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The Power of “Good Morning.”

I was walking home from the supermarket this morning, head lowered, brow furrowed, a sullen slowness in my step. My shoulders hunched, my fists in a bunch next to my side.

“Good Morning!” I know I heard him say it, but wasn’t fully present to receive it properly in the thought. He said it again, “Good Morning, my friend.” And I stopped, as though surfacing from sleep, and looked at him almost embarrassed. “I’m so sorry,” I said shaking my head, a simple smile making way through the haze of darker thoughts. “Good morning, to you, too. Have a great day.”

I have had this routine with this man for nearly 2 years, nearly every weekday morning. He’s a traffic guard for the school on the little lane I live. As I’m coming back from my morning shopping, I pass him, and we smile and say “good morning” to each other. It’s a simple interaction between two people who know nothing about each other, but share a certain level of politeness to each other on a daily basis. And you know, I have to say, if I’m late, or early and I miss the part of my routine, it does feel as though something was missing from my morning. Then it dawns on me: that frail moment of politeness in passing has a power to it. It sets the mood for the day, it allows the day to begin with a hint of grace, it starts the day with just enough human connection that it allows a smile to echo silently in the soul. I move on, and that’s that.

IMG_2636But, this morning, I was so wrapped in my whole head about the events of the last few days, that I wasn’t paying attention to that. And I needed to hear that. It snapped me back quickly. Before I moved on, the shadow of anger and frustration dropped off my spirit. I was allowed my usual morning return, these moments I have described so often, and with such heart felt passion, about the early morning sun in spring. I paid attention again to the azaleas and bougainvilleas blooming in striking colors against the vibrant green of palm scaped lawns…. The warmth of the air is cooled just enough, the sun rises to lesser heights, and chirping interests of birds dabble in the distance just soft enough to hear. This is my favorite time of year, and I was missing it….

So, I thought about the last few days and remembered the practice of patience and understanding that I first pursued so long ago. There will always be evil, mean spirited people in the world who band together in mad mobs with the sole purpose of destroying people, and the more you fight them, the more you suffer. When you pursue truth, they promote lies. When you concede to ideas of compassion, they battle back with maliciousness. You will never win when. But, then again, if you remove yourself from their power, then they don’t win either. You have to find some madness in someone who gloats and laughs with pleasure at the promoted destruction of another human being. And I realize there is nothing I can do to soften the blow. They are the embodiment of a psychosis that hurts all of us in this modern world: the narcissistic need to harm someone else to show power. But, I’m not going to do that. I’ll find a greater power in silence and kindness. So, in terms of the last few days, I kindly walk away and will allow that bubble to burst somewhere else. I will not fight back, I will not engage with the deepening sadness that has caused so much hate to flourish. And I urge all of you to do the same.

So, I walk away with a better understanding of what it means to fight back. Refusing to engage is perhaps the the best way to win. I have made my points on the issue, I have pointed out how the situation evolved, then escalated. I have placed blame where I felt it was needed. I have learned that you will never be able to eradicate the things that people say about you, but you can refuse to listen. They may have done an excellent job of ruining my reputation, and harming some of our income, but I will not allow them to harm my spirit.

I am thankful that I have so many supporters, because those supporters have become my friends, a certain quiet kind of family spread all across the globe. We have promoted tolerance and truth in this blog, we have promoted the compassion in our craft, and we have done our best to introduce a new story line to the rest of the world: that you are not alone in this world, no matter how much it can hurt, you always have a place here. To my supporters, I knew you’d stand with me, not only to fight back a horrible injustice, but to allow some civility to reign. To my detractors, and to those that purposely wish to hurt me, or my friends and followers, I can only offer the power of “Good Morning” and wish you well. I am no longer involved in that madness. Do what you will with it, but we are walking away from it feeling we have done what we could with what we have, and at this point, that is simply to offer you will engage us with the same courtesy, for we all that we hope from here is that your smile echoes silently in your soul for the rest of the day if someone offers you just the frailest bit of kindness.

