Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jess the Seam Ripper

This weekend I took on the largest challenge I have ever confronted in the sewing room. A dress. With pleats. Darts. Interfacing on the collar & armpits. Zipper. My first attempt to sew from a real pattern (not someone's blog) since high school.


Of course, the victory came at the expense of a few yards of thread. The d*mn bobbin just wouldn't thread right! I also ripped out quite a few seams as I experimented and figured out what I was doing.

Yes, I was following a pattern. But, the pattern was a bit confusing, at times. I had my trusty iPhone at my side to look up unfamiliar terms like "stay stitching" and "understitching," as well as to watch videos about how to sew a dart, and read a play-by-play tutorial about sewing in a zipper.

This is the first time I've sewn a major project without my mom by my side to turn to for questions. ...and, I'd do it again. :) I actually learned so much about sewing - and myself - through this project, that I would not have if I had my mom to turn to every time I had a question. I wouldn't have sought out the answer; I wouldn't have tried; realized the problem; ripped out a seam; started over. I would have been harder on myself - expecting perfection rather than just seeking to learn.

The biggest lesson that I learned was this: "perfection is the enemy of good." I could easily obsess over tiny details - making sure everything lined up just right...and lose sight of the importance of just sewing. If it was screwed up so badly, well, I could rip out the seam. But, most of the time, it wasn't. One of the major 'issues' I came across is hardly noticeable in the final project. Moral of the story? Sometimes, you just need to sew - and keep pressing forward.

There is some back-story on this dress. (When isn't there a back story when I'm involved?) I set out to make this dress last March - for Easter. Then, I ran out of weekends, and then I got sick. At the end of May, I thought I'd give the dress a shot. Then, I took my measurements...and then I got sick. (figuratively, this time) I was shocked at what my actual measurements were - and that none of them matched anything on the pattern. When I bought that pattern, I thought that my measurements would match up. Nope. A big, fat NOPE.

Now, however, after losing 35+ inches (and pounds) since then, my measurements DID match up! I was a little cautious because I wanted to make sure everything would fit; I probably could have increased a seam allowance, or even gone to the next size down - but, I would rather have it fit (and be able to groove in it) than not.

So, VOILA! My first dress made all by myself!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Loneliness of the Unknown

Can I tell you about the AWESOME class that I had today?  As it is September 11th, I started by watching a video of footage from 9/11/01 set to "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)?" by Andrew Jackson. Then, I asked students to share not 'where they were,' but rather, "How has your life/the world been effected by September 11th?"

The answers were...wonderful. These students, now juniors and seniors in college, were grade schoolers in 2001. Imagine being a 7-10 year old and realizing something awful had happened, and seeing the heartbreak in your parents' lives - but not understanding. Some of my students lived in New York and New Jersey and had friends that lost parents. Some of my students have parents in the military who have since served multiple deployments. One was completely sheltered from the reality of the events. One recognizes that the effects of 9/11 may be that he will be drafted.

It was such a touching experience to share with them as they process what these events mean to them now, and how they have experienced life. Many mentioned that they felt their innocence shattered. One mentioned that because all she's known is a heightened sense of awareness that she is almost apathetic toward what happens around the world.

Several others talked about anxiety and fear that surrounds them any time they wait to board a plan or go through security at an airport. That statement made me wonder...if we think about our youth, they are much more anxious than youth of the past. I believe that we've seen an increase in anxiety disorders...and I wonder if there is a correlation.

It was interesting to share my experience with them because when the attacks happened, I was their age - in their seats. I was a 21-year-old facing my senior of college - and all the unknowns that come with it. One of my preceptors had said that it would be really interesting to experience 9/11 on a college campus - surrounded by all those people.

Yet, what I remember is feeling so alone. Yes, there were a lot of people around; yes, there were vigils; yes, there were prayer meetings. But...I felt alone. There was so much unknown in the first few hours - and the idea that something terrible had happened, that the world had just crashed - yet, here we were - living, breathing, experiencing a sunny September day - seemed so out of place.

