Overwhelm

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I’m not sleeping much. I lay awake at night, wondering how I’m going to make a dent in my eternally long to-do list, how to keep the many people in my life from getting too upset with me, how to keep perspective.

I drift off to sleep around 3 or 4am, none the wiser.

For two years since I’ve started this blog, it’s probably been obvious I’ve been on a kind of quest. A seeking of a better self? A digging and clawing from the depths of an unhealthy lifestyle to one that resembles normalcy? Even better than normalcy to something that could be (lord help me) like self-actualization?

I think I’ve done pretty well, all things considered. I eat vegetables now, I exercise regularly, I am carrying out days that probably seem — from the outside — idyllic. I get to write and draw and sew every day. I’m publishing a book! These are all unquestionably amazing.

You see, I’m terrified.

Grateful, but scared out of my wits. And I had a little meltdown last week, the kind K gets when she’s had too much sugar and too little sleep.

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A few weeks prior, I had lunch with a friend that I hadn’t seen in months. Technically, she was my old boss from my most recent corporate job. You know, the one I got fired from. Ironically, she asked me if I would consider coming back. Not on a full-time basis or anything, but short-term. The money would be fantastic. The project, she assured me, would be easy. This was actually the second time they’ve asked me. The first outreach was about a year ago and back then I couldn’t say no fast enough. This time,Β I hesitated to decline, even though I knew that the project would turn out to be crazy-making and time-sucking and soul-draining.

I get to do what I love every day. But in exchange, I open myself up in uncomfortable ways, and I risk face-planting in a big pile of humiliation. My blog isn’t hugely popular, and that’s fine with me because I realized early on that professional blogging is clearly not my cup of tea. I’m quirky and what I have to offer is not for everyone, and I spend hours crafting these posts because I find it fulfilling. I can’t claim that what I’m currently doing is considered a career — books are notoriously hard to sell. I don’t have a lot of illustration clients. I make less money than an average textile worker in Bangladesh (book advances don’t amount to much when you’re an unknown first-time writer/illustrator). And I probably work about the same hours as the Bangladeshi though my working conditions are luxe in comparison. We’re not rolling around in mountains of dollar bills (we often joke that we hope to be hundredaires one day, because we’ll never get a shot at becoming millionaires), and M’s job situation is one of instability.

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I worry that I’m being selfish by not getting a “real” job. I know that I want K to see that it’s possible and more than okay to strive for meaningful work that lights you up, regardless of what others say. But as I’ve been pondering lately, I don’t want her to feel entitled and unrealistic either. I know that I’m beyond fortunate to have this time to pursue what feels right. Then the practical side of living rears itself toward me. Bills, food, shelter, fabric. The essentials, obviously.

Two years ago, when I found myself with no job and too much time, I made a list. On it I wrote down everything I wanted to do, things I thought I might enjoy as a “career” — no one was going to see it, so I went all out, tossing reality out the window. I found the list a couple of months ago, and had forgotten all about it. The main items on my list included the following:

– Start a blog
– Write and illustrate a children’s book
– Contribute to magazines
– Teach a sewing workshop
– Have an art show
– Get illustration clients
– Design clothes

I’ve accomplished almost everything on my list in 24 months. I’ve learned so so much. The positives have far outweighed any negatives, but here’s the thing: some aspects are heart-breaking and hard, no matter how many goals I achieve. I’ve been surprised by people who became resentful or competitive or distant; disappointed by the disproportionately meager monetary rewards; embarrassed about feeling like I’m bragging when I’m just so shocked and delighted that my list is materializing; wondering about getting paid to do what I love — would I start feeling like it’s drudgery? AndΒ I’ve been side-swiped by the crushing self-doubt and emotions of fraudulence. That’s probably the biggest one…that feeling of “who do I think I am to publish a book? to cast out my ramblings in a public realm like a blog?” I get sad that we have crappy health insurance and that M and I have the same anxious money discussions over and over and over. That job offer was so tempting — maybe I can do the project while maintaining everything else, I thought. But I know myself, and I would get immersed in the corporate world again, become unhappy and unhealthy and push out all the wonderful things I’ve painstakingly and slowly built these last two years.

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So I’m a little overwhelmed these days. Maybe it was that lunch that reminded me of the bad days. Or maybe it’s because I’ve crossed off one more thing from my list, which I’ll share soon and I fear I may have bitten off more than I can chew and there will be even more uncertainty. Or, and this is probably the best explanation, maybe it’s because I’m not sleeping. I always have to remember that I have a health condition that responds in toxic ways to excessive stress. I’ve kept it in check for quite some time now, and I try to be diligent about taking care of myself, but sleep has never come easily to me.

