Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Seven Quick Takes: Thoughts on the Single Life

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment
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Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum! 

I've been having thoughts about being single in this world lately, but unsure of how to write it out, so I thought, hey, Seven Quick Takes! :-D There are good and bad things about being single, so here are my thoughts: 

I. 

A good thing: All the food in the fridge is MINE. It's all what I want to eat. :) Also, I can get books without a text message from a husband of "WOMAN! Stop buying books!" unlike my friend, Liz. (Her husband is a great guy. He's kidding. I think. LOL) 

II. 

A not good thing: Everything in the house I have to do myself. The food? Doesn't get cooked without me. The dishes? Don't get washed unless I do it. The trash? The cleaning? Etc. Etc. I don't have a husband to help me do those things. So it's all on me. I can't say, hey, husband, please go to the grocery store so I can go work out. Or, please do the dishes while I shower. 

That is particularly a bad thing when I'm sick. Stuff still needs done. 
And this "stuff" also piles up. It's not so bad now, that I freelance, but when I was working, it was a LOT. I had maybe four hours of free time a day. I never got enough sleep, because there was stuff to do. One cannot go to work (at least not where I worked) with unwashed hair, for example. :) Hygiene is good! 

III. 
A good thing: I have parents who are very helpful in this regard. :) (ESPECIALLY when I'm sick.)  Also, a very very helpful brother and sister-in-law (My sister lives in Colorado. She is helpful--but she can't come over and help me clean. :-P) 

IV. 

Another good thing: I can watch Opera all day and no one can tell me not to. :-p 

I can also go to bed when I want, and decorate my house how I want. I may or may not still have my Stuffed Rabbit Caroline and Stuffed Bear Coach in my bedroom..... :-P 

V. 

A not good thing: You sort of get shafted. No one gives showers for single people. Housewarming parties? Few and far between. But married people get showers, which, OK, that makes sense--except now, everyone has the stuff they need, usually, before they get married. 

And this sort of leads to the larger point. If you're single, people just don't think about you, unless it's negative. I'm not bar hopping or going to clubs every night. Sure, I can do some things, like go to the movies, or the ballet, or whatever, on my own. I don't have to ask my husband if he wants to go or find a baby-sitter. But at the same time, a lot of people think that single people are just living footloose and fancy free. And we're not. it's often really hard being a single person.

(Especially a single woman. I have to dig out my house after snowstorms. I have to dig out my car. If it's bad, my dad will help me, assuming he can get over! But I am a smallish girl, with about 55% lung function. It's hard for people with NORMAL lungs to clear snow! And if the car is iced over, forget about it. There's no way.)

VI. 

And it's sort of lonely. I mean, sometimes I'd like a husband because, hello, I have feelings, yo! I get lonely and would like a guy in my life that's not a blood relative. (Love you, Dad and Brother!) 

VII. 
A good thing: I can entertain whenever I want. I can have people over whenever I want. Or not, as the case may be. :) I can sit around my house in my pajamas all day. No one's going to care. I can eat PBJ for three meals if I want to (I don't, but I COULD!). I can stock my cupboard with tea to my heart's content. I can watch Pride and Prejudice for like, a week straight, if I want. There is freedom in that. And I enjoy that freedom. 

 

So there are good points and bad points, just like everything else. But generally I'm fairly content being single. But--please don't assume that all single people are just partying like it's 1999. We have commitments and concerns and responsibilities just like every one else. 

Except we can also just hole up in our Hobbit Holes for hours without anyone needing us. Which is another good thing. 

The source of life

Catholicism, prayerEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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Adoration is an immense force of reparation; by it you will obtain healing for the sick, peace for the tormented, light for those plunged into darkness, and joy for those crushed by sorrows.
It is not by preaching, nor by teaching, nor by any outward works that you will do good to souls, but only by the humility of a hidden life of adoration and reparation. To others I have given other gifts and I am glorified in their works, but from you I ask only this: that you become hidden even as I am hidden in the Host, and that you become a victim of adoration and reparation with Me. This is the great work of Eucharistic Love that, at every moment, is Mine in all the tabernacles of the world.

(From In Sinu Jesu; read the rest of the excerpt here

 

Lately, when there's been a tragedy, people have derided the idea of "thoughts and prayers." They don't change anything, they're useless, prayers don't change things, action does!

They're so wrong. 

Prayer changes thing. But the problem is, we need to become fervent in prayer. Our relationship with God needs to take first place. If we really devoted ourselves to prayer, to Christian living, our world would change. Full stop. 

As Catholics, we have some pretty powerful weapons in our arsenal. The Mass. The rosary. The sacraments. 

And we have another: Eucharistic Adoration. 

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Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, here on Earth. We can be in the presence of Jesus--His actual presence!--every single day. We can receive Him every single day, by going to Mass. But I know that Mass schedules aren't often amenable for people who have jobs. 

But we can also go to him in prayer before the tabernacle or the monstrance. 

Holy Hours--or even holy half hours, holy fifteen minutes--is truly sacred time. Spending time in the very presence of Jesus is such a gift, and one that is so overlooked! So often churches are locked, and we can't visit Him. But many churches today are bringing back periods of adoration, or even perpetual adoration chapels, where Jesus is always available for us!

When we come before Him in this way, we are pouring out our time. We are giving it back to Him, and nothing can be a better way to spend our time. We worry about all that we have to do--but if we give time to God, He gives it back to us. Trust me on this. (Or, if you don't trust me, trust Mother Teresa--she said that her sisters had the time to do everything they did because they prayed so much during the day.)

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If we're serious about change--then we need to come back to Jesus in His Eucharistic form. He is here among us, and so often we forget Him. 

You don't need to start by doing it every day. Maybe try it once a month. Maybe come to Mass 15 minutes early to spend time in prayer before Him. Then once you're into that pattern, try coming 30 minutes early. Build slowly. But I will say that my best prayer time has always been before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. 

You don't have to "do" anything. There's the famous story about St. Jean Vianney and the parishioner who came to the church every day, and just sat there; he told the saint that he looked at Jesus, and Jesus looked at him. You can say the rosary. You can read the bible, or a spiritual book. You can just talk to Jesus (because that's all prayer is, talking to God). He knows what you need, but tell Him! Pour it out before Him. Sometimes you can't even do that. Then just sit with him. 

