Navigating through change

(please note my sarcasm and slight cynicism in that blog title)

Feels like I have been away from writing much on here lately. I just keep popping in for a quick photo or treasury post. Sorry for that. I’ve been at a bit of lost at what to write. Things have been more stressful and as my last week at work approaches, I’ve definitely been increasingly blue. It is still exciting to think about becoming engrossed in the Bubblegum Sass business, but the reality is, I will need to get a part-time job somewhere. For now, that somewhere, is pretty elusive. Having to say good-bye to folks (and a regular schedule) is a sad fact.

The month of February will be spent attending workshops and receiving one-on-one sessions with a “career transition” consultant (I’m actually looking forward to it, in case you are wondering about any sarcasm). It just makes me laugh a bit about the terminology that ends up being used to put a positive spin on things. Like “rightsizing” instead of “downsizing”. You’re not “laid off” these days, you’ve just been “transitioned” out of the company.

Anyway, on top of time spent on that, I will also be searching for a part-time job, building up the inventory in my Etsy shop, applying for upcoming craft shows, and crafting up a storm (things to sell and things to give). Why does February have to be the shortest month?! Le sigh.

For now, I’m trying to figure out ways to keep my sanity a bit more in the coming months. Using the pounching bag in the basement is on the list, as is, getting together (and going out) with friends a bit more. Winter here can keep you cooped up. Any good suggestions for keeping your sanity and perspective through periods of unemployment (aka “career transitions”)?

More than one fresh start

Woman wearing orange scarfIt never ceases to amaze me how things seem to happen at just the right moment. Of course, in that moment, it is easy to feel like everything is wrong, it shouldn’t be happening, life isn’t fair, things would be so much better if… Looking back though, you have a bit clearer perspective and maybe you start to see how that moment was just the right moment. If it had happened any other way, things would be going so very differently, and it really might not be better.

Kinda abstract for a Saturday morning, I know. I’ve written a bit about this before, but it’s monumental enough to reflect on again, this year was the craziest roller coaster ride I’ve ever been on. The highs were super high, the lows were so low, they were sub-level. Honestly, though, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Facing challenge after challenge made me realize at my inner most core simply, that I could. A year (or more) of life altering situations and experiences has truly given me a strength I didn’t know I had and a faith that I hope to keep burning inside me.

Sure, I didn’t come out the other side perfect. My heart has been hardened quite a bit. Resentments and anger are taking up some space in there. I really want to let those go. Some days it is easier than others and whatever 2011 brings, I know that I will still be facing some of the challenges that 2010 has left behind.

For all those perfectly timed moments this past year, I give thanks. Thanks because it has given me a list of fresh starts for this New Year:

  • new yarn and needle felting supplies to make into all sorts of lovelies
  • an AeroGarden for a third attempt at my herb garden
  • a heavy punching bag in the basement to work out some anger on
  • an online shop that is ready to open now open
  • a body that is healed and ready to see if there is children in our future
  • a new Bible to learn from
  • a layoff that will lead me to a new career

Happy New Year everyone! Greet this day as one of the many fresh starts to come!

Santa’s workshop

Christmas tinsOur house felt a lot like Santa’s workshop this past weekend. There was so much “making” going on in in the basement, the kitchen, the dining room, and the sewing room. And it was just the two of us. I’m so very thankful that we have the space to do so much in our home. I can’t imagine trying to do it all in our old apartment! There would a lot more swearing, chaos and ruined carpet. With our home though, we can keep the dangerously messy task of dying fabrics contained in a section of undeveloped basement, leaving hubby the entire kitchen for his “making”. Some of my “making” is still in progress, but the result of hubby’s is in those lovely tins. Aren’t those simple paper tags so sweet? That’s all him. Quick sketches on kraft paper, backed by an art degree.

Tissue wrapped giftsWe have regularly made gifts for Christmas, sometimes out of need because money was tight, and sometimes just because we love making things for our family and friends. There has generally still been bought presents in amongst those handmade gifts though. This year we have been thinking and talking a lot about gift giving, in particular, for Christmas. I have become a lot more conscious of, well, everything this past year. Spent time questioning how much of the super consumerist world I want to get entangled with, what’s healthy and what’s not, and what really matters. There have also been lots of conversations about how we would like to raise our children. In reflecting about how we celebrate Christmas, we have a strong desire to simplify the gift giving. Some of our thoughts were nicely expressed in Leo Babauta’s post “The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents“. So we hope to cut back on the amount of gifts that we receive from others and eventually move to gifts of “time”, especially with family. As for hubby and I, we want to move to only making gifts for each other. No bought things. We didn’t really come to this decision until after we had each bought items for each other this year, but we’re excited to do this next Christmas.

As for the Christmas “making” that I undertook this year, I can show you a sneak peek, but the rest will have to wait until after folks receive their presents (as some of them may be reading this). I am enjoying the colourfulness of everything! So typical of me to point out the colour, isn’t it? Anyway, the gift making is a nice mix of crochet and sewing projects with tie-dye thrown in there. Most of the Christmas crafting was put on hold until after the big craft sale, so I’m now working diligently to get everything finished up in time. Lucky for me, my brother and his wife are away for Christmas, so that’s two gifts I can complete after Christmas while I have some time off work. Now I just have to figure out when I’ll sneak some baking into the week.

