Swing at the Strikes

Baseball is 90% physical, the other half is mental”

~ Yogi Berra

DSCN9507

My father once told me that life was like a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs. You slowly ascend on the ride, and it seemingly takes forever to reach the pinnacle. Finally you get there, but before you can even really take the time to enjoy the view from the top, your stomach drops out and you are plunged back down to the bottom. It’s funny how quickly the ride goes on the way down, as compared to the length of time it took you to reach the top. After a few twists and turns, the ride starts its slow upward motion again, only to drop you once more, and the cycle repeats itself over and over again.

The roller coaster theory is a good one, as life is certainly full of ups and downs, and occasionally a few loop-de-loops, but to me, there is a problem with this way of thinking. On a roller coaster, you have absolutely no control over where you are going. You just hang on tight and go wherever the ride takes you. In order to be successful in life, YOU need to choose what you want your final destination to be, and chart your own course to get there. If you allow others to make choices for you, you will never know where you are going.

I have found that life is much more like the sport of baseball, with a new game every day.  Although it is a sport played by a team, each player has a specific purpose, and is responsible for his own success. Rookies learn from the veterans, and coaches are there to help you make the right decision, but in the end, it is all up to you.

As in life, in baseball, you can be looking for a fastball, and be thrown a curve. You can strike out in one inning, and come back and hit a grand slam the next. You’re never too old to learn a new play, and you can be down by 10 runs with only one out left, and still win the game. There are no time limits, no one blowing a whistle at you telling you your bid is up.

Although many people think that Yogi Berra’s “Yogisms” don’t make much sense, I live by a lot of them. His simplicity got lost in translation many times, but his words have always made sense to me, and my favorite Yogi quote is “Swing at the strikes.”

While I had originally started this blog with the intention of writing a new piece at least once a week, I was thrown a hanging slider, a perfect pitch to hit, and I HAD to swing! It meant having to pretty much halt every other thing going on in my life for months, but it was a Grand Slam for me. My business has grown leaps and bounds because of it. I show up every morning, ready to play two, and it has worked. My business has already reached the same amount of sales for all of last year, and it isn’t even my busy season yet.

I work far too hard at what I do though, which leaves me very little time to have any kind of balance in my life. So, I am currently working on a new game plan to change things up a bit, so I can free up some more time for other pursuits, but  will still show up every morning yelling, “Put me in coach! I’m ready to play today!”

Just as baseball is a timeless game of tradition, the basic steps of how to achieve success in life stay the same, year after year. With only minor alterations to the rules, the game of baseball has virtually remained unchanged for over 150 years. The equipment has improved, the ball parks have become fancier, and the uniforms are more comfortable, but the basics of the game are still the same. A homerun is still a homerun. A ball is still a ball. A strike is still a strike, and if you want to be successful, you need to swing at them.

 

A House Divided

15894539_10209717751355280_1072422393444821144_n
Wreath is ready for Sunday’s game!

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” is a quote that Abraham Lincoln made famous in 1858, when speaking to the delegates at the Republican State Convention in Springfield, Illinois. While this statement as much truth today as it was over 150 years ago as far as our country and political parties go, the one place it is not true is when it comes to sports fans who are in, what I like to refer to as, a Mixed-taste relationship.

Sure it may be nice to be in love with someone who cheers on your team as much as you do, but there is a certain danger, much like gambling,  that adds excitement to a relationship when you are on opposing sides.

I am a lifelong Giants fan who has to share an abode with a Green Bay Packers fan. Yes, the smack talk abounds in this house. Especially this week, as our teams prepare to play each other in the first round of the playoffs.

In the fall, I took part in an NFL Swap, and the lovely lady who got me did a fabulous job on this wreath for me. I cannot take credit for making that, although I do plan on making more of them for baseball and hockey season, as my betrothed and I cannot seem to agree on any team when it comes to sports.

The wreath had been sitting on my shelves next to my front door since the fall, as I hung fall flowers and Santas and poinsettias on my house for the holidays, but it’s January. I needed my football wreath!

My mother used to decorate the house for every holiday, and I have gone and taken it a step further. I feel the need to have a theme, colored lights, silly tchotchkes  and a door decoration for every month of the year. I am obsessed with celebrating!

While this project was not on my WIP or UFO list, it has been something I have wanted to finish since the fall. My wreath was all done up in the right colors, but it was in need of a sign. So I set about to making one.

I had gotten some wood slats from Joann’s that can be found in any craft store, and I got out my paints and started working on it. It is not as neat as I would like it to be, as what is good enough for government work is NEVER EVER good enough for an artist, but I am happy with the result, as it gives it a very whimsical look. I may be the only one who knows really knows that the “whimsy” was due to very cold weather and crappy arthritis. Next time I think I will try using paint pens rather than a size O brush.

While I plan on giving detailed instructions on how to make your own wreath in a future post, it is fairly simple, although may be rather time consuming, but well worth the effort.

