January 28, 2013

Island Treasure

click to enlarge

About a month ago we all headed up to Chebeague Island, Maine for the weekend to visit Tom's sister and her family. We use to spend a lot of time on the island and every time I visit it's a bit like returning home.

I shot these photos of their lovely home in between rounds of playing Settlers of Catan, going for walks, and eating lots of freshly baked goodies. Their house is like a cozy cabin, with lots of light, and where all the elements fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Outside their door are lobster traps stacked at the ready for spring, and a red chicken coop supplying fresh eggs for breakfast.

Chebeague is a small intimate island with about 350 year round residents. Islanders of all ages rally together, especially to endure the long hard winters. I love the sense of community there. Something like the death of an islander can bring people together, kind of like how a tower of playing cards collapses.

Having my ninety-one year old mom close by me now makes me think more about where we will live in the years to come. While on the island I had fantasies again of living communally some place- where people come together and support one another....taking on the chores they like to do....where babies get passed around from lap to lap.....and the elderly can age in place...

Everyone safe and cared for.

Wherever you are this week, I hope you are keeping warm and have people around you.

I might have said sometime before that my Dad use to say that it's important to have someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.

I think he was right.

XO, Louise


January 21, 2013

Twenty-Nine Days

A friend of mine emailed me last week and said that she was just finishing the book 29 Gifts by Cami Walker and thought I would love it. I watched the above video that she enclosed in her email, and decided to post it right away, because it is so inspirational- especially for those who are going through a challenging time right now.

A surefire way to step outside our heads and unhappiness is to do something for others.

Photo by Gris Handknits
Recently I was the lucky recipient of a gift myself that I won on my favorite Norwegian blog called A Butterfly In My Hair.  I received this gorgeous wool/cashmere hat made by contributor Nicole Dupuis of Gris Handknits. I was tickled pink.

Her knitwear is divine.

Thank you so much Nicole.

The Hole Thing candle votives

In the spirit of giving, Lines of Beauty is having its own give-away. Please leave a comment if you would like to be included in a drawing for 2 of my wool candle votives (colors of your choice ) from The Hole Thing. Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you in your comment if I don't know you personally.

Give-away ends February 1st.

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. ~Winston Churchill 

January 15, 2013


Eleanor Roosevelt
This week I would like to introduce you to author Marcia Barhydt, who is delighted to be 69 years old. A retired flight attendant who is now self-employed as a writer, Marcia is embracing this time of her life, especially the whimsy of writing.

Marcia is dedicated to challenging ageism, the inequality and invisibility for older women, and is equally dedicated to addressing issues that affect women of any age as we pursue our life choices.

I bring you Marcia:

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Every time you meet a situation, though you think at the time it is impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it, you find that forever after you are freer than you were before."

For some people, this is not news. Some women know that to work through a challenge and come out the other side is a distinct possibility in many parts of their lives. 
Marcia's first book
For other women, this is a brand new thought. Some of us didn't know we had a choice and by the time we had worked through it, our resources were so drained that it didn't seem like freedom afterward.

By the time we become "women of a certain age", we've experienced a multitude of character building challenges - marriage, divorce, house buying and selling, caring for parents, dealing with teenagers, menopause.

So, have these challenges changed who we are? Changed our character, changed our coping skills? Have they directed or redirected our paths, our journey? Have they changed our lives?

Marcia's second book
Of course they have. Eleanor Roosevelt was no slouch when it came to wisdom or when it came to life changing events. She was the first lady of the United States when her husband contracted polio which would confine him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Even though Franklin D Roosevelt continued his term as one of the most loved and dedicated presidents in history, I'm certain that Eleanor, herself an woman actively seeking change, I'm certain that her life included that voyage of the damned and I'm equally certain that she lived through it and came out the other side much freer than she was before.

And so, we each must do the same, don't you think? If we're now women of a certain age, we're now seeing some monumental changes in our lives that test us and change us repeatedly.

Our choice is to do nothing, become mired in self pity, become overwhelmed and become weighed down with the burden of our own challenges,


We can choose to fight; we can choose to sit quietly in a dark room to better speak with ourselves, we can choose to pull ourselves out of the quicksand.

My mother, who lived to be over 100 and remained feisty for most of her years, used to say, "I hurt so much today that I baked a batch of cookies." That's what a positive mind set does. It challenges the bad moments in our lives and turns them into the good moments instead. It erases the bad with some sugar and flour and chocolate chips. 

With each batch of cookies, my mom freed herself from her pain, by lending her mind and her hands to another task, by forcing her pain out the door and leaving her free to bake those cookies.