After giving it a lot of thought, I decided not to accept the job offer even though it might make things easier (or not, who knows). It’s funny, one of M’s favorite books is The 50th Law. Whenever I get discouraged and tell M that maybe I should just go and get a regular job, he vehemently tells me, “No, you gotta go for it, this is definitely your thing. You’re the 50 Cent of the sewing world — you have to see it through.” I’m not sure that the drug-lord-turned-rapper analogy works, but I’ll take it. I’ll continue to figure out edible dishes from canned tuna, and I’ll hold onto the supportive people and ride out the discomforts of change and the evolution that comes with it, and I will see if I can continue to show K that yes, this whole making-dreams-come-true business is possible. It’s not easy, it’s messy, and a lot of sacrifices may be required. And often, it doesn’t feel exactly the way I thought it would. But it feels real. Like I’m being the most genuine version of myself. And for me,Β that is worth everything.

75 thoughts on “Overwhelm

  1. Absolutely do not underestimate the effects of not sleeping! Think back to K in her baby days and how overwhelming everything seemed. A good chunk of that is sleep deprivation, not just parenting. When my first was born our situation was pretty unstable and I would find my thoughts running around in circles as I lay in bed trying to sleep. I found that if I wrote down all of the things that were bothering me my brain seemed to think that I had done something about them and let me relax lol.

    1. It’s so true, Kathryn – these days are reminding me of the newborn phase. I used to be able to function with very little sleep, but it’s really not the case any more. I love the idea of writing everything down before bed – I’m going to try that! Thank you!

  2. Hang in there, it’s not just k you’re inspiring with “this whole making-dreams-come-true business”, it’s all of your readers who also have tricky messy dreams. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Cate – we can all do it, right? Plow through the trickiness and messiness and be able to look back and say, “Hey, I made it!”

  3. Hi Sanae,
    I love your blog because it’s so different from the others sewing blogs I always read. I like to see what the others made or sewed, but I think your blog is the only one I really love to READ. I love to read what you have to say, it comes from your heart and this make your blog so different. You don’t care about looking amazing or showing perfect handsewn garments or a your perfectly decorated house. You don’t show your daughter’s face in the pictures because you want to protect her from the world, and I totally agree, because it’s your blog, and not your daughter’s. But even tough you don’t have a fancy blog, you have a successful blog, and this should show you that you really have to go on blogging and try to focus on it, because you made something unique out of it. I’m so proud of your choice of not accepting that job, if you feel it would change your inner balance. Sometimes I wish I was brave enough to quit my job and do something that make me happier, or just to have more time to stay with my daughter. Maybe one day I’ll do it. Sleep well!

    1. Jo! I can’t tell you how much your comment means to me — I feel like I ought to be able to come up with something more heartfelt than that, and I’m going to blame my sleep-deprivation for now. I wish I could look amazing and have perfectly sewn items and display a perfectly decorated home — but that’s just not the way things are, and I’m so okay with that. And you know, if I hadn’t gotten so ill, I probably would have tried to force my way back to work because security feels so valuable. The more stories I hear and the more I experience, I get the sense that mindset is the main determiner of happiness for most situations. Once I get some sleep, I’m going to test that theory out.

      1. Yesterday I forgot to tell you this funny thing: one week ago I was telling my husband that I’ll never be a good blogger because I’m too shy, I never show myself and I crop the pictures of our daughter, and he told me, “don’t worry, you can be the Banksy of the sewing world!”
        HA!

        1. I love it, that’s so awesome! Banksy is so cool. I bet that neither Banksy nor 50 Cent have been referenced in the sewing circle before! πŸ˜‰

  4. I think you are very brave. Lots and lots of people talk about going after their dreams and so very few of them really pursue them. Two years is nothing and you accomplished so much so think that you are only taking baby steps and life will bring you what you need. πŸ™‚
    Probably, writing a book will be like writing a blog, you will do it for yourself and to share it with the ones who want to read and share your creations! And don’t forget, we all feel overwhelmed sometimes and it may just be a good thing.
    Sleep, eat, love… πŸ™‚

    1. I so appreciate you saying that two years is nothing, Patricia, because you’re absolutely right. In the grand scheme of things, two years is a blip. I think what’s been interesting about creating a book is that it’s very much a collaboration. So far, the collaboration has been working beautifully and yes, I would rather be overwhelmed and full of opportunities than underwhelmed and feeling like a hamster on a treadmill! πŸ˜‰

  5. Wishing you the best of luck and clarity during this time. We always think if only…. then i’d be happy- when happiness is such a complexity of circumstances. It’s not as easy as we’d like to think but it’s certainly achievable for those who can keep the guilt of everything else off of our minds and stay focused on the quintessential needs we wish to fulfill.

