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I Am Not Running Away. I Am Planning My Escape.

hammockSo much has been going on lately. I have to try and process and keep moving forward because I feel like if I stop I will sink and everything will fall apart.

I am someone who hasn’t really had role models, one or two I can think of but no one who I’ve sat down and said, “I want to be like them”. Usually, it’s I want a business like theirs, but not to be like them as a person. So it feels a bit silly but I want to be a little more like Glennon Doyle Melton (she wrote Love Warrior and it is amazing). Not like her as an addict or an alcoholic; but I want to be like the part of her that she puts in her books. The part where she tells her truth and people love her for it. I want to be more honest and truthful in my writing and not come across as whiney, but as empowered. I want to be someone who is working to put her life into it’s best version. I have let Craft Rebel fade because the internet made me feel like writing a personal blog was a waste of time. But I need this project to help me transform my life and so I must channel a little Glennon Doyle Melton and write about what I am living.

I feel a bit like I am starting my life over, starting myself over.

I am 34. I live in a house I don’t love, I support more people than I am legally responsible for and I feel like I haven’t really worked in years. I have been managing, coping, surviving (with questioning levels of success) my life and my home. Life was too much. I was drowning in it and so I hid. And now I am recovered enough to know I have to dig myself out of this mess. My fairy godmother isn’t going to show up and whisk me away. And neither is a winning lottery ticket.

I have so much conflicting emotion inside me that I have to sort through, but I can say that looking at the past few years I feel like I let my husband down. I should have been stronger, I should have been able to handle my brain, my life, my crazy, and still contribute to our life. To his credit, he says I did the best I could and what matters is tomorrow, not yesterday. Which takes away some of the guilt, but not all of it. So the big burden I am left with is fully seeing how much more stuck I am than I want to be.
I love my husband dearly. I love my daughter. I do not love the trappings of adult life that I have let into my days. Too much house, too many payments, too many bills, not enough income. I hate the town I live in. I hate not having my own income contributing to our life.

Now I want to run, to fly away. I want to be as far away from York, PA as I can. I wish I had someone to blame. I wish I was the kind of person to cast blame about to everyone but myself. I’m not. And I have this life as a result of choices I’ve made – this is not good or bad. It just is. But the truth of my situation is that I can’t run away anywhere. Right now, I can’t vacation. I can’t relocate. I can go to Panera. That is the extent of my running. And that just isn’t enough anymore.

According to the dictionary, run away means to leave quickly or escape danger; to leave home. In the strictly literal sense I am running away because I am leaving home because I have lived in York for 18 years. But an immediate, hasty exit is not in the plans for me so I must start to make an exit plan instead of just dreaming about a new life. I must take action now, or the time will pass and I will still be stuck.

When I wake up in the morning I can breathe. I lay in bed and stare at the ceiling. In the too few minutes of quiet, I imagine a life elsewhere. I don’t dream about the perfect life, but a life much more peaceful and enjoyable than the one I’m living now. I imagine the water lapping out my window, and I try to feel the sunshine fall across my bed. And then my nephew yelps, and my sister yells. The cats chime in and my soul is pulled back into the here and now and a tightness comes back into my chest.

I struggle with a sizable amount of depression and anxiety. I am not always able to leave the house or even my room. Most days I make coffee, take my medication and feel the tightness, the anxiety, and stress, lessen its grip enough that I can have a normal day. Today is a normal day.

But surviving my days is no longer enough.

And now I look back on the blog and see that I have been wanting this for at least 4 months and haven’t made any progress toward changing it. I am still at square one. I’ve got no new income to show. But also I have no goals for success to compare myself to. I tend to be way too hard on myself and so I must also add that my medication is more balanced now than it has ever been and I feel like I can conquer and fix my life instead of just dreaming about it.


  • Am I paying off debt?
  • Am I contributing to a moving fund?
  • Am I spending to fix up the house and make it more sellable
  • Am I using my work time to prioritize work that earns money?
  • Am I spending too much time on Facebook & social media?
  • Am I saying NO and setting boundaries on my time?
  • Am I taking time off to relax and wind down?
  • Am I spending time with Abi & Chris?
  • Am I putting myself and my life first?

