The other day I was browsing through a thrift store a few blocks from my apartment, chatting on the phone with my older sister the whole time and joking that she (and my other sisters) were my “good luck charms” whenever I go thrift shopping. Sure enough I found a small hand full of books that I’d either been on the hunt for for a long time, or that just seemed amazing (I also found a 1950’s Japanese Singer “knock off” metallic blue sewing machine that I would have loved to have purchased, but it was in rough shape and at $30 a little too rich for my blood without knowing for sure I could get it running). One of the books I found was a sewing book from the 1970’s that had fabulous illustrations and I was super excited about it but didn’t even get a chance to properly look at it until now, because this week has been…hectic to say the least.
So this evening I pulled the book out and realized exactly why I was so drawn to not only the illustrations, but to this book in particular:
It was because I explored it (albeit under a different name) over a year ago now, in the very first post on this blog! Yes, this book is by Gidon Lippman, Dorothy Erskine, et al., but this version was published under the name Sew Easy, instead of Sew It Yourself, back in 1977. Just check out the amazing Alan Couldridge fashion illustrations and compare them between both posts, exactly the same!
(click the enlarge images)
I’m so happy that I finally have a copy of this book (and I can’t believe I only paid 99 cents for it!) and it came at such an amazing time – everything in my life feels like it is in transition, from small things to big things: realizing the kinds of clothes I really want to wear and sew, the kinds of things I want to do with my life and my time, thinking about continuing my education in some form or the type of job I would like to have, re-discovering myself and growing as a person and as a woman, breaking away from an abusive marriage, planning a move (both for myself and for this blog)…wow, so many changes! And this is just the beginning in a lot of ways for me, so finding this book, the very first thing I ever posted about on this blog, feels so right in this moment. It really feels like I’m coming full circle, but at the same time, I’m growing and moving on in the best possible ways. I’m forging my own path, making my own rules, and realizing that there is beauty even in the mistakes I may make along the way.
It’s kind of funny how the last (roughly) year and a half has been both one of the best and one of the worst of my life – I’ve gotten to meet and talk to so many amazing, wonderful people and interview some women who are genuine idols of mine, make so many friends, develop my sewing skills in a very public way that has helped keep me pushing forward, getting better and learning more (with the benefit of some incredible and invaluable advice from the wonderful women of the online sewing community!), I’ve been learning so, so much from all of you (within the sewing and vintage community and without) and have been so incredibly inspired by the amazing work you all do, and your never-ending compassion and ability to make me smile, laugh – and yes, even cry – you all brighten my days.
At the same time, I’ve had to take a hard look at my life, my marriage, and the person I spent the last eleven years of my life with and make some pretty heartbreaking, devastating and scary realizations and decisions – I would be lying if I said that this past year and a half has been all good or all bad, but the amazing thing is that I’ve been getting through it and growing stronger.
One thing I’ve learned through all of this may seem like common sense to the majority of people, but sure as hell was hard to get through my thick skull over the years, and it is that panic attacks can’t kill you. No matter how hard or scary or even rock bottom terrifying things may get, a panic attack alone will never kill you and the more seemingly impossible days you manage to live through, the stronger you realize you really are. And the strength you find to get through the impossible days builds and builds and makes you stronger and stronger, until you realize “I really am going to be okay, I’m stronger than this, it can’t and won’t destroy me.”
That said, it’s important to practice self care – on those days that seem completely insurmountable, completely unbearable, you need to make sure to do what you can to take care of yourself – whether it’s watching silly movies or videos or your favourite television show, cuddling with a pet or loved one, reading a book, taking a bath, engaging in a hobby, calling someone you trust up on the phone (or even calling a helpline if you don’t feel you can talk to someone you know in that moment), taking a bath or a shower, putting on some music and singing along – whatever it is you need to do to feel better, to care for yourself and help heal yourself, if you can do it, do it! There is nothing wrong with having hard days, there is nothing wrong with struggling, there is nothing wrong with needing or asking for help. We are all only just humans, we are all works in progress, we are all learning and growing along the way and that is a seriously beautiful thing. There is beauty both in our triumphs and our mistakes, and we can all learn from and help one another.
No one reading this will be surprised when I say that I am not perfect, because boy am I ever NOT PERFECT! But then, no one is. I have nights where I can’t sleep, terrified by random noises that trigger my anxiety and PTSD, or days when I freak out and call one of my sisters, crying, practically incoherent, babbling, rambling and verging on being absolutely hysterical because of something that has happened. There are days when I say “fuck this” to everything – I let the dishes pile up, I scrap a sewing project that is testing my patience beyond what I can manage in the moment, I sulk, I cry, I feel like punching walls, I get angry, I get sad and depressed and anxious and panicked to the point where I want to crawl right out of my own skin – but I get through it. I get through it and have days where almost everything seems to go right: I make a list of things to do and tick off a majority of the items, I exceed my own expectations, I start new projects or finish ones I previously thought I’d never be able to finish, I keep up with my commitments and am in a damned good mood and am able to be there for the people I love. It’s all up and down and give and take and this is life: imperfect, sometimes messy, sometimes a little “crazy” or scary, but also joyful, surprising, wonderful and such an amazing gift and I know that as hard as it can get, as impossible as it can feel, I’d much rather be here and present and living than not – which is something I couldn’t honestly say even four or five year ago. I’m happy to be here now, with all the ups and downs and the joy and pain.
Because life is messy and interesting and erratic and scary and fun and wild and boring and colourful and bleak and ugly and so damned beautiful, and so, so worth living, so worth fighting for. And I truly believe that no matter how absolutely horrible and unbearable life can get, it can also turn around and get better – piece by piece, second by second, hour by hour, day by day, as long as we keep fighting, as long as we don’t give up.
Once again, this is another post that kind of went off track a bit, but I don’t mind. It’s been one hell of a week in so many ways, with what felt like blow after blow and shock after shock, which is why I haven’t really been around online – it was just one of those awful damned weeks that seemed impossible to get through, but I got through it. And tonight I felt like writing, so I did, whether this post makes sense or not. Sometimes this is just how I express myself and I’m learning that that is perfectly okay.
There’s no real way I can think to end this post, so I’ll just end it by sending you all lots of love and hugs and strength, and say: thank you for being here, thank you for reading my ridiculous words, and for being among the brilliant beacons of light that shone through the darkness and helped me find my way.