Greetings from Germany

After flight delays, missed connections, rerouting, failed messages and roughly 24 hours in transit, we may have arrived 6 hours later than expected; but we made it to Germany safe and sound.

It was a relief to arrive at my cousin’s house in Schlitz. We celebrated our arrival with some delicious wine from the area. Located about half an hour from Fulda, this gorgeous little town is the home of the biannual Schlitzenlander Trachtenfest. (Link to the website). With a rich textiles history what better place to start our German itinerary. The festival begins tonight (Friday July 12) and concludes on Monday. Obviously, I can’t tell you all about this year’s festival yet since it hasn’t started. But I can tell you about some of the things I found charming and interesting here.

On Saturday I will be checking out the local factory outlet for Driessen Leinen. They specialize in the weaving of fine linen fabrics, bed and kitchen linens and more. It will be difficult to stick to my budget! I absolutely love linen. Driessen also offers a cotton/linen blend. I’m excited to see what they have.

On Wednesday we went to see the Vorderburg Museum. It hosts a collection of items relating to weaving, shoe-making and local history. We went with the intention of hearing the glockenspiel and then touring the museum. We were told that the glockenspiel would play at 3pm. After taking the lift up to the top of the nearby tower and taking in the panoramic view, we visited the neighbouring church and then made our way to the Vorderburg Museum. We waited patiently for almost 20 minutes for the chimes to play a song. Alas, after chiming the hour… nothing. We waited a couple more minutes before heading into the museum. We paid our admission and after a little while we realized we could just barely make out the sound of the glockenspiel. If we had been patient just six or seven minutes more we could have heard it in the courtyard. Oh well. We were told it would play again at 5pm.

The museum is small but packed with interesting items. I was particularly interested in the artifacts directly related to textiles. The looms, spinning wheels, examples of hand crafted folk costumes and linens dating way back gave a sense of how incredibly long people have had a mastery of textiles. There were samplers of traditional redwork embroidery, typical of the region. The samplers were a way for women to perfect their technique before advancing to the embroidery of garments, bed and kitchen linens or decorative projects.

In the shoe making history display, I was delighted to discover a treadle version of the industrial sewing machine I have in my store for doing leather repair. If not for the patina that the passage of time has given it, and lack of a motor, it could have been my very machine! When something works well, why change it?

The folk costume display highlighted the wide variety of skills needed to complete these textile works of art. I was so engrossed by the array of techniques (tatting, cross stitch, smocking, knitting, embroidery, sewing, leatherwork and beading) that I left without taking any photos!

After viewing the last of the museum displays we decided to check out more of the local sights. The market place was bustling with carpenters setting up stages and booths in preparation for the festival. We walked through the park and checked out the music academy. We zigzagged between the medieval half timbered houses and headed back through the cloister garden. Suddenly we realized we could just make out the sounds of the glockenspiel in the distance! Yes, we missed it again! We were so carried away with all the beautiful buildings and surroundings that we had lost track of time.

Thursday morning we got up early to head to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Despite our train out of Fulda being cancelled, and clouds giving way to a steady, desperately needed rain (there had been a heat wave leading up to our arrival), nothing could stop us from having a magical time in the walled medieval city. Exhausted, we were happy for the comfort of the B & B at the end of the day.

Today we will be taking in the sights of Nuremberg… including at least one yarn shop and the museum and home of artist Albrecht Durer. Early Saturday morning we head back to Schlitz to visit Driessen Leinen and take in the Trachtenfest.

Happy summer!

Advertisements

Reminiscing

This past week has been a whirlwind. I feel like I only just wrote last week’s blog. It’s Friday now and I have one more day in the store before I head to Germany for three weeks. It feels very strange to think that I won’t be in my store for three weeks. In anticipation of my trip, I’ve had so many memories bubbling up; I thought I’d share some with you today.