Here is where the business part comes in.

None of the changes I want to happen without income. I am self-employed and have been for 7 years now, and I haven’t been able to find a part-time job at any point during that time. I am traditionally unemployable. And honestly, trading a low hourly rate for income isn’t going to make the money I need to transform my life on the timeline I have in my head. Over the last several years I’ve mostly I’ve been a maker. I have worked as a web designer, and digital gal Friday doing lots of small jobs for money but for the most of my time I have worked with Chris. We have made jewelry. We have made yarn.

Part of my vision of a better life involves creating items I can sell more than once. For each bracelet I make I can only sell it once. For each skein of yarn I sell I can only sell it once. This is a 1=1 transaction.

And now I am going to  pivot my job and my income. From here on out my income has to have two important qualities:

1) It has to be a 1= many transaction. Meaning I want to focus on creating items like e-books, articles, or pieces of art I can license. All items I can make once and sell multiple times.

2) Secondly and most importantly, it has to be location independent. In the short term, this will give me working office hours outside my house, which will take away some of the mental stress and create boundaries for myself. In the long term, it will enable me to travel for longer periods of time than just a weekend since I will be able to work from wherever I will be. I do not want to be locked down to one space anymore. Leather and yarn are great, but once you set up a studio it is a huge pain in the ass to move.

Without goals, I will accomplish nothing, so here are my goals for the week:


  • Finish listing new items in Etsy
  • Update to be used as a portfolio website
  • Finish writing Porter & Hazel marketing email template
  • Send out at minimum 1 marketing email a day (7 emails). 2 would be better (14 emails).
    • Make a spreadsheet to track who I’ve emailed.
  • Figure out what stats I will use to track success by (in addition to income)
    • Make another spreadsheet to track these numbers
  • Take out add for Porter & Hazel on
  • Make a list of marketing ideas for Porter & Hazel

Medication Update, No Painting, and Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries Brene Brown

The past week or two have been insane. The contents of each day weren’t particularly remarkable but I found myself wholly unable to deal with them. I was a robot, going through the motions of my days without much interest or care. Responsibility powered me completing tasks out of obligation with no emotion in it at all. There was no art. No drawing. I did finish one pair of hand knit socks and am done with a first sock on a second pair. But having that much time for knitting is usually a mark of high depression for me.

After two separate sessions of hard ugly crying, I contacted my doctor and am adjusting my antidepressants. Today is day 2 of new meds and while I know I can’t feel the full effect, There is a tiny bit more hope and a lot less despair today. Even if this is placebo, I’ll take it.

While I do deal with a chemical imbalance that causes depression, I do not want to depend on medication to fix everything. So Chris and I have talked about non medication based ways to combat the stress overwhelm and depression I’m battling these days. Morning pages is part of that. And now I’ve started a 3 item a day gratitude journal. But the biggest change I have to make is setting boundaries. I need the ability to say no, to put myself first and have some time with the door closed where I can count on uninterrupted time.

I grew up in a large family. 2 parents (1 of which was a never home workaholic to avoid life dad0, 5 kids (2 with behavioral issues) and my Gram. Then at 18 I added my own daughter to the mix. Being the oldest in a family that large means I was a parental figure to my siblings, and the main person caring for Gram’s needs. I learned to be a people pleaser to keep the peace, to put others first because any little bit of added sanity was worth it. There was no such thing as boundaries, as personal space, privacy and after a while you just stop trying.

Lack of boundaries is another coping mechanism that I carried into adulthood that is no longer serving me.

This week we are prepping for a trunk show with 1 Sheep 2 Sheep, so I’m not sure I’ll be doing much painting. Then a short vacation to get away for a while and visit some family. So starting August 1 I will be setting up work hours – 10am to 1 pm. Studio hours. Chris says to use my studio hours to do whatever the hell I want  – at the beginning the important part is teaching everyone I live with that unless they need the hospital there is part of the day where they leave me alone.

