2016 in some words

Thank you for following along with my 2016 blogstravaganza. It feels good to have my projects blogged in the same year they were sewn (and let’s just ignore the projects I made for other people, shall we? and the dress I just sewed from the wreckage of that wool jersey cardigan?) Now I’d like to share some reflections on the outgoing and incoming years.

Like 2015, I’d picked out a theme word for 2016. It was not nearly as whimsical as “joy” in 2015; 2016’s word was “competence”.

For my entire life, I’ve felt uneven in my skills and personality – quick to grasp things and easily interested, but with poor follow-through and my excitement quickly giving way to feelings of dejection and ineptitude. Inconsistent. Making competence my word for 2016 implied the question “what would happen if I solidified some of the basic skills I want and need in my life?”

Here are some of the very quotidian things I worked on:

  • I got more serious about my financial goals and took an honest look at what my husband and I were really spending. We started using an allowance system, which we now affectionately and ruefully refer to as “petty cash”. With only one full-time income for most of the year, we managed to incrementally increase our savings and I contributed to my 401k to get the max employer match.
  • I took an honest look at how I was doing at my job. I was doing adequately and no more. I decided to invest in my skills, both technical and managerial. I look online classes, I asked a ton of questions, I built consensus, I volunteered for projects, I participated. And it worked; I built up my small program and I felt very proud of the work we created.
  • I dared to think about where I wanted my career to go. I started taking stock in what I was loved doing and was really good at, what I could do competently (there’s that word again) and what I’d really prefer not to do.
  • I took good care of myself this year. After focusing on joy in 2015, I was worn out and sick. I made time to go to dance and therapeutic yoga and sought out health care providers that I liked and respected.
  • Sewing-wise, I’ve made a bunch of projects this year that I wear the shit out of. Again, no glamour here, just solid pieces that I wear daily. But it felt good to really sew up patterns I know and love, like McCall’s 6436, my Morgan jeans and trousers, and my self-drafted jumper dresses.

So, lest this post sound like one long brag on my achievements, I’ll add some context – because almost everything was going haywire.

On a personal level, I was inspired to work so much on my own professional development because every week seemed to yield a fresh new sign that my job was in danger, including (but not limited to):

  • a two-month delay in filling open spots on my small team until word finally arrived from unofficial channels that the team was being dissolved
  • another team tried to steal our headcount
  • our director quit
  • our VP was fired
  • our fired VP still managed to trade my larger team to another organization
  • our new director in our new organization told us in vague terms that our team needed restructuring shortly before he got a new job and left
  • his replacement said he wouldn’t make any further changes to the team and then dissolved it less than a month later and laying nearly everybody off

I consider this year to be my education in corporate politics.

Uncertainty, worry and calamity struck a lot of my friends and family, too, and I began to feel lucky that my turmoil was limited to my lost job. Mental and physical health issues that had been in uneasy stasis swung back out of balance for so many people I know, and there was divorce, breakups and housing insecurity in the mix. One of my friends had a spontaneous and undetectable shingles attack on his optical nerve and narrowly avoided losing sight. Another of my friends got hit by a taxi as he was legally crossing the street and narrowly avoided losing his life and his ability to walk.

The backdrop to these more personal cares is the political landscape of the US and the world. I don’t even know where to start to comment on that, except that feelings and pain that have never been resolved are erupting all over the place in very public ways. As some of you know, my Japanese-American family members were removed from their homes in World War II and placed in so-called “relocation camps”. One group’s pain and fears can easily be molded politically to take form as violations against the rights of citizens and humans; it’s only been one generation (albeit a long one) since this happened to my family. For many, it’s happening right now.

So where to take the upheaval of 2016, in as much as we have a choice? Truth be told, I’ve been resting for the last few weeks of this year and taking some time to feel gratitude for what I have. The personal and political tumult has taken it’s toll on me, but I intend this resting period to be temporary. I think next year is going to be very, very important. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it with unreserved joy – this isn’t 2015, after all! – but I am looking for meaningful ways to participate in public life.

On a bit of a housekeeping note, I am planning on taking some time off from sewing. I’m also spending the first few months of 2017 focusing intensively on my career, and I’m really excited. My plan is to enjoy wearing the pieces I’ve sewn this year, and live vicariously through all of your creations. And I think I’ll be doing some more knitting, since it’s better-suited towards little bits of effort at a time.

