videos online, but what has brought me back to Adriene again is the same reason that I was interested in her method in the first place: her statement which she says frequently throughout her videos ‘find what feels good’. You never feel rushed completing her videos, and regardless of where you are (which may be 20 minutes of child’s pose), you feel like you have accomplished something and have bettered yourself. The first few days of the program I really struggled. Recognizing poses that used to feel easy that are now hard was difficult, but what was the most challenging was staying in the moment. I am anxious to move to the next pose, instead of just being. I’m looking forward to working on my practice, both for my body and my mind.

Collaboration

Teddy's Day at the Beach
My first tested pattern- Teddy’s Day at the Beach

I started crocheting as what I thought would be a solitary activity. I quickly learned that this is not the case, especially by connecting with the amazing online community that exists! Through Facebook groups, chats on Instagram, testing and having patterns tested, and sharing my patterns with you on this website, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with people around the world! This year I want to extend my connection by collaborating with other crocheters. I’m not exactly sure what that will look like at this time, but it is something I want to explore more.

In the end…

I’m really excited about all of these challenges for the upcoming year. I feel that they are all feasible because they aren’t goals with a start and end, but more of a shift in mindset. Not to say that having concrete goals is a bad thing- if you have specific goals that you are working towards  this year, that is amazing. If, however, you find that you frequently give up on your new years resolutions, perhaps join me in a new mindset and set a new intention for yourself! Finding joy in all the things brought me a lot of happiness, even in very difficult times last year, and I’m excited to find where ‘challenge’ takes me in 2019.

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