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Selfish, Greedy Sock Yarn

I think if you’ve read this blog for a while you know how much I adore knitting socks. There are many selfish reasons for that and I don’t have a problem saying it to the knitting community at large. I love knitting socks because I get to be selfish. 

Everything I make I sell and that’s how I pay the bills. The only thing I get to keep are my greedy socks. Oh, I love the hours circling around and around with my needles watching the color ways change, the pattern show itself, the time spent quietly in wonder of something other than commerce. Then I have to focus, paying careful attention as I turn the heel. Careful now, careful, I tell myself. Screwing this up could cause the whole thing to collapse! (Not really, but I do like motivating myself). 

UntitledThen I get to swirl again into mundane sweetness. No thoughts, just watching the colors turn and collide, blend, then subside. By the end we’re at the toe and my sock is done. I slide them on, slip on a pair of jeans, then zip up my boots….and no one can see the result of the most amazing time I’ve had: me time….

Socks are me time. Knitting socks is the time I get to be greedy and selfish with my talent and just sit back and not worry how quickly I have to make them so that I can pay rent. I don’t have to think about that with socks, because knitting socks for just a moment allows me to take down the road blocks that keeping me from moving on into happier, healthier, wealthier. 

I get to day dream greedily, selfishly about the things that I want out of life. 

So someone randomly, anonymously sent me some sock yarn yesterday.

I put my teddy bear down. It took ten minutes for me to open the package, find the sock yarn, then (hallelujah) have it on my needles. Sock yarn greedily, selfishly found its way into my hands at just the time I needed. 

I’m finally going to get some me time….some amazing me time. 

If you appreciate my work, please donate. I truly do appreciate it. I wouldn’t have the courage to write like this if it wasn’t for your support. 

 

 

I Forgot About My Mother

My mom sadly said to me recently, “I’m sorry I wasn’t the best mother.”

I had to stop her right there. I disagreed completely. Despite whatever hell and horror my sister and I went through as children, my mother still managed to raise two people who are forgiving, that are kind, that would rather create things, rather than destroy them. She truly did find a way to craft two children into souls that love to find the beauty in things, rather than the worst….simply on instinct. To be fair, the rest was up to us!

UntitledI have horrible memories of my father….but, none of my mother. They’ve always been of comfort, of self sacrifice (she joined the army as a young woman, so her babies wouldn’t starve).

Shamefully, I’ll confess I’ve spent so much time focusing on my father’s death this last month that I forgot all about my mother.

It’s Mother’s Day….and mom, I know you’re reading this because you absolutely adore my work (even when it’s just a glued macaroni smiley face).

I’m sorry I can’t be with you today. But, you and I BOTH know what we would be doing today if we were able to visit. We’d sit in our pajamas on the couch all day eating spaghetti, crocheting, and binge watching the Real Housewives of Wherever. The little kid in me wants to gift you with a free coupon to redeem whenever we get to do that again 🙂

Mom? (Crying while I write this)…..

I’d like to think of myself as very good soul, a good person, or at least a man who makes the attempt, who tries to be those things. But, if that is the man I am, then it can only be because I had the best mom ever.

I love you!

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!

My Strangled Thoughts About Naomi

I know a lot of you get a little worried when I haven’t blogged for a while. To be truthful, I worry when I haven’t either….

My head isn’t in the best place at the moment, and I’ll probably fill this space with a lot of that, trying to figure out too many thoughts at once. Or maybe I’ll do a stellar job and figure out all these thoughts as they come to me.

I told Phillip earlier that Naomi Judd’s death really worked a number on me. I cried my eyes out. Now, be mindful, I’m not a fan of the music. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just not the sort of music that speaks to me. I did not know any more about this woman other than her musical and pop culture influence. But, when I heard her daughters had penned that Naomi had died of “mental illness,” I broke down…for basically, a total stranger. And that’s ok, too. I didn’t need to know where she was from, what she did for a living, nor what she even cared about in life….I just know she lost that fight that many of us are in.

I have written about my own battle with mental illness extensively…and even when I’m not writing about it, I’m sure a few of you said, “This guy isn’t quite right in the head.” If you suffer from mental illness, and you hear about a case like Naomi, it gets you in the gut. It makes you feel in so many ways that things are never going to get better. She was on the eve of being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the precipice of a career arc….That wasn’t enough to save her. And even on a broader scale! Fame wasn’t enough. Fortune wasn’t enough. A close family wasn’t enough….and sadly, maybe even faith wasn’t enough. So, it got her.

