Finding the romance in everyday life
Softness, ease, and desire for a world where everyone can find romance and safety, too
Have you heard the phrase romanticizing your life? If you haven’t, it means, essentially, to appreciate life’s simple pleasures. (If you’re super curious, you can read this piece in The New York Times; it’s a gift link, and I’ll wait right here for you while you read. ☕️)
Romanticizing your life is a popular concept right now — and one that makes me laugh a little bit. I’m a 55-year-old Gen-Xer who grew up reading Anne of Green Gables, a book first published in 1908 and never out of print since, that’s about exactly this. About giving roaming space to the fanciful, romantic side of your heart, putting wildflowers in your hair, and learning that the most wonderful romance of all is the quiet, steadfast joy of small home pleasures. Your home might be with a person, it might be with nature, it might be a physical place, and most of all home is being at ease with yourself.
So, it’s lovely and funny and adorable to see so many other people talking about, filming, and appreciating the many ways we can take pleasure in the small moments of life.
I heartily endorse the idea of romanticizing your life. Take an extra few minutes to drink your coffee quietly. Cuddle under a blanket on a cool evening. Take a minute to stare up at the moon while taking the dog out for a before-bed potty break. Light a candle for extra ambiance. Put a favorite song on repeat and sway to the beat. These small things — small sweetnesses — have been so important in helping me manage difficult and uncertain times.
Most of you know the pandemic has been a hard time for me. I downsized my business, my body changed and I decided to get rid of my whole wardrobe. I’ve also struggled with wracking anxiety, some legitimate because, well, pandemic, some hormonally fueled by menopause, and some fueled for reasons known only to my sweet brain. I am in a better place now, still mending, but better. Embracing my own slow nature, focusing on the present moment, and adding a bit of slow romance to my every day has helped. A lot. To paraphrase Michelle Obama, in a recent interview where she talks about becoming a knitter, when times are difficult and the world feels out of control, slowing down and focusing on something you can make with your hands feels good.
I have made a lot of things with my hands in my lifetime, but my making during the last 2.5 pandemic years has been prolific. During these years, I have cried, laughed, worried, been joyful, felt my heart break, and felt romance flowing through my hands into whatever it is that I have made. And it seems to me that it is precisely this—the flow of emotion, both good and bad, both heartening and heartbreaking—that makes up life. I am learning to be with all of it. Sometimes, all at once.
True romance uplifts all of us: it’s safe place for Black and brown mothers to care for their children and be cared for themselves, it’s the romance of trans kids being protected and supported by everyone around them, and it’s the ease of knowing that you have a safety net to catch you when times are hard.
This is the romance I want for you, for me, and for all of us. Every day.
Things I’ve been making
I am currently knitting my fifth Love Note sweater. This romantic little pattern is perhaps my perfect project and perfect layer. I’ve knit two of them exactly as the pattern specifies, and I’ve worn the first one so much that it’s threadbare at the elbows. (Pictured above, with elbows conveniently hidden.) I’ve knit one without lace (it suffered an unfortunate demise when someone who doesn’t usually do laundry helped out). I’ve knit one with short sleeves. And now, for my fifth, I’m back to the original pattern but I’m adding neck shaping and a more dramatic high-low hem.
I suspect I’ll make at least one, if not two or three, more Love Notes.
It hits so many of the high notes for me. It’s warm, but also lightweight. I can pull it on and off with ease, and the wide neckline means it doesn’t fuss my hair as I pull it on and off, either. It’s utterly romantic, especially when I make it, as the pattern calls for, with mohair. That halo of fluffy yarn and the romantic, but simple lace, is just perfection. It looks beautiful when I pull it over a dress, and equally as lovely when I wear it with jeans, simple linen pants, or even my favorite jogger pants.
In 2020, I hosted a series of online workshops featuring styling advice with Aja Barber, and we crowdsourced a set of attendees’ most wearable knitting patterns. Love Note was mentioned so many times by so many people!
A well wish for you
This Sunday, I wish you romance. I hope we are both able to find a moment, or two, or more, this week where we can simply be, with both the heartache and beauty of it all. Where we feel supported and loved, and connected to treasured friends. Where we are part of the full heartbeat of life.
A reminder: Preorders for my Bookmarked collection close tonight (Sunday evening, November 20). If you’ve had your eye on something, please place your preorder today. I’ll be closing the listings as soon as I wake up Monday morning, count everything, and make the necessary supply orders.
If you’ve already ordered, thank you so much. This collection has been so beautifully received, and it’s filled my heart and household with a great deal of excitement.
I woke up and remembered that it was indeed Sunday and came straight to the newsletter! And safety net is the highest level of privilege and we should all have it as a basic human right. We all stumble and need helping hands.
Your writing about romanticizing life really resonates with me! Particularly this paragraph, because I do nearly all of these things and didn’t realize how helpful it is to do these things!
➡️I heartily endorse the idea of romanticizing your life. Take an extra few minutes to drink your coffee quietly. Cuddle under a blanket on a cool evening. Take a minute to stare up at the moon while taking the dog out for a before-bed potty break. Light a candle for extra ambiance. Put a favorite song on repeat and sway to the beat. These small things — small sweetnesses — have been so important in helping me manage difficult and uncertain times.