Emily M. DeArdo

writer

"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! 

Doctors, Death, and Alfie

life issuesEmily DeArdoComment
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Unless you're brand new, you guys know how i feel about end of life issues. 

But I see that lately, there's some confusion about ethics when it comes to these issues. So, I thought I'd work them out here, from a Catholic perspective, and also from the perspective of someone who has lived with death, intimately, many times. 

The first thing we need to understand: hospice care/ palliative care is not the same as assisted suicide.

Hospice/palliative care is used when a definitive diagnosis of death has come down--usually, it's going to happen soon (the "six months to live" thing), but it doesn't have to be. Hospice is a legitimate choice. Here, the patient has decided that the only thing she wants is comfort care--she doesn't want heroic measures take to preserve her life (meaning, ventilation, ICUs, etc.) The patient wants to die, peacefully, at home or in a hospice care center, with family around. 

I could have chosen hospice care instead of going for a transplant, and it would've been a legitimate choice, because there were no other medical options left. This is what Barbara Bush did at the end--she decided, I don't want all this. I just want to die peacefully, with my family around me. This is totally legitimate. Now, this might involve IV fluids, for comfort, or medication, for comfort. But the person has come to grips with death, and has decided she doesn't want any more medical treatment. Again--this is legitimate. 

When hospice is taken, it means that the patient knows there isn't going to be a cure. Curative treatment has generally stopped. 

But hospice is truly death with dignity. 

Assisted suicide is not. Assisted suicide is when someone gets a medical diagnosis and decides that, instead of dealing with this by the hospice route, it would be better to die now. I have little sympathy for this view. You can read about my feelings here.  

Assisted suicide means what it says--the person wants death, and wants it immediately. This is legal in some states in America. That makes me very sad. 

And this brings me to Alfie. 

I love doctors. Doctors have saved my life. But doctors have also almost killed me. 

Doctors are not infallible. Doctors can be wrong. 

Now, this is where a fine line exists--there are times when families want doctors to be wrong, desperately. They want to believe their loved one is still alive. However

If a person is dead--there are tests that prove this. For brain death, there is criteria. 

If a person is dying, then we generally know this. But this is where it gets tricky. A doctor can say a patient is past the point of no return. Doctors told my parents that, when I was 18 and in the ICU. The doctor, clearly, was wrong. Sometimes doctors don't do the digging. They don't commit to the patient. They just write a patient off. And that leads to, well, she's going to die anyway. 

(We're all going to die anyway....)

But--just because a person is suffering or very ill--that does not mean we move in to kill them

Denying air, hydration, food, to a person in a coma, a persistent vegetative state, or what have you--that is unconscionable. That is not the same thing as hospice. That is killing someone. It's no different that putting a pillow over someone's face.

In case you're new to the Alfie case, quick summary--the boy has a neurological disorder that the doctors haven't figured out. It's destroying his brain. The doctors have decided that nothing more can be done, and so they took him off his ventilator. Alfie is breathing with only the assistance of oxygen cannulas now (no mechanical ventilation). He is continuing to breathe. The hospital has now given him oxygen and hydration, I think.

The parents wanted to take Alfie to another hospital for treatment. The courts in the UK have denied the parents this, because in the UK, the parents aren't the final arbiter of the child's best interest--the doctors are.  

Guys, this is terrifying. I love doctors. But doctors can be wrong. Three doctors, at least, were wrong with me--and almost killed me, three times. 

Doctors have also saved my life--three times--because they didn't listen to the first doctors!

The doctors decided that Alfie will never get better. That he is suffering. So it's better to end his suffering....by killing him. Because they don't think he can get better. So...it's better than he's dead. 

That's the same thinking that undergirds wrongful birth suits. And we know how I feel about that.  That a life with suffering is not worth living

I wish I didn't have to write about this stuff. But I do. And it makes me sad that I do. 

Guys, please, don't think that these things are all the same. They're not. End of life issues are complicated, but please educate yourselves.

 

 

Introducing Ponder!