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton said: "How sweet the presence of Jesus to the longing, harassed soul! It is instant peace, and balm to every wound." And it is

The practice of adoration is not difficult. It is a gentle abiding in My presence, a resting in the radiance of My Eucharistic Face, a closeness to My Eucharistic Heart. Words, though sometimes helpful, are not necessary, nor are thoughts. What I seek from one who would adore Me in spirit and in truth is a heart aflame with love, a heart content to abide in My presence, silent and still, engaged only in the act of loving Me and of receiving My love. Though this is not difficult, it is, all the same, My own gift to the soul who asks for it. Ask, then, for the gift of adoration.
--In Sinu Jesu

Eucharistic Adoration is truly powerful. Please, try to work it into your schedule, either by coming to Mass a little earlier, stopping by a chapel on your way to or from work, or trying a holy hour once a month at a local parish with an adoration chapel. 

Prayer isn't magic. But prayer works. Let's rev up our prayer lives, starting with a return to Eucharistic Adoration. 

Happy St. Dominic's Day!

Catholicism, DominicansEmily DeArdoComment
 Statue of St. Dominic at the motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville 

Statue of St. Dominic at the motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville 

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Happy St. Dominic's Day!

Here is the Dominican saints series I wrote awhile back, and here is the specific post on St. Dominic, if you'd like to acquaint yourself better with the "preacher of grace." 

One of the mottoes of the Dominican order is veritas--truth--and I think we can all agree that we need truth today (maybe more than ever?). So if you're not already friends with St. Dominic, introduce yourself!

I am blessed to know so many sons of St. Dominic, his friars, and some of his daughters, the nuns and sisters (and of course the laity, of which I am a part). 

If you want to be especially Dominican today--pray the rosary! Yes, the rosary was given to the Dominican order, and spread throughout the Church. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!

 

Yarn Along No. 78

knitting, yarn along, booksEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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Many projects being made with it! Yayyy!

So the first thing was the Kate cowl, and for that I used all the gray, deep red, and some of the yellow yarn (they are Quince and Co. Owl in Abyssinian, Cranberry, and Steppe). I didn't use the provisional cast on the pattern called for; instead I just whipstitched the edges together. She's currently on the blocking mats and then she'll be done! Yay! This is a great project for introducing colorwork, because the changes are really easy. 

The purple and green (far right) are going to be used in a second drachenfels shawl, which I've started knitting. (Colors: Frank's Plum and Sage, Quince and Co. chickadee) The third color I'm using is a Quince special edition color called carnation, which they released on Mother's Day this past May--and they only had a little bit of it, so I had act fast! 

This shawl has a few special meanings for me: I had a friend, Sage, who was very special to me, and she died two years ago this August. So getting the "sage" color was a no brainer. Purple was her favorite color--so that led to the Frank's Plum. And we both have CF, and the CF awareness color is purple--so double meaning there. The pink is just a color I enjoy. So working on this shawl is going to be special for me, as will wearing it. 

(Oh, the brightish pink? That's Chickadee in Pomegrante, and it's going to be used in a beret pattern! My first hat!) 

As for what I'm reading: 

A ton

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The Melissa Wiley books are about Martha Morse, Laura Ingalls Wilder's great-grandmother, and I'd always wanted to read them--the library, thankfully, had most of the "good" copies (apparently the ones with the photo covers are edited/abridged in some way from the illustrated covers), so I sped through the four of them (the third one isn't seen here). Quite enjoyable. 

Queen of Hearts was good, even if I did find the ultimate "reveal" a bit weak. If you like medical drama, you'll like this book, since it was written by a doctor and thus you don't have the medical errors you find in a lot of other books, but if you're squeamish, you might want to pass on this one!

I also read The Widows of Malabar Hill (OK. A decent mystery, likable main character, a few too many modern references for a book that takes place in 1920s India) and I'm about to start Us Against You

 

Seven Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

So, I don't really have anything to write about that makes up a big post, lately, so I thought I'd do some quick takes for your reading this week. 

Speaking of reading--MORE LIBRARY BOOKS

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I've recently become REALLY enamored with our local library, because it's joined the Columbus Metropolitan Library system, which is one of the best in the country (not kidding). So that means that I now have access to so many books that I've been wanting to read! So off to the stacks I've gone. I love that I can request online and have them shipped to the library of my choice in the system. So, yay libraries! (No, Amazon libraries. NO.)

II.
As a part of that--I adore physical books. There's just something about them that makes them special. Now, I have an iPad, and I have books on it. Heck, I wrote an ebook. But if you come to my house, you will see real books galore. They are what I love. Ebooks have their place (meaning, when I'm in the hospital, when I'm traveling, etc.), but I love and crave real books. 

 Just a few of the beloved "real books." Just a few. 

Just a few of the beloved "real books." Just a few. 

III. 

Some of my favorite books that I've read this summer? The Shark Club, by Ann Kidd Taylor, and China Court, by Rumer Gooden. (This is out of print, sadly.) The Shark Club combines mystery, the idea of forgiveness, handling loss, romance, and, yes, sharks; China Court is about the lives of three generations of family in an estate in Cornwall (if you watch Doc Martin, then CORNWALL! Yay! Seriously gotten hooked on Doc Martin this summer. I adore it.) 

IV. 

And speaking of books....

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Y'all know I write for Take Up & Read. Our newest journal, True Friend, begins on Sunday! Yes! Yay!

This one is, obviously, all about friendship. We look at the Scriptures and see what it tells us about being a good friend, how to nurture friendship, and all sorts of friendship-related things. 

This book is beautiful

Coloring pages! 

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Every essay is brand new--all twenty-eight of them. I am privileged to be one of the writers! Kristin Foss, our art designer, designed the cover and did all the beautiful calligraphy and illustrations you'll find throughout. 

Each day has a Scripture verse (or more), an essay, and journaling pages. There are also lovely reflection questions and even a page where you can write your prayer intentions every day!

You can purchase the book here, and also check out the Look Inside feature! (Since Squarespace is being silly and I can't edit my photos....sigh.....) 

We also have a great blog to check out as well!

V.

Also, Christmas is less than five months away...if you start shopping early, maybe consider some of our studies or journals as gifts for the ladies in your life? We have so many lovely journals! Click on the Take Up and Read Page here and there are links to all of them. 

VI. 

I adore getting books for Christmas, but they have to be worthy. Does that make sense to you? That generally means hardback, or hard to find, or a lovely cookbook....something like that. Really, one year I could probably have a Christmas of all books. Wouldn't that be great? 

