Friday, February 12, 2016


It's been a long time coming, but my blog has been made-over and I can finally return to blogging. When I started blogging over 10 years ago,  I was a completely different person and the world was a completely different place. Blogging is more of a profession than a hobby anymore, it seems, but I have decided that I miss having a place to think, share and teach.  I have missed the slow therapy of writing out my thoughts to untangle them for my own good.  I have missed the interaction and the opportunity to let my own experiences benefit others.  I have missed being transparent about my thoughts, feelings, doubts and questions.  And I missed being able to collect our family experiences into a chronological place.  So for all those reasons, I am back.

I find myself in a strange season of life where I meet every day with some plans and goals like a small compass in a sea of change and unpredictability. I used to have a strong sense of leadership over my time, but for now, I find myself in a role of reaction as much as pro-action.  The needs of children and church and friends and work bubble up often but unpredictably.  I've never been great with interruptions, so I just have to leave a lot of margin for the days and not expect as much from myself as I used to.  Each day has a plan laid out and when things happen that take me off script, I return to the script when I can and try to keep going.  It is slow and awkward and halting. But I am ok with it all because at 41 years old,  I know now that things will change... the things I hate and the the things I love.

For a long time, my three oldest kids were kind of the backdrop in the story, but now they are leaders in the play.  Having a 16 year old, high school junior who is plotting her future which always includes leaving has a way of making everything feel a little more urgent.  My 14 year old son will never be smarter, faster, stronger or hungrier than he is now.  Except maybe next year.  If my oldest pulls, then he is the pusher. More, faster, and better are his horizon.  For the first six months of 6th grade, I have been expecting the normal storm clouds from our sweet 11 year old.  I got lulled into complacency only to have puberty, adoption questions, and sixth grade mean-girls hit like some kind of perfect storm.  And then just as Jim Gaffigan described having four kids, "It's like you are drowning and somebody hands you a baby."  Miss Baby is 16 months old, still expecting eye-teeth any moment now and parroting everything that happens around her from smart phones to toilet paper to eyeliner. We laugh a lot more these days.  And we are exhausted like never before.

Our church continues to thrive.  Against all odds, this haven of love and community is healthier than ever before and is no longer a baby church, a seedling. It is a strong sapling that has done plenty of bending and not breaking in the past year.  This is where I both give and get back much of my energy. It took me a long time to realize that my life has always been tangled up with the life of church, and I wanted to make that commitment more formal.  So over a year ago, Robb suggested I seek ordination through Vintage Fellowship and that is what I am doing.  Writing out my beliefs in my paper is teaching me so much, but it is a slow process that I cannot skip over quickly.  Some days I think I should go to seminary at some point and some days I remember that 15 years of experience is the same as grad school.  I have 20 years.  This path will lead me to teaching, writing, and speaking more and developing the art of sermon-crafting, not to mention helping with weddings and other official roles.  I alternate between terror and excitement about this. It makes me feel alive in a way I haven't before.

Almost 14 years ago, I started selling things I bought at rural Michigan auctions and garage sales online.  That led me to making mosaics from the imperfect things I found and I find such deep satisfying metaphor in the finding and making process.  But I have discovered that this part of my life, once so vital to our financial survival, feels like it is taking a smaller role in my life.  It's hard to describe in any concrete terms, but maybe the best way to explain is that I'm not looking to get famous from my Etsy shops. I love them. I work them.  I am even teaching my oldest kids how it all works, hoping to apprentice them and give them some practical skills. I will always be creative, but I don't know if I will always be a vintage seller.  That part of my story could change.  And yet, I live in the tension that this  is still a part of our income and what we depend on to meet very real needs.   It is good work. I am grateful for it.  I don't hate my job. It is a very natural extension of my values, skills, experiences and interests.  I am so lucky!

Everyday now, I find new things that I am thankful for. And every day I think of very good people and things I just cannot give myself or my energy to right now.  So gratitude and grieving happen most every day.

