Sunday, January 1, 2012

Coming Clean

One day in 2010 when I had significant down time recovering from surgery, I discovered sewing blogs.  I had previously found Pattern Review and Stitcher's Guild, but didn't frequent the sites.  During that down time I became familiar with a number of blogs, and began regularly visiting some.  I was pleasantly surprised about the abundance of sewing related information 'out there' on the internet, and the wonderful sewing community as well.    

Since my memory isn't what it used to be, I decided to begin blogging this year as a way to journal my sewing projects.  I also began a written sewing notebook this year, as a spot to write down measurements, alterations I did - the minutiae that I want to be able to consult at a later date.  The notebook also helps me with my blog entries, especially if I blog later rather than sooner after completing a project.

I enjoy the sense of community that the online sewing blogs and websites offers.  None of my wonderful, 'real-life' friends sew (but I still love them!), so having online friends who do is just peachy.  For the sewists/bloggers who read my blog thank you!  I hope that you find it as enjoyable as I find reading others' blogs.  You are all a source of inspiration to me.

Many bloggers have taken the opportunity to review their year, write about the ups and downs of their sewing in the past year.  There are also lots of bloggers who enter sewing contests or participate in 6 packs, etc.  I won't be joining any 6 packs, garment-a-month contests, or any of the like.  But I love watching the progress of those who do.  I have great admiration for the prolific sewists out there.

In general, I don't sew with a plan.  I respond more to what moves me, or what I want/need at the moment.  Or what someone I love wants or needs.  (I jump for joy on the inside when my 16 year old asks me if I can make something for her!)  Or sometimes just because I want to try a technique, or because I have fallen in love with a piece of fabric.  

I realize that my blogging has been inconsistent.  In some cases, it has just been the stuff of life that has kept me out of the sewing room.  I've mentioned the older family members that have had lots of issues in the past year who have needed lots of our time and attention.  But that is only part of the equation. 

I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been beaten up or run over, or maybe both.  I thought to myself as I hobbled to the bathroom that it was a hell of a way to end the year.  So I dragged my sorry a$$ downstairs and put on a pot of coffee, took a few meds, and snuggled up on the sofa under a warm blanket, with the heating pad on my knees.  Eventually my family got up and moving, and my husband gave me an injection of a strong anti-inflammatory medicine in my hip that allowed me to have a better day, and to join my family in the cooking and festivities of the day.  

While lying on the sofa in the quiet house early on this last morning of 2011, I decided that instead of making excuses about my inconsistent sewing and blogging, I would 'come clean'.  So here it is.  I have a form of Inflammatory Arthritis. Terms such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Psoriatic Arthritis may be familiar.  The arthritis that I have affects my spine as well as the peripheral joints.  Essentially, no joints are spared.  There are some very cutting edge medications to treat Inflammatory Arthritis these days that have given many people back their lives.  Unfortunately, more than a couple of those medications have led to severe 'side-effects' for me, so they are all off the table for me.  As a result, there are times that I just need to lay low and let things run their course.  Hence the sewing and blogging lapses.  

I decided to share this about myself because it is part of the package, part of my life experience, my journey. I am not trying to have a pity party.  We all have our ups and downs, right?  My tendency is to be private about my 'downs', so sharing this is a leap for me.  I am a fairly pragmatic person, so the rough patches don't get me mentally down, so to speak.  I just adjust and spend time doing quieter, less taxing activities.  It just is what it is.

Having this disease necessitated giving up my career several years ago, which was hard, but I adjusted. It is also why I have people who come to clean my house regularly, and our handyman is on speed dial. When it comes to decorating for Christmas (and undecorating), I have a company come in that sets up the artificial trees. My husband puts up the real tree, and we put all the ornaments on, which is the best part anyway. Even though I love to cook and bake, that can't always happen either. Thankfully my daughter and husband are both good cooks and can fend for themselves. I am thankful we have people that we can trust to fill in the gaps. I am thankful for my supportive husband. He has truly always been there for the good and the bad, and the really, really bad.

