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…Like You Mean It: On Exploration

15 August 2013

A brief interlude. If you’re looking for the Right As Rainbow Knitalong, check us out on Facebook and Twitter, look for updates on Catherine’s blog, and pop over here tomorrow for more news. And do comment on the latest yarn giveaway, which ends at midnight GMT tonight.

Do you all know Tara? She’s the genius behind The Starship Adventure, a community for creative types who also own businesses. I’m not a member of The Starship, but I find what she’s done pretty inspiring. She’s figured out the sweet spot between what she likes to do and what people like to pay her to do, and made it into a business. And it just so happens that part of that is giving advice to other creative businesspeople. She’s helped a lot of folks in the yarn world through her book and the resources on her website, and I find myself referring friends there a lot. In particular, she has a free five-part mini-course, How to Be an Explorer, that I found both inspiring and practical.

Exploration Party Banner

Exploration Party Banner courtesy and copyright Tara Swiger.

This week, Tara is encouraging people (Anyone! This means you!) to talk about exploration: how it has worked in your creative life, what you are exploring now, etc. She’s already shared some of the posts that have come out of her Exploration Party, and they are pretty cool. Some people are writing about their experience

It got me thinking about how this blog became what it is today, and what the last few years have been like.

You all know that my mother passed away suddenly in late 2007. I won’t go into the details here, because goodness knows you all read enough of that when I write directly about Jane Lawton, but suffice to say she was a good, kind, friendly, hilarious, smart woman, and she died unexpectedly and way too soon.

Jane and Plane

Ready for flight! Mom’s the looker in the middle, with fellow staffers from Speaker Albert‘s office. I do wish I knew the story behind this picture.

I’ve written before about how I got braver after Mom’s death, and I don’t want to belabor the death motif, because, heck, this is a knitting blog. So I’m mostly going to write about what Tara asked about: exploring.

One consolation about my mother’s life was and is that she was happy at the time she died. She was fulfilled in her career and her life. I started to think about what would fulfill me, and in the next few years a lot of changes slotted into place. When my mother died, I had been relatively successful in a fairly safe career for about 8 years. Today, almost six years later, I am studying and living in a different country with Mr. Trask, Little Miss Feisty, and the long-suffering cat.

Gertrude Escaping

Gertrude contemplates a leap out a second-floor window. Sometimes it’s good to get outside opinions on our plans.

What changed? I got a lot more open about what I tried. I listened to other people’s ideas about what might work. I took advice, and then I basically just threw a lot of spaghetti at the wall and waited to see what would stick. I changed what I did at work; I tried my hand at teaching knitting; I let myself really be an obsessed knitter. Danielle and Karida were really encouraging; I hadn’t realized until I met them that it was great to like to knit: that it was, in fact, great. I also applied to a master’s program in English Lit and then (two years after starting that) to a doctoral program, which is how we ended up here in Oxford. And I went through some false starts, which taught me what I am and am not good at / meant to do.

Corinne plus Pink

My knitting bag for our first flight to England, two years ago.

There’s an argument to be made that I wasn’t very sensible, or very adult. But I did what I did with a financial buffer and with a bit of a plan. Four years passed between Mom’s death and Mr. Trask and me getting on the plane to England. I got there by trying something new, seeing how it worked out, and assessing it to decide what to do next. A lot of that was instinct (and/or blind luck). Often, I just did what seemed to be the next right thing.

I am still in flux, still working out what the right path is. But then I suspect we’re all doing that, even people who seem to have it all together. We’re all works in progress, right? I guess my point is that I remembered about risk-taking after I lost my mother. Somewhere in my 20s I lost it, probably in that transition we all make from teenager to adult. But adults need to take risks, too, and I’m glad I started doing that.

Little Miss Feisty Walking

Little Miss Feisty is definitely a risk-taker.

The next phase of my life is still going to involve change and growth and surprises. With a baby and some serious deadlines coming up, I think the changes I make will me more intentional, less haphazard than the ones I made before (fingers crossed). I think I’m honing in on the career that is right for me; I just need to keep stepping out in faith, moment by moment. It’s exciting, it’s risky, it’s scary. But, hey, what else are you going to do, right?

What would you explore, if you had world enough and time? What would you change about your life?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeannie permalink
    15 August 2013 9:41 am

    This is simply a wonderful thing to read. Add to that the fact that, as I approach 63, I’m still in a state of what will I do when I grow up? Make that what should I put on my bucket list?
    The ability to knit was a gift I received late in life, my menopause miracle, I ‘ve christened the achievement.
    Knitting and interacting with people is my salvation these days.
    I bless the day I fell into your knitting blog.

  2. Jeannie permalink
    15 August 2013 9:42 am

    I would travel the world.

  3. Brooke permalink
    15 August 2013 10:19 am

    Interesting timing (universe-wise) on this post. Like Jeannie, I bless the day I met you, learned to knit from you, and read this missive. It has provided much food for thought, lots to chew on. I think you should change Wee One’s moniker to Lucky Miss Feisty–she is, with a mom like you.

  4. 15 August 2013 11:09 am

    Oh! I love this so so much!
    Especially this:
    “Often, I just did what seemed to be the next right thing.”
    Yes! After much stumbling around in my life, that seems to always be the best choice.

    Thanks so much for sharing this part of your story and for exploring with me!

  5. 15 August 2013 2:57 pm

    This is beyond lovely – and now I’m going to hunt around your lovely blog to see what other treasure you’ve got for me (I have an idea that I’ll be saying, like commenter Jeannie above: “I bless the day I fell into your knitting blog.”

  6. chopkins2011 permalink
    15 August 2013 4:28 pm

    I took my first risky leap when I was 38 and mother of 4 children (3,5,7&9) and chucked up my job as a nurse and took a degree in law (at the ‘other’ university). Now, after pursuing a career in medico legal litigation for nearly 20 years I am embarking on the next adventure which will involve a lot of knitting (the children are now 26,28,30 and 32, they have survived to become useful members of society)

  7. gt4936 permalink
    16 August 2013 12:52 am

    Littke Miss Fiesty has the cutest smile ever!

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