Dear Sabrina

 

I have some exciting news to share!  I am now a contributor on the lovely and thoughtful blog, Dear Sabrina. 

When Jodi asked me to contribute to her blog, I was intrigued. It had been a while since I’d published anything to my own blog, a space that has evolved from a knitting blog to a personal blog and website. I felt somewhat apprehensive; what did I have to add there? Then she and I had some interesting conversations about possible content and suddenly I was brimming with new ideas!

It feels really, really good to be writing in a more personal way again. I used to spend a lot of my creative energy within my biz, writing copy for products, email newsletters, and captions for social media posts. To get to put a different kind of writing out in the world has me feeling a little vulnerable, but also really excited.

I am thrilled to bring some of the topics Jodi and I have been discussing in real life to this space. I look forward to joining the conversations Jodi has started on topics like parenting, friendship, books, and maybe even my own categories of melancholy.

My first post went up this week, a piece about authenticity and vulnerability in friendship. I do hope you’ll read it and let us know what you think!

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

A Room of My Own: Why Creative Space Matters

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Sometimes it feels like my kids simply cannot keep their hands to themselves. They can’t help it, I know this. Powerful curiosity paired with a lack of impulse control means small children touch EVERYTHING. They want to feel the surface of a book. Tap the hard glass on a picture frame. Stroke the glossy leaves of a houseplant. Tap tap tap on the keys of the laptop.  Sift through the detritus in my nightstand drawer. You get the picture.

Much of this exploring is delightful to watch, and mostly harmless. But some of it grates on me, makes me feel violated in a way. Like each poke of a little finger into my brand new blush compact is a poke in my eye.

As a parent I try not to take my kids’ behavior too personally. I know and respect that they are their own people trying to make sense of the world just like the rest of us. Our children are given room to roam within the boundaries of our family rules, and it mostly goes okay.

Where I’m still struggling to find flexibility and ease is in claiming some personal physical space.


When we first moved into our house, my vision of each living space was so clear. We have a two-story home, and and the first floor has our living and dining rooms, kitchen, and a half-bath.

We also have a lovely extra room at the front of the house with double doors, a transom window above, and tons of natural light thanks to a large east-facing window. My daughter was a toddler when we moved in, and making this space a playroom was ideal. She could have a space to play and create and be messy. It was close to the main living areas, and having this space meant no toys in those living areas. I took great pleasure in designing the room. We shopped at Ikea and put together a desk and cubbies and hung picture wires to display her creations. It was perfect.

We have spent countless hours together over the years in this sweet room working with play dough, painting at the easel, building train tracks, stacking blocks, reading books. It was exactly what we needed for that phase of life.

Somewhere along the way, she started spending less time in the playroom and more time in her bedroom. She was getting older and wanted her own space. Then along came baby brother, and soon this room with its paint and markers and tiny lego pieces wasn’t as appealing a place to hang out. We slowly started moving things in and out of the room to make it work.

Soon we were spending less and less time in the playroom.

Meanwhile, I had started a podcast. I had started offering coaching to other creatives and was working from home more.  Our desk was tucked into a living space, and would naturally invite lots of curious little hands to its surfaces. A computer screen was damaged. Papers were crumpled. Nerves (mine) started to get frayed.

And then one day it dawned on me: What if we turned the playroom into an office?

It felt daring and exciting; the perfect solution. It also felt SELFISH as hell.

Who was I to take this sweet kid space away from the family in order to have space for me and my brain to think and create?  

And yet I couldn’t shake the dream.

At the beginning of the year I had made a vision board. It wasn’t until the piece was complete that I noticed a pattern. Desks. Modern chairs. Lots of invitations to write. My heart knew what I desired before my mind knew.  And once I realized that, I had to get my brain – and family – on board.

It was tough. There was resistance to this new arrangement from every side. My daughter cried. My wife bemoaned the loss of the kids’ artwork display.  I still felt guilty.

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In the end we compromised, and the room is now a shared creative space.

The original creative workspace has moved to one corner and holds our household art supplies. A rotating display of original creations hangs above. The toys are (mostly) gone, replaced by an adult desk and computer. A bookshelf relocated from another area of the house holds books, family photo albums, and a shelf of puzzles and quiet work for the kids. I hung my vision board and slowly added my treasures.

Creating this space was important both for my actual creative process but also in owning the importance of my work.  Having a physical space brings my ambitions out of my head and into the real world. Ultimately, this area represents the creative potential in all of us, from little hands to big hands.

Some of my favorite moments are when the kids and I are all in here quietly working. My daughter will be drawing or writing a story at her desk. I will be editing a podcast, writing a blog post, or daydreaming. My son will most likely be driving a car back and forth on the windowsill. There’s often a cat or dog asleep somewhere.

It’s these moments that I could choose to be annoyed that they’ve invaded “my space” or I could choose to be content with the arrangement. Full disclosure: there are days where I have to kick them out and close the door!  It’s okay. 

These years are short, and soon enough I will miss these busy little hands. In the meantime, I am so glad I staked my claim in one corner of a room to help my creative spirit. And, even though I thought I needed the room all to myself, it’s been a delight to do this work alongside my kids.

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The playroom before.

Are Priorities Holding You Back from the Life You Want?

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There was a time when I was very hard on myself for not living up to my own ideal of what motherhood should look like.

After years of infertility treatments, I finally got what I thought was my dream job: I was a stay-at-home mama! I kept up with my ideal almost obsessively. From cloth diapers and homemade play doh to long, media free afternoons of unstructured playtime, I had it all mapped out. And for a while, it worked. Sure, I lived for nap-time when I wasn’t needed so much and could tend to my own needs (a shower, please!). But eventually, about a year into the parenting gig, I realized I needed MORE.

I started a business when my daughter was just 20 months old. Writing a business plan, signing a lease, and ordering inventory with a toddler in tow was no easy feat! And I was still trying to hold myself to my previous standards. The ones I was able to achieve when I wasn’t starting a business.

It’s true what they say: you can have it all, but you can’t have it all at the same time.

I quickly realized that things would have to change; the way we were doing things just wasn’t sustainable. And I was being so hard on myself, giving to my business, my employees, my child, my partner, my friends. There was nothing left of me.

And then I had a second child and things got harder.

My priorities, the things that were supposed to drive the life I wanted, needed a major overhaul.

The days became so full I couldn’t keep up with washing poopy diapers. I was so tired that the thought of making dinner brought me to tears. There was no space in my mind for any more needs from anyone, let alone the needs of this ideal motherhood I wanted to have.

Because I couldn’t change the needs of my kids — they’re still quite small and their needs are totally age appropriate — I realized I had to change MY needs. My priorities had to shift into accomplishing what was truly important to me. I had to let go of unnecessary projects and busywork at the shop. I needed to stop fixating on all the things I used to enjoy that no longer served my day to day reality.

Sure, I used to make play clay; you can buy that. I used to use cloth diapers, but I chose more time reading with my kids over washing diapers. I had to let those things go because not living up to unrealistic expectations (my own) was breaking me down. I examined all of the things I felt I “should” be doing to decide which really mattered to me.

These days I choose to spend time on the things that resonate now. Baking. Practicing yoga. Picking up my kids from school each day. Focusing on the parts of work that make the biggest difference to my business and that light me up.  And if I want to make some play dough, I will because I want to, not because I feel like I should!

What are you doing because you feel like you should? Even if the should grew out of your own values and desires once? What are you doing because you once loved it that isn’t serving you right now? What, if you really stopped to think about it, is most important to do in your day?

Before you reflexively say “It’s all important,” let yourself admit what really resonates with you. It’s OK to stop doing something that was an important part of your life if it isn’t serving you right now. Priorities aren’t static. By taking time to re-examine them when things aren’t working, we can move closer to the life we really want to live.

What can you let go of? What can you embrace to move toward the bold life you dream of?

When you’re in the thick of things, it can be hard to see where you can make change. Sometimes the “shoulds” are so ingrained we think they are “musts.” That’s where I come in. I can help you get past your own blocks to dare to live the life you dream of (even if you hide that dream from yourself). It starts with clarity.

Learn more about Clarity Sessions and book yours today.

Begin Anyhow: Living with Discomfort

Begin Anyhow: Learning to Live with Discomfort

Begin Anyhow: Learning to Live with Discomfort

Art credit: Lisa Congdon

Lately I’ve been having a lot of new ideas. Ideas for my business, ideas for redoing our backyard, ideas for new knitting projects, the list goes on. I’m great at ideas!  New ideas are fun and creative and give me a ton energy.

Something inevitably creeps up between the idea stage and the action stage: discomfort.

At its best, this gnawing feeling of discomfort can be mildly annoying, persisting in the background of daily life. It’s something you can choose to ignore, to push away.

Discomfort will also show itself in the form of self-doubt, fear, uncertainty.  Every decision is difficult. You start to feel unfocused, scattered, and overwhelmed.

At its worst, this discomfort can become terrifying and paralyzing. It will jump onto your back and cripple you with its weight.  It stops you from moving forward in your daily tasks with any ease.  Your mind is anxious, wrestling with the excitement of your idea and the uncertainty that wants to crush it.

I have felt this way before every major thing I’ve created or changed in my life. 

Two years ago I had the first inkling of wanting to start a podcast for creatives. I held the idea close to my heart for months, too afraid too even tell anyone about it.

Starting a podcast was an idea that I couldn’t shake; I thought about it all the time! The creative spark had been ignited, and I was having constantly having new thoughts and ideas for the podcast.  Looking back, I know that was my intuition trying to get my attention, to counteract the self-doubt that was starting to creep in.

You see, I was SO afraid of putting myself out there in a new way.  Discomfort would follow me around and assert its presence at inconvenient moments, reminding me of my insecurities.  The thought of sharing my ideas and opinions over live audio was scary!  I didn’t know where to begin or what steps to take.  I worried no one would listen.

These fears and uncertainties followed me for months until it just started to feel silly.  Eventually I knew that the discomfort of not knowing how it would go or what I would do wasn’t so bad compared to the idea of not trying at all.

I needed to feel the discomfort and begin anyway.

I took action and sought out supportive mentors, found tutorials for starting a podcast, and reached out to my first set of guests. Suddenly it didn’t feel so scary anymore!

Every uncertain step I took in the direction of my dream to start a podcast added momentum, and eventually I was running forward, too inspired to look back at what I was so afraid of!

I recently put out the Season 2 finale episode of my podcast, featuring an interview with artist Lisa Congdon. Getting to speak with such interesting and inspiring creatives has been such a joy; I can’t believe I almost let discomfort hold me back!

Don’t let fear or uncertainty stop you. Let it motivate you.

It’s good to pay attention to that feeling of uncertainty and fear. But it is in this moment that you have some thinking to do.  You can let it stop you, or you can feel it, work with it and let it propel you.

Somewhere along the way, this discomfort is something that I have learned to live with.  I started asking myself if the discomfort would be something I could live with if I never took the risk. I use discomfort as a tool to tap into my intuition, to ask myself: is the risk I am about to take worth it?  Would I regret not going for it?


Is there a time you pushed through discomfort to discover something great?  The more you do this, the easier it becomes. Share your wins below so we can celebrate with you!

On Wanting to be a Writer

On Wanting to Be a Writer

I always wanted to be a writer.

As a child I filled notebooks and stacks of printer paper with my writing and drawings. When our family got its first word processor, I was in heaven.  I could write to my heart’s content, without cramping my hand. Plus, once I printed it out and put it in a report cover with a hand-drawn illustration, it looked like a REAL book!

Writing came to me in a way that seemed fluid and natural.  All through school, I sailed through essays, devoured books, and set my sights on being an English major in college. I wanted to be a capital W writer.

And even though I enjoyed writing and words and language, I never really felt like one of the “smart kids”.  I wasn’t in National Honor Society or getting straight A’s. Sure, I took a couple of AP classes, but I never really felt like I belonged.

When I got to college, I was determined to find my people and belong to something meaningful.  I started out as an English major.  My advisor was a Real Author and capitol W writer and intimidated the hell out of me.  He had a serious disposition and kind eyes;  I always anticipated and feared what would come out of his mouth in equal measure.

The other kids in my literature and writing classes were often the serious types who got all the literary and historical references that seemed to go right over my head. I quickly grew insecure about everything I didn’t know and doubted myself at every turn. I thought everything that came out of me was worthless and not worthy of sharing with the groups.

I changed my major and tried to forget that I wanted to be a Writer.

About 10 years later I started a blog and started enjoying writing again.  It was something simple and low-pressure. I would write about my knitting and other creative pursuits to share with other crafters. It was a safe space of my own making, and I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself. At that time, it didn’t feel like there was a lot of judgement back then, even if your pictures were kind of crappy (mine totally were).

But over time, I started to really enjoy the process of writing, and that yearning to do it more seriously crept back into my consiousness.

So here I am nearly 20 years later, still longing to be a writer, still questioning whether I have something worthwhile to share.

It’s something I think about nearly every day.  Writing writing writing writing. Clearly something is pushing its way out of me, I just need to give it the time to come out.

What you focus on expands. You make time for what is important to you.

Writing is always on my list of unfulfilled dreams, a thing I often say I wish I did more of. And yet, when I have space to write in my day, I often fill it with other things.  Which leaves me with a continued sense of yearning.

Back in the fall I wrote about spending 15 minutes a day on something.  I typically choose to spend my 15 minutes reading or writing. After beginning this practice, I quickly noticed that after just a few days, my mind felt brighter and more eager, new ideas flowing in with ease.  I had tons of ideas for new blog posts, and even a little nugget for a book. Scary and thrilling!

It felt so good. And yet…

Sometimes I still procrastinate writing or getting really vulnerable and honest by doing other things that feel more productive.  I think I fill the space I could spend writing because I am afraid.  The more I avoid getting real on the page, the more this sense of yearning grows. And along with that yearning, a mounting sense of self-doubt.

If I want to write so much, why don’t I just do it?  Is it that I am afraid I don’t have anything to say?  Or is it the opposite: that I’m afraid I DO have something to say?


Knowing that we’re not alone in our insecurities and overwhelm can make such a difference in mindset.  What do you yearn to do?  Have you taken small steps to get closer to that goal?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

Yarn Along: I’m Baaack!

Well hello again, friends!  It’s good to be back.  So sorry to disappear on you like that, without any notice or explanation.  All I can say by way of excuse is that I was going through a hard time personally, felt stuck creatively, and couldn’t muster up the motivation to try to force it.

But that’s over now.

I’m going to ease back into the blogging with one of my favorite weekly traditions, Ginny’s Yarn Along.  During my hiatus, I thought about Yarn Along nearly every week.  And I read some of the other posts, and always gleaned a few new ideas for things to knit and books to read.  I’m almost always doing both, so this is the perfect platform for a little sharing.

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My blogging friend Katie Gibson is a formidable reader, moving along at an enviable pace. She posts regular updates and reviews on what she’s been reading, and I’ve often taken her lists along to the bookstore or library.  You can see her 2014 book list here.

She recently recommended a book by Jojo Moyes.  After looking through all of her titles, I decided to start with Me Before You.  When I picked it up at the library, I was a bit embarrassed to see that it had a romance sticker on the spine.  Not my typical genre, but I do enjoy a good love story.  So far, it’s not romancey in the heaving bosom sort of way at all.  It didn’t take long to get hooked, and now I can’t wait to read her other books!  Don’t you love it when that happens?

There have been a lot of baby knits on the needles the past couple of months.  Not only am I pregnant (yay!  more on that another time), but so are a couple of my friends.  After a first trimester with my head stuck in the toilet and zero knitting mojo, it’s a relief to be back with my wool and needles.  Here are two finished Puerperium cardigans awaiting buttons.  Both are knit in Madelinetosh, one in DK the other in Vintage for two different sizes.  This is a  fun, free pattern that takes just one skein of DK weight yarn. Win!

It’s good to be back, friends.  Thanks for stopping by!

Yarn Along:: Mysterious Cables

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Chambord by Thea Coleman in Plymouth Tweed

Chambord by Thea Colman in Plymouth Tweed

I picked up this book on an impromptu trip to the bookshop recently.  I had been in a full on grumpy-mama mood and was essentially banished from the house to clear my head.  It was for the best, and after just a few minutes browsing the aisles of one of our local book stores I felt much better.

While at the store my mind was completely blank, however.  The titles of all the books I’d been meaning to read fled my brain, and the handy list of notes I keep for such moments was uninspiring.  Having seen a recent post on Katie’s blog about what she had recently read, I turned to her for a recommendation.  Her praise for Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore made the decision easy, and a few minutes later I left with the book.  It has proven to be a fun thrill ride through the mysterious stacks of Mr. Penumbra’s book store, filled with codes, adventures, quirky characters, and intrigue.  I’m down to the last two chapters and can’t wait to see how it ends!

On the needles this week is a new project: the Chambord Pullover.  Excited after my recent sweater win, I decided to excavate some deep stash yarn and cast on another.  This tweedy yarn and cozy sweater are such a good combination that I couldn’t resist.  The knitting has been fairly straightforward, which is always nice. I only just noticed a mis-crossed cable that must have happened while I was knitting with friends during the Oscars on Sunday.  I’ve decided to leave it.

What’s on your nightstand and in your project basket this week?

p.s. Yarn Along is inspired, as ever, by the delightful Ginny.

p.p.s. The cover of this book glows in the dark.

Yarn Along:: Pros + Pecuiliars

After a month-long hiatus from blogging, I think it best to just jump back in with a new edition of Yarn Along! So here we go with what I’ve been knititng and reading this week:

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Out of long-term hibernation, my Hooray Cardigan has been enjoying a lot of attention.  This is definitely one of those projects that was cast aside after a few minor frustrations, and left to linger for months.  I started it last January, and it’s time to wear it already!  That yarn, those cables, oh it’s going to be a delicious handknit.  My goal is to work semi-monogomaously on this for the rest of the month and see how far I get.  I’m already about 6 inches into the body, so a finished sweater no longer seems so out of reach!

I’ve been reading a lot this month as well.  After finishing up The Twelve (over 500 pages!), I decided to set my sights on some smaller tomes.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a haunting and tense novel so compelling I have been reading it late into the night.  Fiction mixed with bizarre vintage photography mixes well to create a special world quite unlike the everyday we know.  I hear Tim Burton is directing the movie version of the book, so if you like to read the book first, hurry and do it!

I’m also often reading books to inspire myself as an entrepreneur, and this is my latest favorite.  Turning Pro is Steven Pressfield’s follow-up to The War of Art, and is perfectly timed for me.  My theme for 2013 is Going Pro. This is a great book if you are an artist, a creative or a person who is challenged to move forward into the life you dream of.  It’s also helpful for people who have taken steps toward living their dream but need help showing up in a non-amateur way.  For me this means to stop procrastinating, make decisions, and play like I’m already in the big leagues.  It’s a quick read, and one I’ll be looking toward for continued inspiration.

What’s on your nightstand and in your project basket this week?

Hello, Mojo: a Major KnittingUpdate

I think Miss Mojo is back, folks!

In a half-hearted attempt to win her back, I cast on a Shawl-Collared Cowl. Bulky yarn, big needles, ribbing and garter stitch: it seemed like an easy win, which is just what I needed. This pattern knits up quick and fairly simply, with great results.

The yarn, a hand-dyed merino, cashmere nylon blend from Knitted Wit was a bit of silky heaven to knit with.  I gifted this cowl to a dear friend, but not before wearing it for a few minutes myself.  It is just as soft and warm on the neck as you would imagine!

I was able to give this to a dear friend in person last week while on a business trip to Boston.  The last time we saw each other was at Sock Summit where we enabled each other into buying the yarn, buttons, and patterns for Catkin.  She has since started hers and upon a wee bit of urging I brough along my yarn and cast on while visiting.

I also limited myself to one project for the 5 hour flight to and from Boston: my Haleakala socks.  The second sock cuff had been on the needles for months, and after some focused attention I am now just past the heel turn.  The end is near, and not a moment too soon.  I blew out two sock heels this winter!

During the conference I mainly knit on my Goodale. With its stockinette body and icord edging, it’s the perfect project for stitching while listening and taking notes. I just separated for the sleeves and anticipate the rest of the knitting going along fairly quickly.  Can’t wait to wear this over a flouncy spring dress!

Of course, with all of these projects on the needles, I’m also looking at Stash’s spring shawl knitalong which starts tomorrow.  I’ve decided on the Dancette Shawl but am still vacillating on color combos.  I want light and springy, and colors different from everything else on my needles.  Grassy green and bubble gum pink are two main color options right now, still looking for contrast colors!

In addition to catching up with an old friend and knitting my fingers off in Boston, I was also able to meet a new one!  Well, it almost felt as if I was talking with an old friend, as Katie and I have been reading each other’s blogs for a while now.  Meeting a blog friend in person is always a daunting experience, but has always been worth the butterflies in the stomach feelings for me.  This time was no exception.  Katie and I took advantage of the early spring sunshine to take a walk and eat some sweet treats, all while catching up on our lives, current reads, and a bit of knitting.  So nice to meet you in person, Katie! And yes, I wanted to start reading Catching Fire as soon as I finished Hunger Games. : )

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for hanging in there!  I’ve been missing this space and think about posting often; sometimes it’s just not possible.  So a mega-update is what it takes to get us all caught up and back on track.

 

Yarn Along:: Dragons and Crocs and Knitting, oh My!

From Small Things: ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?

Welcome back to blogland!  I took a little break to enjoy the holidays with my family, and look forward to sharing some highlights with you soon.  I have been knitting and reading quite a bit, so I thought I would rejoin the Wednesday Yarn Along crew and tell you about it.

The past couple of times PB visited me at the shop, she would pull the new Yarn Harlot book off the shelf and take it over to a small stool to read.  Whether it be the book’s small size or deft humor, something appealed.  And so I decided that I had better see what all the toddler fuss was about and finally bought my own copy of All Wound Up.  With her signature wit and wisdom, Pearl-Mcphee delivers some great essays and stories that we as knitters and parents can definitely relate to.  At first, I had a hard time shaking the feeling that I had read some version of many of the stories on her blog; but she settles in and I decided to accept that there may be some overlap.

Swamplania! is a recent acquisition I made after hearing it reviewed on NPR.  It’s an insightful and quirky coming of age story about a young girl and her family’s business of running a gator-centric attraction in Florida.  They hit an unlucky patch and their livelihood and identity is threatened with extinction.  I am really enjoying the descriptive and insightful writing, and look forward to seeing where the young female narrator will go next.

And for the knitting…this is a project I cast on for ages ago when I needed something simple to work on during a long car ride.  I made it through the ribbing, then it got set aside in favor of other projects.  I picked it back up over the weekend when I again needed something simple to work on while I avoided picking up and knitting the sleeves on my Oatmeal Pullover.  The yarn is a Luminosity Project colorway called Dragon from Pigeonroof Studios, and it is indeed luminous.  So many deep and shimmering shades of green and brown!  Loving the Cream and Sugar Cowl pattern with its wide cables, though it is going a bit slowly with so many stitches on fingering weight yarn.

What’s on your nightstand and in your project bag this week?