Catholicism, Take Up and Read, writingEmily DeArdoComment
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I have always loved the rosary. My family introduced me to it very young--I remember praying the rosary with my dad and siblings on the way to school in the mornings, and we said the family rosary sporadically. All of us had multiple rosaries hanging from our bedposts. The rosary is my go-to prayer; it's what I asked my family to pray when I was in transplant surgery. My father has a special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, so that could be why we're all rosary nuts. There are rosaries in our cars, in our purses, in our pockets. 

So when I heard that Take Up & Read was doing a rosary study, I totally did a happy dance. 

A lot of people are confused by the rosary. What is it? Isn't it just mindless repetition? And why are you praying to Mary? There are lots of misconceptions about it. That's why I'm so glad this beautiful book exists--to show how Scripturally based, and Christocentric, the rosary really is. 

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Enter: Ponder

This book is beautiful. I mean, it really is. You can see that here. Katrina Harrington, of Rose Harrington, did the cover art and all the beautiful interior illustrations. Our calligrapher, Rakhi McCormick (of Rakstar Designs), did all the glorious interior lettering, and our design chief, Kristin Foss, made it all elegant and readable with her imitable design. 

But oh my goodness, the essays. And I'm not talking about mine (although I have two, and I am crazy blessed and excited to be in this book!)--really, guys, you will love them. They are perfection. 

So this book is really close to my heart. It's about a devotion I love, put together by lovely people, just in time for Mother's Day! In fact, we start the study on Mother's Day. 

There will also be a group guide and a kids' version! 

Every week includes: 

  • Scripture study Monday through Friday, with verses, lectio pages, and a devotional essay about that day's mystery.
  • Saturday "Selah" days, where we invite you to pause, reflect on the week's pages, go back and read more, or just sit with your journal and ponder what you've written and read. 
  • Sunday Scripture memory verses which channel the flavor of each set of mysteries and invite you to memorize Scripture so you can ponder it in your heart, just like Mary did, at any time. 
  • Floral coloring pages of flowers with Marian symbolism
  • A "how to say the rosary" graph
  • An essay on lectio divinia--the heart of our studies!

I heartily invite you to come and join us as we spend May and June looking at the rosary, this beautiful devotion that is the favorite of so many saints, and that St. Padre Pio called "the weapon." 

You can get your copy here! 

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Thirty-six

family, journalEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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I love birthdays. 

I especially love birthdays you weren't supposed to have. Seriously. Thirteen extra birthdays since my transplant! Yayyyy!!!

Thirty-six sounds sort of old. It's not, really. But it sounds that way. I did like being thirty-five. That, and seventeen, were always ages that sounded good to me. (Do you have ages like that?) 

So, my birthday was sort of low-key. My parents took me to Chuy's, and we did a little bit of shopping. I got a Manduka PRO mat for my yoga practice, and I love it. So worth the money (and yay REI member coupons!). I think it's really helping my practice so far. We also went to David's Tea and I got some yummy tea goodness, including my "cake"--their birthday cake tea infused chocolate bar, which I shared with my parents. It was yummy! (I adore their birthday cake tea as well) I also went to Kendra Scott and picked out earrings to wear to my brother's wedding next month. And of course, there were books: Force of Nature * and Unmasked*, because I love Andrew Lloyd Webber with all my theater-loving heart, and I'd been wanting to read Force of Nature for MONTHS. 

My brother took me to dinner (Red Robin, free burger on your birthday!), which was delightful. 
So it was a good day, a good week. (Birthday flowers unexpectedly arriving make any week a good week!) 

Later this week I'll be talking about Ponder *, which is available on Amazon and is SO GORGEOUS. I have two essays in the book (The Preaching of the Kingdom and The Agony in the Garden), so of course that makes it really special for me, but it's gorgeous in every way. So I'll share more with you about that later this week! 

 

*=affiliate link

Save Lives--Be an Organ and Tissue Donor!

organ donation, transplantEmily DeArdoComment
donation.jpeg

So, just about all of you here know that I am alive because of a double-lung transplant.  Obviously, organ transplantation is something I feel very strongly about. 

Today is National Blue and Green Day, a day within Donate Life Month (which April is) where we really focus on bringing awareness and attention to the need for organ donors. And there is great, great need. 

There are 115,000 people currently on the waiting list for an organ or tissue transplant. When I was listed in 2005, that number was in the high 90Ks. In 13 years, it has ballooned. To give you a visual: 

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This is "The Shoe"--Ohio Stadium at OSU. It holds about 104,000 people. 

