Life is made up of all these different phases, childhood , eduction, career, family, and each phase has it's own ups and downs.
My life seems to have had more then it's fair share of different phases; in my personal life there have been phases where I was very involved in various community associations, going it alone in a new city, settling down and home making; in my work there was the hospitality phase, then retail, call centres, administration in the health industry and executive assistant work for government agencies.
Through all of the different phases of my life, the ones I've mentioned and the ones I haven't, one thing has remained consistent, my dream to create beautiful historical garments.
Each phase of my life has sort of tumbled into the next with the main driving force being the ability to pay the next round of bills. Since I turned 30 I had been positioning and preparing myself for the next phase of life, the phase that never came, having children.
After working with the government for over 7 years and my latest contract could not be extended due to downsizing (they had been ordered to cut a third of their workforce) I found myself taking a good hard look at my life. I faced the reality that while possible, it is unlikely that becoming a parent was on the cards in my future, but that I also wanted to ensure I wouldn't doubt my choices later on. I decided not to go back to full-time work, that reducing stress in my life may make the difference between conceiving or not. I also thought it would give me the opportunity to finish all the half started, planned projects and fixes that our home needed. And while I've got all this 'extra time' on my hands I could pursue my dream of sewing beautiful garments for a living.
I found some part time work teaching, but the hours didn't work out and the environment was toxic. I decided while I found teaching extremely rewarding, that particular job was not for me. I sewed as much as I could, I opened an Etsy store, I learnt a great deal. I stressed about not spending as much time on improving my home as I thought I should be, I stressed about money. I was also struggling with some health issues that were being elusive to diagnose with symptoms including waking up with my shoulder and arms completely numb, night sweats, facial flushing, joint pain and headaches like I've never had before.
And I realised it wasn't working. That I couldn't be everything all at once, that I couldn't build a business with my time split so strongly between all these tasks and with these physical impediments. I decided I needed to take control of my 'now' so that I could focus on creating the future I wanted.
I gave up on the idea of working part-time and we would just have to adjust financially. I put on hold the million and one things I thought I needed to do to create the business that existed in my head. I accepted the idea that I would never be a parent. This changed how I viewed my world dramatically.
I see this as my 'selfish' phase. I selfishly chose to half our household income, chose to focus solely on the things I considered important and that would make my life less stressful and happier. I started to tackle all the tasks that for the last decade had been put off until 'tomorrow' a tomorrow that never comes.
I educated myself on how to write a blog, how to run a website, how to code HTML and CSS, how to be a social media manager.
All of which are a vital part of operating a successful business in the modern world.
I wrestled with the realities of my health and how it impacted on my dream of a 'sewing business' and just what did a 'sewing business' really mean to me? It certainly didn't mean what most people imagined.
I was tempted by the allure of several volunteering opportunities in areas that were close to my love affair with historical costume but didn't touch the core of it, however might open doors for me.
I questioned if I truly did love costuming seeing as I never seemed to prioritise it enough to really make any true headway. And I came to understand my habit of self denial when boring responsibility clamoured for attention, and that I need to build time into my life to truly pursue my passion.
I felt guilty every time I turned away from opportunities that might open doors for me because I wasn't ready for them yet.
I felt guilty as I watched my husband struggle with his own health issues and the responsibility of managing our financial obligations on his own.
I felt guilty as I listened
to my mum who is a pensioner, tell me about her own financial struggles and know that her food bill would be cut to pay for her heating this winter and I would not be able to help her.
I swallowed my fear and embarrassment and publicly shared many of my struggles with my readers, things I haven't even shared with those who do know me. Especially my struggle with clutter, and holding onto stuff for that next phase of life when I'll be sewing or I'll have more storage options or better organisation (when really I just need less stuff).
And whilst I'm really not sure if right now today if someone walked into my home they would see any real difference to how it looked when I was working full time, the difference is there. And although there is still a great deal to do I can see an end in sight.
While this phase of my life has not exactly been fun or balanced, in fact from the perspectives of some this phase of my life has been very secluded, it has actually been expansive in terms of my skills, of knowing myself better, of building a network of supportive people in my world, and creating solid foundations for my future and a happier life.
I had to stick with this phase of my life, because I knew the instant I didn't that my world would fill up as it always does and the next phase would take over. I wanted to chose that phase, instead of it just happening to me like I used to let it.
I knew that by clearing out all the clutter in all of the areas of my life, not just the things, but the stresses and expectations, the dead weight, the unnecessary, the bad habits and thoughts, that my life would change. That the life I dreamed of having could become possible.
And that's were I'm at now. The transition to the next phase is under way.
I want to thank you for sharing this adventure with me and I hope you will stick around for the next phase too, but I understand that the direction I'm going to isn't everyone's cup of tea and if I end up boring you I won't take it personally if I don't see you around as much any more. But for those of you that love costumes as much as I do you're going to get to share the next phase with me and we are going to have an absolute blast!
You may recall the chemise I made from the National Garment Cutter. I'll be sharing a LOT more from the NGC in the future but that's a whole other story I promise to share with you soon.
The future is full of the promise of bright, shiny, sparkly costumey goodness and I'm practically jumping out of my skin with excitement.
What phases of life have you finished? Do you hold onto things for future phases?