The Secret Beauty of Mistakes

A few months ago I got on a plane bound for England. I was taking my little Australian children back ‘home’ to meet a new baby cousin and to spend some time with my family.  I decided that I would take some knitting projects on the flight and get a (very) early start on some Christmas presents as a way to make the epically long flight go faster.  I did get plenty of knitting done, both on the plane and in the days afterwards, but because of the tiredness and the jet lag I made a couple of mistakes. Not terrible ones. But the sort that once spotted can’t be un-seen.  I could have gone back and fixed them but I decided not to and not only because I didn't want to have to face unravelling a lot of work, It was because the mistakes said something. They spoke to me of the circumstances surrounding their occurrence.  They said ‘Oh, hey, remember that time you flew to England to meet your new niece and you were exhausted but you couldn’t sleep on the plane because you were too excited to see your family again and you couldn’t stop thinking about how lovely it would be to spend some time with them…?’ And I realised that I didn’t want to erase that.

So I left them there and I wrote a little letter to go with the gift.  I wrote about how it wasn’t perfect, and how there were mistakes. But I also wrote about how I was feeling as I made it, about my tiredness and my excitement and about how there was love and anticipation knitted into every stitch. I wrote of how I hoped that the recipient too would treasure those mistakes as a reminder of the time that I flew halfway across the world with two small children in tow, just because I loved them so.

The First Day of School

I feel like this day has been coming for such a long time and yet I can’t believe that it’s here already.  We are so ready for it and yet so completely unprepared.  I feel a little like we are standing on the edge, ready to tip into a new world. It’s exciting and exhilarating and terrifying.  We have no idea of the joys and the challenges that we are going to face over the next few years.  The only thing I’m sure of is that it won’t be the ones that we expect.

Looking at this little girl, looking so grown up and so proud in her school uniform I am filled with wonder.  Where did my baby girl go?  How is it possible that this lovely little lady is the same newborn that I cradled in my arms? Wasn’t that just yesterday?

I can hardly take it all in, there are too many emotions, pride, joy, excitement, anxiety, love, grief.  The grief might be overwhelming if it weren’t for the love.  Why does no-one tell you this about mothering?  That it is a series of tiny bereavements. At the same time as we are celebrating new milestones and achievements we are mourning the loss of a newborn / baby / toddler who was here the other day and never will be again.    

It is impossible to express what I feel for this sweet girl, this amazing little person who is so full of contradictions.  Sometimes fierce and sometimes fragile, often kind and often self centred, so brave and yet so shy.  This little girl who is at once so familiar and so unknown.  Sometimes, watching her, I am reminded so strongly of the little girl that I used to be, that I’m not sure where I end and she begins.  

I wish I could stay by her side, but I know she’s going to be just fine so I’ll kiss her on the cheek, tell her that I love her and leave her to find her own way. 

Stop Waiting.

So often I find myself waiting.

Waiting for the perfect moment to do something or say something. Too often I find that that 'perfect' moment never comes.  I know that this will likely be the case and yet still I hold out, waiting for it.

I am gradually learning (though more slowly than I would like) that it is nearly ALWAYS worth just doing something. It might not turn out exactly as we imagine but that's part of the beauty.  I had been wanting to start my little crafty business for such a long time but I felt like there were so many things that needed to be perfect before I would be ready to share it. The problem was that no matter how much work I did I never seemed to get any closer to being ready.  The more things I did, the more things I discovered that needed doing.  It was like opening a can of worms. Eventually I simply heeded this very good advice: Stop waiting, just do it.  And I'm so glad that I did.  Because there's no such thing as perfect.  It's a constant evolution and the journey is just as rewarding as the destination, perhaps even more so.

On a much smaller and less significant scale, we decided this weekend to stop waiting for our home renovation to be finished and invited our friends over for dinner amongst the mess and despite the inconveniences.  Unsurprisingly we had a whole lot of fun and enjoyed ourselves enormously.  I've got no pretty pictures to show you because the house really is a disaster, but I've got a whole new bunch of happy memories to keep me smiling through the week.

It's little moments like these that reinforce the message for me; that there may never be a perfect moment; there is only NOW and the longer we wait the less NOW we have.

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Blogging for Introverts

One of the things I noticed while I was home, catching up with old friends, exchanging news and sharing our hopes and dreams, was how I felt when the conversation inevitably turned to this little website of mine.  The sad truth is that I felt rather embarrassed about it.

When friends tell me that they've read my blog I have absolutely no idea what to say to them - I tend to just squirm uncomfortably in my seat.  What I want to say is that I'm immensely gratified that they've taken an interest and that they are being so kind and supportive; but I simply can't get past the terrifying realisation that they've effectively read my diary.  I feel so exposed.  

So why am I doing this? What keeps me writing despite these feelings?  Why on earth would an introvert choose to write a blog?!

