Turning 50 opened up a world of new ideas and creative opportunities for me. My kids were getting older and I was growing more curious, eager to explore avenues I never had time for when I was younger, and life was more hectic.

Marathon photoI learned how to speak Italian (well, kinda sorta), wrote my first book (almost finished with my second!), and started to focus on getting in better shape, which included an every-other-day running program. I even ran in my first NYC Marathon to celebrate my 55th birthday!

But one thing I’m most proud of having accomplished after turning 50 is this: I learned how to knit. My beloved grandmother had always wanted to teach me, but I never gave her the time. It haunted me all these decades, until I walked into a local yarn store and said, “Teach me. I’m ready.”  And that’s when I took my very first stitch, and made my first blanket.knittingbrowntanscarf

Now, I’m obsessed. I knit everywhere: doctor’s appointments, traveling, watching TV, baseball games, at hair appointments, you name it. My new favorite time to knit is during all the GOP and Democratic Primary Debates. Knitting makes watching a lot more tolerable. : )

This new skill has led to other paths, however. Not only am I exploring my creative side, which took 50 years to unleash, but BHG scarfI make things–hats, scarves, blankets–that I give to people who are hurting or going through tough times.  I call them my ‘knitted hugs’.

The lovely people at Red Heart Yarns happened to see a video I did with AARP about how I ‘Knit a Hug’ for a family member who was going through chemotherapy, and invited me to become their spokesperson. I was thrilled, honored and excited to take on this new role, which is very meaningful to me.

Even more heart-warming: Red Heart Yarns has created a partnership with the American Red Cross to encourage America to have a heart and ‘Stitch a Hug’ for people who are going through personal upheaval or even devastating disasters, like floods, fire or earthquakes throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

I urge everyone to have a heart all year long by picking up your knitting needles or crochet hooks and creating your heartfelt masterpieces for those in need. There are many ways to help in this important effort. Please take a quick look at this short video to find out how you can get involved!

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