autumnal.

I recently learned that the word “autumnal”, while also of course relating to the Fall season, also means “past the middle of life, in the third stage;” and oh man that got me thinking. It sometimes feels like my quote/unquote midlife crisis was in my thirties, which I guess makes me theoretically past the middle of life (although I do hope to live past my 80’s if I’m healthy - like all the elder women of my family!). What I guess I mean is: each season of this year has left me feeling wiser and wiser, stretched, and more grown. Welcoming in the autumn has been a smooth transition from the summer solstice softness I wrote about last time. It seems like I feel inspired to write only seasonally now?

I can remember the days in my twenties and thirties where writing and blogging and journaling was almost a daily event. I had So Much to say, all the time. If I look back honestly, though, I think I was mostly writing the fantasy of it all - I lived whole heartedly in my own daydreams and little bubbles. I think for years that was the best place for me to be, until I was really ready to start emerging and crawling out into reality. Reality was a lot harder, a lot meaner, a lot more painful.

These days, reality simply is. It feels a lot like of the everyday things. I’ve been focusing on the day to day: getting a haircut, setting up my new sewing space, doing a bit of quilting and sewing, planning things far enough ahead that I'm not running around crazy, weekend naps, getting the house ready for the colder months coming, spending quality time with Jonathan, reminding myself I don't have to do all the things all the time, vitamins + hydration, dropping down to part time 3 days a week at my dayjob, fresh sheets and new bath towels, letting the light in, time management, lots of home cooked meals....

I used to live a life that was all over the place - unrooted, full of drama and alcohol, constantly traveling, placing my care in all of the wrong people.. When I think about it now, I know it was because I craved change; but sometimes I do catch myself wondering why I ever did it. There was something that dragged me out there, and then something completely different that pulled me back home.

I spent so many of my years in the On position, moving and shuffling and trying and fighting and reaching and hurting and never stopping for fear that everything would finally catch up to me. And it did, eventually. It still does sometimes. Trauma's just kinda like that. But these days I am feeling loved, safe, comfortable, successful, and in charge of myself - boundaries and opportunities I never listened to before. I finally feel like I'm starting to put to good use all of the things I learned on my path here. I don't have it all figured out, and ask me again how I'm feeling in the pit of winter; but the goal is always to find balance.

So much has happened in he last couple of years that launched my trajectory in the complete opposite direction of where I had been. Running a business, owning a home, living in a relationship, all the things that I always wanted - it can be shocking to your system to finally get them, and frightening to hope you don't f*ck it all up.Speaking of frightening: this was my first official week as a part time employee at my dayjob. I dropped down to 4 days a week last year to have one day a week to be at home to work on my business, and this week I dropped down to just 3 days a week! I have 2 full days a week to work on my business, and with a holiday launch coming up next month its extremely comforting to have the extra day to focus. I’m in the limbo month just before a launch where there is little to no online income because the shop is relatively empty - but its coming!

Having another day at home means that I don’t have to work as much on the weekends or evenings, if I don’t want to. It also means I have one less day on my consistent dayjob paycheck. And every month I think to myself I’m going on a spending freeze, and every month I end up putting money into a house project or two. At least I can see what my money has been put into, though. Long gone are my days of putting my last pennies into my gas tank and taking off for the weekend into the middle of nowhere. (It sounds romantic, but it never really was. It was mostly draining and mentally destructive - but hey, I got some good photos.)

I will say that this impending seasonal change and extra day at home has me gearing up for the winter ahead (though, Hopefully we have another month or two before that happens) and the coziness it brings. As someone who escaped Maine winters to live in the desert, I never thought I’d be back here looking forward to it. (There are definitely days I feel like I must be in the upside down, going against everything I thought to be true lol.) The pantries are stocked, the winter blankets are out, the plants have all moved inside… but lets forget the fact that today is supposed to be weirdly almost 70degrees outside - tomorrow’s high is expected in the low 50s.

Snow and snow dyeing will be here before we know it.

