Thank you for following along with my 2016 blogstravaganza. It feels good to have my projects blogged in the same year they were sewn (and let’s just ignore the projects I made for other people, shall we? and the dress I just sewed from the wreckage of that wool jersey cardigan?) Now I’d like to share some reflections on the outgoing and incoming years.
Like 2015, I’d picked out a theme word for 2016. It was not nearly as whimsical as “joy” in 2015; 2016’s word was “competence”.
For my entire life, I’ve felt uneven in my skills and personality – quick to grasp things and easily interested, but with poor follow-through and my excitement quickly giving way to feelings of dejection and ineptitude. Inconsistent. Making competence my word for 2016 implied the question “what would happen if I solidified some of the basic skills I want and need in my life?”
Here are some of the very quotidian things I worked on:
- I got more serious about my financial goals and took an honest look at what my husband and I were really spending. We started using an allowance system, which we now affectionately and ruefully refer to as “petty cash”. With only one full-time income for most of the year, we managed to incrementally increase our savings and I contributed to my 401k to get the max employer match.
- I took an honest look at how I was doing at my job. I was doing adequately and no more. I decided to invest in my skills, both technical and managerial. I look online classes, I asked a ton of questions, I built consensus, I volunteered for projects, I participated. And it worked; I built up my small program and I felt very proud of the work we created.
- I dared to think about where I wanted my career to go. I started taking stock in what I was loved doing and was really good at, what I could do competently (there’s that word again) and what I’d really prefer not to do.
- I took good care of myself this year. After focusing on joy in 2015, I was worn out and sick. I made time to go to dance and therapeutic yoga and sought out health care providers that I liked and respected.
- Sewing-wise, I’ve made a bunch of projects this year that I wear the shit out of. Again, no glamour here, just solid pieces that I wear daily. But it felt good to really sew up patterns I know and love, like McCall’s 6436, my Morgan jeans and trousers, and my self-drafted jumper dresses.
So, lest this post sound like one long brag on my achievements, I’ll add some context – because almost everything was going haywire.
On a personal level, I was inspired to work so much on my own professional development because every week seemed to yield a fresh new sign that my job was in danger, including (but not limited to):
- a two-month delay in filling open spots on my small team until word finally arrived from unofficial channels that the team was being dissolved
- another team tried to steal our headcount
- our director quit
- our VP was fired
- our fired VP still managed to trade my larger team to another organization
- our new director in our new organization told us in vague terms that our team needed restructuring shortly before he got a new job and left
- his replacement said he wouldn’t make any further changes to the team and then dissolved it less than a month later and laying nearly everybody off
I consider this year to be my education in corporate politics.
Uncertainty, worry and calamity struck a lot of my friends and family, too, and I began to feel lucky that my turmoil was limited to my lost job. Mental and physical health issues that had been in uneasy stasis swung back out of balance for so many people I know, and there was divorce, breakups and housing insecurity in the mix. One of my friends had a spontaneous and undetectable shingles attack on his optical nerve and narrowly avoided losing sight. Another of my friends got hit by a taxi as he was legally crossing the street and narrowly avoided losing his life and his ability to walk.
The backdrop to these more personal cares is the political landscape of the US and the world. I don’t even know where to start to comment on that, except that feelings and pain that have never been resolved are erupting all over the place in very public ways. As some of you know, my Japanese-American family members were removed from their homes in World War II and placed in so-called “relocation camps”. One group’s pain and fears can easily be molded politically to take form as violations against the rights of citizens and humans; it’s only been one generation (albeit a long one) since this happened to my family. For many, it’s happening right now.
So where to take the upheaval of 2016, in as much as we have a choice? Truth be told, I’ve been resting for the last few weeks of this year and taking some time to feel gratitude for what I have. The personal and political tumult has taken it’s toll on me, but I intend this resting period to be temporary. I think next year is going to be very, very important. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it with unreserved joy – this isn’t 2015, after all! – but I am looking for meaningful ways to participate in public life.
On a bit of a housekeeping note, I am planning on taking some time off from sewing. I’m also spending the first few months of 2017 focusing intensively on my career, and I’m really excited. My plan is to enjoy wearing the pieces I’ve sewn this year, and live vicariously through all of your creations. And I think I’ll be doing some more knitting, since it’s better-suited towards little bits of effort at a time.
Since I’ve been focusing on gratitude lately, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank you for being part of my community. Thank you for diving into the details of construction and fit with me. Thank you for listening to my metaphysical sewing rambles. Thank you for sharing your beautiful projects. Love and peace to you all.