Since I’ve been focusing on gratitude lately, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank you for being part of my community. Thank you for diving into the details of construction and fit with me. Thank you for listening to my metaphysical sewing rambles. Thank you for sharing your beautiful projects. Love and peace to you all.


40 thoughts on “2016 in some words

  1. Happy new year. I admire all of your thoughtfully made creations. Hope you all acheive all you want career wise and come back to blogging when you are ready.

    1. Thank you so much, Manju! I will definitely be following along with the online sewing community even while I take a break from sewing, and hope to post updates now and then. Happy New Year!

  2. Interesting and thoughtful. I firmly believe there is a time for everything. The last two years I have retrained completely with more exams to come in 2017; it’s occasionally scary, but worth it to be true to myself. So my sewing time, not being as necessary as eating and walking the dogs, has been severely squeezed. Blogging takes up even more time. I guess I am saying I can identify!
    I haven’t been able to articulate my reflections this year though. I think I am too anxious about the direction the world is taking, but I really enjoyed reading yours. I found them rather calming, despite the turmoil you’ve clearly experienced at work. Hopefully there are enough people similarly galvanised so that change can come again.
    I wish you lots of success in all areas of your life. Who knows, I might even get a post up before you this year!

    1. I love that idea, and I’m trying to get more adept at listening. The training I’m taking is going to be an enormous undertaking, and not what I had in mind, but it kept on presenting itself as the best option and the logistics really fell into place. If the timing is right, I would love to read a blog post from you, just to hear what you’ve been up to in your lovely words! Happy New Year, Philippa!

  3. Happy New Year Lovely Lady! Its been a tough one, we are all wishing you love and growth in your new career phase.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about your job woes. I worked for a very chaotic company several years back and that kind of chaos and uncertainty took a real toll. Good luck with your career focus.

    2016 was a terrible year for so many people I know. I hope 2017 is a better one on at least a personal level for the people I care about.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you, Andrea 🙂 I’ve been sleeping a lot since all the work drama. I didn’t even realize how tired I was until it was all over. I’m hopeful that all the upheaval in 2016 was turning the soil over for good changes in the future. (I realize how starry-eyed that sounds, but it’s what I need to believe!) Best wishes (and sequins and dancing!) in 2017 to you as well.

  5. Happy New Year, Morgan! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and creativity with us. I especially appreciated your thoughts on your career – often times our “real jobs” fall into the background in the sewing community. I’ve been experiencing so much vague and unnameable anxiety this past year – largely due to our nation’s political situation – that it is a good reminder to focus on the concrete positives and negatives and make meaningful adjustments where necessary. Peace and love to you and yours. I’m rooting for you. Xo.

    1. Aw, thank you, sweet Sallie! This was the first year I really wanted to think about my career. I’ve always been a “work to live” kind of gal, and let my hobbies reign. I still think that’s a 100% valid lifestyle, but I just got more interested and excited by what I was doing than I’ve ever been before and realized it was a thread I wanted to follow. And not surprisingly, taking stock of my sewing skills and interests gave me the confidence to realize I could learn a new skill set professionally. (It just takes time and it looks real messy at first.) I hope you find ways to ease your anxiety and participate in this new year – and please share if you do! ❤

  6. Happy New Year to you too. I like how introspective you are. I think you have inspired me to think more about where I’ve been and where I’m going.

  7. I do hope you keep posting even if you aren’t sewing much for a while! I always enjoy reading your thoughts! And this post made me particularly grateful that I’ve got a permanent unionised job – stability is pretty awesome! (My husband is still temp though, so I feel your pain.) Good luck with your plans this year!

  8. Disappointing that we won’t get to see more or your makes next year, but glad for your sake! I’ll have to be satisfied with browsing some of your archives 🙂

  9. Happy New Year! I hope that 2017 is filled with love and peace in your corner of the world, and that your work situation gets a little easier. I sympathize, I’ve been in a stressful work environment for nearly four years now, and it really takes a toll! My word is peace–I may not be able to find stability or happiness, but I can usually find peace if I put my mind to it. I actually really need to apply that to sewing, I’ve been terribly frustrated with not having the time or energy to make what I want lately. Knitting is a fantastic substitute, though 🙂 I hope you’ll share your knits with us, I’m sure they’ll be as inspiring as your sewn items!

  10. Happy New Year, Morgan! The clarity and thoughtfulness in this post are really impressive. All the best for the months ahead and I hope you’ll be back with some sewing later in the year!