At eleven years old, I quite honestly didn’t understand the magnitude that living in Germany for a year would have on my life. I was definitely aware that this was the opportunity of a lifetime — as much as you can at that age, at least. And I was deeply grateful for that opportunity. In the week leading up to it, I remember laying awake at night, giddy with excitement, to the point that I would burst into tears and giggle fits. I had never been on an airplane before; I had never been away from my family before. And before Aunt and Uncle arrived, I had never met them. I had met my grandmothers though: Friederike (Friedchen) and Amalia. They had each been to Canada to visit us on multiple occasions.

Friedchen was a yarn lover. Every year she would send us crocheted dresses for Easter and knitted pullover sweaters for Christmas. There would be delicious little treats scattered throughout the parcel and it was so exciting to watch Mom unwrap it all and figure out what was intended for whom. The contents of the parcels had a particular scent that I associated with Oma.

Isn’t it funny how we can remember scents?

I can remember when my aunt took me to Oma’s house for the first time. We walked through her beautiful flower garden to the door. I remember the peonies and roses most. She opened the door and I breathed in that familiar scent. She stood there with her arms open wide and it was all so much to take in that I burst into tears. I threw my arms around her and although I had never been in her house before, I felt like I was coming home. She had baked a cake, and was shocked to learn that I didn’t drink coffee. She insisted that I try it. She served it in a teal and gold fine china demi-tasse. It felt like a fancy tea party. Man, that coffee was strong! It wasn’t quite as strong as espresso, but just about. I must have made a memorable face, because she and my aunt almost fell off their chairs laughing. When the cake was polished off, she insisted that I sing her a song. I happily complied, and her dachshund, Benny, joined in. I considered it a compliment!

I wanted Oma to show me how to knit, but we didn’t have time.

It was only a long weekend jaunt. She had a number of projects on the go and she showed them to me one by one. As a way of quelling my disappointment that there wasn’t time for her to teach me to knit, she pulled out the patterns she was knitting and had me try to read them. I did my best, but they were terribly confusing. She assured me that one day, I would understand them and be making beautiful things out of yarn. She was right.

Oma loved animals. She had two dogs (a German Shepherd that would not have hesitated to take a grizzly bear down, and Benny, the dachshund) she also had two angora rabbits. The small vegetable garden in her back yard hosted a tiny chicken coop and a number of chickens that happily wandered through the fenced yard and garden behind her house. Her front yard was a beautiful flower garden. When I was there it was warm and breezy and the scents of the flowers would tease my nose every so often. You could hear the insects buzzing and the birds singing. (The first time I heard a cuckoo was on a walk through a beech forest in Germany.) Being at her home gave me a sense of where I had come from. I discovered that I had a lot in common with her. More than I had ever realized.

I found that deeply comforting.

Sadly, Oma has been gone for many, many years. So I won’t be able to sit and knit with her in Germany. But that’s okay. I like to think that she sits with me sometimes when I knit. Perhaps I’m sentimental, but I like to think that. When I feel sad that my children never got to meet her, I have to remind myself that they do get to meet her. When I share my memories of her with them, they get to meet her. That’s pretty wonderful.

There will be so many interesting things to do and see in the three weeks that we are in Germany. The challenge will be to make certain there is enough quiet time in between the activities to ensure that we can really take it all in. I want it to be more than just a big blur of busy. What a gift that I can share this trip with my daughter.

It’s easy to get so caught up in day-to-day tasks and working that we forget why we work so hard.

It’s good to take some time to reminisce and remember — and appreciate. All those experiences built the context through which we now navigate. They built us into who we now are. Sometimes we need to take time to set the business of life aside and remember the path that brought us to today. In doing so, past, present and future exist all together in one moment: now.

I hope you are able to take some time to set the busy stuff aside and just be this summer. Even if it’s only for brief moments here and there.

Happy Summer!

Countdown to Holidays!

The summer of 1976 was a big deal. That summer my aunt and uncle brought their son to Canada to stay with my family, and I got to go to Germany with them. I stayed with them for a year of school, exploration and language immersion. It changed my life.

At eleven, I was the perfect age to be immersed in a different culture and language.

Having been primed in my early formative years by hearing nothing but German at home, within 6 weeks of attending school in the small Bavarian town I was already speaking fluently and cracking “Häschen Witze” (bunny jokes). They were the big thing that year. I was reading and writing and excited to be given such an amazing privilege. My aunt and uncle made sure that they took me to see examples of all the important forms of architecture: cathedrals, castles, fortresses, city halls… breathtaking examples of the advancement of engineering and design through the ages. Frescos ranging from early Medieval to Rococo. They took me to museums and galleries and beautiful areas where nature still shines bright in all its glory. They spent time helping me to understand the nuts and bolts of the language and enrolled me in the children’s choir to sing my heart out.

Some of the places we went to were so memorable that I shared my stories about them over and over with my own children years later. One of my daughters took German in high school. We always talked about going there together. When she was studying art history, I was studying music history. We were studying the corresponding eras at the same time and would spend hours at night comparing notes — sharing the scandalous stories that made those long ago composers, painters and sculptors come alive as real people.

It reinforced our desire to go to Germany together.

Well, summer is officially here! WOOHOO! Canada Day weekend is upon us; kids are out of school until fall; and for many, t’is the season for vacations. For the first time in a very long time, I’m taking time away. I’m heading to Germany for three weeks with my daughter and I’m closing the store while we’re gone. As you can imagine, I’m getting pretty excited.

Before I leave, I’m increasing the opening hours of the store to give people a better chance to pick up their completed sewing jobs and to stock up on supplies they may need for July projects.

Under normal circumstances the store is closed on the Saturday of long weekends as well as Sundays through Tuesdays. But for the Canada Day weekend, the store will be open Saturday 10am to 4pm and on the Tuesday after the long weekend from 1pm to 4pm. The rest of the first week of July will be regular hours. So it looks like this:

Saturday June 29: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Sunday June 30 – Monday July 1: Closed
Tuesday July 2: 1:00pm to 4:00 pm
Wednesday July 3 to Friday July 5: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday July 6: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (a little later than usual)
Sunday July 7 through Tuesday July 30: Closed
Wednesday July 31 to Friday August 2: regular hours
Tuesday August 6: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

From Wednesday August 7th on we are back to regular hours

I’m looking forward to taking a break from being in the store every day. I have good intentions to do some blogging while I’m away. I won’t promise a lot of posts, but I do hope to minimally keep up with my weekly blog.

I plan to check out yarn shops along the way to see what they are doing differently over there and to seek out some inspiration for my store. I look forward to meeting with the folks at Rohrspatz & Wollmeise in Pfaffenhofen, Bavaria.

With less than two weeks until I head out, the time will fly and next thing I know, I’ll be flying too! My lists are slowly getting checked off, including the contents list of my abbreviated knitting bag. I want to have something to work on during the flight and train rides between cities. No point taking too much, mind you. Since I’ll be visiting as many yarn shops as possible, I anticipate purchasing some treasures. Between my Ravelry library and my Knit Companion app, I should be able to come up with something to make those treasures into as well. For now, it’s back to work though.

And in the meantime I wish you: Happy Crafting!

Gratitude!

Life has a way of “taking over”. Responsibilities need to be carried, handled, addressed… whatever you want to call it. Days can be full to overflowing with tasks that need to be checked off the “to-do” list. It’s so easy to feel as if all of that swallows you up, leaving little time or energy for anything else. It’s easy to fall into a place of overwhelm. Yet it’s exactly those times when we most need to take a step back. Perspective is important. For me, a huge piece of perspective is grounded in gratitude.

Over the past week, I have found myself presented with many small occurrences that made me hesitate from my routine long enough to breathe, look around and feel grateful. It has been a week of reminders that I am very capable and very fortunate. The week before had me caught up in that frenzied sense of overwhelm that can really undermine, so this opportunity to shift my perspective was timely and ever so welcome.

In September Judy’s Designs will be five years old.

Wow! In a way, it feels like the business has been around forever, and yet it also feels like it couldn’t possibly have been almost five years yet. And it’s good. It feels wonderful to know that what I have to offer has been embraced by this amazing community that I now call home.