I’m going to spend the day doing what I do best. Writing in my poetic, contemplative way, knitting things that will offer hope to someone in need. So, “Good morning, everyone. Have a wonderful day.”

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Feminists Attempt to Destroy Male Knitter For Political Beliefs

If you don’t follow me on Facebook, then you are probably unaware of the controversy that has erupted over a conversation in a knitting group about the “Pussy Hats” used at the Women’s March. Before you read the rest of this blog, go ahead and watch the video below to get you up to speed.

Now, you may not agree with everything I said, nor even any of my opinions for that matter. We can beautifully, or even harshly disagree with each other. Yes, we can get into fights, get into heated rows that may strain the hope of ever having a friendship. But, once this video was posted, the issue got even nastier. We wanted to put this behind us. They banned me from the group (which they have every right to), and after they followed me to my Facebook page and kept up the madness, I started blocking them (which I hated to do, because I wanted people to see both sides, but their side was skewed with misinformation and lack of emotional reasoning). But, there you have it.

I then posted a motion that we simply move on. We’re going to use our craft for some benefit, for some truly good cause that was non-political. We were finished, right? Putting better energy into the world, right?

16425516_741142992717549_1309617436_n-1Apparently not. The same members of the group decided they weren’t finished with me yet. Now, they had purposely decided to destroy my career. They were not going to give up because, as one person said, “there is no place in the world for a homophic, transphobic, sexist like him.” So, they apparently went on a campaign to not only ruin my career, but to financially cripple me. Yes, they wanted to see the once and former homeless man homeless again to prove a point, that you were not to disagree with them, and that any disagreement would be cause for absolute annihilation of character, finances, and reputation using quotes out of context and misinformation. Basically, they didn’t want to see me silenced, they didn’t want me to work again. This screen shot was sent to me so that I could see exactly what they had called for. An absolute ban on not only my work, but my livelihood, as well. As you can see, this feminist group decided they were going to direct people to my work for the sole purpose of downgrading it with bad reviews. Well, I thought that was silly, you have to buy the book in order to review it, right? Which would mean, I get paid, so who cares. I still get paid….Apparently not. Anyone can write a review, even if they haven’t read the book.

 

amazon2This morning, I woke up to find this on Amazon. Yes, in a matter of hours, they had taken to Amazon in strong numbers to destroy it’s ranking with negative reviews. I have reported each of the reviews to Amazon as abuse, but who knows how long it will take for them to respond, or reply, or even take them down. If she wanted to screw me, financially, she has done a pretty good job. This is another moment where a conservative who disagrees with a liberal has no chance for survival. Who knows how many books were not purchased because of the reviews? Who knows what publisher might be looking at my work and feel it’s a dud in the water (the book had some really GOOD reviews), but the most recent are the one star reviews, pretty much where people would decide if they want to buy it or not. I did have something of a partnership I was working on with a larger company, and I can pretty much say that is probably not going to happen now, because when you’re trying to market to knitters, you’re probably marketing to a large number of women, and the last thing they want is a partnership with a man who is “sexist, transphobic, and misogynistic.” (It’s funny, I’ve spelled and seen “misogynistic” so many times in the last 3 days that I no longer need spellcheck to get it right). Now, keep in mind, throughout this whole episode, and even in my videos, I never named any names. Because I didn’t want to cause any one to go and harass them. That was until I saw that one individual’s post and realized that if they were going to proudly announce who they were, then I had no problem helping them out. The original screen shot on my Facebook page, DOES have her name.

They only think I can do is to sue her for any income I might have lost because she purposely mislead people, using my own words in order to get rid of me, because again, apparently the world has no place for people like me. And when you hear a statement like that, is it just that want you ruined? Or are for you to not even exist? It’s a frightening situation. But, maybe that would be too expensive? Who knows what kind of income we’ll have right now. Maybe the only thing we can do is…..go away? I mean, what do we do? Phillip says we should start a “Go Fund Me” for legal bills.  We may have to use those funds for rent, we may have to use those funds for a number of reasons because of what this whole ordeal may have cost me.

