Ravelry Rocks!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

How I Stopped Chain Smoking: One Chain Stitch At A Time!

I had open heart surgery at the age of 11...Of course I was told to never smoke...but I took that as a dare I guess, and when all my friends began smoking, of course I had to do it too.

As a child I loved the movie 'Pollyanna.'  I loved The Happy Game she played in that movie.  Everyone could benefit greatly from watching that movie.  There is nothing that cannot be changed to something good-it may be hard, but that is what makes it a game.

When I quit  smoking , I did not WANT to quit.  I LIKED to smoke, it tasted good and it made me feel good.  I just HAD to quit because I knew it was the right thing to do- and cuz I'm a cheapass and they kept raising the prices. 

I told myself:  NEVER again will I EVER have even "just a drag."  That always got me into trouble when I'd quit in the past...I also told myself that I had to get EXCITED about quitting.

So, every time I felt the urge for a smoke, I would FORCE myself to smile, and tell myself, "This is so AWESOME!  This is good for you!  You are doing a GREAT JOB!"  This was a VERY forced smile, and at the time, it was hard to do-to say those words in my head and to make myself smile.  I remember my dad telling me that I looked like the joker when I'd do my random "I am quitting smoking  smile," because it really was a forced smile haha!

Eventually that forced scary lady smile turned into a real smile.  I smile now because I am healthy, not tied to cigarettes (my whole life doesn't consist of "how am I going to sneak out and puff away?"), and I have extra money.

I also turned to tea.  I was also scared to quit because I didn't want to gain a lot of weight-and everyone says that happens when you quit.  So, I bought different kinds of tea (mainly because it isn't bad for you):  green tea, raspberry tea, blueberry tea (do I sound like Bubba?  Shrimp Gumbo, Fried Shrimp, Shrimp Salad bahahaha!).  I enjoyed my "break time" that the cigarettes allowed me.  I would sneak outside with my tea-so I didn't feel like I was cheating myself my little tiny "leave me alone for five minutes" breaks...

I needed to keep my hands busy.  Again, I didn't want to gain weight, so I needed something to do with my fidgety hands!  Putting a crochet hook in my hands did the trick!  It felt good to hold a stick in my hands-and this one wasn't a cancer stick!  YEAH!  AND when I was all done holding it I would have something fun to use or display!  Turned out the crochet became very therapeutic for me.

I also put a "no excuses" clause on my quitting.  In the past, I would let things "allow" me to smoke.  Maybe someone made me mad, maybe life got stressed, or maybe I was just in a pissy mood.  I told myself this time around there is NO EXCUSES to start smoking .  I was really put to the test because a few months after I quit my husband was deployed to Iraq.  I figured that this would be the ultimate test, if I could make this deployment smoke-free I was a winner.

I figured out how much I'd been spending on cigarettes, and put away that money that I would have spent for a whole year.  We used it to do fun family things and YARN!  LOTS OF YARN!!!  It was so nice to SEE what we had earned by my selfishness.

Anyhow, that is how I quit smoking.   Maybe it will help you or someone else, maybe not...but it worked for me.  December 13, 2008 at 2 PM I quit.  I have not even had a puff since.  I admit that I actually still will say that I loved smoking.  LOVED it.  BUT I didn't love it more than I loved myself or my family...and I surely didn't love it more than YARN!  I will always smell it and think, "GAWD I LOVE THOSE THINGS."  But I will never EVER have a puff.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Light Shines Through

Sometimes your soul just hurts so bad you feel that surely you have lost a little piece of it.  I think every time I make something, I am patching up a little hole in my soul…it is fitting that when you hold a knitted item up to the light you can see the sun shining through…Maybe, the pieces aren’t really lost…maybe they are just turned around a little and need rearranging......

I wrote that yesterday on my facebook….This is the story behind that post-because I hate vagueness and just saying that little bit didn’t help my soul to feel better.

I have long been a fan of Pollyanna.  I try to always take a bad and find the good in it.  I always keep my father’s words close to my heart, “No matter how bad you think you have it, someone else always has it worse.”  But sometimes, our own pain is very real, and sometimes we need a little cleanse.  This is mine.

