Therapy or Obsession?

Everything in moderation. Even the Bible says so (well, not quite). Common sense (and maybe our mothers) tells us that a fine line exists between when something helpful becomes hurtful.

Dark chocolate has health benefits. What astonishing news this was to me! So of course I added a small serving to my diet.

Too much dark chocolate will pack the pounds on my mid-section. But what is too much? Who decides that?

As Therapy

Half-a -year ago, I picked up the crochet hook after a long hiatus. My mother and grandmother practiced old school child-rearing. They introduced my sister and me to all sorts of home crafting: embroidery, machine sewing, knitting, crocheting.
All those things were offered to me. I even tried three off the four options. But the only one I ever enjoyed was crocheting, and even that didn’t inspire my imagination the way writing stories did.

I picked up the crochet hook because the women in my church determined to make hats and scarfs for homeless families in our community. Such an awesome cause. I couldn’t exactly promote the activity if I didn’t participate.

One of the women gave me an extra set of crochet hooks and reminded me how to make a chain. My first scarf was hideously malformed.
Her items were smooth and appealing. I wanted to conquer this crochet thing so I could make scarves like that.

Something so pretty couldn’t be bad.

Once the scarves weren’t much of a challenge, she taught me about the magic ring. And I used the skill as a foundation for making hats for all the women on my Christmas list. Who doesn’t want a handmade gift?

I found crocheting in the evenings was a perfect way to unwind after work. Whether the work involved teaching students or writing stories, I’m not as young as I was last month. So, I get tired in the evening.

While my husband watches his silly sitcoms, I keep my hands busy with hook and yarn. Sometimes, I put my earbuds in and listen to an audiobook (since reading was my evening activity of choice before this crocheting craze).

It was sheer therapy. And I made slippers, headbands, cup warmers and more hats.

An Obsession

One day while I was struggling with a stitch, my church friend fired up her tablet. She logged onto her Pinterest boards and clicked through to a YouTube instructional video. It was amazing.

Pinterest dazzles me. If I start scrolling through kitten pictures, I can lose an hour without blinking.

There were so many crochet projects pictured. Sweaters, shrugs, blankets, baby booties, flip-flops, handbags and you name it.

Tons of the pins claimed to link to FREE patterns. Patterns that I could read and understand for stitches I knew how to do.

And you know what a sucker I am for anything free. Who isn’t?

In no time, the biggest board on my Pinterest page was the one I’d called “Crochet Project Ideas.” I found the easiest crochet heart pattern and whipped out half a dozen in various colors. I’ll glue those to a ribbon and make a bookmark.

Next, I saw these pretty coasters. Hadn’t I purchased coasters as a Christmas gift? Wouldn’t it be more fun and personalized if I made them instead? *nods head vigorously*

All remained therapeutic until I found a lovely granny square afghan. I whipped out some red, white and blue granny squares.

Then Pinterest showed me a different pattern for the crochet staple. And another. One with a daisy in the center got pinned to my project board. Once I found the starburst pattern, my evenings morphed into a granny square manufacturing line where I was the sole worker.
Soon enough, I was making one square before I did my morning chores. Another square on the back end of my lunch break.
Yes, my crochet habit began to affect my ability to concentrate on writerly pursuits, especially when they were tedious ones like line editing.
I surrounded my arm chair with the different starburst centers and the four skeins of yarn I was using. I surfed the web for the perfect way to join my granny squares into an afghan. You might be surprised at the number of YouTube videos on the subject.
Hours later, I’d found the winner.
Writing? What’s that? I’ve got to get these squares connected.
I dropped off the cliff into obsession.
But aren’t the fruits lovely?

A byproduct of my granny square obsession.

Do you struggle with hobbies turning into obsessions? What’s your Kryptonite?

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Superman Needs Cellulite

Superman: the perfect ideal. Flawless. All the men want to be him. All the women know he’s too good to be true. What the man needs is a little cellulite.

Okay, maybe that’s more of a woman flaw. But let’s face it, perfect heroes are unrealistic. The average person doesn’t relate to them.

This is why every great writer knows that the best protagonists have a flaw -or twenty. It’s not called an Achilles Heel for nothing. When the only thing that can defeat a guy is a piece of rock from an extinct planet in a different universe, there’s not much tension in the story.

Why so Perfect?

(And yes, I hear the Joker saying this just like he does the iconic line “Why so serious?”)

According to the director of the newest Wonder Woman film (coming in June 2017), there’s a reason Superman has over-inflated muscles and perfect hair. Apparently, this image is how men want to see themselves. “That makes them feel like the hero they want to be” says Jenkins.

Looks like an over-inflated balloon to me

Ugh. And I thought women were the only one with messed-up body image issues.

I do NOT think a man with pecs and biceps bigger than his thighs is the ideal image of a hero. And certainly not a REAL man.

Do we really need a perfect ideal?

If the answer is yes, let me direct you to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Within those pages, you will meet the flawless, ideal man. He was perfect in every way.

And guess what, he didn’t have sculpted abs or a poster-boy face. In fact, he was pretty ordinary. Records from history and the Bible (which is an accurate historical accounting but since it’s considered a religious book some people equate it to a fairy tale), Jesus Christ was so average-looking that he wouldn’t garner a second look.

It wasn’t his physical appearance that made him incredible. Nor was it his ability to heal every disease and raise people from the dead (although those are God-like qualities for sure).

He opened his mouth and spoke with authority. Wisdom dripped from his lips. Furthermore, he walked His talk.

So, if you’re looking for a perfect hero – there you go.

Why flaws Make it better

Most of us prefer to see a little bit of ourselves in the guy we root for in a story. You know, someone who messes up. Says the wrong thing. Trips over untied shoelaces. Burns the biscuits.

These slights and failures give us hope. Hope that maybe we will be better tomorrow.

We need reassurance that our major mess-up today didn’t end every future opportunity.

Have you ever walked out of an interview thinking, “I nailed that” only to get the call (or worse yet a form email) stating they’d hired someone else? That’s disappointing, sure. But we don’t condemn ourselves as a failure in those cases.

We notice we have mustard in that spot just below our throat that we can only see in the mirror. Our tongue tripped over the answer to the technical questions. Nothing but a blank slate came to mind when the interviewer asked, “Why should I hire you?”

After that interview? We know it’s our fault they offered the job to someone else. They’d have to be idiots to hire someone who couldn’t even answer a few questions with panache.

When our heroes slip and get mud on their faces, we feel for them. We’ve been there. We know the agony.

If they get up and save the world afterward, it makes up willing to hold up our chin and try again at whatever defeated us today. Sure, it might be fiction, but when it pulls us in, it becomes as true to us as the sunrise.

We need to believe that no person is beyond redemption. Every mistake must have a counterpoint, a way to make things right.

It shouldn’t be easy. The bigger the mess up, the longer and harder the climb to success should be.

We’re more likely to relate to Batman because we understand his demons. We can feel the pain with the Arrow because we’ve experienced life-crushing losses too.

Superman? There’s no Kryptonite in our world, so his perfection holds us at arm’s length.

What sort of “cellulite” would you give Superman to make him more relatable? What character flaws pull you closest to the heroes in a story?