The Giving Tree

I’ve found a way to keep the Christmas spirit all year around — even though the best evidence of that comes in December.

As many of you know, I’m an avid knitter. So avid, in fact, it caused tendonitis a year ago. I’ve been knitting since I was 19, and there are countless pieces out there I’ve created. Some I’ve even designed myself.

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The Giving Tree

Over the years I’ve used this gift  (and I truly consider knitting to be a gift) from time to time to make items for charitable giving. My current endeavor is hats for those who come to my church’s food bank. Every year we have the Giving Tree, and people hang cold weather items such as hats, scarves, mittens on it during December.

Those items are available for a group of people in need, some homeless, some struggling to keep a roof over their heads. All struggling to get enough food for themselves and their families.

The year-round aspect of this is easy to figure out. I knit the hats throughout the year, and keep them in a basket until it’s time to give them away. Some of the yarn is leftover from other projects, some is purchased for this purpose and some is donated to me.

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This year’s collection

I take pleasure in knowing a handful of people will have attractive, warm hats for the cold weather. Some say charitable giving is selfish, because you do it to make yourself feel better. I say, I don’t have to do this to feel good about life and myself. I do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Do you have a talent you share with others in need (whatever that need may be)? I know Judy shares her music and her growth from tragedy with others. Lois shared her kind heart and tough spirit with prisoners until health issues prevented her from doing so. And each month Kathy writes about how to keep the Christmas spirit alive year-round.

Most of you who read this have been given so much, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. For those who are struggling, I pray others reach out to you. I was lucky enough when, during my worst hours, kind people gave me a lift out of the abyss.

This is my thank you.


 

The Pursuit of Passion (and lesser things)

We speak of passion with great enthusiasm, as in “pursue your passion.” I agree, finding joy in life is a good thing, and finding fulfillment and purpose is a treasure. But too much of a good thing has its drawbacks.

I cringe a bit at the word “passion.” It connotes a drive to do something at the expense of other, necessary tasks in life. There can be a lack of balance when you’re passionate about cause, a skill, a person…anything. Of course, sometimes, that lack of balance is part of what gets the job done. For a period of time, letting your passion drive you is a good thing.

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Wild Thing, I think I love you…

Political candidates and those who campaign for them need to be passionate, for example. When you’re in love, you’d better be fully engulfed in your feelings for that other person, or forget about a long-term commitment.

It’s also a term that’s thrown around fairly easily, one that plays on your emotions but isn’t always easy to define in practical terms. I enjoy knitting. I’m an avid knitter, and I always have a project or two in the works. I love to share and compare with other knitters, encourage them in their projects and pursue the next big undertaking with vigor. I have dozens of knitting magazines (including every Vogue Knitting since 1982, which isn’t as many as it might sound like — for years they only published two issues annually). I dabble in design.

Yet I would not say I am passionate about knitting. To me, that would imply some sacrifice, a devotion that goes beyond what is appropriate for my favorite hobby. I have several friends who own yarn shops. I’ve asked them if knitting is their passion, and they laugh and say no. They love it, love their work and are dedicated to the success of their stores. But there is a balance in their lives, and their passion, if they can name one, is more likely their grandchildren.

For years I was also a devout reader. I read as many books as I could get hold of, and while circumstances dampened my enthusiasm for reading (something I never would have thought possible, and I resent those who caused it), that flame likely will never be fully doused. I still enjoy the feel and promise of a new book, and today, when I order one online, I can’t wait to open that box and just hold the book.

So I’m an avid reader as well as knitter. Perhaps there is a little more passion there, for I will firmly say, “you can’t spoil a child with books.” (I know, I know, some of you could provide solid examples contradicting that statement, but look at the heart of what I’m saying. And if a child throws a fit because he or she doesn’t get a new book every time the family goes to Walmart, that has nothing to do with books.)

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Wait while I finish this thought…that’s not true, you are important to me!

The one thing I will say I feel compelled to do, even when I have nothing to say (hence the need for a blog haha), is write. That might come close to being a passion. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if I could write for a living…the jobs I’ve found for writers, however, generally are for someone younger, more entry-level. I’m not sure that’s the kind of writing I want to commit myself to on a daily basis.

I have found a way to make room for all the things I can get lost in doing. If any one of them became a job, would I leave behind my joy and what now brings me peace? Let’s face it, too much of anything is going to hurt you in some way.

That goes for the body as well as the mind. As I grow older, I’m increasingly mindful of the toll everyday activities, no matter how seemingly benign, can take on our bodies. Anything we do for an extended period of time has its price.

I just spent months nursing a thumb injury my doctor and physical therapists believe was caused, at least in part, by knitting. When I posted a story about that, one of my blogging buddies commented how she’d hurt herself reading paperbacks.

Yes, find what you love doing, what re-energizes you. But remember, our bodies and minds need variety to stay healthy. We may not love everything we do with the same fervor, but the balance is what keeps us alive, physically and emotionally.


Images © geosap — Adobe Stock

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