Tag : the-old-grain-store

Who’s The Crafty Lass? Oh yes, I remember now – that’s ME.

The Crafty Lass… who’s that? Who is she? Oh yes, I remember now – that’s ME. I had almost forgotten.

I was asked in a consultant doctor’s appointment the other day what my job was – seeing as we had only just met and he needed to establish my general day to day ‘activity levels’ this seemed like a sensible question – but without pausing for breath he then followed up with “…Mum?”

Now, seeing as I had an 8-week-old baby with me, this seemed like a sensible presumption. Presumption! My first initial (internal) reaction was – ‘No! I am not JUST a mum.’ But then I bit back at myself and thought ‘Actually, I AM at the minute ‘just’ a Mum.’ And that is a great thing indeed! There is nothing wrong with being ‘just’ a mum. However, that isn’t my JOB title as he was actually asking. I told him I ran my own business, explained about the studio, teaching… I am pretty sure he didn’t actually care want or need to know these details – he wanted to fix a health issue, not learn craft skills! – but I felt like I needed to ‘justify’ myself somehow. I wasn’t annoyed at WHAT he had said – I was more just annoyed that he had automatically presumed anything about me from a 20 second prior introduction. A very stereotypical presumption of a mid-30’s woman and my life.

With that in mind – I am very much enjoying taking some ‘time out’ of my normally hectic crafty world – getting to know our new baby, his quirks, these early days fly fast. However, being honest: my mind is already ready to return to crafty thoughts. Now don’t get me wrong – life is STILL hectic! There is absolutely never a dull moment in our household, there are a million and one things to be done, as with most busy modern day family lives. There is a super intelligent (but often challenging) toddler to stimulate and placate and enjoy. There is a baby who is smiling and trying to laugh and is starting to react to this world around him. There is a dog to be played with, fed, walked. There are the chores. House stuff. The LIFE stuff. But – I suppose understandably – I am still also craving the craft world. But, with what time? I can’t have it both ways… or can I? Projects and ideas and workshops. To re-establish my true identity as BOTH a mum AND ‘The Crafty Lass’. ME.

It’s a funny thing maternity leave – a constant battle between wanting to spend as much time as possible with your baby and new family unit whilst also trying not to feel guilty for wanting to get back to your ‘normal’ life – and all whilst juggling and muddling through the baby brain. A real head fog that has certainly descended into my life in recent weeks and months!

I think the main thing I need to accept is – that I am always too hard on myself. My boss (e.g. me) drives a hard bargain. I expect to be able to achieve everything and some.

I forget that I haven’t just been ‘off’ doing ‘nothing’ – I have grown a whole person. I gave birth to said human. I am now sustaining said human with milk that I am somehow (the human body is amazing) producing. I have battled and overcome Sepsis straight after giving birth. (Yes, for those that didn’t see that on social media – that was a pretty scary time…). I am trying to be a good mum. Trying to be a good wife. Trying to be a good friend. Trying to remember The Crafty Lass. I am trying to muddle through – I am trying. And, being completely honest at times that is very hard! To balance it ALL! Life can be hard. I have always been very honest that what you see on social media isn’t always (totally) what you get: I deliberately choose what I want to put out into the world – and for me, having a positive ‘feed’ is a great reminder that no matter what the daily struggles you face are, there are good days – GREAT days – and so on bad days – tomorrow is another day. (I just sometimes need to remember this.)

I also forget that when I had Freddie and I was on maternity leave the first time around: when he slept – I worked. Sometimes I slept too… “sleep when they sleep”. But, more often than not – I was crafting, planning, moving house and studio, organising, working. Now – when Freddie sleeps, or is at nursery I either NEED to also sleep or I am looking after little Rupert and trying to just… function. TWO kiddiwinks is a TOTAL game changer. When would I have time to do things?! How can I ever get back to fully working?

Well, the fog is slowly starting to clear, time somehow is balancing out and I am discovering that I CAN do things – we are nearly 9 weeks into this new life dynamic, and the brain cogs are starting to turn. I attended the Craft Cotton Co Bloggers event a few weeks ago (I am a guest blogger for them and now have super inspired ideas in the pipeline, I just need to action them!) The Pinterest App has been open. I have checked my emails. I have had enquiries on Christmas workshops. I am putting some ideas into action (watch this space…) and importantly, I am starting to remember what it’s like, I am starting to be Ready with a capital R.

