A Personal Reflection- Vantage Points Looking Back from New Year’s Eve

2013, I am going to say, for once I’m glad to see the backside of a year.

Not that each year isn’t without it’s trials and joys, but this year has been an exceptionally hard one for me.  I thought I would write down a poignant, reflective post, but, among other things, it seems I’ve lost my flair for writing.  Instead, I’m just going to be honest and jot down my personal reflections, from an emotional and personal journey.

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2013 Was the Year I Lost Myself, and then Found Myself

That’s it in a nutshell.  I went through so many HARD, life-altering things this year.  Most of these were related to close family members.  I found strength I didn’t have, until I was a shell of a person- operating purely because I knew the moments left with the person I loved were few- even if she didn’t comprehend I was there, I knew I was, and that mattered.  I had moments of illumination, where all the pieces that I thought made up another person fit together, but the puzzle I found was a very sad picture, and the person involved, in the end, had pieces missing, and it wasn’t their fault.  I’ve learned about realizing the promises you’ve given in your youth, can often be a cover up for hiding other things, or making excuses.  But, I’ve learned to forgive and love, because human nature is a horrible thing to live with if you don’t seek another path, and people who can’t escape it can torment themselves until they are, literally, living a second life and don’t remember the first one.  Sadness, loss, and smoke and mirrors.  But, in the end, love.  Love is HARD.

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But, you come out of the haze and fog that took up, what seemed like the whole year, when in reality it was just a little while, and realize that the people you held hands with, who you leaned on, just to keep each other up and keep each other moving, have a solid, close bond- something that can’t be broken.  Something that you didn’t realize the strength of before.  Family ties are strong.  When you twist together the twines that you feel are left of the rope that used to be your strength, you can create a rope of iron, and pull each other through the toughest situations.

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I found out what it was like to lose one of the people who you have the most love, respect, closeness, and friendship with.  Losing my grandmother this year was one of the hardest things of my life.  The process of losing her was hard, but not as hard as not having her to talk to.  Luckily, I still see her in my dreams, so I know I can pass the time until I meet her again.  She was one of my roll models.  She knew what it was to live a truly meaningful, happy, contented life.  She loved her family, she was content with what she had, and she loved everyone.  She was the woman I want to be.

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When I woke up from this (some of which is still ongoing), I didn’t know myself.  I lost something when I lost her.  I don’t think it will ever come back.  And, strangely, I found my body and face had changed as well.  This could be, of course, due to my age.  I’m now solidly in my thirties, and my body is changing (again).  My metabolism changed- not as fast as it was in my youth when I was hopelessly skinny and didn’t have to worry about eating and exercise.  I see lines on my face, gray in my hair, and my body is a shape I’m altogether uncomfortable with.  I didn’t think aging would be hard for me, but I feel uncomfortable in my own skin.  That’s why there’s been so few pictures of me on the blog this year.  I need to find my self confidence again.  I need to learn new good habits I never bothered with before.  I know I’m not overweight, but I’m not the size I was two years ago and my mind is playing tricks on me, and I don’t feel pretty.  It’s such a silly thing, what we women do to ourselves, but I want to be one of those women who sees beauty in themselves in all times of life.  I just need to learn how.

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In the meantime, I tried an occupation I really thought could be my career.  Well, it ends up it didn’t work out.  I’m not meant for high stress jobs, and I went through crazy anxiety attacks (again).  I enjoyed the paychecks, and for the most part,  I enjoyed the work.  But I tell you what, whatever self-importance you may think you have as a blogger, as a pattern maker, and in your “scene”, when you get out of that and in something completely related where no one knows you, and you have to prove yourself, and prove the abilities you’ve spent your whole life developing… well… it’s hard.  It’s enough to let the steam out of anyone.  So, again, I was deflated.  But, through the process, I realized exactly HOW strong my skill set is.  And, I have to say, amid finding so much negativity in this year, I am very positive in my skill set and what I do.  Too bad it’s so hard to make money doing independant patterns.  My website may look fancy, but that’s all because of my family and friends who are generous with their time and talents, and the website services I use that make a website easy.  I learned that making money isn’t as important as happiness- and sometimes happiness means making very little money but doing what you love.

