There's More to Life Than Knitting!

Join Suna as she stops knitting long enough to ponder her life, share her joys and concerns, and comment on the goings on in the world.
You are very welcome here, so feel free to comment and contribute!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Latest Knitted Item

Ta da, I finished my cardigan. I probably knitted 1.5 cardigans, given how many times I messed up the pattern or otherwise didn't do it right. The collar isn't "right" either, but I ended up liking it, so now it is my own design. Go me.

Everyone says the green color will be "neutral" and match lots of stuff. I think so, too. It is a wool/raw silk blend that feels wonderful. It was such a joy to work on, other than the fact that I didn't have enough yarn and panicked until I could phone the yarn store and reserve some! The pattern is from "The Queensland Collection," and the yarn is Queensland Aran Tweed. It has little purple specks in it. There is a larger view at if you want to check out the pattern. It's a garter stitch basketweave.

Now I am working on the most beautiful poncho. In shiny silk in amazingly intense colors...ooh.


Vicki said...
Very comfy looking!! I think I'm gonna have to get me some of that Queensland Aran Tweed... anything that has flecks of purple in it is fine by me.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005 8:33:00 AM

Jennifer said...
You look extremely dignified. Also warm.
Thursday, June 02, 2005 2:51:00 PM

Friends and Flaws

Last week, I had an interesting conversation with an old friend (a young person, just an old friend, LOL). We know each other pretty well and are fairly intimate in our knowledge of each others "bugs and features." Part of the conversation involved how to deal with someone who "rubs you the wrong way," other than fleeing. I thought to myself how the things that bug me most about other people are often things I, myself, still need to work on or have spent years trying to address and feel like I have improved (say, passive aggressive behavior, which I am way down on compared to say, 5 years ago). And I remember how a couple of women who are very good friends of mine today really bugged me when I first met them [edited insert: people I knew in real life, not online friends, OK???]. I am thinking of two people who talked and talked and talked in group situations, to where others never got a chance. This is one of those "things I work on a lot" so I am particularly sensitive to it in others. I really had to force myself to continue to be with them, and as I result, I did get to know their complex life stories, their many wonderful positive features, and so much more--I gave them the chance, and got to know the "whole person." They have both influenced me greatly--so glad I gave them the chance!

During this conversation, my friend had another very useful insight. She said that she tries to embrace the little quirks her friends have, and to simply observe them rather than react: "Oh, look at Suna, she's doing that little thing of hers again. Isn't that endearing?" While that may sound sappy at first glance, it really is significant to me. Heck, we ALL have quirks and idiosyncrasies (ack, no spell check). Knowing that our friends know us, love us, and embrace our flaws as part of what makes us who we are can really be freeing. If you are close enough to a friend or group of friends that you don't have to constantly self-censor yourself, you can, perhaps learn and grow more and reach even deeper degrees of intimacy with others.

The result of this conversation is that we shared the idea with a few others, and then practiced saying, "Oh, look, she's doing that again; how loveable," or whatever. It felt FRIENDLY and loving, not like anyone was being picked on or singled out. It let each of us laugh at our own foibles, knowing no one was holding them against us. And you know, it helped! Rather than being peeved at a few things last week, I was able to say to myself, "That's just how So-and-so is," and grant her the grace to be herself, even if it momentarily bugged me.

I am so grateful to my imperfect friend for sharing this idea with imperfect me!


Jennifer said...
And now I am terribly, terribly worried that y'all are or were talking about me. Isn't it adorable when I'm paranoid like this? ;)

Vicki said...
I sympathize with J... today I found out from another mom at my son's preschool that she used to think I was "really snotty" before she found out I was shy, and that she and another mom had been talking about me after the school "spring tea party" where my husband and I felt so awkward and shy that we didn't speak to any of the other parents. Gee, I wonder what they were saying about me.

Suna said...
Well, I did let J. know it wasn't her--and that by the end of the meeting, I was viewing the person I had difficulty with in a new light, thanks to the conversation with "my other friend." I guess we can't do anything about what others say about us (I recently accidentally spotted an email ALL about something I said in a public forum), but we can do our best not to be so quick to judge--and I think that is a GOOD lesson! Thanks, friends.

Jennifer said...
Vicki -- doesn't it suck SO BAD when people think you're snotty when actually you're just shy? We need to wear big signs that say "SHY" on them. ;)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Mom Moment

Wow, it is hard to believe that 12 years ago tomorrow, I gave birth to this beautiful thing. On the other hand, since he does look like someone in my family, I guess I can believe it. He had his birthday party last night (it should be over ANY second now--parents coming to pick up their 6 interesting young fellows). The boys were so well behaved, after the one who likes to shout and brandish a wooden sword got it out of his system. They even went to bed when we told them to at 1 am!

One thing I have noticed about both my boys is that they have excellent choices of friends. The older one's friends are such high achievers and so darned polite to adults, yet pretty funny with each other. And this one's friends are more of the "learning problem" set (makes sense, as he was in the section with the children with behavior issues this year), yet they are tons of fun, but not too much fun--nothing was destroyed. It is so nice to meet so many different pre-teens who have such kind spirits (under the bluster). I am watching one young fellow enjoying our pug, sliding down the stairs with him, and talking to him like he was a close friend.

I am really enjoying both my boys right now. They are still talking to me, yet growing and changing every time I turn around. I am really looking forward to a week at a conference with the older one this summer!

Comment from Vicki: He's gorgeous! :-)


I am considering whether or not to be brave. So I have linked here a photo of my "group" from the workshop I was at last week, as they helped me become brave. What wonderful women--I felt so lucky to be in this group (which is missing my pal, NJ, who had to go home a day early). In the workshop we practiced the meeting techniques that I think I mentioned in the previous post. This showed me that you can really get a lot accomplished if you take the time to really get to know the people you are working with, and to listen to them. We spent many hours after the official workshops were over, in our rooms, just talking and listening. One night, a group of us from very different backgrounds shared our spiritual path stories. The range went from pagan to liberal Christian to LDS to Catholic (liberal). What I loved about the discussion was how respectful we all were and how well everyone attended to the others' stories. In the end, I really could see how each of us ended up in the place that was right for HER, and I think the others shared this experience. What a contrast from the knee-jerk reaction we often have, "Oh, she's an X, so she must be an idiot." (A thing I have done in the past, don't get me wrong, not perfect here.)

Back on the home front, I may have mentioned that things have become painful for me again at my own spiritual home. Some circumstances I thought I was handling well (thanks to years of wonderful therapy, which, yes, I will go back to when I am not so effing busy) resurfaced, and I was disappointed to see that I had a very hard time coping. I became fearful, distrustful and uncomfortable around the people even tangentially involved, like I used to be. Afraid that if I said anything that could be negatively interpreted by a group who was looking for me to make mistakes, it would be reported and exaggerrated to put me down. As this has happened a number of times in the past, I knew it was possible. I had spent two years being very careful what I said and to whom, but had been feeling more relaxed this year.

I had decided to withdraw again, and have not been back in many weeks--thanks to travel and other circumstances. But, the group of people working toward change kept asking me to stay involved. And the ministers called in a mediation team (whew, was out of town for THAT painful meeting), and when one of the ministers phoned me to find out if I could go to a later meeting...she began to tell me what she was looking into as ways to improve the situation. She actually mentioned World Cafe and Appreciative Inquiry. So I had to say, "Hey, you should look into Open Space Technology, too."

It occurs to me that, after this training, I actually have something constructive to offer. I could help. And that has been my goal this year--to not focus on negativity, but on what positive things I could do to help. I had been unable to figure anything positive out until that conversation. So...maybe I will be BRAVE and see what I can do to bring these useful techniques for conflict resolution and deeper understanding to this community.

To remind me I can be strong and brave, at right is a photo of me at the workshop, explaining my grand plan to start a couple of helpful and positive email lists for my organization.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Consensus Fun

I am now in Illinois at a lovely resort where a bunch of women are gathered to look into various ways of facilitating conversations among groups. We used "appreciative inquiry" yesterday and today are doing something called "world cafe."

We have been sitting around talking about how to help our organization value our diverse membership and their disparate perspectives. It was so exciting when, after hashing out many variations of "valuing each other" or listening, or whatever, we finally came to a pithy, short summary of hours of conversation. We decided we can facilitate change and honor diversity this way:

All important conversations occur in the open

Why? Because so many issues are ONLY raised in the hallways, or in our rooms after hours, or in private email lists--which means there ends up being lots of "elephants in the room." If we could create more opportunities for this sort of thing, MAYBE conflicts could turn into constructive conversations...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What is it with people?

It's my last day in California, and I had a good time here! Even the work part has been great so far. I don't look forward to getting home at 3:30 am only to have to teach knitting to many small children at 8:30 am but am prepared to crash.

But, what is it with some people? Email seems to make folks feel free to write just about anything about people they don't know--making things up, calling them names...isn't it still slander when you do it by email for hundreds of people to read? I see so many of the volunteers at my organization engaging in this behavior, over and over, with no consequences, that I seriously am considering becoming just an employee and not a member as well. I don't want to be associated with this type of behavior--I feel guilty by association.

Just a little vent. Really, I know everyone has good intentions. They just don't realize people they don't know are human beings, too. And that they don't have the facts (or choose to ignore it).

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

California Hello

Hi from San Francisco. I am in a jaunty nautical themed hotel near Fisherman's Wharf with my friend BE. We are on vacation for a couple of days before work meetings that start tomorrow. It is, however, really hard to keep our conversations away from work, so I am perhaps not as rested as I could have been.But, we have eaten some wonderful food and seen some great knitting stores. My kind of holiday. Today we are going south and I will see my brother for dinner. Glad I have a third party there, as he is charming when there's someone else there. I did find the knitting book I had wanted to get, Elizabeth Zimmerman's old newsletter writings. She had a great quote I may add to my .sig: "Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises!"

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

An exchange based on a previous entry

One of my online friends sent me an email yesterday in response to my earlier post about "Distributed=Republican?" -- I wish she'd posted it in a comment, but I can understand not wanting to write all her views down for all friends of Suna to see!

However, I can share what her email led me to start thinking about, with regard to factions that seem to be developing in all our communities, social, political and others, recently. Here is some of what I said to her (edited to remove names):

"We really do seem to be in a similar "spot." And I think asking questions of ALL the parties who confuse you or you need more information from is the only way to get accurate info to make a good decision about things. And the more you learn, the more you see NOTHING is black and white, no one is pure as the driven snow or pure evil, etc. If people honestly interact, share their opinions and why they formed them, you can usually learn something from them, and vice versa.

"Where I fall down is when I see people deliberately trying to lead people astray, misinform others, or insinuate things that are not true (without coming out and saying them--classic passive aggressive behavior). I get really angry at this tactic, probably because I see it as a tactic I used in the past before I realized it was NOT a good idea (best thing I got out of therapy). You always react more strongly to flaws in others that you also see in yourself, I think. I guess this is why, right now, I don't think I could be in the same room ten minutes with [a particular colleague], someone I used to respect a lot, even though I don't agree with her politics, etc. But I also feel sorry that she and a few others seem so upset that they need to "fight dirty" or "fight" at all about ... stuff. That "war" metaphor that creeps into SO many American interactions is NOT a useful way to solve differences or work toward solutions."

I know it's been said before--I remember reading a book by Suzette Hayden Elgin many years ago talking about how the "war" and "battle" metaphors used in American English perpetuate the idea that we are always battling each other. I am now trying to make a concerted effort to use peaceful language and will fight to get war metaphors out of my speech and writing (ha ha ha, I crack myself up). I must note that I think SOME use of competition metaphors or the sort are needed--competition itself isn't a bad thing--it just becomes counterproductive when every single thing becomes a battle, a fight, or even a "game" you are trying to win. It scares me when I realize I have slipped into "game mode," and realize I am participating in a discussion or a debate just to prove I am a better arguer than someone who rubs me the wrong way. That's why I have stepped away from a number of passionate discussions lately.

Yow, it's hard to keep trying to become a better person!

Monday, May 2, 2005

Exciting Project Update

Well, yay, I finally got my new project pictures uploaded. Here is the tie I knitted for my dad. Go to my projects page on my web site to see a neat close-up of it, as well as photos of the felted bags I have made over the past month or so: -- new stuff is one sock in the sock section and the first two rows in "parade of past projects." Knitting is really keeping me sane lately.

I have just a week to go before my San Francisco vacation, so I need to finish a scarf for one of my outfits (quite do-able, today even) and get the knitting store's website done. I hope I get to vacation during my vacation...

I could do a lot more web stuff if only I didn't have yet another dental appointment tomorrow (cleaning, yum) and a rather distant podiatrist appt. for a young man whose ingrown toenail is disgusting. I hope he is OK through that, poor guy. Hint: don't bite your toenails, EVER. I think I can, I think I can!!

At least some of the work stuff I am doing is going great--I love it when the volunteers get all enthused--it helps enthuse me up, too. We are planning some really good things for the conference we are holding in July! We even started a blog for it, trendy folks that we are.

I will philosophize some more later--must go knit.