“…it’s absolutely possible to reinvent yourself.” – Patty Eskridge, Art Journaling Magazine (Oct/Nov/Dec 2018)
When I read Patty’s words a couple weeks ago I got goosebumps. I’d been feeling discouraged about blogging and designing crochet patterns. Maybe discouraged isn’t the right word, because by all accounts my business has been growing and to most people everything looked just fine.
My mission with this blog has always been to empower women to have crafty misadventures by encouraging them to make time for creativity; try new products and techniques; and have fun while making lots of mistakes.
No matter how I tried, I could never get the things I’m passionate about – creating, writing, and lifting others up – to mesh within the confines of this space. Every time I clicked publish, I felt like I failed. There were a couple of moments – Hugamonster, specifically – where I felt like I *got there* but yeah. I was pretty much ready to give up.
I wanted to help people, but I was drowning in stuff I needed help with – kiddo struggles, anxiety and depression, and processing decade-old domestic violence trauma. I chose to be kind to myself and take some pressure off. Instead of creating for others, I created for myself. Eventually I stopped wanting to do even that. I read a lot of books and drank a lot of tea. Always an early riser, I started sleeping in and then taking naps that stretched into the evening.
With a big nudge from my husband I went to my doctor, got a prescription for Prozac, and started seeing a therapist. Things are immensely better now (though I still truly enjoy sleeping in!). Life’s stressors are still chasing me around and that will never change, but they’re 75% more likely to roll off my feathers and stay in their proper perspective.
At the end of September, a couple crazy things happened. Like I don’t understand what but know it was magic or divine inspiration or a gift from the universe. Something big and unexpected and unplanned.
I’m still processing.
All of this to say: this is the story of how I’m reinventing myself and what I’m doing here with this blog. How I got here, how things are changing, and an invitation to join me on this adventure (for the low low price of FREE).
I finally (accidentally!) found a way to unite my three big loves in a way that expresses the ideas I’ve been trying to share all this time, and my heart is so so happy right now!
First: In the MKNG
The last weekend of September I went to In the MKNG as a Creator VIP. I’d been feeling kind of low about that because after the summer I had, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I’d almost talked myself out of going but made a last-minute decision to force myself to go.
I booked a room at a B&B on a farm and then all hell broke loose. Smalls was struggling in school. Another one of my kiddos was going through it. Work challenges. So on. And the day before I was supposed to head up to New York our kitchen plumbing and roof vent collapsed.
Y’all, that was the thing that chased me right out of the house. I needed to get away from the chaos at home and just go play with craft supplies and pet sheep for a few days.
Talking about In the MKNG deserves (and will get) its own post, but let me just say it was AMAZEBALLS. There were so many crafts to try and supplies I’d never seen and awesome people to chat with (pop over to my Insta for the highlight reel). On Saturday night I was supposed to go to a networking event, but anxiety was kicking my ass so I decided to try to find dinner in the small town near my B&B.
Second: Jeffersonville, NY
I wish I’d had more time up there because driving through the hills of the Catskills was my happy place. The sky was so big and so blue, there were cute little animals everywhere, and the farm houses and lakes made my heart sing. I grew up spending summers at my grandparents’ log cabin, running around the Poconos and playing in streams. The gravel and soil and mountains and smells and trees and farms felt like home.
When I made my way into town, there was…one place to eat so it was an easy decision. Across from the cute little tavern, a gorgeous church sat on top of a hill. The grass and sky around the church glowed in the fading sunlight.
The second I went into the tavern I knew I was with my people. I had dinner and chatted with farmers and townsfolk and learned all about what it was like to grow up there and live there. People told me the best stories! I don’t usually feel comfortable sitting at a bar by myself but everyone made me feel so welcome it ended up being a fun night.
As I was leaving, I stood outside the tavern for a bit and soaked it all in. It had been such a great day, and I was in love with this place, and the sky was this incredible inky black that we don’t get here in South Jersey because of light pollution. It was like the sky was trying to erase the few lights there were in town. I took a picture of the tavern sign and a few of the buildings because in that moment, I felt so alive and inspired and capable of creating anything I wanted to create. I wanted to remember how I felt in that moment forever.
I wanted to feel like that forever.
When I got home I became obsessed with the idea of moving to Jeffersonville. OBSESSED. It was all I could think about. And also, all of the reasons it wasn’t practical to move to Jeffersonville were all I could think about. My memories from that amazing weekend started to get muddied with frustration.
I tried to capture how I felt that night in words, scribbling in my notebook and killing multiple pens every day. Words, which I love dearly, were failing me. I decided to try to recreate that moment in my sketchbook. I’m not an artist, so I didn’t quite get there with that plan, either.
One late night in my craft room, I decided to light a fall-scented candle, play some music (I’d been listening to a band I saw at In the MKNG on repeat), and try to paint that night again. I sat for a few minutes before I picked up my pencil and really looked at the photo I took – all of the angles, where the shadows and light fell, colors. I thought about the coolness and slight dampness in the air. I smelled freshly mown grass, trees, the beginning of fall.
When I started painting, I was transported back to how I felt that night. By the time I was done, the painting might not have been technically perfect, but for the first time it expressed what I wanted to remember.
I shared my painting and started talking about my Big Dream of moving to Jeffersonville. I painted from other photos I took and looked for images online that I could bring into my art journal.
People and opportunities started showing up who could help me with my Big Dream, so I kept working on it.
My brain stopped handing me reasons why I couldn’t move to Jeffersonville.
I stopped feeling frustrated.
I started feeling inspired. Like, super inspired. Instead of thinking about *no no, you can’t do that* my brain started showing me ways my Big Dream could be possible. I felt deep in my soul that it was possible.
Fourth: That’s when I realized I’d tricked my brain into working on my Big Dream
I was already living my Big Dream in my art journal. I wasn’t living in Jeffersonville, but as I studied reference photos and painted them, alchemy was happening. As I translated photos into art, I was experiencing my Big Dream.
Fifth: Big Dream Alchemy
I started writing about this process and the things I learned on October 12. By October 15 I’d written half a book, planned a workshop, and knew that I’d finally found my purpose.
I knew which direction I wanted to move in both creatively and with this blog.
It’s the first time in a verrrrry long time I felt like I had a mission and a project I cared deeply about.
So what the heck is it?
Big Dream Alchemy is art journaling with intent – a mashup of vision boards, vision journaling, and art journaling. It’s a sneaky way to scoot around your *no no, you can’t do that* left brain and dive deep into whatever your Big Dream is. It’s a way to nurture your creative spirit and grow your artistic skills while at the same time working on (and living in) your Big Dream.
It’s also a community of people who want to share their Big Dream, find support, and support each other. Join the (brand new!) Facebook group by clicking the link back there and let’s get started.
Sixth: What’s Next
Here on the blog, things are going to get a little shuffled around. I’ll occasionally talk about yarn and all things crafty, but the focus is going to be on Big Dream Alchemy:
- How to use art to dive into your Big Dream
- Tools and techniques for art journaling
- Inspiration and motivation
- Interviews with people who are living their Big Dreams
Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be writing about how this whole thing works and sharing thoughts on why I think it does. In the Facebook group we’re just going to dive in and start working on it. If you want to see what it looks like in practice, check out my Insta where I’ve been sharing as I go.
I’m writing a book and developing a workshop while working on my Big Dream, so I’m right here with you as this idea grows and evolves. I’d LOVE feedback about what’s really working for you and/or what isn’t working. Feel free to email me and let me know or ask questions.
Share in the comments what your Big Dream is!