The national registry has about 10,000 more people on it than are seen in this photo. 

Imagine that for a second. 

That's more than the entire town of Burbank, CA; Cambridge, Mass.; or Charleston, SC. 

Now--of these people, twenty-two of them die every day, waiting for a donor that never comes. 

Imagine those people are your parents; your siblings; your cousins or aunts or uncles or grandparents. Your best friend. Your pastor or favorite teacher. 

And we can do something about that: by getting more people to be organ donors. 

Being a donor is totally free. It costs nothing to you or your family. It's very easy to sign up. 

You can do it here!

I'm alive because a woman named Suzanne decided to donate her organs. She helped me and at least two other people. She saved my life. 

Please register, so you can save someone else's life. 

 

Stitch Fix Box No. 5--what happens when you're not happy with your stylist

Stitch FixEmily DeArdoComment
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So, welcome to my Stitch Fix for April!

If you're new here and haven't read these posts before, here's a quick summary of what Stitch Fix is: 

Stitch Fix is an online styling service that delivers a truly personalized shopping experience, just for you. Fill out your Style Profile and a personal stylist will hand pick pieces to fit your tastes, needs and budget—and mail them directly to your door. Each box contains five items of clothing, shoes and accessories for you to try on at home. Keep what you love, send the rest back in a prepaid USPS envelope. Shipping and returns are free—even for exchanges!

The Style Profile is really detailed--it's just not stuff like your weight and height. They want to know as much about you and your style as possible, from how much skin you like to show, to your proportions, and what kind of trends and styles you'd like to try. You can even set a price range for individual categories and ask them not to send certain things. For example, in my Style Profile, I ask for no bracelets, rings, or just about any type of shoe other than a flat or heel. 

There's also a place to add a link to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest Style Board, so your stylist can get a feel for what you like. Finally, there's the "style note", where you can ask for specific items, talk about events that are coming up (I mentioned my brother's wedding in the spring), or generally discuss your style or anything you'd like to see in the box. 

So, after you fill out the Style Profile, you will pay $20 as a styling fee. This is taken off any items you decide to keep in your Fix, so I look at it as a down payment on whatever's in the box. Keep in mind that a real person will personally select all five items that come in your box for you, based on what you've told him/ her. 

OK, so let's talk about this month. 

First off, I wasn't too thrilled with my stylist this time. I wasn't last time, either, really. You'll see why in a second, but I just wanted to say that, going in, I was not best pleased with what my stylist had sent me. 

I had asked for two things: a kimono--because I love this trend--and some tops, because I don't have a lot of good summer tops.I wanted more casual or versatile tops, and maybe I wasn't clear enough there. But...let's get to the clothes. 

Number 1: 41 Hawthorn Prinsloo Ruffle Neck Blouse, $58

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OK, this isn't terrible. It's a little pale for me--with my skin tone, it's really easy for me to look washed out. My biggest problem with this was how sheer it is. You can see my belly button! Also, it's a little fancier than I'd normally wear for day to day stuff. 

Verdict: Returned

Number 2: Skies are Blue Bradie Embroidery Front Knit Top, $54

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This one I loved. I love the intricate embroidery, the colors, the lovely fabric, and the fact that I could easily dress this up or down. The lace in the back also camouflages my bra, but if I wore this out to church I'd just toss a cardigan over it. Since there are so many colors in the top,  I can pick a bunch of cardigans from my closet to go with this. Home run. 

Verdict: KEPT

Number 3: 19 Cooper Nicole Flutter Sleeve Wrap Blouse, $58

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I originally really liked this. I love wrap dresses so I thought a nice wrap top in a fun color? Yes!

Sadly, every time I moved my arms, you could see my bra. Like really see it. The tiny snap that was supposed to keep it closed didn't do its job at all.

Verdict: Returned

Number 4: Collective Concepts Talmadge Tie Front Cotton Top, $58

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This was where I started to lose patience with my stylist. I have said many times that I don't want attention drawn to my middle. And that's all that this shirt does. Also, I would never wear something like this, ever. I don't wear shirts with crazy parrot prints; I don't live in Margaritaville. 