Most days, I have to just live with the fact that I have disappointed someone in one way or another.

I couldn't interact on Facebook as much.  I turned down a craft show that would have been fun.  I left my Christmas lights out too long.  I didn't go to the party at the cooperative gallery I am a part of.  I can't get on top of sending birthday cards to my nieces and nephews. I missed a chance to spend time with one of the kids. It's hard for me.  For so long, I thought of myself as someone people could depend on.  I don't know if they can right now. This is the part of my story that is about trying more than it is about achieving.  Sometimes that really depresses me.  But then I think back on how things can they have already changed, and I know that I want to keep trying.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Fix #11 - Color me Conflicted

So truthfully, I haven't even worn a couple of pieces I have received in previous fixes.  I feel terribly guilty about this, but to be fair, we've been on sabbatical from church, I am working ALL THE TIME to prepare for my upcoming craft show, so I barely go anywhere and I certainly don't dress up to go out in the studio and get covered in dust and dirt.  This is a season of my life that will pass soon and hopefully I will have someplace to wear my pretty things.

So when my new box arrived, I felt very guilty about it.  But as I surveyed my closet with the dropping temps in mind, I realized I still can't fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes but I don't have much in the way of warm things.

Papermoon Camilla Pencil Skirt
My new stylist was clearly picking up on the season change.  She sent me 5 pieces that will wear well in the cool months, and she clearly understands that I am trying to create a cohesive wardrobe, so she picked pieces with similar colors: black and maroon.

First up is this pencil skirt with lace detail. Made of structured knit, it is comfortable but not "schlumpy."  I do have a bit of mental block about the color and the lace detail around the bottom, which reminds me of a half slip. I don't exactly know how to wear this yet and was considering returning it, but Miss Whimsy was eating animal crackers while I tried on my clothes and came up and gave me a big love while I was wearing it, leaving a good big smear of her snack on the skirt. So I am keeping it now!  I like it with the denim button front shirt I got in a previous fix.

RD Style Zahara Dress
Next, I tried on the gray mini dress.  It finally occurred to me after asking over and over a gain for "things that are long enough to wear with leggings" that I wanted mini-dresses, not shirts. I am just too tall and too long-waisted to wear shirts with leggings and even most tunics are not long enough. My new stylist grasped this idea immediately and found this darling dress.  It is also a knit with faux leather trim.  It is a little snug on my arms, but not enough to worry me. Everything else about this little dress is perfect for me. I have already worn this with the leggings I got in a previous fix and I would pretty much wear it every day if I could.  If I could have this cut in every imaginable color and fabric, I would be set for life.

Tart Kaylie French Terry Blazer
I specifically asked for a knit gray blazer and my wonderful stylist found one that is perfect for me. I immediately pushed up the snug sleeves and decided to wear it on my date out that very night, paired with the jeans I got in my last fix.  It looks nice and structured, but it feels like a snuggly cardigan sweater.  This piece was pricey.  If you specifically ask for a piece, I've noticed that the price tends to be higher than usual.  Just a tip. But considering I will be wearing this all the time, I sucked it up and paid for this.

Alice Blue Nolie Dress
suggested styling
Next I tried the burgundy dress.  This is where I started to feel really guilty.  This is a great dress, but I don't know where exactly I will wear it.  I love the cut and the faux leather detail and I feel great in it, but I'm not sure how practical it is for me.  I probably should have made it more clear that I love to dress up, but I don't have that many places to go.  I will be planning to pin some more practical, every-day outfits to my Pinterest board just to be honest about my real daily uniform of a t-shirt, skirt and cardigan.