Despite the challenges, we enjoy life and each other, and generally laugh a lot. That is the best medicine, right?

If you've read this far, thank you for sticking with this lengthy soliloquy! I truly wish you a happy, healthy 2012.  Good health is a gift, as are family and friends.  Cherish them all.   



  1. Happy New Year, Andrea, and well done for opening up to your fellow blogging-friends about the painful challenge that you are dealing with daily. Glad that the sewing blogs are helping, and there are some really great ones out there. Half the fun is hunting them down.
    Your daughter is very lucky to have you to whip her up dresses, she must be very proud of your skills.
    Well, take care and looking forward to blogging in 2012...

  2. Gentle hugs to you Andrea, and kudos for baring your physical challenges "out loud". I know (believe me) how hard it can be to share the downs, and I also know how rewarding it can be when you let it be a way to lighten your load. You also find out how many amazing people are willing to support you, even if it's 'only' a few written words on page...the energy behind those words is a very powerful thing :)

    Here's to counting our blessings as we read and write all of our blogs in the coming year :)

  3. Doobee and Jilly, thank you both for your kind, supportive words! I agree, here's to counting our blessings, and I have so many. :).

  4. Oh Andrea how brave of you to come clean. I know it is not easy to tell everyone about your personal issues. We all have something, that's just life. But what is important is attitude. You have to stay strong and focus on the positive. It's so good that you have a supportive, loving family and that you laugh.

  5. Happy New Year, Andrea! Such a brave and inspiring post. It is never easy to share the un-fun stuff in such a public forum. But sewists like you, who keep it real, and having the reminder that everyone faces challenges in "real life" is part of what keeps me reading blogs and motivates me to write too. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  6. Janlynn and Robin, thank you for your lovely comments! Happy New Year :)

  7. Hi Andrea - I have just found your blog and thought I couldn't read this post without a comment. Thank you for posting about your health and my heart goes out to you.

    I too love the blogsphere for the amazing wealth of information and community it houses. And the blogs. Well, I am with you and I have learned more from blogs generally than from my books .... and I like books A LOT!

    So, thank you for your lovely contribution to that learning and wishing you all the best with health, family, sewing, cooking and whatever else you decide to try out next. You are an inspiration.

  8. Hello Emily, thank you so much! I'm so glad you found your way here.
    I love my books also, but being so visual, the picture heavy tutorials so many blogggers put out there are priceless.
    Happy New Year to you!

  9. Andrea, as a fellow inflammation sufferer, I understand your pain. Mine is in my hands, elbows, and knees, but it sounds like you have days that shut you down. Please listen to your body (sounds like you do) and be encourages by the things you can do. I love that you take advantage of help when you need it. I'm sure the week of pain you'd be in putting up all the decorations and feeding the family would make the holidays no fun for you. Happy New Year and I can't wait to see what this year brings for you. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Hi Sherril,
    I'm sorry you've got first hand knowledge of this business, it can really be a bugger. I decorate early to decrease the 'busy-ness' of the holidays. It's much more fun to cook with my daughter and hang with the family at Christmas! Thank you for sharing, too.

  11. Andrea, thanks for this post. Your story sounds so familiar to me. I have a rare genetic connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which has then led onto fibromyalgia and osteo arthritis. I too need a lot of down time and some days are harder than others. I fatigue really easily too. I love to sew but find I can only do it in short bursts, firstly beacuse of the fatigue/pain but also because I lose concentration easily and that leads to using the unpicker !!!! I also love all the sewing info on blogs and PR etc and makes me want to sew more.I hope 2012 is good to you. Kathy

    1. Thank you, Kathy. I am familiar with EDS and know how challenging it can be. I think it is important to make time to do things that are personally rewarding, even if it's in bits 'n pieces. Sewing + fatigue for me always equals disaster, and my family knows to keep me out of the kitchen if I am feeling lousy! Happy 2012 to you also!


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