I Had a Stroke…. Now All I Can Do Is Think and Write

I don’t know what to do. On Monday I had a stroke. I’m 40 years old and I had a stroke. What am I supposed to do? I don’t know if this is how everyone feels… but these are the thoughts that keep running through my head:

  • I feel like a California seismologist, I’m just waiting for the “Big One”
  • Phrases like “I’ll get that next time” terrifies me because I don’t know if there will be a next time.
  • I can be fine one minute and then struck with fear and start crying for no reason at any moment.
  • Sometimes I feel like nothing happened, and then I remember… Then I get sad that I’m forever going to be a “survivor”
  • Sometimes I think “I’m not going to let this beat me, I can rise above it and be better than ever” but then I wonder if I really can, I mean physical able to.
  • I felt fine during the stroke and the 2 days in the hospital after, then I have felt like crap. I find that now I get winded and have to stop walking on the way to the car from the train. I feel super wiped out now too. I’m not sure if it’s the stroke after effects or maybe the medication.
  • When the doctors say rest and take it easy, I don’t know what they mean.
  • I know that worrying about what happens next isn’t going to change what might happen in the future… but I still can help it.

Open Letter to Congressman Wittman, 1st District of Virginia

Dear Congressman Wittman,
I wanted to share with you how the government shutdown is effecting my family and hopefully bring you a personal level insight on this issue.

Both my husband and I are government contractors. My husband supports FBI training operations and I support national security. Both of us have been told by our employers to stay home and take our leave to continue to receive a paycheck, even though both our contracts have already been fully funded. We will run out of leave this week and will then have to take leave without pay. Unlike the government employees who will receive their pay after the government returns to work, we do not get our leave refunded to us or our salaries in back pay after our leave runs out. We do have some savings that will carry us through the end of the month, however after that we have some serious decisions to make. This situation is unacceptable.

As government contractors we are accustomed to a certain amount of risk. We understand the contracting cycle and we know that nothing is ever guaranteed in this line of work. However, a government shutdown is not one of those events that we should ever have to account for, or worry about in our daily lives. Sequestration has already made it necessary for my husband to start looking for new work because his contract option will not be renewed after the New Year. The fact that this uncertainty has lingered in our lives for over a year and half is unprecedented and again, unacceptable.
I have reviewed your voting record on this issue, and while I find it commendable that you have voted for a Continuing Resolution (CR), I feel that you are not presenting your voting record honestly. I understand that you are not a fan of the Affordable Care Act, but to tie the ability of the government to function to the defunding or delay of the ACA is irresponsible. Even if in your heart of hearts you feel you cannot vote for a clean CR, there is no reason to stall a vote on one.

I should not have to remind you that your job as a member of the house is to create and pass a budget. The argument that the president should have to negotiate the terms of the CR, not even an actual budget, is ludicrous. Congress holds the “purse strings”, it is your responsibility. So I would like to encourage you to urge Speaker Boehner to send the clean CR passed by the Senate to the floor for a vote. I realize it may not be the best political move, but this is no longer about politics, it is about people’s livelihood and the ability for we the people to pay our bills, raise our children, and thrive in the greatest nation on earth.
If you have any doubts at all about what to do and why we sent you to Washington to represent OUR interests, just read the preamble of the Constitution. It would seem as though our government has accomplished exactly zero of our forefather’s goals;

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I will be praying for you and all members of Congress to find it in your hearts to save our country from heading down this path of destruction.

Thank you for your time and attention,
Lesley Reynolds

In Memory of a Remarkable Woman – Karrie we all love you

It’s now 8 AM on the east coast of the United States and I’ve known for only 15 minutes now that Karrie Steinmetz  (aka KnitPurlGurl) passed away yesterday. To say I am in shock is an understatement. The journey that I took with Karrie is one that I’m sure most of you will recognize.

Although we never met in person, we frequently chatted on Plurk, talked about our kids, our husbands, our lives. I started knitting later in life, not learning from a grandmother or a mother, but through YouTube videos and books. Karrie’s videos were some of the first that I went to for help when I first started learning to knit.  It’s only been two years, but in that short time I have grown by leaps and bounds.  Her videocast was one of the first I watched and her approach to blogging and the use of social media was an inspiration to me.  If it weren’t for Karrie I would not have started my video cast. I would have not become a member of the knitting social group I have today.  Although outgoing IRL, I have found a particularly comforting place in the knitting/spinning/fiber world thanks to Karrie.

