Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Bullet List on The Mother Huddle

Do you know The Mother Huddle?
Co-authored by five talented mothers, it is a delightful collection of sewing, crafting, food, inspiration, wisdom and good common sense. I met its lovely founding editor, Destri, when one of her sewing tutorials inspired me to try doing my waistbands differently. We emailed a little bit; she invited me to write a bullet list for her blog and I said yes, oh yes.

But a bullet list about what? Sewing- since I do so much of it these days? No - I thought I'd write about balance. It's something I have to keep learning again and again because I throw myself into things with such energy and wholehearted blockheadness, oftentimes. You all know about that midlife craft crisis, right? And the Christmas epiphany? Now, I'm naturally slightly nuts, and parenthood has induced some kind of early dementia, but I like to think I am still methodical and analytical somewhere in the mix. So I sat myself down to figure out what was making me feel decidedly uncrafty. 

I started this blog to write tutorials because I'm an incurable educationist. But it all began by first discovering other crafty bloggers during the early days of Kate's life. Nothing inspires a person like reading about peg dolls and puppet theaters at 3 am while being stuck in a rocking chair, nursing, and being completely unable to get my hands on any craft supplies. When I finally had a moment to myself, I ran screaming into the craft world like a woman possessed. This is what passion looked like: I made gifts for everyone in the known universe. I opened an etsy shop. I started writing patterns. I filled notebook after notebook with all the exciting ideas in my head because my hands couldn't turn them into products fast enough. 

Looking back, this is what I saw: I went from working professional to stay-home-mom to immigrant-stay-home-mom to crafting stay-home-mom to crafting-and-blogging-stay-home-mom to crafting-and-blogging-and-etsy-stay-home-mom and.... well, it was a full plate. And where did the fun go? Blogging was and still is a great creative outlet and a means to maintain sanity, but it, too, along with the rest of my crafting, had begun to feel not very exciting in the last year. I traced it back to the time I ventured into etsy and pattern retail (late 2009) - that's probably when some of the pure fun began to change to something responsible and "proper". Not bad in itself, and now that I actually know what it was, it's glaringly obvious and really quite silly that it caused me the amount of consternation and puzzlement that it did.

So what was the problem? In a sentence:  I had a job again but I refused to see it that way. I called it "a fun way to earn pocket money by doing what I love." Snort! The rubbish one believes when one is in denial!

It wasn't only the actual hours spent developing patterns, the time spent responding to buyers' inquiries, or trying to fix computer-related download problems. Or deadlines. Or dragging three children to the post office in the snow to send off a parcel. True, I'd underestimated the idiocy of Internet Explorer and the might of a Minnesotan snowstorm, but those were things I foresaw, so I took them in stride. What threw me off were the subconscious expectations and standards I imposed on myself as a crafting-businessperson. I'd seen this happen with other bloggers - they may not have said it in so many words, but it was there between the lines. It gave me a sense of solidarity that I was not cuckoo all by myself! It also made me wonder why on earth we do this to ourselves.

I'll spare you the grisly details and just say that I'm not burnt out or cynical or anything dramatic like that. It was more like a dull "Eh?" As I said in the beginning of this post, I've done this over and over all through my life, oscillating between passions, losing and recovering my balance. I'm regretfully very familiar with its concept, but it does take me a while to recognize its many faces and new manifestations. 

Anyway, I thought it would make an interesting bullet list to share what I'd learned the past year - both from my own journey and from other people's that I've watched evolve in blogland. Read my bullet list here on The Mother Huddle!


  1. You make me giggle! Prayer helps when we get those eh! moments. Well it keeps me sane!

  2. Love this. I'm totally that person that throws themselves into one thing after another, except I don't always even finish it. Felt and styrophome cake? two pieces (half the cake) done... As someone speaking from the stage of little babies, entry to the craftworld, and whatnot, posts like this are soo important to read :)

  3. Anonymous: for me too! And when I get off my knees, I head for the nutella cupboard.

  4. Reading your post was like reading about me. After working for over 35 years (retail management)I decided to retire early and just take it easy. The stress was, and had taken its toll on me. I had a classic case of "burn out". I jumped straight into decorating my home and gardening. I would wake up slow in the mornings drink coffee watch the morning show and read the newspaper. That lasted about 6 months. I then decided I needed more so I purchased a sewing/embroidering machine and rekindled and old old hobby of sewing. I was in heaven! I then decided to try my hand at sewing for sale. I started selling on Ebay and later switched over to Etsy. I had a great little business going. Then my grandchildren started being born. I started keeping one of my granddaughters at 8 weeks old when my daughter returned to work. I thought how lucky I am to be able to do this! She is now 3 years old. I kept sewing for sale. I realized after about a year of this that I was spending all of my nights and weekends in my sewing room and was feeling the stress of self imposed deadlines and the need for perfection with everything I made. During the day instead of fully enjoying my time with my granddaughter I would be thinking of all that I had to do waiting for me in my sewing room. Well, I finally realized ENOUGH!! I stopped selling. I still sew for my grandchildren and few customers but NO DEADLINES like before and I again realize just how lucky I am to be able to spend all of this quality time with my little grandchildren before that reach school age. I will sew for sale again but not until all of my grandchildren reach school age. when I do start again I am determined to schedule my self so that I CAN enjoy it. Life is just to short.
    Sorry for such a long post but yours really hit home with me. I'm now headed over to read at the Mother Huddle. I need your tips for balance. thanks

  5. Okay, must not subscribe to that blog because housework needs to be done sometime!

    I love your list, and especially that you put nutella as #6 =)

  6. Greetings!!! I have been reading non-stop for almost 36 hours now. and I don't even remember how I happened upon your lovely things. I can not get enough!!! I have flooded my friends mailboes with links to almost everything you do!!!! FABULOUS!!! Your craftsmanship is outstanding!!!!! AND the way you write of your children and experiences and ideas keeps me coming back for more. But I have felt compelled to add my two cents -- also a mother of three. My youngest is soon to be 21. She has been an absolute JOY but I have not caught up since she arrived. You see we have two hands, two feet, two eyes, two ears, and two parents -- two kids works well..... but add the third one -- regrouping is MOST necessary. no big dill must have a HUGE secret. Thank you for your wonderful site of creative ideas, fabulous skills, patterns/tutorials, inspiration, parental patience, HUGE HEART and sooo much more.

  7. Hello! I'm brand new to your blog - found you through your guest post on The Mother Huddle. I feel like I've been going through the exact same thing in my life, losing balance and finding it again...well, mostly losing balance and at the moment trying to figure out what needs to change in my life to regain it. Like another commenter said, I start so many things, lose interest and abandon it. It makes me wonder if I'll never find something I'm passionate about. Thanks for being so honest. It makes me feel better that there's someone out there who deals with the same stuff (with much less drama might I add)

  8. Oh, what can I say?! This is why I slowed down my blogging over the last yr. I was ramping up and loosing balance. I decided to back off and slowly come back with balance. Promising myself to stop when I felt like I was going off kilter again. Also:
    #4 - sooooo hard to do, but necessary to survive.
    #7 - true, true, true - add to that be confident in your product and don't be pissy if someone else has a similar product. Life it too short for these squabbles.
    #11 - I suck at this one. Never met a craft I didn't like.

  9. Thank you for the link to your bullet list. It spoke to the some of the exact issues I've been thinking about/wrestling with lately! It was so thoughtfully written, and really helped me :)


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