Verdict: Returned

Number 5: A Romper

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You're not even going to see this one on me. 

When I saw this, I was SO displeased. I had told my stylist I do not wear shorts. I don't wear anything really revealing. This was shorts, and revealing, and so unflattering! I tried it on quickly and saw how awful it was. 

This is where I got upset and was pretty blunt in my review. I rated this a "hate it"--I hated everything about this. You can rate your clothes when you check out. Your options are hate it, it's OK, like it, love it. I HATED this. You use the same criteria to rate fit and style. This way, the stylist learns what you liked and didn't like about each piece, hopefully to apply that knowledge in the future!

Honestly, this fix was not really me at all--and that's another question they ask. I had given this stylist three tries to get it right, and she hadn't really. So when I rated it a two, and they asked me why, I said because my stylist didn't listen to me. 

Fortunately, the next screen then told me that I was getting a new stylist next time. I also received an email this morning saying they were sorry for the bad fit, and that they hoped the next one would be better. 

I hope so too, Stitch Fix. Just to be sure, I went through my profile and made sure it was VERY clear about what I like and don't like. And it is! I hope that my new stylist reads it, and looks at my very detailed pinterest page! 

So, I'm glad that Stitch Fix heard me and responded to my criticism by reassigning me immediately. But we'll see what the June box has in store for me. 

(In case you're curious, here's a list of things I will not wear: 

  • stilettos
  • shorts
  • anything that doesn't allow me to wear a bra
  • ponchos
  • dolman sleeves
  • pencil skirts
  • blazers (I hate the way I look in them, but I love how people wear them!)
  • anything yellow. (I look terrible in yellow)
  • Anything ripped/distressed
  • Cold shoulder tops

Basically, if Duchess Kate isn't wear it, neither will I. (Except the shoes. I am in awe of how she can walk down airplane steps, holding a baby, in 3" heels. In awe.) 

 

Yarn Along No. 75: Back to basics

Barton Cottage Crafts, books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment
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So, after finishing the shawl, I wanted to go back to basics, this is about as basic as you can get--a garter stitch scarf in a nice, squishy yarn. This is Quince and Co.'s osprey in winesap, which is just a gorgeous true red. I adore it. It's really relaxing knitting. No pressure, no difficult pattern, just knitting with beautiful yarn. 

The next project I'm working on is their Skye cowl, so I can work a project in the round. It's basic stockinette stitch, and I wanted something basic to ease me into a new technique. Once I knit this, I have some plans for other cowls, with other lovely yarns. 

Also: Barton Cottage Crafts is open for orders! Basketweave scarves, shawls, and even this scarf are available. You can choose your color. Shipping is included in the price. This scarf is $30, basketweave scarves are $35, and shawls are $45. Drop a note in the comments if you'd like to talk about an order! 

 Some birthday gifts

Some birthday gifts

As for what I'm reading: Birthday books! I read Force of Nature and Unmasked over the last few days and I'm into The Bronte Cabinet, which I'm really enjoying. It appeals to my English Lit Geek Nature. The book discusses the lives of the three Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne) within the context of nine of their possessions. Really intriguing. 

 

2018 Goals: March update and April goals!

goal setting, Barton Cottage Crafts, knitting, memoirEmily DeArdoComment
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So, if you're new to this, I use powersheets to set my goals. I love Powersheets! You can catch up on this year's series by going here

March was the longest month. It really was! But there was progress made in some areas!

Goal Number 1: 

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

 

March goal: Finish baby step one--get an emergency fund in place. 

Status: ACHIEVED! Guys, I am so proud of this. And it was so enjoyable to know that, when I was having computer issues earlier this month, I could go to the store and know that if it needed repairs, I could pay for them! This fund also allowed me to replace part of my Bionic Ear without freaking out. 

April goal: Start baby step 2--also known as the Debt Snowball. This is where you list all debts, smallest to largest, and start to pay them off, by moving as much money as you can toward to the smallest debt. Once that's paid off, that money + the minimum payment for the second debt goes to the next debt....you see how this works? I will have the first part of the snowball done by this fall. Yay!

 

Goal Number 2: 

Find an agent for my manuscript

March goal: At least one two-hour block of time outside the house working on my proposal. It doesn't have to be finished. But I have to dedicate at least two hours to drafting one. 