My maternity leave ‘officially’ ends in January 2020, but I am being flexible… who knows what opportunities are around the corner? I have some ‘keep in touch’ days to start dipping my toe into the crafty water with across the next few months. And, it is a good job my brain is starting to get in gear as I have a very exciting and BIG event to be ready for! Go big, or go home? I might as well start with featuring as an ‘Expert’ at Kirstie Allsopp’s The Handmade Festival at Hampton Court Palace in a two weeks’! It’s only teaching 100 people at a time…

But, I am Ready. I am excited. I am Ready to be The Crafty Lass, AND a Mum too. I can do this, I CAN do this, I CAN DO THIS! The fog will clear… (crosses fingers and toes.)

Hereendith my self-motivational blog post. Hope to see you there!

Categories: Business, General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See, Workshops

Feel the Fear…

The Crafty Lass currently features in the BOOTS Health and Beauty magazine for January/February 2019 – in an article all about conquering our fears. What better way to start the New Year with a blog post featuring a little bit more about mine, and what resolutions and steps I took to change this…

Phobias: they are illogical, irrational, frustrating and very real.

It doesn’t matter whether you are frightened of spiders, the dark… or in my case: needles (not the crafty type, thankfully) – it is certainly a really overwhelming, all-consuming emotion that you cannot and will not do the thing you need to face. Well, sometimes you have to – but under much protest!

Admitting you have a phobia to other people, well it did for me anyway – it made me feel weak. I am quite a positive and ‘strong’ person – why would I be frightened of something?

Well… there was an ‘incident’ when I was younger that seemed to be the trigger… What an irony that a craft kit likely caused my phobia! Who knows, the mind is a funny thing sometimes. A large tapestry needle went into my thumb. It was Boxing Day, I got up early as I was so excited to play with my new crafty items from Santa! But, I didn’t quite understand that I shouldn’t be using it unsupervised, and not in the way I was using it… Much to my parents horror when they awoke to my tears! But – I was ok, it wasn’t as bad an injury as perhaps I considered at the time at a young, tender age – was that enough to cause all this stress in my adult life?

When it came to needles, I wasn’t ‘in control’ – I knew my reaction would be to pull away, to scream – in one particular incident I sadly and instinctively hit out at the nurse, as my gut reaction was to get it and her away from me. All that panic and movement ironically would be MORE dangerous and painful and stressful – than if I just let them get on with their job! Sorry Miss Nurse from my school days as a teenager…

Phobias can cause crying, breathing difficulties, panic attacks – and avoidance of the said thing… but sometimes fears need to be faced.

I decided enough was enough. Something needed to give. I didn’t need tests and jabs all the time, but what about holidays, and children? And what better way to face my fear than by helping others.

I had always wanted to ‘give blood’. I was healthy, I had no reason to ‘not’ – except the sitting there giving blood part. Involving needles.

I decided to just sign up – and go for it. If everyone else there could, why couldn’t I? And, if I could sit there for 20 minutes or so with a needle pumping blood out of my arm – surely, I could have inoculations if needed, or blood tests if required – without all the panic and crying and desperation beforehand?

I felt panicky in the build-up that week – I questioned if I was losing my mind. I questioned if I could even go through with it. But there was a big difference in donating blood to a ‘normal’ blood test or inoculation. I was in control. I didn’t HAVE to do this, and even stranger – I WANTED to do this.

And, I did it.

I unbelievably DID IT! I couldn’t believe that I, Paula Milner, had donated blood! And, as a bonus, I got free squash and chocolate biscuits too!

And, I was right – as a result, after donating several more times and from taking back more control – my phobia HAS calmed down. Yes, I don’t LOVE needles now (who does?) I certainly won’t be first in the queue for a tattoo, and sometimes it is still hard to have tests – but you can get a blood test out of me within a few minutes, with only often a few tears afterwards rather than the huge panic before… and actually, usually tears as I did it, I am proud I have just let the nurse do their job without panic! Currently pregnant with all the tests required, feeling like a human pin cushion is becoming regularly common place, so this lack of fear is becoming albeit useful and time saving!

Giving blood is something that doesn’t take long, and is such a needed and worthwhile and needed cause. You’re not allowed to donate whilst pregnant, or have visited certain countries within a certain time frame – so I have had to have a little break on donating since our honeymoon and little man – but it will be on my New Year’s resolution list for 2020!

What phobias do you have? Have you ever attempted to ‘overcome’ them? Would you like to change how you feel? Sometimes, I think you sadly can’t always change how you feel no matter how hard you try – but perhaps, hopefully there might be a way.  