VII.

And in a non-book thought--is anyone else ready for fall? Because I am!

 

linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum

 

It's Prime Day! Get $5 off Take Up & Read Books!

Emily DeArdoComment
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If you are an Amazon Prime member, then you know today is Prime Day, where there are special deals and coupons for Prime members! And Take Up & Read books are part of it!

Get $5 off any Take Up & Read study by using the code PRIMEBOOKS18 at checkout. ANY of our studies! They include: 

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You can also purchase our dated Lent study: 

Above All: Lent 2018

So I hope you'll take the opportunity to see what Take Up & Read is all about on this Prime Day! 

 

(In case you're curious: I started working with TUAR on Above All. I have essays in Ponder and True Friend. But all the books are wonderful!) 

If you have any questions, let me know! 

 

 

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Thirteen

CF, family, essays, organ donation, transplantEmily DeArdoComment

The annual transplant anniversary post tends to change, in form and shape, every year. This year, a lot has happened: 

Catholic 101 was published in November (buy it here--on sale until Friday!) 

My brother got married

 (c) Erica Kay Photography , http://ericakayphotography.com/home

(c) Erica Kay Photography , http://ericakayphotography.com/home

 

My sister got engaged

 Melanie and Jason (her fiance) leaving Bryan and Sarah's wedding (c) Erica Kay Photography, http://ericakayphotography.com/home

Melanie and Jason (her fiance) leaving Bryan and Sarah's wedding (c) Erica Kay Photography, http://ericakayphotography.com/home

I saw the Stanley Cup with my parents

I went back to Williamsburg and Duck 

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I started writing and editing for Take Up & Read. 

I celebrated my grandma's 88th birthday with my family

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I knit my first shawl. 

 

None of these things would've happened without my donor. 

It can be tempting to look at life in terms of productivity, what we do,  and I'm not trying to list my productivity. Look at what I've done! Rather, it's more like, these are things I never would've done, enjoyed, even conceived of, thirteen years ago. These are things that never would've happened. 

I would've missed my brother's wedding. 

I never would've met my new future brother-in-law and sister-in-law. 

13 birthdays, Christmases, holidays....all those things would've passed without me. 

In general, women post-transplant don't do as well as men. There isn't a lot of data, period, on women who have survived a transplant longer than 10 years. I'm in new territory here. 

I try not to think about that. 

Instead, these things I get to do are gifts, even when life is sort of sucky, because life is never totally perfect. I mean, things are overcome, yes--but just because something is overcome doesn't mean that everything is suddenly perfect. It doesn't work that way. 

Someone said, life is full of suffering, but it is also full of the overcoming of it. 

And that about sums it up. 

Thirteen years of overcoming is pretty good. 

 With the cousins on my mom's side at my brother's wedding. This is not all of them, btw! 

With the cousins on my mom's side at my brother's wedding. This is not all of them, btw! 

To be an organ donor, go to donatelife.net/register

Yarn Along: The yarn overfloweth!

yarn along, travelEmily DeArdo6 Comments
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Guys. Look at all that yarn

Isn't it delicious?! 

I picked up all this yarn yesterday at Sewickley Yarns in Sewickley, PA--they are a Quince and Co. flagship store, and I adore Quince and Co yarns, but there are no flagship stores in Ohio--meaning, a place where you can get more than their linen line. I wanted their wool! And it can be hard to color-compare on a website. So, when we made a trip to Pittsburgh for my grandma's 88th birthday, I really wanted to stop here. My parents graciously obliged me, in the middle of a crazy heat wave, and I got to look at and feel lots of squishy wool!

These are destined for three projects: The four skeins on the right are Quince Chickadee for a new Drachenfels shawl, with a light pink yarn. (The colors here are Sage and Frank's Plum) 

 My first Drachenfels scarf, also made with Quince Chickadee. 

My first Drachenfels scarf, also made with Quince Chickadee. 

The pink skein (chickadee in pomegranate) will be used for my first hat, a day beret. 

The other skeins are Quince and Co's Owl, which is wool and alpaca together, and I love it already, even though I haven't knit with it yet. This is for a Kate Cowl, and I chose the Abyssinian (gray), cranberry (red), and steppe (yellow) color ways. The Abyssinian is fabulous in person, hence the reason I was so glad that I could see these yarns! I never would've selected it otherwise. 

 Kate cowl--abyssinian will be the large gray section, cranberry the green section, and steppe the stripe! 

Kate cowl--abyssinian will be the large gray section, cranberry the green section, and steppe the stripe! 

Just looking at all that yarn makes me so happy. :) 

I'm planning on doing a TON of knitting today so I'll have finished projects to show you soon!

And also, what I've been reading.....

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A Friday surprise--quick takes!

books, behind the scenes, current projects, Seven Quick Takes, travelEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I haven't done one of these in forever, so maybe it's time to do them again? :) Linking up with Kelly! :) 

1. 

Dad just got back from his trip to London for a DevOps conference (DevOps is IT related stuff, for you non tech geeks out there). I was a just a little jealous, especially since he got to go to Westminster Cathedral for Mass and see Buckingham Palace and just be in London, which is really the greatest city in the world. 

 Westminster Cathedral 

Westminster Cathedral 

2. 

He also brought me back the papers, which delight me to no end. I love getting papers from other countries. The first thing I noticed is how big they are? No American paper is this big anymore. It's amazing!

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So yeah, I'm slowly savoring the reading of the papers. Because it's just fun, and that probably makes me a nerd. But a nice nerd. :) 

3. 

I always knew that London was fairly far north, but in checking the weather for my dad's visit, I noticed that it's a LOT farther north than I thought--the sun was rising at 4:30 AM! That's just amazing. But also, in the winter, London has to get dark pretty quickly. Sort of sobering. But I do think it would be cool to see one of the white nights, or even a sunrise at 4:30 (provided I could go back to sleep after seeing it. :-) 

4. 

Yes, my "desk"--my kitchen table--is a mess. I've got SO many things going on right now. I've started writing a new book (YES! Wheee! Let's hope someone wants it!) about churches and accessibility. I've been getting new library books like every day since the library actually has books I want to read, and they can be delivered to my local library so I don't have to drive all over creation to get them (our library system is huge).  I've been working more on my sketching, and I've been packing because we're going to Pittsburgh later today. So yes, it's nuts, and my table is crazy. 

