11 Things I’ve Learnt in 2017
Happy New Year!
So 2017 is over and 2018 is just beginning.
2017 was an odd year for me and not an entirely easy one. My place in the world has changed as my situation has changed, and one of the things I’ve learnt is how isolating it can be to have a child who’s having problems at school. But it’s also been a year when I’ve done lots of fun stuff, including plenty of things that I hadn’t done before!
I’ve mentioned before that Vicky of Vicky Myers Creations said she didn’t want to become a faceless tutorial writer, and I don’t either! So some of the things on this list relate to sewing and making stuff and some of them are more personal.
If You Can Crochet But You Can’t Knit, Continental Knitting Might Be the Answer.
I discovered contintental knitting thanks to a lady on a bus in Oslo.
My mum taught me to knit the British way and I’ve never got the hang of doing it quickly! Continental knitting is more like crochet in the way that you hold the yarn and wiggle the needles about.
I have successfully finished a cushion and a pair of socks by knitting in this way, and the second sock actually didn’t take me long at all! So in 2017 I officially declared myself a knitter.
Music Festivals Are Fun, Even in the Rain
Back in June we went to a music festival in Cheshire. I had never been to a music festival before and I was not sure whether I would like it. My expectations were quite low as I don’t like loud noises, excessive amounts of mud or disgusting toilets.
I really enjoyed it! The toilets were fine. It rained a bit but not the whole time so there was no mud. Ear plugs did the trick and we all loved it so much we’re going back this year! There was a huge variety of music and we got to see some amazing people live. My favourites were Casting Crowns, but I even liked Andy Mimeo despite not liking rap music. Just thinking about it now is making me smile :).
You’re Not Too Old
I remember somebody saying once that they had no idea who the old man was who lived in their mirror. This was a chap in his 70s, and being older now I totally understand what he meant!
I suspect that even little old ladies are still 25 inside their heads whatever their birth certificates say!
But so often we’re held back by the idea that we’re too old for something. Even if we feel 25 inside, we know that the numbers don’t lie and that time takes its toll and shows itself on our faces and our bodies.
The idea of being too old can hold us back just as much as the fear that we are not good enough, too overweight, too shy, too loud, under qualified, over qualified and a whole load of other stuff on that list.
It’s difficult as well in a culture that values youth over everything.
But there are good things about getting older. I’m much more comfy with who I am and I feel much less pressure to conform.
So with that in mind, who is going to tell me I am too old? I’m going to do what I feel is best and what I want to do according to my own principles and ignore what people who I have never met have to say on the subject. And that includes wearing a foofy skirt for the school run and twirling about in muddy country lanes like a 4 year old at a birthday party!
You’re not too old. Change your job, dye your hair pink (Helen Mirren did!), wear a crazy outfit for the school run, take up cycling, learn something new. Remember that 25 year old who lives inside your head!
Things Change But It’s OK
2017 has seen some changes at Tea and a Sewing Machine HQ. I no longer have pre school aged children or kids just at primary school. My place in the world has changed. I’ve had to move seats.
This was something I’ve been dreading for a while. I gave up a career as a teacher in favour of staying home with my babies and now those babies are gaining independence and needing me less.
I’ve not wanted to acknowledge that times are changing. Accepting that the little one isn’t a baby any more has been hard, and it has taken me a while to even begin to adjust.
Things are settling down though, and I’m getting used to it. I have time to work on Tea and a Sewing Machine and on my Etsy shop without having to snatch a few minutes when I can when the boys are busy, in the early morning or in the evening when they’re all in bed. It will all be okay, I’m just getting used to my new seat.
It’s Possible to Make Money With an Etsy Shop, But There’s Lots to Learn and You Have to Work at it
I’d already discovered that having a successful shop on Etsy was not as simple as listing a few things, then sitting back and waiting for the sales to come rolling in. There is so much more to it!
Deciding what to sell, pricing, photographs that make people click, titles that get found, descriptions that make people want to buy, promotion, not to mention what happens when you do make a sale!
