Knitting for Dummies, by Pam Allen, Tracy Barr, and Shannon Okey, is my lifeline! It breaks down knitting to its simplest - keeping me out of trouble when that project has presented a new challenge. It is also the perfect accompaniment and teacher in learning new skills and tricks of the trade. What would I do without it? While not every problem in life or in parenting is as easily solved as the challenges we face in knitting, through this craft, I have managed to learn a lot about myself as a human being and as a parent. I hope I can share these experiences with you, and in turn, we can spend some time together learning from each other...

Thursday, January 31, 2013

¡Hola, Ola!

 Happy New Year, everyone.  It has been so long since I have posted anything!  Eek!

Where have you been?!

Well, let me tell ya...

My last post was in April, 2011.  Since then, my son graduated sixth grade from his school and transitioned to our local high school - the top in the state (of Ohio)!  (Not that I'm proud or anything!)  Summer of 2011 came and went with some "blah" and some changes in my work life that left me uninspired to knit a lot.  I still knitted, but I struggled with continuing this arc, and worst of all, I kept hearing "Roberta" in the back of my head.  Ugh!

By the end of the summer, I was excited that my son was starting his middle/high school life.  Seventh grade was a rollercoaster for both of us.  It was REALLY tough.  I went through this grade all over... again... and please know that the first time wasn't that great!  In trying to help my son, P, I started losing myself.  I felt bad for him - having to put up with me.  I didn't know how to cope with all of this or help him by providing him direction without being directive... that, in general, is tricky task!  I fell on the only thing I knew... being my dad during his "tough" years.  I felt bad for my son who couldn't receive the better parent in me.  I felt bad for my partner, Jon, who had to witness all of it.  And worst of all, I felt really bad for myself.  I felt bad all the time.  I was angry, frustrated, lost.  I wasn't ashamed of expressing this, but I was not expressing it in the best of manners with anyone.

All along I knew what I had to do to get out of that funk:  find myself again.  Sadly, I could not find the breath to make it happen.  It felt as if I was drowning in the middle of the ocean with no footing, someone was holding their hand over my head, and I could not come up for air.

For the first time in a long time, I took a breath. 

Finally, the first break:  Holidays, 2011.  During our annual visit to see my family, my sister (mil gracias una vez más, amor) dragged me to her yoga studio.  For the first time in a long time, I took a breath.  Jon and I returned home wanting to continue breathing.  I needed to continue breathing so that I could figure out where I was in all of these changes and where and how I could find myself!  This was a change way overdue.  From our own spaces, my sister and I dubbed 2012: The Year of the Yoga... (sounds better in Spanish!  LOL!)  And even though I had asked Santa that previous December for 52 yoga lessons in 2012 (one practice/week), I started going to my local studio three to four times a week.  As wonderful as that sounds, however, it still took time to find that deep breath and to start the journey to find myself.

The second semester of 7th grade kept its first semester's pounding.  I was able to bring my head up to take a breath at least three to four times per week... but I was still drowning.  By the end of the spring, I wanted to deepen my yoga practice even more since I was enjoying what I was learning and I was beginning to breathe.  While slow, yoga was helping.  So I committed to pursuing my studio's Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program - more on this program and my experience in future posts.  Suffice it to say, at this point, I am finding my track again, and I'm back into knitting, and back to this arc!  (Sorry, "Roberta", we'll continue this journey!)

Una ola in the ocean...

In Spanish, we use the word "hola" to mean "hello".  It's our greeting, and if you are in Puerto Rico, the word often has a rhythm or a song to it.  I love using "hola" instead of hello here in the States.  It reminds me of my roots, and because I can "s(w)ing it", it reminds me of home.  ¡Hola!

The hat modeled in this blog is very special to me.  It was one of the first two designs I ever made.  It was imagined during one of my family's movie night visit.  This is when Jon, P, and I go out to the theatre (to see a movie) and make dinner out of pretzels, popcorn, hot dogs, candy, and HUGE soft drinks from the concession stand.  (I often joke that we three guys were left to fend for ourselves and made dinner out of... that stuff! LOL!)  That particular night, we went to see Kung Fu Panda and during the last scene when we think that the sensei is dying, on the edge of his sleeve, I found this wave motif.  Immediately, I was transported to home and specifically to a beach we used to visit in Arecibo, PR:  La Poza.  It was the perfect beach for families.  It has a little pool protected by rocks where the major waves crash and make a spectacle every time the water flies into the sky.  To the right, there is what we often call "the typical beach" - long stretch of sand with water... no rocks... except here, we were forbidden to swim as kids because while beautiful, the undercurrents were dangerous - easily dragging many a healthy swimmer down without issue.

Quickly after the movie, I got to work.  I wanted the hat to be a reflection of the water and the earth in which we played as kids and the same earth that grounds us every day.  I wanted the water to be prominent and serve as a crown.  I also wanted the waves to be on the edge, pressing against it like the many times we as kids pushed our boundaries wanting to go swimming on the "forbidden" side of that beach.  The hat was named "Ola" and it is pronounced in the same way as we say "hola" (since the "h" here is silent).  "Ola" means wave.  And I wanted those waves to come through my knitting needles and into this piece as a reminder of all the wondrous things we experienced as children back at home.

In a Buddhist way, the hat is simple.  It's constructed using fair isle technique in the part where the waves start meeting the earth.  This also serves as an exchange of yarn color and a transition from the water to the earth just like the waves crash onto the beach.  And once you leave the waves, you hit the "knitting highway".  I use my typical reduction method for beanies breaking the hat in segments of ten stitches each and reducing (k2tog/segment, every other row) accordingly.  This allows for a swirl in the crown of the beanie so that it rounds better.

For a few years now, I had been wanting to have this hat modeled right on that same beach which inspired the piece.  I had images in my head of a male model against the rocks, and with the crashing waves in the back.  It took that many years for this vision to take shape, and for that, I am grateful.  Good things come to those who wait and I found the perfect model and the perfect time - both physically and spiritually - to have this happen since over the time that elapsed, I have realized that the meaning of the hat has evolved and grown very much like I feel I have. 

Finding myself...

I have often believed that life is made up of different chapters where each of us is its own protagonist.  Even when these chapters are put together making the story of each of our lives, each chapter is built with its own introduction, rising action, climax, and dénouement or resolution.  These chapters are like waves in the ocean with soft (or wild) rises and falls. 

I feel like over this period of time, a chapter in my life has come to close and another one is opening.  My son and I are embarking in a new relationship.  My partner and I are looking brightly and differently at the future.  None of these things is still easy and take work, but they are different.  They are anew.  I feel like a wave crashed on the beach or against that rock formation, and the ocean is retrieving for a new swell to take its place.  I am so excited for that because each chapter is unique and can bring with it so many great lessons.

Patanjali states that the yoga practice needs to be regular in order for one to gain the most benefits from it.  Even though I didn't see the benefits of my practice right away during those early months in 2011, having stuck with it, I can see the benefits of it every day now.  I am seeing the same thing with so many life experiences:  being partnered, being a dad, a professional, a yoga teacher, a man.  This journey of finding myself is just beginning.  And for that, I'm grateful.  Let's say "hola" together.  ;)e-

A very special "muchas gracias" to our new friend Mark G. who has taken the bull by the horns by moving from Texas to Puerto Rico and is starting a new chapter or "una nueva ola" in his life.  When I mentioned that I had found the perfect model at the perfect time, I wasn't kiddin'.  ;)e-