onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “crochet”

The “doing” and the “having done.”

I have been feeling particularly lazy the past few days. And today is, of course, my day to get stuff done. It’s the day for laundry and cooking and writing this blog. It’s my day to prep for the coming week. And I will do what needs to be done. In fact, the laundry is already in the washing machine. And I will start my cooking as soon as this is posted. But already I am looking forward to being done and sitting on the couch with a yarn project. 
It has been a long time since I have picked up a yarn project. And this one is particularly ambitious. I am attempting to make two dolls without a pattern. Or rather, I am starting with the base of another pattern and attempting to change it to fit my own specifications. It’s complicated and is taking a certain amount of blind faith. 
In my life in the food, everything scared me. Anything that was not an obvious win for me was a no-go. And even some of those “obvious wins” turned out harder than I imagined and I would quit. Everything was so serious. And nothing got done.
Or if it did, it would get done in the least healthy way possible. I have mentioned before that I went about creating like a crazy person. I would work like a machine through the day and night. Unable to stop. Unable to evaluate. And at some point things would get done half-assed because I couldn’t break my momentum but I was too exhausted to keep going properly. I had to see the end. I had to get that hit, that chemical reward. And it was usually mixed. Because it was done, but it was never perfect. And not perfect was never good enough. Now things get done with more care and attention, *and* I don’t need perfection. Wow!
I have always enjoyed the idea of creating. I have always enjoyed having created. I have always enjoyed the beginning and the end. The idea, and the finished product. I have never enjoyed work. Until I got my eating under control. 
In the food I was always interested in knowing, but never learning. I was always interested in having, but not acquiring. 
In getting my eating under control I learned to sit with difficult feelings. And feelings like realizing that I might fail at something are particularly difficult for me. Also, work, with it’s long-game potential rewards, as opposed to instant gratification, also fills me with difficult feelings. 
These are some of the feelings I ate. I mean, I was eating pretty much all of my feelings. But these feelings that forced me to evaluate myself, these were the ones that probably scared me the most.
Since I put down the food, I am no longer afraid of work, especially the work that creating entails.  I am not saying I enjoy it all the time. Ask my husband. I get frustrated. I swear, and growl. And sometimes I even throw down the yarn in a huff. But I pick it back up again. I learn. I acquire new skills and techniques. I add them to the list and seek out newer and even more difficult skills. 
Not being afraid of work is one of the biggest gifts of getting my eating under control. Not having to care that things be good enough is another gift. I am allowed to fail. I am allowed to make bad art. I am allowed to work really hard and have nothing to show for it. 
Putting boundaries around my food has always meant freedom. Freedom from the food itself. Freedom from living in a body that was difficult to live in. And freedom from my own ridiculous expectations. So today I will do the things I don’t want to do, so I can sit on the couch and attempt to do things I still don’t want to “do,” but will find immense satisfaction in “having done.”

Not to succeed, win, have or accomplish

I was an impatient child. Especially when it came to learning. 


See, I’m smart. Really smart. And most things came easily to me. I didn’t have to work hard to learn. And things that I didn’t learn immediately…well, I hated them. I didn’t want to do them. I didn’t want to fail. It made me feel bad. And I always felt like whatever energy I put in to something that ended in failure was a waste of my time. It was all about what I had to show for it in the end.

Soon I am going to get back into the workforce, and I would like to get a job teaching crochet, and helping people fix their crochet projects. At least one place I am looking at requires that you know how to both knit and crochet. So recently I started trying to knit again.

I am a bad knitter.

That is an imprecise way of putting it. There are things that I am great at. Like the dexterity parts. I am excellent at making the different stitches. I can make beautiful patterns with them. I can make cables and laces. When it comes to the actual knitting, I am really talented.

But there is another part of knitting that I am really really bad at. I cannot fix mistakes. This is inconvenient for a girl with mild perfectionist tendencies. If I make a mistake anywhere in a project, I don’t know how to get myself back to the point before I made the mistake without unraveling the whole thing. It’s all or nothing. I either have to live with the imperfections, or start again from the beginning. And I can’t stand making mistakes. So, so far, it’s all nothing.