The admin of the group did contact me and say they had taken everything they could in regards to this situation down, but I had to remind her that damage had already been done. Two days of vitriol and character assassination had already done some serious damage. My name has already been trashed and my income has been affected.

cordell2Yes, this is the nastiness they are smearing me with. And I won’t tolerate it. If it comes down to needing a lawyer, then I’m afraid that’s what we’ll have to do. And we may not even be able to get a lawsuit. But, we do know that we have to do something to protect ourselves, rather than bend and bow to bullies that claim to be tolerant.
I wanted civility once. I guess the other side doesn’t care too much for that.

We have to clarify, that we are being told by third parties she is posting that she has contacted the police because I harassed her, a lawyer for something, and that I know full well she has a child at home. So, again. With everything that has happened, I may have to hire an attorney, NOT TO SUE HER NECESSARILY, but because I just may have to defend myself. She says to others she will not contact me because her lawyer told her not to. I’m not going to be bullied and I’m not going to let her play the victim card now. Yes, now it’s my fault. And she’s crying in the corner, having to change her name and promote victimization for being treated unfairly because she’s just a fragile woman. And I have to put down my knitting needles to defend myself. Well, game on, darling. I will raise the funds to fight you back. I’m not going down without a really good legislative fight.

So, my husband and I have started a Go Fund Me campaign to help with the legal bills, or to just to cover the losses of what the lies these women have costs us.

If you are really REALLY tired of being bullied by people who don’t agree with your political beliefs to the point of ruining your career, by all means, PLEASE share. Because for everyone one of us they take down, someone else that disagrees with them is next, using wildly exaggerated campaigns to erase the fact the you even existed.  If they wanted to frighten us, they succeeded. If they wanted to hurt us financially, they succeeded. If they want us to go away and never be heard from again, I’m putting up a fight. And you can help us win it.

If you wish to help with my GO FUND ME campaign, please click here.

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The Big Dreams of a Little Teddy Bear

img_5651I’m really glad that everyone seems to like the excerpts from “Man Vs Skein.” I told you it was going to be so much different than other books on knitting. In my mind it is like “Memoirs of a Geisha”…..with knitting needles. So far, we’ve sold 35 copies. Some of the big names out there aren’t threatened by my presence….yet 😉 But, I know with your support, and your sharing my blog posts, and telling people what you think of my writing, then I’m sure we can make it something close to a best seller. And why not? If we’re going to dream, then shouldn’t we dream as big as we can? Can you imagine what would happen if everyone that read this blog got a copy of my book? Wow….we could really make a difference. From out of nowhere, we’d all arrive somewhere in the fantasy land of viral sharing, and get people talking about knitting in a completely different way. We could get people to see that this craft can make strange impacts on people’s lives. We could inspire people that feel lonely, disenfranchised, or helpless, that we’re all here, waiting for them. And that sometimes something as simple as a knit teddy bear can changed your life forever.

img_3191I’ve also added the “Knit Beasties” back into my shop, too. This way, if anyone wants my whole collection of the teddy bear, lion, tiger, elephant and rabbit, they can get them in one adorable box. (And they really do look amazing all packaged together. Like this menagerie of knitted friends jumping out to greet you).

And of course, Phillip has a new Strange Friend over in the shop, too.

Anyway, was just dreaming big this morning…. 🙂

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Damn It, Yes. I’m Knitting an Empire

I was sitting in the cold on my birthday, outside the Starbucks on St. Simons Island. The weather outside was warmer than the looks I received inside. My tattered shoes were taped up to keep the soles from falling off. My jacket was dusty, faded. Sipping a coffee, I enjoyed the dreams I was pursuing, and I held fast to the mission I had claimed for myself.

She drove up in her Mercedes, walked calmly over, sat before me and said quite simply, “So, what is it that you want?”

“I’m on to something. People really like my message, my teddy bears. They seem to understand what it is I’m trying to do.”

