Pass It On

I’ve stopped watching the news and reading newspapers. News stories have always been about the bad stuff that happens in the world, but today it is all so sad and what makes it worse is that the people in charge (both political parties and so many in big business) are doing whatever they need to do to maintain power and wealth. Everyone has an agenda; how do we know who is telling the truth? There is no care and concern for ordinary people. They are all crooks and thieves.

In a world that is upside down and backwards, who can we trust? There is only one who loves us all with a perfect love and that is God. Psalm 94 is one that I turn to for comfort. The closing verses give me hope and peace in the midst of the chaos of the world.

I can’t change all the wrongs in society, but I can lean on and learn from God then go about my life bringing that perspective into all my interactions with people. I can be a little ray of God’s light amongst the dark and pain. So can you. Your smile or small act of kindness could be the difference in someone’s life and day. Accept God’s love and his care then pass it on…the world will thank you.

Looking Backwards, Moving Forward

I’m still thinking about my life’s purpose and the path I should be taking during this season of my life. Since history is the best predictor of the future, I decided to look back and see where my life has been and where I should be looking in the future. As I analyzed all the things I have done, both consciously and unconsciously, one thread has continuously run through all the fabric of my life. That thread is children.

All Paths Are Personal

I never bore children of my own. The only profound regret of my life is that I never experienced the growing, delivering and raising a child of my own flesh and blood. Once it became biologically impossible the pain of this diminished and I was able to look back at my life and really see how God had given me hundreds of children. Granted none of them bore any resemblance to me, nor was I responsible for their well-being and life; however, I was given a chance to make a difference. The ripple effects of these relationships will continue to grow and affect the next generations. That is a powerful path.

Working at a school was the highlight of my working life. Both as a nurse and an assistant teacher I had the privilege of nurturing and encouraging children for ten years. I had always wanted to be a teacher and no other job fulfilled me like this one.

I left the working world to come home and be present in when our daughter was going through a particularly difficult time in her life. I was needed here to make a difference in her life far more than the kids at school needed me. The purpose was the same, the intended beneficiary had changed.

Next came our first granddaughter. Born to a single mom, lost and struggling as her own mother had died when she was sixteen (I am her stepmom). I now had two girls who needed me. My purpose continues.

Two more granddaughters come along; a marriage doesn’t work out and suddenly our empty nest is full again. The joy of a full house is indescribable. I loved the activity and purpose it brought to my life. Cooking for and helping with the girls brought so much joy. And then it was time for them to move on.

So, that brings us to today. Just when we thought we were done. Ready to live the retired life and wondering what we would do with this time on our hands, our first granddaughter — the one who changed everything for us — was in a crisis. So many experiences in such a short life left her in a rough patch. Her mom and stepdad were at wits end and they have two other girls to care for. We opened our home and brought her back to the place that was her first home. The past few months have been difficult but the growth and change are remarkable and she is well on her way to being the adult we dreamed she would be. Again…I (we) continue on the path.

Little Picture Living

I don’t always see what I do everyday as part of the bigger picture of life. I never had the “I’m going to change the world” mentality; never been the activist, or the person who wanted to accomplish big things. My goals were always about creating a home and family. I have written before about my one passion and that is children. I set out to care for children in my working life and I spent the vast majority of my career doing just that. But even that didn’t trigger any “bigger picture” views of myself. I just got up everyday and did what I was trained to do.

I think God protects me from thinking of myself in a grand kind of way. I am just an ordinary person who tries to be kind and do what is right. If I saw myself as some kind of saint I know it would go right to my head and all the good I could do would be wasted. The irony of all this is I spend so much time wondering what I am “supposed” to be doing with my life, when in fact I was doing exactly what God designed me to do all along.

I think because so much of what I have done just falls under the banner of you do what you gotta do. In the midst of the fire you don’t stop to analyze the fire, you just put it out. I have been on my path for all forty years of my adult life. During that time I never gave myself credit for doing anything to make a difference because I just looked at the big stuff. I never did anything big. I just left a crumb trail of lots of little things. Because what I did wasn’t traditional or I wasn’t the “teacher” I wanted to be, I only saw what I wasn’t not who I was.