But there is something different about me since I got my eating under control. I am patient. I am now one of those people who believes it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. (Seriously, I never thought I would be one of those people. I promise I don’t have art with motivational sayings. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

So for the past few weeks, I have been knitting. And I have nothing to show for it. And I am a-okay with that. I must have started anew at least ten times. And yet none of the times I unraveled the whole thing and wound it back around the ball of yarn did I feel it was a waste of my time. I wasn’t doing it because I need a scarf or a blanket or a sweater. I have plenty of beautiful clothes. And my house is cozy warm. I was doing it to practice. To get better. To learn. I was knitting to knit. It’s that simple.

The events and circumstances of my life are so much less “significant” since I got my eating disorders under control. And it’s such a relief. I love being free from having to be great at everything. I love having the ability to be incapable without shame. I love being exactly who I am all the time. I can even be ok with being a bit of a perfectionist.

I’m going to put the knitting away for a while. I just finished a really amazing crochet project and I’m ready to do more of that. But it’s nice to do something for the sake of doing it. Not to succeed, win, have, or accomplish.

As in life, so in crochet

Yesterday I finished crocheting a new small throw blanket. And there is a story about this throw. And the story is an analogy.

Several months ago, I made a baby blanket for a specific baby. (Unlike my tendency to make things, including baby blankets, for no one in particular.) And when I was done, I had quite a bit of extra yarn in a shade of pink that I loved.

Around early September, I learned how to crochet squares with flowers in the middle. And around that time, I found a light shade of green yarn that I liked a lot. So I made a bunch of pink and green flower squares. And they were lovely. But I didn’t know what to do with them. And I didn’t really have enough of either color of yarn to make much.

Plus, I had just purchased some fancy (superwash cotton and wool blend) yarn at a specialty yarn store. Needless to say, I was very excited to make something with the fancy yarn. So I put the pink and green aside and I completed a project with my fancy yarn. And then it was done. And it was time to do another project.

So I went back to my pink and green flowers and decided I would make it a 3 color blanket. I went to the store and I bought a bunch of skeins of another shade of green. I brought them home, held them all up next to each other and thought, “Ugh. This is not right. This is going to look terrible together.”

But this was the yarn that I had. So I decided to move ahead with the project. And I kept telling myself, “Just do the next thing.” And I kept crocheting.

And I kept stopping. “This can’t be right. Should I quit? Should I just give it up before I put a bunch of wasted work into it? Should I go online and order more of the light green and the pink? Well, for now just do a few more squares. Just do the next thing.”

So I crocheted. And stopped. And crocheted. And scrunched up my face wondering if this was going to end up a complete fiasco. “This really can’t be right.”

But it was something to do. And even with all of the stopping, I had already gone pretty far. So I kept just doing the next thing.

And it went on like this for the whole project. Right up until the very end. “I should just stop now. This can’t be right. Ugh, just be quiet and do the next part.”

I think that this turned out to be one of the most amazing pieces I have ever made. It is maybe my favorite.

pink green throw

IMG-20131123-00822

pink green throw 1

And I could never, ever EVER have planned it. Because it seemed like it couldn’t possibly be right the whole way through.

I see life this way. It starts out with something I love or I want. But I don’t know what to do about it. So I don’t do anything. I just go about my business. And then opportunities arise. And they turn out not to be what I expected. Or what I thought they should be. Or what I would have chosen as the best option for my happiness. But they are what I have. So I do the next right thing. And I stop. And I make false starts. And think, “Are you sure? Really? This can’t be right.” But I keep doing the next thing. In bitty baby steps.

This happened for me with food. (Give up sugar? Forever?!?! That can’t be right.) And it happened with writing this blog. (Write every week about being fat? Or bulimic? Tell people personal things about myself and my eating disorders?! That can’t be right.) And it happened for me with falling in love. (Leave New York City? With my childhood friend? To travel Small Town America in a pickup truck?!?! That can’t be right.)

And in the end, these turned out to be the greatest decisions I have ever made in my life.

I am limited. I can’t imagine anything outside of my own experiential frame of reference making me happy. But I have this amazing tool. Willingness. Surrender. To go along. To not seek too far into the future. To just do the next right thing right now. And to trust. That life knows better than I do. About blankets and yarn and blog writing and love and food. And anything else that I am willing to be open to.

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