The more I read about setting boundaries the more I realize that I have a lot to learn, and they are more important than I thought. Below are a few links I enjoyed. I’m going to have to find a book and do some indepth reading on boundary setting but I think starting with studio hours is a good place to start.

Links on Setting Boundaries

So many great thoughts in this video. But my favorite is at the end: “Boundaries are respect. They are here’s what’s ok for me and here’s what’s not.”


Daily Painting: Making Art a Priority

I am the matriarch of my family. The Mom. The head honcho. I set the tone and temperature of the house.  When my family was small – just Chris, and Abi & I – it was an easy low key job. But now with both of my sisters and my nephew living with us our three person house has expanded to six and there are a lot more schedules and emotions to balance.

Over the last few days I have realized that I let their lives get in the way of my time. I tell myself, I’m going get studio time tomorrow but when tomorrow comes life happens and my studio time gets taken away in small bits until it is the end of the day and I’m tired and ready for bed – not ready to start studio work.

This is not ok! If I don’t make art a priority another year or two will pass and I will still not have built anything for me.

I followed through on my list from last post and removed the comfy chair from my room and set up a painting studio.

My Painting Studio

I have a tiny bit of anger around the realization that if I had stuck to painting 2 years ago when I initially bought paints and canvases I would be really good by now. Seeing as how the Doctor and Tardis have yet to show up and give me an opportunity to change it I must begin again from scratch.

The only way I can grow is to work. And clearly the only way I can work is to schedule my painting time more seriously. Because “I’ll get to it sometime today” just isn’t working. Mornings will consist of: morning pages & coffee, breakfast, driving my sister to work & Abi to school. 30 minutes at the gym, quick shower, painting for 3 hours. After that the day can take over. There will be plenty else to do. My days are rarely empty. But this will ensure that I am not just letting my day go and not claiming my own slice of it.

I have time in the morning after morning pages, but before breakfast & driving which I may start a daily sketchbook activity so i can practice my drawing aside from my painting. I also want to start working on brush calligraphy drills.

I have heard from several sources that it takes 10,000 hours to be a master or 500 paintings before you are really a painter. I don’t need to be a master to sell art and I don’t agree with “really a painter” but i can see how it would take 500 pieces to build skill and consistency in producing quality works. I am trying to conquer my inner critic by realizing that A) this is all just practice. I am not making art, i am practicing and B) right now I have to aim for that 500 mark and not worry about quality. Quality will come as I spend more time painting.

Interesting Links on Daily Painting

  • Carol Marine’s Blog – Carol is a daily painter and has written a great book on the subject along with her nearly daily updated blog. Shehas long been my inspiration to do this kind of work. Even though it has taken me a few years to act on the inspiration
  • Lisa Daria – Lisa was my first exposure to daily painting. Her style is loose but she is prolific and wonderful
  • Dreama Tolle Perry – A wonderful daily painter who has such bright colors its like looking at the way life should be.
  • Duane Keiser via Huffington Post– Duane is one of the first people to do daily painting. This article on HP is a great look into why he started and as a father of the DP movement I am interested in his beginnings



Invisibility is Not a Superpower. It’s a Coping Mechanism


I am learning a lot about myself as I go through my now daily ritual of morning pages and coffee before starting my day. One of the biggest things to come out of this past week is how much time I spent trying to be invisible as I was growing up.

My experiences growing up are not the standard rosy colored nostalgia I wish they were. Though I do have a few memories in that vein.

I was punched in the face on my second day of kindergarten by Anne who had been left back in K and didn’t like the look of me. This would be the first in a very very long line of bullies I had. This was the late 1980’s and early 90’s – we try not to allow bullies of this hardcore vintage variety into our children’s lives these days but then, the bullies had free reign. Every year from kindergarten until 8th grade there was someone to remind me just how awkward I was, including how I smelled and my very own insulting nickname Slurp that the teachers just let everyone call me.

