Happy Mail Day

Orchard Lane by The Fiber Seed

Yarn and fiber lovers everywhere can identify with the this picture and the title of the post. Anytime we receive beautiful yarn in the mail it is a very good day. This particular yarn is hand dyed by a small company run by a husband and wife team. She is the artistic one and the face of the brand while he handles the business end of things. They worked yarn shows together back when we could do those things in person. Now they must rely on online and wholesale sales to support their family. I was the first store in Texas to carry their yarn; I love it and them to this day.

For the non-fiber folks out there let me explain what is so great about this kind of mail as the concept can be applied to many different hobbies or passionate pursuits. As a former yarn shop owner I helped many a person figure out what to make next. For, you see, the making is just part of the process. Making something – no matter the medium – is as much a heart process as a physical one. We aren’t laboriously working away so our families can have warm garments this winter. We are using our hands and minds to create something new, often for the sake of making something new. The satisfaction is in the making. This is why so many knitters and crocheters give their items away. We are creators.

Planning

A new project begins with planning. Sometimes know exactly what we want to make and other times there is just an itch to knit, crochet, weave, or whatever yarny pursuit is desired at the moment. In my case I have a December wedding to attend. The dress I have to wear has short sleeves and even in south Louisiana, a December evening can be cold. So rather than buy a new dress, I invested in this beautiful yarn made by someone I adore so that I can knit a wrap to wear. I knew the minute I saw this colorway that this is the yarn for me.

I had a pattern in mind, but now that the yarn is here I will look again to be sure the original idea is still what I want to make. This could involve hours of looking online at patterns and projects others have made with this or a similar yarn. My husband could not understand this kind of effort. Just get the yarn and make something was his advice until one day I turned the tables on him.

Wandering through the aisles of our local Academy Outdoors and More store, enduring his endless pondering over what kind of hunting items to purchase, I said, “Why don’t you just buy something and use it?” He looked at me, puzzled and was about to make a sarcastic retort when the lightbulb went off. Now he got it. The planning and shopping, thinking and dreaming are crucial to the creative process.

Anticipation

Once the yarn is ordered then I sit and wait…and wait…and wait some more. It only took about a week but it felt like forever. Anticipation is always the most exciting part of the process. It is the time when the imagination runs wild as I think about the colors, the feel and smell of the yarn, and the feeling of casting on, knitting, and seeing what I envisioned come to life. It is magical. It is addictive. And it is the addictive part that can get folks in trouble, but that is for another day.

Someone once told me that we all need something to look forward to. It is what gets us through the drudgery of everyday life. Even if life is great, looking forward to something allows the creative part of our brains to go on vacation. Twice a month I meet a friend for either breakfast or lunch. It gives me two guaranteed things to look forward to every month.

Delaying gratification and having things to look forward to are so very important. Try it. You won’t regret it.

Creating

The next step is the actual execution of the plan. Casting on (the act of putting the yarn onto the needles forming the stitches to knit) and then actually knitting the item. This part provides hours of restful pleasure. The act of actually doing that thing you’ve looked forward to for so long is incredibly rewarding.

Sometimes things don’t always work as envisioned, or the pattern is more challenging than anticipated. That is ok. There are things to learn and grow from there as well.

Lessons From Happy Mail Day

1. Plan then purchase something online and enjoy waiting…dream a little. Be like Ralph from A Christmas Story who waited for his decoder ring only to be disappointed in the end. Not everything we dream up or plan for works out, but there is pleasure in the waiting and dreaming.

2. Always have something to look forward to. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – in fact it is best if it doesn’t cost much – but it should be something that brings you joy and is just for you.

3. Create. We have been created to create. This doesn’t mean you have to be an artist, crafts person, it just means you use your mind and your hands to make something new. Plant a seed, cook a meal, rearrange the furniture, organize a closet, plan and execute a fishing or hunting trip, plan a picnic, take a drive just to see where the road leads. Life is a grand adventure…live it to the fullest!

Morning Rituals

I see people on social media going through their morning rituals and wonder…why can’t I get it together? My mornings are never as thoughtful and beautiful as theirs seem to be. But then again I am not staging my morning ritual for the sake of the camera. This photo is authentic. I didn’t arrange things for you. This is how that corner of my desk looks all day every day.

Mornings At 2434

I stagger out of bed, feed the dogs, let them outside, make coffee and sit back down. Sometimes I wonder why I am sitting when I just got up from eight to nine hours of sleep. Why aren’t I ready for a jog, or even a leisurely stroll? Nope. I want to sit, sip my coffee and contemplate the day ahead.

I always spend some of this time talking to God and then being quiet to see if He has anything to say back. Sometimes I get an idea, or resolution to something that has been on my mind. Other times I just feel peacefully quiet. I used to write in my journal every morning. I have replaced that with my morning pages. I get to brain dump knowing I will discard the pages so no one will ever read all the garbage that can occupy the gray matter that is my brain.