    I think you could be the 50 cent of the sewing world- no problem.

    1. So true about how it’s easy to think that we’ll be happier when x happens, Mae! I’m normally pretty content with my situation, but these last few weeks have thrown me for some reason. Maybe I’ve been running on adrenaline for too long and just crashed and then stumbled into insomnia. Hard to tell.

      Well, you and M have some hardcore confidence in my sewing skills. πŸ™‚ 50 Cent is a tough act to follow!

  6. I am sending you lots of love and support all the way across the ocean!
    I think you are making the “right” choices and with them comes uncertainty and fear. Two years seem like a long time, but you have made massive changes and your whole being has to adapt to this, physically, mentally, spiritually. Healing takes a long time. Keep on listening to your heart and your wonderful supporting husband, be gentle to yourself and SLEEP (I really think, sleep deprivation has a lot to do with the intensity of your worries and your ability to deal with them. I know from experience. It is not easy to change sleeping habits, because the body has become so used to them and it kind of creates a vicious circle, but you can train your body to sleep again. Not easy, I know…Meditation is a good way to start a healthy routine. I can really recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn and “Full Catastrophe Living”)
    And to me, you are the 50 cent of sewing already! Even though I am glad you donΒ΄t try to “get rich or die tryinΒ΄” and donΒ΄t posess “animal ambition” πŸ˜‰

    1. And your colorful watercolor-dots touched me. A fragile structure but so beautiful. And it will keep growing and changing shape!

      1. Thank you, Ute! It does feel like it’s been a period of metamorphosis, and not in a Kafka-esque way. There have been a lot of adjustments, and I think I have the hardest time reigning in my workaholic, overdrive mode. It’s so interesting that you bring up meditation because I’ve actually been looking into it. Many, many years ago a good friend gave me a Jon Kabat-Zinn book (“Wherever You Go, There You Are”), probably because I’ve ALWAYS been overwhelmed πŸ™‚ I never finished the book and I currently have it on my nightstand and am working my way through it ever so slowly…

        And I do have “animal ambition”! Except the animal is a sloth, or some creature prone to procrastination. As for “get rich or die tryin”… yeah, not so much.

  7. I was going to ask if you have checked your thyroid levels recently. And I agree with the first commenter- don’t underestimate the importance of good sleep! Being sleep deprived can totally mess up your world. And make you feel crazy- ask me how I know. I am wishing you the best of luck in all of your endeavors. I don’t comment as much as I used (baby, job, etc- those are my excuses!) but I do read and I am excited to tag along on this journey with you. I have complete and utter faith in you! You can do it and I know the end result will be amazing!

    1. Sleep is everything, Liza Jane! I definitely feel wacko and wobbly, as if I’m drunk from sleep-deprivation. Thank you so much for the supportive words! And thanks for asking about my thyroid levels. I just had a test a couple of weeks ago, but it was a fiasco because they couldn’t get proper test results due to an inexperienced lab technician (she couldn’t find a vein and repeatedly poked my arm, so it was bruised all over! And when she finally found a vein, it took too long to get the blood, so the sample was contaminated. When the doctor saw my arm she was horrified. These things happen to me all the time). Anyway, I have to wait three more months for the next test, but I’ve been getting steadily better over the months!

  8. I agree with the statement from Jo (dotta). Your blog definitely stands out from all the other sewing blogs I follow and I enjoy reading your thoughts and how “real” you come off as a writer/sewist. Your blog has encouraged me to start my own and for me it’s tough to balance a job, kids and making time to sew. But the sewing interest is there and it keeps me going – just like I how i see you continue to strive for things that make you happy. But do focus on you from time to time; find ways to unwind and take care of yourself!

    1. Oh, how wonderful! I hope you’re enjoying blogging despite your busy schedule, Amy! I love your baby doll baskets! “Unwind” — such a good word. I have a tendency to get wound up with all the things I need or want to be doing, and I thoroughly need to just check out and relax occasionally πŸ™‚ Thank you for the encouraging comment!