It involves a store bought wire wreath form and lots and lots and lots of ribbon. Cut your different ribbons to the length that fancies your taste, and tie around the form.

You do not have to live in a house that is a sports war zone to use this idea either! If you are lucky enough to reside with someone who has the same good taste as you, you can use the team colors for a solid wreath.

No matter who your team is, I hope this inspires you to have some fun and create something different to decorate your home in those months where it seems there is nothing to celebrate. Life is all about celebrating the small things as well as the big ones!

UFO or WIP?

The year that many have called a horrible one, 2016, has finally come to an end. The arrival of 2017, as with every new year, brings with it promise for new beginnings and fresh starts and blah, blah blah. I’ve never been one to follow traditional ways for the most part, and the only New Year’s Resolution I have really ever made in my life was resolving not to make any resolutions.

This year will be different though. This year I am not only making one resolution. I have a long list of them. I guess I am finally making up for all of those years when I never changed a thing except the date. Getting better organized is at the top of my list. The truth of the matter is that I am still working on my spring cleaning…. From 2013.

While I would like to have an immaculate house, like the one my mother kept, the fact is I live in what I like to call “Creative Chaos”. My house is not filthy, it is just a work in progress, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Three years ago I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD. It was a very enlightening moment for me to realize that my brain doesn’t function like most people’s do. Yes, I went through the whole, “Oh my gosh! I’m friggin’ crazy!” shock to my system phase, and then I started about working to fix it. I am a problem solver, and I love a good challenge, so I saw it more as a test than anything else. If anything, once I began to really think about things, it was actually wonderful in a way to find out that my brain doesn’t function like most people’s, because all of a sudden, things made sense to me.

There are no drugs for this disorder, and no cure. It is just something you have to learn to live with. My emotions go on a roller coaster ride everyday. It’s like I’m waiting in line at Disney World one minute, and then all of a sudden, one text, or phone call changes all that and I have a move to the front of the line pass and get shoved into a car on Space Mountain and just hang on for the ride, not knowing what direction I am going in.

It is a long road to wellness, with the ultimate goal for me being to find balance. I don’t think I’ve ever really had any real balance in my life. It’s always been one extreme or the other.

With that said, the trick is HOW to find that balance. There is no one tried and true way for anyone who suffers from BPD to ultimately achieve the goals they have set for themselves in order to live what is considered a “normal” life. Each case in innately different, and different tools and approaches must be used. Since I have always been artistic, my approach has been a sort of art therapy, mixed in with spiritual healing, a part of my life that I had lost touch with when stress took over.

Part of my healing has also included clearing the clutter from my life so my brain has less to worry about. Creative Chaos is okay, but living in chaos is not.

I moved into my house three and a half years ago, and I have still not really finished getting it set up the way I want it. So, my task as of late has been to slowly go through all the old junk lying around here and purge, purge, purge. Some days I am much better at getting rid of things than others, but baby steps count, and I am at least getting more out than I am bringing in.

While reorganizing the shed recently, I came across a tote marked UFOs. One lone tote of about what seems like thirty out there, all with projects that I started and never finished. In Crafter lingo, UFO stands for UnFinished Object. Some choose to call them WIPs, for Work In Progress. I guess I chose to call them UFOs because I wasn’t working on them at the time, so I didn’t consider them WIPs. They were more a “maybe I will finish these things someday” kind of thing.

It was only then did I see the correlation between these scraps of fabric waiting to be sewn, half-finished afghans and unpainted pieces of wood and myself. I, too, am an unfinished object, a work in progress, in need of attention to make myself a useful object that is also a piece of art.

The repetitive motion of pulling one loop through another, the clickity-clack of knitting needles hitting each other, the hum of a sewing machine, these are all soothing to me. Working on anything creative is my way of meditating.

I realized months ago that working on amigurumi dolls allowed my brain to finally take a break from itself. I’m not one to use stitch markers, (as noted in the beginning of this post, I do not do most things in a traditional manner, however what I did not mention is that I somehow always seem to choose the more difficult road to accomplish things), so I have to count every single stitch that I make. I MUST stay focused on what I am doing if I am to avoid failure. It is very healing for me. Could it be that working on these UFOs of mine would cause a similar result? I guess I will find out.

I am tackling one project at a time, in between working on new designs and orders for customers of my etsy shop. I hope you will follow along with me as I dive into the totes and choose which projects to complete, which projects to tear apart and salvage materials from, and which projects to just totally toss in the bin for good and say goodbye to forever.

The truth is that although I, too, am an unfinished object and a work in progress, I don’t ever want to stop being that! I don’t ever want to be finished learning, and growing and changing. I don’t want to be stagnant. At the same time however, that does not mean that I cannot be complete.

I will be sharing patterns and ideas, and I’m sure there will be lots of laughs along the way as well. I might even share a recipe or two, if I don’t kill my own family with them anyway. I hope that this blog will inspire others to find their creative side, finish the UFOs in their own life, and share their journeys of healing and growth as well.