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I’ve dropped the ball on a lot of things this year.  I’ve come back and I feel like no one knows who I am, what I do, or reads my blog.  I’m struggling- feeling like I have good product, but needing to find a good formula to make money with business. Moving to e-patterns has really helped, and THANK YOU to everyone who supports my little enterprise.  I’ve had only a couple of pattern releases this year, but looking back on the year, I’m honestly amazed I had ANY patterns come out.  I’m amazed I managed to ship product, during those hard months!  I’m amazed I answered emails, worked a full time job, and came home and worked more, and spent as much time as I did devoted to family duties, whatever they were.  I’m amazed I’ve been dedicated to getting my allergy shots when needed (now down to once every three weeks! Yay!  It was twice a week at the beginning of the year).  We’ve torn all the carpeting out of our house and are living on concrete until new flooring is in, we’ve paid of ALL credit card debt, financed a few things at 0%, and are almost finished paying off a few of them.  We got a new car, which we managed to finance for 0% as well, so I’m thankful to say that I officially am not paying a percentage rate on ANYTHING, and it’s been over ten years since I could say that.  That feels good.  I feel like I’ve learned more about money management, which will really help out now that it’s really needed.

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Feels good to have a reliable source of transportation.  Feels good to know I’m still here, still plugging away, and still feel creativity and passion and drive.  I found out, deep down, I like who I am, when all came to the end.  I didn’t know I could do it, but I have.  It will take strength going forward, but I can do it. God has been by my side all year, has given me strength, and helped me learn to fly when I have had to get over a hurdle.  I always end up on the other side.  I couldn’t do it without my Lord.

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Thank you, to everyone, for your love and support of me, my blog, and my business.  Truly.  If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be able to be here, doing this.  I’m eternally grateful.

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16 thoughts on “A Personal Reflection- Vantage Points Looking Back from New Year’s Eve”

  1. Just a voice coming from the other side of the canyon.

    I lost my role model grandmother in 2008, resulting in a complete life makeover, the most dramatic changes of which evolved through 2012. Watch for a health-related echo mid-thirties…turns out nearly everybody does this, we just don’t talk about it. I think we women should have a self-indulgent midlife ritual, very French, featuring red wine, impeccably cut black or navy dresses with wonderful scarves and sunglasses, and perfect kitten heels. And massages. (Fountain of youth, massages.)

    You could pull that off.

  2. Thanks for sharing such a personal reflection. I’m so sorry to hear of all of the struggles that you went through this year and so glad to hear that you have a positive outlook coming out the other side of it. I know that so many of us can understand struggling to feel comfortable in a changing body and some of us have dealt with profound losses. But no matter what kind words you receive from friends and/or strangers, these are things that you have to process yourself. I look forward to seeing what 2014 brings to Wearing History.

  3. I’ve been there and it SUCKS… I remember when my Dad died unexpectedly in 2007; I just Stopped. Of course, I’d just started a new job and had my marriage to work on (we were having some serious issues at that time, but death puts everything in perspective), plus other family obligations, but all I remember is going to work about 4 hrs a day and them coming home and staring into space. I was a zombie with just had no energy for anything (even with the drama and responsibilities swirling about me). Grief is a crazy business, but Thankfully, time is a bit magical and the distance you gain going thru the grief process will give you breathing room. That year of Hell tested my strength in ways I never imagined, but in the end I know what a spine of steel I have and what I am capable of enduring. Those lessons from God gave me depth and wisdom I wouldn’t otherwise have and I’m thankful for them. And those gray hairs?? I don’t like them one bit!! But every single one has been EARNED and I wear them like the badges of honor that they are. The creaky knees are another story…

    I have read your blog from the past 2 years or so and I knew you had something going on behind the scenes. That’s why I enjoy reading your posts!! You’re a human, not a *sewing machine*! The garments and patterns you create are beautifully crafted and a wonderful testament to (women’s) history, but we’re not mannequins wearing them and neither are you. We’re people who Love and Mourn and get Lost and *Thankfully* Found. I’m So Sorry for your Annus Horribilis, but don’t hesitate to take the time you need to heal (we’ll wait) and if we readers here in blog-land can help with that, all the better. May Peace be with you at this difficult time and many prayers for a brighter 2014!

  4. Ah, life is hard. It seems to so many people I know, and many I only know online, that 2013 has been a rough year.
    I am no exception. And, I am amazed by how much of this piece rings true for my own personal journey. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s good to be reminded that other people struggle with the same things.

    I encountered this just recently and I hope you don’t mind my leaving a link here. I think you might find some great information here:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend.html

    Also, I did a tiny bit to support your business:) I certainly have appreciated the help you’ve offered me in the past. I don’t know if it’s ever generated traffic for you. But, when another seller bumped a link from the Vintage Pattern Wiki, to your page for the Victory Hat, I made sure it got restored. And, the uncivil behavior got noted.

    Cheers to a brighter, happier, more prosperous New Year!

