Take up Space

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I finished reading Clara Parke’s newest book, A Stash of One’s Own: Knitters on Loving, Living with, and Letting go of Yarn. It’s a sweet collection of stories and essays by knitters dealing with their “issues” around stashing yarn.

The sentence above was in the last chapter of the book. Sitting there, just waiting to kick in my ocular incontinence. (Thanks, Bristol!) It nearly brought me to an ugly cry as I tried to explain myself to my DH. Why did a book about yarn make me cry?

At camp this summer (Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat), I heard my newest favorite designer, Bristol Ivy, give me permission to take up space. To claim a space that is comfortably and happily all mine. I don’t have to be pretty or well-mannered there. I don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations there, nor do I have to think about any societal rules about women (watch your weight, wear makeup, be attractive, speak sweetly, keep the house clean, cut the kids’ fingernails, don’t wear black, children are to be seen and not heard, you don’t need to know how to handle money, your husband will do that, etc.).

Hearing this was life changing for me. I grew up taking up very little space. My parents’ expectations were high but extraordinarily limited. I was taught to iron, sew and be a “good girl” with the idea that, one day, if I was lucky, I would gain a husband and a middle name. That was the reason that I went to college, too. Not to get a good education and grow as an individual but to find a husband. (The now-60-year-old me is groaning today!)

When I divorced my first husband, I continued in therapy with a series of wonderful women who helped me to identify what was important to me and to begin working on who I am today. Who I want to be. I have enjoyed the process of getting to know myself.

The idea of taking up space, however, was brand spanking new and threw open an entirely new door of personal development and a new way of thinking about my place in the world. AND it made me cry. It touched my soul to be given permission (so to speak) to take up space. To be myself, to dress as it pleases me, to speak my mind and to know that I am lovable and loved even as I am myself. To manage my own money and to buy things for myself and others. It was so incredibly powerful to hear that message and I’ve pondered (and will continue to ponder) that idea and how it applies to me and how to bring it into my daily life.

Today, when I saw the sentence above that says that women are expected to take up as little space as possible, it hit me again. Ocular Incontinence. (When I am brought to tears talking about something, I’ve learned, it’s a deep truth for me. I’ve hit the nail on the proverbial head. I am so grateful for the reminder that I have every right to take up space. And not just with my stashed yarn, either.

I have an extensive stash of yarn and two rooms in our home to use in any way that I wish. My DH is supportive of my creative endeavors (I have never hidden my yarn purchases from anybody.) I own my knitting and the supplies that I need to make it happen and I’ve always been unapologetic about it. I’ve been smart about it, too. Never would I be irresponsible and when I can’t really afford it, I head to my stash instead of my LYS. Finding a balance and being responsible are important parts of who I am. Who I have always been. But apart from my yarn, this reminds me to look at other ways that I take up space, to make some new boundaries in my life so that my time to create is sacred. Time with my wonderful, handsome DH is sacred. Time with my children and family is sacred. I want to have time to spend with all of them, and my friends, too.

So, today I put on my crazy flowered leggings and my cotton weird-edged tunic/dress and I am taking up space. I am worthy. I am loved.

 

An Easter Story

When I got divorced, my life changed drastically. It was (I was?) all turned upside down and I didn’t realize that it would never be the same. I have been working for the last six (plus) years on building a new iteration of my life. Some parts are very, very different. Some are similar. I work to maintain threads of some traditions that we valued as a family even though the family is not the same. And there are some parts that I am grateful to have given up & thrown away. We’re making new traditions, too. Figuring out how to be a family after a divorce isn’t easy and it takes time and perseverance.

The part of my life that I love the most is my children and this “Easter” (at least the few days leading up to Sunday) I got to spend some time in New York City with all three of my children. There’s nothing like it. And I am so proud (I know I’m repeating myself) of the people they are becoming … productive, self-supporting, happy, and fun to be with. All following their passions and building lives of their own. What a mother wants for her children and yet, also, requiring her to let them go … a mother’s worst heartbreak. A double-edged sword.

But this post isn’t written to make you sad. It’s joyful. I’m so happy to have spent time together in New York. And my little dogs were happy to see their “kids”, too! We also got to meet my son-in-law-to-be’s family for the first time which was a treat. Despite her concerns that someone would start a conversation about religion or politics and that everything would explode, we all got along. We all love this young couple bunches. Enough to be there for them and support them, no matter what.

What I realized this Easter is that I am “rising up” into a new life where I will be happy; filling my life with people I love and following my passions, too. Leaving the world, I hope, a better place. Making a difference in the life of a child. Just as I taught my children to do, I am now encouraging the same bravery in myself.

I didn’t take enough pictures but I have a heart-full of  memories to carry with me. Until the next time we meet!

Gone Knitting.