“Wild Nights are My Glory”

I walked home tonight from the church around the corner, and I was blown away by the beauty of the evening. The sky was a jumbled pile of different shades of gray and all the bare-branched trees were bending creakily first one way and then the other in the wind. The old Victorian houses in my neighborhood were the only solid things, and all I could hear was the roar of the wind and the skittering of dry leaves across the ground. There is something magnificent in a stormy night like this, and I was happy both to be walking in the midst of it and to have a warm destination waiting for me.

My stormy walk made me think of two things. The first was how much I have missed being outdoors. John Muir, a famous naturalist, said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” That is certainly true for me. Since I was a child, I’ve gone outdoors when I’m hurt, angry, sad, pensive, or exultant. Happily, it’s getting warmer outside, so I can start spending more time out there.

The second thing I thought of was an analogy, because that’s how my brain works. (Seriously, ask me to explain an abstract concept to you sometime.) What I’m going through right now, what any of you are going through right now, is a type of stormy night. It’s darker than usual, the wind is whipping things around, making them seem unfamiliar and unsettling, and I’m not always sure I can make it home before I get soaked. You know what, though? Storms come. When we were in Arizona for my father-in-law’s funeral, my niece said something very similar. We were talking about grief, and teasing Madison a little about her frequent crying, and she said, very simply, in explanation, “Tears come.” Well, so do life’s storms. You can’t fight them, but you can ride them out.

I’ve always loved the book A Wrinkle in Time since reading it as a little girl, and in it one of the witches says, after coming into a house through a raging storm, “Wild nights are my glory.” My young, melodramatic heart leaped in agreement when I read that phrase, and I still feel it resonate with me when I walk through powerful winds and heavy, expectant air. I decided tonight that I can make my life-storm a glory also. There is a beauty in those who deal with difficulty with grace and strength, and there is something compelling in people who try to serve others while in the middle of their own struggles. I want to be that type of person. I may never like kidney failure as much as I love stormy nights, but there is a destination waiting for me at the end of this trial, and if I do it right, the person I’ll be when I get there will be a lot closer to the person I want to become.

I’m going to be getting more blood work done this next week, so hopefully my anemia is under control and I will be able to stay off dialysis a little longer. Wish me luck!

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Therapy

I know I let you down last week. For the first time since I started this blog, I wasn’t able to stick to my one post a week goal. Ok, that actually sounds arrogant to me. Let’s rephrase it: I let myself down. Believe me, I’m completely aware that this whole blog thing is much more about me dealing with my shadows and letting long unused talents see the light than it is about bringing hope to the hearts of the masses. However, if you did miss me…I’m sorry.

The truth is, the last month has been much rougher for Kohl and me than I had thought it would be. The previous year, as my health slowly faded, I felt like every day was a magical gift, and I was grateful. However, I was also a little arrogant; I kept thinking, I know how to deal with this kidney disease, and though I’m not looking forward to it, I can be stronger than it. Then we were hit by a succession of emotional trials, and sometimes I feel like I’m breaking.

Kohl is still grieving for his dad, and I don’t always know how to comfort him. The other day my heart broke when I heard him sobbing in his office, only to discover that he was actually gasping for breath while he laughed hysterically at a YouTube clip of someone getting hit in the head by a ball. Other times I find him with tears in his eyes as one of his dad’s favorite songs comes up on his iTunes playlist, or worrying that he’s not close enough geographically to help his family.

For me, besides the constant yo-yo of “I feel pretty good today…oh, wait, I’m starting to feel cruddy…no, no, that must have been a fluke; I’m feeling ok…oh, man, I feel terrible,” I’ve also been dealing with the fallout from an emotional conflict with loved ones that has left me struggling with a lot of anger and bitterness, and I’m not sure how to adequately, or healthily, cope. I thought I had learned how to deal with these emotions better than I have, but apparently I still have a long way to go. To top it all off, I got a call last night that my grandpa had had a heart attack (they think), his kidneys have shut down, and he’s in the hospital. Although it sounds like he’s doing better today, there are still a lot of unknowns, and I’m feeling a little out of control.

I’m not sure why all of this is happening at once. Why is it that struggles so often come together? What is it that we need to learn from the combination of grief, fear, emotional distress, and helplessness? If it’s that we sometimes are unable to cope with situations all on our own, that we need help and love, believe me, I am feeling it. I think there is something else, though. I feel like there is some profound truth just beyond my vision that I am supposed to be in the process of learning right now. I hope that I’m discerning enough to grasp it soon, because I do not deal well with emotional pain.

In the meantime, I am trying to be calm and allow myself to feel what I need to feel to work through the anger, fears, and stress. I’m turning again to being creative to help soothe my frazzles. I really love just sitting in silence and working with my hands; I love music, and I like watching things as I work normally, but lately the silence has allowed me to really think about where I’m at and what I truly want while my hands are creating structure and beauty out of tangled threads. In fact, the other day I sat down with some yarn I’d been crushing on for months and created my own pattern for a simple cowl. I spent a few hours on it, and afterwards I felt amazing.  My problems weren’t miraculously solved, but I felt more able to deal with them. Plus, I can never have too many warm things to wear up here on the mountain; this place is cold.

Below is the pattern I created as therapy this weekend, for those who are interested. Please don’t sell the pattern or the finished piece without my permission. (Not that I think any of you would, but apparently this is important to put up for legal reasons.) Here’s hoping that it might help someone else with their frazzles too. If you have questions, let me know!

WOODLAND TWEED COWL

Measurements: 7 ½” (19 cm) by 52” (32 cm)

Materials:

Lion Brand Tweed Stripes yarn (100% Acrylic, 3 oz/85g/144 yd/132m) or other bulky (weight category 5) yarn: 2 skeins Woodlands

US K-10.5 (6.5 mm) crochet hook, or size to obtain gauge

Gauge: gauge is not critical for this project

Foundation Row: Ch 132. Being careful not to twist chain, connect circle with a slip stitch in first chain.

Row 1: Ch 2, hdc in same chain. Hdc across.

Row 2: Ch 2, (FPhdc around hdc, BPhdc around hdc) across.

Row 3: Rep Row 2.

Row 4: Ch 1, sc across.

Row 5: Rep Row 4

Row 6: Ch 3, *sk next sc, 1 dc in each of next 3dc, 1 dc in skipped sc, repeat from *. Join to top of turning ch with sl st.

Row 7: Ch 1, turn. Sc across.

Row 8: Ch 2, hdc across.

Row 9: Ch 1, turn. Sc across.

Rows 10-13: Rep Rows 6-9.¹

Rows 14-15: Rep Rows 6 and 7.

Row 16: Ch. 1, turn. Sc across.

Rows 17-19: Rep Rows 1-3.

¹ The current pattern will give you three repeats of the central pattern; if you want to make the cowl wider, repeat rows 6-9 once or twice more. If you do choose to make it bigger, you may need another skein of yarn.