My sense of security is my family; yet they felt so far away. My friends had no more answers than I. In that feeling of such loneliness, I spent the afternoon praying and doing a Bible study entitled "Becoming a Woman of Purpose." I think that response helped me handle the unknown, the loneliness, and the anxiety that would follow being an emerging adult in a situation entirely foreign and full of trepidation...with a sense of purpose. It certainly wasn't easy, but I felt like I had an anchor in spite of tumultuous waves.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Developing Your Mission Statement

Earlier this summer, I led my colleagues through a reflection on the past semester, and imagining the one to come.

Before we began, I had my colleagues read this article by Greg McKeown: http://changethis.com/manifesto/117.04.Essentialism/pdf/117.04.Essentialism.pdf 

I was really challenged by Mr. McKeown's emphasis on all the things we do in life to be busy, thinking that busyness will fulfill us. Yet, we move farther and farther away from the things that breathe life into our work - and thus, us. If doing [working] is a human right, shouldn't we find more of ourselves in that act?

In particular, Mr. McKeown defined the word priority. It meant ONE. ONE thing or action. WE have made the word plural - and in the process, have probably made more trouble for ourselves. How do we find focus or meaning in the doing - if all of our doing is running around after 5-10 different things?

In my work, I have 2 particular titles. In the 2013-14 academic year, I had even more responsibilities that extended beyond my 2 distinct titles. ...and I was exhausted. I couldn't find the singular purpose, the unifying thread - I just felt at the mercy of so many others pulling on my various strings.

Until our activity. I asked my colleagues to reflect on the following:
1) What do you love about your job?
2) What are the best things you do (in your job)?
3) How do you feel about the past semester?
4) What are your feelings about the upcoming semester?
5)  What one thing do you want to do, which could create a more fulfilling work life?
6) What is the priority for your position?

As a result of our activity, I was able to focus on the one priority for my positions - and it is below.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Furtive Friday

I chose the title because the lesson that I am ruminating today just snuck up on me. I wasn't expecting it, it just was there in the middle of my morning drive musings. Plus, I like alliteration, so, Furtive Friday it is.

I was musing on this morning's Gospel lesson. I'll admit this particular passage has always been a bit of a boggler for me. I can assent to the information, but as far as really "getting it" - no go. I have always left this one thinking that I could open up my arms and touch it - but the actual truth was like a giant balloon filling up a house, and I could only touch a small portion, but never get my arms around it. It was just filling up more and more - ready to burst the seams.

Gospel Luke 5:33-39

The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“The disciples of John the Baptist fast often and offer prayers,
and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same;
but yours eat and drink.”
Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast
while the bridegroom is with them?
But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
then they will fast in those days.”
And he also told them a parable.
“No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one.
Otherwise, he will tear the new
and the piece from it will not match the old cloak.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins,
and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.
Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.
And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new,
for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
As the lesson was read, and re-read...my thoughts drifted to my life - and the lives of my friends. The lesson, for me, centered on the desires of my heart - of my life. This week, it seems there were some babies born, and there were a lot friends' babes starting new adventures at school, many for the first time. And, I have longed for that season to start in my life. (just like I longed for the season of marriage to start in my life, a few moons ago)
I really struggle with covetous comparisons. I want a different life; I want to be a mom. But, to take my friends' lives or struggles and try to put that onto my own - would mirror exactly what Jesus talks about here. It would be Ludacris. (Blogger keeps changing the spelling to be the rapper's name.)
It does not match. To take on theirs would cause the wine to spill - or completely ruin the garment.  I cannot take on my friends' experiences or lives; I can only take on mine. Our lives are seasons, and some are longer than others; some changes are subtle - like moving from Arizona summer to Arizona fall. Some are sudden and dramatic - like a Halloween ice storm ushering in an early winter. But, they all come in due time for each of us. When it is time to embrace the new skin, the old will fade - and the new will come.
I am reminded of these to verses: "God makes everything beautiful in its time;" and "Behold, I am making all things new."
Amen. Let it be so.