One Path, Small Detours

I don’t want to leave the path, I’m just ready for it to look a little different. I want to use my talents and skills to improve the lives of another generation of children. I have always dreamed of writing books. I could write a picture book for emerging readers. I would love to write the kind of story that encourages children to be the best they can be, or tell a fabulous tale that is remembered forever. Maybe it should be a book for the adults on blended families and lessons we have learned through the years. Maybe I will volunteer with disadvantaged kids and help them with school work. After all I did want to be a teacher. That urge is still inside of me. I don’t know where I am going next, but I do know that my path to the destination is sure and I have history on my side.

Wherever you are in life, do what you can. Don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t do, rather look at what you are doing and know you are doing your best. If, like me, you feel a nudge towards something, a tug at your heart, pay attention. God might be preparing you and showing you your path. If the time is right and you can do something about the nudge, then do it. If you aren’t able, just be aware and know that one day in some way, your path will become known and you can follow in confidence.

My Three Step Program

For the first time in my nearly sixty-four years I don’t have anything to worry about. I have a happy marriage, stable and thriving child and grandchildren, a roof over my head, enough money to meet and even exceed my needs, all extended family are healthy and happy, in short, I want for nothing. I am blessed beyond measure.

And yet I am constantly seeking that one thing to do that will give purpose and meaning to life. This usually takes the form of a maker type business. I am a talented human being and have everything it takes, including small business experience, to succeed in such an endeavor. So why do I struggle?

Living In Fear

I don’t know any other way to explain my feelings and inability to follow through. I get excited. I come up with a concept, product, logo, website, social media marketing, and then it comes time to put my work out into the world and I freeze. The feeling is very uncomfortable so I tell myself I am simply not cut out to do this. So I stop. And I feel like a failure. This cycle has repeated itself over and over again for many years leaving a trail of broken promises and an inflated sense of failure. I know this is not how God wants me, or you, to live. So, what is the answer? Here is my three step plan of attack.

Step 1: Trust God…Do Not Fear

I think I read somewhere that the admonition to “not fear” is the most used often used in the Bible. God knows us all too well. I am considering having the word trust literally tattooed on my body. God equipped me with skills and abilities to use in this lifetime. I have tried too hard to make things work on my own. I need to relax and just do what I am capable of doing then letting go. I believe I am finally coming full circle and can see fewer dead ends on my life’s road.

Step 2: Identification

Before something can be fixed it must be identified. I assumed I was on the wrong path because I felt anxious that my work would not be good enough or that no one would want to buy what I make. This was a signal to stop and look for a different path; but all paths ended the same and the desire to do this has never left me. Maybe I was changing the wrong thing?

I am notorious for trying to create a life that will fit nicely into pretty little boxes. Life is not to be viewed as a box to fill but a road to travel. Each experience leads to something new and everything builds on previous experience. Instead of a winding road with the usual twists and turns, hills and valleys, I have allowed my road to be a series of dead end detours. I see something interesting and I veer off only find a dead end. At each dead end (aka whatever craft I am passionate about at the moment or whatever product I think I could spend the rest of my life making) I tend to throw my hands in the air and give up. My instinct is to get rid of all the supplies and declare that endeavor as dead. This rarely ends well as I usually decide I still want to resume doing whatever it is I have abandoned. The internal message is that I am a failure incapable of following through and doing what I dreamed of doing.

In fact, what I did was give into that negative voice and stop before I gave myself a chance to get started. Self-sabotage happens every time I listen to the wrong voices in my head. I am currently in the beginning stages of starting yet again. This time I am not trying to fill a niche in the market I am simply going to make the things I love to make and would use in my home. I am also honoring the historic roll of textiles and fiber in women’s lives. I am fascinated by how women’s roles have changed and how modern women honor the contribution of our ancestors by keeping these skills alive. I am excited to make things, research, learn and write about what excites me. I know that no matter what else happens I will be making a contribution to something I care about.

Step 3: Be Authentic

I am a jack of all trades but can never be monogamous to just one pursuit. This is usually where I fail. I try to be known as…a hand spinner of unique yarn, a crochet artist, a crochet historian, a weaver, a stitch artist, and the list could go on but I won’t bore you.

