From Purity Comes Peace

Now, I’m not Catholic, but I’ve always had a fondness for the Virgin Mary. I’m not sure where it comes from, but perhaps I can use someone else’s quote: “She’s our Mother. Everyone’s Mother. The Mother of the Universe.” Even if you don’t believe in Christianity, or in Catholicism, there is something simpler we can use in regards to Mary being the mother of Jesus, or even as said in the quote, “Everyone’s mother.”

From purity comes peace. Its as simple as that, really.

I’ve never been a big fan of people who readily and quickly denounce others for their lack of purity. Its as if drinking, smoking, drug use, and sexual encounters suddenly dismiss the idea of purity. I don’t like that notion. I can’t recall the exact quote in the Bible, but it goes something like this. “It’s not what one puts in the mouth that defiles it, its what comes out.” That makes so much more sense when it comes to purity. The action towards another, not the action towards the self. Our feelings are measures of our purity. Our emotions, our thoughts, our words directed at the rest of the world, all clarify what purity is. Our motives, our intentions, all come together to decree just how pure our lives really are. We can never be lead into the trap that only the pious can be pure, that self deprecation brings us closer to the Divine, that only guilt sets us on the path of the saints. The real design of purity is deeply rooted in the remembrance of our worth. Anyone who has a lack of self worth has no purity. Anyone who says they can only be pure by being self loathing is not pure. Its as if God, the Universe, the Light reminds us that our purity comes from knowing, in all occasions, in all situations, that we are all part of One. And that our actions bless us when we see in all things we do, in all things we say, in all those we encounter, the same brilliance we see in ourselves. That is purity. Purity is NOT holding yourself to a higher level of worth because you are pious. And in the lives we live in purity, real purity, peace is summoned and created. Our smiles are deeper, not bigger, just more genuine even if they are subtle. Our lives are devoid of pain and suffering when we remember that our intentions determine purity.

Now, why am I going on and on about this? I was watching 20/20, or Nightline, or Primetime Live or one of those shows recently on the sightings of the Virgin Mary, and the thousands and thousands of people that pilgrimage to certain locations in hopes of spotting the Blessed Mother. I was drawn to this, like I said, because I have an unexplained fondness for the Virgin Mother. The correspondent actually did a marvelous job of being unbiased and never gave a thought or opinion on what one would consider the “legitimacy” of these sightings. He was very matter of fact. He did not lean in on whether these sightings were real, or if they were a con. But, it was an interview with a skeptic that caused me to write this. The skeptic said, “There is no way of determining if these people actually see Mary. They certainly believe they do, but there is no way of determining if what they see is truth or a hoax.” And that affected me, it caused me to smile, actually.

50,000 people gather in a field, praying, holding hands hopeful of a connection to the Divine. Purity is sought, and peace prevails. There are no muggings and stabbings, no gossiping about people, no selfies, no clutches to the phone trying to make a business deal. No. None of that. What you have is thousands upon thousands of people all with the same blessed intention. Remembrance of the connection to the Divine. And that is purity. From that purity, 50,000 of us flawed and aggressive humans managed to create an atmosphere of peace within, and peace towards each other.

Didn’t see the Virgin Mary? Doesn’t he understand? Seeing 50,000 in prayer IS seeing the Virgin Mary, it IS seeing purity. Seeing the Divine in others is not a new notion. But it is worth repeating. And seeing the Divine in yourself, with all of your flaws and all of your misgivings, is challenging, but worth attempting. For no peace can come of our lives, let alone of this world, if we do not make that connection to the Divine within, and towards one another.

When someone should mention that they don’t see God, remind them, “I see God. Because I see you.”

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The Touch, The Feel of Cashmere

IMG_0705 IMG_0706There isn’t a feeling in the world quite like it, is there?

I have been so inspired these last two weeks. Not sure what it is, maybe because I’m not in pain? Maybe because I know the mad heat of summer is coming to an end soon? Maybe just because the quiet voice inside finally starting roaring, and instead of doubting, it started declaring. I’ve been getting out and making friends, knitting here and there and connecting with people. I’ve been knitting three bears a day. Two from past orders, and one ready made, ready to ship. And nothing feels better than curling up in front of my laptop at the end of the day, with Mario close by, and unwinding with a dose of ridiculousness on Hulu. My friend Kevin Potter suggested I start doing more video posts, which I’m slowly working on. And my friend Giovanni always inspires my mind with great ideas whenever we talk. I have two books working that should be ready by fall. I’m outta control! There’s a great smile on my face and a great sense of hope and joy in the actions I’ve taken of late.