Status: yeah...no. AGAIN!

April goal: GET IT DONE. And I've already started! I've written out the basics of a proposal and now I just have to tweak/re-write the sample chapters. I am ON IT. 

Goal Number 3:

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

March goals: Weekday Mass once a week, confession once a month, holy hour, daily vespers (evening prayer).

Status: Everything but that weekday Mass--because every time I tried to go, there was no place to park. I'm not kidding. So I tried, God! But I did get in a holy hour and daily vespers. Confession, no go either...I wanted to go wen I went to Mass. Face to face confession is offered at my parish on Fridays, which was the day I wanted to go to Mass as well. But no parking. Sigh. 

April goals: confession, holy hour, Mass once a week! 

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. 

March goals: Daily yoga glo classes, weekly meal planning, go to bed by 10:00 (be IN bed, not necessarily asleep). 

Status: I did REALLY well here. I attended a yoga glo class almost every day! The meal planning was OK, as was the bed thing. 

April: Focus on healthy snacks, regular workouts--yoga glo strength courses, continue meal plan. 

Goal Number 5: 

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

March goals: Keep trucking. :) 

Progress: I finished my drachenfels shawl  and am almost done with a current commission. That means that BCC is open for new work! If you'd like a scarf or a shawl, please contact me and we'll talk! I can do them in solid or variegated colors. Shawls at $45, and scarves are $35, and shipping is included! 

April: finish new projects (I have two that I want to knit), get more commissions!

Goal Number 6: 

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

March goals: ZERO OUT (with alarm at 9 pm); zone clean weekly; weekly surface clean; contentment challenge; finish Emily Ley's simplify challenge! 

StatusZeroing out just isn't me....I sort of tried but it doesn't work. I'd much rather come down in the morning and clean a bit. So that's what I switched to. I'm in zone cleaning weekly, and doing the weekly surface clean. 

The Contentment challenge is almost done!

The biggest thing I did this month: 

 Sorry it's blurry!

Sorry it's blurry!

This was a terrible corner on my first floor. I hated it. I had no idea what to do with this empty space. 

So I was sick of looking at it, and went on an organizing spree. I dumped my old stereo that I NEVER use from my book case, and added a new shelf of "favorite books". That gave me more space in all my bookcases, yay!

Then I went on the IKEA website--motivated by a birthday coupon--and looked some something that would fit here. KALLAX would! KALLAX is pretty!

KALLAX IS HEAVY. I had to open the box and take the pieces in piece by piece. :) After an hour, I had entered in the realm of adulthood, because I had put together a piece of IKEA furniture. 

And now, behold!

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Isn't that much better

So, for April: My goal is to get another one of these units to go in my living room, to hold some other things that are currently being "stored" crappily. :-p I will also continue weekly cleaning (both detailed and surface). But I want stuff up off the floor. I'm tired of living like a college student! :-P 

Goal Number 7: 

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

March goals: Shawl--finish? Maybe? Continue Artist's Rule. 

Status: DONE, on both counts! Yay!!!!

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

Progress is happening on the first project: 

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It's a really simple project, but I love this yarn. I'll talk more about these in the next yarn along. 

So, March had ups and downs. But it also had some great progress!

 

 

 

Yarn Along No. 74: Drachenfels!

yarn along, knittingEmily DeArdo4 Comments
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My shawl is off the needles! 

It's not finished, because I have to block it, and I can't block it until my eucalan order comes--no one in Columbus sells it, apparently--so I'm waiting for that. Blocking is where you wash your finished object and then shape it on blocking boards. Some pieces require extensive blocking, but this is going to be pretty gentle. (Here's a good post on how to block, if you're interested, or looking for a how-to for your own knitting projects.) Once it's blocked, I'll show you the final product as well. 

This took me about three months to do, start to finish. The yarn was a Christmas gift, I started it a few days after Christmas, and I was working on other commissions during that time, so that affected how long it took. If this was my sole project, it might have taken a month off the finish time. I really enjoyed this pattern and am already thinking about color combinations for the next one! 

(Whoops! Forgot to link to Ravelry! This has all the details and my notes.) 

