We almost lost our daughter last summer. Over the course of the past year and diving into all things medical and the details of what happened, that fact has become more and more apparent. Our world was rocked by the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. But this post isn’t about that.
Nothing else mattered to me outside of helping her body heal and figuring out the best approach and care for our family to move forward. Just the year before I had closed the doors to my branding and design business. At the time it was because I had grown tired of the typical issues one faces when running a service-based business as a one-woman show. You’re not making money unless you’re working. And that is a hard thing to swallow sometimes as a mother of five who also home educates. So, I shut my doors. And a weight was lifted. I took on contract work as a senior designer for a well-known agency to supplement income while I figured out my next move. Little did I know the world would shut down the following month, the very industries I served would struggle immensely through the next year, and that Type 1 diagnosis would be just around the corner. It’s funny how God knows exactly what needs to happen and when. It’s not the first time this lesson has been so blatantly obvious in my life.
Back to last summer. Within weeks of being home from the hospital with Blair and seeing in real-time the changes our lives were going through suddenly that side position to supplement things? I couldn’t do it. Not anymore.
Jarett and I had long conversations during this time about what I was going to do moving forward. Me being home and with our children, as well as educating them will forever be the first priority we have as a family. We also knew our dedication to managing Blair’s health was right up there as well. Between those two things as well as everyday life, it was a full plate. But our family needed more financially, especially with Blair’s diagnosis, and I wanted more personally. Creating is as normal and as necessary as breathing for me.
However, I knew I needed full control. I didn’t want to answer to clients. I didn’t want deadlines hanging over me in work that was being micromanaged. I didn’t want to be chasing invoices. So offering another service was out of the question. Throughout my entire career, I have blogged as a way to document and share the journey. To share my passions and create content around what I was enjoying in my personal life. And while it has always been a portion of my income, it was never the main source. And now? I needed exactly what blogging full-time would give me. The flexibility I desperately needed and wanted, control over deadlines, and final say over content, design, and everything in between. Making it my sole focus and pouring into it was the only logical choice. And it was the one that had me most excited when looking ahead.
However, between all things Type 1 and everyday family life, I knew it would be the slowest pivot in the history of pivots. And if you have been here for some time, you know I am no stranger to pivoting. Being here is kind of like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. You just kind of have to hang on.
If you are here and reading this? Thank you from the bottom of my heart for hanging on.
I knew I needed time. Luckily, thanks to insulin injections and glucose monitoring, I suddenly found myself with a lot of early mornings and late evenings. Quiet and uninterrupted time. Time to simply think, to write, to reflect, to brainstorm, to plan. I needed a focus. I needed a reason to share what I wanted to share. And there was an idea that kept coming to me. A phrase that encompassed, what I thought to be, everything I am passionate about. Something that really drives me in my life already. And the phrase was this: ‘Live simple. Make it beautiful’.
But what did that mean exactly? And why was I so connected to this idea? And do giraffes actually ever run? (You never know where your mind will go at 3:00 AM)
Within minutes of arriving, I would hop up those porch steps and make a beeline inside to her bedroom. Turning that old, tarnished crystal doorknob and hearing that familiar creak of the wood floors, I would then step into her closet and grab the nearest skirt I could reach. A heavy cotton fabric in a muted color with just the right amount of length for my short, six-year-old frame. It had to drag on the ground for the full effect. I would then slip it on over my jeans, wrap it twice around, and secure it in the back with a clothespin from the antique bowl that sat on her dresser. And at that moment it was as if her skirt had the power to transport me to another world, or at least of days gone by, because for the next several hours I would be lost to my imagination.
You could find me ‘tending the land’ in the backyard using her weed hoe. After breaking up the thick desert dirt, I would then water it down with a hose (a necessary step for the mud pies that would need to be made later). Then I would grab her patio chair to reach up high enough to the clothesline that hung in her backyard and that she still used. And once the laundry was done, it was time for those pies that I would form in a tin from her cupboard and then set on her kitchen window sill to cool.
After making me clean up a bit, my grandmother would then make something that was actually edible for lunch. She would go to task in her tiny kitchen with that vintage yellow stove while I twirled across the linoleum floor, her skirt billowing around me. Following lunch, I could be found having tea (ie: sugar and water) and she even let me use her antique teacups and plates to make it as real as possible. A doilie underneath to make it even fancier (but being a mother myself, I now know it was to prevent rings on her coffee table). I would enjoy it all in front of her box TV in the living room watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers once again. There was something about the idea of living in the mountains, off the land, and finding a rugged bearded gent to do it all with that peaked my interest. And don’t even get me started on Jane Powell’s wardrobe in that one. To die for.
It was a humble two-bedroom historic bungalow with hardly any open space, but my grandmother’s home was the most fascinating place to me as a kid. From the skeleton key that still worked to unlock the side door leading to the porch, to the antique iron that she used as a doorstop but of course, I pretended to use it for actual ironing. Those freshly dried clothes from the line out back were not going to press themselves! Even the one-car garage in the backyard that held my father’s old rusted 1954 Ford pickup. I still remember the day I came with him to finally haul it home to restore.
My grandmother’s home was filled with treasures from days gone by and it was there that I truly developed a love for the simplicity of things.
A poster of Elvis hung on my bedroom wall. While everyone else was driving Honda Civics, I drove a ’93 red Jeep Cherokee with an old FM radio, manual windows, and peeling leather seats. That thing felt like luxury to me. And yep. Still watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on the regular. I even got to live out my dream and play Dorcas (one of the seven brides) on stage in a local production. But that’s a story for another time.
My knack for creating was alive and well too. I had a love for photographs and documenting, influenced by my father. And DIY projects? Yes, even back then. My mom would come home from work to find me sanding the finish down on our wood bunkbed out on the back patio because I wanted a “lighter tone” to the bedroom. I would jump at the chance to clean the fridge and pantry as my chore so I could make sure it was done right and the organization of it looked as pretty as possible. I would do the same thing to the gifts under the tree leading up to Christmas Day. Pulling them all out and then placing them one by one for just the right balance and aesthetic in the living room.
I’m sure I stuck out like a sore thumb as a youth, but I found so much joy in seeing simple things done beautifully, in making old things new again, in working with my hands, and being creative. I had a desire to keep a tight grip on days gone by and how things use to be done. There were big ideas in my head of the life I wanted and it was nothing typical. Everyone my age at the time was talking about college and the career path they wanted to take. As for me?
What can I say? I am an old soul. And the influence of Milly Pontipee was alive and well even at the ripe old age of 18.
Little did I know just a short time later a gentleman would come into the picture and sweep me off my feet within mere days (three to be exact). I wasn’t a waitress at the town restaurant and he didn’t have a remote cabin in the woods with his six brothers, but he would make me his wife that summer…
Psst… part two is right here.