It definitely helps that it’s spring here. The snow in the valley is all gone now and early flowers are blooming, buds are emerging everywhere. The air smells divinely sweet the way it only does in early spring. You know: that pre-blossom sweetness? It’s like honey and I love it. There is a vibrancy to it that only lasts a few weeks; blink and you miss it.

Last fall I planted around 285 flower bulbs. The anticipation has been visceral! The crocuses and the snowdrops have had their moment of centre stage. Now, the daffodils are in full bloom and tulips are beginning their colourful display. The first few are open and the rest are about to follow suit. It’s exciting to see. Every day we are out there checking to see what the newest blossoms look like. The trees we planted in 2015 are well established now and the ornamental pears are loaded with flower buds too. Although it’s still quite chilly outside, and despite the rain, it is gorgeous.

Presented with beautiful flowers, lovely sweet smells, and the sense of renewal and “fresh start” that spring brings, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to find things to feel deeply and sincerely grateful for.

It’s almost like the stress and overwhelm and all the negativity that surrounds it is a swirling dark storm cloud. When I’m in it, it just feels like that’s today’s weather. (It’s as if that storm cloud has a vested interest in keeping me stuck there. And it sucks. It sucks the energy right out of me.) Of course, it doesn’t have to be today’s weather. But it can be really tough to be conscious of that fact when I’m caught in it. When I am able to back away from the storm cloud enough, I can actually see it for what it is. Of course, it’s an ongoing task to remember. Staying out of it is a perpetual work in progress; at least it is for me. My strong desire to be responsible and accountable is usually what pulls me into that maelstrom. And I am realizing that naming that is valuable. It means that each time it pulls me in, it’s a little easier to identify what is happening. I can start to see it sooner each time. That awareness gives me the power to choose to stay in the storm, or back away and tell it to bugger off. That’s pretty darn cool.

Let’s face it, life is challenging enough without putting roadblocks and obstacles in our own path.

I have this image in my mind of gratitude being like a bulldozer or front-end loader that allows me to clear away those psychological obstacles in my path. It’s tough to feel crappy and feel grateful at the same time. Of course, I still have to climb into the bulldozer to make that happen. But it’s one tool I can use. And I have to be honest, the image of me in a bulldozer, clearing my path is a powerful one to me. I like that.

Well, here in Revelstoke we are nine days away from Prom. What started out as a sense of dread has turned into a tremendous source of gratitude. You never know what you’re going to get. Some of the dresses can be a bit of a nightmare to alter while others are simple and straight forward. Anticipating what technical challenges I might be faced with can be a bit daunting. Yet, I always manage just fine. It’s pretty amazing to be a part of the excitement that these young women are experiencing as they prepare to celebrate the beginning of their brand new adult life. I’m really fortunate to be a part of that; to be able to witness that transition. When the alterations are done and they stand in front of the mirror, glowing from head to toe, I get to be there to see that. How cool is that?

And speaking of prom dresses, that’s my cue to get back to my sewing machine.

Thanks for reading my blog. 🙂

Happy SPRING!

It has been gloriously sunny here in Revelstoke for the past week or so. After a winter of bundling up, our warm coats are leaving us looking like we’re hanging out in a sauna! I saw someone walking around in shorts, a long sleeved t-shirt, and winter boots on yesterday and thought, “only in Canada”. In the grand scheme of things it’s still chilly out. I looked yesterday and saw a few very brave little shoots peeping tentatively through the soil to make sure it’s safe to emerge. “Yes, little sprouts: I will be your personal cheerleader! Grow, GROW! “(Insert silly GIF here. LOL)

This time of year can be tough. Besides the time change messing with our inner clocks: don’t get me started on that. (I might just be a time-change-abolitionist.) March is great when it’s sunny, mind you. But yeah. As the snow melts we get to see how much sand has accumulated over the winter. Victoria Road is a very busy street and since we are located right across from the CP rail yard, we tend to get even more dust and dirt floating around our patch of Revy. The snow piles along the street look like they might be gravel piles for how filthy they are. (No pure white Olaf style snowmen dancing around here, singing about summer. Imagine Olaf as a chimney sweep and you’ll have the right idea.)

