My ALS Strategy to Avoid Being a ‘UFO’: I’m a Work in Progress
Unfinished knitting and crocheting projects give this columnist an idea
I’m always surprised how something simple and totally unrelated to ALS can change my perspective about living with the disease. For example, who knew that a bag full of unfinished knitting and crocheting projects could lift me out of a temporary mental funk, return me to feeling positive and hopeful, and restore my humorous outlook on life?
But it did. And I’m having so much fun with my new mental game that I think it might help you, too. Here’s what happened:
The UFO bag
Lurking on the floor near my sewing machine is a large canvas bag where I put my “UFOs.” (That’s knitting and crocheting slang for unfinished projects.) Mine is a jumble of projects I quit working on because they were either too challenging or time-consuming, or they weren’t turning out as I’d hoped.
Recently, my week wasn’t going well. I had a long to-do list and faced frequent interruptions. Plus, I’d grown tired of my current evening knitting project. So into the UFO bag it went.
But as I peered into the bag, the thought suddenly struck me that it was like a waiting room of sorts, not much different than the concept of an ALS waiting room I previously wrote about. The ALS waiting room is how I describe the mental space that many with the disease retreat to when they feel cast aside, frustrated, tired of waiting for help, and ready to give up.
Hmm. Perhaps they are ALS UFOs?
Following the parallels being drawn in my mind, I thought, “What’s the opposite of being a UFO?” In knitting and crocheting slang, that’s a “WIP,” or work in progress.
An ALS WIP
No matter what the daily challenges are, I consider myself a long-term work in progress, and I liked that mental image. It gave me permission to have days when I get a lot done, including all my exercise routines. It also allows for the days when it feels like an uphill battle and I have to adapt and be flexible or start all over again.
When knitting, I often modify the printed pattern of my scarf or shawl to accommodate the yarn I own or to better fit my needs. It’s the same with ALS when I know I can adapt, learn, and survive.
Don’t be a UFO
We all have times of frustration and discouragement, but maybe my mental image of being a work in progress will help change your perspective, as it did for me. Just call me WIP Dagmar!
More ideas and inspiration can be found in the column “How to Build Your Own ALS Stress Toolkit.” We’re all learning how to live well while living with ALS.
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