this transformation that is motherhood

Dear Little One,

Three weeks ago
you and I
went through a dramatic, almost violent change.

For weeks and months
leading up to it
I eagerly anticipated that trasition...

So impatient
to hold you
in my arms, and now I do hour upon hour.

IMG_0101.JPG

I have spent
my whole life
looking forward to becoming a mother — your mother.

This trasformation
did not happen
at the moment of conception or moment of birth,

For just as both
conception and birth
are a process, an experience, so is becoming a mother.

IMG_0102.JPG

As a mother
I am not
someone entirely new, but I have changed.

I still write
I still work
but now you join me, cradled against my chest.

I love you
so very much
my dear daughter, my first-born, my wonderful child.

I'm excited to watch
you transform and grow
in stature and wisdom and favor with God and man.

IMG_0100.JPG

The topic of this letter to my little one was inspired by Sakura Bloom's Sling Diary prompt: Transformation.

but first, remember

Dear Little One,

Memory is an interesting thing.
It makes us laugh
or cry
or want to forget.

Sometimes forgetting seems the easy way out
and while there is a time to forget what lies behind
to press on toward a better future,
there is also a time for ebenezer stones,
monuments of memory that remind us
of the better future we have already tasted.

I am all too often
too quick to forget.
So I write
to choose to remember.

Because remembering the most important things
doesn't come naturally.
Even after she was admonished repeatedly,
"remember, remember, remember,"
Jill forgets every vital sign until almost too late.
Thank God for grace.

IMG_0097.JPG

Your father
reminds me often
to remember,
remember, remember.

To remember who I am and who he has made me,
for a member of the Aspen family has a peculiar identity.
To remember where I have been and where I am going,
for they are such different places.
To remember who supports and leads me,
for to follow your father is to follow a great King.

Memory is not only
our perception of
the past;
it shapes the future.

So let us together embrace these experiences
choosing to see in the memories
visions of future hope.
For even the worst memories speak of survival
and the best are tastes of heaven.

The topic of this letter to my little one was inspired by Sakura Bloom's Sling Diary prompt: Memory.

on finding my purpose {may you learn from my story}

“Pursue your passion!”
Which one?
I know I’ve been paralyzed by that question in the past.

I have so many interests - things I love to do, things people tell me I’m good at, and things that I can’t let go of, even if I try. How’s a girl to decide where her true passion lies?

I set aside a month to rest and reflect. A whole 31 days without actively pursuing any passion, but rather considering the things that I love, the things that drive me, and the things that have shaped who I am. I journaled, talked with close friends, and restrained myself from choosing any one thing and running with it. The last was harder than you might think! Any time I came up with an idea, I wanted to jump straight into it, sure that this was the next big thing I was to pursue. I’m really glad I didn’t.

As the end of the month drew closer, I had lots of ideas - an overwhelming number of ideas! - and still no clear direction. Until a friend exposed me to this simple concept from Tom Ziglar. He outlines a way to discover what he calls your “purpose," defining this purpose as the place where your passions, giftings, and scars converge.

Passions:

Is there a time when you didn’t need an alarm clock to wake you?
When you were working (or playing) at something that brought you so much life, that you didn’t have to think twice about rolling out of bed? The things that get you up in the morning, these are your passions.

Giftings:

What problems do people bring to you?
Think of a time when someone has asked you for help. You may not think of yourself as an expert in this area, because it comes so naturally to you, but other people do. The perspective of another person looking in can help you determine your giftings.

Scars:

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome?
The making of a scar is a painful process, but once it is healed, it becomes the evidence of triumph. If you’re anything like me, you likely want to forget that the scars (and the things that caused them) were ever a part of your life, but you earned them. Even the most difficult things in your past have prepared you for your present and will propel you into your future.

As I began to explore this idea, I was sorely tempted to focus only on the area where my passions and gifting overlapped. I didn’t want my scars to have a say in determining my purpose. But I made myself do the full exercise anyway.

I began slowly and asked myself what people say I’m good at. When do people look to me to solve their problems? For over a decade now, people have come to me to solve their sewing problems. I wrote down Costuming and Fiber Arts in the part of the diagram where “Giftings” and “Passions” overlapped because those sorts of things also excite me enough to get me up in the morning. They don’t get to go in the center of the diagram, though, because they don’t have anything to do with my Scars. Alterations landed in the lonely space reserved for “Giftings" that I’m not passionate about.

I broadened my considerations from there. Public Speaking landed in the space between "Scars" and "Giftings," but Teaching landed squarely in the middle, where “Passions,” “Giftings,” and “Scars” all meet.

