Last October I hit the official 10-year mark since I started this blog. Holy Smokes. 10 years! A Decade! I can’t believe it’s been that long since I’ve been writing in this space.
I’ve been wanting to do a little celebration to thank all of YOU, because you are the ones who have made this experience worthwhile. It’s 5 months late, but I am finally getting around to doing it.
Gosh, a lot happens in 10 years! Back then I had long hair and a lot fewer gray ones. (I also swore back then I’d never wear skinny jeans, but have since eaten those words. Dang fashion industry!)
Here’s a little visual of how things have changed since that time.
Some of my children don’t even remember a time before I was writing this blog. (They also don’t remember a time before Smartphones and Netflix which is a little freaky…) My youngest was still in diapers when I started – he’s now almost 13. Those little kids often provided hilarious content when I was getting started – I kind of miss that. Now that they’re teenagers they deserve a little more privacy, but they’re still funny and fun to have around, I just don’t share the funny things they say – partly because they forbid it. 😉 (But it’s okay – I definitely don’t miss the diapers part of those little kid years.)
(Also, for those keeping track, I have 4 kids. My second daughter wasn’t in the top picture for some reason. Now my oldest daughter has left for college and a mission for our church, so the second daughter filled in for the re-creation. And yes, I had to bribe them to do this.)
I thought I’d share 10 things I’ve learned in the past 10 years as well as some favorite photos. (I loved when Allison did this and thought I’d shamelessly copy her. Not her exact list of course – though a lot of it was so relatable – so hopefully I’ve got some additional words of wisdom to offer.) This blog has evolved and I have learned a lot over the years.
1. Perfection is overrated. One of my favorite mantras for years. I first started teaching beginning quilting classes about 14 years ago at the local shop where I worked. It was SO much fun introducing new recruits to the love and joy of quilting (and fabric collecting). But I always felt sad for those who would get frustrated and hung-up on small imperfections like points not matching up perfectly – especially when they were just trying something for the first time.
Ever since then I’ve been on a crusade to get people to let go of perfection. For us first-world folks, this sewing stuff is just for fun! This hobby is meant to relieve stress, not add to it. Remember the big picture – that is all most people who admire your creations will see anyway. And they’ll be so impressed. Little flaws are part of being a human. Don’t let the quest for perfection hold you back from creating (and living!) with abandon.
2. Sewing is good for your mental health (and should stay that way). Creativity is good for you! And so is working with your hands. I remember Jen Kingwell talking about a therapist whose office was down the street from her original quilt shop. Frequently the therapist gave her patients Jen’s shop’s card and told them to sign up for a class. This therapist found that learning a new skill with their hands was one of the most helpful treatments for her patients. I believe it!
But, again, don’t let the perfectionism creep in. That’s not what it’s all about. If you need some practical tips for sparking your own creativity or regaining your “sewjo” Samantha Dorn shared some great thoughts on Sparking Creativity here and 5 Ideas to Help you Feel Motivated here.
3. Try something new! Take a class, learn a new technique. It’s fun to expand your horizons and your repertoire. If you have a local shop or guild, ask about upcoming classes. If you live far away from or your schedule prevents you from attending in person, there’s lots of options online from places like Blueprint, CreativeLive, or YouTube. (If you want, you can hang out with me in my online class here!) Not only because it’s fun to learn something new, but it’s also the best place to make new friends who share your same interests. Those have become some of the best friends I’ve found. Which leads me to…
4. Put yourself out in the world to make new friends. Quilting friends are some of my favorite. (And not just because they don’t think you’re a weirdo for cutting up fabric and sewing it back together.) Before I started this blog, I felt pretty isolated in my life. I was home with small children during the days and I didn’t have a ton of real life friends that lived close. I remember the first time I discovered blogs in 2007 and then discovered quilting blogs (I think Crazy Mom Quilts was the first quilt blog I found), I felt like I’d found a bunch of new friends who got me. They were at my same stage of life and liked quilting (at that point I didn’t have any real life friends my age who liked to sew).
I remember telling my husband “I’ve found so many new friends!” and I think he was a little worried at first that all of my friends “lived in my computer”. But so many of those people have now become friends in real life too. And I’ve found so many more by going to retreats and classes or by simply connecting online. Living across the country and around the world, I never would have met many of them before the interwebs. Isn’t it the coolest thing that we can now connect with friends who share our same interests no matter where they live?
The above picture is one of my favorite moments that resulted from starting this blog – when Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts walked into my booth for my first fabric line, Gingham Girls, at Quilt Market in 2017. If someone would have told me 10 years ago that both of those things would happen one day, I wouldn’t have believed it! (I’m still pinching myself now!)
5. Which brings me to this one: Get off your phone. Make something with your hands. Go for a walk outside. Join a quilting group or a guild. Connect with people in person. As lucky as we are to have this online connectivity, real life relationships are even better!
6. You can’t do it all. Especially not all at once. You can do anything but not everything. Trust me on this one – it’s a sure-fire recipe for burn-out. Exhaustion doesn’t make you successful – just exhausted. Learn to say No more that you say Yes, and then only say Yes to the things that matter most. I’m still learning this one – part of accomplishing what you really want to do means saying No to a lot of superficial stuff that can distract you. You can’t do it all. Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism was life-changing for me. I highly recommend it. You can also see Greg on YouTube here and here.
7. Stick with your goals, but consistently re-evaluate them and make sure you’re not letting short-term clutter (i.e. Facebook, Netflix, etc. ? ) get in the way of the most important priorities. Save your best efforts for that which has greatest value. At the same time, be true to yourself and what YOU like to do. Not what you feel you “should” do. I feel like I’m finally learning what works best for me – which is often different from what works best for someone else.
8. Do Good. Few things make you feel better than doing something for someone else with no expectation of anything in return. I’ve learned a lot about sewing for a good cause. I’ve been inspired watching so many talented sewists with giant hearts touch the lives of so many people who have experienced tragedy and natural disasters. One of the beauties of this age of hyper-connectivity is the chance to gather like-minded folks together for a good cause. It feels good – and is healing for ourselves at times too – to sew.
In conjunction with that, I’ve seen the goodness of so many people in small and simple ways. You never know when a seemingly small show of kindness may have a big impact on someone. Here’s a couple of my favorites including one that happened to me years ago.
9. DON’T COMPARE your journey to anyone else’s. Everyone’s journey is different, but everyone’s journey is exciting. Stay on your path and enjoy the people and opportunities that come your way. Focus on what is in your control, not on what’s out of your control.
Cheer other people on. Be happy for other people’s achievements and successes. I’m a big believer in Abundance. If you choose is to see the world as a place where there is enough success and happiness for everyone, you’re going to find a lot more of success and happiness in your own life.
10. Finally – don’t fear adversity or struggling for something you want – sometimes it’s the unexpected challenges that will change the direction of our lives in remarkable ways. That’s part of my story – with out some struggles early in our family life I never would have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and got my first job in the quilting industry. And I never would have dreamed where that path would take me. Don’t be afraid of the bumps in the road.
Well, thanks for hanging in there with all of that long-windedness. You learn a lot of stuff in 10 years!
Finally, one more giant thank you for the support and encouragement you’ve generously shown me over the past 10+ years. Whether you’ve visited this blog, or bought a pattern, or supported my sponsors, or said Hi at a trunk show or class, I am truly grateful! You have been the best part of this blogging experience.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Sending love and well-wishes and happy quilting vibes to all of you. xoxoxo