Progress is a Sneak

Tunnel Vision – we all suffer it occasionally, especially as we work hard on specific goals.  Sometimes , it’s really easy to identify the headway you are making – a swath of fabric becomes a shirt, for instance.  And sometimes, it’s really hard to see the growth; suddenly you’ve arrived at your destination after a flat landscape and countless miles.

Twice a week, I’ve been taking a fitness class.  Pair that with how much dancing, biking, lifting, and general circus skill training I’ve been doing, and one would think my physical strength would grow in leaps and bounds.  But, over the past six months, my strength, and lack of, has broken me down in the middle of training more than I care to admit.  The frustration of doing the same exercise over and over and still seeing no progress would alternate between making me incredibly angry with myself and have me biting my lip so I don’t burst into tears then and there.

The support of my peers and instructors did nothing to temper this frustration either.  “Be kind to yourself.  No judgment.  See where you are this moment.”  I have started to resent these words, resenting living in the moment and being kind to my body, when I had been kind to it for so long but the strength wasn’t improving.  I would jump down from the trapeze in irritation because my long beats just weren’t working, and I growled at my skin the cat maneuvers because I couldn’t get my shoulders to engage.  I would work my core as often as possible, and still could only manage one knee hang sit up.  I had given up being kind.  There was no progress.  It just wasn’t working.

At the suggestion of one of my primary instructors, I scheduled a private lesson with the pilates instructor in hopes of finding out why I wasn’t progressing.  Was it a strength issue?  Was it how I sequenced my muscles?  Was I even using the right muscles?  After an hour of trying out different things, taking through how my body was feeling in each exercise, and a bit of poking at different muscles, we had come up with a plan.  Turns out, I wasn’t engaging the right muscles at the right time, my breathing was off, and I had to learn how to turn off over-eager muscles.  The next day, I added an extra knee hang sit up.

At the start of this program, we had a fitness assessment.  A page of exercises and stretches, along with a number, that we had to be able to achieve by the end of the 9 months.  The requirements were taken from audition requirements for some of the top schools/companies in the industry (National Circus School in Montreal and La Reve, for instance).

Our first assessment was in September – 6 months ago.  Our mid-term assessment was yesterday.

image In September, I threw myself into this program and risked injuring my shoulder again.  A lot of exercises I was unable to complete for fear of tearing a tendon or bringing back the intense inflammation.  My hamstrings were really tight, my body was compensating, and my back muscles wanted to engage when my core couldn’t.

Yesterday, I had biked 13 miles before arriving at class and I was still recovering from the chest congesting plague.  But at the end, I looked at my numbers and was amazed.  It was not only exciting because I was able to complete most of the list, but primarily because my shoulder isn’t twinging anymore.  I did 8 push-ups!  I sat on the floor for a moment after, marveling at the fact that for the first time ever, I stopped because my muscles were tired and not because I thought I risked tearing something.

I feel like Progress is sitting back on his heels now, chuckling merrily at the prank he pulled on me.  He withheld all hints of progress and then unleashed them at once, watching my eyes bulge in astonishment as I complete each task.

The Art of Active Rest

I caught the plague; this horrible, icky, chest racking, cough laden, sinus pressure plague that I tried to ignore all weekend so I could go out and explore on my precious days off. Come Monday morning, I was wrecked. I had absolutely no energy and could not rally to accomplish anything, but could not sleep either. So, I knit.

I spent the entire day laying around, drinking hot ginger tea, and knitting until I lost the energy to move my hands.

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My project is the Daisy Stitch Tunic in Cascade 220. I promised my friend this top last summer. Let’s not count how many months have passed since then, shall we?

This was the perfect sick day project, alongside the proof that I need to knit as mental recuperation after an intensely physical week.

This morning I woke feeling much better, relaxed mentally, emotionally, physically. My sinus are clear and my cough isn’t painful anymore (though it lingers).

Active resting, it’s a thing.

Tied In Knots

It’s been awhile since I’ve released any sort of knitting anything, so I’m fixing that today!  I’ve had a few things sitting around, totally finished, tested, and proofed, ready to be published, except that I was missing something – pictures!  When I went home to Wisconsin last month for the funeral, I set aside some time for a photo shoot with Dark Moon Photography, one of my favorite people to work with behind a lens.

We have a few things we’re working on to be released soon.  I’ve also got a couple more patterns in the works that need to be tested before I can do anything more with them.  I’m so excited to be releasing this one, since it’s been sitting on the back burner, lonely, dusty, forgotten for the past 8 months or so (yikes….)  I’m wearing it right now as I write this post.

DSC_6733It’s like being wrapped in a hug all day.  I first saw a rib warmer in my lyra class a few years ago.  It seemed like the strangest thing to me.  The one my instructor was wearing was white, and looked more like a medical bandage than anything.  She wore it every class.  After a few classes, I had one mapped out in my head and immediately put it on the needles.

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I wanted something a little more interesting though – twisted and intricate.  Thus, the Silk Knot rib warmer was devised.  I called it Silk Knot because the cables reminded me of the knots I would tie in the silks I was teaching with.  Since this was the first of my circus-inspired patterns, I felt it very appropriate.

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This is the second of many circus and dance inspired patterns (the first released was the Lyra Legwarmers).  There are more in the works, and I finally have some space here to take pictures in, so hopefully it’s not months between releases.

Find the Silk Knot Ribwarmer by going to the Patterns page of this blog, or by going to Ravelry directly.  Remember to link your project to the pattern page so we can see how it goes!

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