Categories: Business, General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See

A wreath is for life, not just for Christmas…

Autumn.

For some, this is purely just the long, grey transition from the warm and bright Summer days into our dreary, cold, drab - and of late, very snowy Winters here in the UK.

For, me - it is the 'calm before the storm'... and I actually really love this season. I've talked before on this blog about my love for 'September', as it feels like a fresh start - a new term. Autumn actually officially starts this year on Sunday 23rd September 2018 - much later than I realised! As it already feels like we are there. The leaves are changing. It is starting to feel 'fresh' in the morning. Starbucks are even on with their Pumpkin Spiced Lattes!

Living in the glorious Northamptonshire countryside, and with a little man who loves a daily little jaunt around the village - you can see it. I love watching the leaves change from lush green to vibrant palettes of reds, yellows, russets and orange. You can just feel that Summer is starting to say goodbye for another year.

We are starting to gear up and say hello for our Christmas workshops here at The Crafty Lass - with our first 'private' wreath workshop booking being on October 7th - so just around the corner...! I have even started my Christmas shopping believe it or not... #organised. Working on Christmas 'all year round' pretty much - always planning the following year workshops at any given time - you might think I am bored of all the festivity... nope - I love it. And I hope that, that 'love' and 'passion' for 'the most wonderful time of the year' really shows in our workshops!!

I really love Autumn... as it signifies we are nearly there! It is nearly Christmas. We are allowed to wear big cosy jumpers. And scarves! (I own too many scarves so the cold weather means an excuse to wear them!) We start to eat all the yummy things in life - stews, roasts, crumble, pie. Syrup sponge! Red wine! To be honest, I eat (and drink!) most of these all year round, but somehow Autumn just signifies MORE of these yummy, scrummy things.

That is also why I particularly love 'Advent'. I love the whole excitement and build up to the very 'big day' every year. When I was a child, I would LOVE opening my little advent calendar door. One more chocolate to devour, and one more door down until Christmas Day.

Advent however, is no longer JUST about chocolate. You can get beauty advent calendars. Beer. Cheese! Well, I know what sort of calendar I would want...

You may have seen on our blog, or social media particularly - but The Crafty Lass, in collaboration with Craft Buddy are very excitedly launching a CRAFT advent calendar this year! A little box of craftiness every day to be opened and enjoyed across 24 days... We can shortly reveal exactly how and when and where you will be able to get your hands one! Where will the journey take you? #TheCraftyLassADVENTure

Anyway, this wasn't really meant to go on a tangent to Christmas (but I love it, so it does generally tend to appear often!) there will be plenty of time for that later...

When I joined the WI (this isn't another tangent, this is integral to the whole point of this post!) I hoped to become more involved in the community - I hoped to meet some lovely ladies, and make some new friends. I hoped to learn a few new things... All of this so far as been achieved, and more! There has been lots of lovely food, there has been plenty of tea and cake, chats, social occasions with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Oh, and the odd WI Life magazine front cover...(!)

This month's meeting was to try something completely new to me: Willow weaving!

I currently have a very large, and beautiful hand crafted willow wreath sat in the studio - and every year I think I MUST do something with this - it is lovely. And, how was it made?! Little did I know, we would get to make our own.

The tuition was held by the engaging and thoroughly knowledgeable Deborah Jones. She explained the hows and whys of the wood, and just how we could create a simple and beautiful wreath design before we were quickly off and giving it a go!

How quickly the wood transforms into a circular and flowing wreath is amazing! The wood bending naturally round into a circular shape - a bit like 'sewing with wood' is certainly how you could describe it. Flowing back and forth, wrapping the wood round and round and round. And the smell, was beautiful! Almost like Christmas 'pine' but more Autumnal and smokey. If that didn't make us feel ready for this beautiful season, I am not sure what would!

I have always admired 'non' Christmas wreaths. Wreaths that go with every season, a new theme and idea every month - but, I had never quite got the full inspiration and ideas (and time?) to do something about it. However, Deborah's class last night really got me thinking.

So, wreath complete, and inspired - off we went on an Autumn 'forage' today with our daily morning walk. Some beautiful fallen leaves, dried cow parsley and grasses. Berries and poppy heads. Things that actually, I wouldn't have maybe given a second glance to - but would have looked lovely all together just simply shoved in a vase! However, they had another purpose... I wanted to create an 'Autumn Wreath' using the newly acquired handmade willow base.