As the diagram filled up, the things settling into the center nestled together into a beautiful picture of what I am uniquely suited to do and be. Looking at the words there grounds me. I feel like I know what I am created for when I look at it.

The things that hover around this center - things like Public Speaking, Fiber Arts, and Alterations - these are things I feel I should do, for one reason or another, but seeing that they are not centered gives me the freedom to let them go so that I can focus on the things that I can do better. Let someone who finds those things at their own center do them. They’ll execute them better than you would anyway. As for me, I have limited time, money, and energy; let me focus on what I’ve been created to do. I may dabble in these fringe passions as hobbies, but they cannot be my focus if I want to actually make a difference in the world and find fulfillment.

Over the coming weeks and months, you will see a shift in my brand that will reflect what I’ve learned about my purpose. I share even more behind-the-scenes glimpses on social media, specifically Instagram and Twitter. Watch my Instagram story to hear about my process, visit my Instagram feed to see what I’m working on, and stop by my Twitter for quips and contemplations.

What is your purpose?

Does reflecting on your passions, giftings, and scars help your purpose settle into place?

what is the value of a hand-crafted classic wrap skirt?

the skirt itself

This hand-crafted skirt
does not compare
with something mass-produced.

It has been made-to-measure
and stitched with your own two hands
from start to finish.

It is the only one of its kind,
a piece of art that carries
the essence of its creator.

You have carefully selected the fabric,
using the type, color, and quality
that is perfect for this design.

Beyond that, every step of the way,
you have made careful decisions,
from cutting to stitching to pressing.

Every detail
has been considered
and carefully executed.

the creation process

You have invested hours into this skirt.
Invested, not spent, and certainly not wasted!
Think on this time carefully…

If you have chosen to enjoy the time,
using it as an opportunity to slow down
and consider the process of creation,

then this time cannot be considered wasted,
nor even compared to time spent working.
This is time you have spent in enjoyment.

How much money
are you willing to spend doing something fun?
Watching a movie, eating dinner out, drinking specialty coffee…

These are consumption, and rather passive, at that,
yet you’re willing to spend money, because they bring you enjoyment.
These are not comparable to the process of making a skirt.

The making of your skirt was an investment into yourself.
You did not only spend time doing something that brought you enjoyment,
you were also learning and growing.

the educational aspect

How much money
are you willing to invest in educational endeavors,
whether formal, like university classes, or informal , like community center workshops?

The making of this skirt is like a class or a workshop.
As you read the book and stitch the skirt,
you will learn valuable skills.

More than that, you will have the book to refer to again
should you want to review or even expand your skills.
You will not absorb everything in one go.

IMG_0026.JPG

The educational aspect
doesn’t stop once you’ve learned
the skills outlined in this book.

Maybe after making yourself a skirt,
you can teach your daughter or a young friend
how to sew a skirt for herself.

You can use the book
as a resource to teach others,
whether they be friends or family.

the communal element

What do you and your girl friends
like to do when you spend time together?
Do you go on coffee dates, perhaps?

What if instead of chatting over coffee and muffins,
you converse over fabric and needles?
What if you get together to sew?

If you do,
you have the opportunity
to encourage each other in the creation process.

Any one of you
who has unique skills
may share them with the others.

You can learn
both from the book
and from each other.

And at the same time,
you are investing
in your friendship.

wearing your skirt

Then there is the value you receive
every time you put on
this beautiful skirt.

It goes beyond the simple fact
that it has been made specifically for you
according to your preferences and measurements.

Because you created it yourself
and because you found so much joy in creating it,
this skirt carries positive associations.

Every time you wear it,
you can feel a healthy sense of pride
knowing that you created something beautiful and useful.

You will think of the moments you spent carefully placing each stitch
as you listened to music, a podcast or audiobook,
or the simple sound of making.

The feeling you have wearing your own creation
is different from the experience of putting on
anything else you’ve ever worn before.

a simplified wardrobe

Because of the classic nature of this skirt,
it has the potential to help you
simplify your wardrobe.

The skirt makes getting dressed easy;
all you have to do is grab a favorite top
in order to have a neat and tidy outfit.

Even a simple T-shirt
appears less casual when paired with such a classy skirt.
Add an accessory like a scarf or necklace for something extra special!

The versatility of the skirt
makes it wearable for a variety of events,
so you will have no trouble getting plenty of use out of it!

If you already have a minimalistic wardrobe,
this skirt fits in nicely with your other
classic investment pieces.

And if you regularly waste precious time
staring into your closet wondering what to wear,
this skirt will start you on a journey toward simplicity.

so what is the value of your hand-crafted skirt?

