Saturday, June 27, 2015

The fresh air of happiness

Each year, as we get close to Independence Day, there is a phrase that follows me in my thoughts. It comes in whispers, the earnest last words of men and women long dead, urging me to consider. If the words are true, then I have something in me that is inalienable, something I cannot give up, nor can it be taken from me.  The phrase turns into questions. How am I caring for my life and liberty? Where am I in my pursuit of happiness?  Honestly, for a very long time, I lost the path. At this time of year, when I could be reveling in summer and the long hours of light, the questions seemed heavy.  I felt like a failure, like the alienable American.  The pursuit of happiness did not seem like a viable venture to me, so I searched for things I could pursue other than happiness. I would catch my face resting in a frown and feel deeply unhappy. I may have wanted to be happy, but I didn’t know how I could do happy.  Then, quite by accident, I discovered that in my body, I have a passage that I can access through which happiness can come in. Does that sound strange?
Everyone knows that the eyes are the window to the soul, and, I hear Pete Townshend when he sings, “let my love open the door… to your heart.” Why not have a hatch we can open and let in the fresh air of happiness? I want to say:

A smile is that passage through which happiness can enter the soul.



For several years, Beth Galis has been telling those of us who attend her hot yoga studio that a smile will bring ease to the practice. After taking more than a year off of yoga to recover from a back injury, I decided to come back to the practice and to enjoy it. I am there because I choose to be there. I know it is good for me. There is no place else I want to be in those moments, those hours. I breathe, I smile, I listen, and I do.  Smiling is what I do to inform my face that I am there to enjoy my body and soak up all of the goodness I can from the practice. I started smiling because Beth said it would make the practice easier. Who doesn’t want easier?  It works. The more I smile, the more I enjoy the class and the easier it is to do it. Then I had a private healing session with Beth in which we were able to identify and release some negative emotional baggage. Soon afterwards, I found myself driving down the road and smiling for no reason and not willfully. It just welled up from inside, and I recognized it as actual happiness. What a gift.  I smile a lot these days. My happiness is independent of any other person or circumstance. No one and no thing made me happy. 

Happiness surrounds me, and when I smile it comes inside.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Work in Progress

I am calling this a Handkerchief Babydoll. I have a 20 year old friend who wants one, so I am starting with fitting myself. I overestimated the amount of ease needed. Since this photo I have taken this red linen one in at the centers and the sides. It fits nicely now and I can hardly wait for it to come out of the wash so I can wear it some more. My daughter said I look like a beautiful butterfly in it. I will look forward to showing Shae in hers too.  This week I am finishing up a package for Simplicity. I am also scheduled to get together with a friend who designed a really clever dress, and the 2 of us are going to put it out in pattern form. Then, I will be right back to this. If you would like to be a tester for this pattern, find the info on my facebook page. I am looking at last week in June to have all of the sizes ready to test.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

How to have a yoga body part 2

How to have a yoga body: take the body you have to the yoga studio and do yoga with it.
Another one of my favorite things about practising at Yarrow is the visualizations given to me by the instructors along the way. Going into standing bow pulling pose, I imagine roots growing down through my feet, spreading out to cover the room and beyond to wrap around the whole world. Those roots hold me in place while I envision a pulley attached to my kicking foot, pulling straight up. I picture myself suspended and attached at the same time. My eyes have a soft focus on my forward hand in the mirror, as I dance between Earth and sky. 
I am hoping to make this a weekly thing, posting the photos and comments. I would love to share my yoga journey with you. I hope it encourages some of you who spend a lot of time behind a sewing machine or at a desk to get out on your mat and work up a sweat.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dare to be adorable

I have a new PDF out. How to make fabric tassels. Since 2008, I have been part of Etsy and watched the trends. When I was new, the trends informed much of what I made and sold there. For the past few years, I have been too busy with deadlines to act on some of the impulses to go with that flow. Luckily, right now, time and space (and a room full of fabric) conspired to carve out this little project and write and photograph it. If you sell on Etsy, (or maybe Amazon soon,) you will find that June will always be huge for tassel themed graduation gifts. This year tassels are especially big and we see them featured everywhere. Get in on the tassel rush, make your own and use up some of those scraps you've been hoarding.  Tassel Tutorial at Etsy, or if you prefer Craftsy, Tassels PDF at Craftsy. I am using one of my handmade tassels on my keys, and it makes me think of my new motto all of the time "Dare to be adorable." I changed my logo to include the new motto.
I meant to bring that up when I announced the Babydoll pattern the other day. It's a saying that really motivates me to be creative. I think it reflects who I am. More on the Babydoll: I wanted to simplify sizing. I have been sewing forever, and I always hated that my sewing pattern size was 2 sizes larger than my ready to wear size. I think it's about time we get real and talk about the key measurement for the pattern and call it that. This top, is made for knit fabrics, the key measurement is your full bust measurement. The finished top will have a full bust measurement equal to the number on the pattern. Your knit provides the wearing and style ease.  The size 38 has a 38" bust, simple. The Babydoll starts at size 32 and goes to 48. Another pet peeve of mine is finding the right line to cut on a multi size pattern - I will say that is useful when you are in between sizes. With this PDF pattern, you will only need to print 6 sheets of paper to make your single sized pattern. For advanced sewists, there is also a quick "order of sewing" list that will print as part of the pattern itself. You will literally only need the 6 pages. Of course, there are fully illustrated instructions for those who need them.  The arms and neck finish with a facing or you can make it reversible. This is so much quicker than having arm and neck bands or bindings. I had a dozen testers make this pattern before the release and every one of them said they will be making more. It is fast to sew and fun to wear. Will you dare to be adorable in a babydoll this Summer?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