My mom left me when I was little.  I was blessed to have been raised by my father.  Every major holiday I would be uprooted and become the “Unaccompanied Minor” on the plane and go visit my mom.  I would look out that little airplane window and be so sad, knowing I was leaving my home.  Never failed-a tear (or fifty) would slip down my cheek-no matter how much I told myself, “this time, try not to cry, Shawn!”   She lived with her new husband and his kids from a previous marriage would always come to visit the same time.  (I’m stating now, that I really like this man and his children a LOT-this narrative is my relieving myself of the pain caused to me by my mother).  This meant I never really had ‘mommy daughter’ time.  I admit, I did have a lot of fun when I would visit-but it was not really any bonding time with my mother. 

Even in the best of situations, divorce sucks.  It sucks to know your mom left you and never wants to visit you (since I was the one who always had to travel the distance and be uprooted-I was the one doing the visiting not the other way around).  I spent my youth dreaming of how I would have kids and love them so much.  I would never leave them. I would tell them every day how very much I love them.  I learned from my mother-how to not behave as a parent.  I would fall asleep almost every single night wishing I was dead-I would think about how maybe, at my funeral she would show that she cared.  Yes, this is stupid and childish, but I was a child-and I hurt so very deeply.  I even cut myself.  Oh, I don’t like to admit that-it’s embarrassing.  I didn’t REALLY want to kill myself-I know that now.  I just would be so filled with self-loathing and sadness that it was my release.  I was horrified after I did it, and would see  what a mess I made of my arms and I would hide it (or try to).  I thought I was the only one on the planet that did that.  Now, as an adult, I hear that it is a thing that people do-no comfort in knowing I was not the only one to do that.   Actually, one of my friends saw my arms once and dragged me to the counselor.  I’d have to say, as far as counselors go she was pretty crappy.  Clearly I needed help and none was given.  She just told me to punch a pillow. Sure lady.  Sure.

As an adult, I went through a period where I just wanted to stop being hurt by my mom.  I told her that until she got sober I wouldn’t speak with her.  That lasted for a few years, until the death of my Great Grandfather-which caused us to start speaking again.  I told myself, that I did not want to be an excuse for her to drink.  Alcoholics always need an excuse for drinking-so I told myself that no matter how hard it was, I would continue to try to  have a relationship with this woman.  

She is an even worse grandparent than she is a parent.  She has maybe met my 14 year old daughter three (maybe four?) times.  I think the first time she met my daughter was when my daughter was a year and a half old.  What kind of mother doesn’t rush over to meet her new grandbaby?   So now, in my adult life I console myself with planning how I will be the best grandma ever! 

My mom has been asking me for the date of my kids’ graduation party (one is graduating high school the other junior high).  I told her I wasn’t 100% sure that we were having a party due to my husband’s new job.  I told her to just plan her time to visit and if I have a party I will plan it for on a date that she is here.  I was informed that the ONLY reason she was going to visit me (keep in mind it has been years since I have seen her-and she did not invite me to the family reunion she planned last summer) was to be at the party.  My bad, I thought you wanted to visit, and were just going to make it convenient to plan your visit around the party.  I should have known.  She is the person who wants to say, how wonderful she is-"LOOK!  I went to your graduation party!"  But ya...were you here for the graduation?  Or how about all that lead up to it?  No...I thought, surely, I misunderstood what she meant, so I asked for clarification.  Yup.  She only will visit if  I have a party.  No thanks.

The reunion…yes…I have told her repeatedly through my adult life, whenever she makes the journey to visit her home town to let me know.  Because I was only a ‘visitor’ to that area and that family, I don’t really know that family at all.  I love visiting them though!  She planned a visit to go there-even went so far as to invite my brother (who lives just as far away from that place as I do) but didn’t bother to invite me.  I kept waiting for her to ask me if I wanted to come.  No invitation ever came.  I was heartbroken.   Completely crushed.  The photos of her and my brother reconnecting with family as they visited  started popping up on facebook and my hurt intensified.  Would you believe she had no idea why I ignored her for a few months?  I had to spell out for her that it hurt my feelings that she didn’t invite me to a family reunion.  Then she tried to make me feel bad for saying that and threatened to kill herself or something along those lines.   

Honestly, I didn’t want her to come visit anyhow.  This is true and my family knows it.  They see my pain every day.  They hear me when I tell them that I am squeezing them extra hard that it is because I didn’t get a hug from my mom every day-I only got a few a year.  Sometimes, I am grateful to have the story of the crappy mother just so I can weasel a few extra hugs from my kids! Haha!  My kids, bless their little hearts,  kept telling me to be the bigger person and invite her to the party.  They are so sweet, and like me, don’t want to be the cause of anyone’s pain.  So I did…invite her…against my will…and was shat upon once again.

