Monday, April 25, 2011

A Wake-Up Call

It was one of those moments that I remember every once in a while and it still gives me a knot in my stomach.

It was about 1997 and I was driving home from the community college I was attending in Jacksonville, Florida when I turned onto a busy highway. Next thing I knew, a truck with a very angry man driving was motioning for me to put my window down. He proceeded to yell at me as his wife sat in the passenger seat, avoiding eye contact.
"Wake your a@$ up! You ran me off the road back there!!!" I apologized profusely (as he continued to berate me), rolled my window up and cried all the way home, part embarrassed, part shocked.

I had no idea I'd cut him off.

I am a careful driver, never aggressive. I've never intentionally cut someone off or run them off the road! Had my wind been wandering?? Had he been in my blind spot?? Had I glanced at the on-coming traffic and just not seen him??

I look back at my life almost three years ago and how God started shining His light into my darkest places.

Before that, I spent a lot (A LOT) of time obsessing about what people thought about me. I mentally re-played past conversations and rehearsed future conversations. I ran possible future scenarios through my mind (which some may call "worry"). When things got tough, I absorbed myself in fixing my friends' problems, entertainment, fiction writing or anything else I could to not face what was really bothering me. I was great at running away from reality. I kissed a lot of boys but never had a boyfriend. Why? To stay in control and keep everyone at a distance. I played the part of the "nice girl" but was screaming on the inside.

When my friends and I took a psychology class in high school and heard about "repressing" memories and emotions, we actually joked about how much we did it. "Oooo, I'll definitely be repressing THAT one!" Ha, ha, haa....a-hem. Not funny.

I didn't really know myself. I wasn't confronting my emotions. I went through life following protocol and trying not to upset anyone. And I wondered why my stomach was always in knots and why my hands and feet were outrageously sweaty all the time.

Three years ago, I started a very slow waking-up process. What should have been a cut and dry miscarriage turned into a spiritual crisis and a major turning point in my life. Unexplainable fear and anxiety became a way of life. I didn't feel like myself anymore. At first it was because I felt anxious and fearful. Eventually, even once the anxiety had passed and I felt better, I just felt like I was on sensory overload, or like I was extra-sensitive to EVERYthing. I couldn't turn my mind off and looked for the spiritual in every moment of every day. Getting over my fear and anxiety became my obsession. It was all I thought about.

God was taking up residence in every part of my life. He was leaving no stone unturned. No more repression, no more denial. Changing my mind . Facing the truth.

There were times that I wished I could have turned it off. Can't I go one day without a spiritual revelation?? Can I just go to Target or take a shower without feeling like God is trying to teach me something??

I'd say something like, "I just want to feel like my old self again," and I'd be reminded that I didn't really WANT to ever go back to feeling like my old self. My old self believed lies. My old self was a people-pleaser. My old self obsessed and had "theories" and was an opinionated, insecure jerk sometimes.

One of my major turning points was realizing that by obsessing over how to overcome fear and anxiety, I was still focusing on fear and anxiety. So I started focusing on joy, peace, freedom and happiness instead. I obsessively focused on the grace, goodness and kindness of God. Instead of reading scripture about persecution, trials and fear, I read stories of redemption, power and healing. I started focusing more on gratitude.

And suddenly, I started feeling better, too. I was sweaty less and my stomach steadied. Amazing.

Looking back, I probably was lost in my own thoughts that day as I pulled into traffic and cut that guy off. I really did need to WAKE UP.

Being awake means feeling more, making more mistakes and reprioritizing your life even if it makes some people unhappy. It also means living in the moment. And I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Friday, April 8, 2011

"The Crafter's Haven" {feedback needed!}

Over the course of almost 15 years, I've dreamed of starting my own "brick and mortar" business, from opening an herb store to starting a Montessori preschool with my mom to running a tea room and gift shop. I think I've finally settled on a good idea, and I think there's a need for it.

Lately, I've been noticing a trend. Women NEED a place to go.

* Moms need a quiet place to go (that doesn't obligated them to spend $10 on food or $5 on a drink) to use their laptop, read a book, meet a friend, chat with a client or business associate, knit or just unwind.

{like this}

{or this}

* Crafters love to craft but rarely have a designated crafting space so they never get a project going or commandeer the dining room table for weeks on end with their project. Plus they may not have the tools they need to do what they want (like paper punches, a Cricut, a sewing machine, etc.).

