Retreat and regenerate

G'day all!

Since my last post, I've been away, on Island.

Leaving San Juan Island, wearing new
or recently finished knits

It was lovely.

The last two Aprils, I've gone away to a magical place and met like minded souls.

We are all knitters.

We come together and we knit and we talk and we relax, away from the humdrum of daily life.  Deb Nolan prepares amazing food for us.  We don't have to wash a single dish or cup or make any of our meals... It is wonderful!  We leave politics and race and religion at the door (mostly).  Last year's group spawned "the kindness of knitters" and this year's group was "a quietness or calmness of knitters."  (Lord knows how we managed that with me and another lovely lady who could gasbag loudly with the best of us!)

And did I say that we get to knit as much or as little as we like?

This chullo (choo-yo) was most likely knitted
on bicycle spokes!  (Not still on the bike, silly!)
And as we knit, we get told stories by the amazing Cat Bordhi.  She takes us to places many of us have never been (in this case Bolivia and Peru, with her adoptive brother Jim from the Frog Tree family).  And she shows us techniques and inspires us, and reminds us how special it is to be a knitter, what it is to be a knitter.

Now some people think being a knitter means one has much too much spare time on one's hands.  In reply, I might ask that person what did you do last night?  Did you sit on your butt and watch tv for two or three hours after dinner?  Or did you create something or play sport or play with your kids or clean the house?

In your tv watching, what do you do?  Do you create something?  Do you sew or knit or crochet or whittle wood or draw or paint?  Or do you just sit and watch the goggle box?

Who is hiding in the washing?
Yes, I like bright towels... so does DH.  Surprised?

Of course if you are reading my blog, it is very likely that you will not sit and watch tv all evening.  It is likely that your form of relaxation is making things and having ideas and finding inspiration and reading about stuff.

In Cat's world, and it seems in mine, knitters are able to reach the still pond that lies at the centre of all humans.  Somewhere in there is a place where we just can be.  We can carry that stillness, that calmness with us.  When I create, I am tapping that centre.  Doesn't matter what I'm creating with, really, be it pen and paper or fabric and sewing machine or two sticks and some lovely soft string, I am accessing me, being me.  It's just that for me, knitting is accessible pretty much everywhere.  (No, I do not knit on the loo!  Though when I have to do a colonoscopy I will definitely consider having a machine washable project to knit whilst esconced....)  Writing is also available nearly everywhere.

The lake was still, reflecting everything.  The peace is incredible.

But it isn't just good for me, it is good for other people too.  How often do you craft in public?  People watch me knitting.  If I spin in public people will stare.  It doesn't worry me.  I smile at them.  Sometimes.  It makes some of them look away and only watch covertly.  The brave ones ask questions and I get more questions when I'm spinning than if I'm knitting.  It helps make the world a better place just by being open to other people and their stares and their questions and their curiosity.

This isn't still but it generates
a nice effect

I needed this time away badly.  I've been introverting more heavily than normal recently, trying to work out why I am doing things the way I've been doing them.  I've been starting to recognise some of my attitudes are wrong and that I need to get my act in gear.  I'm starting to think about the future again.  I guess you might think I'm more worried about my cancer follow ups than I let on, and you might be right.  I won't even let on to myself that I'm anxious.  It sometimes amazes me that I went through all of that and came out the other side, that I wasn't dead within a year of diagnosis.

Lime Kiln was gorgeous, as always
As you might remember, I've been talking to (emailing) my first ex (boyfriend) and that opened a whole can of worms that disturbed me greatly. 

And then he said something, and a whole series of buried memories and events unfolded in my head and I said, "Ah!  So that is why I did what I did!"

Luridly Spring green.

I was bullied a lot as a child.  I was weird.  I was different.  (Ahem, I still am.)  I was shy and retiring and all too sensitive to the way other kids treated me.  I should've worn glasses but that would've been just another cross for me to bear.   I was told "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me," and other such rubbish such as ignore them, you are better than them, etc.  There's plenty of other stuff you don't need to know!  Kids used to get up in my face and threaten me with all sorts of things.  I never got beaten up - I was always bigger and stronger looking than most of the kids in my year level - but I was plenty damaged.

I talked to one of the bullies many years on - probably about 15 years on.  I saw her at the post office in Oakleigh and decided to say hello.  She was pleased to see me - "Lynne, my friend!"  She remembered threatening me with a set of pliers in the music room - "Wasn't it a funny joke?"