My authentic self loves old tools, old ways, and doing lots of different things. Why I ever thought that sticking my very round peg into a square hole was a good idea is beyond understanding. I love history and knowing I am continuing doing things the way they have been done for hundreds of years. The methods are old, the end result is modern. Gotta love the dichotomy.

The other authentic part of me is my love for writing. I write here about life and as my new site gets going I will be writing about the historical and modern aspects of needle and hand work as it applies to the lives of women. That is a win-win in my book.

You’ve Got This

No matter what your heart is calling you to do, you can do it! Be careful who or what you listen to, pay attention to what tugs at your heart, and do not fear. You’ve got this!

The Work Of Gratitude

Sometimes being thankful is hard. Seeing the good in the midst of pain, sadness, illness, loss, grief, disappointment or even everyday inconveniences is sometimes a difficult task to accomplish. Life is messy. The holiday season is in full swing with the movies and television shows that portray a version of the happiest time of the year that many people simply cannot identify with or want to participate in. There are a myriad of reasons for this, all personal and no one else’s business; however, if this is you, I have been where you are, I understand.

To my aging vision, so many people seem hyper-focused on how they have been marginalized, slighted, ignored, overlooked, mistreated, or wronged. I don’t mean to dismiss them or their feelings; that is their reality and I would never deny someone’s experience. What I know about me and my thought process is when all I do is focus on how others have hurt, offended, or mistreated me I get bitter, resentful and more angry; I then allow my imagination to create scenarios that don’t even exist. It becomes a vicious cycle that steals the joy and peace from my life. There is no room for thankfulness. Because I understand my weakness for this mindset, I work really hard to focus on the good, the pure, and the kind things of life. It changes my perspective. It changes my mood. It changed my life.

Brain Filter

I guard my brain. Please be careful who you listen to and what you allow into your head. Don’t let just anyone or anything make themselves at home in your brain. Be ruthless in this area. Change whatever needs to change to only allow the things that build you up and fill you with peace and love. The issues you used to stew over will still be in the world, but you will be equipped to tackle them from a place of love rather than anger. In my case I have stopped listening to political news. I keep up just enough to know what is happening but I don’t allow the pundits of either side enter my consciousness. It wasn’t healthy for me. I pray and I vote. I have peace of mind. I spend enough time being mindful of myself and all that usually gets me is worry and anxiety — over thinking is a true buzz kill. Now I write all those worries down and throw them away.

Pull Out The Pen & Paper

This might sound trite, but writing down all the thoughts in my head has transformed me. It goes by many names, but it is basically “stream of consciousness” writing. You don’t censor yourself. You just put pen to paper and write whatever is in your head. Sometimes there isn’t much, other times you will fill pages and pages with the thoughts that rob you of peace and mental quiet. Do a web search for this and give it a try. What you write is for no one else to read. In fact, the best thing to do is to think of the paper or journal as a trash can. Write then destroy. There is also something important about writing by hand on paper that seems to really work for most people. But no matter how you do it, get that crap out of your head and then refill it with the good stuff. This process is how I am learning to live in the moment which makes me more aware of those around me. Now I see the world through the lens of loving kindness; what used to annoy me I more easily overlook; what I used to ignore now calls my heart to action.

And finally, if you are the one in need—let others help you. You will actually be giving them a gift by allowing them to give. Accept what is needed today then pay it forward when you are able.

My hope for you is that this holiday season, no matter what that means to you, is one of renewal, hope and joy.

Life Inside My Head

The morning sun casts a golden glow across the landscape of my backyard. The sky prepares for the new day with a color that is reminiscent of sapphires. Soon dawn will give way to daylight causing the deep, rich blue to fade like a pair of jeans after years of wear. A new day has begun. A new day of a new week. What lies ahead? I know I must step out into the world to find out. No more staying home and pretending. Thus begins the internal dialogue.

Morning Rituals

I reach for my coffee cup. It is empty. Time for the next step in my morning ritual. First cup of coffee means writing my morning pages. The dumping ground for all the crap that circles around in my head. I need that place to rid myself of so many random and distracting thoughts. “What did I do before morning pages?” I mutter as I head back to the kitchen for my second dose of delicious, hot caffeine.