When I went out this morning to take a few photos I was impressed with the gritty perseverance of my perennial bed. Granted, it’s a bit patchy. But it’s also very early for anything to be green here. I love my perennial plants. They are bad-ass! They laugh in the face of frozen dirt and short days. As you can see in the photo, everything is just plain old dirty. And we won’t be able to do much about it until the snow is all melted. And once it’s melted, everything will be power washed and raked and cleaned up. But for now, we will just celebrate the sunshine and blue skies. Knowing our weather here, those will turn to rain and gloom soon enough. But you know, I won’t feel bad about that. The rain washes away the last of the snow. That my friends is a beautiful thing.

Last fall I planted at least a couple hundred new bulbs in the flower bed along the sidewalk. I think it was somewhere between two and three hundred bulbs. All different tulips, daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops. My soul is thirsting for some springtime flowers… and I’m not talking about those forced pots of crocuses in the grocery store. No. I’m talking about the flowers that earned their right to bloom in early April. So, if you are here in Revy, you will likely see me out checking the flower beds every morning, rain or shine, willing those flowers to rise up and bloom in all their splendor and glory!

I hear that the vernal equinox was on March 20th. So, were we supposed to go out and dance under the moon or something? I didn’t get a memo about it so I decided to knit instead. As I was knitting I realized I might have made a mistake in my blog about Sock Madness. I think I referred to what is in fact the qualifying round as round one. Consider that error corrected here. Since then, I completed a full qualifying sock and received my status as a Sock Madness Cheerleader! Yay me! I then completed sock 2 of the warm up round. Here is a photo of the completed pair:

I managed to get the cuff of the second qualifying-round sock done, but that’s as far as I am. I am not getting as much knitting done this year as I did last year. I’ve been busy doing a lot of paperwork, which is okay too. I really don’t mind it. I have another weeks’ worth of office work to get finished up and then my evenings will start opening up for more knitting again. I’m so glad.

I would like to dust off my Alecia Beth cardigan and get it finished this spring so I can actually wear it come May. And it makes me antsy to have so many pairs of socks on the go. I still haven’t completed the gradient red ones (the ones that I didn’t read the pattern for), the Dirndl socks, a pair of “Scandic” vanilla socks and the qualifiers. That’s 4 pairs on the go, and the pattern for the actual first round of Sock Madness dropped last night. It’s a great looking sock and I want to knit it too. I don’t generally like to have more than two pairs of socks going at a time so it’s irritating me. You know what I mean? I also have a “Close to You” shawl on the go. I’m knitting that in Mohair for my sister. (She graciously gave me a whole bunch of gorgeous pairs of leather boots when she moved last summer. This is my thank you to her.) My hope was to have it done in time for her birthday, but that is on April 5th, so unless I make that my new top priority (which, if I were a perfect sister, I would) it ain’t happening. Meh, it’s not like world peace is hanging on my capacity to complete my knitting on any particular timeline. Oh, Lordy! It’s a very good thing that world peace isn’t hanging on my capacity to complete my knitting in a timely fashion! We would all be doomed! Just sayin’.

I guess what I’m saying is that while the great outdoors is hovering between winter and actual, real, bonafide, genuine, true, beautiful, warm, lovely, green spring, I can take this opportunity to get some knitting done. Woohoo! When the time comes the battle will be choosing between gardening and knitting. That is a tough call. They are both pretty fantastic.

Happy Knitting!

Kinda Like the 70’s

I have lots of great memories of the 1970’s. The clothes (well except for Fortrel, that stuff was nasty and don’t let anyone try and tell you otherwise) the cars, the television shows, the music… One of the great things that I loved about the 1970’s was how many fibre arts were in fashion then.

Knitting, embroidery, macrame, crochet, quilting, cross stitch, needlepoint and sewing were all common pastimes.

As a young girl I found inspiration in all things fibre.