  9. Everyone struggles with these same questions on some level, in some circumstance. I’m so very glad you don’t pretend its easy.

    Do you like baseball? I don’t. Listen to baseball play by play on headphones. Puts me right to sleep!

    1. Oh my goodness, baseball! That’s brilliant! I’ve only gone to two live baseball games and fell asleep AT the stadium during both games, so that’s bound to work! Thank you, Kristi πŸ™‚

  10. I never comment on the many blogs I read regularly. I don’t know why – maybe because I abandoned my own….maybe because I feel not worthy to offer my 2 cents to these people who are actually DOING IT – like you. I think everything you do is amazing. I pour over every post. I am so very inspired by your clothing. I adore EVERY single thing you make. I am a self-taught sewer. It all started with a pair of curtains. Now, I’m sewing clothing for my 2 girls and I LOVE to do it. I’ve recently started sewing things for myself – mostly from Japanese sewing books. I LOVE the style. I check your blog every day – not so patiently awaiting your post. So THANK YOU. Thank you for being real. Thank you for doing it. Thank you for inspiring me.

    1. Thank you so much, Natalie! What an honor to receive a comment — I’m a shy commenter myself and am always so pleased and excited when I see a new comment for my posts πŸ™‚ I don’t think I’m overstating things by saying that sewing is life-altering, right? The way I see clothing has completely changed, and I’m so happy that you’ve discovered the endless possibilities of sewing!

  11. You have written this well, and like always from your heart. I know what it is to not be able to sleep. And now knowing that we are having a baby is giving me more sleepless nights. Although this is what we wanted and have gotten to this point (of eight months) pretty much without complications. But I am with you there, with no sleep. There are a million things to try out to get more sleep, to tell you you are fine, and all that. But. No sleep is no sleep. I can ramble on and on about this. But what I really just want to say is that I do really emapthize.

    1. Congratulations, Asmita!! How exciting! Now I wish I’d sent you baby goodness as part of the Secret Valentine Exchange πŸ™‚ I’m so glad that your pregnancy has been a smooth one, and yes, I remember those final weeks before K’s birth (we had a record heat wave in Seattle): no sleep. Zip. Thank you for empathizing, and I’m wishing you a safe and restful last stretch before the arrival of baby #2!!

      1. Thank you Sanae for your good wishes. I have been reading the comments above, and I second Ute’s suggestion which is Meditation and the Jon Kabat-Zinn Mind Based Cognitive Therapy that they suggest. I find it incredibly useful.

  12. I’ve only recently become a regular reader, so I didn’t know about your back story. For what it’s worth, you do appear to be living the dream – a great dream, your dream. I bet if you can find a way to turn the day off and get some full night’s sleep, you’ll be able to see yourself as your readers see you. But, it sounds like sleep has long been elusive and going to bed in the wee hours is not just a recent phenomenon from feeing slightly overwhelmed. So, for now, perhaps just forgive the meltdowns, focus on health, and keep on keeping on, because what you’re doing really is wonderful.

    1. Thank you, Amy! That’s funny – “You’re living the dream” is what M tells me frequently (albeit a little sarcastically since he gets squirmy with the word “dream”). I’ve always been a night owl and once I get started on a project, I have a hard time mentally stopping even when I’m not physically working on a project. So yes, it’s par for the course for me to have sleep issues, but I’m really really trying hard to train myself to go to bed earlier (of course, it’s 12:17am as I type this — for shame).

  13. I am thankful that you’re so honest about what is happening in your life. It has to be hard to open up like that and it is truly appreciated. I feel the same way, often wondering how I have it so good and am yet unable to accept it and I find things to complain about or worry about or whatever.

    I find it difficult to imagine that your blog is not popular. I LOVE IT!! I was so happy when I found it because it speaks to me, *you* speak to me, on so many levels.

    But I have to say that I’m totally jealous of ALL of your MANY talents!! πŸ˜‰

    I wish you the best and the ability to take it easy and get some rest.

  14. p.s. I’ve noticed recently, and I’m not sure it’s because of my age or stage of life or alignment of the stars, that I become overwhelmed much more easily. I can see it happening, getting closer, but I can’t really stop it from jumping at me and causing me to lose my cool. I wish I had some better advice or soothing words to offer but hope it helps to know that there are likely many of us in similar situations.

