In just a couple of weeks Craft Towards Joy Patterns will be turning 1 year old. And, as with all birthdays, comes a time of reflection for the past year and a direction for going forward.
Last week I caught the very thing that most of us have been trying to avoid for the past few years. Luckily I was vaccinated, so it ended up being more like a mild flu. I self isolated and for about a week, in between long stretches of sleep, I was able to keep up with my Bible study.
My Church offers a small group session on Wednesday morning with child care provided (praises!). I managed to get one session in before my illness occurred. We’re studying the life of Elijah through Priscilla Shirer’s book: Elijah, Faith and Fire. I’ve got through her Armor of God Study and new this would be an enlightening time of reflection and growth, both spiritually and mentally.
Oddly enough week two of the study was about Elijah’s year-long stay in Cherith. This was his in-between of confronting King Ahab and huge events such as would occurred on Mount Carmel. This place was near a brook, during a famine, isolated, barren, and uncomfortable. Shire explains:
Everybody’s life is different; I understand that. But as I look back on mine, I see where at every turn, every time God has been preparing me to tackle a fresh challenge or to move into a new spiritual place with him, the process he’s chosen has almost always begun with a stop in “Cherith”- a season of life that I perceived at the time to be an undesirably obscure, isolating, unproductive, and relatively mundane.Priscilla Shirer, Elijah: Faith and Fire study guide, p. 51
In these moments where we are in our own in between times we are given the opportunity to prepare and learn for the challenges and events that lie ahead of us. Shirer then prompted us to think about an area where we feel we needed to be stepping out of our comfort zone and into our own Cherith. Honestly, I didn’t need to think too long. I knew that my time of self-isolation was going to be the time of deep reflection I needed. I immediately (temporarily) deleted every social media app or app that I used to manage my small business and with the exception of the occasional message or update I avoided anything to do with Craft Towards Joy.
I’m going to have a moment of uncomfortable honesty with you. I have a tendency towards self-destructive addictive actions. I don’t do anything bad, per se. The worst I usually get is mindlessly scrolling on TikTok or other platforms to avoid my uncomfortable feelings, dealing with my problems, social anxiety, or starting a task that I know will involve some amount of effort.
Another area this comes to play as in my efforts with social media marketing. I sell quilt patterns. It’s nothing too exciting, but it is a passion and something I hope will grow into a portion of our family’s income. A while back I got hyper focused on learning all about marketing. What’s the right amount and combination of hashtags to use in a post? Should I be focusing on TikToks or Instagram reels? How can I get more engagement and followers so I can grow my business quickly?
I spent so much time researching, planning, posting, and then stressing or avoiding stressing about whether what I tried worked. Not to mention I have this whole self-esteem issue where if I spend so much effort working on something only for it to not work out I end up obsessing over what I did that was wrong and if that had a reflection of who I was as a person and an artist. It sounds so silly to write it out, but I’m thinking a lot you all can relate to this… or at least I’m hoping I’m not the only one.
I got exhausted breaking my back for a computer algorithm and companies that care only about getting ads into the eyes of their users. This isn’t to say that these businesses don’t have the right to do that or that there isn’t value in hard work, experimenting, and making mistakes so that we can grow and learn from those experiences. However, I know myself and a lot of this was leading to an unhealthy demoralization and often a burnout.
Everything you’re saying yes to , you’re saying no to something else.”Elizabeth Chappell, Craft To Career Podcast, Episode 40
When I said yes to obsessing over my marketing strategies, I was often saying no to my family, no to designing, no to sewing, and no to pursuing other creative expressions that brought fulfillment in my life.
Marketing is very important to businesses. I don’t want to downplay that or the very hard work that other wonderful designers are out there doing. In fact, when prompted in our study to write down the names of people who we look up to it was a few quilters who have their social media marketing handled well, that I wrote down (Elizabeth Chappell, Andrea (Quilting for 4, and Veruschka Zarate (Pride and Joy Quilting). ). I think what they’re doing, particularly their joy in hard work, consistency, confidence, and genuine kindness, is amazing and inspiring.
With that being said, I think my Cherith showed me is that I don’t need to force myself to be in one box or be like everyone else. My small business is mine and even though I absolutely want to turn this into a stable income, I’m okay with doing that on my time and in my unique way, and focusing instead on the things that bring me joy, even if that means I grow slower..
So, what does this mean for the future?
I’m saying yes to my family.
This is the most important thing in my life. I have a husband who’s in the military and will be frequently deployed. I also have two young kids, a four year old and a 1 year old. I’m not having anymore, by choice. Everyday they’re getting older and the precious time I have with them dwindles. Soon, and I’m talking only a couple years soon, they’re not going to need me in the same capacity as they do right now. We’re even debating if we’ll end up putting them in private school rather than homeschooling them. When that day eventually comes I will put more time towards my business then I do right now, but in this season of life I want to spend more time cherishing these fleeting moments as long as I can.
I’m saying yes to community
Don’t worry, I still plan on being active on Instagram, but you’re going to possibly see less posts, no reels, and less cohesiveness in my feed. Instead you’ll see more stories and more attempts at genuine interaction. I really love the story feature on Instagram because that’s usually the times I get more conversations going from those who follow me and frequently develop some connections to wonderful people!
I’m saying yes to taking charge of my audience
I don’t have a large following right now, but it doesn’t really matter on Instagram. Whenever I post even in my stories, less than 10% of my followers end up seeing that post. I would often get so discouraged by the lack of views and interactions on these posts, but a lot of that wasn’t even up to my control! This is why I am starting to push towards developing an email list which you can join below (and get two free patterns!). When I have something to say I want you to hear it and even hopefully participate in a discussion with me. When I send an email not just 10%, but 100% of people who subscribe will see it.
I’m saying yes to doing what I love
A lot of the things that are being pushed right now are not my strong suit. I’m sure if I hunker down and really tried I could learn how to do it and how to do those things well, but I don’t think it would bring me joy and that’s a huge component of this endeavor. My business name is after all craft towards Joy. Craft being not only my last name but the thing that I find the most healing through and Joy being my ultimate goal of mental health and a hopeful perspectives even when things don’t go how I want them. So, this will include more blog posts, more designs, more sewing, and more opportunities for deep reflection.
So to sum it up, and the next year you might see less of me, but you will end up seeing more of who I am. Friends, this first year of business has shown me that I really love this job! I’m not going away anytime soon and to make sure that happens I don’t want to get burned out and if that means that I have to step away sometimes and focus on the other things that bring me fulfillment in life, then that’s what I have to do.
Thank you all so much for reading the blog and keeping up with all of my projects. I have a lot of exciting blog posts plan for the future, including one requested by Mr Bones Sews, that you should see coming up here real soon. I also have a ton of designs ready to start sewing and testing. This upcoming year is really exciting as far as what I’m creating. I hope you will stick along for the journey you can follow me on Instagram for more behind the scenes looks and you can reach out anytime by sending me a direct message there or an email over at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope this year will also be filled with genuine community building, so definitely reach out and say hi!