I am done now.  This is me cleansing my life of her.  I cannot continue to be emotionally destroyed by her.  How many times can a person rip pieces of your soul out before it stops hurting?  Apparently, a soul is infinite, because the times for me are countless and it still hurts-even with the knowledge that I know she will continue to hurt me.  I KNOW she will never be the kind of mom any person deserves.  I know that.  But even with this knowledge, the pain still comes.   Every single day-but some days are more bearable than others. 

I hate when I see on facebook or other social media, those stupid memes that say “love your mom because you only have one.”  Guess what?  That’s stupid.  I’ll love who I love for the reasons someone should be loved.  Facebook memes are so funny sometimes, my mom actually posted one once that said, “my mom taught me everything except how to live without her.”  Really?  REALLY?  She is THAT clueless. 

This is me, Shawn, moving on.  This is me, trying to make the world a better place because I am in it.  I don’t want to be the cause of anyone’s pain, but I am going to have to do that for my own sanity.  Maybe she won’t be sad because I stop talking to her, and that is OK too.  I just know, that I am now done.  This fake relationship is too real to continue.  My heart is not a game and my love is real.  My pain is true.

I love being a happy person.  I love being fun and silly.  I love waking up every morning with a smile and thinking about ways to make the world a little sunshiny.  Maybe it is just knitting a zombie doll with guts falling out-or maybe it is dropping a little crocheted bunny in the mall for some kid to find…it doesn’t matter-I just love being happy and I love when everyone else is happy.  Life is way too short to be sad for long and if you can’t find a way to find the silver lining and the sun that is always behind the clouds then  maybe it is time for a little change.

Writing out my pain is my soul cleanse.  It always has been.  It is like I am taking everything dark and sad inside me and removing it.  Once I have written it out I don’t have to continue to think about it.  If I ever need to remember, I know I can always go back and read about it-but it can be removed from my mind.  I needed that today.  I’m sorry I had to write this boring little depressing thing…but I hope that you see that it really isn’t a sad post…I don’t want pity, sympathy or hugs.  Be proud of me.  Be happy for me.  This is me moving on, taking a deep breath and keeping on keeping on!  This is me living.  This is me smiling.  This is me….Now back to knitting.  I have a fun fun fun project I am about to start. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time!  I can’t wait to hold it up to the sunshine and see the light shining through.

Crafts have been my way of dealing with stress and sadness...When my hubby deployed the first time I went to the store and bought a sewing machine-never had sewn before-but taught myself to sew to keep my mind busy.  The second time he deployed, I had JUST quit smoking and didn't want to start up again so I started crocheting again like a maniac....Those hooks, needles and fabric saved me I think...more times than I can count.

Update:  My son, seeing my pain, had a long chat with me the other day...he told me I more than made up for my mom-he said I was the best mom ever, that I was always there for every single thing that ever happened in his life...And I told him, that was the bare minimum.  That should be expected.  THAT is what a mom should do-without thanks or question.  That is what every single kid on this planet deserves...it doesn't make me the best mom ever-it just makes me a mom.  And I am happy with that. :)

Update to the update:
My mom has basically honored my request to leave me alone..I didn't unfriend her on facebook, but I did make it so she cannot see my daily postings...She left this on my timeline:
It was the second time she'd left something like that...I didn't want to be a jerk by not responding-who doesn't respond to their mom's lovely post?  Uggh.  So I responded with this:

Still waiting for her to click 'like.'

Monday, February 1, 2016

Rooster Of My Dreams Ornament

I've gotten a little addicted to my chickens.  I've been incorporating them in many things-watercolors, pen and ink, crochet, knitting, sewing and even my mannerisms (much to my family's dismay!).  In celebration of the new chickens I will be getting in March I am offering this pattern for free!  If you are like me and can't get enough chickens, you may want to check out my Rooster Hat Pattern on Ravelry-it's not a free pattern, but I try to keep the cost low so everyone can afford it.  I use the money I earn to help pay for my children's extra curricular activities-it is my way of contributing monetarily to our family.

I'll be having a contest that you will be able to participate in if you so desire, using this new pattern, on my Dragonbird Creations Facebook this is such a quick project, you should really consider entering-unless you don't like getting free patterns for prizes! ;) I'd really love for a lot of people to participate...because really...games are really only fun when people play!!!

