embroidery | journal

Year in Review 2016

By on December 22, 2016

2016 was a year. I can’t say it was the worst year, which many people are saying about 2016. But I can say that it was a continuation of some of the hardness that 2015 had brought into my life. In many ways 2016 seemed like a gap year for me – an in between time where I really sort of woke up and started processing some stuff. It’s been a year where I have really had to step back and look at each decision and choice I make and figure out how it impacts me and our family, instead of just jumping ahead. It was a year where I did step back on my shop and really curbed my spending when it came to product development. There were (and are) so many things I would love to do, but for us financially right now I’ve realized I can’t step out and continue to do that.

It was a year that did see me finally stepping out to try and follow the dream of opening a store front. For years I had talked about opening a sewing shop and this spring I actually moved forward on that. I had prayed all along that God would very obviously open and close doors and I knew that no matter what happened I just had to see it through. I met with a small business advisor and met with bankers and in the end realized that I had followed that dream as far as I could take it. For the first time setting that dream aside was easy because I had followed it as far as I could take it. It was clearly a closed door and months later I’m so thankful. I learned so much in the process about business, about where I want to go creatively and how our life really works.

It was the first holiday season where I honestly wasn’t slammed and I did that on purpose. I stopped taking custom embroidery orders really early on and even though I did participate in a holiday market, it was the most relaxing holiday market prep I’ve ever done. I made stuff that I loved to make and it made such a huge difference.

I started a few projects this year that I’m really hoping to jump on right away after the holidays. First up I want to get back to my stumpwork projects. I miss this creative stitching so much and I’ve got so many ideas and ways I want to continue with my bugs and bugs in jars series. I also want to finally go forward with designing a pattern that comes with video links. I’m hoping to get going on this early in 2017 with my flower garden hoop I stitched back in the Fall. If there’s any goal I have for my shop in 2017, it’s to offer more embroidery patterns, more how-tos that go along with those patterns and oh how I would love to learn how to screen print so that I can print my own patterns and finally start offering kits again.

I am not sure where I’m heading with custom embroidery in 2017. For now, all of it will be on hold until I really get a clear picture of where I want to go. That includes shoes. I’ve often wondered how much longer the shoe thing can keep going. It seemed so much like a trend and we all know how trends go. I kind of want to go out on a high note and stop on my own terms. I’m also not sure where I’m going with teaching sewing either. Both of these things have played such a huge role in my life for the past few years and it’s weird to say I’m going to stop doing them. But there’s a part of me that thinks that for now, those chapters might be closed for a while so that I can focus on some other things.

 

One of my greatest achievements this year was being published! I was super excited to have a project in the Sew it All magazine. It was crazy to see my stuff actually on the shelf in bookstores. Maybe one day I’ll have an actual book or something! I’ve got some new things coming my way in 2017 that I’m excited about and can’t wait to share as the details get more and more worked out.

 

Probably my biggest joy in 2017 has been being able to continue homeschooling. We ended our last week of school with a Christmas Poetry Teatime with friends and as I sat around the table and saw this amazing community of friends that God has gifted my daughter and myself with I am humbled. We’ve joined a community of like minded schoolers and I couldn’t be more overjoyed at how God is continuing to grow that. We’ve got plans for 2017 that I’m hoping come to fruition and every day I’m grateful that I’m able to stay home.

One of my biggest goals in 2017 is to start writing again. I’m processing through in my mind some ways to clear some of the clutter in my head so that I can start putting some words to paper (or type). I want to spend more time actually reading books and not just reading snippets and blog posts. And I want to finally move forward on this book I’ve got floating around in my head. I read an essay this week by CS Lewis about writing for children and it was the biggest encouragement to me. He said something along the lines that his stories always came from pictures in his head. He would see all these scenes and ideas all jumbled up in his head and that is where his stories came from. As he started writing he would just have to fill in the blanks in between the pictures. Now, I’m never going to be the next CS Lewis, but for someone who has had these pictures floating around her head so vividly for years it was the kick in the pants to finally start penning them down.

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freedom | journal | rambling thoughts

Journal: Changing a Life

By on December 7, 2016

I was sitting at the table cruising social media and this question hit me: how do you change a life without actually changing anything? What I mean is, when you are stuck, like super stuck in a funk and there really appears to be no way out, how do you change?

I’m a huge runner – but not the kind of runner in Nike’s – more of the mental and emotional type. When the going gets tough, all I want to do is figure out how to get going. Finances are rough, so I sit for hours trying to figure out how to make a job fit into my life right now. The house is overwhelming with projects, so I sit and stare at realtor.com and try to imagine moving. My children have too much crap, so I sit and peruse Waldorf, Charlotte Mason and other natural-crunchy-beautiful people blogs and dream of what my life could look like if we had less stuff.

But none of these things will ever change in that dramatic of a way. My pastor told me once that I keep wanting this really super big change to happen, but honestly what I need is just to rest in the little things. I wanted to yell at him (and actually it was via an email so in my head I sort of was) that I am tired of little rescues, I am tired of the bit by bit – I need something BIG to happen.

But it isn’t. going. to. happen.

No lottery is coming to my rescue. My house isn’t going to clean itself out without me. My children aren’t going to ever have less crap. None of these things is going to go zap! and change.

So what do you do? How do you change a life step by step when you are so crazy burned out of the steps. I mean honestly, if my life were a stair climbing machine I would have thighs bigger than a crossfit chick!

I guess you just keep going.

Day by day. And only day by day.

And I try to focus on what’s in front of me. And only what’s in front of me.

And of course my pastor is right – it is all the little things.

In the meantime I just have to take them each one by one (and maybe pretend I’m building the most amazing ice cream cone ever)

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Journal: Dreaming versus Living

By on September 20, 2016

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My husband and I are dreamers. I think the thing that has brought us together for going on 22 years is that we love nothing more than to sit and talk through all the things we wish we could do. The problem with that is when you’ve spent nearly 22 years talking through the same dreams and yet never really doing anything about them the dreaming part starts to feel more like an escape.

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I’ve been pondering the difference between dreaming of things and escaping as I’m reading back through parts of Ecclesiastes. The one thing that continues to jump out at me is the idea of living right here and right now. The writer seems to discourage dreaming or looking forward.  Even pondering too deeply the season that you are in is a negative. These are hard words for a deep dreamer and “muller” of life.

So I saw that there’s nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that his is lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him? 3:22

There is so much we don’t know. There is so much that happens in our lives that we cannot even begin to explain – despite how badly we might want to figure it out. But the writer over and again reminds us that it’s worthless almost to keep constantly speculating. He continues to encourage the reader to tend to the “God given callings and joys in our lot.”

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This is my life – my struggle – constantly thinking, speculating, meditating, worrying, mulling. My dreaming of what I hope for and long for becomes a means for me to escape from what the Lord is calling me to and the lot that He has placed in my lap.  The things my husband and I constantly go to to talk about are safe things – and because of that those safe things become an escape; a way for us to step out of the struggle of the right now.

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I want nothing more than to rest in the season that I’m in; to accept my lot with joy – not just give in. Even when the season makes me feel like I’m sitting on the edge of a precipice, I want to sit there resting in the view.

{photos from Colonial Williamsburg, 2016}

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Journal: August 23

By on August 23, 2016

 

“Above me, wind does its best
to blow leaves off
the aspen tree a month too soon.
No use wind. All you succeed
in doing is making music, the noise
of failure growing beautiful.”

― Bill Holm

I read these words the other day and for some reason they came back to me this morning. Maybe it is the crispness in the air – the wind that seems to have shifted as the seasons slowly start to change? Maybe it is my heart that I want so desperately to change – the things in my life that I so desperately want to be different that aren’t. But this quote reminds me that seasons change, leaves fall, but only in their season. The wind can blow and blow all it wants to, but those leaves will hang on until they are ready to fall – till their season.

There is a quote by Edith Schaeffer in response to someone asking her “who is the greatest Christian woman right now?” Her reply was “we don’t know her.” She is the one who is struggling, who sees the emptiness in her soul, who sees how easily the world slinks into her life.
She is the one who feels like a failure.
So what makes her great?
Because it’s in our failure that God’s music plays.

Just like those leaves that hang despite the wind trying to rip them off – it is in our brokenness that the world hears the music of the heavens.

 

I sit in middle of the grove listening to the waves of movement above me.
The sun streams down in beams around my lap.
There is no sound except the rush of the wind rustling through the leaves.
These leaves that sound like fairies running from branch to branch.
I can almost hear them laughing in the soft chirping of the birds that fly.

Despite the wind, no leaves fall – except this one lone leaf.
Slowly I watch it drift down from the heavens as it floats on the air above me.
it lands in my lap – a green tissue shaped heart.
Like a message from above – a voice in the shape of a heart reminding me to be patient.
To bask in the sun – to listen to the fairies dance – and to hear the music of the dancing hearts.

 


Long ago I started blogging and it was a combination of my writing and creating. Then I decided to separate the two and I started another blog called A Constant Pursuit. Recently, in an effort to stop segmenting my life I decided to shut that writing blog down and merge it with this one; because creating with words is no different than creating with threads. My writing life has been pretty vacant lately and when I have written it’s been kept private, but I’m hoping that combining these two loves and two outlets back into one might help me reawaken this voice that has been so silent.

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Journal: Cultivating a presence

By on July 5, 2016

I started this blog as a way to journal, write and share what I was making when my nearly 10 year old daughter was an infant.
I wasn’t writing for comments.
I wasn’t writing because I wanted to link up.
I wasn’t posting because I wanted to get shared all over social media (social media wasn’t even a thing back then).
I just wrote because I needed to and I wanted to.

But then I started selling on Etsy and I started getting hits and the world of blogging exploded. It became a way to frame my day in order to be noticed. And I’ve got a thing with being noticed. That drive to be discovered soon overrode any other drive I had. I realized that I needed to start using my blog platform to help sell the things I was making. And eventually all I was doing was advertising. I upgraded my website, changed my logo a million times and tried to figure out how to use this space less as a journal and a space for me to frame my words and more as a space for me to show off my wares.
The words stopped flowing and as my space here sort of fell apart so did my life.

The last eighteen months has a story that isn’t quite ready to be shared, but these months have totally reframed my life and the idea of presence.

I have spent so much time grieving the past and trying to control the future so much that I have become exhausted with today.

And many of my today’s have worn me down.
But they have worn me down because I’ve been trying to cultivate something that isn’t me. I’ve been neglecting the margins in my life and I’ve been putting aside and ignoring all those things that used to give me space. I’ve jumped from one course to another thinking that it was going to be the thing that would make sense of everything and honestly nothing makes sense right now.

So I am doing the one thing that has always made sense – I’m picking up the scrambled words in my head and trying to lay them down.

To begin with bringing margin into my life, my Etsy shop is changing a little bit for the time being. I’m taking an extended break from any custom embroideries and embroidered shoe orders. It’s a pretty scary move for a lot of reasons, but I feel like it’s the right move. The shop will stay open, but for now it will only have downloadable embroidery patterns and finished hoop art that is ready to ship. I’m also taking a break from teaching sewing classes beyond a couple of adult Saturday classes (one in the Fall and one in the Spring).

I don’t know what this space will look like, but I am hoping to use it as a way to bring my focus back on today and life at hand.

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