Morning ritual number two is coffee and 200 mg of Sertraline, which is the real secret to my sanity. My mind is an interesting place to live. And I live in my head. I live several lives in my head; not in the multiple personality kind of of way, but in a fantastical, what if kind of way. One day I dream of a quiet life in a small town and the next I am craving the excitement of big city living. The only life I no longer dream of is a rural farm life. I have come to grips with the reality that I was born in a city for a reason and until HGTV made so many different lifestyles look attractive, I never considered the rural life. It looks romantic and fun on television but the reality is that it is filled with the kinds of wildlife I really prefer not having as neighbors and the work is hard and dirty. I have the greatest admiration for those who are made of sturdier stock than myself and can live that life. I know my limitations.

While I don’t want to live a rural lifestyle, I need regular doses of nature to feel connected and whole. That is the reason I am headed to my personal getaway this week. I think I could live anywhere if I had ways to reconnect with non master planned nature. There are so many state parks in this country I would love to visit. I have a plan, but it must be strategized and implemented carefully so that I don’t send my husband into his corner to prepare for the boxing match of dreams.

Fear Of Decisiveness

I look around the suburban home I have lived in for 33 years, contemplating the last segment of life. I am a realist. I understand that I am living in the latter years of my life, and while I am not giving up to sit and rock – although I do love a good upholstered swivel rocking chair – I am likely making choices that will dictate where and how I live for the rest of my life. “We are only moving once” were the emphatic words of my husband when I discussed possibilities that would enable us to have the best of all worlds. Again I remind myself to “pick your battles” and retreat from this discussion.

I have no answers. I wish I had a crystal ball and knew definitively what we are supposed to do. So many people our age move closer to their kids and grandkids yet we are considering moving further away. In this modern age of connectivity we don’t have to fear loosing contact or being left out of each other’s lives by the distance between our homes. And yet…old fears of being alone crop up from my subconscious. These fears and doubts make me fearful and anxious. When I am fearful and anxious I attempt to fix all the ‘problems’ myself. It is as if when I put them in a box and tie a ribbon around them life will be perfect and all will work out just like in every fairy tale ever told. That, however, is not real life.

Tune To The Right Station

Real life is living each day being tuned in to God who doesn’t dictate a path but rather allows us to make choices and then learn from those choices. I am not a believer in cosmic fate; a predestined life that only has one outcome. That is terrifying. I know I would see something sparkling then wander off my path in search of the magic jewel and end up in whatever version of hell might really exist. It is much more comforting to know that God loves and guides. There are many paths that each life can travel, some better than others, but it isn’t an all or nothing game. Thank goodness.

So, when I get my brain into a tizzy over the future, I need to remember to step back and just live today. Go out into the world and make the best of today and let tomorrow take care of itself. And so, here I go.

What’s Your Season?

Words like seasons, cycles and circle are often used to describe the life we lead and the never ending nature of life. Last weekend our family celebrated together as we witnessed a marriage and the beginning of a new season in all our lives.

Golden hour stroll

Endings

Though life itself is continuous, there are endings and beginnings within the natural cycle. Just as the deciduous trees drop their leaves each year to prepare themselves for the long winter, so we too must let go of certain things so that we may be ready to move forward when a new season arrives.

The leaves do not go to waste. They are not forgotten. They return to the soil to provide what the earth needs for new growth. And so it is with people. A life well lived doesn’t stop when life on earth has ended. Whether genetically or through relationships and nurture, that life will continue to impact and nourish all who follow. This is a particularly comforting thought for someone who has no biological heirs.

Thus, one phase of the bride and groom’s life ended as this new one began. So, too do the lives of their parents and siblings, aunts, cousins and friends. Parents are now free to relax knowing they have completed this task and the future holds something new and exciting for them.

Beginnings

As the young couple begins their journey they do so taking all that has been given them both in nature and nurture. Who they are biologically, spiritually, intellectually and socially is all a product of their family and experiences; and now they will begin a new life and family passing along their unique qualities to their children.

Career choices, children, first home, where to live, and what kind of life do they wish to create…both parents and children are now free to make these choices. This should be a glorious time for all.