This pattern has not been tested (except for myself making many-so please let me know if you find any errors or confusing parts, I'll do my best to fix it up).

Rooster Of My Dreams Ornaments

By:  Shawn Torres

Stitches and Abbreviations
dc-double crochet
rsc-reverse single crochet
RS-right side

BLO-back loop only

Worsted weight in various colors (I used I Love This Yarn)
Tapestry needle
H (5.0 mm) hook 

Pattern Notes and Hacks
Gauge is not important-you can use any yarn or hooks for a different sized rooster. 
Feel free to switch up your colors every round or keep it the same every round.

Here is how it looks using size 10 thread-LOVE!


 1.   (Rs) Make a magic loop, ch 2 (counts as dc throughout), 19 dc in loop; join with sl st to first dc. (20)


2.  Ch 1, sc in same dc, 2 sc in each dc around;  join with sl st to first dc in BL. (40)

3.       In BLO this round:  Ch 2, dc in same dc, dc in next 2dc, *(2 dc in next dc, dc in next 2 dc) repeat from *around ; join with sl st to first dc

4.       Fold your circle so that the wrong sides are together and your working loop is at the right side of the folded half circle.  Rsc across the bottom edge of the body working through both layers of the body-this is how your rooster’s body will be closed.  Finish off.


Join with sl st in tip of the ‘tail’, *ch 10, sl in same space, sl in next st (going towards the bottom of the body-not along the top); repeat from * three more times and finish off

With contrasting color, join with sl st to the tip of the tail in first space as 1st tail feather, *chain 13, sl st in same space**, sl st in same st as next tail feather; repeat from *-**once more and finish off.

Join with sl st to into the tip of the ‘head’, ch 4, sl st in same space, sl st in next space (going towards the top of the body not along the bottom), ch 5, sl st in same space, sl st in next space, ch 4, sl st in same space and finish off.

Join with sl st to 4 stitches away from the comb, 2 dc into the space that is 2 stitches away from comb, sl st in same space; finish off

(see previous photo for wattle)

sl st in same stitch that you ended your wattle on, ch 4, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, sc in next 2 chains and sl st in the space that the comb began on; finish off.

In the center of the bottom of the rooster’s body, [ch 12, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and next 2 chains, *ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and next 2 chains; repeat from * once more and then sl st in each chain that remains from leg, sl st in same st as beginning sl st], sl st in next st on body, then repeat [-] for the next leg and finish off.  (see previous photo for legs)

Weave in all ends and decorate as desired.  Be creative and use buttons, beads, feathers, sequins or whatever your heart desires! After your roo is all decorated you can then add your hanger by using a piece of yarn-you may have to adjust where you place the hanger based on how heavy certain parts of the roo is so that he hangs straight. J   I’d love to see your finished rooster-feel free to share it or tag DragonbirdCreations on facebook!

©Dragonbird Creations  This pattern is for personal use only.  You have permission to sell any items you make using this pattern.  Do not distribute, copy or sell this pattern, photos, videos and links, descriptions or anything other content included in this pattern.  If you have any questions regarding this pattern, you may email me at DragonbirdCreations@live.com  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Waking Up To Watercolors

A strange thing happened the other day...I woke up and felt the need to watercolor a chicken.  I love painting-I love painting on faces and making murals for walls, but I have never ever used watercolors before.  I did,  however, purchase supplies a few months ago thinking I'd like to try it, but then after reading up on it got too scared and just put them in a cabinet.

I awoke with a focus and drive I've never experienced before-a huge calling to me to try watercolors..  Totally bazaar, but I went with it...And then this happened...

And then this happened....

Then I painted the photo you see at the very top of the page-my favorite one as of now!  Then I had a request for  cardinal as they remind my friend of her late mother....and this happened!  I wanted to evoke the feeling of joy, hope and energy...I hope I captured that...this was my practice piece and I'll get some better paper in a few days and do a real one...

I am glad I went with my wake up feelings that day....this has given me a great feeling of accomplishment...I know I have a lot to improve, but I'm focused on the future and learning more!  I was never allowed to take an art class in High School-I had to fill my schedule with honors classes and foreign language...all great to know, but I always had wanted to take an art class...maybe, just maybe, if I'd been allowed to do it I'd have found a purpose to my life-I spent so many years wandering and confused, not sure of what I wanted out of life (besides being a mom)...