Even When You Stop Feeling It

When I left church and much of Christianity, I felt an initial surge of, “YES! I CAN DO THIS! I’M FIGHTING THE SYSTEM! I’M DARING TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT! I’M FOLLOWING MY HEART! LET’S GOOOOOOO!!!”

It was a feeling of knowing I was finally taking a step in the right direction for myself and my family. After years of sorting out my disenchantment and my spirit longing for more, I made the leap. It’s like standing at the end of the diving board, looking down, knowing you’ll *probably* be okay once you just jump, but you have those seconds (sometimes minutes, if we’re being honest) before the jump where you fight the urge to go running and screaming back to solid ground.

And then, you JUMP. And you’re falling. And you hit the water, you’re engulfed by the cool weightlessness of the “deep end”, and you come up, gasping for air, and feeling like you just did the most amazing thing any human has ever done. That moment…the first time making that jump, you will never forget it. Never. Even if you decide never to do it again, you’re proud of yourself for just DOING it.

And leaving church was a lot like that. A few years after the leap I’d settled into the rhythm of this life, but still felt the need to tell people *why* I did it. I needed them to understand, but actually I didn’t need them to understand. I just thought I did. So, I blogged about it. I talked about it. I tweeted and Facebooked it every chance I got. My move away from religion led to a new sort of religion, and it would take me another few years to let go of that too.

Now is the hardest part. The part of just living it. The need to talk about it is gone (save for in this blog post for the sake of what I’m leading up to), and it’s less about proclaiming my choices and more about simply living them, in a mostly quiet manner.

I am an artist. I am a seamstress. And sometimes I write and illustrate children’s books too. And the hardest part about my current state isn’t needing anyone else to recognize who I am or what I’m doing, but just *doing* it, until “it” becomes something I can do and support myself while doing.

The ultimate goal for most creatives is to have this little “hobby” become a passionate career. Even if in your own mind that’s what it is and what it’s going to be, you can’t really expect the whole world to see it the same way when you’re spending your last dollar buying fabric, not knowing if you’re going to recoup that dollar or not. If success is all about sinking or swimming, I’m at the sinking end of the spectrum, and I’m comfortable enough with this choice to admit that.

This is where it’s hardest.

I’ve jumped. I’ve proclaimed it. I’ve reasoned it and explained it to my peers. And now, I simply live it. And hope it works out. And believe it’ll work out. Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

Some people will find relatively overnight success. Alabama Shakes is a Grammy nominated band from the town I live in and only a few short months after they recorded their first album, they were on Lettermen. Seemingly overnight success. There was a lot of leg work before that EP, but all it took was one. And it was late night tv spots and Grammy noms from that point on.

But, I’m not going to be an overnight success. And you probably won’t either. We’re going to be at this for a while. We’re going to be honing our craft, making those connections, and dealing with disappointment for a while before it all “clicks”. And we have to keep doing it, even when it stops feeling good.

Even when you stop feeling it.

Keep going, even when you stop feeling it. That’s the only thing that separates you from every other person with a hobby. Or quit. Maybe this is just a hobby for you and maybe it should be. But that’s something you need to sort out for yourself. And you won’t get there just by standing at the edge of the diving board, waiting.

A very good week <3

This past week I finally opened my booth at a local store called Prairie Child Design. PCD is an awesome store all about upcycling and features ONLY local creators/artists/crafters and the like!! It’s a huge honor to be included in this store!!

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It feels SO good working like this and moving forward in this way. I’ve been so excited to set a schedule (“Okay, I sew on these days, upload/edit photos on this day, take new things to the shop on this day, list things on Etsy on this day.”) and feel like this is all coming together. I feel that way now. It’s only the beginning, but this beginning feels amazing.

I have several commissions in the works right now (a bunting due by June, a hairbow holder I need to finish and ship out on Monday, another bunting due before October, a few other things), and new ideas are still coming to me. Like aprons! This weekend I’ve been planning and working on aprons to list on Etsy and go into PCD. I am LOVING making them too!!

Overall, I am such a happy camper. My cup runneth over!!

Mockingbird, Don’t Has An Etsy and I Love You. <3

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On May 1st, I took an incredible and exciting step forward: I officially opened my Etsy shop!!! I have 11 items for sale in it (a few pouches, a tote, a few dresses), but I’ll be adding to it as quickly as I create for it. I am SO happy to be at this point (another off the Bucket List!!), and looking forward to what’s ahead!!