My new pattern: Babydoll

If you follow me other places, you may have seen this pattern launch a few days ago. Here are some of my testers in their fun babydolls. Thank you ladies for the lovely photos! Babydoll pattern


Saturday, May 30, 2015

How to have a yoga body, part one

How to have a yoga body: take the body you have to the yoga studio and do yoga with it. 

After 14 months off, I am back. I gained a lot of weight in the year plus that I did not exercise, but I can't let that be an excuse to not get myself to the studio. My chosen practice is hot Hatha yoga. We have a great studio in Spokane, Yarrow Yoga and Wellness. I have always been athletic and never thought yoga was for me, but when I found this place and this style, I fell in love. I practised pretty hard for 2.5 years, about 900 hours. I was always stronger than I was flexible and that caught up with me when I gave myself a major back injury. Thus, the long hiatus.  Some thoughts on my practice:
One of the things I love about this style of yoga is that all I have to do is show up, listen, and do. When it comes to a posture like rabbit pose where my back injury prevents me from fully realizing the posture, I can still listen, and follow the cues until I reach my limit. After that, I listen and picture myself in the full expression of the posture. There is no disappointment or lack of benefit. In my mind, I am a perfect rabbit. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

My Listen to Your Mother Reading for 2015

On Mothers Day evening, a band of women joined together on stage at the Bing Crosby theater in Spokane to read our stories of motherhood. The videos will get posted over the Summer and I will put up the link then. Meanwhile, I wanted to share mine here in written form. To see the other women who were in the show and to find out if there is a LTYM near you, visit the website. The title of my story is My Secret Identity.
As he slips below the water, I kick off my shoes.  Tucking my socks inside them, I think, “Saving him will be the easy part.” Fully clothed, no towels, I don’t want to get wet. I did not want Caleb to go swimming, but here I am at the end of a stranger’s dock on Long Lake in the middle of April about to dive in after him.
“Come on honey” I plead with Caleb one more time, hoping to stay dry. “You know how to swim. Come to me.”
Sputtering for breath, he manages, “I can’t swim, Mom, my shorts are too heavy.” Perplexed, I watch him slip below again, fighting just to keep his lips above water. Suddenly, I am terrified.
Later I would feel ashamed to remember emptying my pockets. The car keys, a folded tissue, a tampon and a couple of chicklets land safely inside my shoe. My plan is simple: get in, retrieve my 7 year old, and get out.
Rory told Caleb it was okay to swim, but he did not stay around to supervise. In this horrific moment, I am angry at the man who saw a vacant house on the lake, trespassed with his wife and kids, said “yes” to swimming and walked away.  I should have protested. I should have stopped him. But I didn’t. I ordered the oldest to watch the youngest on the beach and make sure she didn’t go in past her knees. I delighted in my middle child’s enthusiasm as he tore off his sandals and then ran the length of the dock, pulling off his shirt on the fly. I see his face lit up, joyful. I see him hop up to the diving board and leap toward the water wildly, arms and legs churning in the air.
Now I am watching him drown. Shoes off, pockets empty, it’s time to be the hero.
Confident that a rush of adrenaline will fuel me, I dive in and feel the weight of the nearly frozen lake breaking over my head.  A raw chill encases my body. There is no adrenaline, no palpable heartbeat, only numbness and a kind of deep shrinking.  My rubber fingers clutch my son’s rubber shoulders. He feels strangely relaxed, completely trusting me. I hold his immobile body close, yet feel tangibly separated, incapacitated by the cold.
I think, “We are both going to die. They will find us, fetal, mother wrapped around son, frozen at the bottom of the lake.”
Where was the super-human strength I was supposed to have to save my son? Why am I so human? So… regular-human, so… not-super-human, so… weak-human?
Emptied of breath,  a desperate voice escapes my clenched teeth “kick.”
Caleb says, “I am.” He is not moving. He is still trusting, relying on me.
The 8 feet back to the dock looks like a mile.  Beyond the dock, some movement catches my eye. It is my husband running down the hill to our rescue.  Moments earlier I would have been glad to welcome my man and watch him work while I stayed dry, but now an angry resolve strengthens me. I kick with force enough to drag our bodies through the heavy water myself.
Caleb is taken to the hot tub to melt away his misadventure. I need to thaw more slowly. I am in shock. Who is this cape-less, shoe-less, belt-less, power-less “hero?” I see myself as from above, lying alone on the dock, translucent and more fragile than I ever imagined. The warm wooden dock holds my shaken frame. Through closed eyes, I see the sun. Tears leak out and run toward my ears. In that moment, I reluctantly accept my secret identity. I am (pause) only human.
 I am only human, and today, that is enough.