Monday, January 20, 2014

Adventure, Peace, and Beginnings

Dear readers:

I wasn't sure where to start with 2014. I'm stuck and have been for a number of years. The thoughts for this year is to move forward. Not to conquer but to take the first precious steps toward change. A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, right?

So, a few days ago I was trying to find my stash of composition books for a Mod Podge project (my handiwork below) and found an old journal I made in January 2012. I had written about a knitted sweater started the previous year. In my journal I was promising to finish it within the next few months. My poor sweater was unfinished in 2012 and sits unfinished in 2014. My pretty undone thing represents almost everything I haven't committed to since, well ... forever.



After pondering over my journal discovery, I woke with resolutions this morning. Not the earth shattering kind just the enough-is-enough-and-I-need-to-do-something kind. I gathered my soul coaching cards and grabbed my mason memory jar I received from my sister for Christmas. I decided these will be my main resolution tools for 2014. You might think my cards are silly but I take anything positive that keeps me on track when and where I can get it!

I was full of excitement as I shuffled and flipped out three cards: "Adventure, Peace, and Beginnings" - these cards epitomized the pace I needed to set for the new year as well as reaching my goals in the years to come. You see, I had already decided to put in motion a retirement strategy for 2016 and I knew a major part of it is to follow through on my decisions. I'd also decided to use my memory jar to write down my future goals as well as my favorite memories throughout the year. The picture below doesn't show off the memory jar but there are my cards. (I'll be posting more on the memory jar in a few days and will provide better pictures then.)



As I read the meanings of the cards, feelings and goals started to fall into place and helped me align things in my head. I knew my first step was to figure out why I do what I do that keeps me stuck. I already know I don't really "love" myself but, wow, to learn to love myself seems so HUGE! Terrifying even. Where would I even start? Then it occurred to me that when I look in the mirror I'm not even okay with what I see staring back. The light went on and right there I found my first step. I need to be okay with me. Not love me, not like me but be okay with who I am. I know I'm a good person. I know my core is based in kindness and compassion but I have a hard side which expects so much from myself. It stops me from moving forward and it filters the way I see myself. But you know what else it allows me to do? FAIL!

Yup, that's right. Not being okay with myself allows me to so much room to fail. It keeps me in sitting smack dab in the middle of that tight, small, dark space of going no where. It lets me do just enough so I can feel secure that I'm a good person but I have an excuse not to rise to my potential. Additionally, it gives me the little perk that when I finally do or create something really nice I'm amazed that I pulled it off and when I don't -- eh, what should I expect? If I do good it was by accident, if not, failure was expected anyway. Nice little out for myself right?

I've found my first step; To explore what does and doesn't make me feel okay. This is my foundation because once I'm okay I then can find what makes me happy. What are challenges become adventures. What is failure is now my learning curve. Angst is replaced by peace. I'm allowed to fail but most of all I'm allowed to grow in the shadow of failure. I can take my first step.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy New Year and Happy New Me!

Dear Readers:

Happy New Year and here's to wishing you happiness, health, and wealth for 2014. I can't say 2013 was bad but it certainly isn't in my top 10 all time favorites. My kid's best friend passed away and he was officially diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Thank God for generic Prozac! By Fall he was on the correct dose and was able to concentrate on school and found his niche. His plan is to become a chemical engineer! WOW!

Sadness still hangs in the air but there is truth in the saying that time heals. My son has his oddities which sometimes puts his peers at a certain amount of unease. JP was a young man that could understand and see past the hand washing and into the person. He was extraordinary in so many ways but most of all he was my son's friend and for that, I mourn him too.

On to 2014! I have so many plans and goals for myself. I'll be turning 53 and frankly am running out of time to figure out who I am and what I like! It's funny but now seems to be the exact right time to sort it out. My son is needing me less and on to setting his own goals, there is no husband, and work has just become that ... WORK!

So like I was saying, now is the perfect time to figure out who I am and what I want for what I'm figuring will be the rest of my life. I have so many things I want to sort out and make right. I want to feel good in my own skin and there's nothing holding me back. Right now my mind is so schizophrenic with all the things I want to accomplish that I created two blogs to help me out. My home blog, AlteredGrace.com, will chronicle my ups and downs in figuring out life and my newest blog, CraftyMin.com, will journal the growth and enhancement of my creative side. It's all about potential and going for it: personally and creatively. My blogs are bound to creep into the other every now and again until one eventually takes over. Wonder which it will be?