I loved to sew and I loved the peasant style blouses that had hand embroidered necklines in bright colours and designs that spoke of rich ethnic connections. I loved knitting and crochet, cross stitch and spinning. I wanted to do it all. I drove my poor parents batty in my quest to understand how it was all done and to try it all. I had a passionate drive to get to the bottom of every process. Once I was convinced I had grasped it I dove into the next challenge with a single minded fervor that simply could not be quelled. I absolutely thirsted for it!

I can hear my parents complain that I never settled into any one thing. In a way they were right.

I settled into two things: music and fibres. Everything I loved most involved those two things.

I still love all that stuff today. It just sucks that there are only 24 hours in a day. There are choices that have to be made in order to be able to enjoy the experiences I love and keep the bills paid and keep up with all that other stuff adults have the privilege of being responsible for.

Many of the skills and passions I nurtured and developed throughout my life have become all but lost arts. There was a time when sewing was considered a vital life skill. They don’t teach it in school here any more. What passes for an introduction to sewing is, shamefully, barely a glance in the direction of a sewing machine. I suppose I should be grateful, since that means my skills are actually valued now. My business relies on people wanting their items fixed but being unable (or unwilling) to do it themselves.

And yet I see and feel a resurgence of those beautiful practical activities.

The fibre arts are making a comeback in a big way.

I couldn’t be happier. And it’s exciting to see the growth of it all.

I love it when people come to my store and tell me they are just learning a fibre art. It’s exciting and I am thrilled that I have the privilege and opportunity to share my extensive experience and knowledge with them. I want to do what I can to help them to have the kind of experience that will make them want to grow, nurture and sustain these interests too.

I have been responding to this shift by expanding my selection in the store to greet the need. Little by little, what I carry is reflecting how public interest in fibre arts is growing.

It’s exciting!

It’s flint to a fire; it makes me want to embroider and cross stitch again. Perhaps it’s time for me to plan out some beginner classes to teach these methods and be the spark that ignites a passion for fibre arts in a whole new generation; even if only a few people at a time.

There are so many things now that are reminiscent of the 1970’s. The “neo-hippies” share many of the same desires of the hippies from back then, but they have so much more at their fingertips than folks did back then. There is an idealistic spirit that has persevered all along that I can relate to. Today’s hippie-leaning folk have incredible technology at their fingertips. Yet there is still the desire for simplicity, practicality, accountability and sustainability that I remember and hold dear.

I try to keep up with what’s going on, but I have to be honest. As much as I love technology, I find that the pace of change of it has begun to feel like a rat-race to me. The shifting trends can start to feel excessive and superfluous. Don’t get me wrong. I love that social media and the internet have allowed regular people like me to have this kind of platform to connect with others (many of whom we will never meet in person). As the context of our lives changes along with our new technologies it’s easy to feel out of touch with it all. It’s interesting to me, to see how differently the newer generations are with technology. It is such a natural thing to them and they don’t even realize it. The marketplace is changing. How we do business is changing. Business models that were in place since the industrial revolution are disappearing completely. Back in the 70’s there was no internet. Computers took up the entire floor of a building. If you phoned a friend and they were not home, you couldn’t leave a message for them and they had no way of knowing you had called. Back then, you could tell someone you called them 10 times without an answer and no one would know if you were exaggerating or not. LOL

In this fast-paced and ever changing world, when I find myself frustrated with all the intangibles that I have to try and keep up with, I know I can count on my wonderful fibres. (In the back of my mind, I know and I’m truly grateful that I can login to Ravelry to find patterns.)

But, I can pick up my knitting and it will be there like a solid friend. The knits will be knits. The purls will be purls. My embroidery thread will always be 6 strands thick in an exquisite rainbow of blissful colours.

And I can pick up my fibre arts project and escape to the “touch-it, feel-it” things that have remained kinda like the 70’s.

Happy Crafting

No Resolutions Here!