And we all worry about that same fate in a way. Maybe not in suicidal terms, but in being robbed of our grasp on things.

ALERT! DISCLAIMER! Please DO NOT think that I am suicidal in ANY way. God knows I’m having the greatest time running through this life as Gregory Patrick. I ADORE my life. PLEASE, do not freak out and assume that I’m talking about doing myself in. Absolutely not! That sort of thinking never crosses my mind. No, that is where my faith keeps me stable.

But, because mental illness doesn’t always end in suicide doesn’t mean it won’t end in a slurry of other really bad ways. And that is the part that many of us think about when it comes to someone like Naomi. A creative person, who still could not work out what it was that wrecked her so much. That’s precisely why I get nervous when I’m not writing….I’m not working something out. I’m giving in and allowing something to stew instead.

When the lack of interest in life becomes a lifestyle, you know you’re in trouble. The whole point of mental illness is to strip and rob you of any joy in life. It is by nature an illness that causes you to quickly dislike and suddenly find everything disinteresting. The filthy skin you live in becomes your cocoon while your broken mind is slowly being boa constricted with bullshit.

UntitledSome days are better than others….Some days you wait for it take over because you just don’t have the energy. And other days you battle it to that mat and win. With my agoraphobia, I’m happy for the one day out of the month I’m able to actually convince myself to go further than two blocks to buy food at Publix. And there are other days where I’ll be buying something from the 7-11 on the corner because I’m too terrified to walk or travel any further. I have to hurry back home, you see…..something bad might happen to me, something bad.

So, Naomi Judd’s death hit me squarely in the jaw and had me thinking so much about a ton of things. My father died last month, I’ve lost voice again, my teeth are not pleased with what I’m eating so my face is in pain and I feel……trapped.

Funny to hear an agoraphobic say the words, “I feel….trapped.” But, that’s pretty much what mental illness leads to: being strangled and trapped by your own thoughts.

Ya’ll don’t worry about me if I’m not blogging regularly…well, not too much.

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!

A Tidal Wave of Great Embrace

I will profess a love for my little bed. It’s a simple thing, no bigger than a cot, and built pretty much the same way. But, despite the way it sounds, it is perhaps the most comfortable thing I’ve ever slept on. No matter how badly my body may ache in a day, it’s all washed away the minute I collide with those cool cotton sheets. I dive under my grandmother’s quilt and squish myself against the wall, clutching the pillow, sighing lightly, then drift into sleep.

Two nights ago before going to bed, my body was hurting me badly. I can’t explain it. It just felt rotten. I had spent the day outside hoping to pray, but in a way that didn’t clarify anything with words. I was pulling as much of the contemplative out as I could, just feeling something, rather saying it aloud. And in that quiet, there was that simple revelation that my body hurt because my heart was still in a tremendous amount of pain.

So, before I went to bed I prayed in the same way, fashioning my intentions on a feeling, rather than the actual words needed. I quickly latched onto how good this little bed was making me feel right now, how comfortable I was. And without realizing it, the words just begin to free themselves in thought, in true emotions, as each image drifted through my mind.

Betty was curled up in her own bed beside me, her own musings lulling her to sleep. Phillip is on the other side of the house, peacefully content, there if I should need him. Then my mind went even wider, smiling at how many more blessings my mind kept moving towards: how blessed I was to live in this charming old bungalow in a kind neighborhood with good people, how the sun shines more days here than not, how gracious people have been to me, how much peace and prayer I find in creating words, knits, or embroidered flowers, how blessed I am to know so many of you that have come into my life with nothing but kindness. I’m sure my mind just kept going all night long, but I was asleep before I knew it….and slept for 10 hours.

meI’m usually up well before the sun, well before Phillip who has to get up at 5:30 some mornings. This morning was different. My eyes slowly opened to sunbeams in the room, the chirping of birds outside, my cat stretching in the window….and this immeasurable sense of calm, as though some sort of healing had occurred. Yes, that pain in my heart had driven me to a terrible place that made my body feel as though it were rotting from the inside, had distracted me from functioning in real life. But, that pain had been washed away by a tidal wave of great embrace. So much love came from everywhere, from all sides last night, leaving me washed and clean, freeing me to wake up this morning with that same beauty still fresh on my mind.