Well, surprisingly for me, I find writing rather liberating.  I love having the chance to share my thoughts - something I'm usually quite shy about doing in person.  I also find that taking the time to sit down and figure out exactly what I do think about something is strangely relaxing.  Blogging gives me a chance to be alone with my thoughts, to reflect on the things around me and make sense of them and I find it energising and reassuring - it's almost like a form of meditation.

I like the connections that this blog can bring - connections with people who have the same interests as me, people who I never would have met in real life.  I love being able to skip over all the small talk and get straight to the things that matter.  I even like that moment of sheer terror that I always experience right after I hit 'publish' and I especially like reading comments and hearing other peoples opinions on the things I've been thinking about. 

The more I think about it the more I think that blogging is perfect for Introverts; It's a way of connecting with people while simultaneously spending time alone; It's a perfect chance to reflect and it gives us an opportunity to think before we speak (or write in this case).  

Of course, reflecting too much can definitely be a bad thing - there are certainly times when I look around and see all those talented people out there - wonderful designers, talented sewers and compelling writers- and wonder what on earth I am doing and why I believed, even for a minute that anyone would care what I have to say. But then I remember what a wonderful, kind and supportive sewing community we have in this online world and I stop worrying, because really it doesn't matter; I'm doing what I love and I'm doing it for me and if other people get some pleasure from it too then that's just an added bonus.  

Incidentally, I had a lot of fun one evening while I was away, taking personality tests with my family (for ourselves and for each other - with hilarious results!) on the 16 Personalities website.  If you haven't done it yet then take a look, we thought it was pretty accurate and I think I even learned a few things about myself.  I came out as INFJ incidentally - just like one of my heroes; JK Rowling - I always knew we would be friends! ;)

What about you? Would you consider yourself to be an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How do you think it helps / hinders you in what you do?

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There's no place like home.

I know a lot of you are here for the sewing – but while I’m overseas I am on a forced break from sewing and my mind is wandering to lots of other things so please excuse my ramblings.  Next month I’ll be back into the sewing, but for now I am enjoying this opportunity to step back and reflect.

Green England

It is wonderful to be back home, back in the place where I grew up.  Back amongst these rolling green hills and dry stone walls.  Everything is so familiar, the smell of the fresh air, the sounds of the voices with their northern accents, the hot cups of tea.  It’s a little like being enveloped in an enormous security blanket and cuddled.

I would never have guessed at 18 where my life would take me.  If you had told me that I would be living in Australia, I simply wouldn’t have believed you.  I’m not the sort for big steps and dramatic changes.  I love home and I love my family and I wouldn’t choose to leave.  But somehow it happened, almost by accident. I never intended to emigrate, but here I am and I can’t possibly regret the decisions that led me here.  I have a home that I love, better friends than I probably deserve and a husband and children who I adore.  Who could ask for more really?

But; while these trips back home make me grateful for the life I have in Australia, I also find that they make me mourn, in equal measure, the life I could have had in England.

Sometimes I feel consumed by sadness at this thought.  England will always be home, but my life is now so fully invested in Australia that I sometimes think that I could never properly be whole again.  It feels as though my life, and my heart, will always be split in two.  But this feeling is one which only really gets me when I am already feeling tired and vulnerable.  More often I am able to see it as a blessing.  Because until you miss something you can never fully appreciate it.  I am constantly missing one of my two homes and my heart is full of gratitude for each of these beautiful places and for the lovely family and friends in both.

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What will your story be?

Who am I?

Where is the meaning in my life? What is really important?  How can I make a difference in the world? These are all questions that I have been thinking about a lot recently.  There are a lot of things in my life recently which have been steering me towards these questions; the death of my grandmother, my sister's impending first baby, the role I have with my own children, the ways in which becoming a mother has changed me, these first steps that I am taking towards doing the things I love and starting my own business,.

This is me with my granny when I was about 6 months old.

I have always known that my Granny Olive was a pretty special lady.  I have also known for a few years that she wrote a book about her life experiences.  I'm not sure why I never asked to read it until now.  I think it was a combination of my failure to realise that getting a copy was as simple as asking my mum to email it to me, and my own self absorption in my busy life as a new mum.  I regret it so much now.  I have just finished reading her story and I wish so much that I had read it years ago, there are so many things that I would have liked to talk to her about, so many questions I could have asked.  It really started me wondering what my story is going to be? What will I have to show for my life by the time I (hopefully) reach old age?  What lessons will my own grandchildren learn from me?  Will they be proud of the person I was, of the things I have done?  Will they see a life lived with love and compassion, a life lived with courage, strength and joy?  I hope so.  It's so easy to keep on plodding through life, to get bogged down with day to day tasks and forget to stop and look up, to look around and appreciate how lucky we are to be living in this moment.  We could all do with taking a little more time to notice the special moments in every day, talking a little more time to consider our actions and think about how we can enrich the lives of those around us, of those we love.  I don't believe that living a meaningful life requires doing remarkable things - I think it is more of an achievement to do ordinary things in a remarkable way.  

What do you think?

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