Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Letting Yourself Be Yourself: A Holiday Lesson

 I thought I would repost this from a couple of years back, given that its the season of resolutions and all---the lessons are still valid and I am still learning them.

The holidays and thinking about resolutions reminded me of something that happened several Christmases ago, and what I learned from it.

Ugly Doll
Perhaps you have seen those "Ugly" dolls that are all the rage with children? Perhaps you know some kids who have some? Well, several years ago, just before they were starting to get really popular, I had a family Christmas to go to and nephew to get a present for. I didn't have hardly any money but I did have (and still do, by golly!) a bunch of fabric scraps and some imagination. The Ugly Dolls inspired me and so I thought, hey, I can make a monster doll for my nephew! It'll be great and no one else will have one like it!

And so I made one with the freehand newspaper pattern I made that you see at the top. I used plaid fabric and I gave the monster a happy, non-threatening smile while still retaining its "monster" qualities. It was so darn cute I wanted to keep it for myself.

Well, I should have.

Christmas day came. My nephew opened the monster. He was noncommital about it---after all, he had a towering stack of plastic toys made in China to get to!! And I knew from the start that I couldn't compete with that.

What I didn't expect was the reaction from his mother. She was horrified and she didn't keep it a secret. Later, when she thought I wasn't looking, I saw her pick it up off the pile of presents, gave it a disgusted look and hurled it into the corner. Whether she was upset because it was a quirky monster or because it was hand made, or both, I'll never know.

I was just sick at heart. I lay all night in the guest bedroom thinking about whether or not I should creep out and steal the monster back. That sweet little monster is probably moldering in a landfill right now.

I let that one incident stifle me for about a year. I didn't sew at all or make any more monsters.

Then one day I was looking at a huge vintage 70s tie I had and something about it made me think, hey, I could fold it this way and make an owl!

And I did. I put some up in my Etsy store and I have sold all the ones that I have listed. (and one of my resolutions for the new year is: make time to make more!)  Updated note: I have a bunch of these ready to list in my new shop, Moss and Root!

Somewhere during this time I also came across this book:

Fitting In Is Overrated

I'm not all that big on the self-help stuff but this book made an impression on me. The section on family is especially good.

I guess what I am trying to tell you is:  sometimes people aren't going to appreciate your vision, sometimes they might even be mean to you, BUT GO ON ANYWAYS. Because it is your life and your vision. Don't let people with pre-conceived ideas and a lack of imagination dictate your progress. Don't let them stifle you. Because then it is really YOU stifling you. I let a whole year of sewing creativity be wasted because an unimaginative and unkind person didn't approve of my vision and I let that affect me.

Don't let that happen to you, dear viewers. Let yourself be yourself.


  1. That owl is so adorable! How could anyone NOT want one!

  2. HAHA, been there done that. I have two nieces and three nephews that are obsessed- as in rarely even disconnect from, their electronic devises and get many more for Christmas. My handmade/quirky/educational gifts have been mostly ignored for years so this time I didn't add to the pile that will inevitably be thrown out. :P I bet your doll was super cute, too. I used to make all kinds of fun/quirky plushies. And I love Ugly Dolls. Super rude of mom to literally toss it but my sister in law might have done the same thing, haha.

    I really relate to keeping the "freak flag" waving no matter what. I stand on tables or do weird things to get shots, I don't eat meat, I work for myself with unconventional freelance work and forget how "strange" that is to the norm. I met with a personal trainer today (had a "free" session to use up) and he insisted I needed meat for progress and thought I was the weirdest person for being a freelancer writer/seller/herbalism student. We'll keep being weird though, can't be any other way!

  3. It can be a tough road for us "weirdos", but ultimately I think we are being true to ourselves in a way that many people are not. For example, I think its "weird" that people spend decades working at a job they hate, living only for the weekends and an eventual retirement. I had a 40 hour a week, conventional job once. The decades stretched out in front of me like a prison sentence. I quit after 2 years and have been "freak flagging" it ever since ( self-employed about 10 years now). It hasn't been easy---but its been a hell of a lot more interesting. And a hell of a lot more flexible. I've traveled internationally, section hiked the PCT and done a lot of things that my conventional-job counterparts, who have more money, have never done.

    BTW, there are several UFC cage fighters who have been/still are vegans. If those guys can do what they do on a vegan diet, you can certainly work out and obtain "progress" eating the way you do :)

    Stay weird, Van :)