5. 

Also, Catholic 101 is currently on sale for FIVE BUCKS! If you don't have it, you can grab it here. This is the cheapest it will be all year! 

6. 

I've been knitting, too, even though the hand thing took a bite out of that, but I finally got some more yarn for my scarf project so I'm back at that. I promise a Yarn Along next week!

7. 

And I also promise to do a reading round-up soon. I've been reading so many books that I need to talk about them. Soon, I promise!

 

A new project and Catholic 101 SALE!

Catholic 101, current projects, writingEmily DeArdoComment

I've got a new project going on: 

Opening the Roof. 

This is a blog that talks about accessibility and churches--specifically, Catholic churches, because I'm Catholic. I know that we're not the only ones with this issue--I asked on Facebook, and my friends of all denominations said that their churches aren't great, overall, with this issue--but I'm Catholic, so I talk about what I know. 

The blog presents not only problems and food for thought, but resource and solutions. So it's not just a Blog of Complaint. We're not just airing grievances! 

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You can sign up to follow the blog at the bottom of the blog's homepage--just keep scrolling! 

The other thing is that my transplant anniversary is almost here! So in celebration, Catholic 101 is going to be five bucks. Yup. That's right. Five bucks, guys! It's normal $9.50, but for the anniversary, it's $5.00. This kicks off tomorrow (June 26) and will go through July 13 (two days after the anniversary proper). The only other time the book is discounted is Black Friday Weekend! So get it now or wait until November. :) 

So, starting tomorrow, head to Gumroad and pick it up! I will have another post tomorrow so you can't miss it. :) (It's also always available through the sidebar button and the Hello bar at the top of the page, but the new pricing won't hit until tomorrow.) 

 

"Even crazy people like to be asked"

essays, health, hearing lossEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Another thing that’s connected to depression is hearing loss.

Yup. Not making that up.

A study by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) shows that more than 11 percent of those with hearing loss also had depression, as opposed to only 5 percent in the general population. Depression was most prevalent in those between the ages of 18 and 69.

“We found a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression," said Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NIDCD and the author of the study. The study does not confirm the nature of the cause-and-effect of the connection.

 And this is very true. If people don’t include you in conversation, if they ignore your needs, then that is very frustrating and adds to depression, because you feel worthless and ignored. It doesn’t matter if people are really ignoring you or not--it’s the perception that’s important here. Depression isn’t logical.

 So if you have friends and family members who are hard or hearing or Deaf, please include them. Please ensure that they get what they need and help them with conversations. We’re not being difficult, really. We just want to know what’s going on! It’s exceedingly frustrating.

Imagine that you’re sitting at a table full of people--friends, family--and everyone is talking and happy around you. Now, imagine that, instead of hearing what they’re saying, you hear Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice. Or screeching cats. That’s what it’s like. It’s noise.

Now imagine if you ask people what’s being discussed and people ignore your request for information. How would you feel?

You would feel very frustrated and very small. At least that’s how I feel.

Chronic illness, in general, has links to depression.

“Current research suggests that he relationship between depression and other medical illness is bidirectional. Depression increases a person’s risk for developing of number of medical illnesses and also worsens the prognosis of those medical illnesses; medical illnesses put a patient at higher risk of developing depression.” (The Catholic Guide to Depression, page 29)

So, if you have a friend or family member with chronic illnesses and depression, it is really helpful to include them--to be inclusive--but it’s a fine line when it comes to helping.

The person has to be open to wanting help, yours or someone else’s. Check ins, for me, are appreciated--ensuring that I’m taking care of myself as well as I can (getting enough food and sleep), reminding me to clear the decks if at all possible. Listening can be very useful. There really isn’t much that can be said in regards to things family and friends can do, which is frustrating, I know. Essentially, being there, checking in, and ensuring inclusion are always helpful. (For me. That doesn't mean that I won't get irritated--like, what, do they think I'm five and I can't handle things myself? But I know your intentions are good!) There are things people can do--bringing food, or helping with chores. I'm single, which means that it's easy for me to get alone time, but it also means that I am responsible for everything in my house. I don't have a spouse who can help me take care of the day to day things that still happen when you're sick or otherwise out of commission. 

There’s a scene in the movie The Hours which sums up the concept of asking beautifully. Virginia Woolf, having been sent to “the country” for her health (Virginia struggled with many mental illnesses), is sitting with her sister, Vanessa, in the garden of Asham House, Virginia’s home. Vanessa is talking about a party she had, to which Virginia had not been invited, and Virginia has asked why she wasn't invited. 

“Are you not forbidden to come? Do the doctors not forbid it?” Vanessa asks.

Virginia looks at her sister for a moment. “Even crazy people like to be asked.”

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The Big Bad Wolf

CF, essays, health, transplantEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I’ve had depression and anxiety issues since I was 15 years old.

Maybe I was born with them and just never really had an episode until I was 15, and I had a TB diagnosis that came really late and almost killed me. “This is just what CF is,” said a doctor in my CF clinic. But when I started coughing up blood, my regular doctor decided to look a little deeper, and she found I had non-infectious TB, something that only 4% of the CF population ever gets.

So it was a brush with death that hit a little close to home. TB is called “consumption” for a reason. It consumes you. The meds made my stomach hurt so much that eating made me cry. I cried thinking about eating ice cream. Who cries about eating ice cream?

The TB seemed to awaken this depression and anxiety in me. I became afraid of the dark. I had no energy, no interest in anything. It was the only marking period in my high school career where I didn’t make the honor roll (and you needed a 3.0 to make the “basic” honor roll). I stopped voice lessons.

I don’t know if many of my friends noticed, but it took awhile to get over the feeling of intense worry and doom (and that’s not too strong a word) that hung over me. As spring and summer came, I slowly got better, both physically and mentally.

Of course as my body recovered, that helped my mental health recover too. The two are linked. But what also helped was my fabulous doctor discerning that I probably needed some additional help, in the form of both a psychologist and medication.

She approached it very gently and made it clear that it wasn’t a mandate, it wasn’t that something was “wrong” with me or that I was “crazy.” She thought that it would be the best way to keep me healthy going forward, and she was right.

I’ve seen my therapist regularly ever since--that’s more than twenty years now, with the same woman. She’s not allowed to retire, ever, basically.