Do you remember my telling you about the box of yarn that Jennie sent me? Not only did it contain that amazing Noshua cotton, but tucked inside were three skeins of a Cashmere, Merino wool blend by Debbie Bliss. Man, this stuff felt amazing, felt so tender and delicate, so soft and refined. It doesn’t feel like yarn, it feels like a lifestyle of comfort and pleasure. So, this is the first of the three bears I plan to make with that little stash. I adore this bear. I really do. I love the color, his pouting face….I hope he goes to a well deserved home. If you’d like to adopt him, click here.

He measures 12 inches tall, and is ready to ship with a signed card by me. Cheers! I’ll talk to you soon!

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Not Every Bear is Perfect

IMG_0702IMG_0700I’m old school. You never let anything go to waste. What’s the old adage? Reuse, repair and recycle. I only had a little bit of that lovely Nashua cotton from my last couple of bears, so I decided to work up some bears by pairing the white with the green and the pink. The pink bear? Came out flawless. Adorable. Look at that little face. However, by the time I got to the green, I was nearly out of white. Damn…

Aha! Said, I in the bathtub. Eureka! I’ll give the green guy little brown feet! Ta-da! Oh, wait……Piss. Now I’m out of brown AND green AND white to do his ears! DOUBLE damn. So, I found a random spool of some different tinted brown to finish off his ears. So he’s not perfect….but, then again, who is? I still rather enjoy the way he came out. He seems complex and (dare I say) fashionable, in a way. The green and brown look so svelte together. I’m more impressed with him than I thought I’d be. :)

Just click on the picture of the bear you’d like to adopt. They’re ready to shop with a signed card by me.

I’m in a good mood today. Don’t know why. I guess its because I’ve been so productive this last week, getting orders out and whipping up new bears. My arm doesn’t hurt, I’ve got a smile on my face and all of YOU in my heart. So, yeah. I’m in a really good mood today.

Cheers!

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Bears are Like Silly String

IMG_0678IMG_0681 IMG_0685 IMG_0687I usually don’t mess around with cotton. For some reason, the stitches are uncooperative, and moving them along the needle seems to be difficult. I dunno. Maybe its humidity. Maybe its just me. But, I received this gift of yarn from a lovely woman named Jennie. This lusciously awesome cotton from Nashua just felt so good in my hands, felt so pliant and spongy, like marshmallow, or silly string that I couldn’t resist. Can you imagine a bear knit from silly string? Wouldn’t last long, but would be as cool as knitting a bear out of Ramen noodles. Now, THAT would be a challenge. Anyway, with my arm beginning to feel better after my appointment, and with rent coming due, I had to play with this cotton. Everything I had experienced before with cotton was proven wrong. I loved the way it felt moving through my fingers, its squishy softness bearing no difficulty as I moved from needle to needle.

So, here are the three bears I made from the cotton, ready to be adopted, ready to ship with a signed card from me. They’re the same size as my standard bear (12 from toe to head). Just click on the photo of the bear you’d like. OH! I want to say something like, these are one of a kind, but I’m not too sure. I mean. I really like the way they came out, so its possible one day I’ll have more of this yarn if it hasn’t been discontinued. But, for now? There is only one of each. Cheers!

 

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My LIVE Interview on the Huffington Post

ghOk, so I usually don’t blog twice in one day. I was going to wait to post this tomorrow, but I figured, “What the hell….why not?”

Earlier this afternoon I did my first on camera interview. NEVER have I done that before. But, the Huffington Post via Nancy Redd contacted me and asked if I would be part of a discussion about when your stereotypes don’t match your interests. Why me? Because I’m a scruffy looking man that knits. Sure! I’d love to! But, keep a few things in mind. I was crazy nervous, my lamp made my face look wacked, and I don’t have the top of the line computer beauty that most do, so I had to phone in my audio. Kinda funny. I was the only one holding a phone up to his ear.  So goes life.

I told myself, no matter what happened, I wanted to be endearing and optimistic. Especially optimistic. So, enjoy the interview! And see if you can catch my last line at the end of the segment! Click here to watch.

I’d love to continue the convo here, if ya’ll like. Let me know what you think. And by all means, share share share!

Now….where is FOX News at? Being the conservative that I am, they REALLY should have called me by now ;)

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Do You Remember Me?

Do you recall in my last post how I had said I was so anxious for some fresh vegetables? I had a bear listed and mentioned that I had hoped to sell him that day so I could rush up to the store and indulge in fresh vegetables. Especially tomatoes. I love tomatoes. Well, the bear did sell rather quickly and I was off to the grocery store.

Now, I live in an interesting area. I’m on the cusp of a real tony neighborhood and a”not as good” neighborhood. Its not bad, its just “not as good.” So, I live smack dab in between Publix and Winn Dixie. I usually hit Publix, because if you’re not in the southeast, you just don’t know the genius in Publix. Its very affordable, bright, friendly, and EXCEPTIONALLY clean. They take that seriously. But, Winn Dixie had the better sale on tomatoes so I went there.