    1. Ha! My blog doesn’t have a big readership as far as I know (I stopped checking stats a few months ago because it was making me batty), but everyone who stops by with a comment has been kind and generous in spirit and is clearly super smart. And I agree with you that the older I get, the more intense my reactions seem to be to things that feel out of control. I’m so grateful for and appreciative of your reassuring words, Alana — it definitely helps!!

  15. I think the other comments really sum up what I was trying to say. I would add that I think it’s so hard sometimes to ignore the detractors and listen to the voices, internal and external, that tell you that you and what you do is enough. That you have something of great value to add to this community. That you are an inspiration to your daughter and your audience. But the positive voices tell the truth. As others have said, your blog is the one I love to READ, not just skim through the lovely pictures and move on. I’m obviously not alone in wishing you a little peace and sleep at the moment.

    1. The naysayers (mostly in my head, I admit) are hard to ignore for sure. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Evie – I’m always a little incredulous that people actually read what I write….it seems surreal sometimes, you know? But in a lovely, I-can’t-believe-my-good-luck kind of way πŸ™‚

  16. I second everyone else’s thoughts. Also, I find that it’s never helpful or confidence-building to think about how others perceive me. For one thing, everyone else is so busy worrying about themselves that the last thing they’ll be doing is judging me (hopefully). Isn’t that a relief? I love reading your blog, you’re leading a life that is genuine and clear in its intention and I really respect that. Keep on doing what you’re doing. Sleep well!

    1. So wise, Bella! I couldn’t agree more that most people are probably too busy worrying about their own whatevers, and my interpretations of their perception of me are most likely off-base or irrelevant at best. I so love reading your comments — thank you for the regular visits!

  17. Dear Sanae,
    I agree with all the other commenters– I love your blog for what it is! Your writing is honest, engaging and humorous, without one bit of self-importance, and I love that you give voice to topics and feelings that can be difficult to discuss in private, let alone with the entire internet!
    I think the hardest thing about being overwhelmed is that it’s largely an individual obstacle to overcome, even with all the support in the world (which you have from your devoted readers!) and no matter how many other people are in the same boat with the same anxieties (there are a lot of us!). From a fellow master of freaking out, I find that venting/sharing feelings (or cursing, if that’s your style) is very helpful. Also, wallowing in sad feelings/self pity/guilt for short periods-OKAY! The wallowing ultimately frames the bigger picture, which for me is that life goes on, regardless of successes or failures and that there is no expectation to be sunshine and butterflies all the time.
    I hope your burdens lift soon and that you get some restful sleep and a well deserved vacation from your to-do list.

    1. I’ve already mentioned that I’ve sussed out that everyone who visits here is super smart, but I forgot to mention crazy insightful too. Michelle, I love this! Overwhelm (I’m incorrectly using it as a noun) is very individual, I agree. Writing it out was very much a venting process, and I too subscribe to the quickie wallow process. Sometimes, you just have to feel it all to just get over it, right?

      And thank you for including “humorous”!! M and K tell me all the time that I’m the least funny one in the family, so I’m developing a complex πŸ˜‰

  18. You are brave. You are a conversation starter. You actually respond to people on your blog. :o). This is a sweet space to visit because of who you are. Thank you for sharing yourself and your journey so courageously. (And it makes me feel better to know I am not the only one who has trouble falling asleep and gets phsically ill from stress- misery loves company? I have a hard time with those issues because my mama was superwoman.). I have constanly found solace and peace in Jesus. I will be praying you find peace and rest in the midst of your crazy journey. My heart just kept saying yes to everyone else’s comments. So thankful for everyone who comments here and the things they share, also.
    P.S. I am looking forward to your book with great anticipation!

    1. I’m so curious to hear more about your mother, Beccy! My mom’s is outrageously prolific and talented, so I can commiserate. Thank you for your lovely comment — and yes, all the other comments have been amazing too. I may or may not have shed some extra tears.

      I’m so close to being completely done with the book, and then I can focus on my next big project. Excited!

  19. It is late here but I needed to get my “Sanae fix” before heading to bed, and I”m so glad I did. Lots of thought-provoking content here. I love your honesty, Sanae. You write so clearly from your heart and allow us to see a life that is not perfect, but one that is constantly being shaped, tweaked and examined so that it is the fullest, truest life you can create. To see all the comments above certainly speaks volumes regarding how highly regarded your blog is.
    I’m glad for your mental health that you did not take the corporate part time job. By the sound of it, you are currently juggling many balls and sometimes “no” is the perfect answer. I do wish for you that quality sleep will no longer evade you. There truly is nothing so deflating as sleep deprivation. My chiropractor advised walking after dinner to improve the quality of my sleep . . . perhaps that might help you? Hugs to you, my friend!

