Time flies! It seems such a short time ago that I reflected on 2018, and here we are at the doorstep of 2019 already. Another interesting year it has been. I’ve made some progress with my mental health, resulting in better physical health as well. I’ve been spinning, knitting, weaving, and sewing. Did some origami, wrote some music, and took many photographs. Spent lots of quality time with my husband and with Freya. Got a promotion at work that turned out really well. And I turned forty and had a little party.
At the beginning of the year I was still in spinning mode. I usually alternate between spinning and knitting regularly, but knitting to me is harder on the brain than spinning, so when I’m trying to save some energy I spin more. This is an unconscious choice that expresses itself in lack of knitting motivation (even though I have lots of nice yarn and projects in my queue that I’d really like to make).
Some of these spinning projects were rather large. For example, the Hedgehog Fibres one at the top right was 250 grams, and the purple one at the center left was over 400 grams. But the largest project was the green one at the bottom right. It’s 500 grams of a custom World of Wool blend. I finished spinning the singles on Sunday and I’ve been plying since. That project took a long time and I think I won’t pick up such a large spinning project again soon.
As you can see, green was quite prevalent this year. I love that colour, but I’ve not allowed myself to indulge in it too much previously because I know that my husband doesn’t like it that much. I know, I know, it’s silly of me to take that into account for my projects, but it’s part of my default fawning response that I’m trying to unlearn.
Most people know about fight or flight, and sometimes also about freeze, but there’s a fourth reaction to perceived danger called fawning, in which you try to avoid danger by appeasing other people. It’s my number one reaction and a hard one to break, because the connected emotional flashbacks are a response to an exaggerated representation of the current situation’s danger level. That makes it hard to think clearly.
Fawning is the main reason that I have not developed my personality that much yet. If your main objective is to blend in/to be what others want you to be, it’s hard to be yourself. But I’m breaking the habit! Bring in all the green!
When I was feeling a bit more energetic, I started casting on knitting projects. This year I mostly went for shawls (as usual), often with lacework, cables, brioche, or beading to spice things up. I even designed and knitted a shawl with my own handspun! Green, of course (bottom center).
You may have noticed that I have sneaked in some weaving in this picture too. A handwoven shawl for my dear aunt, and a blanket for Freya (and me).
I’m especially happy with the blue top that I’ve knitted. I’ve been wearing it regularly and it’s nice an warm and glittery and not too hot. The colourwork hat is still making its way to Germany, to my brother. The purple brioche hat is still unused, as it has not been that cold here yet.
My other major hobby, photography, got plenty of time too. I often walked through the neighbourhood, looking for subjects. I took photographs with my modern Fuji lenses, but also with some cheap vintage lenses using adapters. Here are some of my shots from this year.
I enjoy photographing nature as well as people. But I’m not sharing my people photos here for privacy reasons. If you like my photography, you can find my nature stuff here on Instagram.
Taking my photography walks has helped me feel better both physically and mentally. I got a bit of exercise, changed my perspective, and got some fresh air. Walking in the same neighbourhood every day really challenges your creativity with your subjects.
Health-wise it has been a weird year. I tore a hamstring and got patellafemoral syndrome in my weak knee because of it. After months of medical rehabilitation, I overburdened my knee when I cycled home against the wind, and I was almost back to zero. By now, my knee is behaving again. Physically I was not doing great, but mentally I’m getting better.
I was doing therapy for part of the year. I also did a training to help me deal with my inner critic which was very successful. My therapist was awesome and she helped me deal with C-PTSD and with dealing with the higher demands of my new job. It was an intense process, and at one point she recommended that I start practicing what I learned for a while without therapy, because she thought I was ready for that.
And I was. Of course I’m not ‘fixed’, but the process of growth takes time and cannot be rushed. At the moment I have enough tools to be able to grow in the right direction for a while. I’ve finally met my inner child, as she feels safe enough now to show herself sometimes.
I have noticed that I’m now more conscious of my choices regarding what to focus on. I’ve ditched Facebook and I’m actively choosing to read books and listen to music instead of surfing the Internet. I’m also protecting myself from becoming overly involved in the state of the world. It’s too heartbreaking and I don’t need constant reminders. I already do what I can.
My improved mental health has caused some positive changes all around. It is becoming easier for me to take care of myself physically. For example, I finally went to the dentist after 15 years for a checkup, and I got my wisdom teeth pulled four weeks ago. I also had my eyes checked again after ten years. So I’ve stopped neglecting myself, which is a positive and ongoing process. Even though dental work is no fun at all.
I’m still working part-time, but the job that I do now is more demanding. Even so, I’m able to work just as many hours because I’m dealing with things that come up in a better way. It’s a small victory for me.
Only lately I’ve been having more stress because of all the dental stuff, being sick, and Freya’s health, so it’s back to spinning and overeating, unfortunately. I’ve gained five kilograms since my knee problems started again. But now I’m aware and able to intervene if this goes on for too long. And I’m more forgiving of my flaws.
Freya has lost a lot of weight this year: almost a kilogram. After doing some blood and urine tests as well as trying out medicine, it has become clear that she has both hyperthyroidism and renal failure. Bad news. She gets some medicine for the hyperthyroidism, but not too much, because it can make her kidneys worse. It seems rather under control now, and she’s her own happy and cuddly self.
We shared some wonderful moments this year. Freya really is my feline friend. We love each other very much. Here are some highlights:
I think that I’ve finally accepted this year that I’m not going to have more of a professional singing career, and finished grieving. The singer life seems far away and usually I don’t mind. It doesn’t sting much anymore, but it’s still strange to not have any concerts around Christmas and Easter.
This has paved the way for a different, more relaxed enjoyment of music. This year, I have written some new music, and I’m also finally starting to enjoy listening to music again. You read that correctly. I hardly ever listened to music before because I was longing for some silence. Now I have space to add a bit of sound to my life.
I’ve started writing a new song this summer. It’s a bit further along now, but still not finished. I’m bringing it with me into 2020. I may get some new inspiration.
I also had inspiration for it this year, but at inconvenient times. When riding my bicycle to the train station, I hear the music in my head, but I can’t retain it that fast, and it’s a bit different every time depending on my mood. I did finish two other pieces of music though. The first was an ensemble piece for violin, cello, harp, and voice. I recorded it with midi instruments.
I also wrote a short Pavane, or perhaps more accurately, a lullaby for my inner child telling her that it’s safe now.
I’m looking forward to writing more music in 2020. Lately, I’ve been listening to choral renaissance music (performed by The Sixteen) and I might try my hand at some vocal polyphony. That music is dear to my heart.
I’m also planning to (finally) really start sewing now. I have hardly used my new sewing machine at all since I bought it, because I just didn’t have the energy. I did buy a swimsuit pattern and some blue lycra fabric, and as soon as our dinner table is empty I will move my sewing machine there (it’s currently too cold in the back room). I’ve decided to give swimming a go, now that yoga seems to be too hard on my knee. I used to swim and enjoy it, so I’m looking forward to doing it again. And to give myself a sewing challenge.
Finally, I’m going to try and be increasingly kind to myself. I’ve noticed this year that I’m starting to like myself sometimes, and that I’m not as strict and judgmental towards myself anymore. I’m also finally allowing myself to have an opinion that doesn’t take everybody’s preferences except for mine into account. Hurray for self-compassion! I’d love it if that trend continues. It’s time to be me.