The "should" of who I am is gone. No house, no husband, no expectations and no hard feelings. I truly mean that too. There are no hard feelings. Just that I've spent far too much money and find myself in debt for the next couple of years until cars and loans are paid off. I hate juggling bills but what is, well, is. I was never a rich girl but it's been years since I had to pinch pennies. This is my 5th year without a raise and ever increasing expenses but Lord I'm grateful to have a job. Today, I find that I have to pinch every single penny I have including those I find on the street. It's actually been good and sort of cathartic. It's making me realize what is important in my life. If I really need something "that bad" then I'll figure out how to get it. I believe setting a goal is what it's called and setting goals is something I've never really done before. I've always gone with the flow and things always worked out for me. Never in control but never totally out of it either. The bummer it that it's been less so recently. However, it's up to me now and I know it's going to work out because I know they will, I just do!

Whelp, there's my road map for 2014! That means I'm off to get myself situated for the first post of the year. See you on New Year's Day!

 AlteredGrace

Sunday, October 13, 2013

CHA, CHA, CHA ... Changes

Dear Readers:

I made a big decision regarding my blog. I was trying to combine my creative, crafting side with my personal journey to find out what I'm doing in life. It's just not working. I think I need to separate the two cause how do you combine light and dark? This is the ying and yang that must exist but not on the same blog. AlteredGrace was created during a divorce that pulled the rug out from under me. It destroyed a part of me and that is the connection I have to this blog. I need to work through it but it's gonna take awhile.

So, with that, I created CraftyMin. I'll be posting my handy work on that site and continue working out my personal stuff on AlteredGrace. And believe me, I got stuff to work out.

Thank you for visiting,

AlteredGrace


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Measurements, Week Old Cookies, and Hip Line Media Pant Fitting Guide

Dear Readers:

I have been putting off making a pair of pants for months now. I've tried a few "miracle" pant systems and haven't been totally satisfied partly due to my many fitting issues and the other due to being lazy. I'm not so sure that it is true laziness or that I'm afraid of failure. I've always thought that I have sewing talent but the real truth is: I've never pushed myself. Never learned tailoring techniques. I just felt patterns should fit me. Today, I've taken off the rose colored glasses and pulled out the measuring tape and a real fitting DVD.

Before I talk about the Hip Line Media Pant that Fit, Finally DVD, I'll tell you about what I see in the mirror and feel in my heart. Reality shows that I am not a small woman. I am not an average woman. I am a large woman. I am 5'10" and currently a 2X in size. Like many women of all sizes and ages my weight goes up and down but I've never been smaller than a borderline XL/1X. I'm a big girl.

Me in the Mirror:
1) I have wide hips but a flatish butt and tummy for someone of my height and weight.
2) I have long legs. Longer than average and longer than traditional "talls".
3) I have next to no waist. There is only a few inches between my hip and waist measurement.
4) I am very short waisted however, vertically, I have long hips.
5) I have a small bust. Again, there is only a few inches between my bust and waist measurement.
6) I have a tire under my bust which is larger than my lower abdomen.
7) I have fat ankles. The reason I wear pants instead of skirts or dresses.
8) I need to exercise ... badly!

Me in my Heart:
1) I've got fitting issues but I'm not that bad. No woman really is all that bad. We are who we are.
2) I've got psyche issues due to being bigger than normal all my life. Try growing up in the 70's with Brooke Shields, Ditto pants, and Vanderbilt jeans. That gives a girl some real issues right there.
3) I hate my ankles. They grow fatter during the day which makes feeling okay in dresses or shorts impossible.
4) Last year I was smaller but I went through a year of being in a weird situation where looks, breasts, youth, and size were valued over ability. I've been large all my life but I never experienced being objectified. It's over now but I'm struggling and the situation is still in flux. Not good for a stress eater. Hello added weight gain.
5) I need to exercise ... badly!

So, with a measuring tape in one hand and a week old chocolate chip cookie in the other, I embark on my journey to fit and produce a pair of simple slip on, elastic waist pants.