{the one below caters to quilters and is located in Toronto}.

* Women want to teach something they know or learn something they've always wanted to know but don't have a place to do it. Someone loves teaching couponing but doesn't have anywhere to do it, or she's always wanted to know how to get her family on a cash budget but doesn't know where to go to learn.

* Ladies want to do things like host a direct sales home party, start a Bunco club, throw a kid's birthday party, etc. but don't want to use their own home because it means all the prep work of cleaning and preparing, plus kicking their family out for the night.

* Talented women are already crafting but don't have anywhere to market or display their wares. Or maybe they want to set up an Etsy shop but need someone to sit with them to teach them.

I want to offer a place to accomplish all of this!!

{like this}

Here's my vision.

"A Crafter's Haven."

It would be girly, bright, colorful, clean and welcoming.

This space resembles what I have in mind (a conveniently-located store-front in a strip mall, easy in and easy out, where you could drop in for ten minutes to grab a gift or spend an entire Saturday working on a project).

I've been inspired by designer Heather Bailey's studio for a long time. I would model my space after this clean, bright, colorful, girly look she has going.

I could help support fellow craftswomen with a consignment area of carefully selected handcrafted items, too {similar to picture below}.

To start with, we'd have a monthly calendar of events, from craft how-tos to practical classes on a wide range of women-specific topics.

The rest of the time would be "open studio time" where crafters could come in to work, using our supplies and machines, or bringing their own from home. We'd have plenty of space for cutting and piecing quilts, spreading out scrapbooking layouts or working on a craft project with a friend.

It would be a woman's home away from home. A spot to craft (paper crafts, needle crafts, sewing, quilting) and a place to sit and read a book (possibly like this)...

{except mine would have a blue tufted chair!}

...enjoy a beverage, chat with a friend, meet with a client, hold a meeting, host a party, teach a class or take a class.

{like this...and notice the coffee station on the right}

There would be a small semi-contained area for kids, too, so that moms have the option of bringing their children with them while they work (or play). Imagine something like the picture below, only with the picket fence around the perimeter....

...and lots of kiddy craft supplies!!

My passion is "putting women in their place" and I love the idea of helping women accomplish their goals and pursue their dreams, just by giving them some help, some tools and a place to do it. My business tag-line could be, "It's my business doing pleasure with you." Talk about mixing business with pleasure!!

{my space would be painted turquoise with plenty of white, too!}

As for me, this idea would incorporate every job I've ever had, all of my favorite things and all the stuff I'm already doing--just on a much bigger and more official scale!! I'd like to offer craft classes, of course, and fill custom craft orders but beyond that, I can see myself using the space for my own projects, like offering instruction on how to set up and run an Etsy shop, small business networking events, community fundraisers, party planning and much more!

Our biggest challenges now are finding a place, getting funding (duh!) and figuring out how to have the place actually make consistent money on a daily basis. I'm working on my business plan now and have already gotten prices on a few different store-fronts in south Phoenix. I'm excited! :)

I am looking for people to fill out an informal market survey for me! Interested?? E-mail me at tabandrew(at) with "survey" in the subject line. Thank you!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

My craft room!! {and Spring fabric flowers}

Seven months after moving in and with my Etsy shop in "vacation mode" so I can have a breather, I FINALLY have my craft room how I want it!! And I get to use and enjoy it just for ME!!

The bookcase of crafting supplies:

My craft table, with actual space to WORK! {but why do I usually end up working on the couch instead??}

Bookcase & SPRING banner I made {and, yes, I usually have company in there!}:

My helpers!

{notice that I re-covered the chairs in "Happy All Over" fabric, which matches the two fabric bins!!}

I enjoy working in here to much more now!!

SO MUCH in fact that I went on a little "flower making binge" last night!! A veritable garden!!! {under my Ott light, so the colors are very "true"}

QUITE CONTRARY fabric {love the pink and green, especially gingham}

{fun polka dots!}

From Raspberry Creek on Etsy Such yummy fabrics!!

SPRING STREET fabric {rain drops, birds, flowers--love it!!}

From Venezie Designs on Etsy Delightful to buy from!

E-mail me if you'd like to purchase anything, all flowers are $6 and can be made on a hair clip or brooch pin! tabandrew(at)