But my next two projects are going to be much simpler: Puck's Scarf from Quince and Co., and then the Skye Cowl (partially because Outlander, and partially because I want to learn to knit in the round, and this will be a good starter project). 

 

 

Stop waiting around

CF, essays, transplantEmily DeArdoComment
 Trivia night victors! 

Trivia night victors! 

Guys. Stop waiting to do things. 
I see this a lot with transplant people--or people with CF--but also with people who are just nice, normal people. 
"Oh, I'll wait until later to do that."
"Oh, someday...."
"Oh, it's just not right right now."
Guys. 
If you want to go to school, go. 
If you want to learn something, learn it.
If you want to bake cookies all day, do it at least once.
If you want to learn Spanish, sign up for Duolingo. 
STOP WAITING.
Stop saying, Oh, when this happens. 
Nuh uh. 
DO IT NOW.
Yeah, sometimes it's not plausible. I get that. Sometimes you have to save money. I get that too. 
But then DO IT. Save the money. Make it happen. Dedicate yourself to it. 
Don't wait. 
Don't use your body as an excuse not to do things. "Oh, I have crappy lung function, I can't go to school, I can't work, I can't do anything by lie here and watch Netflix."
I've been there. Before my transplant, I slept for 13 hours a day. Seriously. If not more. When I was "awake", I was sort of zombie-fied. And that's what happens when you're close to death. 
But EVEN THEN--I went to work. I went out. I saw my family and friends.
Yes, when life changes, more opportunities can open up. 
But you will lose your life waiting around for things to happen. 
So STOP IT. 
Learn the things. Do the things. LIVE YOUR LIFE. Even if you're almost dead, you can STILL LIVE YOUR LIFE while you have it.

Bookshelf: World War II Books

booksEmily DeArdoComment

Bookshelf is a new series that will focus on books that cover a particular topic or time period. I'm trying to recommend only books I've read, but sometimes I'll throw in recommendations from my friends and family members! 

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Today we're talking about World War II books. Unless you're my mother, who is a WWII nut, you are probably rolling your eyes. Every other book that comes out seems to involve WWII, even tangenitally. I'm a little burned out, myself!

But a friend of mine asked me for book recommendations about this time period, for kids and adults, and fiction and non-fiction, so I thought I'd comply, and list the good WWII books I've run across. 

 

Non-fiction

(I would recommend these for middle school and up. I read The Diary of Anne Frank young, and we read Night and Farewell to Manzanar in eighth grade.) 

  • The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom. This is one of my favorite books--I read it at least once a year. Corrie ten Boom and her family were part of the Dutch resistance, hiding Jews in their Haarlem home and procuring ration cards for Jews in hiding. Eventually, the family was arrested, and Corrie, her sister Betsie, and her father were sent to prison, and, eventually, the Ravensbruck concentration camp. The deep Christian spirit of the ten Boom family pervades the book, and that is what makes it stand out to me. Corrie isn't a paper Christian--her struggles are real, and she discusses them frankly. This would be a great book for family discussion with older kids, too. 

  • Farewell to Manzanar, by Jennie Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston. This book is different from all the others, in that it focuses on the internment of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast during WWII. Jennie, age seven, and her family were sent to Manzanar relocation camp, in the desert of California, during WWII. Their crime? Being Japanese-Americans. Jennie tells her story, beginning before the war, taking us through living in the camp, and ending with her family's release and attempt to settle back into "normal" life after their experiences. (A good book to dovetail with this, for younger kids, is listed in the next section.) 

  • The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank/Otto Frank. Really, the quintessential WWII book. You have to start with this, I think. Anne's story has been made into movies, a stage play, and the house is preserved as a museum in Amsterdam, but this is the book that lead to all those. Anne's diary begins shortly before she and her family go into hiding, and ends a few days before they are arrested and sent to the concentration camps. Otto, Frank's father, published the diary after he returned to Amsterdam following his imprisonment. 
     
  • Night, by Eli Wiesel. Wiesel relays his account of life in a Romanian town before WWII, the arrest of himself and his family, and his experiences in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. 
Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
--Night
  • Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand. A different book--this tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Italian-American from California who competed at the Berlin Olympics, and then joined the armed forces as an airman. When his plane crashed over the Pacific, Zamperini and his crewmate survive--only to be rescued, weeks later, by the Japanese, and sent to a Japanese prison camp. 