The next day, May 2nd, I met with a local shop owner and showed her several of my pieces. Ultimately, we both decided I was a good fit for her store, and starting this week, I’ll set up a booth in her shop to start selling my stuff!!

Needless to say, these are all very good things going on in my life right now. I’m only at the beginning, but what a glorious beginning it is!! I am so incredibly blessed and looking forward to what’s ahead!!

Thank you all for the support, the love, and the encouragement. You people, man…I know the best humans. <3

Overcoming Creative Lack

After the first of the year, I had a tough time coming back to sewing and creating. Not for lack of want, but lack of time and ability. We had a difficult Winter that left me a bit dazed and emotionally drained. I know in my heart of hearts, this is the time to create beauty with my hands, for it is so good for my soul. But, as I am want to do, instead I filled my time with other things. Important things, mind you. But, other things.

One of these other things was my daughter’s bedroom. We live in a beautiful historic Craftsman Bungalow we’re in the process of fixing up. For now, we’re taking on small projects (new water heater, new blinds, new light fixtures, new appliances, new paint, new floors) but eventually we plan to do the big things (repair foundation, gut both bathrooms and kitchen, rebuild back deck, rebuild upstairs attic conversion). All through the month of March I focused on her room (the attic conversion) and it’s about 95% done.

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I still need to bring her refinished bed upstairs (it’s sooooo pretty!!), and make some sense of all her stuff, and hang pictures, but it’s coming along. Thankfully, the main bulk of it is done.

The other thing I did, was create this beautiful front door decor for my mother.

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Then, I started learning how to play the ukulele (something I’ve always wanted to do). So, I did. I now know a ton of covers, plus have much of my original songwriting I’ve had sitting around for years put to music, and in May I’ll be playing my first live show in Memphis. (HOLY wow it feels unreal saying that.)

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And, of course, I’ve been taking a TON of photos along the way, most of which you can find on my Instagram. Here are a few of my absolute favorites.

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And last, but certainly not least, I was featured over on TipsyLit.com during their Childrens Lit week and I shared a bit about my life as a (not yet published) childrens author/illustrator, and I also worked on one of my stories.

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So, maybe I was creative this Spring. Not as creative and productive as I would have liked, but maybe there are seasons for hyper creativity, and maybe there are seasons of rest and recovery. I feel like last Summer was a season of inspiration and self discovery, last Fall was a season of learning and planning, Winter was a season of challenge and difficulty, and this Spring is a season of rest and recovery.

Last year I wanted to be ready to launch my Etsy shop and open my booth at our local farmer’s market. I don’t see that happening this Spring. It’s disappointing, but a part of me feels like it’s not yet my time. Not for lack of hope, lack of determination, lack of want…but for lack of opportunity and time. And maybe lack of God’s blessing. I know He wants what’s best for me. And I know He wants me to use my gifts and abilities. So, I have to also know that when the time is right, it’s right. When it’s the season for that, it’s the season.

Until then, please bare with me. And thank you all for coming along for the ride as you have. I’m convinced I know the very best humans around. Each of you prove it to me every single day.

Special shout out to Emily at The Waiting, Stella who founded The Common Gentlewoman, and Anna of Anna’s Makeup Oasis . All of these women have been privy to my various projects (and some of my darkest and most difficult moments this past year), and have been nothing short of emotional cheerleaders. They each inspire me to be a better writer and better human, and they really don’t know how much their constant support has meant to me. If you don’t know these women, go acquaint yourself. You’ll be glad you did. (I really DO know the best humans.)

Thank you all for the love. May the rest of this season bring life and love abundance.

The Give And Take Of Creativity

For a person driven by their creative spirits, the dream is to eventually find a way to support yourself and your family through your creative endeavors. And for many of us, it takes time to really understand our art’s worth and understand that we shouldn’t allow others to devalue what we create and the amount of work it takes to create those things. But it’s also crucial to the development of our HUMAN spirits to give of ourselves creatively, just as much as we expect to get for our creativity.

