Starting the New Year right

January 15, 2008 at 4:58 pm | Posted in art, blogging, country life, country living, dogs, faith, family, free knitting patterns, hat patterns, knitting, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, scarf patterns, socks, yarn | 22 Comments

Fireflys little angelThe beginning to the new year has been a bit mixed … but the entire year is bound to be mixed no matter whether the overall picture after the fact turns out to be success and joy or struggle and disappointment, there will be a mixture of everything if this year is anything like other years in my life.

I hope it is like other years, because all of the years of the river of my life have carried along in their currents a mixture of experiences which all together form the status of my life at this time and I do so love my life. There have been poignantly painful experiences along with the way, uplifting joyful awakenings, seemingly bitter disappointments, powerful realizations and connections, and happy little surprises and mistakes.

For me, there has been one powerful lesson I have learned over and over again. This particular lesson I have resisted with every fiber of my being at times, I have fought against it tooth and claw, snarled at it, spit in its face, defied its inevitable approach, and grudgingly bowed to its command so many times I can hardly count. Evidently this lesson is so valuable I enjoy learning it over and over and over again.

The thing is, I am stubborn — or so I am told (though I don’t always agree with that particular adjective).

Buttons on Fireflys Hand Knit Baby Cable Switchback HatIn the case of this most valuable of life’s lessons, I believe I am truly stubborn but I also believe that must be a part of the game and I’m cool with that.

What is the lesson? Are you sure you want to know? Afterall, you just might be stubborn as well.

Here it is:

Sometimes those things I think I want are not actually good for me. Conversely, sometimes those things I think I don’t want are actually something I need dearly. An example would be two to three years ago in California when everything in my life seemed to be coming to a strange, unavoidable halt. My business, some aspects of my family life, my financial situation, my dreams. It all seemed so tragic, so horrible, so painful.

I fought those changes harder than I have fought anything in my life. I staunchly set my heels into the ground of what seemed my grounded life and I said, “NO!”.


My counter assault against the inevitable movement of my life was noble, magnificent, brave, and perhaps stubborn. At the time, I wasn’t trying to be stubborn, but I was being dense. I temporarily forgot the LESSON, which I had learned a number of times already. Really, honestly … I was sure I was finished learning that lesson, so when it whomped down on me again I didn’t recognize it for what it was. So, perhaps I wasn’t stubborn after but was, instead, unsuspecting.

That is a much better, more amenable adjective. I was unsuspecting.

Thank goodness, thank God, and thank anything else in the universe worthy of being thanked that all of the efforts I pulled out and all of the contortions I put myself through emotionally and otherwise were of no avail. Of course, it was the powerful current of the river me that was exerting itself anyway I just didn’t realize it at first.

At some point, however, it did finally occur to me … “Oh, it’s the lesson again.” Stop fighting it, listen, learn, go with the flow.

Go with the flow. It is along the lines of, “Go with the Force, Luke!” from Star Wars.

Last year, even here in my beautiful new life in Western New York on a farm by a river with my husband … even here and now, I still had instances of learning that lesson anew. It was a wonderful year in many ways, but there were definitely challenges I had not anticipated. Challenges in helping my daughter find relief from her pain, challenges in maintaining professional productivity while running a home, loving and supporting a husband, raising a puppy, evolving my blog and website, establishing myself in New York as an artist, staying in communication with my many readers, getting enough sleep, figuring out my schedule, trying not to gain weight in a rural setting (man, that’s a tough one), and on and on.

Fireflys Hand Knit Baby Cable Switchback HatToward the end of the year it all came to a standstill when I, yet again, slipped and fell on our narrow staircase. Bump, bump, bump … six times in all, square on my tail bone.


This time it was worse than last Christmas when a similar thing happened, and I have not been able to spend much time sitting at my computer.

The nice thing about it is that I can paint standing up, and I can take Blu for walks without discomfort, I can knit comfortably from a reclining sofa or chair. Laying down and resting is great too. So, I had a forced but refreshing break from the computer and the Internet and the chair. I would not have willingly afforded myself that break even though it was just what I needed. No, I had to go the round-about-way of slipping and falling, hurting my tail bone, and having no choice but to take a break right here at home.

Although injury was involved, even in this instance, there are things to be grateful for. That is always the case. You can always find a myriad of things to be grateful for no matter the situation you find yourself in, if only you apply your mind in that direction. That is the trick to freeing yourself from the apparent struggle of the LESSON. Relax, embrace, find gratitude and then find some more gratitude and then some more, and some more. Ah, fresh air.

Oh, hello again farm. Hello environment. Hello river, and weather, and wind. Hello old barn out there in the back yard. Hello paint and easel and brushes. Hello snow. Hello life. Hello me. I am taking it all in, newly in the moment as if I had just arrived.

Pears in Monochrome an Oil Painting by J L FleckensteinDuring this time, I have finished the large painting that will hang in a local restaurant … 50″ wide, 19″ tall. It is oil on hardwood, pears in monochrome.

I also finished that cute hand knit hat I mentioned before plus I also designed and knit a warm, cozy stole (noun: a wide scarf worn about their shoulders by women) and am starting on a pair of hand knit warm and wooly house socks. This year I plan to start selling some of my knitting patterns online and in yarn shops in addition to continuing to release some for free online. The hat and stole will be the first two patterns I publish for a fee and I am thankful for the inspiration I am experiencing toward that end.

My tailbone is on the mend, and so this morning I have been able to write a blog post in relative comfort. I always try to respond to every comment I receive on the blog, as well as any emails from readers. Please understand that if I have not answered your communication recently, it is only because of my injury. I hope you will be patient and understanding with me.