The value is the sum of all of these:
the hand-crafted artisanal skirt itself,
the time spent enjoying the creation process,
the time invested in the educational process,
the time invested in community,
the time you will spend enjoying the skirt as you wear it,
and the time saved with a well-rounded, minimalist wardrobe!

{case study} from making curtains to crafting clothing

summary

Allison started with only very basic sewing skills
and after a week in my studio, left wearing a hand-crafted skirt
that she had made herself, under my direction.

backstory

I live in a school.

See, there’s this wonderful private school
that is housed in two big 100-year-old houses.
The third floor of one of them
isn’t usable for classroom space,
but it makes for a nice little studio and apartment.
My studio and apartment.

I’m sort of an artist-in-residence,
so when one of the students
decided to do her senior project on fashion and sewing,
I became a part of her education.

Every afternoon for about a week,
Allison climbed the stairs to my studio
and worked on a project that was, quite frankly,
too big for her.

At least, it would have been too big for her
if I had handed it to her all at once.

I’ve taught people before
and I am not usually content
to hand them a project they can handle.
If I did that, why would they need me?

I want to push the limits of my students’ ability
and I want to show them that they can do more than they think.

I present my students with one step at a time,
sometimes even breaking down a single step into micro-steps.
As they focus on making each step firm and confident,
they find at the end that they’ve climbed a mountain.

This was my goal for Allison:
that she would accomplish something too big for her
and that she would learn to do it well.

IMG_0035.JPG

problem

I had a basic working knowledge of hand stitching and how to use a sewing machine, but I had never made anything that required more than stitching one straight line.
— Allison

I had a limited amount of time with Allison;
by the time we were able to get together,
her graduation was fast-approaching.

She had been working on her senior project all year,
learning the basics of sewing,
and had accomplished a simple project:
curtains for her bedroom.

Allison was planning to go to college to study fashion design
in the coming year,
so although the skills she learned while making curtains
would be helpful,
what she really needed to learn was how to make clothes.

She thought this was out of her reach,
but I knew it wasn’t.

solution

IMG_0034.JPG

I had been developing the {classic wrap skirt}
in the time leading up to my meetings with Allison,
and I was confident that this was the sort of project
that would allow me to teach her
the skills she would need.

I didn’t allow her to be overwhelmed
by describing the entire process of making the skirt
or all the skills she would need to learn.

Instead, I simply explained the first step,
and then the next,
and then the next.

Each one taken alone was simple,
even if it was something she’d never done before.

Beyond teaching Allison to sew,
I wanted to share some of my knowledge of design with her
and help her to develop her own design process.

After all, she was planning to study fashion design,
and this senior project was supposed to be preparation for that.

This is another reason the {classic wrap skirt}
was a perfect choice for this project.

She would have to make design decisions,
like what length of skirt she wanted,
and which techniques to use.
She would also be making this skirt
from her measurements,
not using a pattern created by someone else,
but drawing the shape of her skirt directly onto the fabric,
so she got a taste of what it’s like to create her own pattern.
(This is the method I teach in the {classic wrap skirt} book.)

outcome

Jordan’s teaching style was clear and enthusiastic. It is evident that she has a passion for what she does and for teaching. When I made a mistake she didn’t just tell me how to fix it, she explained why it would cause problems in the finished project.
— Allison

In working with Allison,
my focus was not so much on the finished product -
the skirt she would be able to wear at the end of it.
My focus was on using the skirt as a tool
to make Allison into a skilled artisan.

At the end of our meetings,
Allison had a skirt,
but more than that,
she is now someone who can hand-craft beautiful clothing.

This skirt that she created is evidence of this!

Her skirt doesn’t so much look “homemade,” as "hand-crafted,"
partially because of the care that Allison took in creating it,
and partially because of the materials and techniques that she used.

Instead of looking for a cheap fabric,
I guided Allison in selecting something she would love to wear.
Instead of taking the quickest, easiest route to making a skirt,
I guided her through a professional process.

Because of our attention to detail,
Allison now has a beautiful, hand-crafted garment
that reflects her new identity as an artisan-in-the-making.

reflection

Allison was a joy to work with.
She was diligent, and worked hard to accomplish her goals
both while she was in my studio,
and as she did “homework” between visits.

It was wonderful to dive back into the world of teaching sewing.
I’m looking forward to teaching more students,
whether in person, through blog articles,
or through my book!

I would not change a thing about my experience. The steps were easy to follow and I always knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing. ...If you have any desire to learn to sew at all, just do it. You will learn so much in a short amount of time and reaching the end goal is so rewarding.
— Allison