This past week I used my creative abilities and some of the tools I have at my disposal to help create an online presence (website design, editing/copy, ect.) for one of my parents, and some poster designs for a dear friend. I did these things for free, even though I would charge for that work if it were anyone else and could probably charge pretty well for it. But, I realize I must maintain a sense of balance in my creative life: sometimes I will expect to take something in exchange for my talents, but sometimes I can’t expect anything in return and give of myself and my talents freely.

More important that creating a career in the arts, I’m creating a full life. And part of that is nursing kindness and a giving nature. Make sure you’re taking time to give, even if you could be taking. Make sure you’re putting good out into the Universe, and know that good will always return.

Loving Your Creative Influences

My ballerina cousin and I, several years ago.

My ballerina cousin and I, several years ago.

Both my parents are creatives, as are my sister and brother. My brother is a writer and was the president of his slam poetry club in high school, as well as being a musician. My sister is a phenomenal artist and photographer and creates things on canvas and with her camera that both soothe and excite. My mother is a songwriter and is working on a few novels, when not gigging with my step-dad, a musician and journalist. One of my best friends is my cousin, who is a classically trained ballerina. My other best friend is an amazing guitar player and singer/songwriter. And we’ve all been involved in musical theater for most of our lives. This is the environment I grew up in. And I have only recently realized how blessed I am to have grown up this way.

Whenever I want to try something new, creatively speaking, I have several different sources to bounce ideas off of. I can trust these people who have influenced my creative development so much to give me the best advice and encouragement. It’s easy for me to assume my gifts are just inherently mine, but the truth is, I owe them as much to my genetics as I do the environment I was surrounded with in childhood.

Love your creative influences. Make sure you take time to thank those people in your life who’ve encouraged you or inspired you. Maybe they’re your friends and family, or maybe they’re strangers you’ve never met. Whoever they are, love them. Let them know you appreciate them. It’s good for your spirit, and it’s good for theirs too.

Upcycled, No-Sew, T-Shirt Necklace!

I’ve seen these t-shirt necklaces floating around Pinterest for a while now, and wanted to give it a go on some scraps I’ve had from past projects! I love how it turned out, and have already made several more! Easy, easy, easy!!

First off, I took three strips of white t-shirt I’ve had lying around from an old project. Each strip was about an inch wide and with the others I’ve made since this one I’ve cut them to be an inch wide also. After cutting the strips, I pulled and stretched them until they rolled up and were really loose.

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I used three of these strips because I knew I wanted to do just a really simple braid. After stretching/pulling, I gathered them and cut one side with a pair of scissors.

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Then the braiding! This made for a really, really long braid, so I advise you to have someone hold one end as you braid, or tie one end off somewhere so you can pull on it without the braid coming loose.

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The finished braid didn’t look very uniform at first, but I tugged on it a bit more and it evened itself out.

TshirtNecklace4Next up, I took a rectangle shaped scrap, placed it over the two open ends, and began wrapping and super glueing the ends with the rectangled scrap over top to conceal the ends and hold them together.

TShirtNecklace5 After braiding and closing up the ends, I tied a small bow out of twine and super glued it to one side of the braided necklace, about halfway up. Based on the length of the necklace and where it falls on you, you can decide for yourself where (or if) you want embellishments. I chose a spot that looked right once I put the necklace on.

TshirtNecklace6 Lastly, I hunted down an earring that I’d lost the partner for, removed the hook and super glued it on top of the two twine bows already on the necklace.

TShirtNecklace7And there you have it! I love this thing! It took almost no time, it came from things I already had on hand, and it’s PRETTY!! If you haven’t tried doing one of these yet, YOU MUST!!

The Waiting Giveaway!!!

My beautiful friend, Emily, the blog wrangler over at The Waiting, is a dear and delightful soul, and this week she’s being kind enough to host a giveaway of a BEAUTIFUL bunting of mine over at her blog!! This go ’round, I’ve created an incredible, upcycled, lace and twine bunting called, “White Christmas”, but really, you can use it in any season! And it’s delightful.

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For giveaway details, you can follow this link to The Waiting Blog and by the way, once you get there, go ahead and give that woman a follow because Emily is a WordPress Recommended Family Blog, she’s been Freshly Pressed multiple times, she’s regularly featured on BlogHer, AND she’s been featured on WordPress’ The Daily Post.

Basically, she’s kind of a big deal. And this giveaway is also big! So join the fun and try your hand and winning this lovely bunting!!!