Word of the Year: Communicate

Word of the Year 2020: Communicate

 

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They’ve just never been my kind of thing. I have always enjoyed doing reviews of the past year, looking back and making note of highlights, favourite things, pastimes, moments, decisions, etc. But a New Year for me doesn’t signal dramatic change or big goal setting. That said, as 2019 drew closer to its end, I pondered participating in the “Word of the Year” {you know, like reflect on where you want to be, where you see yourself & discover a word that resonates, a word that could be your theme for the year}.

So I’ve been reflecting. Visualizing. Considering.

There was one word, in particular, that stood out ~ Communicate ~

I often don’t feel like a very good communicator. I write better than I speak. I too often expect my hubby to read my mind or my actions, instead of just sharing words. We both fully admit communication is the weakest part of our marriage. Beyond that, I let too much go unsaid, even though I talk a lot. The “good stuff”, the stuff of meaning, gets ignored. Avoided maybe.

I want to take ~ Communicate ~ and carry it with me through the coming days.

There are three main elements to the word, that I am focusing on: clarity, consistency, and transparency.

  • Clarity ~ in my meaning and in word usage, as a parent & wife
  • Consistency ~ regular, routine, to the point of daily habit
  • Transparency ~ in my feelings, giving voice to my authentic self

I don’t exactly have an action plan for my word. For now, I just keep repeating it to myself throughout each day. When I see an opportunity to improve my communication, I try to act on that, in that moment. I want to put up some visual reminders around the house too. Have you ever chosen a “word of the year”? Any tips on keeping that word alive for yourself throughout the year?

A Year In Review: 2016

A Year In Review: 2016 ~ Bubblegum Sass ~ New Year, New Dreams

 

As the hour approaches and this year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect a bit on 2016. {To see my previous year reviews, click here}

Age: 35

Books I kept beside the bed:

  • Jan Karon’s Mitford series {still reading it}
  • GriefShare workbook
  • Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Most enjoyed restaurants/food:

  • Last Best Brewery & Distillery
  • Charcut
  • The Chocolate Lab

Songs I’ve had on repeat:

  • Thy Will by Layla Mackey
  • Fight Song by Rachel Platten
  • Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin

Biggest Challenges:

  • Admitting the full extent of my depression & grief and seeking help. It’s all an upward climb to get out of the depth of the darkness, but one of the hardest parts is that first move to get help. After years of knowing my depression was getting worse, I finally realized I couldn’t go on without doing something about it. I went to my doctor and asked to start anti-depressants. I started checking in with her once a month to ensure the meds were on track & helping.
  • Hiring a nanny for the summer. It might *seem* small & silly, but admitting that I needed help with childcare was a big deal for me. I’m a stay-at-home mom. So getting a nanny seemed indulgent, but I knew, I needed the help to keep my sanity & make my self-care a priority in those early months of tackling my depression.
  • Committing to, showing up for, and participating in a 13 week grief support program at a local church. If you’ve ever walked through or are currently facing grief, I highly recommend the GriefShare program. It’s fully Christian based, but connecting with others who are going through loss is huge to healing.

 

Weekly Color Inspiration ~ By Bubblegum Sass ~ Birthday Unicorn ~ Nursery Room & Girl's Room Decor Inspo

 

Smartest decision I made: Walking through the doors of the local gym, committing to a weightlifting program, and connecting with a wonderful group of moms all doing the same thing. It’s been an incredible two months so far! I don’t feel weak anymore. I don’t feel sick. I don’t feel so broken. I like feeling my muscles work, I like the sweat & the challenge. I like the little village I’ve finally found myself in & the support & inspiration we freely give to each other. And I keep saying, as long as I walk through the doors of the gym, I’ve completed my goal. Doesn’t matter how the rest of the workout goes.

Glad I finally: Set some clear boundaries on my craft business that I’m comfortable with. Although it meant a loss in sales and having to say “no”, it was wonderful to be closed for the month of December. No markets, no online sales, no custom orders. Every year, I take steps to turn my focus to the true spirit of Christmas & going forward it will always mean being closed in December, so I can do just that.

Most thankful: For my Sammy, hubby & family. For friends, new and old. For customers & their custom orders. For getting a spot on a local adoption list. For God continuing to surprise us at every turn.

 

Much love to you & yours this New Year’s Eve! May 2017 bring the best surprises & the best changes to your life!

 

A Year in Review: 2016 ~ Bubblegum Sass ~ New Year, New Dreams

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When Life Keeps Giving You Lemons

You either get sick of drinking lemonade or

choose to stop seeing things as lemons to begin with.

Small Upcycled Love Catcher by Bubblegum Sass
On the outside, I live a fairly average life. Married. One child. A cat. A house. Stay-at-home-mom. Introvert. Passion for all things crafty & creative. Learning to be a green-thumb. Dive one layer deeper and you discover that I have a very close relationship with my family, keep a small, but tight group of friends, and struggle with all the insecurities & worries that come with being a parent.