But I’ve also taken medication. It’s changed, over the years, because of drug interactions. But I need it--I can’t go off it, or I get a little unhinged.

I should probably describe what “unhinged” means for me. It means that I start worrying about everything. I feel like I’m a burden to everyone, that nothing is going to go right, that my body is my enemy. I have trouble breathing and have a lot of chest pain. Now, as I say that, I can differentiate between the Big Bad Wolf of anxiety/depression as opposed to the chest pain and troubling breathing of a pneumonia or lung infection. They are different, and I can tell said difference. Some of that is just being older and learning how my body reacts, and what else is going on.

If it’s emotional, then I’ll be very withdrawn. I won’t want to go out. Everything will be much harder than it should be. I will be cranky and cry at the drop of a hat.  I won’t want to leave my house, get dressed, or do anything other than sit on the couch. I won’t even want to read.

It’s not good for me to be in my head that much.

And the other thing I’ve noticed is that most people get seasonal depression in November/December. For me, it’s right now--it’s June/July. This time of year is not a good time of year for me. Maybe because I’ve had a lot of home IV bouts, hospital stays, and work stress in early summer. Last summer I noticed this for the first time….I really don’t like June and the beginning of July. But after the beginning of July, around my transplant anniversary, things start to lift.

I don’t know if it’s PTSD or what. I hate to think it is PTSD because I honestly don’t think of my life as traumatic. But whatever it is...I know it now.

So I’ve talked to my doctors and we’re upping my medication dose for a little while, until I get over this patch. It’s helping already--so that was fast.

I don’t react well to lots of stress, either--so when you combine stressful events PLUS this time of year, it’s really not great.

And part of it is I need to be less nice. I need to stop worrying about making everyone else happy and worry about making myself happy, or, at the very least, healthy. That’s gotten me into trouble before, the idea that I have to do everything even when my body says no. I have to stop letting other people’s expectations dictate what I do--and that’s a lot easier said than done.

I hate to let people down. But at the same time, if I was honest with people, then I bet they wouldn’t want me to run myself into the ground and into the black hole for them, because there’s nothing I do that’s really that important. Let’s be honest. I’m not running the world here.

That’s one thing I want to say to people who struggle like I do: life is not an emergency. (Thanks, Ann Voskamp.)

You are not running the world.

If you have to take a day off, you can do it.

But you have to be vulnerable and tell people that.

And that is hard.

I know it’s hard.

I’ve wanted to write this for awhile, but I’ve been afraid of what people would think or say or how they’d view me.

But you know, we need to be honest, guys.

We need to bring this stuff out into the open.

There are not enough people talking about depression and anxiety and how we just deal with it every day.

We talk about cancer and everything else, and I talk about my transplant.

But sometimes we need to talk about this stuff as well.

Because it happens to everyone--those with faith, and those without. Single and married. Poor and rich. Every color, every race, male and female.

So, here we are.

I’m writing about it.

And I hope that this helps someone, even marginally.

I look really happy most of the time. But that doesn’t mean I am happy.

Sometimes it’s all too much and I need a break, but there’s a difference between a break that I call for rationally, and a break that is imposed because my mind is going five million miles an hour and I just need to clear the decks.

In fact, that’s a good description of what my medication does. It helps me clear the decks and be rational and logical and awesome.

I think I’m going to write a few posts about this. This one is a good starter, a good ice-breaker.

The take away is this: Get help. Ask for help. Be honest and vulnerable, and you’ll be surprised at how people will support you. (If they won’t support you, then you don’t need them in your life. Full stop.)

For me, this was the hardest part. Being vulnerable is NOT something at which I am good.

But it’s worth it.

Stitch Fix Box Number 6: A New Stylist, and Emily Changes Her Mind

Stitch FixEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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It's time for the Fashion Show! If you're new here and you're not sure what Stitch Fix is, go here to read about it. 

As you may remember, my last Stitch Fix box was....not great. As a result, I got a new stylist for round number six.

When I saw the preview, I was NOT HAPPY. I am really clear on the types of things I like, and I'm very clear on the types of things I don't. Two things I said I didn't want were skinny jeans and cold-shoulder tops. 

And what did I get in this box? Skinny jeans and a cold-shoulder kimono.

Cue the sighs.

However, I changed my mind on one of these pieces....read on!

Number 1: Pale Sky Yaya Embroidered Detail Top, $58

 Jeans in all these photos--White House Black Market 

Jeans in all these photos--White House Black Market 

So I had asked for some summer tops because I don't really have that many short-sleeved tops, I'd realized. I wanted something sort of fun. So this and the next piece were the answers to that request.

I loved this color, but it was a little short. It it was a tiny bit longer, it would've been better. Plus, the buttons were a little flimsy and I could see them popping off (they're hidden under the placket) without much provocation. 

Verdict: Returned

 

Number 2: Skies Are Blue Airika Woven Lace Front Knit Top, $48

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This one I didn't think I was going to like, but I did! I really liked the soft fabric and the detailing.

However....I liked two other pieces better, so, sadly, this on was returned. It wasn't special enough to make the cut in this box.

Verdict: Returned

Number 3: Kut from the Kloth Candace Split Hem Skinny Jeans, $78

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And this is where Emily eats crow.

Not only did these fit, but they were comfortable! I mean, they fit better than my regular jeans do! And I loved the pop of color, which is also weird for me, because I usually don't like colored pants. 

So I really wasn't sure what had happened to me....but I really loved these guys. I tried them with one of my staple striped tops, and I liked that even better than when it was paired with the white top from the Fix. 

 Top: J Crew artist tee

Top: J Crew artist tee

I loved these so much that I really just had to keep them. I mean, they are so fun

Verdict: Kept! (Crow eaten!) 

Number 4: Max Studio Ilaria Open Kimono, $54

 Top: J Crew 1988 tank top in navy 

Top: J Crew 1988 tank top in navy 

I has asked for a kimono, and I received two in this box. The first one was a cold shoulder one that didn't even fit--it squeezed my arms unattractively and was just awful, so you're not going to see that. But this one I really liked. 

I loved the fun colors and the lightweight fabric, and I could see it going over a variety of tops very easily, as well as even serving as a robe when I travel. 

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I also just love Japanese culture and dress, so, come on. I have to have a kimono. It's just too much fun. 

Verdict: Kept!

So, this box was a lot better than I had expected it to be! I was thrilled with the two items I kept and if the budget had allowed it I probably would've kept the white top, too. So this new stylist has a lot going for her and I hope the trend continues. 