My mark of a good day was whether or not I could keep the tears in until the bus ride home. I remember my mom being concerned, and I’m sure she contacted the school but it never mattered. The only thing I could do from 5 to 14 was hope that I could be invisible. At 14 we moved in with my step dad & his 2 children. Ironically, school got better but home got worse and I started trying to hide from my family. Invisibility was again my shield. My biggest desire.

What morning pages have helped me realize is that I never stopped trying to be invisible. I am self employed -I work at home and have a good life with a great husband. But decades of trying to hide from bullies, from my life, has left me perpetually scared of being noticed. But having a career in the arts is about being seen about creating and putting the art and myself out there.

To combat this I have made a few changes.

  1. No More Comfy Chair – I had a comfy chair in my room. Big and red and shredded from cat scratching. It’s kind of broken and awful and yet when the world becomes too much and my depression sets in I sit and knit and hide from the world. But I have to stop hiding. Yes depression is still a factor of my life and something I have to deal with. But I am working on new coping mechanisms that don’t involve hiding.
  2. Painting Area –Removing the comfy chair has given me a small area to set up an easel and paint. I have cleaned and converted my desk from a holding space for lots of stuff I don’t want to put away to an art space. Watercolors on the desk and oil/acrylic in the corner to be painted on canvases. Still have some cleaning to do but I’m happy with how it is coming along.
  3. Daily Art– I think I still have a decent amount of fear about being bad at painting & illustration. I have always been skilled at the things I make but Painting is the thing I want to be good at. I have put painting on a pedestal and not touched it because to be bad at it was too painful.  But I have also realized that practice is the only way I’m going to become as good as I’d like to be. I have a few more responsibilities in my week to rearrange and get through and then I will be having daily painting time.

None of that has anything to do with overcoming invisibility. As far as I can tell, getting over that isn’t something that will happen overnight. The only thing I can do is show up. Push myself to work every day and accept that my confidence will grow.

So much of getting over this block seems to be taking on faith that all this will work. Here’s hoping.

Interesting Posts on Invisibility



The Artists Way, Morning Pages and Finding Myself Again

journal stack

Digging myself out of depression and rock bottom is taking a herculean effort. My medication is finally starting to balance and I am finding larger blocks of sanity and productivity in my days. But as my depression lifts I see how out of whack I have let my life get. How out of whack I have let me get.

As my crazy subsides I sense the full impact of burnout from having survived the last year. My immune system is weak, I get sick easily and I feel like I’m just back from a shitty vacation. So much to do but I’m not rested from having been away from my life for so long. I do admit that I need more than medication to balance my life and transform it into something I truly love. My plan is to work my way through a number of self help books to try and find the me I want to be. There are so many good options on the market these days however since I make things for a living and thus fall into the artist category I have chosen to start by working through Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”. Finding a trickle of creativity and reigniting desire to make will definitely be its own important therapy for me.

Julia recommends working through a chapter a week and I am currently in the middle of week 1. Everyday I write e one of the exercises at the end of the chapter, At the moment I still have an artist’s date to do. The most impactful part of this book so far has been morning pages.

Morning pages are, in short, 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing done first thing in the morning. They help clear the crap from your mind the way restarting your computer clears your ram. There are hundreds of thousands of converts who start their days with morning pages. Google them, you will find an abundance of people singing the praises of morning pages.

I have read chapter one before, and done morning pages off and on for years. Right now I feel like I have a million things flying around in my head – some good and some bad. Like a storm that can change to a hurricane or a sprinkle depending on how my days go. From experience I know that if I focus and work on making small changes the storm will dissipate and I will feel normal again. Morning pages are helping me find the calm center of the storm and align my priorities so that I can work towards my goals. Daily writing is helping me figure out what my goals truly are.

I’m not sure what to expect from following the program outlined in the book. Seems that huge promises are made that it has unblocked people and allowed them to truly embrace their creative side. I very much want that to happen to me, to create freely without concern for sellability and income and what people will think of me.

I’m skeptical.

