This week I have been spontaneously stopping at different moments throughout the day and just enjoying being happy. Not because of big momentous things, but just through the joy of little things. I have had a visit to the post office each day this week, with a little pile of parcels wrapped in brown paper to send off to customers. I get such a thrill from wrapping them and carrying them into the counter. Getting to do it every day is so cool. It makes me happy!
I also got to hand deliver three other sales. Which meant having lovely chats with the people I am selling to. Joy! It is such a privilege to make things for other people that they want and love.
A lap top sleeve for an English student – she chose such appropriate fabric!
I have started and finished three custom orders in the last two days. With no hiccups! Again – happy! I have cooked a lovely (she says modestly) meal for a friend, spoken on the phone with another, and had lunch with yet another. All moments that give joy. I have sat and watched the rain soaking my garden, and while I am sure that my joy cannot begin to match the joy of local farmers who have needed this so much, it has still given me joy.
The grey wet day through my window when I stopped to refill my bobbin!
I think that knowing that I have time to plan for my future and my family’s future is giving me the time to appreciate the little things again. And it feels good! It also gives me time to come up with all sorts of ideas – which, upon closer inspection, turn out to be a mix of brilliance and complete rubbish!
On the handmade front I am, and will keep being, busy. I have further custom orders to complete, stock to make for the Handmade Shop, stock that I want to make for my Etsy shop, a business plan or two to write, some research to do, and some articles to write. All of that means that I am expecting a fair few more of the little moments of joy!
One of the projects that I want to put some time into is preparing some online resources that share some of the lessons that I have learnt over the last couple of years about building a creative business, becoming a stall holder, planning, selling online, and taking the steps to translate a hobby into a business. If there is something in particular that you would like to know, please let me know – either in the comments, or by email (Theresa@alittlebirdmademe.com) so that I can be sure to include some answers for you in the materials that I prepare – or get one of my many friends with expertise to help me answer your question!!
For now – back to little moments of joy. I have just one chick in the nest tonight, so she gets extra cuddles and stories for bedtime and that is where I am headed.
What moments of joy have you been able to find this week? I would love to hear about them – big or small!
I have kicked off the new month with a big session of de-cluttering, and catching up with people who are important to me. Those of you who receive my newsletter you will know that I had set myself the task of de-cluttering my wardrobe after reading some very sensible tips on de-cluttering. I am proud to say that I did it! I was ruthless. Amongst the clothes that I have put in the ‘donate’ pile were two dresses I have had for 15 years, a suit about 16 years old and a skirt I have had for 18 years. Yes – I am a hoarder. But no more. In addition to the old bits and pieces (that I haven’t worn for years and really just carry around as a comfortable habit) I also assessed newer pieces in my wardrobe. I have two beautiful designer label skirts bought at different times about three years ago. I can count on one hand the number of times I have worn each. No matter how beautiful they are, they are obviously not right for me, so they have gone too.
The “Before” shot
I even sorted out shoes. The walking boots that I wore around Europe in 1998? Gone. My wedding shoes that I didn’t really like and hurt my feet and have just gathered dust ever since? Gone. Those beautiful neutral peep toe wedges that start each day feeling great and end with me thinking that my two little toes have been amputated? Gone. And finally, the completely impractical, spur of the moment, never ever worn pink satin and diamante stiletto strappy shoes? Also on their way out the door. Because if they haven’t been worn in 3 years, they aren’t likely to ever be worn.
And you know what? I feel great! Isn’t it funny how one little bit of tidying up and sorting out can make your head feel lighter? My plan is to keep going, one room, or one cupboard at a time, and work my way through the house. Some things will be donated, others will be freecycled, and others will be repurposed, but I will be looking at everything in my house and assessing whether it has a purpose, a place, a need, or a plan. Shock, horror, I am even eyeing off my overflowing bookshelves – all five of them ……..
My other part of starting the month off well was to spend time with people who are important to me. Last night I had dinner with some very dear friends (and ate one of the best home-cooked meals I have ever had – seriously 5 star restaurant quality) and reconnected with them after our holiday break, our busy family lives, our respective personal dramas of 2013. It was just what I needed. Then today I rang one of my oldest friends and we talked, as we always do, for well over an hour. We caught up on each other’s news, family, work issues, relationships, tragedies, and dramas, and offered each other insight, advice and support. If we can’t be in the same room then just having that connection with her voice was the next best thing. Another very dear long term friend popped in for a cup of tea this afternoon, just to spend time catching up with each other, while another rang for a quick chat this evening.
I am so incredibly lucky that I have so many amazing women (and a few men) in my life who share their lives with me as I share mine with them. I look at what some of us have dealt with over the years and am amazed at the fact that there are still smiles, jokes, support, love and optimism. They are all very good at pointing out to me when I am being ridiculous or overreacting or missing the obvious, but they are all the first to offer up their own human frailty for examination too.