    1. As always, thank you for your comment Lucinda. What would I do without your comments? They’re like anchor points for me πŸ™‚ I really need a lesson in how to say no — not my strong suit. It’s funny, I actually already take a walk after dinner! Maybe I read something somewhere that it helps, but I’ve been doing it for a few months. Combining the walk, meditation, and listening to baseball games may bring on the onset of restorative slumber in no time!

  20. You have to show yourself too! Not just your daughter. You can do it!

    I feel some of the same things you do. There is too much self doubt in me too.

    I know what you mean about jealousy too. I am interested in you and I admire you a lot. You have talent, and you have discipline, you can deliver! I am not resentful of you. I just think that the good things that happen to you are good for you. I know what it is like on the receiving end, and it is really hard. Not that I’ve done anything specifically wonderful to arouse these awkward, competitive, and envious feelings, but would you believe I am incredibly beautiful? Really smart and funny? Anyways, lets just say, I know what you mean when you say that these resentful acknowledgements of success make you feel unworthy, unsure, in fact worse, when you should feel really proud and great. You could go a bit easier on yourself though.

    1. Good point, Max! Yes, all of this is for me as well as for K. And so hilarious – I have no doubt that you’re incredibly beautiful, smart and funny! I’ve always been my own worst enemy and it’s going to be final frontier to tackle, I’m reckoning. But first, sleep…

  21. What an incredible post — so beautifully written, and achingly real. Sanae, you have achieved goals you set two years ago and I am sure you will get these new tasks accomplished. Stop worrying, and try to get more sleep. Everything feels overwhelming without sleep.

    1. Thank you, Kay! I can always tell when I’ve written something that is truly meaningful to me because I immediately want to delete it. I’m glad I didn’t; otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to spend this amazing time marveling at this abundance of kindness. Thank you for taking the time to drop a bolstering note (can you tell that I’ve had to resort to using the thesaurus since I kept typing “wonderful”)?

  22. Hi! Teetering on the edge of overwhelm in the last year sums my life up too. I think you’ve made a very powerful decision in declining that job about what matters to you in your life and what you’re going to stand for. That itself is a gift for your daughter. What an amazing husbie you have yourself too. Love following your journey, looking forward to seeing where it takes you…

    1. Thank you, Sophie! It’s so easy to forget that the good stuff can sometimes be just as overwhelming as the bad stuff – at least for me, and when you get both…well, I guess that’s just life.

  23. Hi Sanae, I have been silently following your blog for well over a year and though I have never commented I feel I need to let you know how wonderful your blog really is. Your blog is the first one I open when I have some time to myself each evening, your honesty, warmth, intelligence and humour comes across in a very sincere way. I love experiencing your joys and woes in the sewing world and applaud your braveness in showing us the good and the not so great results. I am always inspired by your attitude to color and love all the greyness you bring to the table, I find myself making less garish color choices when sewing thanks to your soothing sewing palette.
    I am located on the other side of world and yet my realities seem so similar to your. Your blog is like a daily dose of organic in a very processed world. Be proud, your doing so well, you are so prolific and not surprisingly you may need some time to revive. Be gentle to yourself, and thank you for all the hours you do put in, I appreciate the hard work behind the words.

    1. How lovely, thank you so much for your comment, Agata! And yes, I’ve definitely got the muted/neutral theme nailed πŸ™‚ I’m so glad that many of the things I ponder seem to be a common denominator – there’s definite solace in numbers…it makes me feel less crazy!

  24. Hi Sanae,

    it makes me sad to read about your worries and anxiety. I read your blog since January 2013 and during this time i see your personality shine through more and more. First i read your blog to see the marvelous clothes you sew for your kid. Then i start reading the blog for your words, your thoughts (and still gazing at the wonderful garmets you produce).

    I dare say its hard to follow ones dream, sometimes more, sometimes less. But you are so good and gifted and talented in the things you do: drawing, painting, sewing and writing essays and stories and many more, that i hope you have the support and the strength to follow this path.

