Friday, April 18, 2014

Thing #13

       Thing #13. Learn to do something with your hands, like knit or crochet, so you can be productive while watching television or waiting at appointments.

I learned to knit and crochet as a teenager. I’ve never mastered the ability to follow a pattern—I think it requires a mathematical brain, which I lack—but I’ve made a great number of scarves and blankets in my day. My mother-in-law taught me a simple crochet pattern—slanted shell—that I use for most things. She’s made afghans for all of her children and grandchildren, and many, many other people.

I’ve also learned a few things off the internet—granny squares and a very pretty scalloped edge stitch, for example.

What I like about crocheting is it’s something easy that can occupy those idle moments when I’m watching TV or waiting at an appointment. I am able to be productive. And the things I make become special hand-made gifts. If you master following a pattern you can make sweaters, bags, hats, socks. My sister Jeanette even makes stuffed animals.

My friend Liz (pictured) is never far from her knitting needles. In this photo she’s finishing up an amazing cowl scarf while I’m starting a new baby afghan during a movie marathon at her daughter’s home. Fun times.

Another nice thing that can come from a hobby like this is the opportunity to build relationships with others who share this interest. I have friends who are in knitting clubs. And learning a new stitch from a friend—or a mother-in-law—creates special memories.

So give it a go. You’ll never watch movies at home the same way again.

Here's a recent project for my friend's baby. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thing #12

businesses,businesspeople,ideas,light bulbs,metaphors,persons,women

Thing #12: Speak up.

This is a lesson I have spent most of my lifetime learning, and I can’t say I’ve mastered it. I am often hesitant to say what is on my mind. I don’t know if my opinions are worthwhile, if my ideas sound smart.

You see, I’ve never thought of myself as an especially bright person. I was a “B” student in a household of “A” students. Even my best friends were on the honor roll. But, over time, I’ve come to understand that it’s only in certain areas where I’m not as bright as others. In other areas, I’m very smart.

Especially at work. I work in communications, and I have learned a thing or two over the last 30 years, so I am getting better about speaking up in discussions. It also helped hearing a co-worker once tell me she liked it when I spoke up.

I’ve also learned that sometimes there needs to be one person to voice a differing opinion in order for other people to say “Yeah, me, too.”

I heard of a situation recently where the board of directors of a company made a controversial policy shift and when that policy was made public, it was, shall we say, not well received. They quickly reconvened and reversed their decision. It came out in those subsequent discussions that some of the board members had never been comfortable with the original decision—but they never said anything.

So, my friends, trust yourself. Speak up. Take the risk. Sometimes you’ll be shot down, but other times you’ll hear those lovely words, “Yeah, me, too.”

Let me leave you with the words of Christopher Robin, speaking to one of my favorite characters, Winnie-the-Pooh, “A Bear of Very Little Brain.”

You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh