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.

Summer Bummer : Living Without All the Answers

“Are you having a good summer?” she asked with a hopeful smile.

I took a deep breath and felt just how tired I felt in my body.

I could see that she too was tired. A fellow mom and entrepreneur, she knows what it’s like to be juggling a very full life. And so I knew I could tell her the hard truth: No.

I was not having a good summer.

The intensity of that realization hit me like a tidal wave.

Summer is supposed to be a fun, carefree time, right?! I felt anything but carefree.

What was I doing wrong?

That afternoon on the way home from work, I cried. I had to pull over at a park and let the tears flow just to ease the tension and fear of all that had been going on.

Business had slowed down drastically in the spring at the shop. In an effort to cut down on some expenses, I was working more. I had been agonizing over some other business decisions for weeks, and I was having trouble turning off my brain. 

I am also launching my new side hustle: mentoring creatives. And hosting out of town family friends! With an already packed schedule, my self-care routine was out the window.  I was impatient with my children, I had hadn’t been making anything, and I hadn’t seen mu friends in weeks.

Which all adds up to less laid back summer fun with the family. I felt stretched thin and perpetually tired.

After being sick twice in under a month and suffering from insomnia, I decided it was time. Time to take matters into my own hands again instead of letting life run away with me. I’d like to say I created the opportunity for myself, but we happened to have plans to meet family for a weekend in the mountains. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

I decided to unplug from email and social media and say yes to all the fun opportunities that came my way that weekend.

We picnicked in the mountains. I waded in a lake with my kids. I cast on a new sweater project for fall. My sister, mom and I made a pie together. I went down a waterslide on a double inner tube with my wife. We let the kids eat all the treats and stay up past their bedtimes. And I did my best to clear my head of all things business related.

I came back not only refreshed, but a little bit lighter. I don’t have to have all the answers right now. I don’t know what my life and businesses will look like six months from now, and that’s okay.

Sometimes letting go of trying to hold all the pieces together and figure everything out opens you up to see new solutions or let the answer arrive in its own time.   As I get back into things it will be easy to slide back into worrying about what happens next.  But having taken this time to reset will help keep me moving forward with less stress.

For the rest of the summer, my decisions will be ruled by finding joy, being present with my kids, and reconnecting with myself. And just in case: I plan to have another unplugged weekend at the end of the summer!

Now I’m relieved to say that yes, I am having a good summer.

 

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.

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!

 

The Rundown

Some days the ideas flow nonstop, one thing leading to the next in a mythical progression of inspiration.  On those days, I have a multitude of knitting project and writing ideas, feel inspired to take photos or sew and bake.

Today is not one of those days.

We had a great Easter weekend.  On Saturday there was sunshine and much playing and knitting outside, baking of strawberry rhubarb crumble, and I didn’t take a single photo.  I even resurrected a long-languishing lace project and enjoyed knitting several rows before returning to the ease of stockinette on my Rayonnant, which I’m still trying to salvage.  Then on Sunday we had an early morning departure planned, and I completely forgot to put together PB’s basket.  I got her some of these play silks and painted a story box, but again there was no photo. Soon, I hope.

On Monday the rain came, and with it a sense of domestic responsibility.  There was a lot of laundry and unopened mail to catch up on, and I spent my usual morning blogging time working around the house.  It was a dreary day all around, followed by a bit of a rocky night.  I’ve had a lot of coffee this morning, and my outlook is definitely improving!

I don’t know why I’m sharing all of this, except to show that blogging isn’t always as intuitive or timely as we might like.  Where I would have prefered to show you the colorful and crafty images of select parts of the past few days, I’m challenged to describe them and share the moments that happened in between all the blog-worthy activities.

I do have this photo that Sweetie took of PB holding a hand-carved bunny her grandmother made. Isn’t it great?

I hope you have an inspired day.

Momsomnia & Blog Envy

Last night, after having gotten up with a sick babe twice in under three hours, I couldn’t fall back to sleep.  This happens to me somewhat regularly: I get up in the night to nurse the little one, or to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, etc., and then I can’t fall back asleep.  I lie there, perfectly awake, mind ablaze with myriad worries, to-dos, or on the good nights, ideas.  Meanwhile, the pitiful tired child in my brain is whining: why can’t I fall back to sleep?  I count the minutes I’ve been awake each time I roll over, willing myself to stop looking at the clock.  Finally I will either get up or turn on my iPod and listen to a knitting podcast.

After tossing and turning for a while I got up, had a bowl of Cheerios, did some blog reading and went back to bed where I thought about blog post ideas, and tossed and turned some more.  Looking at the clock, I see I’d already been awake an hour.  Sweetie was softly snoozing next to me, and I trembled with something like rage at her ability to sleep deeply almost the instant her head hits the pillow. I grabbed my iPod out of my dusty nightstand drawer, put in the earphones, and….nothing.  The battery was dead.  Shaking it did little to convince the thing to work, so here I am. It’s 2:58 am and I have Momsomnia.

During these sleepless nights, my brain often wanders to all things blog-related.  Sometimes I can soothe myself back to sleep thinking up blog posts, fantasizing over how to present my latest work-in-progress, or how to pull together a post out of some random photos I’ve taken.  Tonight I find myself wondering if some of the she-bloggers I enjoy reading ever get insomnia.  If they ever want to clobber their spouses for not waking up when the baby cries, or get frustrated after stepping on bits of dry cereal or cat yarf in her bare feet in the night.

Sometimes I can’t help but compare myself to some of these women and their lives as presented on their blogs.  My brain knows that what we see on each other’s blogs is a mere glimpse of our real lives.  Some of us never share the gritty realities of our lives, instead choosing to focus on the positive, naturally sunlit moments of our days.  Others can’t stop ranting about every last inane detail of their daily grind.  Somewhere in the middle is the truth of who we are.

I know none of us is perfect.

And yet sometimes I wish my life were more like someone else’s blog.  Don’t you?  You know the ones…

Sunlight streams in through spotless windows onto the freshly refinished hardwood floors original to the house while she expertly snaps photos of her children practicing their quadratic equations or learning how to read a sundial.  She never complains about poopy diapers (even the one that made her vomit last week when she was home alone with the babe and a stomach bug), spit up, the cat’s hairballs, in-laws tracking in mud onto recently vacuumed rugs, or that mysterious smell in the fridge.  She bakes her own bread every week, collects eggs from her heirloom chickens, has a cute haircut, has time to get said cute haircut, displays seasonal fresh flowers in the house (this time of year it’s a forced sprig of forsythia clipped on a nature walk with her children, an attempt to get them outside every day no matter what).  Her home is decorated in a chic mix of reupholstered flea market finds, diy sewing projects, and prints from her favorite sellers on etsy.  She’s always dressed nicely (no sweats for this one) and is never too tired to make a nutritious dinner.  She wouldn’t dare eat ice cream straight from the carton.  What else are those cute bowls from anthropologie for?

Get the picture?

My point in all of this is that I know no one is perfect, especially the  mythic she-blogger.  I am me, and in this space I share what I care to of myself.  It is by no means a complete picture.  Right now my eyes burn, the laptop is about out of juice, and I’m worried that as soon as I do fall asleep, my poor cough-riddled tot will wake again. Who wants to see a picture of that?

Don’t get me wrong: I love these blogs that so many talented writers, knitters, crafty mamas, photographers, cooks, gardeners, teachers, and artists take the time to share with us.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t spend my time reading them.  There are just moments where I wish I could jump through my computer screen into their cozy living rooms and immaculate studios and stay awhile.  But after an hour or so, I would jump right back over into my life.  Because with all its imperfections, I love it.

At the end of the day, how do you let go of your daily worries?

Do you ever find yourself wishing you lived in someone else’s beautiful snapshots?

Got a cure for insomnia? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

{These photos were taken in Newport, OR on our post-holiday stay at the coast.  They are some of the first shots taken with my new camera, the Nikon D3100}

Peaceful Merge

I have been struggling to maintain my two blogs: this space and Peaceful Mom. Time is limited, and finding a chunk in which I can write more than once or twice a week is tough. But more importantly, I can’t seem to separate my life into distinct categories: knitter, mom, wife, daughter, friend. I am all these things simultaneously, even when I am only focusing on one at a time.

PB helping me check Ravelry on our trip

And so I have decided to merge all my interests and blogs into this single space. There will now be posts about knitting alongside baby stuff mixed in with some food, fashion, vacations, and whatever else I feel like. I don’t know why I thought I had to compartmentalize my blog-life; it served me well for a long  time, but now it’s time to integrate. Along with the merge I have decided to freshen up the page a bit. I hope you like the new look and stick around to see what I’m up to next. Thanks for stopping by!