    One thing: my husband has struggles with sleeping for a long time. When it gets worse, he goes for a long walk or even run before bettime.Then just shower (no tv, no ipad,no telefone) and then he hits the bed. He used to stay up late to really get sleepy but for the last months or so we got to sleep around 10 p.m. . So even when he woke up early (mostly he woke up about 5 or 4.30 a.m.) he gets a good amount of sleep. I hope you find a way to sleep more, it really makes the difference.

    Sending you hugs!

    Marit

    1. Oh, that’s interesting that the run is helping him. I run sometimes at night too. But I’ve been wondering if it’s actually keeping me awake? Hmmmm…I’ll have to look more into that. Thank you, Marit!

  25. I love this post, Sanae. You are as real as they get! Your blog is always the first one I read in the morning with my cup of coffee after I set up my little ones with Curious George. I always feel inspired and connected… not all sewing bloggers talk about the real-side of it all, but I love and appreciate your honesty. I’ve had quite the up-and-down past 6 months myself, and have laid awake at night a lot with things on my mind. The one thing that seems to focus me (as long as I do a little every day) is sewing. It’s such good medicine. XO.

    1. Oh man, knowing just a little of what you’ve been experiencing and how you’re soldiering on, I’m almost embarrassed by my issues. Ditto on the sewing – it really is so therapeutic! Thank you for your sweet comment, and I swear, I’ve tried to leave several comments on all your amazing creations (congrats on your new shop – so excited for you!!) but WordPress keeps kicking me off.

  26. Wow! What a great post. I enjoy your honesty. Honestly, you are AMAZING. It took real courage to say no to that job offer– I probably would have been very very tempted. But isn’t it amazing that your dreams ARE coming true? Maybe not in the exact ways you hoped but it’s amazing what can happen when we just put our intentions out there to the universe! Keep on keepin’ on sister! You are on THE PATH.

    1. Thank you so so much, Sarah! A part of me feels like it’s going to jinx things by saying my dreams are coming true (which is why I sort of always write it in a roundabout way) — it’s all the weird superstitious stuff I grew up with probably. Things my mom used to emphatically tell me not to do because it’s super bad luck: open an umbrella inside the house, go out with wet hair, and the oddest one of all was clip toenails at night.

  27. I’m not sleeping either and I often wonder if I have a lot of ideas because I sleep not enough or if I sleep not enough because I have too much idea.
    I totally understand what you describe with this proposed job. I made this opposite choice : accept a challenging -well paid with a lot of professionnal travels- job. And I am not really happy, always running after time, missing my sons’school parties, just being exhausted day after day.
    I’m not sure if there is a definite answer or if we have a real choice

    1. Oh, as a fellow insomniac my heart goes out to you Isabelle! I think you’re right in that there’s no definite answer, though I do think we have choices. I’m sorry to hear that the job is taking you away from time with family. I’ve been reading a lot about people raging against the notion of balance because it just seems impossible to attain. I’m still trying to figure out where I stand, but I doubt anyone can do it all…wishing you some restful sleep!

  28. Hi Sanae,
    It’s so nice to read other comments on this post.
    I, like many others, continually find your words valuable, inspiring and above all, interesting. I think that’s a rare thing. I love your style and aesthetic, and the way you share. I enjoy that the issues you explore and write about on a personal level are always thought-provoking.
    What an amazing couple of years. I think I need to write a list too! I really hope that you can enjoy your achievements. It seems to me like you really deserve it.

    Also, I need to read to put myself to sleep. AND your illustrations for this post are so beautiful.

    1. Thanks so much, Sophie! So grateful for your words. Yes! Give list-making a go – I think it unconsciously propels action, which is just my theory but it seemed to work. It was uncanny and a little eerie when I found the list and discovered how many things I could check off.

  29. Sanae,

    I think what you are doing right now is so important! You are so creative and inspiring to me, but what is truly special is your honesty. So many people feel the way you feel, but are afraid to say it. Reading your blog reminds me that the feelings of self-doubt and questioning that I have are normal and you encourage me not to give up. Hang in there and thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for the vote of confidence, Marjie! I’m glad I’m not alone in all of this…I feel lucky to be part of this amazing community!

  30. Oh Sanae, I loved this post. So often I feel that same terror and sleeplessness. I totally get it. Bravo to you for setting up boundaries and doing what will be better for your family unit in the macro scheme of things.