And I can’t tell you how much better I feel.

So, I really need to focus on getting back on track. I’ve been working on a creme colored bunny and bear, won’t be ready until tomorrow, but just to give you a heads up on what my day has been like so far 🙂 Creative and productive!

20220412_103704I still have the three embroidery pieces in my shop that could really use a home. “Leggy Vincas” is still available, and she’s one of my absolute favorite pieces. These last weeks were rough, distracting, caused me to doubt myself and my creativity. I assure you, that pain is gone for good. That can’t happen anymore. Not if I remind myself of how blessed with love I am. No matter what my financial situation is at the moment, God will take care of me as long as I continue to find him in my work (and all other things). Ora et labora.

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!

Loving too Little….

I feel a little like a zombie. My eyes look insanely tired, there is a droop in my smile. I’ve been staring a lot, while not at all in thought. Just….zoned out. There have been a lot of intense emotions over the last two weeks and that intensity can be exhausting. My tears ran the gambit. Everything from sadness, to forgiveness, to resentment, to betrayal, then back to forgiveness again. The one thing I had not done, the one person I had yet to forgive, was myself.

I’m not quite back to where I want to be in my head, for my head has kept me from sleeping. Tossing and turning at night is just the result of my mind doing circles. Wanting to move forward with hope, but slipping far too back into the past with memory.

The one particularly beautiful thing has been how close these last two weeks have brought my sister and I. We don’t talk about what just happened….much like how we really don’t like talking about what happened to us back when we were kids. No, our conversations have been random and off topic. I think that’s a good thing. It’s not any sort of avoidance. It’s growth. We’re both free now….no longer bound (but, on a deeper level always will be) by the events in our childhood lives. We’re adults now. My sister and I can now learn about each other without that being in the way.

Despite all this, I haven’t sold very much in the last two weeks because I haven’t really thought about a whole lot. Like I said in one of my previous posts, I didn’t even realize it was trash day and forgot to take my bin to the road. Now the bloody thing stinks to high heaven and has now TWO weeks worth of nonsense piled in it. Every time I walk by it I try not to get disappointed in myself, but that’s precisely when self forgiveness should be applied. I’ve had other things on my mind. I can’t berate myself for something that will be fixed in due time….

So, I have lowered the prices of my two embroidery pieces in the shop so that they will hopefully move very soon. I’ve got bills starting to pile and dear old dad’s dying didn’t help things.

You know, it’s funny. I had always planned for his death, emotionally. We all knew it was coming at some point, he’d been ill for years. I’d rehearse in my head how I’d feel, try and work out the emotions before they happened. That did not work. I never in a million years thought that I would have felt as deep as I did (on all spectrums of the emotional scale), when I heard the news that he had not yet died, but was about to. All that rehearsal was nonsense on one basic premise: you’re trying to hard to force something you have no idea about yet. You get to change your mind in rehearsal, switch to different emotions to see which one feels most convenient for you at the time. In reality, those emotions happen at will, beyond your control, and sometimes to crippling effect.

UntitledIt’s early on a Sunday morning in Orlando. It’s going to be about 75 and sunny. I think I’ll spend some time sitting outside by the blessed mother, maybe embroider, maybe knit, maybe just spend the day forgiving myself for loving myself too little. I think that would be a wonderful thing to do.

Again, my embroidery pieces are in the shop. 

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!

The Price of Hell is Worth a Dollar

There were no provisions made for my sister and I in my father’s will….

Well, that’s not entirely true. He left us both $1 so that neither of us could say that he forgot about us.

I felt at first as though my heart were blown out. It was hard for me to consider that he sat across from a lawyer, having thought about the abuse he put us through, to have the whole experience be worth a memory, and nothing more. I understand that I would probably be omitted. We had walked away from each other. However, the manner in which he handled this after his death feels cruel. It feels like an insult.

Money is one thing, but there was no mention of any parting words for his two children. There was no desire on his part that we might own some personal things of his to remember him by. No. “Here’s a dollar for all the hell I put you through.” (There was a pocket watch he had. It was given to my grandfather for his service on the railroad. When he died, my father got it, had it restored. I had always thought it would be passed to me in some gentleman’s way of carrying bloodline through time. No, my father gave it to a cousin of mine quite sometime ago….)

