Finding a bit of Reassurance…

One of the things I’ve realized – and definitely a huge factor in my decision to pursue working at home – is that I don’t want to miss out on my family.  Some things just aren’t worth sacrificing, and my young nieces’ childhood is something I would be heartbroken over if I had to keep pushing aside.  They’ve both been through far too much, and have seen entirely more than they should have in their short lives.  We’ve been fortunate to live together all of their lives, so unlike many aunts and uncles, I’ve been able to be there for almost all of their milestones thus far.  I’ve been able to have such a close bond with them because like many families today, we have never had the typical nuclear family household.  We have our own little unique family unit and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

With all of the craziness as of late, the girls were definitely in need of a pick-me up, and a reminder that the world is not all bad.  I wanted to remind them that love is great and the world is not just full of disappointments.  To remind them that there is plenty in the world to be happy about, and how important it is not to let anyone steal their joy.  Something that will help them learn responsibility, and give them something to look forward to when they come home. A friend they can play with and talk to when they feel alone…

…enter Karla, our little 5 yr. old Terrier Mix and newest addition to the family.

Although I had been entertaining the idea of a new dog, I hadn’t seriously considered looking at this time because my schedule just wouldn’t allow it, and if I didn’t even have time to spend with the girls, I certainly wouldn’t have time to care for a new pet.  My decision to move on from my current job fell at the perfect time, as it opened up this opportunity right as the nationwide Clear the Shelters event was going on.  I don’t even know how exactly I stumbled onto the article, but I’m so glad I did!  If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an attempt to move out as many pets from the crowded shelters and find them permanent homes by reducing the adoption costs to only $20!!  I really had never considered adoption because I always had a clear idea of the exact breed I wanted and I figured I’d have to save forever in order to buy one.

We decided there wouldn’t be any harm in checking it out and we were definitely prepared for some hidden extra fee, or not finding a dog we meshed with, etc.  I can’t begin to tell you it was an amazing experience!  It was completely as advertised: $20 flat fee, vaccines and meds included, and same day take home!  I have to admit, Karla was not our first choice – initially. We went in with the idea that we wanted a puppy, nothing over 3 years.  As we were looking around, there was something about Karla that just instantly grabbed our attention.  She wasn’t playful, or outgoing, and you could see the shy nature immediately, but it’s as if she picked us.  Her calm, timid disposition just jelled right in line with our personality types and we just knew she was the one.

When we brought her home, everyone fell in love.  She is exactly what everyone needed and the girls have not left her side!  I understand why dogs are used in therapy and rehab situations because they provide such a joy to those in need.  The girls haven’t been this excited in awhile and it’s given them a renewed sense of stability and a feeling that our little mixed up family unit is complete.  Even though it’s just a tiny step, it’s given me such a reassurance as well. To know that my decision to make a change has already given me some of my life and happiness back is a great motivator to keep me pushing forward and not give up!

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The Journey Begins…or continues…

For as long as I can remember, I have always had this undying love for making things.  As a kid, I was always the one staying inside coloring in her new coloring book while the other kids chased each other.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I spent my fair share of freeze tag, playing softball and such, but there was nothing so satisfying as quietly perfecting my shading and outlining techniques with a fresh box of Crayolas.

Obviously, just about any child loves drawing and coloring (which is evident from the one-of-a-kind masterpieces covering the walls around the house from my nieces), but for some, it becomes so much more.  I very soon realized how fascinating it is to see an image completely unfold right before your eyes.  To be able to create something from nothing…to create a tangible expression of the vision in your head is nothing short of exhilarating.  For me, drawing was only the beginning of the creative outlets I would adopt.  Although it still remains my most beloved hobby, I have long since put aside those childhood dreams of working as a Disney animation artist.  Sometimes, life pulls you in directions you never saw and pretty soon, you’re a full-time college student, working nearly full-time at a lousy pizza joint with no time for the things you once loved.  Unfortunately, all too often this is the reality for a lot of us.  It’s okay though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Every moment has led to wonderful memories and opportunities that have shaped who I am.  I digress.

My first true experience with the handmade world began fairly early.  I can remember watching my mom sit for hours surrounded by various colors of half-used yarn balls, and the clanking together of her aluminum crochet hooks.  I remember all of the dainty little doilies and reusable dishcloths throughout the years.  I’ll never forget how instantly I grew obsessed with practicing.  The repetitive action of stitching, unraveling, stitching, unraveling, there’s something almost therapeutic and meditative in the process.  Although this remained my mom’s preferred craft of choice, I craved to expand further.  I figured, if I can crochet, why can’t I knit?  I made a trip to the craft store and picked up my first set of knitting needles, 1 skein of cheap yarn, and a good ol’ copy of Knitting for Dummies.  Jokes aside, the Dummies series are a great start up tool for those unable to attend any formal lessons/classes.  I was also amazed at the incredible amount of online tutorials and guides that make learning a cinch!

The interest I would later develop for sewing sort of happened by accident.  It wasn’t until some time later (in my mid-20’s) that I realized how cool and how possible it could be to learn.  I think for most of us that aren’t raised learning a specific craft, or have no previous introduction, it appears much more intimidating than it actually is.  I remember having a pair of jeans that were, like most are for us 5’2″ ladies, too long.  Sure, I had previously attempted (successfully) to hem a pair by hand but I thought, “What if I had a machine, could I do it and nobody would tell the difference?” and “What else could I possibly make with it??”  Combine that crafty impulse with an amazing almost 50% off Amazon discount and I became the proud owner of a Brother computerized sewing machine.  Here I was, a brand new fancy-shmancy machine and no idea what I was doing.  Sewing for Dummies to the rescue!  After all, it worked for my knitting, right?  Countless YouTube videos, craft blogs, hours of reading various techniques, project after project and I still have so much more to learn!

It would be impossible to bring this post to a close without touching on my most recent endeavor: paper crafting.  I remember I had first been exposed to the awesomeness that is scrapbooking sometime around my freshman year in college.  I made a few basic attempts but believe me, NOTHING to rave about and certainly should not pop up in a portfolio.  Nevertheless, it sparked this feeling of joy and contentment and that’s when I knew I needed to continue to learn more.  I couldn’t believe the endless possibilities that existed and the variety of ways people could manipulate paper!

Perhaps as equally thrilling as seeing your creation come to life, is the sense that you’re creating something that is one-of-a-kind.  Even with some similarities, there will always be some subtle differences that make each item or piece unique.  That is the beauty of handmade.  It represents passion, sweat, love, drive, and a desire put one’s own individual twist into every project.  Each item carries a small piece of the crafter, a small story that is expressed in every color, every stitch, every aspect.