The facts, ma'am:
I'm using Simplicity 1884 for the pant pattern, Hip Line Media DVD for the fitting, muslin for my muslin fitting, and poly-gaberdine for the fashion fabric.

More posts to come as I document my journey and ...




The Cutest Blog on the Block - Love this Site!

Dear Readers:

See that logo in the corner? On the left side? Yeah, The Cutest Blog on the Block logo.It's a great site for people like me. When it comes to my blog, I want the flexibility to be able to change the look of my site at will. However, currently do not have the skills to do things on my own not do I think I'll ever obtain those skills. TCBOTB allows me to do it all - banners, backgrounds, accessories, and bunch of other stuff with that crafty sleek look I love. Best of all, IT'S FREE! Annnnnd they give tips and tutorials -- Again, FOR FREE!

If I ever get to the point where I actually have to think about branding - This will be my go to site for custom creations. I thank TCBOTB for providing a free website and will be loyal when I have more extensive blogger needs. Until then, I'll be a customer that brags about their site.

While I'm thanking sites for being free, I have to give a holla to Google. Gmail, blogger, youtube, and Google search ...I use these everyday ... so THANKS!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

400 Stitches ... a little progress

Dear Readers:

A few months ago I mentioned that I had picked up a copy of 400 Knitting Stitches by Potter Craft and was so inspired that I made a commitment to make samples of each of the stitches in the book. Well, readers, this is actually a project I started!

First I selected my yarn. I chose to go with Red Heart's With Love acrylic yarn for two reasons. First is because Red Heart is easily purchased at almost any chain craft store and second is because it is inexpensive and usually on sale somewhere. The nice thing about living in SoCal is there is an array of hobby stores within minutes of where I live.  I went cheap because, with a possible 400 swatches, I didn't want to invest a bunch of money. Below are my initial color selections. They are so pretty.


Once I had my yarn, I couldn't wait to start! The first three swatches were pretty easy. They were the usual stocking, garter, and moss stitch.  The book included a reverse stocking stitch but that happens to be the back or purl side of the stocking stitch. I didn't bother making a swatch because I can flip the stocking swatch over and voila! Reverse stocking stitch.


These samples were fast and easy to complete and actually on gauge! I even have proof ...


I was so inspired I completed two more swatches which, for me, were a bit more challenging. I'm still a beginner's beginner so double moss and rib stitches took a little longer but I got them done. I think they turned really nice too.


The next set of swatches will be 1/2, 2/2, 3/2 and 5/1 rib knit. Wish me luck cause I have a tendency to fall asleep while stitching so it may take awhile.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Deconstructing Me

Dear Readers:

As I have stated so many times in the past, the purpose of this blog is to provide a creative space to explore my life. AlteredGrace is my little slice of the net to experiment with my creative side through crafts, sewing, and writing in hopes that I'll someday discover who I am and what direction I want to take with the second half of my life.

Yeah, well readers, here I am at 52 and no closer to being crafty and centered than I was at the time of my first post. I have plenty of excuses. Yeah, I'm divorced, Yeah, my son is in college and less dependent. Yeah, I have a cat and blah, blah, blah ...whatever... jeez ... God, what has happened to me in the last 5 years? With the exception of a few more wrinkles and many more grey hairs, I'm no further along than I was in 2008.

Over the last few days I have been thinking about how I let time slip past me. Deconstructing the actions that brought me to where I am (not) today. How did I misplace my priorities so horribly? In reviewing my missteps I realize that every time there was a choice between me or something else, I let the "something else" have priority. Whatever "it" needed I would do my best to assist even to the detriment of me. And for what? For people who are no longer in my life or won't be soon? For others who screwed up and left broken pieces for me to pick up? Am I insane? I tell you I must be if I'm willing to ignore myself for so many years. Upon even deeper reflection, I managed to give myself some credit for continuing to practice my crafts BUT in the overall picture I haven't honed any of my skills. Damn, that really SUCKS!

With the realization that I've gone no where but three steps backwards in the last 5 years, it's come down to no excuse time. It's time to step it up. Let me tell you, I am SCARED to death. While under deconstruction I realized that I have a ton of confidence in what I can do for others but not an once when it comes dealing with me. Can this old dog learn to look out for herself? We shall see ...