  5. You talk about not being able to write a poignant, reflective post! You write beautifully!
    I can sympathize with you about “not feeling pretty”. Out of my three sisters, I think I am the one most insecure appearance-wise, even though, like you, I am not overweight; though God has taught me lessons on that subject in the past few years.
    So glad that the Lord brought you through this year with all it’s heartaches and trials. May 2014 be filled with as many blessings for you as there were trials in 2013.

    Blessings, and may HE always be your strength.

  6. Hi Lauren. Im a long time reader and thought this post was a great opportunity to introduce myself. Thank you for sharing about the difficulties (and bright spots) of this past year. You can’t beat your combination of honesty and positivity. Thank you for all the hard work you put in at Wearing History. I’m a 1930’s sewist so I clap my hands like a little kid when a new pattern comes out.Your business means a lot to me. Keep up the good work : )

  7. What an passionate conversation you have written. Your Grandmother would be so pleased and comforted knowing that you considered her your role model. Your work and style are beautiful. Facing all these challenges in the last year are exhausting. Please remember that the cumulative effect of stress and grief can be problematic.

    Not to be over reaching, may I relay a brief account of my story. My second son passed away two years ago after a brief illness. It was not expected. He died in my arms. I am a medical professional and I was not able to save him. I have spent the last two years dealing with that and several other severe family issues, illness and death. One month ago all that internal stress has evolved into a significant heart problem for me. It is true, a broken heart can cause severe illness and worse. What I wish to impart is a caution for you. Do not underestimate the effects of the last year of troubles. Please do find a path that suits you to examine and deal with these issues. Your own health is in jeopardy and illness will not help anyone. I wish you the best with what ever work you decide to continue. You are very skilled.

    Also remember that the blog community, in general, is kind and supportive and probably more empathetic than you can imagine. We all have complicated lives but we soldier on. For me a brisk cup of tea and a sewing project distracts my mind. My best to you in the New Year. May you seek and find the peace you need.

  8. Same here, I’m glad to see the back of 2013. It’s been a rough year – but made me stronger for 2014. I love your blog, just never have time for comments.

  9. Congratulations on leaving this year behind. I love your blog and have a few of your patterns — I made one this year and it was one of the best! I love it! I am going to make it a goal of mine to make more of your patterns!! I’m sorry to hear about the loss of one of your best friends (GM).

    BTW, I’m 47 and in my thirties — my body changed mostly due to weight changes. But, I changed my eating drastically and I remember it as a time where my body was the best (I’m working on going back to that now). . .so don’t stress it too much — my mom brought me up to be thin so it’s tough because I have an average figure and gain weight in my face. But, you are still VERY young so you can bring it back to where you want it. Heck, my pilates teachers have the most amazing bodies and they are my age — truly amazing. You are super talented. I’m putting in a prayer this is both our year! Hang in there — and I LOVE your blog! XOXO, Pam

  10. I have so much empathy and sympathy for you. I’m sending you hugs and prayers and LOTS of positive energies as well as so much encouragement. You have written such a moving and poignant post.
    Please know that reading your blog is one of my joys.

  11. Hi Lauren. I’m sorry you had such a hard year. It wasn’t very good for me either.

    I think you accomplished a great deal, considering everything you had going on. After my dad died unexpectedly, we all though we were doing ok, even though it was SO hard. Later on, my sister and I realized that we had no video and hardly any pictures from that entire year (and I used to take pictures and video of my nephew daily, he was very small at the time, and I was his nanny.). Sometimes you don’t realize how much of a haze you are in until later.

    I hope you don’t mind a small bit of health advice. I would would recommend having your thyroid hormone levels checked. After stressful life events, it isn’t uncommon to develop thyroid issues. The sudden grey hairs and weight gain are two common signs of it (thyroid problems run in my family).

    I also want to say how much I enjoy your blog, and I always love your patterns. I haven’t learned enough about making clothing yet to feel confident enough to tackle them, but I look forward to it.

  12. Kudos and big hugs to you, Lauren, for your heartfelt openness! I miss you & send prayers for a wonderful 2014 to you yours. Hope to see your lovely face sometime this year. And those kitty faces too… :)

  13. Navigated on this site today after watching Rita Hayworth in “Cover Girl” and her glorious costumes. Your heartfelt blog touched me. My sixth sense tells me 2014 will be the best year of your life.

  14. Hi Lauren, I really enjoy your blog posts , the historical information is always really interesting and I’m just blown away by your skills , I love seeing you dressed in the bustle dresses ! I can relate to some of what you shared. My 2013 was a bit of a bummer too , due to some serious health /stress issues . I’m currently trying to build my own website for my illustration business ,but I relate to the whole financial difficulties of working in the creative industries . I just hope you always remember how talented you are and the joy your blog brings to others . I’m sure your grandmother is very proud of the woman you are.xx

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