The results of this day? No sewing, but a wonderful sense of peace and joy (and a tidy house!) – which means that tomorrow should see great things in the sewing department!! All of this was topped off by a text message from my boy that attached a video that he made for me of his Lego characters having a battle, complete with the best line, delivered in a deep serious voice “Now we need to go and get the Mega Weapon. And icy poles. We need a Mega Weapon that makes icy poles.” He makes me laugh!
I hope that your day has been energising, and full of lovely moments. If it hasn’t then my suggestion is to ring someone you love who you haven’t spoken to in a while, and let the conversation flow. It works for me!
A few posts ago I commented that I was aiming to keep Christmas simple this year. I almost forgot that decision and for a couple of days there was beginning to revert to my usual practice of saying yes to everything and over committing myself. I was imagining piles of homemade gifts for teachers and teaching staff, for friends, neighbours, family, etc. I was thinking I could squeeze in a bit more sewing for other people, to offer to have other people’s children over so that they could have some time to themselves, to be creating Christmas treats by the trayful, and to be putting on the most wonderful Christmas festivities we had ever seen.
Then reality hit, I began to get overwhelmed, and I was forced to remember that this year I can’t do all the things I normally do – and that it won’t matter. So teachers received bought gifts, (with two exceptions that I will come to in a minute), I have made a donation to my charity of choice instead of making/buying gifts for my girlfriends, I have accepted that the kids don’t count their gifts and it won’t matter if one is getting one more than the others as they receive so much anyway, that a pile of fresh stone fruit (including mangoes) is better than plates of fudge, and that instead of sitting at the sewing machine I can sit at the table or on the couch with my chicks and give them the best gift of all – time. I had a practical conversation with the chicks about whether they wanted to participate in the Christmas eve mass or just attend this year (participating involves two rehearsals) and quietly cheered when they all decided to simply attend. I asked their Dad to take the eldest chick to a birthday party being held within a very busy shopping complex so that I didn’t have to navigate the other two through the crowds, and also asked him to take the chicks to see the Christmas lights at a house that has broken a world record for the most number of bulbs, so that I don’t have to try and deal with a crowd and three chicks on my own, and I reminded myself that the only person who expects all of this from me, is me.
The results? During the week I had time to sit with the middle chick and make an origami dress Christmas ornament. (We both agreed that if it was a real dress we would want to wear it!)
I finished the last of my Christmas orders today with pleasure instead of pressure.
I had an afternoon of craft with the middle chick and the boy, experimenting with embedding objects in resin to make Christmas ornaments (and will hopefully have results to show you in a day or two!) The eldest chick and the boy and I played Monopoly for over an hour before it got too much for the 7 year old boy.
(Yes that is his piece sitting on one of my railway stations….about the time he realised that I had become a slum lord and started to go off the game! Must remember not to be so competitive when playing against someone soooooo much younger than me!)
The situation was saved though when three chicks had a water fight to cool off after the heat of the day and I was in charge of the hose, with instructions that I wasn’t to be a target! (Still can’t believe that I got away with that one!!) In other words – by keeping it simple I have had a wonderful day with my chicks with no anxiety attacks, no yelling, and no crying. (And that was from all four of us!!!)
My body is giving me clear signals when I have pushed too hard, or taken on too much. I can’t pretend for more than a few hours that I will be able to juggle lots of balls as I normally do. It just won’t let me anymore. Initially I was resenting this restriction, and feeling constrained, inadequate and that I was a failure. Now, however, I am starting to accept that there are benefits to keeping things simple, and stripping Christmas back to the things that are important – family, love and joy. Time to just enjoy my chicks instead of being worried about tackling the next thing on my list. Time to have them cuddle up to me on the couch while we watch a dodgy Christmas DVD with Danny de Vito in it. Making little things for each other instead of going out and buying more and more and more.
With that sense of simplicity I can share an image of the only handmade gifts that I presented to teachers this year. The middle chick’s fruitastic design on the linen-cotton canvas from Spoonflower made into tea-towels. I might have to make some more!!
I have learnt a lot this year, about my passion for creating things, about my need to find a proper balance in my life, about the challenges of raising a child with special needs, about the fact that superwomen run out of puff after a while, and about the importance of family. This lesson about stopping to enjoy time with my family instead of feeling the need to do everything, and do it well, is possibly the most important lesson I have learnt. As we go into Christmas it is my fervent hope that this is a lesson that I remember, and apply, every day from now on.
I hope that you are able to find the simple joys in your Christmas or holiday celebrations, and that you are able to feel the joy that it is meant to bring, instead of the pressure that so often accompanies it.