Umm, no.  No it wasn't.  I took it rather seriously.  I had been trained into seeing everything as attempts to hurt me, whether or not they really were.  I was, and probably still remain, strongly self-protective.  Noone else would look after me if Mum or Dad or my big siblings weren't around, so I had to.

The coast - even the water was calm this time, rather than a furious gale

So why would a girl who was desperately in love with a boy run away from him?  I thought young me knew the reasons, but why was young me scared of him coming back to Oz?  Didn't young me want to see him?  Didn't young me crave his presence?

Well, what if once in a while, that boy used to do something that he thought was a game, a total fantasy?  What if that something triggered memories of being bullied in that girl?  What if that boy didn't realise that when that girl begged him to stop, please stop that she wasn't playing along?  What would a shy, almost completely incapable of talking about important things girl do in response?

Exactly what she had been conditioned to do.

She ran away.

I may have managed to pretty up the
lighthouse a bit.  It is a stunningly
ugly lighthouse, so that might explain it...

So this realisation happened just before the retreat, and oh gosh it was good to have a place to process it and, quite frankly, grieve for what followed.  It wasn't lack of love on the part of either party that led to young me running away and finding someone else, it wasn't due to lack of care, it was conditioning and youth and inexperience and not being at all ready to find that depth of relationship.

I talked to a couple of the other women there about it, and to a friend, and in brief to first-ex and now I feel so much better about it.  I've always taken the blame, I did the wrong thing and badly hurt someone that I cared about and still do care about (I have friendly relations with all bar one of my exes and that one is only because I have no idea where he is and what he's doing and his name isn't particularly unique).   Understanding why I did it helps me so much.  I guess you could say that I am feeling better because it "wasn't my fault" but it isn't that, it is now I understand why I did what I did and I can have more compassion for the girl that was.

The cycle of life

I had a fun time on the retreat in different ways, though one thing was expensive.  One of my eyes went quite quite weird one evening - it had flashes and if you've ever sprayed water on a tv screen or a monitor and seen how it magnifies the pixels, well that was happening along with weird blodges where I could not focus.  So I hauled me off to the ER on island.  I apologised to the on call doctor for dragging him out of bed (it was 11pm or so...).  He was really really really nice.  Good sense of humour, great accent...  I thoroughly recommend going to the ER when he is on call, but it turns out he's from off-island.  He thinks I probably had an "ocular migraine".  Or maybe I just had severe eyestrain from reading the phone screen whilst chatting to DH.  (Of course the symptoms disappeared when I got to the ER, and I'm thinking I will have to avoid buying anything unnecessary for about two months to make up for how much the retreat cost... now with ER visit...)  I also discovered a quite decorative young man dealing with fallen limbs and rotted trees on the resort we stayed at.  He was apologetic about being shirtless.  I quite enjoyed the view...

I take endless pics of ferries, and endless
pics on the too.

I've become known as a crazy person on retreat too.  I apparently do crazy, silly things.  I guess I am crazy and silly.  Cancer taught me lots of things, and one is that you never know how long your life is going to be, so get over the existential angst and enjoy what you have whilst you have it.  (However, I probably am still fairly much an existentialist, after reading about it on wikipedia today.  If you want more labels, try humanist as well.)  Enjoy being silly if you want to be and it is not harming others.  If you want to be very serious you can be that too but I seem to be pretty fluffy these days, or at least I retreat to fluff.  I can hide behind it and hope noone can see me.  Knit and craft with bright colours if you want to.  Wear them.  Wear all of them at once.  Colours that is, not all your clothes... Wear only one colour.  Those pants that you love but feel self-conscious in?  Put them on and strut, baby!  Everyone else will love them too!  (Well assuming the reason why you don't wear them is something other than they are indecent, possibly due to holes in places-wot-shouldn't-have-holes....)

Choose life.



  1. Hey you fun colourful crazy knitting lady, what a great post!! It's so good you're delving into the past has led to some realisations. And great to hear the retreat was fun!!

  2. Yes. My mum recently told me that I just don't care what I wear, ie I wear my whooshy dresses and green shoes and lots of green and am beastly careless about whether it is seen as appropriate for going shopping or not. Her idea of conforming is not mine. Life is too short to worry about what other people think of things that really don't affect the world too much. I am glad you are able to feel happier about the running away and have found some 'closure' though I hate saying that!!


Post a Comment

I enjoy getting comments but if I don't have your email address, I may not be able to reply 8-\

Popular posts from this blog

Griping - A very gross post

Seattle Six

Australia Day 2013 - a long way from home