  11. Happy New Year Morgan. I do hope your year is a heap better. The uncertainty you have been facing at work must have been awful. If only everyone approached their life with as much thoughtfulness as you! Xx

  12. What a post, what a year!
    I loved hearing about your resolve in the face of so much work turmoil. It’s brilliant that you’re upskilling yourself and I hope that the beginning of the year brings you much strength and depth. I get why you’re stepping back from sewing. Sometimes it’s nice to just wear the shit out of your clothes. It’s enough. Sewing will always be there to come back to. Have a kickarse 2017!

    1. YES! I’m totally ready to wear the shit out of my clothes. I feel pretty well-equipped right now in that department. I’m really going to miss the process of sewing, but I’m hoping to bring a lot of my passion for technique and process into my training. Let’s hope it works!

  13. Thanks for sharing your inner thoughts. Looking after number 1 is so important, but sometimes the hardest thing to do. All the best for your career. It’s good to have focus.

  14. Great post – really mature and interesting.
    I’ve not sewn for months…. sometimes the wardrobe just doesn’t need anything more. So enjoy the time that frees up for focusing on other things whilst wearing the socks off your existing items – you’ve earned it! All the best for 2017 🙂

  15. Thanks for sharing! I’m also looking for meaningful ways to show up in public life more this coming year, although I haven’t quite figured out what that will look like yet … some things feel so uncertain, and yet I think I’m gaining some perspective, thinking about our country’s history and all that we’ve come through. I’m sure it won’t be all sunshine, but I’m feeling ready to do what I can, and use my energy for good stuff, in craft and life. Wishing you a fantastic year!

  16. Wow, that job situation sounds… stressful to say the least. Glad to hear that you’re optimistic and open-minded going into 2017. Thanks for sharing. I always love your life update posts!

  17. Having sat on the sidelines while my husband had to deal with corporate politics in his previous job, I can totally sympathize with what a mess it can be, and how very stressful! He said he didn’t even realize how stressed out he was until it was all over. Hopefully 2017 will bring you career stability and growth; wishing you all the best!

  18. I’m amazed that you still found time to make such beautiful garments last year! You really inspired me to be an adult and face the fact that money does not grow on trees, and spending on sewing related stuff can’t be justified forever just because it “feeds your soul” (it does though 🙂 ). I hope sharing a bit of what’s going on behind the scene about your life makes you feel a bit lighter. Good luck with focusing on your job and everything that matters for this year!

  19. Dear Morgan! Happy New Year! I hope that everything you wish for will come true!

    Many people have this misconception that once we get our degree we are done with studies. But what I find amazing is the ability to continue evolving in the same or even different domain. I know so many people my age who changed their carrier completely (from an immigration lawyer to a farmer, from an online marketing professional to a nutritionist, from an editor of political news to a brewer just to name a few). Some people are so comfortable in their jobs (not always in a good way) that they stay there for decades without questioning themselves or their qualifications. I wish your job was not in danger and you did not have to loose it, but I understand that you have started your professional training a bit before it all happened. Anyway, what I want to say is that evolving and developing in any field of our life make it more exciting and open more opportunities. Wishing you all the best in your personal and professional plans!

  20. Happy New Year Morgan! I really enjoyed reading this post and wish I could articulate my thoughts on the current political situation so well. Good luck with your retraining and hopefully still see you about on instagram if you’re not posting here. Oh and also, thank you for your catch-up posts at the end of the year, you gave me the push I needed to blog about all those finished projects this month and I feel much better for it as I like having my blog as a record of what I’ve made.

  21. Competence.

    You basically described my craft life in this post. How amazing you actually knuckled down and raised your skill set. I’ve been working on acceptance of my personality traits and the flittery level of my commitment to hobbies. Perhaps while I’m taking time off work to be with my baby I should make it an opportunity to reflect and regroup and work on a little self-improvement. Thank you for the reflective post.

  22. I re-emerging from baby caring to wish you a happy new year and to tell you that I really enjoyed this post. It’s refreshing to hear someone who likes her day job and wants to commit and grow into it. Life is not only about sewing!!

  23. wishing you a good 2017 lovely! have fun with your knitting … or sewing or whatever you plan on doing … and above all good luck with your career and professional life. Ad maiora!

  24. I stumbled across your blog today while updating my own. It came up an example for the theme I had chosen. Initially, I was looking at how you had set things up, but then a read some of your posts and LOVED them. I don’t know if you are still writing here, but you definitely should. Your clothes are AMAZING, and your writing is very authentic. Anyway, I hope 2017 has shaped up to be a better year. All the best!

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