I tripped off to Hobbycraft too for an 'Autumnal' craft hunt (amongst lots of other ideas!) and purchased the 'pink pepperberries' in the display for the final finish - but everything else is simply either from my garden, next door neighbours garden (I did ask!) and some local hedgerows... attached with floristry gold binding wire, hessian twine and a couple of dabs of a hot glue gun for extra 'security'...

It may not last long, it may need 'refreshing' soon - but, that's ok. As, I will soon be planning one with Ivy, and Holly and 'Glitter' and much more 'Christmassy' 'traditional' wreath things... but for now, I have a daily reminder on my front door - it is certainly, and/or very nearly 'Autumn'. And, isn't that a lovely thing.

 

Categories: Business, Christmas, General Craft, House & Home

Feel the fear… And, do it anyway!

What are you afraid of?

 

When I was considering becoming self-employed, honestly – the main thing stopping me – was I was scared of doing my accounts. The admin, the paperwork. The every single receipt keeping. The checking every single thing. The worry.

I am an organised person – I am actually (believe it or not!) despite the craftiness quite a ‘numbers’ person! I have worked in previous ‘lives’ as a forecaster, in buying, merchandising – accounts! But really, I am the ‘creative’ one. 

However, being self-employed – you wear EVERY hat. 

And actually – it isn’t that bad…

I have learnt that what I was ‘afraid of’ – was actually getting it all done… and now that I am here doing just that – the fear has shifted – and it is of getting anything WRONG. I am scared of the taxman.

Really? I am literally the most goody two shoes, most accurate accounts keeping person ever. To the penny! However, it is also the fear of the unknown. Based on this: recognise where your skills are and allocate accordingly! You CANNOT do it all – hence – why I have both a bookkeeper AND an accountant to double check, verify, account, check again and then submit everything for me.

I do understand, based on your own personal circumstances that sometimes, this isn’t always possible, and/or affordable. BUT – side note, whatever I pay for this, I am pretty sure (120% – DO!) I ‘save’ in a) my time, b) knowledge and accurate research, and c) understanding of the ‘rules’.

 

In our recent CLICHE workshop, I asked a question at the start of the class about fear: What is your greatest fear?

Overwhelmingly a word kept reoccurring: FAILURE. 

But what does ‘failure’ actually mean?

FAILURE

  1. lack of success.
    “an economic policy that is doomed to failure”
  2. the neglect or omission of expected or required action.
    “their failure to comply with the basic rules”

 

But – who sets the standards? 

I can take a wild guess it is… YOU.

 

I am by FAR my worst critique. I may FEEL I have failed, but I am often WRONG. (That is also hard to admit!)

So, I am over my fear of accounts – now, I have to agree with my ‘CLICHE‘ attendees – I too, am afraid of not succeeding. But, have I already got there? It depends on your mindset, outlook, perspective.

To some, I have already achieved. That, I (kind of) agree with. To some, I am nearly there! To some, maybe I will never get there (the nay-sayers – we ignore those!)

 

Well, I don’t know where this journey is taking me, and us (‘us’ – the business, ‘us’ – my family, and ‘us’ – you and my crafty ‘family’) but whatever the destination, it is indeed ‘somewhere’! How hard that climb is, or how exciting, and/or difficult it is yet to become… I am not sure – but I need to be mindful to not set ‘boundaries’. I need to set the bar HIGH and recognise that even if you don’t get ‘there’ – that putting yourself out there, and being in the process of it all is achievement in itself.

 

Also a reminder that: ask me my ‘dream’ a few years ago, THIS IS IT. I just need to remember that. And – I am sure, you need to be reminded too on your own journeys.

 

I have also learnt, that despite the fear – being self employed is HARD. There is no ‘rock up in the day job with guaranteed income’. There is no ‘boss’ telling you want to do. There is no set plan.

On the opposite side, there is no ‘boss’ telling you what you HAVE to do. Yes, there is no set plan – but you make that plan. It is YOURS to decide and do! Need a day off? No problem! I am sure your ‘boss’ can agree it…

However, if you need extra support, please do remember to TALK. You might think you are too busy to ‘chat’ – but you know that not everyone can mind read. Tell your friends, your family – tell them your life plans, your worries, your fears. They may already know, they may not – and want to get involved! – or, have a new ideas to help! A wonderful old BT advert slogan: It’s good to talk.

 

So, what are you afraid of?

Feel the fear and do it anyway…

Categories: Business, General Craft, Workshops

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