Letting Go To Grow

Every culture has their family and social norms and these tend to modify and evolve over time. My maternal grandparents never left the immediate area where they lived most of their lives. As coal miners and farmers there was no expectation that they would do anything besides stay where their families had been for generations. My father’s mother was born in Hawaii to Chinese immigrants. She was the first generation born somewhere other than China and most of her siblings stayed in Honolulu. My paternal grandfather’s family came from England and settled on the east coast and then Indiana.

The leaving home to begin a new life has been recorded nearly as long as humans have been on earth. It is a natural and normal evolution. My great grandparents and great great grandparents all did it; they left family behind in search of something new and hopefully better. I am so thankful for people with such intrepid spirits as they are the reason I am here today.

My Dream For This Season

I want to be like them. I would love to live a nomadic life for a short period of time. I don’t think I could do it forever, but the lure of the open road and living in a way that is completely different from my suburban Texas existence is very exciting…and romantic.

I believe there are certain physical locations where we connect on a spiritual level with the land, the people, and the way of life. I don’t believe I have found mine. And, at this juncture in my life, I may never find it. But I would love to try. I thought I felt it the first time I visited Vermont. Vermont is possibly the most beautiful state I have visited; mountains, lakes, streams and waterfalls visible from the side of the road…no billboards or other visual pollution…it is simply magical. But I don’t fit. My values and beliefs are not the same as the people there. So, I will be content with visiting but I could never live there.

I am, however, convinced that there is a place somewhere in the United States (I have to clarify as my dream would be England or Scotland) where I would feel at home in all the ways that are important to me. Or…I could discover, that I am indeed in just the right place – Texas – I just need to get out of the suburbs and away from the coast.

Just as the leaves must release their hold and drop from the life giving tree, what must die in my life to live this dream?

What Must I Let Go Of?

1. Putting Others First: I have a destructive habit of basing my decisions on what pleases others. While thoughtfulness is an admirable quality, when it moves into a way of life that denies ones own truth and purpose, it becomes a cancer that must be removed. These thought processes are created throughout a lifetime of small decisions until one day one wakes up not knowing how to make even a simple decision for their own pleasure. This in turn leads to a sense of powerlessness and ultimately anger and bitterness.

2. False Identities: I am not always sure who I am apart from created identities. I am nearly sixty four years old, I think it is way beyond time to figure this out. I know who I am as a wife, stepmother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and friend; but who am I? I create social media identities, business names, and creative pursuits, all in an effort to forge something that says to the world, “This is Sheryl Means.” I explore my ancestry to gain an insight into the genetic code that might reveal a hidden key to unlock this door. Thanks to the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, I am working on unlocking many of these questions. I finally feel as though I am beginning to find my path.

3. Expectations Of Others: This is tightly connected to the first point. I perceive a certain level of expectation that others have of me and believe I am powerless to do anything except be the “good girl” and do as expected. This is a deeply rooted and difficult mindset to change. To disappoint someone I love is my ultimate fear. It seems selfish and wrong. Yet, living to the expectations of others is another denial of self; thus I live in a constant state of being disappointed in myself resulting in bitterness and frustration.

What Comes Next?

As grim as all that sounds, I am really in a good place. Now that the issues have been identified I must come up with specific and actionable steps to move forward from this place I currently inhabit. We have an obligation to our granddaughter to live life as it currently exists until the summer of 2022. Once she graduates from high school, our life as full time parents and grandparents will be over. My husband is self employed in sales and has the freedom to travel. Our time is coming.

We plan to move to the city where my mom lives. I had hoped we would be there by now but helping our granddaughter was a commitment we made eighteen years ago and we had to honor it in full. But once finished, that leaf from our tree will drop. It will be time for a new life to emerge. What will it look like? Where will we go? What will we do? Who will I be? It all remains to be seen but what I know for sure is that this season is just for us. As long as each of us is able we will travel, have fun, and I will be right here documenting the journey.

Where Are You?

No matter what season of life you are living there are things to learn; things to let go of; relationships to heal; and experiences just waiting for you to bravely step out and enjoy.

I highly recommend Julia Cameron’s book. When I am through with this one she has written several others I will read. However, and through whatever methods you choose, it is my sincerest wish that you are able to work through the old messages of your life so that they can fall, decay, and disappear so that new ideas and choices can take their place.