Have a beautiful day and week … and welcome to Your Life, 2008!

Warmest wishes,


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  1. It is so true, sometimes we forget the lesson and we need little reminders. Spend the time on the important things, the things that make us happy and fulfilled. I love your hat, it is so cute.

  2. I’m glad your healing and on the road to recovery. I wondered what had happened but I know how busy life gets for me and I assume for everyone else. I’m always telling myself to slow down, enjoy each day, each moment but it seems I forget and before I know it a month has passed me by. The hat is very cute! I’m glad you are selling your patterns…you go to a lot of hard work you should reap a little from that! Love the painting of the pears, maybe one day I will be able to own one of your paintings! I was just thinking of your daughter yesterday and praying that her recovery is going well. Enjoy your day! And it was great to hear from you! Ann

  3. Sorry to hear you fell, I did that this past June and can certainly empathize. Glad to hear you will be selling patterns, I am very interested in the stole. Our good news over the holidays is or niece is engaged to be married sometime the end of summer and I would love to make her a stole/shawl for her wedding, please let me know when it will be available. Glad to see you back to writing, you have been missed.

  4. It is so true. And there are some lessons none of us want to learn ever – for whatever reason. (It tends to be different for each person.)

  5. Something is going on, I thought to myself as I visited daily to find nothing new to read from you. That you hurt yourself wasn’t a good thing but the time it allowed you to take stock and learn your lesson again was. You will probably always find a little of that stubborn streak in your make up but that is what makes you who you who you are. Here is hoping 2008 will be better than last year for all of us. Feel better soon.

  6. Dear Firefly, your attitude is an encouragement and inspiration to me. I am so glad that you are beginning to heal. It is such a blessing that you have been able to keep busy in spite of your pain. The painting is beautiful and so is your little hat. I am looking forward to seeing your knitting patterns. May God bless you and your family and provide healing for your dear daughter, too.

  7. Sorry to hear about your daughter’s pain. So hard to see a child in discomfort – I hope that her condition is quickly remedied. The hat with the button embelishment is so cute!

  8. Yet again I am amazed and touched. your posts never cease to amaze and warm me. You have such a wonderful view of the world around us. I have often struggled with learning the very same lessons over and over. You have made such a beautiful connection to believing in what good can come out of any situation. Your painiting is beautiful, your hat is wonderful. You have managed to turn it in to a positive experience. Be that as it may, I’m very glad to hear that the injury you sustained is healing. That life in 08 is finding you healing and feeling better. May your days continue to bring joy and further healing.

  9. Mercy… life can be so very unmerciful, especially when we are learning. I am glad you found what you need and that you so readily see your silver lining. It’s always a pleasure to come by your space.

  10. Glad to hear you are doing better. I missed your blog,I wondered if something had happened. Good thoughts and prayers to you and your family. I am also interested in the stole pattern.

  11. Ouch, 2 time tail bone breaker here. That is extremely uncomfortable. I always wear shoes now, since I had to learn my lesson,twice.

    Blessings and best wishes. I do hope that your recovery is swift.

  12. Your message on life lessons spoke to my heart today. This past year has been a year of change and turmoil in my family, but when I stopped trying to steer and control what was happening, the results were miraculous. Everything happened the way it needed to happen and when it should happen. November 06 my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. Today he is healthy, strong, and cancer free. I think I will post a note on my monitor to always pay attention to the life lessons.
    Thanks for the reminder that I don’t always know what is best, but that God does. Glad you’re feeling better too – I love your blog!

  13. Sorry to hear about your injury! Your painting is lovely.

  14. ouch! I’ve broken my tailbone before, and I cracked it on Christmas, falling on ice on my grandparents’ driveway….it’s a painful thing to hurt….makes doing everything hard!

    Those over-and-over lessons are the hardest to learn. I am glad you’re feeling better, though!

  15. Oooh I know how that feels. I injured my tailbone when I had my son and it was very uncomfortable. I still get twinges in it sometimes when I have to sit for long periods. I hope you are completely healed soon. What a great attitude you have towards it all.

    Cute buttons on the hat!

  16. Just stopping by to say I hope you are feeling better and better each day.

    I love your pear painting for the restaurant. I look at my beautiful apple tiles daily and think of you.

    Thanks as always for sharing your thoughtful words and talents.

  17. A nice reminder to look for the good and it will surely be revealed. Every time. Your painting is gorgeous! It looks like a b&w photo! My continued good wishes for things to go smoothly.

  18. I am just reading your blog and am touched by your writings. You painting of the pears is beautiful and I have really enjoyed reading your blog this evening.

  19. So sorry to hear of your fall! While the tail bone doesn’t really seem to “do” anything, you sure notice it when it’s injured!
    Your monochromatic painting of the pears is stunning!

  20. I do hope your tailbone is feeling better and healing well. It can be hard to stop all the things you need to, but one you do, you wonder why you hadn’t before.

    The pear painting is beautiful and the hat looks quite cozy.

  21. i hope you heal in comfort from your bed and recliner! and i am happy to hear you can still walk with blu…
    i guess what my mom says is true- that everything happens for a reason and that things always work themselves out in the end!

  22. I also hope that your tailbone feels better soon. Many years ago when my son was a toddler and my daughter was just a baby, my husband was laid up with a broken leg from jumping out of planes (military). And here I go down our stairs and I slipped and fell on my tailbone all the way down. My son stood there looking at me, as I tried to get up in pain, while my husband yelled from the bedroom, “Honey are you ok?” Well of course not, but I had to be, since he was broken up too. Boy it hurt and I was in pain!! I walked liked an elderly lady for a while.

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