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The Finger Lakes of New York

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Finger Lakes BeautyThe past three days, spent in the Finger Lakes region of Western New York, feels as if it was the most relaxing and fulfilling weekend of my life. It was the first time my husband and I went away together for a weekend adventure--just the two of us-- since we got married six months ago. He did a wonderful job of putting together an interesting road tour of the area starting with our meandering drive down there on Friday. The weather was just right for me: cloudy and cold, rainy at times. We even saw a tad bit of snow here and there on our way back on Sunday afternoon. We toured all of the Finger Lakes, up and down, east and west. It was lovely and relaxing seeing fall colors all along the way, watching waterfalls and streams rushing along through the woods along the side of the road, driving through wispy clouds of falling leaves, holding hands, and chatting about dreams and future plans. Hmm, now where was I in the story of How I Met My Husband ... oh, yes I remember now. What Firefly Saw in the Finger Lakes 1As I said, there were a series of little miracles over a period of years leading to our meeting. The first installment of the story from last week covered an incident that occurred at least ten years ago, if not more. Truth be told, the miracles started nine years before that incident, but that part of the story I might not ever share ... we'll see. My experience with coming to grips with gratitude when it seemed life was beating up on me relentlessly was the beginning of my purposeful journey along the section of road where I eventually met my husband, less than a year ago. Gratitude, sincere and pure, was and is the key. Following that incident, I experienced a time of growing prosperity and success as an artist and executive with doc com startups during the dot com boom. Hard work, long hours, and persistence through a myriad of obstacles led to pay raises, stock options, and even being hired away by another Internet company at twice the salary. What Firefly Saw in the Finger Lakes 2I did have to endure the ugliness of corporate jealousies and backstabbing plus a frivolous lawsuit from a wealthy and evil celebrity who I worked for briefly but those trials and tribulations only left me stronger and more self-confident. Unfortunately, my daughter continued to suffer from migraine headaches ... literally every single day of her life. There were medical expenses and time allowances needed in order for me to care for her. I ended up going back to freelance work so that I would be able to care for her when the need arose without the time constraints posed by a normal job. Luckily for me my experience in the Internet industry opened the door for freelance consulting which I could do mostly from home. What Firefly Saw in the Fingerlakes 3When I look back on it all, I see clearly that while I did have to endure quite a bit of nastiness and unhappiness from hostile employees at the Internet company and the evil celebrity with his frivolous lawsuit, yet it was all crucial in the journey I was making. The good, the bad, and the ugly of it all led to the gathering of vital resources and experiences that eventually led me to my husband on this farm in a life I truly love. I moved my children (they were young adults by then, but still my "children") into the beautiful house on the hill I have written about previously in my blog. We enjoyed about four years there together; it was the best years of our lives together. My parents and other family came over often for dinner and visiting and good fun. We hosted the family get-togethers there. My daughter recovered somewhat and went for periods of time pain free, which was a big change. What Firefly Saw in the Fingerlakes 4Things seemed to be rolling along pretty well and life seemed grand, but then in late summer winter of 2003 I started to have little tiny feelings I was off track somehow. I could see and feel that the prosperity I was enjoying was clouding my vision and I had a sense that I had stepped off my real path, and had inadvertently started down a different road that looked awfully pretty and seemed awfully nice but I knew in my heart something was off. Dang. I wished very hard that I was not seeing what I was seeing, because I wanted to stay comfortable and safe and keep everything just as it was. I longed for blissful ignorance to continue a bit longer. Oh well. What Firefly Saw in the Fingerlakes 5Difficulties began to set in. My father had a medical situation and he and my mother needed quite a bit of help, plus my daughter was having troubles with migraines again as well as adrenal problems. Meanwhile, my regular consulting client who provided my base income ... well, his company sort of blew up and he left and I had to start dealing with his partner who as it turned out was not an honest business man. So, my income went totally wonky at a time when my family needed me most. Bummer. They are the people I love most dearly; they needed my help. Nonetheless, there was only so much time in a day and something had to give. Business and prosperity took a back seat to other responsibilities. For a while I lived off of a cash cushion from the lawsuit settlement from that celebrity matter. After some months, the cushion was gone. In early 2004 I was pretty worn out and caught a very bad flu that turned to pneumonia. Aargh. From that point until late summer 2004 it seemed everything in my life came to a complete standstill. For the first time in my life I could not make things change. It just sort of hit a certain low point and stuck there and I could not for the life of me get anything at all to change for better or for worse for several months. It was weird. Those months were extremely stressful and discouraging. However, I had learned much over the years about the power of gratitude. Every day, no matter how discouraged I felt, I kept reminding myself that the river me is an incredible force. I told myself that God and my own life force were trying very hard to tell me something but that I was being too dense to get it and so everything was at a stand still. I was sort of forced, by circumstances, to do more thinking without immediate action. I spent quite a lot of time examining every corner of my life and expressing gratitude for all that was good. That was all fine but what I was missing was this: I needed to learn to feel gratitude for the things that were not good. That is hugely different than being grateful for all that is right and beautiful. I learned during the standstill to deeply and honestly appreciate the things that did not seem to be going according to "plan". I began to very sincerely and clearly get that sometimes life does not go the way you think it should, but that is only because your view is limited. You think you want to go to point A, but life pushes you toward point M ... way, way off from point A. And you resist and kick and fight and moan and cry and regret and think, "Why?" And really, all along, point M is more correctly along your real life's journey even though it feels quite uncomfortable to go that route. I learned to stand still and to actually listen to my life, watch it and observe where it was going rather than trying so very hard to bully my way through it. I consciously went with the flow of my life; I symbolically turned around toward my life and opened my arms wide in acceptance. I took the time to honestly embrace my life, and to appreciate what it was telling me even though it seemed painful to do so. By January of 2005 I stoically gave up the house on the hill. My daughter got married on January 1st of that year, so she and her husband went their way. My son needed to be closer to his job so he went his way. And me? I had no idea where I was going so I got rid of almost everything I owned (well, probably 85% of what I owned) and I moved into a downstairs apartment at my sister's house temporarily. It felt like a terrible time, but I knew inside that it was all going to make sense before somewhere up the road... I just wasn't sure what the details were. I relied heavily on faith. I kept the light of faith burning clearly in my heart and mind. Sometimes it was a very conscious effort, but I kept it alive no matter what. I knew I had to face those very difficult changes, not as a victim but as a survivor. After I while I could feel something big was coming, a big change I needed to be prepared for. I had a sense I had somehow arrived a bit ahead of something else in life. I also had a powerful feeling I just needed to stand still and be quiet so I wouldn't miss whatever it was when it came along. I am ending off on the story today at this point ... I think it will require two or three more blogs to finish telling you how I met my husband. I hope it will be worth the wait on your end. After all, it took me a good ten years to get through the living of the story ... perhaps a half dozen blogs is not so much for you to endure. Knitting ... I did a little bit of knitting over the weekend, but the weekend was about my husband and I being together: knitting was not very much on my mind. I did find one wonderful yarn store in the Finger Lakes ... Finger Lakes Fibers. I bought three skeins of yarn (I'll show a photo on Wednesday). This morning I finished all of the knitting for the nap blanket I am knitting for my mother-in-law for Christmas. Now I am working out a pattern for the floral decorations I want to put on it. I will post the last bit of instructions for the main blanket on the knit along page for Jinny's Vines: A Blanket for Napping today or tomorrow. Thank you for joining me this morning. I will have more for you on Wednesday, I promise. [Note: The story continues here.] Have a wonderful day, firefly Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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