She only sighed, looked away before saying, “You know, it’s really good to have goals, just as long as those goals are realistic. You need to think about the fact that you don’t have any money, you have no where to live. These goals are-”

“What is it you want for my life? What goals do you think I should have?”

The tension was building, the distance between us growing further, and in my head all I could think was, just listen to her….She’s your mother, she wants the best for you.

“You could have been anything you wanted. Anything. You’re smart, you’re attractive…..you had such promise. You could have gone to Rutgers. You could have been ANYTHING you wanted. But, my friends ask me what you’re doing with yourself, ” and she rolled her eyes as she said it, “….still knitting teddy bears, I tell them.” The sentence was finished off with a sigh as she lit a cigarette, looking off into the distance. Was it into the distance? Or was it into the past? Or was it searching quickly for the moment I failed, or the moment she failed to reign me in? Was she looking off to make sure none of her social contacts were watching? Was she waiting for me to comply with the lie that the life that had been designed for me had failed miserably and that everyone’s approach to what I should do, how I should do it, when I should have done it, had nothing to do with me, but their impression on other people?

Hard to make light of it at a dinner party. “So, what is Gregory up to?” Do you tell them he’s homeless? Do you admit to that in a social gathering where everyone’s delight is in boastful statements about their children and how well they’re doing, but that your own failed? How DO you handle that? What DO you say when someone asks over cocktails, “How is your son?”

You readily admit with a rolling glance toward the ceiling, “Still knitting teddy bears…..”

I said very little, found solace in my own self confidence. Everything I had been through had become a cliff of reaction. I could stand and look over, or I could leap off. It’s one thing to lose everything, it’s another to have your face shoved into it, it’s another to be told that your attempt at survival is……not very socially acceptable.

“You could have been anything you wanted.”

“I AM everything I wanted.” Now, as you read that, you may have heard it as a shout, but no. It was said calmly, quietly. I didn’t need to profess. I WAS everything I had wanted to be. “I’m a good person….and that’s all I ever wanted to be.”

“What is it that your want to do with your life?”

“I think the better question is, what do YOU want me to do with my life?”

IMG_5521“Maybe you could get a little job dish washing? Find a little home for yourself, just…..get a little job and…,” she seemed emphatic now. “have a simple life where you just go to work and have a little home and find some safety. We could help you. But, selling these teddy bears like you’re….begging for money, like you’re selling them on the side of the street like a farmer selling peanuts. That will amount to nothing. Get serious.”

“What you see for my life is that I simply wash dishes…..”

My face was stoic, cold. My eyes found their mark sharply on her. “So, in this conversation I went from being anything I wanted, to nothing more than a dishwasher.”

I stood, walked away in my duct taped shoes, turned round with this chin of mine held high and said, “You’re right. But, you know what’s funny?  I couldn’t GET a dish washing job, so instead….I’m going to employ myself….YOU may think I’m only ‘knitting teddy bears,’ but I’m actually knitting myself hope, a future….and damn it, yes, an empire. Do you understand? That TEDDY BEAR is all I have!”

I gathered my things, head for Orlando, Mario in tow in her pillow case. I knit and knit the whole way down. My mother and I didn’t see each other for another four years….

(Read the book, “Man VS Skein-The Confessions of a Male Knitter” to see how things turned out.)

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Knit, Tai Chi, Purl

vlcsnap-2017-01-24-12h02m39s538We all know that knitting for a living can be a strangely solitary process. It can also be incredibly sedentary. Wanting for the both of us to get into shape (both physically and mentally), Phillip and I have started practicing Tai Chi. We are, of course, beginners to the practice, but have already noticed quite a few changes taking place.

In physical terms, man do my legs ache! Ha! (In a good way, of course!) In spiritual terms, you could say we’ve slowed down the thought process, not to push too aggressively, let the moments guide us….be sensible and not reactionary. Phillip noticed how much I push myself, how erratic my life had once been, so moving forward we really wanted to make the best of our lives together. We wanted to find more peace.