I know that the natural inclination is to feel anger. But, I don’t. I expected to be written off….I wish he had done something for my sister, though. He owed her that. The torture she endured was much more sinister than the abuse he inflicted on me.

I don’t feel angry because I forgave him the day he died. And you don’t spend all of that time crying your eyes out at the frailest of memories or emotions for nothing. Forgiveness has no conditions. I either forgive him, or I don’t.

Of course I forgive him….

But, I will be gathering up all of the mementos I have of him and getting rid of them. I see no need to memorialize a man who physically and emotionally beat me every second he could,  only for him to throw a hundred pennies at me in death and say, “Here! Take that! You want more? Keep crying….I’ll give you more…” And CcraaAACKKK! went the sound of his belt as he snapped it in his hands, warming it before striking me.

I don’t need his things. I have my memories of him….

My father and I will probably be forever at a distance. Such a distance there should be no mention of him, there should be no memory, there should be no animosity for someone I no longer think about. I forgive him. I hand him to God, I hope he finds the beauty in what he is experiencing now. I do not wish him pain. I know that he is in Heaven, not in hell, for no one goes to hell. For none of us that believe in a truly loving and forgiving God would let go one of His own souls, for souls are just little extensions of God. For none of us as true Christians would ever want anyone to endure the pain or suffering that we’ve experienced ourselves….not even unto those that inflicted it upon us.

hellYes, the price of hell is worth a dollar, for it took me to a place of needy redemption for my own inabilities to forgive people that transgressed me, you could say, only to find in that place of suffering that the only way to go was up, and the only way up was to find my truly Heavenly Father, who never disappoints. But, in order to embrace the Heavenly Father’s love, He said, “The only way you are ever going to appreciate how much I love you is to forgive others. I will never ever be able to hold you as dearly as you wish if you hold resentments.”

With that, this will be last I discuss the whole situation. I’m ready to enjoy life, knowing all the truth that I needed to know about how my father felt about me has been cleared up. I could let that become a pain that strains my life for another 30 years, but I would truly rather have laugh and have fun with those that truly love me.

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!

Eulogy: Are We Good, Dad?

My father is going to buried within the next few hours. The services will begin at 1:30 this afternoon.

eulogyI’ve spent the last couple of hours working on this embroidery piece. My way of laying something at his grave, since I cannot be there. As I said in a previous post, it reminds me of the uniform he’ll be buried in, the medals that will announce his accomplishments, and the truly bombastic and loud nature of who he was.

I’m having a harder time with all of this than I thought I would. I thought it would be easy and clean before he died to say, “Good bye.” But, now that he’s gone….well, it’s been a little more complicated than that.

I’ve been really broken up inside because when my father and I said, “Good bye” to each other for the last time, you could tell neither of us really meant it….because we didn’t spend the rest of our days lobbing bombs at each other. No. We had found a way to find peace by not trying so hard. By being out of each other’s lives, we had a better way to think about each other on occasion and pray that either of us was well. That isn’t hatred for one another, that’s love through a lens that sometimes needs a huge distance in order for it to be seen. I love you, but can’t be around you. But, rest assured I’ll always be thinking about you when we’re not close.

Which was always kind of beautiful in a way. I learned to love my father the further I was from him. I allowed myself to wish him best whenever I could, and in that process, in that prayer, in that wish, I never for a moment thought he wasn’t doing the same, from that close place of prayer, where you truly feel your heart has legitimate concern and love for someone you just cannot have in your life. Because the only way that this situation works is if we forgive the both of us and bury every piece of nonsense that kept us from having enjoyed being in each other’s lives…rather than looking for a way to get out.

So, it’s about 12:30 now and he’ll be buried within a few hours.

Are we good, dad? I hope to God so. I know you never meant me harm. I feel that now. And dad, it’s ok. I know you forgive me for whatever I may have done to pain you. I know my list is long. As they eulogize you and memorialize you before burying you….I just want to say that I love you….And I don’t doubt for a second that you still love me, too.

And dad? I just want you to know that I look forward to having you in my presence whenever I want from now on. No distance, no lenses, but just by having you in my heart.