Last year I confessed myself to be a bit of a New Year’s Resolution Scrooge. That hasn’t changed. So you won’t find any resolutions or lists of major life-changing goals here; I’m not gonna do it. Lately, I’ve noticed a number of articles about other people’s frustration with this particular New Year’s tradition. Just because I don’t subscribe to the tradition doesn’t mean that I’m not looking for ways to grow or be happier in my life. Over many years, I have found ways to make growing a regular part of my every day life… not just a “Hey, it’s January. I guess I should make a list of what’s wrong with me and my life so I can pretend that it’s a manageable task to fix all that stuff this year.” Ugh. Yeah, that’s really healthy and helpful… NOT! What a horrible and degrading way to think. Sheesh! Life is challenging enough without that kind of self-abuse.

Recently a friend and I were talking about what a mixed bag life can be.

On the one hand, it can be a bit of a meat grinder. On the other hand it can be beautiful and blissful and wondrous… and it can be a whole lot of in-between stuff too.

To deny the “meat grinder” aspect of life, to me is to live in an illusion. But just because life can throw a lot of really tough, horrible stuff in our path doesn’t mean we have to be sucked into a permanent vortex of negativity over it. And I think we all know that it’s really easy to get sucked into a vortex of negativity when things are rough. It feels terrible being in that place. It can be really difficult to pull ourselves out of it when we land there. The longer we wallow in it, the harder it feels to get up and out of it.

As we talked, we reflected on how important it is to be able to find ways to stay steady when challenges are threatening to pull us under. Each of us has our little tricks to help us remember what really matters in our lives. And the strong thread that wove its way through the entire conversation was that when you get down to it the only thing that really matters is Love.

What matters is the capital “L” Love that allows us to have meaningful relations and to see the foot of snow that fell overnight, and feel the wonder of nature’s indescribable beauty as we pick up the shovel and make a path to the car… and let it be okay that we don’t particularly like shoveling a foot of heavy snow. Let it be okay that in that moment we feel what we feel. There’s no need to judge that the thought of shoveling all of that might make me feel frustrated or angry. It’s even okay if some of that shoveling includes some serious grumpiness. The thing about is that once the initial feelings have their say, it becomes a choice about whether to dive into the vortex, or to take a breath and switch it up for something that feels better.

My friend and I are both small business owners.

Both businesses combine services and retail. So a lot of our conversation centered around the challenges and stresses of running a business. Winter is our busy season here so we are in the thick of it now. It’s so easy to be in a highly stressed state all the time, if we aren’t careful. The jobs have deadlines that need to be met; the work has to meet an appropriate standard. As much as most customers are lovely and recognize the value of the services we provide, there will always be some who want something, right now, for nothing and/or insist on being rude. There will always be those who don’t comprehend the costs of running a business (mental, emotional, physical and financial). Bills need to be paid, payroll has to be met. If staff members make mistakes, the business has to absorb the cost of those mistakes. It’s easy to get run ragged and it’s easy to live in a constant state of high stress.

So what to do?

Meh, life can be messy. In my experience all you can do is feel what you feel, remember to breathe and do your best to take a step back any time you start to feel off balance… And let being human be okay. It’s okay that we get angry or frustrated. It’s okay that some days are a circus of stress. I think that being able to catch myself when I start judging my reactions makes a big difference. When I can notice what I’m feeling and know that it’s okay to feel that, it helps to be able to get my sights back into a healthy perspective. I can take a breath, close my eyes and remember how good it feels to fill myself up with Love. The thing is to be deliberate. You can’t really be deliberate if you are running on auto-pilot. It means I can choose to reset my day. The less I get caught up in judging myself and those around me or the situation rather than simply assessing and adjusting my course accordingly, the smoother things tend to be. The more relaxed I can be, the better things flow and the happier I am.

The journey continues. No resolutions are necessary to keep placing one foot in front of the other. My philosophy is: when in doubt, infuse a little Love and do your best to be kind to yourself first. When you do that, it’s easy to be kind to others, whether or not they are returning that kindness.

Happy New Year!

I sincerely wish you all the very best that being human has to offer as we embark into 2019.