As Always…Sheryl

Be A Weed

I write for the pure joy it brings me to “put pen to paper” and craft something that is funny, poignant, educational or just a personal brain dump. I don’t know that I could ever write assignment based articles. Oh, I suppose I could but they would not bring the satisfaction of sitting down to share what is happening in my head and my heart. Once complete I send my little essays off into the world to be read – or not – content that I had expressed myself. No worries about money, readership, egos, rejection letters…nope, just the satisfaction that I had completed what I set out to do. I really am a simple, low maintenance kind of person.

Who Am I?

I never noticed how often dandelions are used for logos and branding. Have you? It wasn’t until I decided that I am a dandelion in human form that I noticed dandelions, both realistic and stylized, are extremely common in branding. Trying to find a blog name containing the word dandelion that had an available URL was impossible. All the cool ones had already been taken. Don’t let the superficiality of that sentence fool you. There is a deeper meaning which I will get to a little later. Back to my personal branding.

For years I struggled to “brand” myself. In the fiber art world I have had so many social media handles many people just give up. No wonder I could never build a following. No one knew who I was going to be on any given day. My struggle was much deeper than the look and feel of my online presence. I was struggling to find me, my identity, my purpose in the world wrapped up in a cute logo with just the right pithy tag line. Funny how things work out; the harder I tried the more lost I became.

Trudy Smith

Three years ago I came across the story of a woman who continues to inspire me to this day. Trudy Smith was an artist. She had an artist’s heart and soul but didn’t live out her life’s purpose until she turned 85.

Trudy described herself as a “misfit” in her family. She didn’t fit in. She certainly didn’t conform to society’s definition of how a woman was expected to live. So she kept to herself, feeling like a weed in the middle of a flower bed. But Trudy was no ordinary weed. Is there even such a thing as an ordinary weed? Trudy knew about her passion for art but it didn’t fit, so she spent her life doing what was socially acceptable for her to do. She obeyed her father. Married a man who was much like her father in his stern nature and rigid opinion on the role of a woman, wife and mother. But when her husband died, Trudy came to life.

She picked up her paint brush and didn’t put it down until her passing in 2018, just two months short of her 103rd birthday.

Trudy Smith (Photo by Kate Stevens, ABC South Wales Australia)

“Be a weed — then you belong to everywhere or anywhere.”

Trudy Smith

To say Trudy Smith changed my life is an understatement. Not surprisingly, I came up with a brand, bought the URL, claimed the Instagram name and was off to the races. I was going to build a brand around this theme of embracing one’s inner weed. Then doubt set in and I quit. But I have never forgotten Trudy and her wonderful words of wisdom.

How Do Weeds Live?

Many of us pay a lot of money and work very hard to keep weeds out of our lawns and gardens. We strive for a perfectly manicured environment. But, despite our best efforts, weeds still find their way into our perfectly planned garden. They suck the water and nutrients out of the soil making it harder for the plants we have so carefully chosen and inserted into the environment to survive much less thrive.

What is it about weeds that allow them to do what they do? I have a few thoughts.

First, weeds know they are weeds. Weeds are not trying to be fancy or unique. They simply find a place to live and then get about doing the best job they know how to do. Some weeds are ugly, some are beautiful, but they don’t know that. They just are living their best life.

Second, weeds adapt. They can survive with minimal food, muss or fuss. Ever notice weeds growing in the cracks of a sidewalk in the middle of a city with no other plant life visible? Yup, that is a weed for you. It finds the tiniest bit of nourishment and it goes to town. Weeds don’t need fancy. They need whatever it takes for their roots to take hold and their stems and leaves to grow. Flowers are the icing on the cake.

Finally, weeds thrive despite their circumstances. Once weeds have found a place to survive, they learn to thrive. The surroundings may not be ideal but they do what is necessary to make more weeds. Because that is what weeds do. They grow, spread, and make more weeds.

Dandelions and Me

During this “Live Like A Weed” phase I adopted the dandelion as my spirit weed. I didn’t think very deeply about why, I just love dandelions. What is not to love? Pretty little yellow flowers turn into a puff ball and then sail away to settle in and begin the process once again. I love the symbolism. And, once I began to think more deeply on the subject, I realized just how much I have in common with dandelions. Next time I will delve a little deeper on this part of the story. Until then…wherever you are, be like a weed.