Now, this particular Winn Dixie is shamed in my neighborhood. And why? For one of the strangest reasons you could ever think of. No matter how good the sale might be at Winn Dixie that week, you won’t catch the people who live two blocks over to ever, EVER, go there. And why? Well, next door to Winn Dixie is a weekly hotel where many homeless people live, with the majority being men. A lot of them will band together, pan handle, collect recyclables, or do whatever they can to pitch in to share a room. So, you’ll have 5 guys living in one room. Its pretty much a place to sleep and be off the streets. And believe it or not, this is a step up. This is a hopeful way forward. They sleep on the floor of a crowded room, hope not to get into fights, hope no one gets drunk, and cook their meals on the barbeque pit in the weedy courtyard downstairs.

Now, Winn Dixie is where they shop, or sometimes to get away from the crowded room, or the fights, or just to be left alone. They wander around Winn Dixie, or just hang out in front of the store where they have a free water dispenser. Because of this, many, no let’s say MOST of the people in the neighborhood won’t go there. They don’t like the sight of it. They don’t want to be bothered with it. I, of course, don’t care because of my history. So, I go up there if they have something on sale.

That particular evening was interesting. I walked up there, grabbed my tomatoes and some other vegetables and as I was coming out of the storm, the usual afternoon monsoon in Central Florida started. The bottom of the clouds opened up and began drenching with a deluge everything below. So, I hung out under the awning of the store waiting for the rain to pass, standing not to far from two homeless men. A few seconds later, a few more fellas came out of the store, and a few more from out in front of the building. So, there I stood amongst probably ten homeless men, all of us with our belongings in tattered bags, all of us with clothes found or picked up in at a church thrift store, all of us sharing at one point or another in our lives the same moment of hopelessness. I looked around at them, watched them, their faces, many blank and without spirit, broken, discarded. Forgotten.

Yes, its true. Some of them have substance abuse problems. Others have mental health issues. And some, like myself, just hit a financial oil patch and skidded towards ruin very quickly. I had that same look on my face for a long while, too.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was one of them. And another miscalculation in the near future could put me amongst them again. So, what was different between us now? I have a very tiny place to live, but its mine. I don’t go a day without eating anymore. It may not be the BEST thing for you, but at least I don’t fall into bed hungry. So, what was different? How did I escape? Was I lucky? Did I work harder than them? Was I more of a survivor? A fighter? The only answer I can truly claim, is that I never gave up hope. Yes, at that point in my life back then, I definitely was convinced that the world had not only trampled me, but that it had forgotten me. I could see that in their faces under that awning the other day. They felt forgotten, invaluable. Dismissed. Unnecessary to the world at large. Unwanted. And why wouldn’t they? They’re reminded of it often. People don’t look them in the eye. People turn their heads when these men approach. Hell, people won’t even shop in the same grocery store with them.

And maybe that’s the difference. I made damn sure that the world would not forget about me. I made damn sure that I reminded people that I was valuable. I wasn’t going to just go away. I opened my heart so that I could feel wanted. I was HOPEFUL that the world was filled with compassion, care, kindness. And with heartfelt joy, I am able to say I’m right. ALL OF YOU reading this have been on this journey with me. With my hopeful writing and my sad eyed teddy bears, you helped nourish that hope. You never forgot me, you lifted me. You remembered me.

The rain disbursed, and slowly the sun began to creak through the cracks in the clouds. I gathered my bag of produce and started to leave. I turned back around as I was halfway through the parking lot and saw them standing there, faces still uncaring, too beaten inside to have any hope left. And I whispered under my breath, “Don’t give up hope, guys. I’ll always remember you. I won’t ever let you be forgotten.”

Those men you see on the side of the road, or passing by with their shopping carts, or bound up in parkas even though its 90 degrees outside……they’re always in my thoughts. Yes, fellas. I remember you.

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Big Brown Bear

IMG_0670 So, I finally have my appointment to have my arm looked at on Friday. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. The whole ordeal is just making me cranky. I’ve been wandering around with a timid scowl, left arm outstretched, rotating my wrist, looking like some crazy old man dishing curses out. So, I’m looking forward to just being done with the pain and getting back to normal. I haven’t been writing much, knitting until it hurts, then resting my arm in my lap limply. I plan to celebrate with a cartwheel.

This is my bear for today. This was the last of that lovely brown skein of wool from New Zealand that was given to me. His cousin is on his way to England, sp there are only TWO of this little guys on the planet. He ended up being MUCH bigger than one of my normal bears. MUCH bigger. SO he’s a nice size for cuddling. He’s ready to ship with a signed card from me. :) If you’d like to adopt him, click here.