Sunday night in the nest is always a little chaotic. I try to hold on to the freedom of the weekend as long as possible, and then reality sets in at about 6pm and I remember that I need to clean up from that very ‘freedom’, prepare for the week ahead, load my photos, list any new items, write this blog entry, put clean sheets on the stripped beds, sign notes for school, feed the dog, and tackle Mount Washmore (which is really Mount Foldmore but is still referred to as Washmore – a teetering pile of clean clothes, sheets, towels, school uniforms, sports uniforms, and generally everything that will be needed urgently first thing tomorrow morning if I don’t fold and sort it tonight.)
In case I haven’t said this before, I LOVE weekends. After years of being a busy social butterfly I am now the complete opposite and work very hard to keep weekends as free from commitments as possible. Sports fixtures and birthday parties are about the extent of it. When I find myself with a day with no ‘bookings’, instead of rushing off to ring my friends to see who is free to go off on some wild adventure with multiple children in tow, these days I stay very quiet about it and inwardly breathe out at the thought of a day where I don’t have to be anywhere at any time. Which means that I have time to sit, have a cup of coffee and take in the sight of hot air balloons drifting past the back of my porch, looking like musical notes against the electric wires. (I was feeling a bit poetic this morning!)
Of course I love it when I do catch up with my friends, and think ‘we should do this more often’ – there is just no pleasing some people – but the reason for keeping weekends as simple as possible is that it is part of my plan to keep myself sane (or on bad days – to attempt for sanity!) I suspect that it also contributes to nurturing my creative muse, mojo, or whatever you want to call it! Between a busy office during the week, lots of after school commitments with the children, and all the other busy ‘stuff’ that just comes from being a family, if I don’t carve out some hours for myself on the weekend, then I start to disappear.
Luckily this weekend had a good balance of sports and parties – only one of each – and great weather, so I was able to do lots of thinking, planning and some sewing. I felt rotten on Saturday and thought I was getting another cold, but a bit of resting seemed to do the trick. I used the resting time to make lists. Lists of the things I want to make, lists of the things I want to make right now, lists of the things I could make if I suddenly had a time-turner and could be in two places at once, and then, lists of the supplies I ‘need’ to buy. It was a long list of lists. The inability to do everything I want, all at the same time, can be a little overwhelming, so I chunked it down. The end result? Two overnight bags from the great pattern I bought at the beginning of the year from Gingercake. One with some lovely fabric I received from Spoonflower earlier this week…
And the other with some divine retro fabric I bought a few weeks ago….
I am quite happy with them. I also intend to make a travel pack to go with them – a zip up pouch and a draw-string bag, but the reality of life means that that might not happen for a day or two….
During the week I made the bag to go with the pouch I posted on Wednesday – a custom order for a colleague at work. Again I included an adjustable strap – will definitely be making more of those!
Some of the other ideas I am itching to start on? A series of appliqued t-shirts, some travel bag sets, some cushion covers, some hats, hot water bottle covers, skirts, pillowcases, ipad covers….. sheesh! You can see why my brain is buzzing!
Taking one thing at a time…… have a look at this delightful offering from Spoonflower….
one of my friends, immediately upon seeing it on Facebook, asked for scatter cushions. She has a fantastic eye! I had just been sitting there admiring it and wondering how best to use it….. and cushions are perfect! (As are travel bag sets I suspect….) So at some point, that is what will happen.
I often write here about my ongoing struggle to ‘maintain the balance’. I read an online article today where it said “Balance is a myth. Parenting isn’t a tight-rope walk; it’s a dance. Strive for rhythm instead of balance, and trust yourself to move to the ever-changing beat.”
I think I like this concept. Balancing always feels a little precarious. Dancing, however, has moments of fun, of pure joy, and of fumbled steps. I might adopt this.
I had two random moments of joy today at the hands of my children. The boy was playing with an electronic world globe that they got for Christmas (from grandparents who don’t have to hear it all day long…….) and started singing the national anthem. I was quite proud of his patriotism, and knowledge of the song, until I listened a little closer and heard him singing “Avast Australia Fair”……. apparently we live in a land of pirates. (For the non-Australian readers amongst you the correct phrase is “Advance Australia Fair”.
Then some hours later the two girls were talking about something on the computer and the eldest chick said to the middle chick “You are one little world of weird”. Her sister (fortunately)took it as a compliment, while I sat and marvelled at the imagery one phrase from a 10 year old can elicit.
As I head off to tackle the mountain of clean laundry, and face the working and school week, I can reflect that I am still one of the lucky ones. My sanity is reasonably present, my muse and mojo seem to be in the vicinity and my children are delightful. Especially now that they are all asleep.
Have a great week as you work towards another fabulous weekend.