I know I’m creative but I also feel like I don’t have any good ideas, any original ideas. Like everything I do has already been done by someone else, who has also done it better. There are so many people trying to work as illustrators. Is there really room for me? What if I fail? Can I really make it as an artist?

Interesting Posts about Morning Pages


Commit to #AYearofMaking and #AYearofBlogging

Make a Wish by Colton Witt

With January coming to a close and the rush of goal setting and resolution making starting to wear off I find myself a little lost.

I did the new years thing. I made goals, picked a word and started a new planner all of which have lost their sparkle now that it is time to stop thinking and start doing. This blog has sat nearly finished for the want to the perfect first post for a month. The rational part of my brain knows that there is no perfect first post. That all first posts kind of suck, but they don’t matter because there is mostly no audience yet so just put something up and get over the fear of the blank blog. And yet the emotional side of my brain keeps me writing in circles – pursuing perfection. Rewriting an intro post/ manifesto just to be sure it is the best it can be. As if my entire writing/blogging career hinges on the success of the first post. Total crap, I know. But sometimes fear wins.

This morning I came across Kim Werker’s #yearofmaking. A project she did last year where she commits to making something every day and posting about it. I saw this last year (and maybe 2014 too?). Initially thought I didn’t need it. I make stuff almost every day. Between the leather business Porter & Hazel, and now my hand dyed yarn business 1 Sheep 2 Sheep making something isn’t where I struggle.

But I do struggle with pushing my comfort zone. I tend to be a hermit, keeping my making to myself and I don’t share projects I don’t think are perfect. I am constantly coming up with ideas that I don’t follow through on and then, several weeks or months later, see someone else came up with the same idea and is creating momentum & success in their life (business) because they did not hesitate. It stings a little and leaves me believing a could build a successful online presence, but I always manage to talk myself out of the work of blogging.

So this year, 2016, I am committing to #ayearofblogging and #ayearofmaking.


Instead of a daily project I am going to do a weekly one. 52 projects by the end of the year. Daily making is important, but since finishing & sharing is where I really struggle doing one slightly doing small daily makes isn’t really going to push my comfort zone. By having my goal be a slightly larger weekly project I will be accomplishing two goals – I’ll be forcing myself to take action on some of the projects that I’ve had in my head that are bigger than a one day make, and I’ll be creating content for at least one post a week here on Craft Rebel.


I’ve read quite a bit of conflicting thoughts about blogging while researching how to start a successful blog. Blogging is dead. Content is king. You can’t have an online business with out a web presence. Don’t waste your time blogging no one reads them any more, or getting enough traffic to make it worthwhile takes forever! Everyone has “rules” for blogging but I really can’t tell truth from fiction. Are they sharing their experience or are they just writing crap to get links?

Several years ago I ran a vegan food blog and really enjoyed the writing and the community I was part of. But life happened and I had to walk away from blogging. Since then I have wanted to blog but anxiety and depression kept me from starting a blog. And when combined with  the tiny voice in my head that tells me I’ll never make anything someone else wants to read I have been in blog paralysis for a long long time.

So this year I’m committing to #ayearofblogging. I am going to post a minimum of 2x a week and write one short article for a weekly newsletter. I will track my stats and work on growing this blog. Once a month I’ll share what has worked and what hasn’t. And how blogging has impacted my two other handmade businesses.

Measuring Success

#AYearofMaking has a clear success parameter built in- did I complete one project a week? Did I post about it? Did I make it a whole year?

But defining the success of #ayearofblogging seems a bit harder. Did I write two posts a week and one newsletter? But how else do you measure the success of a blog? From what I can tell you measure in unique visitors and page views, but how do I set a goal to hit when I’m starting from zero? Since I have no idea what would be successful, and I don’t want to set an impossibly high goal, I will ignore the numbers completely. At the moment I’m not blogging for money, I’m blogging with the desire to build and engage with community so that is the metric I will measure. I will ask myself if I am happy with my monthly progress and evaluate how I am interacting with the craft community. Guest posts, conversations, opportunities. Admittedly this is something that will evolve as the year goes on.