I think what hits me the hardest is that we are close in age, and have children. Seeing so much of myself in her, I feel particularly touched by what she was able to accomplish in life. I know her husband, her family, and her children already know that Karrie loved them, but what I want them to know is that Karrie was loved and admired, by thousands.

I’m sure in the grand scheme of things those of us that knit and spin and crochet and other fiber arts out there don’t number all that many, but to us the community feels amazingly huge; and within that bubble, Karrie made an indelible mark on more lives than we may ever know. I will honor Karrie’s memory for the rest of my life.


Rest in Peace and Love… I will miss you Karrie…

Excitement is in the Air

I am excited today… why? Several reasons…

1. I published my first real design last night to Ravelry. I had some wonderful volunteers that test knit my design and even took some incredible pictures.  I named it the Three Willows Cowl

2. I record the pre-turkey version of The Knitting Game this afternoon.  I always love Wednesdays because I really look forward to the process of writing my show notes, getting all my stuff together, sitting down for a chat and then editing the show. Don’t forget to vote!

3. I will be closing the lottery sign-ups and pulling the 29 names for the AF3 Sock Club. You have until 11:59 EST on 21 Nov 2012 to put your name into the mix!

My take on cardio – getting ready for a 5K

So I’m getting ready for a 5K “Fun” run on Thanksgiving.  My husband and I ran the turkey trot last year, but I was about 20 pounds lighter than I am today.  Given that I will be carrying around some extra weight, I decided to start my training early.  I started with one of the Couch to 5K apps that you can get for your phone.  I run on a treadmill so I don’t need one of the GPS enabled tracking apps to track distance, time or calories.  I progressed pretty well through weeks 1 and 2.  Week 3 was a little daunting, and I completely shut down when I saw what week 4 had in store for me.  Then I hurt my shoulder and then my neck/back, so I had to take some time off.

This week I decided to get back into the swing of things and get back to a training plan, but the C25K just wasn’t working for me so I decided to take my own approach to getting ready for the race.  This is by no means a Dr. approved program, and it shouldn’t be taken as such. I did however discus the training plan with my personal trainer, and at least he thought it was a good plan. It only takes 30 minutes for a session and I’m trying to get in three a week, but I will more realistically will only be able to fit in two.  I also throw in some light weight training to keep everything balanced.

Duration (in minutes) Activity Description
5 Warm up walk Walk, 0% incline
5 Warm up run Jog 1 MPH faster than walk, at least 3% incline
2 Rest walk Walk, 0% incline
2 Interval 1 Jog .1 MPH faster than Warm-up run, 0% inline
2 Rest walk Walk, 0% incline
2 Interval 2 Jog .1 MPH faster than Interval 1, 0% inline
2 Rest walk Walk, 0% incline
2 Interval 3 Jog .1 MPH faster than Interval 2, 0% inline
2 Rest walk Walk, 0% incline
2 Interval 4 Jog .1 MPH faster than Interval 3, 0% inline
1 Interval 5 Run 1 MPH faster than Warm up run, 0% incline
2 Cool Down Walk Walk, 0% incline
1 Cool Down Walk Walk, .5 mph slower than Rest walk

In one day I was able to increase my distance and my calories burned. On Monday, 22 Oct, I logged 1.64 miles and 296 calories. On Tuesday 23 Oct, I was able to get in 1.8 miles and burned 335 calories.  Once I get my warm-up walk up to 3.5 MPH I’ll revamp this intro program to create an intermediate program (which I will post once I go over it with my trainer).  If you have questions or comments, please let me know.

Summer Breakup Letter

OK, so when it’s October and you go outside at 4 AM, it’s not supposed to be 70 degrees with almost 100% humidity… at least not in the northern hemisphere.  So that’s why I wrote this breakup letter to summer…


Dear Summer,

I think we need to take a break for a while.  I would like to stay friends, but we’re just at very different points in our lives right now.  I want to cool things off and I think we’re moving way to fast. I love you, but like a friend and you just don’t really understand me.  I’d like to stay friends, perhaps let’s plan to meet up sometime next year, say for July or August?  I don’t want to hold you back from your plans for world travel right now.  I know it’s important for you to go.  Who knows, I’m sure you’ll meet some fabulous woman in Brazil, Australia or maybe even South Africa.  In the end, it’s not you, it’s me.  So please, could you just leave for a while so I could have a little space?