It is possible though. There’s lots of advice out there and it’s possible to make at least a bit if you’re prepared to learn and apply what you learn.
You Can Set Goals as Much as You Like, But You’ll Only Achieve Them If you Have Time to Work On Them
Sometimes this means making time. It might be as simple as getting up a bit earlier, watching less telly, spending less time on Facebook or not having a lie in at the weekend.
If you are genuinely very busy, you’re not on social media a lot, you don’t watch much TV and you already get up early, it’s going to be harder.
There might be things you can say no to, or things you can say yes to, like baby sitting or help with the housework!
I found though that even though I tried my best to be productive, the boys and the house and a husband who works long hours has meant that for most of last year, I just didn’t have enough time to mash my goals or whatever the current favourite expression is.
I have found that the solution is to keep things as simple as possible. Not too many goals, nothing huge, and everything down into bite sized chunks. Choosing easier goals doesn’t always mean refusing to leave your comfort zone. Sometimes it just mean being realistic about what you can achieve in the time that you have.
Stuff Always Takes Longer to Do Than I Think.
Oh my goodness this is something I keep learning!
Things always take me longer than I think they’re going to, the result being that I often don’t get things finished in the time I’ve allowed, leading to major frustration!
When I had little people at home with me all day, it was easy to see why things never got finished. Now I’ve got more time, I want to be super productive and get everything done! But I don’t get masses of stuff done when the boys are at school because things still take time.
So I’ve changed how I do things. My to do list has less things on it so I’m more likely get them done. If there’s something on it that might take a while, I might add another item or two that I’ll do if I have time, so I don’t feel too bad if I don’t get to those.
Achieving what’s on my list, even if it’s not a long list, makes me feel better, less cross, less frustrated and probably more productive in the long run.
Flying Long Haul Isn’t Too Bad, Even With Kids
One of the highlights of 2017 was our trip to the USA. In October, we visited New England and had a lovely time! We loved it so much we’re planning to go back, probably to New Hampshire as that was the bit we like the most.
The boys and I had never flown lang haul before, and Husband only once. I was worried about how they’d be on the plane (6 hours is a long time to expect anybody to sit still and be quiet, especially puppyish little boys!), I was worried about the jet lag, and I was most of all worried about them annoying other passengers. They are good boys but boredom and tiredness do not generally bring out the best in anybody.
It was fine though. They were as good as gold on the flights, they read, talked quietly and slept. The jet lag wasn’t too bad either. And it was totally worth it to see beautiful New England in all her autumn glory.
Maths is Bearable When Combined With Making Stuff
Despite having a number of mathematicians in the family, maths is not my thing.
I want to encourage my boys along the paths that they choose, so after seeing some old Royal Institution Christmas Lectures about 4 dimensions, at his request I made Aidan a Klein bottle hat. This led to quite a lot of time spent making and talking about Klein bottles and Mobius loops in general. It’s actually interesting! After several months of trying to figure it out, I was able to imagine a 4D version of a Klein bottle where the handle doesn’t intersect the outer bit of the bottle.
Hyperbolic crochet is also worth investigating if you find this kind of thing interesting.
Sometimes Things Come Along Just When You Need Them
This is a personal one!
Being a Christian I put this down to prayer and Providence, and I find it happens all the time.
Having a child who’s experiencing difficulties at school is a lonely place to be in. A problem shared is a problem halved, but most of the people I know are acquaintances more than friends. I realised that I hadn’t actually had any close friends since university. So God/ the angels/ the universe sent me my friend Helen. I now have a close friend again and life is so much sweeter and the difficult bits are less lonely.
Having a Blog and an Email List Means Connecting With People all Over the World.
I love this one! When I started Tea and a Sewing Machine, I was throwing stuff out into cyberspace and I don’t know whether anybody even read it! Now, several years on, things have changed. I love reading your comments, and I love it when people reply to the emails I send. I’ve talked to people all over the world, from a few miles away to completely different continents!