Fiction: children/YA

  • The Molly series (book 1 and book 2), by Valerie Tripp. One of the classic American Girl stories--if you can find the original books, those are much better, especially for historical content in the back as a supplement. If you can't, the stories are still great. Molly lives in Illinois during WWII--her father is an Army doctor. On the home front, Molly's mom works at the Red Cross; the family has a victory garden; Molly and her friends participate in several events to help the war effort, and Molly's family takes in a British girl, Emily Bennet, whose family lives in London. The stories are rich in historical details, and Molly is a fun character. 

  • The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Ada and Jamie live in London with their mother, who hides Ada in their rundown apartment because Ada has a clubfoot. When the Blitz starts, her mother sends Jamie off to the country to stay safe--and Ada sneaks away with him. They are assigned to live with a woman named Susan, who is reluctant to take them in at first. These stories aren't just great for their historical content, but also for the character of Ada, whose stubborn determination drives the stories.

  • Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry. Annemarie lives in Copenhagen with her little sister, Kirsti, and her parents, and enjoys going to school and playing make-believe with her best friend, Ellen, who lives in their apartment building. But Ellen is also Jewish. When her family hears of the plan to arrest the Jews of the country, Annemarie's family takes in Ellen. Can Anne-Marie's family save her best friend's life? This story is compelling, beautifully written, and is one of my favorite books, period--I re-read it a lot. I highly recommend it. Lowry won the 1990 Newberry Medal for this book. 
     
  • Dear America: The Fences Between Usby Kirby Lawson. To dovetail with Farewell to Manzanar, this story is the diary of Piper David, a "PK" (preacher's kid), whose father's Seattle congregation is made up of mostly Japanese-Americans. When most of them are sent to a relocation camp in Idaho, Piper's father announces that he is going with them--and is taking Piper. 
     
  • Dear America: Early Sunday Morning, by Barry Denenberg. Amber's family moves to Hawaii for her father's military job--he's assigned to Pearl Harbor. Her diary covers the months before, and after, the attack on Pearl Harbor. 
     
  • Dear Canada: Pieces of the Past, by Carol Matas. Rose is a Holocaust survivor who is living in Canada with various guardians. Her diary relates her experience of arrest, living in the camps, and trying to survive and rebuild her life in a new country, without her parents, afterwards. 
     
  • The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Liesel, a young German girl, is sent to live with a new foster family, Hans and Rose Hubermann. Distraught at the death of her younger brother, Liesel finds solace in books, as well as in the freedom fighter, Max, that the Hubermanns hide in their basement. A fabulous story with an...interesting narrator. 

Fiction: adults

  • The Nightingaleby Kristin Hannah. Hannah details the lives of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who live in German-occupied France. The two sisters are estranged from their father, and from each other, and both must do what they can to survive the war. I don't want to spoil it, but let's just say it's worth reading, and is based on the life of a Belgian woman. 

  • Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly. Based on the true story of "The Rabbits", Lilac Girls follows three women: A Polish teenager, Kasia, who is involved with the resistance; Caroline, a New York City socialite who works at the French consulate in New York City, and Herta, an ambitious young German doctor. All three of these women collide in a memorable story, based on events that most people have probably never heard about. 

  • La's Orchestra Saves the Worldby Alexander McCall Smith. Lavender, or "La", moves to the Suffolk countryside to escape both the Blitz and a horrible marriage. In her tiny community, she decides to start an orchestra to bring the people together against the ravages and fear of WWII. She also meets a Polish man named Feliks, who will end up having a far-reaching impact on her life. 
     
  • Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave. Based on the experiences of Cleave's grandparents, the novel is set during the Blitz and the Siege of Malta, and follows two people: Mary, in England, and Tom, who has decided to ignore the war, until his best friend signs up--and then he can't ignore the war anymore. 
     
  • All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the novel follows Marie-Laure, a blind girl who lives in Paris with her father, and Werner, a German orphan. Marie-Laure and Warner's stories collide in Saint-Malo, a town on the French coast, in 1944. Doerr's storytelling is intricate and absorbing, with great attention to detail and plot. 

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