~Sheryl

Inspired By Dandelions

Life is an ever evolving cycle of change. Nothing stays the same no matter how hard we try or how desperately we wish to freeze frame a moment in time. To fight against change is to miss the beauty of this naturally cyclical thing we call life.

A dandelion’s life purpose is to sow seeds to the wind so that new little seedlings can be brought to life. This is how I see myself. Like a dandelion with a head full of little seeds ready to be set free.

Seasons of Life

Each season of life has its own purpose, tasks to accomplish before moving forward. It is a rich and complex subject that deserves time to properly digest and dissect. I am finally coming to grips with the fact that I am entering a new season of my life. I have actually been traveling this road for the past four years; now at the door I have the choice to stand and knock or open it and walk through to what waits for me on the other side. Standing motionless is safe but does nothing to help me or anyone else. So, I really have only one option – open the door and boldly walk into whatever it is God has for me on the other side.

Gathering and Dispersing

In the past few months something has been happening in my heart and mind. I am suddenly seeing things in the world through a new lens; a softer and gentler lens. I won’t delve too deeply into this today but I will say that it has taken me by surprise. As I have been open to these thoughts and allowed them to penetrate any barriers that rise due to the discomfort of new things, I am feeling my way along a new path. A path I believe God is leading me one step at a time.

This morning I read an excerpt from a book called “Falling Upward” by Fr Richard Rohr. In this book, Fr Rohr discusses the spiritual and life purposes in the two halves of life. I believe that I am in preparation for my second phase of life: the giving away or dispersing of what I have learned in the first phase. This book will arrive at my door tomorrow. Just when I swear off the immediate gratification of Amazon, something like this crosses my path.

Seedlings

Whatever it is I am to do with the wisdom I have gained is unknown. I am less worried about the what than the preparation. My heart is softening. I am reading and growing in knowledge. I will be (at age 63) attending college beginning in January. I am practicing spiritual disciplines to connect more deeply with God to be sure I am traveling on the best path for his purpose in my life.

I choose to think of my writings here as seedlings. Little bits of information that I send out into the world to take hold if and when they are needed. That is my hope and prayer for every post. Since seedlings represent growth and new life what you will find here are just little nuggets of wisdom and goodness designed to lift up and never tear down. There is enough pain and suffering in the world. My passion is to apply a soothing balm on a hurting humanity. I trust God to guide and direct the writing and the reading of everything on this little blog.

There will be talk of books, dogs, family and all the normal stuff of life. I love to crochet and make art with my yarn and hooks; it is another way for me to express beauty of the world around me. My husband and I will be traveling more so I will take many photos and will share those as well. Whatever is good, and right, kind and beautiful will all find its way here. There is also pain in life…I won’t shy away from that either. It is only in the journey through the pain that we find light once again.

If you have made it this far, thank you. If what I have said has spoken to you, then I hope you will follow along. Either way, thank you for reading.

~Sheryl

Textiles Make A Home

There is one singular item that transforms a hard square house into a soft, safe, and cozy home. No matter your decorating style, there are textiles to compliment and enhance that style.

Choosing Home Textiles

We have all wandered the isles of home decor and big box stores taking in the sights and smells of the season. Rows and rows of pillows, blankets, afghans (knit or crochet blanket), tea towels, curtains – window and shower, bedding, table linens, rugs, and the list goes on. And this is just the textiles; we are not going to talk about the rest of the home decor available. I have done my fair share of shopping at these places so this is not meant to impune these businesses. I just want to plant seeds for you to consider as you make choices about the items you bring into your home.

There is no doubt that the items available in the big stores are mass manufactured in countries that may or may not be ethical in their choice of materials, dyes, or how their employees are treated. While a sweeping generalization cannot be made on this subject, textile manufacturers around the world have historically been some of the worst polluters in the world. Fast fashion and fast, cheap home decor are contributing factors and I believe it is time to rethink the fabrics and items we surround ourselves with inside our homes.