Keep going deeper… you learn that both my hubby & I balance our own small businesses, along with that close knit relationship with our family. We’re working on making our big, long-term dream of living on a farm a reality. We have a passion for happy, healthy, locally produced food and a desire to share that with everyone we meet.

Dig deeper… I’ve struggled with the health complications of massive uterine fibroid growths since 2009. Had one, highly invasive, major surgery to remove them. Except they grew back and are now bigger than before.

Keep going deeper… I started my crafty business in 2011 after being laid off from my job in Calgary’s creative tech sector. That same year I finally found myself pregnant for the first time, but sadly miscarried. A couple months later my mom was diagnosed with cancer. A week later I was pregnant again. Five months after that, my oldest brother died.

Even deeper… I witnessed & experienced the heartache of watching my oldest brother struggle with the ugly disease of alcoholism for over a decade. More heartbreaking as each year passed. I’ve gone through the uncertainty of being able to have children (going through it again as we try for baby number 2). I’ve watched my parents suffer the terrible loss of a son (it’s burned into my eyes & heart). I’ve also been watching my mom courageously battle cancer for almost four years now. The joyous birth of our own son in 2012 was seen as a huge beacon of light in my family, after much darkness.

Deeper still… my mom isn’t winning her battle with cancer. This past year her physical & mental health has declined greatly. No more chemo treatments now. Doctors just want to make her as comfortable as possible, for however long she has left. And so, after well over a decade of “lemons” being dealt our way, we go into 2015 with this very real possibility, that it will be the last year I spend with my sweet mom.

Small Upcycled Love Catcher by Bubblegum Sass ~ Vintage Buttons Shabby Chic Home

Maybe not quite such an average life after all.

A lot of people will read everything above (and even below) and question our sanity. Some might be able to relate to a few of the life challenges we’ve walked through. And I’m hoping, that others will see it the way I struggle to see it every day; a blessed life.

Dig deep to my core… you will find my belief in God, in Jesus, in the Holy Spirit. THIS is what keeps telling me to stop seeing things as “lemons”. I truly live a very blessed life. If there is one thing that I can walk into the future with, it is an appreciation for God’s timing, right down to every heartbreaking moment. I will trust in Him. Oh, how I WILL trust in him.

But you caught that part about it being

a struggle every day, right?

Every. Day.

I am by no means running through each day with the wind blowing in my hair, a smile plastered to my face, while I belt out praises and love with grace. I’m just a woman balancing her roles of mama, wife, daughter, sister, and now auntie; wanting to hold my family so close, but knowing I will have to let go one day. I love as best I can. I’m learning to forgive and ask forgiveness. But the greatest challenge of all, is learning to be thankful even in the darkest hours.

It’s how I’m starting to see things, not as lemons, but as part of His blessings. I can’t worry about what tomorrow or next month will bring, but only hope that I come right back to reading this post if I begin to see those “lemons” rolling my way. It’s mostly a reminder for me. I would love if it were a reminder for you too.

Small Love Catcher by Bubblegum Sass ~ Shabby Chic Country Kitchen Decor

Celebrating 500!

Hello there! Welcome to the NEW blog. My sweet hubby breathed some fresh air into my logo and the site design. Whaddaya think? I was feeling like things not only needed a little sprucing up, but that they deserved some sprucing up.

Ummm… not sure how it happened, but suddenly realized this month that I was edging close to 500 posts on this here little blog of mine. This post officially makes 500!! Wowzaa! That feels like a lot of writing. Of course, it’s been spread over the past 4 1/2 years, but still this is a milestone to take note of.

The last time we did a bit of celebrating on the blog, was when I wrote the 200th post. At the time, I shared my top ten fave posts. This time around, I thought I would do something similar, but also include the most popular blog posts. Thanks for walking down memory lane with me. Here we go:

Most Popular Post:

Purses Grow On Trees, April 2011

DIY Purse Display with Buttons by Bubblegum Sass

 

Second Most Popular Post:


Button-spiration, December 2012

DIY Salt Dough Button Ornaments by Bubblegum Sass

 

My favorite posts (in no particular order):

And Then There Was You, March 2012

Baby Samuel Moments After Birth

 

Sad Goodbyes and Anxious Hellos, January 2012

Sarah_Marcus


Little Hands Making Rainbows
, December 2012

Non-messy finger painting tutorial by Bubblegum Sass


Sweetheart Treats, February 2014


Chocolate Dipped Wafer Treats by Bubblegum Sass


A Shirt Story
, November 2013

Upcycled Cuff Bracelet by Bubblegum Sass


Busiest Little Helper, August 2014

Sam_mowing

 

Into The Ground, June 2014

Happiness By the Acre Tree Planting


DIY Candy Cane Ornaments, December 2013


DIY Candy Cane Ornaments Tutorial by Bubblegum Sass

A Year In Review: 2014

Celebrating mama's birthday ~ December 2014

I did one of these last year and decided to share my 2014 tidbits too:

Age: 33

Most enjoyed books:
1. Yada Yada Prayer Group (the ENITRE series was so enjoyable!) by Neta Jackson
2. Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker
3. The Bible. Yes. It felt so good to make reading the Bible part of my daily routine.