    1. Thank you, Tara! Boundaries are hard for a chronic yes-woman like me (I didn’t say no outright when she asked me but said “Let me think about it” in a twitchy and weird way — even saying that was hard!) but I knew I’d made the right choice because I felt SO much better once I decided to stay away from corporate america. πŸ™‚

  31. Dear Sanae, thank you for that beautiful and heartfelt post. I think you are very brave for following your dreams and that you are very lucky to have such a supportive family. I’m sorry not everyone around you has been sympathetic to your change of life-but sometimes it scares people to be near others who have the strength to drop everything and go a new direction. Please don’t feel your are responsible for other people’s feelings!
    I think you are doing a fantastic job. I hope your sleeping problems get better soon. I suffer from excessive worrying and sleep deprivation at times as well. Sometimes I think it is a way for my body to signal that I need to drop one of the many projects clouding up my head or that I need to take a break and just breathe a bit. If I then schedule a day with absolutely nothing going on-or if I go away on a day-trip with my family it often gets better. Is there anything in your busy life you could drop? I hope you don’t feel obligated to write posts here daily. I love reading what you write but I would love it much more if you were feeling better.
    Sending positive thoughts from across the pond and hoping you feel better, xx m

    1. Hello Marjolijn, thank you so much for your incredibly kind comment! You’re right, it’s usually when I feel like I’ve taken on too many things that I start to lose sleep — mostly because I’m so wary of falling into the same trap that I used to put myself in the past. I think allowing myself to take time to answer comments (which is something I love love love to do) has helped some this past week πŸ™‚ I vacillate between reducing the number of times I post and maintaining my current schedule. It probably seems weird, but this blog is so precious to me, and doing it daily (on weekdays at least) keeps me incredibly motivated. Hmmmm….more to ponder. xo!

  32. Thank you for sharing your experience in such a raw and honest way! I can perfectly envision the spinning in circles you had to endure when that job offer came in- but it seems that one of the most important things you’ve learned in this special journey of yours is to recognize and honor your gut instinct. Not always an easy task, I know. I do believe that when we bet for what deeply feels right for us it will eventually follow. This takes some good attention sometimes, keeping it all in the balance. I know what it’s like to live on limited resources and feel guilty for not grasping at every opportunity to make money that comes my way- but I also know that if I spend my energy doing things because it feels like an obligation, resentment grows and I begin to lose sight of my direction. Cheers to M for standing by your side and supporting this wild ride you’re on. Sounds like a true friend.

    1. Exactly right, Gita! I’ve noticed the same too — when I take on projects solely for the sake of paying the bills or out of obligation, I feel completely depleted. I do feel lucky to have my family support and feel even luckier that I can mull over these things because for so many people I know that the choices are far more limited. So lovely to see your comment! I hope your teaching position is going well πŸ™‚

      1. Thanks, Sanae! Just finished my job teaching English to public primary schoolers- always fun and a great learning experience, but tiring at the end of the day. Now I’m looking forward to some lazy improvised summer days with my little one. Hope your summer kicks off with a good start!

  33. I love your blog. (“My blog may not be popular.”) Popularity is not everything. Your content is so good. I come back again and again for the words. So many blogs these days don’t have really good writing. I love your sewing adventures and your painting. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks so much Elisa – so kind! I’m guessing that with social media on the rise, attention spans are shrinking, which probably leads to less words on blogs and maybe less effort put into the words themselves? For me, it’s mainly about writing, so I appreciate your comment all the more!

  34. Hello Sanae! I stumbled on your blog and hung around because I love your posts. Out of curiosity I clicked on About and read about you and thought, wow this resonates with me, maybe we can be friends –but I thought I shouldn’t say hi, wouldn’t she already have lots of fan mails? (inner ramble ramble)… Then, I read this post. There is a twist of deep seated empathy mixed with joy to read that you are well in spite of the other things of life that can weigh you down. And that job offer, oh. I understand that. Please press on and do what you do, you are an inspiration. I hope to one day meet you and hit off, yak alot and become dependable friends.

    1. Thank you so, so much Ruth! Your comment means the world to me and please know that “lots of fan mail” is a very foreign concept to me. I have received a small number of kind emails, but the chirps of crickets reverberate in my in-box. πŸ™‚ I hope we can meet one day too! I visited Singapore many moons ago, and I remember being in awe of the clean, bustling city. Your shop looks lovely, and hey, maybe we can collaborate in the future!! πŸ™‚

      1. Wow! You reply too!! keke^^ so super nice to hear back from you. Yes, let’s! Let’s do it just for fun. Maybe an illustration collaboration of sorts based on a topic/theme for the season (maybe your season, since it’s just hot and sunny, or wet and humid around here).

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