Adios, 2018

Here we are. December 31st. The final day of the 365 that made up 2018. I, like many others I’m sure, am feeling a little reflective.

It occurs to me that at the end of every year, I focus on the bad. Even though the last few years haven’t been all bad, the culmination of each of these years has been negative. Though I’ve been fighting many battles, and even winning a few, it seems I’m constantly losing the great big war. So recently I’ve been doing a bit of…well, soul searching if you will. Trying to understand why I am where I am, and what I’m supposed to do. And if there’s one thing that I have discovered about myself in these last couple of weeks, it’s that I’ve been lost for a long time.

It’s difficult to put into words how I’m feeling. I feel like I’ve lost sight of the world around me, and the infinite possibilities that come with being human, with being alive. Imagine being in a room filled with hundreds of doors, and meticulously, systematically locking each of them in turn. That’s kind of where I am. I’ve allowed myself, however unintentionally, to become locked into a tiny space, and in turn locked out the world. Maybe I thought it was safer, maybe I thought I didn’t deserve more, maybe I’m just scared. Whatever the cause, I’ve realised that it’s time to start unlocking those doors again. Look, maybe it’s a hokey metaphor but I can’t think of any other way to put it.

I think setting goals can be an intensely personal thing. I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions because, as I’ve said before, the obligation to make them negates the possibility of improvement. What I do believe in, is setting achievable goals at any time of the year, so long as those goals are for you and not resulting from outside pressure to conform. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m setting a few personal goals myself. But I’m not going to share them here.

What I will say, is that I feel like I’ve been walking through a foggy mire, stumbling blindly through heaviness and all manner of things determined to hold me back, and drag me down. And I’ve been lost in that fog for the longest time, but now I’m ready to be found.

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Sewing Dreams

Last week, I finished my friend’s wedding dress. It took me a whole lot of weekends, a whole lot of stress (mostly of my own creation), a whole lot of travelling back and forth between home and the city, and a whole lot of fiddling about with tricky fabric…lots of tricky fabric. Now. Until she gets married next weekend and the dress gets revealed to the world, you’re not allowed to see it (so there). But now that this year’s greatest sewing triumph is complete, I’m dreaming about all the things I want to make a start on.

I follow a few sewing enthusiasts (and geniuses) on Instagram, and every day I see things that other people are creating. Everything from lingerie to shoes, and every cute, wearable thing in between. It gets my fingers itching to guide fabric through a machine. When I see crisp lines and perfectly overlocked seams, I just can’t shake that urge to set myself up at the table and just create in a frenzy of fabric and fatigue. Because sewing endlessly until I can’t see straight, and my back is aching like a labourer after a hard day, is exactly the way I roll. 

I sometimes get frustrated with how little time I manage to find to sew. I envy those gals on Instagram who are forever posting their sewing successes and I wish I could do it all day every day. I dream of once again having my own dedicated sewing room. I had one when I lived on my own, and it suited me perfectly fine. But if I could, I would have a big room, fully kitted out and completely dedicated to the craft. Oh, how I long for the day.

I have so many things I want to try. I am passionate when it comes to extending my skill and learning new ways to make things easier, or better. At the moment, I would say I am a decent sewist (still gonna keep saying that). I can take flat fabric and make it into something wearable. I’m past the point of things I make looking distinctly home made. And I’ve been trying to tackle new things this year instead of sticking to my comfort zone – i.e woven fabrics with no stretch. But even in the last project, there were things I would have liked to do better. And I know that will probably always be the case – indeed, my lovely friend insisted that she loves the dress, and that I am being too hard on myself. She’s probably right, and at the end of the day it’s mostly about her feeling beautiful and comfortable on her wedding day. But I now know that I have areas of improvement to focus on to unsure I keep getting better.

I have a few more projects to finish for other people, and then I think I’m going to put a hold on commissions for a while. There are a couple of things that I’ve had in my head for ages now, and I think it’s about time I started to get them out of my head and onto the table. Even without a sewing room, I can’t wait to throw myself into something new. And I’m excited for the creations yet to come.

Taking Time to Manage my Time

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I have to be honest, I’m not really the best at sticking to goals. I set them, and then things happen and life gets in the way and I allow myself to get lazy, and all of a sudden it’s six months later and all I have is an enormous list of shoulda-coulda-woulda’s. And what I have come to realise is that a lot of these failed goals have one thing in common; lack of time management.

I have this inability to use my time to my advantage, which is especially true since moving to the city. See, I don’t know how to just relax and take some time to myself. Instead, I fill all of my spare time (what there is of it) trying to fit in a billion things at once. And then I get overwhelmed and cranky, and then I lose all motivation. And therein lies the issue. I like to keep busy, but I try to keep myself¬†too¬†busy, and it is largely to my detriment.

Last year I set a goal to read 40 books for the year. Seemed like a reasonable goal, certainly not the most I’ve ever read, but enough to fill in some down time. By December 31st, I had read fifteen. Not exactly the goal I had in mind. This year, I have set the goal at 30. It is a number that better reflects the spare time I have, and isn’t overwhelming. And now that public transport is a necessary evil in my life once again, I have taken to bringing a book on the train/bus with me. It allows me at least 45 minutes of reading time a day, more if I can catch a seat on the ride home as well. And I’m not wasting my time just staring at my phone, scrolling though social media sites that actually hold no interest for me, so it’s a win-win.

Second is the writing. I had a lot of trouble trying to write last year. Despite signing on for NaNoWriMo and writing somewhere in the realm of 10,000 words – mostly due to bringing a notebook to work so I could fill in the long stretches of customerless time productively – I was still a long way off the 50,000 word goal set for the month. It was a good motivator at the time, though evidently not good enough, and my writing has been lax ever since. The reason for this has a lot to do with that thing I mentioned in the last post, about convincing myself I can’t do it. It’s easier to say I have no time than to actually sit down and try to get inspired. So my creative writing goal for this year is to write (a minimum of) 200 words a day. It’s a small number, I know. But 200 words a day, every day for a year is 73,000 words. Minimum. And I think if I can set aside enough time after work for just that, then I have a fair chance of keeping myself motivated.

And finally, I have set myself a sewing goal for the year. I have decided that I am going to make one new thing a month. Around any other sewing that I do, I am going to tackle something I have never done before, whether it’s using a different kind of fabric than the materials I’ve grown comfortable with, or making an item of clothing I haven’t made before. Maybe even both of those things at the same time! After sewing for two years(ish?), my skills have definitely improved. But I tend to keep making the same things over and over, and I think it’s time to expand my skill set and my repertoire. I had a few big commission projects last year, and even in the last twelve months, I’ve come a long way. But there’s so much to learn, and I want to get better. So I think allowing myself a month for a project is the best way to keep myself on track. That way I won’t have to worry about the pressure of trying to squeeze in a project on my day off. That month gives me time to draft and check fit and leisurely sew at a pace that I’m comfortable with. I don’t have to sew in every spare minute, but I have to make enough time for it to finish by the month’s end.

So there you have it. I mean, there are plenty more goals that I have that I would like to achieve, but for now I think making set time for three (and the creative ones are the most important for me anyway) is enough to ensure that I will actually stick to them, without getting slack. And I think, over the course of a whole year, I’ll be sure to have enough time to fit those goals into my schedule. I’ll keep you updated…well, I’ll try anyway. So here’s to time management, and to setting realistic goals! *raises glass*