I’d like to get him adopted today. I’m craving a salad. I haven’t had a tomato in forever. So, I’m craving a nice salad. With tomatoes.

Ok, I’m gonna knit a little more for today, then call it quits. To keep me company while working lately, I’ve been purge watching “Murder, She Wrote.” JB Fletcher ROCKS.

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Grit, Punch, Growl

So, this hand of mine has really started to bother me. I had a friend come over and take a look. He’s studying massage therapy and he asked where the pain was exactly. “From my wrist, down into my thumb, shoots up in my bicep and then lingers in my shoulder, near my rotary cuff. My pinky and ring finger are numb.” He just looks at me and says, “here, let me try this….” He begins working on my shoulder blade, painfully causing me to leap and bounce in my chair until I finally said, “Ok, ok, ok….I’m sorry, man. But, I can’t let you go any further until you get your license. You’re HURTING me.”

We decided on using Aspercreme, Icy Hot, Tiger Balm. Nothing. No change. As a matter of fact, I wandered around my little apartment last night smelling like a pickled old man. Not even Mario would approach me. She just looked at me oddly as if asking, “So where’s your truss???” Back off little kitty. Back off.

I haven’t been able to get an appointment yet, and the whole ordeal does make me a little nervous. I mean, I need these hands of mine. This is my work, my livelihood…..but more so, enjoyment. Knitting is becoming more painful. But, I work through it. I mean, is there a choice??? You work through pain, you grit your teeth, you punch pillows, and you growl when you put your boots on. But, you have to proceed. You have to continue. You HAVE to.

IMG_0663I’ve been working with a larger yarn, bigger needles. I have this yarn that was given to me from New Zealand. Amazing stuff. But, I decided to work with it, because it seemed like there was less movement the larger the needles were. So, the head of the bear is already larger than the body of my usual bears. I think he’s already been claimed (I’m pretty sure of it actually), but I thought I’d share a pic. Hopefully, the larger the bear, the less pain. And we can work on figuring out what in the world is wrong with my arm.

That’s the update. If you can, pick up a pattern or two. Or let someone know about my patterns. The less I knit right now, the better. Even though, they’re only a few dollars, it really does help out.

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Electric Bear

IMG_0636 IMG_0637So, my left hand (sounds like a weird version of “My Left Foot,” but about a knitter) still has quite a bit of trouble. The usual. Holding things, sharp pain running up my arm into my shoulder blade. This isn’t the first time. But, there you have it. I’m trying to recooperate, but work needs to be done. And like I mentioned in my last post, Carlos and Kara have been helping me with much of the knitting.

But, despite whatever issues we have at the moment with my hand,  we still have obligations and bills. Bears still need to go out, over due bears that need to get to their adopted homes, and the usual monthly expenses. That’s why I named this little guy, Electric Bear. I made him up so I’d have the funds for my electric bill. I think he looks so classic. You know? Like….I dunno…..like the teddy bear you see in the corner in a scene out of Peter Pan. Or, tucked under the arm of a kid lost somewhere. Or, the bear found under a pile of old toys in a chest. Classic. If you’d like to adopt him, click here. He’s ready to ship with a signed card from me. He’s made of wool and measures 12″ from toe to head.

I don’t wanna write too much, for I do need to rest my hand more. And I need to work up bears for Kathy, Terry, Pam and Benita this week. So, hope you’re all well. I’ll write little notes here and there to give you progress on my hand. Hoping to see the acupuncturist this week sometime.

 

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The Last Purple Bear

IMG_0602Well, that’s that for my stash of purple and the little bit of the Debbie Bliss Merino Wool for the muzzle. I would love to write more now. God knows I have a lot to say, but I have to confess my left wrist is killing me like crazy. My left hand is numb and my wrist feels like its been wrung through a washboard, so I figure it needs some rest. If I can afford it, I plan to go see the acupuncturist up the road. I’ve been to him before when I had a groin injury seven years ago. (Long story :) ) So, If you’d like to adopt him, he’ll be shipped out on Monday with a signed card from me.  He’s made of acrylic (except for the muzzle), stuffed with polyfill and measures 12 inches from his tippy toes to his head. If you’d like to adopt him, click here.

Hope ya’ll have a great weekend. Me? I really do think I’m gonna take two days away from knitting to let myself recover. There’s much to do, but I can’t do it if I’m injured. So I’m gonna sit back, have myself some boiled peanuts in my pajamas while watching something crass and wrong on TV and see if we can’t get this hand of mine back in shape. Thank goodness for Kara and Carlos…..and all of you, for that matter. Thank goodness for all of you. (I think I’m gonna watch “Fried Green Tomatoes”. Why not?)

 

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