Along with the Tai Chi, we’ve also been doing a lot of visualization exercises, dreaming about the future and it’s potential, possibilities that can only take shape if we’re in tune with each other, the world around us, and the universe at large. We really want my new book to take us to the next level, but without madness; calmly building a bridge to a bright future with each other. I’ve ordered the first batch of “Man VS Skein” and they are on their way. If I can sell another 20 copies by Thursday, I’ll be able to get another huge discount on the printing, which helps so much when it comes to the cost of the book. So, if you’d like a copy, please click here.

I got Phillip to start eating more vegetarian. I’m not a strict vegetarian, because when you’ve been hungry, you don’t place such standards on yourself. You eat what is available. So, we’ve started making more Indian food at home, after the success of our Indian black eyed pea dish we made on New Year’s Day. So, he’s not as sluggish from digesting so much, and is starting to trim down nicely.

Things feel better. They really do. Just small attempts, exploring new things can be truly great. When I feel I’ve sat in this chair too long knitting, I’ll stand up, do a review of some of the Tai Chi I’ve learned, then have a seat and get back to work. I feel better when I do that, I breathe better when I do that, my stitches are smoother when I do that.

img_3184I feel good 🙂

Oh! and take a look at the new Strange Friends Phillip has in our shop.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful day!

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Truth in a Few Knitted Stitches

img_1013When I was knitting in my homeless days, my mind had been cleared of material objectification. My soul had been washed of the shiny undulations of social stigmas. My knitting had purged from me everything that I once thought important, only to replace it with unimaginable simplicity: that life was more than the trappings I had pursued before. Things could easily be taken away again, but the experienced contemplation I gained in stitches was mine forever.

As my hands swiftly purled, the yarn softly swarming through my fingers in an arachnid fashion, these fingers became spinnerets of knitted things, while my soul hurried along behind, weaving and looming a greater sense of purpose. I wasn’t simply knitting a teddy bear, I was knitting a message about what I had learned about compassion and care, compromise and concern. I was knitting a letter to someone in the form of a teddy bear, a letter that remarked quietly on the connection between myself and the rest of the world, a letter penned in wool that asked to be loved.

This is what I wanted the world to hear, to read, to see and live and be inspired by. Your moments and actions, no matter how simple, produce great waves that heal or harm. And I was hoping to not only heal myself by knitting, but to heal anyone else out in the world who needed only a moment of kindness and connection with one of my teddy bears.

This is what I thought we were going to talk about, this is why I thought I had received so much instant attention, these are the messages people need to hear. But the producer from the Tyra Banks Show asked me instead, “So, did you ever eat out of a trash can?”

From the book, “Man Vs Skein-The Confessions of a Male Knitter.”

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Knitting Before the Sun

img_1077I have to confess that nothing gives me greater joy than knitting before the sun. I like early mornings. Always have. I have my coffee and anxiously wait as the sky slowly brightens from grey to brilliant blue. There’s something remarkable about waking up before the sun, grabbing my needles, getting right to work with intermittent sips of coffee. And there as the blinding streak of the first ray hits fast through the trees, I feel all will be right with the world. A sense of optimism builds as the sun drops cling to the yarn, as my needles clack and scratch in rhythm with the chirping birds.

As the last days of winter’s burdens blow on us, we find hope in knowing that through the cold, through the snow, is a craft that gives hope when the chill of life becomes too great to endure. We find hope in a fiber art that uses our talents by means of reflection, that uses our yarn to create comfort.

img_3175It is in these moments that I realize, while the world is still quiet, before the buzzing hive of traffic and people begin to swarm, there before the sun as in some sort of craftsman’s contemplation, that I realize how blessed I am to be a knitter.

Have a wonderful day, everyone. All will be right with the world.

If you would like the teddy bear pictured, click here. Or you can get Phillip’s latest Strange Friend here. We really would like to secure them new homes today. 🙂

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate. Every single bit helps! Thank you!