There are so many things to consider when purchasing textiles for your home. How will you use it? How is it cared for? What is made of and where was it made? How much does it cost and will it have a long life span to make it worth the price? Each one of us must set our own priorities and make the purchases that fit our home, values, and budget.

Slow Home Fashion

The slow fashion movement has caused many to reconsider their clothing purchases. For many this has led them to sew their own clothes. There has been a huge renaissance in making clothes at home. Sewing for your home decor is a wonderful way to not only personalize your home but to also have total control over the products you and your family live with everyday.

Not crafty? Don’t have a desire to do any of the above, but you want to live in this kind of home environment? No worries, there are so many people out there doing amazing work. Do these items cost more? Initially, yes. But if you teach yourself to not buy into trends, but make investments in items that will bring you years of pleasure, then you too can curate a home that is beautiful as well as good for the environment, helps a small business, and is uniquely and completely you.

A Woolen Home

Part of my movement to a more selective and holistic home is by making and up-cycling as much as possible. Surprisingly wool is a fiber that is a wonderful and healthy choice for many home items, even some items that you wouldn’t expect. Having spent much of the past fifteen years in the yarn business, I am totally and passionately in love with wool. It is a fiber that is misunderstood but incredibly valuable. I will devote entire posts to in the future.

I had dreams of creating a business that sells handmade wool items for the home. There would be functional as well as decorative items. I adore Christmas decorating and love making unique and fanciful items for this season. After much planning I learned that I don’t like making multiples of anything and the process of selling just leaves me cold. Instead I have decided to be a champion of wool and all handmade items and the people who make them.

I believe there is room for wool in every room in the house. Come back or visit my Instagram account (@mycontinuousthread) to learn more about home textiles and get inspired to use wool in your home.

Until next week…Blessings to all

~Sheryl

A Very Good Week

I came outside later than usual today. It seems that every day of the week, or at least Monday through Friday, a different neighbor is having their yard mowed first thing in the morning. I am sure it has always been this way, but now that it is disturbing my peaceful backyard time. I am annoyed. We are coming to the end of the growing season, so maybe this will change. One can only hope.

Friday Reflections

Each Friday I am going to examine my week and see how I did in my effort to build the life I want rather than just living in reaction to what comes to me. On the whole, I think I did well. I took more steps forward and can call this one a win.

There were frightening events that happened to people I care about as well as family members. In my fear and dread I turned to God and allowed Him to do His work. I was available but knew this was not my battle to fight. It is a helpless feeling to know a grandchild is suffering and in danger. It is not my job to rescue, though that is my initial impulse. It is my job to cover her in prayer and let God and her parents do the work.

I took proactive steps in the planning of my kitchen remodel as well as purchasing a few plants that will, if I keep them alive, end up in one corner of my garden or in pots on my patio.

I Knit

I took time to knit.

Katie’s Kep – A Fair Isle style hat.

I’ve always been fascinated with stranded color knitting. Living where I do there are few times when such a garment is wearable. I decided that the experience is worth it even if it only gets worn once a year. This is the annual hat design for Shetland Wool Week, a celebration of all things wool in the Shetland Islands. My Scottish heritage and my love for the television show Shetland, determined that I give it a go. This is the perfect knit for my ADD type personality. Every row is different and the color changes are charted. Slowly, row by row the design emerges. I lost the blue ball of yarn I intended for one of the patterns. After days of looking for it I decided to just use what I had on hand and make the best of it. This green, brown, white and gold hat will be my ‘sunshine through the trees’ hat.

I Stitched

Mindful stitching with coffee.

I worked a little everyday on my mindful stitching. Repetition yields peaceful consistency. I am not enjoying working on this muslin. My next piece will be linen…preferably hand dyed.

Hand dyed thread.

I received three spools of hand dyed thread for embroidery. They came from a lovely young woman (@gatherwhatspills) I follow on Instagram. She also has an Etsy shop and I couldn’t resist these beautiful little spools of thread. I am saving scraps, and hunting for just the right inspiration to use them. It will be special no matter what the project.

That was my week. There was more, I cooked some delicious meals, I planned for my kitchen remodel, and I slept…really, really slept. My body and spirit were exhausted. All in all, it was a very good week.

I pray that each of your days moves you just a little closer to living the life of your dreams. Until Monday…

~Sheryl