Best food discoveries:
1. Making & canning tomato sauce
2. Roasting duck
3. Various yummy edible uses for dandelions

Biggest Challenges:

1. Attempting to figure out the new balance of pretty much everything in our life during hubby’s first year of intense market gardening
2. Having to take on the majority of our own gardening & subsequent food preservation (with the help of small toddler hands). In the past, I just played the role of assistant while hubby led the way. Felt like a bit of a crash course this year in everything garden related.
3. Still trying to figure out how to fit in enough crafting & Bubblegum Sass business time on a regular basis so that I can feel satisfied.

Lessons learned:
1. Slugs will demolish a garden in a blink of an eye. Do NOT put off dealing with them or you will be left with nothing but slimy, half eaten beans.
2. Do not be afraid to make changes or tell people when something isn’t working out. If it’s not sitting “right” with you then do something about it.
3. Verbalizing your honest feelings to a two/three year old, is better than yelling at them. (I am frustrated, I am tired, etc).

Smartest decision I made: NOT closing up shop and giving up on Bubblegum Sass, even though I came very close a couple of times this year out of pure frustration.

It’s been a long time in the making, but: my Bubblegum Sass product line and booth design is FINALLY coming together. Four years into this whole thing and I’ve finally figured out my brand and feel like I’m on the verge of a very cohesive collection. Hoping to bring the blog, website, and Etsy shop all in line with that identity in 2015!

Highlight moments/events:
1. Our family dream trip to Disney World and our very first cruise on board a Disney Cruise ship! Our adventures there were chalk full of “once-in-a-lifetime” moments!
2. Two AMAZING craft shows this year that made every effort I put into the business worth it!
3. Getting to see my fave Broadway musical Wicked live, not once, but TWICE this summer!

Glad I finally:
took a vacation somewhere warm, wore a bathing suit, and treated ourselves to lots of little indulgences after the last several challenging years we’ve had. Much needed time away together.

Most thankful for: another year of being a stay-at-home-mom. As much as each day challenges me, I wouldn’t trade it, not if it meant missing out on so much Sammy time.

I am admittedly, not good at asking for help. I’d rather suffer through something than delegate it. This is not a good quality in life or business. I might always struggle to ask for help, but I am so very blessed to have willing, helping hands at my disposal. A VERY special thank you to my hubby, Marcus, for his dedicated support to my business. He helps whenever I get up the nerve to ask for it, and offers even when I don’t. A VERY special thank you to my dear friend Shauna, who enthusiastically volunteered to lend me a hand at craft shows this year, even though it meant a ton of life scheduling & organizing on her part. Your offer of time, big or small, has meant a world of encouragement to me!

And lastly, but not leastly, THANK YOU to all the readers of this blog, my wonderful customers, followers on social media, fellow crafters & artisans. You made it possible to keep going with Bubblegum Sass another year. You inspired, challenged, and encouraged me. I am realizing that small growth, is growth nonetheless and that thought warms my heart as I move into an exciting new year.

A year in review: 2013

Decided to do a little review of the year, so here it is, in a nutshell, my 2013 tidbits:

Age: 32

Most enjoyed books:

  1. “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” by Barbara Kingslover
  2. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen (yes it really was the first time I’ve read it)
  3. “Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own” by Jenna Woginrich

Artists whose music I’ve had on repeat:

  1. The Lumineers
  2. Mumford & Sons
  3. Dan Mangan

Best food discovery: kale chips

Biggest challenges:

  1. Learning to carve out enough time to do my Bubblegum Sass business (which meant asking for help from others to look after Sam & putting my crafting at a higher priority than it has been for a while)
  2. Living through *major* home renos & coping with no kitchen for three months (hubby & I managed not to kill each other)
  3. Trying to figure out the balance between being a mom, a wife, a small business owner, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and just being me.

Highlight moments/events:

  1. Being a vendor at Make It! in November in Edmonton with my brother
  2. Road tripping to Colorado for my cousin’s wedding, staying in Estes Park, and visiting family
  3. Spending time in the garden and at the cabin with Sam, watching him explore nature & discover so many new things

Glad I finally: got a subscription to Taproot magazine!! So enjoyable in every way! Why didn’t I start reading it sooner?!