Thanks for the memories,

Fall Lover



Thank you to 106.1 KISS FM for providing the list of breakup clichés used in this letter to summer.

Helping Those in Need

For longer than I can remember, my husband, children and I have been helping a friend with his charity organization. Totally Committed Community Outreach Center (TCCOC) is an organization dedicated to helping the homeless and disadvantaged in the Washington, D.C. area, and international crisis areas, with food, clothing and other needs such as clean water, school and medical supplies.  We’ve helped with feeding the homeless in D.C., we’ve distributed pantry and grocery items to those in need, we’ve worked on the charity’s web-site and even helped designed it’s logo.

Recently TCCOC was accepted into the Google for Nonprofits program.  This allows the charity to use Google’s business services at a free or reduced rate.  We can even process online charitable donations.  Although the launch of the site has been slow going, I’m hoping that it will take off shortly and be a real asset to the organization.  If you have some time, I would really appreciate if you could please take a look around.  Thank you.


Happy Post Superbowl Monday Everyone

And so it begins…

The Monday after a football game is always interesting.  Fans of one team or another continue to arm-chair coach the “what I would have done” scenarios well into the morning.  The Monday after the Super Bowl however, is an epic battle between fans rejoicing in “their” team’s victory, or debating why their team lost, most often citing a key mistake or a bad call by the officials.  I can tell you, as someone that didn’t actually watch the game this year, or have a “team” playing, it is interesting sitting here in the office, listening to all the various conversations going on.  Most are trying their best to become armature sports commentators, giving different perspectives on what plays should have been called, what player need to “step-up”… it’s like listening to SportCenter (do do doot, do do doot), but sitting in my office.  It seems that everyone is talking about, even I’m writing about and I didn’t watch the game.  It’s sad to see another season go, especially because we didn’t even know that there would be one last year, but now it’s on to big and better things… well, not really.  At least we don’t have to wait too long for the draft to come around.  That will be the next hot topic… that and March Madness… yes folks, that’s right around the corner.  Before long it will be time to do a case study in Bracketology.


What’s in a name?

Ok, so forever and more than a decade I’ve been pixie91075 everywhere, but now I’m thinking of maybe changing my online persona.  I’m having a really tough time making this decision.  This morning I changed my Raverly name to PixieKnitsDesigns.  When I gifted my knitted projects for Christmas I tagged everything as being “Handmade by Pixie Knits Designs”.  My license plate is even PXE KNTS.

I’m getting more and more into the sewing, knitting and spinning worlds and I feel the pull of weaving too.  Right now I’m sewing a new project that I’ve designed all by myself.  I sat down and though about construction and how to sew the different pieces together.  For my knitting I’ve been doing sort of the same, although I haven’t actually designed anything on my own.

But anyway… I’m wondering if I should switch my online persona to PixieKnitsDesigns or leave it Pixie91075 (Pixie nine-ten-seventy-five)?  I feel like I’m cheating on pixie91075 by even thinking about changing things up, but it seams like everyone else in the knitting, sewing, spinning, weaving community have such personal and cute names (Stockinette Zombies, The Knit Girlls, Knit Purl Gurl, Watcha Swatchin aka oohfancypants just to name a few)… Pixie91075 seams so clinical and cold.

So here’s a poll, because I like to get feed back and polls are fun to do.  Should I change to PixieKnitsDesigns or stick with Pixie91075?

Studio setup and other stuff

I’ve been putting together a studio for a lack of a better word.  A place that I can work on my spinning, knitting and sewing.  I got everything setup over the summer, and now it’s also become my photography studio too.  I didn’t realize how much I was going to want to take pictures of the yarns I create or the objects that I knit, but the photo bug kind of bit me pretty hard after reading Ashley Martineau post from Neauveau Fiber Arts on Build[ing] your own Photography Lightbox for $37.  It’s such a simple thing really and it made such a difference in my photos.  Now I just need to get a better camera.  Right now my cell phone camera is better than my real camera if you can believe that.  Here is what my studio and light box look like:

And here is an example of the types of photos I can take using my new lightbox and my cell phone camera: