The end of January is when you’re supposed to start talking about goals for the year, right?
Folks, I think the winter/pandemic doldrums have set in. Since we last left off, I had just completed my reading goal for 2021 and started on Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, which is by all measures a very short book. I’m still reading it in fits and starts.
And you know what? It’s fine. I’ve also been completely heads-down learning the ins-and-outs of the role I took on in September, and having been trying like most of the rest of us to live my life as normally as possible while acknowledging that I just really don’t want to catch the respiratory disease du jour. That means I’ve been spending more time indoors than is typical even for me, and as a result, I just haven’t really had the energy to invest in improving myself.
Honestly, for those who are staying focused and energized throughout all of this, I can’t possibly express just how much I admire you. These last 6 or 7 months have been harder than ever for me, and the one thing I’m learning is just how important it is to set small, achievable goals for myself each and every day. One foot in front of the other, step by step.
Sometime around the time I last wrote in this space, I started craving a hobby – any hobby – that didn’t involve being in front of a screen. I remembered a time when I was little when my grandma gave me a ball of yarn and taught me how to crochet with my fingers. I sat there for hours, making enormous chains of fabric, completely engrossed in the task at hand and losing track of time. I wanted a bit of that feeling again, and I wanted to convert it into a lifelong skill that could be useful both for myself and give me an opportunity to show my friends and family that I think about and care for them. So, I did what all reasonable people do as they near the start of a third year of a worldwide pandemic: I searched for videos about how to knit.
The first website I came across contained an excellent series of videos about how to knit from Sheep and Stitch. Davina, the creator of the site, presents her knitting videos in an incredibly clear and easy to understand way, and the production value of her videos is superb. The how-to series was immediately enough to make me feel confident that I could start knitting right away, and that unlike almost any other hobby I’ve taken on over the years, I could be okay with being terrible at it from the start. Afterall, it’s just yarn, right? If I knit something and it looks bad, I don’t have to give it to anyone, and I will have probably learned a lot from the process.
Friends, let me just tell you that I’m really glad I started to pursue this hobby. Since I started in the fall, I’ve knitted several scarves, most of them with thick, acrylic yarn and your basic garter stitch, just to get a feel for what it’s like. I knitted a coaster, then liked how it turned out, and knitted several more. Then, I purchased the book Knit Stitch: 50 Knit + Purl Patterns by Kristen McDonnell from Studio Knit, and started learning ways to introduce variation to that basic garter stitch. The coasters I was knitting was a nice way to learn a few of these patterns and get something useful out of the process.
In a few months, I’ve acquired a bit of a collection of different knitting needles, tapestry needles, and yarn. Knitting is something I can do for a small amount of time, or for several hours, whenever I feel like I’ve had a rough go at staying on top of all of the things I need to stay on top of while also being regularly aware of that state of things. I’ve even completed a couple of projects to gift to family for milestone birthdays! It’s felt so good to make things for other people that require time, effort, and care again that I’m truly energized by the prospects of improving my skills at this craft.
All of which is to say: I’ve set some goals for this year. They have almost nothing to do with my vocation, but everything to do with re-centering my perspective on being appreciative of the people in my life and on the importance of maintaining a positive mindset of growth.
Here they are:
- Learn how to knit beanies and socks
- Finish 15 books
- 12 blog posts
- 12 personal journal entries
- 12 poems
- Invitations, thank you cards, and letters
- Create one animated short and compose music for it
- Finish a personal web or application development project
- Take more walks and bicycle more
- Be more:
- Willing to help
- Willing to say yes
Some of them aren’t even really goals, they’re intentions. And through the process of setting them, I’ve had some other ideas around what I want to achieve, but it’s too early to write about them right now. What I hope to gain by pursuing these intentions is that ability to get completely lost in the process of creation, because I think that’s gone missing for me for some time now, like a boat’s sail lost in the storm. Thankfully, I’ve landed ashore, taken stock, and am working on finding that direction once again.
It may be 1/12th over already, but let’s make it a great year.