Red, yellow, green blue dyed fabricsCrochet scarfCrochet sock in progress

That time again, with turns ahead

Christmas bird ornamentAnd I’m not just talking about Christmas, although I am trying to remain in the spirit of the season. This year has been one of the craziest years I’ve lived through. It was month after month of riding such a huge emotional roller coaster. Every truly wonderful thing was so quickly followed by something down right tragic. I’m not an overly dramatic person, but when I talk about ups and downs this year, I mean life and death-type stuff (although thankfully, that’s not the challenge I am currently facing). I should have known that following such an amazing weekend at Market Collective, during which I finally felt like I’d found my passion, I would be hit with some hard news. So for now, I’m in one of those upside down twists in the roller coaster. That’s just the way this year has been. It is humbling. Truly humbling. And a bit motion sickness inducing. The whole expression of old doors closing and new doors opening springs to mind. Is that too cliche?

Counting the days until the end of this year and now seriously wondering what 2011 will bring. Certainly things have to get better in general. I mean, they must. I suppose deep down I’m really ready for a fresh start with things, which is why this most recent bit of news is more a mix bag of challenge, uncertainty, relief, fear, excitement, hellos and goodbyes.

For now, Christmas is fast approaching and I have a list of gifts still to make and traditional baking I want to indulge in. That should keep me busy right up until December 25th. Wishing you all some quiet time by your Christmas tree to reflect on things that have gone and things to come.

Shoe boxes everywhere

We spent an evening this week volunteering with friends for Operation Christmas Child (a program run by Samaritan’s Purse). Many years ago, my mom and I used to put together shoe box donations for the program. In recent times, I missed out on this while we focused our donations on local needs through our church. This year, though, hubby and I had quite a bit of fun organizing items to fit in our shoe box donation. We have friends who volunteer each year at the actual facility where the Calgary shoe box donations get sorted, packed and shipped. So it was with great thanks that we accepted the offer to join them in their volunteering efforts. It was just one evening, a few short hours, but it was nice to spend some energy towards helping others after focusing so much on starting up the craft business these past couple of months.

Samaritans purse banner

Gonna need some more bookmarks

Stack of new booksThe end of the year is fast approaching which means that it is time to use up any remaining benefits at work. I tend to be one of those people who holds off using up benefit funds until the last quarter of the year because I’m worried that as soon as I use them up, I will come across something that I wish work could pay for (like a class).

Looking back, this year was just so crazy, I really shouldn’t be surprised that I have so much of my benefits remaining. There was no time to apply them to anything career, creative or active related in my life. So I took great (great) pleasure in ordering two-dozen new books! It was such a treat! Thankfully, throughout the year, I had been keeping a little list of books I thought would be interesting, with the notion that I might pick up a few at some point. Well, I was able to get them all and then some! The massive book order fell into two categories “career” and “creative”. I know a lot of people shudder at the thought of reading “career” related books, but one of the nice things about my job is that it is in a very creative industry, so “career” books can be just as fun as “creative” based books. I hope to give you some quick book reviews as I work my way through them all. I’ve already started reading Blogging for Bliss: Crafting Your Own Online Journal by Tara Frey, which has obvious applications right here. Interested in the rest of the book treasure? Here is the BIG list, in no particular order:

Thawing

Frost on front doorFor folks who live in the Calgary area, this post might seem like old news or something you’d rather ignore than admit. As Calgarians we do indeed choose to live in a place that can easily get down to -35 Celsius (without wind chill), which is I believe about -30 Fahrenheit. My American friends and family think that is down right ridiculous and I’ll admit that at below -40 Celsius, I begin to question my decision to leave the house.

This week was our first bit of deep cold and snow hit. Roads were bad and traffic was insane. Thankfully I take public transit to and from work, but even that becomes challenging in bad winter conditions. Not just because you risk frost bite, even if you bundle up, but because our light rail transit runs into problems with track switches freezing, doors freezing, vehicles getting stuck on tracks, and general passenger overload. Le sigh. If you’re lucky, you have a job that allows you to work from home on days like this. If you’re brave and smart, you’re prepared with lots of good quality layers. For me, this last part is a must and my go-to for the best stuff is Mountain Equipment Co-op. I grew up wearing hand-me-downs from M.E.C. and it was great for all our family outdoor adventures which included camping, hiking, and skiing. Not to mention just going out to shovel the sidewalks. When I was in University, I got a part-time job at a local fabric store that specialized in all outdoor related textiles (fleece, water-proof breathables, and lycra to name a few). One of the many amazing skills that I developed while working there was learning to sew with all these fabrics. Sadly, the store has since gone out of business, but I still have several technical fabrics in amongst my craft stash longing to be made into winter survival wear.

For now, the temperature is quickly rising and it looks like we are in for a bit of a break, which means that I can shed a few layers.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the folks south of the border! Wishing you safe travels and mild weather!