You can pray for my father if you wish. It’s beautiful of you, because he’s someone you didn’t know. That is so incredibly kind of you! But, I’d rather you just think about someone you pushed, or dismissed out of your life…on purpose. I cannot stress it enough: there is no freedom in that solution, only more pain. Perhaps you’ll find what you adored in each other and find some joy instead.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m going to go watch “Big Fish” and cry my eyes out.

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!

Meet Fuzzy and Forgetful

bear3Well, with everything that’s been happing, I’ve forgotten about rent, life, trash day….So, I figured I’d better finish a few things and put them up in the shop. I have two adorable little patchwork bears and two amazing hand embroidered pieces available, so take a look…

I’m still in a little bit of a fuzzy haze. But, slowly and peaceful, life is starting to get back to normal.

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!

Flowers for His Funeral

I was not invited to my father’s funeral. I had to ask my sister, who seemed to show some hesitance. She is without a doubt the only person in my life that I can truly say “doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.” She was probably trying to shield me from the pain of….purposely being omitted.

I haven’t heard from that side of the family. None of them. No one has reached out. No one has asked me to say anything, nor to even ask if I’d like to attend the viewing, if I’d wish. Can you blame them? For as many stories as I’ve shared about my father, I’m sure he’s told just as many about me.

My sister shared my father’s obituary with me via facebook….but, I couldn’t read it because I had been blocked by whatever family member shared it. My sister took screen shots so that I could know when he was going to be buried, so that I can pray along with everyone else. I asked her for that. I want to pray then, so just please tell me when. I want to be able to participate in at least that way.

The whole situation may seem cold and brutal from the outside. A viewer looking in may determine with disgust that this whole situation is just wrong.

But, it isn’t. It was decided, quite a few years ago, when we thought it best to just go our own separate ways, when we decided to grow apart and build our own lives.

funeralIf you’re reading this, I’d love for you to learn this, for I certainly do feel this: if you decide to rip someone out of your life, you’d better damn well mean it. For, that solution to all of your problems has a lot more pain in it than you think it does….especially when they’re gone for good.

I’m praying for my dad while working on this bouquet. Has bits of his military uniform, bits of his decorative medals, bits of his bombastic nature. I can’t send him flowers for his funeral, so I thought I’d do this. I’ll hang it on a wall somewhere and use it as a way to visit his grave whenever I wish.

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!

I

Goodnight, Old Man

It’s quiet today. The sky seems solemn. The light of the sun is dim. The vibrant colors of spring are muted today. Even the yellow jasmine that dangles from the power lines seem to have lost their vibrancy for a moment. The birds haven’t chirped a word. The squirrels seem to have taken the day off, deciding to stay home in the trees, rather than scurry past my window. There is a condolence in this silence, as if mother nature is being quiet for the day to show some respect.

My father passed away yesterday afternoon, as my family knew that he probably would. Phillip and I just waited for the message to be spent. I will confess that I felt so much better when I heard the news. I’ve heard people say that before. I never really understood it, until I felt that relief of knowing that he finally felt so much better. After years of being in agony and fear, clutching to anything to stay alive (two lung transplants), he was finally the man he remembered himself to be: a proud paratrooper in the 82nd, Chief Warrant Officer (CW4 when he retired….you can’t go any higher, for there is no 5), and stationed with the 5/502nd in Berlin when in 1989 while at dinner a server rushed over with an urgent phone call. On the other line was a solder. “Sir, we have an issue. The Soviets just surrendered one of their tanks….weapons included. Something’s about to happen….”

dadI was up last night finding myself debating my favorite memory of my father. I kept having to change my mind. 🙂 In the process of all that I got to spend a lot of wonderful time with him. I felt him around. I saw him as he was as a young man. Ambitious, determined. Proud….and loving every door that life opened for him. I felt him last night as a spirited man, happy and excited about the possibilities to be made in life. Before I went to bed, I laughed and told him that I loved him.

And just as I settled in to bed, I heard him call back in my heart, “Goodnight, Patrick.”

My father never called me Gregory. He always called me “Patrick.”

I chuckled, “Goodnight, old man.”

I’m glad my little world is so quiet today. I’m being allowed a little time to hear nothing, but feel so much wonderful joy at the same time.

All will be well.