Taking Stock

2014-12-07 20.03.57In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s been almost a month since my last post.

My unplanned break from blogging began when our boys were on winter break. Initially I blamed the fact that I had less time to myself, less of the quiet I need when I write, and less structure to my days. But, at some point, I realized I also had less to say.

I’ll admit that I had some unspoken, but very real, aspirations for this site in 2014. My attempts at gauging my “success” (or lack thereof) resulted in my questioning the purpose of these posts, whether I had anything truly new or helpful to offer, and wondering how many more times/ways I can promote upcycling before even I stop listening. And, with that, my impromptu break from blogging began to feel an awful lot like a break-up.

I no longer blame winter break for what followed. I blame the felted wool dryer balls for starting this entire downward spiral. I was so excited to discover and make them, thus freeing both the landfill and me from anymore dryer sheets. But the damned things ended up giving me a rash. I knew that wearing wool made me itchy, but it didn’t cross my mind that I might be allergic to wool. It took weeks for everything I wear or touch on a daily basis (towels, sheets, etc.) to make it back through the laundry cycle, so I could stop exposing myself to the culprit/wool (sigh).

Oh, and remember the seed library I wrote so much about last spring and summer? I learned that an abundance of seeds does not equal an abundance of produce. Crappy soil, weird weather, and a somewhat lazy gardener can kill even the strongest sprouts. Despite the $100 worth of soil I purchased, the hundreds of seeds we planted ended up yielding only a handful of cucumbers, a few tomatoes and enough lettuce for maybe a dozen small salads.

Finally, after countless failed attempts to take what we make and sell it at a craft fair, my husband and I got our act together enough to be part of last fall’s Louisville Mini Maker Faire. All day on our feet and weeks worth of preparation behind us, we only sold two things to someone who wasn’t a friend or family. This, combined with our attempts at online sales, confirmed what we already suspected: there’s no market for what we make. People who appreciate upcycled items are, generally, going to upcycle and make things themselves And the few people who are willing to buy handmade gifts balk at any price that truly reflects the time and materials put into each item.

I’ll spare you the rest of my inner monologue and fast forward to the part where I questioned whether I had anything more to say.

I was knee-deep in Christmas prep and celebration, so it was easy to continue ignoring this site. I volunteered in our younger son’s classroom and helped 22 fourth-graders make children’s activity kits for a local hospital’s waiting room. I combed through my favorite creations and “shopped” for all the gifts we gave in December. I jumped at the chance to crochet a garland for my cousin’s Christmas tree, to bake cookies for my  husband’s coworkers, and do the things that I enjoy, that I hope/believe bring joy to others.

It was then, in the quiet I’d created without trying, I could hear and see what I made out of 2014. Dryer sheets aside, my family continued to lighten its footprint on the earth. The seeds I planted in our backyard may have failed, but I planted so much more than vegetables, and the metaphorical seeds are the ones that matter most, to me. Best of all, the things I made may not have sold, but they brought me something better than money – new friendships, deeper connections in my community and continued affirmation that what I’m doing matters.

I will consider myself beyond blessed if I can claim even one of those accomplishments at the end of 2015.

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