Tag Archives: learning

In defense of obsessions

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I’ve always been an obsessive type. Apparently this is just how my brain works, both for good and for ill. I have noticed that the conversation about obsessions often seems to be how to prevent them, or divert people from them, or get people off them. Instead, I am wanting to talk a bit about how obsessing does not have to be bad – and especially about how obsessing does not have to be narrow. And this may be a thinly veiled excuse to talk about one of my obsessions. You know, just maybe.

Let’s say someone is obsessing about, oh I don’t know, crochet. Crochet is a lovely craft that can be quite soothing to do, but it does not have to be ONLY about using a hook to make fabric. I mean, ok, that is it’s primary function, but there can be so much more. Figuring out gauge (making sure whatever it is you’re making turns out the correct size) involves math, typically geometry and algebra. There’s also calculating yards used, sometimes based on weight.

Or maybe that someone wants to exploring designing their own things. On top of the maths there’s creativity and construction, and if they want to share that design there’s learning to properly write it out in a way that other people can understand. Easier said than done.

It’s also possible that maybe they will become curious about making their own yarn. Presto! Now we have learning new skills on how to spin. Which means learning about spinning different sorts of fiber. Which could mean learning about where those fibers come from, geographically, and why they come from those places. Wool isn’t just wool, there’s all sorts of different kinds of wool that behave and feel differently from each other, not to speak of all the non-wool fibers out there.

Then maybe they’ll get curious about how fiber gets prepared and dyed. Then there’s learning both how to turn untreated fiber into something you can spin, and learning how to dye. Which means learning about chemistry, and how different sorts of dyes work on different sorts of fiber.

It also wouldn’t take much to perhaps become curious about the history of fiber crafts – what did people do, how did they do it, how were different regions different and how did the craft(s) change over time?

We just had what started as a simple obsession go over math, history, geography, and science. Yes, it’s certainly an obsession, but it isn’t narrow. I can remember growing up having people try to redirect my obsessions into other things. It never worked particularly well. But as an adult I’m learning that obsessions themselves can be broad enough to get me thinking about all sorts of different things, and just how enjoyable it can be to do that. Let’s celebrate obsessions, and just how thorough they can be!

What obsessions do you have, and how have they contributed to your life?

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Blogging and Vulnerability

Here, enjoy a not-at-all relevant picture of some yarn I spun on my spindle. Woo hoo!

I’ve been doing my once a week blog postings for over a year now. I’m starting to notice that even though I’m in a tiny little barely-noticed corner of the internet, blogging once a week is having an impact on my life.

I do want to be noticed. I have a fantasy that someday my blog will have lots of readers because I’ll be saying things that resonate with people, or help them, or that they simply enjoy reading. So I think about this, and what I want to say, and how I can make my blog enjoyable and accessible and the kind of thing that people will share with their friends, who will share with their friends, and so on and so forth. Which means a lot of looking at the bloggers who have managed that and what I can learn from them.

Some of it is simple things, like making sure my posts have a picture so there is something to look at besides words. I know I like it when blog posts have pictures, and I doubt I’m unique in that, so I spend lots of time looking through various creative commons licensed pictures trying to find ones that fit my posts. I don’t always succeed, but it’s nice when I do.

I’ve also noticed that successful bloggers – or at least, the bloggers that I most enjoy reading (or watching if they do video blogging), really put themselves into what they are saying. They get up in front of the whole internet and proceed to be honest, sometimes downright vulnerable. How scary that must be! But in doing so they come across as genuine and real, so when they say something I find myself wanting to listen.

So I wonder if or how I should emulate that.

And then I watch a video about closeness and vulnerability and feeling worthy. In the video, Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, talks about how she decided to sit down and figure out the hows and whys of people feeling loved and like they belonged. Her conclusion? That those who feel that way believe they deserve to feel that way, and they treat vulnerability as simply how that happens, rather than as something terrifying to be avoided. And I watch that video and I don’t want it to apply to me. I tell myself that it’s for neurotypicals and I’m on the autism spectrum and things are different for me.

Yeah, that’s a bunch of bull.

Not that things aren’t different for me, because they are. But the fundamental laws about how closeness functions and how we get there still apply to me, because they apply to everybody. And then I wind up thinking about how much I avoid vulnerability, or I dole it out in carefully controlled amounts because I don’t want to deal with the uncertainty of how people will respond. I fear that the response will hurt, and I fear that I deserve that hurt because of how different and weird and often clueless I am. I tell myself (or worry or fear) that people don’t actually want to see that vulnerable side of me so it’s best for everyone if I keep it hidden away, and in so doing I make it that much harder to form those close, intimate connections that I crave so much.

So I write, because ultimately I am trying to be a blogger and writing is how that gets done. I have to write and keep writing. It means writing when I’m inspired to write and writing when I’m NOT inspired to write but if I’m going to have something ready in time I’d better get typing. Plus I think better when I write and I like to write and my brain sorts itself out in writing in different and better ways than in other types of thinking, so blogging gives me more push to do a thing that I really should be doing anyway. It gives me structure and a goal and a public voice, and it makes me think about things that maybe I wouldn’t otherwise think about, and makes it harder to dismiss things that maybe I would have otherwise dismissed because they are uncomfortable.

And because it’s a blog, once in a while I post what I write so that anyone who stumbles across my little corner of the internet can see some little glimpse of me, and I can hope that they got something out of it.

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