If you'd like to try Stitch Fix for yourself, I'd be so appreciated if you'd try it using my my affiliate link: you get clothes, I get credit, and fashion shows continue! Stitch Fix styles women (plus sizes and maternity too!) as well as men. So if your husband needs some style help, he can use my link as well!

The next box is due at the very end of July/beginning of August; I get them every two months. You can schedule them every 2-3 weeks, every month, every other month, or every 3 months.  If you'd like to see previous Fixes, go here

 

 

Out, damn'd spot!

healthEmily DeArdoComment
 It's not lovely, but it's still attached....

It's not lovely, but it's still attached....

So last week, when I wrote about delaying a Mohs surgery? 

Sigh. That won't be happening.

In case you're new here--When you are immunosuppressed, you have a 10x higher chance of getting skin cancer than the rest of the population. Last year, I had a few Mohs surgeries to remove some squamous cell carcinomas, one of which involved my scalp and plastic surgery to fix it (I forget the technical name at the moment--something about scalp rotation). 

This year, when I went in for my skin check, my dermatologist biopsied a spot on my right hand. 

The thing you need to know about my right hand is that my right hand is my burned hand.* It's the hand with the skin graft (as you can see in the above photo). Grafted skin is very sensitive skin. It hurts if I just bang it against something much more than my normal left hand. Something just moving across it with a little pressure can tear the skin. And it's my right hand, which is my dominant hand. So you can see--problems here. So I wasn't keen on having the skin cut up for something that didn't need to be done. 

Well, turns out it does need to be done. Sigh. The cells aren't melanoma, but they will be eventually. They're really close, actually. So, out damn'd spot. 

The spot is small, so it shouldn't be too bad. It shouldn't affect how my hand works, but I can't get it wet for four days post-op. (Mohs surgery really isn't surgery, proper. You're awake for it. No IVs are involved, no anesthesia other than the local that the skin gets. In this case, we're using a topical one that will numb the skin up well before we go in with the needle, because this skin is so sensitive to anything.) 

So, as much as I didn't want to do this, I don't have a choice, and my logical Spock side won out. There will be some Valium involved, because I want to make sure I can keep my hand still and not overly freak out. I have a high pain tolerance, but there's just something about hands--and also, this hand hasn't had anything medical done to it since the skin graft 12+ years ago. So, it's out of practice! 

I will also reaffirm all my sun protection things that I said last year: Don't tan! Do not "lay out"! Wear sunscreen! Wear hats! Get swimwear with sun protection (UPF) in it, like these! (I love the Pacifica series. I wear them all the time. With two of them, I can rotate wearing one and letting one dry when I go on vacation. And also, you don't have to worry about the top falling down or kids grabbing you and exposing something that the whole pool shouldn't be seeing! They are crazy comfortable!)

So, next week, more bad cells gone. Out, damn'd spot! 

 

*The burn happened during transplant surgery; an IV infiltrated--basically it skewed out of the vein and into the skin. But the med that was going through the IV (calcium, I think) kept infusing--into my skin. Yeah. That's not good. So when I woke up in the CTICU, my right arm was heavily bandaged, and I was really confused because why was my arm bandaged??...but anyway, calcium burns. There was a question about whether or not I'd lose my hand and lower arm, but fortunately, that did not happen. It's not pretty, and I'll still get somewhat invasive questions about it from time to time, but I'm just glad my hand and arm are still attached!

Medicine Is Good

essays, healthEmily DeArdoComment

It seems baffling that I have to write this, but here we go.... :) 

Medicine is good. 
Doctors are good. 

There are too many people out there who are willing to lure people into the trap of "medicine is a scam, you don't need medicine, you need holistic, natural, chemical and toxin free things and then you will be SO HEALTHY! We can eliminate disease! We can get rid of drugs! Yayyy!" 

Guys. 

No. 

OK, first off--everything is a chemical. Water is made of chemicals. Chemicals are not bad. You are made up of chemicals! 

Are some doctors way too quick on the trigger to prescribe meds that people may or may not need, for conditions that may or may not need treated? Sure. We see this all the time with high cholesterol meds. Our bodies need cholesterol. Cholesterol drugs can cause a lot of harm to the body, especially to women, who were not studied when these drugs were tested.

For example, I have high triglycerides. I always have. My grandmother has them. My mom has them. We do not have any heart disease, or history of it, amongst the women in our family. When I was prescribed Lipitor after my transplant, I took it--and then my body rebelled. I had incredible joint and muscle pain. There were days I could barely move. All I wanted to do was sleep. Turns out, statins can cause lots of damage to joints and muscles. So I told my doctors, we can either have me take a drug that's not doing anything, or you can have me moving and productive. You cannot have both. 

You have to know yourself, and your history, and the risks of medication. What is high blood pressure--I mean, numerically, what is it? It's changed lately. Why? What's the rationale for that? Does it really need to be treated with a pill? Maybe, maybe not. It depends. 

But let's stop saying that we can rid the world of disease "if only" people would eliminate toxins, stress, chemicals, etc., etc., etc. That's not plausible. There are certainly ways to reduce stress and toxins. But eliminate them? I don't think so. 

I remember Mike Huckabee saying that if people just ate right and exercise, we could get rid of disease. 

Guys, that's not true. 

Drug companies make drugs that save lives. Doctors are awesome. Without drug companies, I'm dead, and so are a lot of other people. (And yes, they also make drugs that make life more pleasant, in general. Not everything a drug company produces is life-saving. I know that. :) But the popular drugs are what fund the R&D for the not so popular ones, like the immunosuppressants I take, or CF meds, etc.) 

There is no way I could cure my CF by living "holistically." It's not possible. Sometimes, you need meds, and you need things taken out of your body. Sometimes, we need modern medicine, which, on the whole, is a great thing

Sure, you can try taken gluten out of your diet, or yoga. I love my yoga. I do eat less gluten than I used to. But there are some things that require medication, and that's not a bad thing. Drugs are not bad. They shouldn't be vilified. They are a tool to be used when they need to be used. (This is especially true in the case of anxiety and depression. Guys. If you are anxious or depressed, and you're doing other things already, then adding a drug to the mix might be very, very helpful. Do not feel ashamed! Seriously. Do not.) 

So let's use meds, when we need to. Let's stop saying that, "oh, my cancer went away and I didn't do chemo. So, you know. " There's an implication in these statements that medicine is somehow the weaker option, the easier option, the lemming option. 

Look, if you have cancer and it "went away" with diet and exercise, OK, great for you. Fine. But that's not something most people should do, OK? Most people need chemo or radiation or surgery, or all three. They just do. That's the first-line treatment for a reason

If you want to watch and wait on treatment, again, as long as you're doing it prudently, great. ** But I roll my eyes whenever I see people say that some magical thing is going to save the the world and cure everything. It's a modern version of selling snake oil.

If you have serious medical issues, then you need medical care. You can certainly use complementary therapies. They are useful and, often, helpful! Medical massage is a wonderful thing. Mindfulness practices, body scans, TENS units, even hypnotism--other therapies are great (Music therapy, art therapy, etc., etc.). I will diffuse lavender oil if I'm really stressed out, and I drink valerian tea every night before bed. Ginger tea is great for nausea, and peppermint tea can help with headaches. There are things that are good about the natural world and we need to use those too. When I was really nauseated post-transplant, the pharmacist suggested gingersnaps, instead of anti-emetics (although we did use those, too.), because ginger helps settle the stomach (as does garlic, coincidentally).  It's good to know and use these things.

Combine approaches. Neither side is totally good or totally bad. There are bad parts of the medical establishment. I've met them. I know they exist. And I try to help you avoid them at all costs! :)  But I roll my eyes and get angry when I see people refusing to use the gift of modern medicine, of antibiotics, of vaccines, of treatments, because they think it's impure or dangerous or not needed or whatever. 

Do what you can to reduce stress and get good sleep. Eat well. We should all eat less sugar. Move a little. You know--the basics. But then, if you're doing these things, and you still have problems or symptoms--go forth and get help. It's OK! Run it by your doctor. 

As William F. Buckley said, "Be open-minded, but not so open-minded that your brain falls out." 

 

**Just to be totally honest: I'm going to my dermatologist today. She was worried about a large freckle on my right hand at my last visit and biopsied it. It came back as non-cancerous but as weird. Now, under normal circumstances, I'd probably be OK with what she wants to do, which is Mohs surgery to remove the weird cells. But my right hand is my burned hand. I do not want to mess with this hand unless I absolutely must. First off, it's my dominant hand. I don't want to risk damaging it or even losing it. Second--and again, being honest--when you mess with burned or grafted skin, it hurts. A lot. Just banging it on something hurts. I have a high pain threshold, but i don't think I can hold my hand still while it's cut in to multiple times on very sensitive skin. 

So, I'm going to say that I don't want to do anything right now. I just want to watch the spot, and if I see any changes, I will report them immediately. I have talked about this with my parents (My Medical Council), and my transplant nurses. They are all OK with this approach. So it is prudent, for me. So, I am taking my own advice here. :) 

 

Thoughts on The Great American Read

booksEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Let's talk books!

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Summer is a great time to talk about books, but this year it's especially so, because PBS has come out with the The Great American Read. It's an eight-part series on PBS that talks about the "100 best" American books--but this is where it gets confusing, because it's not 100 books by Americans, and it's not the most influential books--it's 100 "best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey)." 

So, here are my thoughts: 

  • I've read 54 of them. I've linked to the list above. Obviously, I am thrilled Pride and Prejudice is here--go America!--but I'm shocked that there's no Shakespeare. There aren't any plays at all. BOOOOO. 
     
  • Some of the books I love, some are meh, some I hate, and some I would never, ever read (DaVinci Code, looking at you). If you're curious, my love list is: Anne of Green Gables, The Giver, P&P , Book Thief, Narnia, Rebecca, Charlotte's Web, Grapes of Wrath, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, 80% of Jane Eyre, Little Women, Memoirs of a Geisha, Outlander, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Sun Also Rises, and Wuthering Heights.
     
  • Books on the list I hate: 100 Years of Solitude, Moby-Dick, The Lovely Bones
     
  • Some of these are clearly "hot" books that people are currently reading or have been popular: Twilight, Ready, Player One, Fifty Shades of Grey. These are not books that will last, I'm willing to bet. 
     
  • I would like it very much if everyone would read 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale and then write papers about the two. And then realize that we do not live in the world of Handmaid's Tale. (Hulu, looking at you....)
     
  • There are books on this list that I need to read: Catch-22, War and Peace, Call of the Wild, and Crime and Punishment. (Well, I have to finish Crime and Punishment.) I gave up on Don Quioxte because the book itself is Quixotic. :-P
     
  • Conversely, books I will never touch with a 39 and a half foot pole: DaVinci Code, Fifty Shades, Left Behind --because it is vehemently anti-Catholic-- and The Shack.
     
  • No Henry James, Edith Wharton, or Nathaniel Hawthorne? I think The Scarlet Letter is MUCH better than Moby-Dick, personally.  

How about you? Which of these have you read? Do you have a favorite? Any you're meaning to read? 


A Wedding

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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He's married. And so is she! I have a new sister! 

My brother's wedding was lovely, and glorious, and so much fun. Everything about it spoke to the personalities of the two people involved, and the love that God has given them. The Mass homily was especially great; the deacon, who had prepared them for marriage, spoke about the graces we all received just by attending the Mass, and the graces God gives us all for our state in life. 

 

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The joy really did overflow. It was a great party. The rain was spotty, and then gone, so we were able to take photos in the garden of the reception location, and also bring the party onto the deck that came off of the main room. Seeing so many family members and friends made it even better, especially friends of my parents that I haven't seen in ages. 

In Gone With the Wind, Melanie Wilkes says that the happiest days are when babies come. I think the second happiest days have to be when two people who are clearly so well-suited for each other get married. 

Bubby

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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My brother was the sibling that made me a big sister. 


I remember the day he was born very clearly. Mom and Dad bundled me off to Laurie's house (a friend of theirs) in my Grover nightgown, and I slept in one of the boys' beds (they have three boys), until Laurie and Barry (her husband) woke me up the next morning. 


"You have a baby brother!" They told me. 


I stood in their bedroom, rubbing my eyes in the morning sunlight and sort of grumpy.

 
"I wanted a sister," I grumped. 