Finally, I tried on the polka-dot pullover sweater.  I recently edited my profile to say "yes" to polka-dots because they can be so cute and timeless.  I would never pick this sweater for myself, but I am going to give it a shot and I will explain why:  I spend about 30 minutes TOPS getting myself ready and mentally, I still picture myself like a college girl who looks "good enough" in whatever she wears.  I started to take some photos of this fix without doing my hair or makeup and I was a little taken aback by what I saw:  a tired old lady.  I don't know when this tired old lady showed up and took the place of the plump glowing pregnant lady that used to be here, but I can guess that she slipped in somewhere in the long string of nights of insomnia, extended work hours of show prep, and mental exercises about life in general with too many plates spinning.  I see the old lady show up dressed in gray from head to toe,  tired cardigan sweaters, hair unkempt and bags under her eyes.  This little sweater sent me to the mirror for the five second pick-me-up of lipstick and a brush of eyeliner and the reminder that nobody else is going to take care of the old lady if I don't.
41 Hawthorn Gideon Polka Dot Sweater

Since this fix was expensive, I adjusted my fix frequency and am taking a little break to make sure I wear what I have.  I'm super torn about it because I really love the things my new stylist is choosing for me and I can't wait to see what else she finds.  But Cinderella has to come home from the ball and get to work, so off I go! 

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Monday, September 07, 2015

Stitch Fix #10 - The Stylist Makes a Big Difference!

I received a new Fix today and discovered that I had been assigned a new stylist.  Based on what I have read from other Stitch Fix participants, this can be a real disaster, but in my case, Ashlyn apparently TOTALLY gets me!  While I have been grateful for the things I have gotten in the past because they fit and they worked for me, I wasn't sure the clothes were very "me" at times.  This was the first time I was absolutely confident upon seeing each piece that I was going to love them. These clothes look like me. 

I also think it was curious that I didn't have a strong sense of what my wardrobe needed.  I was unable to give any requests when I got the note that my fix was being chosen, only that I needed breathable fabrics that would not be fragile and too delicate. 

So the first thing I saw was the gray knit shirt.  As soon as I glimpsed the vintage-vibe pink insert in the back, I knew I would love it. 

 Shorter in the front and longer in the back, it is perfectly comfortable and soft. But the back makes it so much more than a simple gray knit shirt, and I know I will love wearing this over and over again. 
Loveappella Lolla Woven Back Mixed Media Knit Top

Next, I found the wonderful floral skirt.  Reminiscent of a vintage wallpaper pattern, it is fully lined.  I was afraid it was too long at first, but then realized it fits like a 1950s pencil skirt.  Another versatile piece,  I know I can easily dress it up or down.  
Pixley Eve Floral Skirt
Loveappella Mayfair Lace Detail Knit Top

Trying it on with the navy blue knit top I also got in this fix was an obvious choice.  It will be fun to style it with a simple lacy tank and jean jacket too. All the colors allow for plenty of options.

The darling little top is so lightweight and soft and has a lace accent across the top of the shoulders, which keeps it from being just a basic t-shirt.  I love the length of the sleeves as well as the length of the torso, which works well for my long waist. 

Market and Spuce Jamie Button Down Cotton Shirt

Let's talk about classics, shall we?  A button front white shirt with a a couple of perfect twists: elbow sleeves are perfect for me.  I hate anything long and floppy around my wrists, so I always push up my sleeves. The sides have coordinating knit panels that keep it fitting smooth.  This shirt is knit with a cotton back, so it breaths and has the vibe of a basic white shirt, while being as comfortable as a T. The cut is super flattering. 

Finally,  I got another pair of jeans.  At first I thought, "I don't really need more jeans."  But then I tried them on and realized, "YES I DO."  Especially since they are an extremely dark wash, almost black, which makes them appear much dressier than normal jeans. They are bootcut, and a little on the long side, perfect for wearing with my favorite heels, which also makes them great for church, date night, and school programs.  I have lost exactly 1 pound of baby weight: thanks for noticing! I'm not exaggerating one little bit, so my new stylist is some kind of genius, because I feel like I lost 20 pounds. 
Liverpool Denise Bootcut Jean


Here they are with the little navy t-shirt....adorable, right?  Having these basics is a great treat.  I didn't realize how much I needed some of these wardrobe extenders, but I know I can layer, mix and match, and wear these things in so many ways.

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