We all have those thoughts, worries, anxieties, angry voices, destructive words. I know I am not alone. So now, thanks to Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way I am learning to release them by writing in a throw away notebook. It is the equivalent of taking all the junk out of one’s home, putting it in a storage unit then throwing away the key. Except the storage unit owner might sell the contents of that unit sight unseen and then someone else has to deal with all that stuff. I think I will do a ceremonial burning as I finish each notebook. I like the idea of turning all those thoughts and worries into ashes. After all, God creates beauty from ashes, therefore so should I.

Lessons Learned

Let God in first thing in the morning. Just invite Him and be still. It sets the tone for everything that is to come.

Do what prepares you for what comes next. Some days I have things to do and places to go so I drink my coffee while I am getting dressed. The talking to God happens in the shower – also one of the best places to really listen. But all of this comes after I have met my dogs’ needs. Children first.

Do you. Social media, for the most part, is staged and therefore not real. I do believe most of these people do what they show but it isn’t always so pretty and perfect. Don’t self flagellate for having an ordinary life. We are all ordinary.

Spend time alone. There is nothing more important than really knowing and loving yourself to prepare for the slings and arrows of the outside world. Get grounded, put on the armor then go into battle. The world outside your door is a war zone. Stand firm in the knowledge that God created you and is with you. Jesus has won the war and walks with you each step of the way.

Have a blessed day. You are not alone.

~Sheryl

K.I.S.S. Day 5

Modern life is complicated. We have too many options, too much information and still only twenty four hours in a day. Choices must be made; priorities set.

In my effort to simplify my life I have removed the extraneous, evaluated the remainder, and still find room for further paring down of clutter—physical and mental. I am choosing activities that require active participation rather than passive entertainment (I do still indulge in an hour of General Hospital everyday and will schedule in my favorite sitcoms once they return). But even with the passive entertainment I am being cautious with what I pour into my brain. Will this content inspire and enliven me or cause stress over things for which I have no control? This is just one of the questions I ask myself these days. Therefore, as the simplified version of my life moves forward the following items will play a prominent role in my daily life.

Books

I loved reading as a child and have only been a sporadic reader in adulthood. There is a discipline to reading. An investment of precious time where there is almost certainly a guarantee that in the end emotions and point of view will be altered. As much as I love movies, they do not do to me what a really good book does; my soul is not touched in the same way and the characters don’t live with me in quite the same way. For a while I rejected reading on a Kindle as I prefer old school books. I still prefer them; however, I have discovered that I can read and stay awake when I use the Kindle. Being awake certainly helps the process of finishing books.

As I moved my focus from passive screen time to reading (the Kindle screen doesn’t have the same affect as a phone or computer—different lights or something) I feel a part of me has come back to life. I have read two books in the past week. Parts one and two of the ‘Me Before You’ trilogy by British author Jojo Moyes. Prior to last week I had never heard of her and now I am anxiously waiting for book three to become available through the digital library system. I believe I know how the story ends, but it is the journey that is so fun. Isn’t this whole point of life? We all know where the story ends, but it is the story of our journey that defines the life we led.

Making

During the past three years I have wasted a ridiculous amount of time on Instagram, Pinterest and general web browsing. All of it, I told myself, was business research and development. I spent money on websites, URLs, products, and for what? Only to get disillusioned and quit. Along the way I finally determined that I love the excitement of business development but I detest the actual work of running an online business. All my creative energy went to the business ideas but not actually making things that give me pleasure.

Social Commentary

For fourteen years I was in the yarn business. I believed that everything I did must connect to yarn for me to be authentic. Being a yarn shop owner was what I did every day and that became my identity. If I’m not a part of that world anymore, who am I? So I held on, reinventing myself into yet one more version in the hopes that this one felt right. It didn’t.

That is over. I am letting myself try different things, am discovering a joy in hand stitching and dyeing small amounts of fabric then creating art that is beautiful to the eye and tells a story. If I want to explore other mediums, I free to do so because my identity is no longer connected to what I make. What I make is simply an outward reflection of where I am in that moment.

Music

I am one of those people for whom music is a soul moving experience. I seem to be using words like ‘soul moving’ a great deal today. I love most all kinds of music, but without a doubt my favorite is classical. I can close my eyes and get lost in the beauty, the movement, the imagery. I have felt this connection for as long as I remember; it is simply one of those things that got lost in the businessof life. I now make time and space for beautiful music in my day.

Art

I have become zealous about who I follow on Instagram. I am removing accounts that don’t inspire me. I am primarily following creative people whose hand work and life shown on the grid, brightens my day or inspires me to look at the world through new eyes. I am no longer following accounts that merely want to sell me something, preach politics, lecture me about anything, or with whom I just no longer resonate. If I have unfollowed anyone reading this, I am sorry. Nothing personal; I am just exercising some self care in what I ingest.