We all have our tortures and I suspect we'll have some more of them in our lives, so we need to decide right now how we're going to deal with our tortures. Are we going to let them torture us or are we going to use them to make us, as Eleanor Roosevelt suggested, freer than we were before?

I'm a woman of a certain age, and I'm certain that my choices will leave me freer than I was before.

Marcia's first book, Celebrate Age, and her second book, One Small Voice, are available here.

Thank you Marcia for your contribution to Lines of Beauty.

©Marcia Barhydt, 2011

January 08, 2013


Last week I drove Mr. Fix-It to the airport to catch his flight. The tunnel leading to Logan Airport is about a mile long, and I drive through effortlessly.

This was not always the case.

It use to be a claustrophobic, white knuckle, heart racing event for me to drive through the tunnel. It started about 25 years ago when I worked for a Swiss yarn importer and one of my responsibilities was to pick up all of our sales reps in a fifteen-passenger van at the airport, often in Boston's rush hour traffic, and drive them to our bi-annual sales meeting.

Be still my heart.

I was born a slightly anxious, worrywart of a girl, who use to miss my mommy when I went off to nursery school and the early years of grammar school.

And I have been in rehabilitation ever since :-)

These days though I feel like I am on some sort of valium compared to how I sometimes use to feel, but I am not.

The defining moment came for me about eight years ago when I had my annual check-up with a new doctor. My daughter had awoken with a stabbing pain in her abdomen that morning and after rushing her to the hospital, it passed. Tests showed an ovarian cyst had burst. With this resolved, I was still able to make it to my check-up, but I left the house a little late, got lost on my way, and arrived even later.

By the time I sat down for the annual blood work-up, I felt like I had been through a wringer.

My doctor called the next morning and asked if I had been nervous when I came in. Ummm...just a hair! She said that my sugar levels were very high and she wanted me to come in and take the test again. She explained that anxiety (which releases cortisol, the stress hormone) causes your sugar levels to spike which isn't good.

So I calmly went in the next day and had another blood test.

It came back totally normal.

"Ohhh....I see the mind/body connection now," I thought. I experienced personally how stress affects our health.

It was like a gift.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

This knowledge, coupled with kicking coffee, has made a huge impact on my life. I have learned to "change the channel" when I start having anxious thoughts, and it has made a big difference in my well-being.

I think twice now if anxiety begins to rivet my body. It isn't worth the toll it takes.

Just thought you might be interested to hear one worrywart's story, should you happen to be one yourself.


January 02, 2013

Thirty Point Two

It's been a crazy couple of weeks as usual this time of year. Good crazy, but not conducive to writing, as I am inspired when my life feels like it is somewhat in order, when the pantry is full, and there isn't a mound of laundry calling my name.

I love writing and creating things more than anything.

It kind of makes me feel like we do when we're in love.

I am not big on New Year's resolutions, plus historically, when I've set a goal for myself I have not whispered a peep about it to anyone. There is a quote by John Selden on this topic:

Never tell your resolution beforehand, or it's twice as onerous a duty.

However, as I grow older, I think maybe we can benefit by sharing our goals when we have a hard time achieving them....not in a whining way....but in letting people know when we are stumbling.

As some of you know I have been swimming competitively again after a 30 year hiatus. For a over a year now I have been trying to break 30 seconds in the my event, the 50 meter freestyle. Every time I have raced I've done it in 30.2 seconds.

I realize that for non-athletes reading this you might think I am a bit wacko even talking about it, but... here is the thing: one second is as long as saying "one-one-thousand" or 4 quick snaps of the finger- and I am just trying to take 3/10 of a second off my time...which is NOTHING. You'd think. It's less than 2 quick snaps of the fingers....but for the life of me, every time I've raced, I can't seem to break 30 seconds. Very small potatoes in the scope of life, I realize, but frustrating as hell none the less.

Which brings me to another good quote:

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things.  ~John Burroughs

 I, however, do not want to rise above 30.2, I want to drop below it :-)

Today I heard from our Dutch family friend, whom I have known for over 40 years, since she lived as an exchange student with us- a sister in my heart. She signed her email, "I hope you work out every plan you have in mind for 2013." I  liked how she phrased this.

So it is this that I leave you with this week:

I hope you work out every plan you have in mind for 2013.

(and I will keep you posted on mine)
 P.S. Many thanks to Ellen for the Curly Girl cocktail napkins. Those were great (and came in very handy!). My mama loved her's too.