But before that, I have the aforementioned holiday launch coming and I feel good about it. No matter how many items I plan for, I feel like I should always have more. The blessing and curse of a small business is “you can always make more”, and that is my constant battle. Make more now or make more later. Part of it is simple (lol - simple??) imposter syndrome. No matter how proud I am of my business, I always feel that there’s no way I’ll sell it all - even when I do.

The emotional part of my business is that I started really building it from the ground up (especially the dyeing fabric etc) after five truly failed attempts at relationships. (Okay okay a couple gave me what I wanted in the moment, but they still did a number on my emotional health…) Have you ever tried to build something great when the people you thought you loved tried to break you down bit by bit? Oh, I don’t recommend it. Sure, I had support from friends and family, but I placed an extraordinary amount of my own self-worth in the “relationships” I was in (using quotes here because.. well.. you get it..). I definitely had a type, and that type was not good.

The thing is: I did it. I built it, and I broke out and I changed my life. Having a partner that supports me now is…I’m not sure I even have a word to describe it. I owe him so much and am so thankful for everything he brings to my life.

But for me, personally, in my own body - I have to sometimes step back to see what I’ve accomplished. Because I see the numbers (and the subsequent successes like buying a house, being able to do and have all these things), but I’ve just lived INSIDE of it for so many years that I know I don’t really SEE it. I just do it… But stepping back and trying to see it from the outside, its emotional sometimes. To be able to make something successful after twenty years of failing at most everything I tried (friendships, relationships, money, jobs, you name it) - its more than money. The money is good. The money is necessary. But its a lot more than that. Its a mountain I’ve been trying to climb my entire life. And I feel like I can keep climbing, that there’s more to see. More to do.

I’m making a new business model for 2023. Its going to include a consistent inventory list of dyed items, a list of some seasonal only dyed items, more and different fabric offerings, and (hopefully) more quilted goodies like in my old days (my old days of neverending inspiration that came from a bottomless well of despair but we’re going to try to tap into a new bottomless well of joy instead and see what type of inspiration that might bring about). The goal is to be able to have smaller but more frequent offerings of all kinds, while sticking to my schedule and boundaries. Can I do it? Yes, I think I actually can. Its going to require more planning and probably more time at the computer. It might require asking my partner for some help sometimes. But as soon as the holiday launch ends, I’m going to sit down to chart out the entire year ahead on paper and once something is on paper for me, it might as well be set in gold.

I also have a fun collab coming up that I’m really looking forward to seeing come together. I’m trying to get better about reaching out to folks who I feel aligned with to do little things here and there. Its hard to say “hi, I’ve always loved what you do, can we do something together?”, but the few times I have done it its been so wonderful. I am also scheduled to give a lecture this January for the Maine quilt guild, which I’m excited for (and nervous because public speaking is one of those things I never have been able to do well).So, honestly, autumn, this season and maybe third stage of life or third stage of the year, or whatever it is - is kind of the ending of where I’ve been this past year or maybe two or three years or maybe twenty or forty years, and the start of the next new thing.

When we moved back here to Maine, the biggest change for me was to get used to having four very distinct seasons again. That cyclical way of life. But to be honest, it took no getting used to at all — I had kind of unknowingly lived that way for the first 34 years of my life, and when I was in the desert for 8 years I pretty much lived without it. There were two seasons there: deathly hot summer, and not summer.

The thing about living in the four New England seasons here is that you really appreciate every little thing in a different way. Each season brings something very important, so many physical and emotional changes and things to do and get prepared for. I really took that for granted in my earlier days. The grass isn’t always greener (sometimes there isn’t any grass at all).

 I didn’t do myself justice in my time in the desert. But thankfully I had the wherewithal to gather up some little bits of something that I could use and take with me. I miss the sunsets. I miss the big open roads and the music playlists. I miss the couple of true friendships I made the best I could with what little I had to give. But most days I am happy in the little life we have started creating here. And to think, this is just the beginning of this era. It seems there are so many strong and stable possibilities and opportunities ahead (something I’ve never really felt before).

So, friends… Happy autumn, happy third stage, happy Fall. I hope it finds you settling in and cozying up.

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