I follow many artists whose work I love, and whose creative practice teaches me a new way of working out my own art life. I have no formal art training and I am learning there is a process. My habit of expecting immediate perfection is completely incongruous with the artistic life. I am learning to play. To try. To step out of the safe and into the unknown. It is exhilarating.

I not only follow artists, I buy from them whenever possible. It is the one thing I can do that is mutually beneficial. I have limited funds. These are not big purchases. But they bring so much joy to my little world and I know that by buying from them more art will come. It is the happiest part of my world right now.

My most recent acquisition. “Moon River” by Elizabeth Bunsen

Simple Living

I don’t require much to be happy. I’ve always teased my husband that he won the lottery with such a low maintenance wife. But for those few things I do need, I need them daily. I have learned that my mental and physical health depend upon a steady diet of all the above things blended with a regular dose of family, friends, my dogs, good coffee, food and bourbon…and an occasional road trip to keep the juices flowing.

Next week I get back on track with posts about the things I am making as well as any house updates. It is my hope and prayer that something I have said this week moves you to examine the role of technology in your life and how even small changes can reap big rewards for you and those you love.

Have a great weekend and make some memories.

~Sheryl

Silence

We recently added to our family. A bouncy, happy, always loving little four legged family member moved in a few months ago. Belle has been a member of our extended family since she was eight weeks old; this was her first home after leaving her mom. She belonged to our daughter and when she left, Belle went with her.

Life is a fluid thing. Nothing ever stays the same for long—change is a constant. When faced with moving to an apartment we were asked to take Belle in for a short time. The inevitable happened, we both became attached. Actually, all three of us became attached. Her visit became permanent. Our daughter and her family decided to allow Belle to live here and they will adopt another dog who is better suited to living with children.

Our dog Maggie has ever only played with one dog and that dog is Belle. Maggie is an old soul who never learned to play as a puppy and was damaged goods when we rescued her eight years ago. She has always welcomed Belle back into her home and willingly shared all she has with her. Belle, who has now become a bit grumpy with other dogs, likewise is generous with Maggie. They are a match made in heaven.

Belle has a very specific schedule. Every morning between 5:45-6:00 she is ready to get up and is not shy about letting me know she is awake. First a couple little whimpers, then a kiss or two on my arm. If I do not respond she becomes a tad more vocal and persistent. So as to not wake hubby I get up and begin my day; I am thankful for my new alarm clock.

You see, this has always been my best time of day but since “retirement” I have allowed myself to just wake whenever or stay in bed longer than necessary. Once up I am not one to go back to bed. Belle has forced me to face the day while it is still dark outside. Dark and silent.

After seeing to the needs of the dogs, I make my first cup of coffee and sit in my Victorian wing back chair in a corner of my studio. A small lamp illuminates just this area. I am not ready for overhead lights. I wish to enter the day slowly, thoughtfully, and with just enough light to be able to read a Scripture for meditation. Once I have read it a couple of times—or as many as necessary—I turn off the light, close my eyes and ponder what I have read. Some of the pondering is active and some is passive. I think about a word or a phrase and then I wait. I wait on the Lord of move my spirit in the desired direction.

In the silence of the early morning I hear the world waking up. The birds, an occasional squirrel running across the roof, then there are the cars and other signs of life around me. But through it all my mind and spirit are resting, listening, anticipating. I know that it is here that I feel the peace and the presence of God. I really don’t want this time to end.

I keep a journal, a sketchbook, pencil, pens and watercolors on the table with my Bible and a book that guides my meditations. More on that book next week. My time alone with God is not finished until I have recorded something in my sketchbook. It is a private and visual record of what I heard in the silence. This is a new practice for me and one that has already become my sacred time. Before I know it two hours has gone by and I am ready to tackle the rest of my day.

May you find your own sacred time and practice. Until Monday have a blessed and healthy weekend.

Yearning

Thunder rumbles in the background as the morning slowly wakes.

Darkness giving way to light, a muted and soft light.

The sky hovers low to the ground.

Clouds,

Waiting for their cue,

To release the nourishment obtained within.

Then it begins, rain like tears pour from the heavens.

Having released their burden

The clouds become light.

Streaming through my window

Revealing the corner of my world.


When most of my friends were reading Nancy Drew I was infatuated with Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. I was most likely the only kid to peruse that musty section of my local library. Unfortunately this love for poetry didn’t remain a mainstay of my life. Like so many things it was a passing fancy. And yet, when I do seek out poetry I find it speaks to my soul in a way prose generally does not.

I’ve never studied poetry nor do I know the structure and style of poetry. I just like the rhythm and the feel I get from a beautiful phrase or perfectly placed word.

My fiber art is like tactile poetry. I create organic shapes with color and texture that make me feel something. I can’t always identify what that something is, but I know it when I feel it. Like my words, my art helps me connect to my Creator. All I have are gifts from Him.

Until tomorrow, may you find that thing that helps you connect to God and find your inner peace.