Well, I got my sister four years later. And I was glad to get her. But I've really, really enjoyed having a brother like Bryan, who is unfailingly upbeat, friendly (EVERYONE seems to know him), supportive, totally giving of his time, great with kids, a sports fanatic (which has served him in good stead), and one of the most cooly collected people I will ever meet, which definitely serves him well, and which I envy. And he's just adorable and sweet. Which I probably shouldn't say because it's not "manly", but it's true, and it's a great thing, in my opinion. He's incredibly creative, with a great sense of humor. And he's strong--which is great to have in a brother, because you can use him for heavy lifting (kidding, sort of)--but also mentally, which serves him in good stead as a runner. (I like to brag about his marathon-running. Kid's run Boston and New York (twice).) 

We weren't always this close. In fact, when we were kids, we were downright feral towards each other, pulling hair and scratching and generally fighting a lot. It really wasn't until I went to college that we became good friends, and I'm glad we did, eventually, because I just love him to bits. (So, parents reading this--if your kids fight when they're little, that doesn't preclude them being close as adults!) 


And he's getting married. Isn't he still five? Wasn't I just reading Go Dog Go! to him?

Apparently not. 

I'm so proud of you, Bubby. You're going to be a great husband. And I love the woman you've picked to be your wife. I'm so glad Sarah is joining the family!

(Yes, we call him "Bubby." I have no idea why. It's the shortening of a VERY long nickname we came up with for him when he was a toddler. That's a family secret. ;-) ) 

Goal Setting 2018: April results and May goals

Barton Cottage Crafts, behind the scenes, current projects, goal setting, health, knitting, memoir, writingEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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It's MAYYYY! Yay! 

So it's time to revisit my goals! Let's get started. 

Goal Number 1: 

Work through Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps for Financial Peace to cultivate good stewardship, gratitude, and contentment.

April goal: Start the debt snowball; this is baby step 2, where all your debts are paid off. Fortunately I don't have much to do here! 

Status: Started! Yay!!

May goal: Continue working the snowball. 

 

Goal Number 2: 

Find an agent for my manuscript

April goal: Write a darn proposal!

Status: DONE!  I sent it to a friend of mine to read/peruse, so now I'm just waiting for her feedback. Once I get that, I can make any changes and send it out!

May goal: Send it (hopefully!) 

Goal Number 3:

To deepen and strengthen my relationship with God, because He is the center and the well-spring.

April goals: Confession/Holy hour/Weekday Mass once a week

Status: Confession, check! Holy hour, check! Weekday Mass....no check. Sigh. Something still to work on!

May goals: Confession, Holy Hour, and at LEAST ONE WEEKDAY MASS. Just one. :) 

Goal Number 4: 

Continue to lose weight and treat my body well so I can do everything else I want to do, and honor my body which God made.

April goals: Focus on healthy snacks and regular workouts. 

Status: Did really well here. Lost some weight (yay!), have found new healthy snacks, and I'm still doing yoga classes regularly. I've also continued to make progress on body measurements. I take my measurements on the first of every month, and this is where I can really see progress, or not. So I'm glad to see progress being made!

May goals: Consistent working out--yoga classes; continue to focus on health snacks. 

Goal Number 5: 

Grow Barton Cottage Crafts, to help with baby steps (goal 1), but also to have a creative outlet and for enjoyment. 

April goal: Finis commissions and get new ones.

Status: I did finish my commissions, and I'm working on getting new ones. Part of that is the new Barton Cottage Crafts page here on the site! I'm really proud of it! So in May, while I wait for commissions, I'm going to be working on new projects, as well as starting to plan knitting projects for birthdays and Christmas--because guys, handmade takes time. So if you want birthday presents/Christmas presents, you have to get them early. As in, now is not too early!

May goals: See above. :) 

Goal Number 6: 

Have a beautiful, peaceful, welcoming home so I can appreciate what I have, encourage hospitality, and cultivate peace.

April goal: Get another KALLAX unit for the living room. 

Status: The one I want isn't in stock--and wasn't for ALL OF APRIL. Grr, IKEA. Grrrrr. So I'm waiting for that. In the mean time, working on keeping spaces clear. I did do a lot better in having people over in April--I would say come on over, knowing the house would be presentable. So that's great. 

May goal: Pray that the KALLAX comes back in stock? :) If it does, that'll happen. If not--continue weekly clean/focus on certain areas (FlyLady zones, if you're familiar with those), and keep inviting people over. And continue contentment challenge--that fell off in April, so I'm doing month three now!

Goal Number 7: 

To nurture my creativity so I can learn new things, inspire myself, stretch my mind, and feed my soul. 

April goals: Knit two new Quince projects, start reading Artist's Way, get new commissions. 

Status: I knit the projects! Yay! And I have big plans for more new ones....I didn't read Artist's Way, but that is definitely on the list for this month. Commission--see above.

May goals: Start new knitting project; start reading Artist's Way. (I have to DECIDE on new project. I think it's going to be a tricolor cowl, but that means getting yarn, or a cowl with a textured stitch, in order to really "get" working in the round done.) 

This month, my brother is getting married--NEXT WEEK, holy cow!--so I didn't go hog wild on my goals. My daily goals are balancing my checkbook (yes, old school!), lectio, knitting, and working out 5/7 days a week. So they are important goals, but it's not a ton, so I can really focus. I didn't want to stress this month. I want to celebrate and enjoy this big moment for our family! :) 

 

Yarn Along No. 76

Barton Cottage Crafts, books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

It's May, and that means--Yarn Along with Ginny!

So I've been finishing a commission for Barton Cottage Crafts, but for my own knitting, I'm working on the Skye Cowl from Quince and Co., with their Puffin yarn. (My ravelry page here) I'm using the sorbet colorway, because I wanted something fun. 

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Yes, my nails are terrible. Sorry. 

Above, the project is with the Magnolia Table cookbook (birthday gift), and I've been reading various things all month--the spring Bella Grace, which is a great magazine, Ann Voskamp's The Way of Abundance, and the fifth Outlander book, The Fiery Cross. So I'm all over the map. 

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And, Barton Cottage Crafts (my little knitting shop) is taking commissions! I do the basketweave scarves, shawls (basic ones), and plain garter stitch scarves. You get to pick the colors for anything you commission, obviously. Plain scarves are $30, basketweave's are $35, and shawls are $40. That price includes shipping!

I don't have a good picture of the "plain" scarf--bad me--but it's really lovely. I use Quince's osprey yarn, so it's very plush and squishy! 

If you'd like a commission, contact me and we'll get started!