Most thankful for: another year with my parents living close-by and being able to spend so much special time with Sam

And now it’s time to take a moment to say “THANK YOU” to all my readers, customers, family & friends. Whichever category you feel you fall into, I have much appreciation for all your support! Looking forward to sharing many more adventures with you in 2014!!

Sam sledding at the cabin

A year like no other

Sarah and Sam with embroidery hoop
Photo courtesy of Scott Frank
Of course, no year is really like any other. How could it be? Life keeps changing and we keep changing with it. Even if we don’t want to, life has a way of changing us.

Let’s see… this year we had our first baby, cared for & protected that precious little life, and along the way, been constantly changed by every experience that being a parent brings. I feel like I would barely recognize the person I was and the way we lived life before Sam was born. I’m still in there, that crafty, creative, smart, common sense woman who likes to organize & sort, sew & crochet. The big difference is where I put my energy, love, dedication and every waking thought.

I’ve let some things go because compared to Sam, they don’t matter nearly as much. The house isn’t so clean & organized these days. Paper work & filing are stacking up. It will get done one day. I don’t make & list as much new product in my Etsy shop. Craft show applications were ignored entirely this year. I do less visiting with friends. Christmas cards & letters weren’t sent. Craft projects are small & quick and I readily acknowledge & abandon ones that will not realistically get done. Cooking is simple. Lots of things are frozen, to be thawed for even easier dinners a few weeks down the road. Time to shave my legs and paint my nails? Only on super rare and special occasions. A bath? Don’t even remember the last time that happened.

Expectations. That’s the second biggest thing I’ve had to let go of. I think every parent faces that. For us, trying to keep things simple has been the key in dealing with letting go of expectations. You can only do so much in one day, plain & simple. That bit of rest you get at night, isn’t worth sacrificing so that the kitchen will be clean or the laundry folded.

The biggest thing I’ve had to let go of is planning, scheduling, having things be somewhat predictable, and regular. As soon as you think that you & baby have established some sort of routine, he changes, then your life has to change with it. As soon as you think that you can rely on some behavior or schedule, everything falls apart. It’s not all bad and it’s not all good, certainly, but the greatest challenge in being a parent has been learning to be crazy flexible and patient with the whole process. I still have my moments, where I rage inside against the new change, big or small. Sam and I get frustrated with each other during these times and then somehow, you just have to keep on trucking forward. I’m not a perfect parent, far from it. I look at friends in great wonder sometimes at just how they have the patience, love, & positivity, that feels lacking in me. I’m pretty sure, though, that every parent has their moments.

Would I go back to the way things were before baby? Absolutely not. One look into that chubby, smiling face, with big eyes longing to discover the world, is the only reminder you need of why you will accept, perhaps even embrace, all the change & transformation.

This post was supposed to be a year in review. What we accomplished, how it compared to others, the ups & downs. It’s not the post I set out to write, but it certainly encompasses our entire year. What did I do this year? I became a mom.

Christmas past & present

Sam's First Christmas ornament

Just now beginning to catch up on things following all the Christmas craziness. I keep thinking back to what last December was like for us. I was nearing the end of my pregnancy, tired, uncomfortable, anxious to welcome our little babe into the world. My physical condition forced me to simplify & be patient. The sadness of celebrating our first Christmas last year without my brother Blake was an additional element that brought a lot of reflection & peace with my own life.

This year was packed with a lot more activity, expectations, long days & nights, less time to sit & enjoy the true meaning & purpose of the season. Although I do love visiting with family, and enjoyed seeing Sam spend time with everyone, I felt a bit “done” by the time Christmas Eve rolled around (and we still had multiple days of “Christmas” celebrating left). It didn’t help either, that by Boxing Day, baby boy had come down with a fever, wasn’t sleeping well, and clearly not feeling good at all.

I feel a bit bad that I’m lamenting a Christmas spent with family, tasty food, wonderful gifts & such, when so many people don’t experience even a bit of that. But I can’t help but feel that this year, I somehow missed out on the feeling of Christmas. I lost my way at some point during the month. I feel even worse, since this was Sam’s very first Christmas, a truly special moment that I wished I could have been more present in.

I’m tired. Confused. There’s just too many changes going on with baby boy right now (trouble sleeping & nursing, horrible crying spells). I really don’t know what to make of it all. It’s definitely not feeling like the happiest time of year. Actually it all feels a bit empty.

I think about it every year, simplifying Christmas. We’ve made some small steps towards this, but still somehow, get sucked back into it all. Shauna and I came across a great post from Red and Honey blog about five ways to simplify Christmas. Of course, we read this at the beginning of December (a bit too late to attempt this year). I want to keep it mind though, for next year. It seems like it will become even more important as Sam gets older.

Le sigh. Le very big sigh.

Feels like such a downer blog post. Especially about Christmas. Sorry. I hope that you had some truly joyful moments this season and were touched by the warmth of Christmas where ever you found yourself this year.