Mishmash of Thoughts on 2015 + Happy 2016!



2015 is about to end, and I’m full of nostalgia already. This has been a year of so many magnificent firsts — I’ve mentioned them relentlessly at this point, so I will spare you the replay. Will 2016 top the surreal awesomeness that was this year? I can’t wait to find out.

The rose illustration you see up there is one of my favorites that I’ve done in the last 12 months. It’s a departure from my usual style, with more dimension and a botanical painting vibe. I want to do a whole lot more with the series that I created (there are about 10 flowers in total).

Ah, but that “want”. It’s one of the things I noticed as a recurring theme this year. I publicly announced so many things I hoped to accomplish, and don’t get me wrong, I got a lot done but I left far more than I was comfortable with undone. That was my biggest challenge — to find peace with incompletion, to not beat myself up. I hate hate hate not following through, and I feel like so many of my promises to myself and others fell to the wayside. Things like my grand aspirations to sew up jeans and a stylish grown-up wardrobe, to devote serious energy into an online shop (I’ve sold 2 items to date and have stalled on adding more items), completing the custom illustrations (it’s been over a year, for shame), providing monthly income reports, etc. etc. These are not mission critical tasks by any stretch of the imagination, but few things feel worse for me than letting myself and others down.

It’s made me a lot more cautious about what I declare as goals. And I’ve also learned that I have to be careful about talking about money issues here on the blog. Not everyone on the interwebs is kind as I was sad to discover first-hand, and I need to beef up my emotional armor a bit more should I choose to resume sharing financial information. I’ve been very open and in-depth with the Furoku members about the behind-the-scenes aspects, where it feels like a very safe arena. I think we all need spaces like that. Even though I’m always riddled with self-doubt, I believe that little membership is one of the best things I’ve come up with. It’s pushed me to become more honest, to try new illustration styles (the rose illustration at the top was created for one of the monthly offerings), to get out of my comfort zone and attempt new things. I feel like I’m a slightly better version of myself as a result.

I’m aware, however, that the blog is getting the short shrift since I’ve been pouring so much of myself into the membership and books. I keep hearing that blogs are dying — do you think so? I feel like I’ve asked this before, but at the time it still seemed like blogs were thriving. Because I didn’t want to become too influenced by anyone while I was working on my books, I stopped visiting other blogs for a good year. Now that I’m starting to pick up where I left off, I’ve noticed that many of my favorite bloggers have either stopped or dramatically reduced their content. Or they’ve become much more commercialized. Or just…different. I suppose the same could be said of mine, and really, change could be a good sign.

I very much wanted to give myself a lovely new handmade wardrobe and had pumped myself up that this would be what the blog would focus on for 2015. But I made a total of 7 items. 7! And I’m sort of cheating because I made one of the tops (Renfrew) in 2014 but had never blogged about it. Almost everything I made was blue, and I didn’t count the muslins for my jeans. I suspect there are some psychological reasons I’ve resisted sewing for myself, because I somehow managed to find time to sew for K even when it was sure to result in sleep deprivation. A sure sign of commitment. The good news is that almost every single thing I made for myself has been in heavy rotation — the Nani Iro stripey top in particular (4th from left) is starting to look threadbare from constant wear:



Linen Top

Renfrew Bamboo Knit Top

Nani Iro Top #1 and Nani Iro Top #2

Romper and Strappy Tank 

Knit Dress with Keyhole back

Anyhow, onto 2016! I don’t have any sweeping or specific goals for this shiny new year. I still love to blog, I still love to write and sew and paint and make stuff in general, and I hope I’ll be able to do all that and more for the foreseeable future. The intrinsic rewards trump any insecurities I may be experiencing and it’s my answer to the ubiquitous Mary Oliver quote I keep bumping into: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I’m not much of a poetry gal, but I got her latest book, Felicity, and the last line in her poem “Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way” caught my attention recently: “The point is, you’re you, and that’s for keeps.”

So simple, yet so true. Brava, Ms. Oliver! I love how unpretentious and relatable her language is.



I’m wishing you all a 2016 in which you get to be spectacularly you!


P.S. Furoku members! The next edition is aimed to hit your in-boxes at 11:59pm tonight (or, you know, possibly on New Year’s Day).

16 thoughts on “Mishmash of Thoughts on 2015 + Happy 2016!

  1. I think you’ve had a very busy year trying to accomplish a lot of stuff, and you have. I think goals are good as it helps us focus. However, Life also happens and doesn’t stand still, so I am sure you’ve had things happen to you/at you that you’ve managed/accomplished that you hadn’t planned on!

    I hope to do a end of the year post too before the day is over. We shall see! Speaking of which, are blogs dead? I don’t think they are as people who have had them still go back to them whenever they have more to say that is beyond a few lines! Technology is making people jump to try to keep up with the latest craze but I keep thinking – content, is there enough substance?

    Mary Oliver’s is my favourite line in poem EVER, and many people love it too. It really speaks straight to the heart. I have said in my stitching blog years ago that I want to make a sampler out of it and hang it on my wall. It’s on my to-do list!

    Happy New Year to you, Sanae! I am looking forward to your new book coming out in April – maybe in time for my birthday too!

    1. Happy New Year to you too, Melissa! I think a sampler of Mary Oliver’s quote would be lovely :-). I do hope blogs aren’t dead as I enjoy not only keeping one, but perusing others’ too.

      I’m looking forward to the unfurling of 2016. I feel like I’ve overcome a lot of hurdles in 2015 and am full of hope that I’m better prepared for bigger, scarier, more challenging things. Bring it, I say!

  2. Love your honest (as always) musings on your successes and so-called “failures” this year. Typically we women are our own worst critics, as when I look at all you’ve done this year, especially with the book work, I am blown away by your year and its productivity! You are a wonder-woman to me on so many levels, and I have the watercolor portraits and a delightful children’s book on my coffee table to prove it! I am so glad that you continue to blog despite not having as much time to do so. I would surely miss your delightful stories, beautiful watercolors and stunning garment making. So this serves as a heartfelt thank you as well: for taking the time and energy during a very busy 2015 to allow us a peek into your life.
    And that watercolor with the Mary Oliver quote is just too perfect! One of my favs!

    1. Lucinda! For 3 1/2 years, I’ve groaned and moaned publicly about all of my shortcomings and you’ve consistently and sweetly remained so positive and encouraging from the very start. It’s such an honor to be able to call you a friend. You’re a treasure!

  3. I think that sometimes self-imposed goals and resolutions can become a burden, creating a sense of failure if you fail to meet your own expectations. By anyone’s reckoning you have achieved so much this year, and inspired many with your beautiful writings, illustrations and creations.

    As for social media, I am concerned by our tendency to shrink content into smaller and smaller bites. I love immersing myself in blog posts about people’s thoughts and creative processes, and seeing the photographs that accompany them. Instagram is nice, but it has its limitations. So please do keep blogging!

    1. I’m pro-level when it comes to self-created burdens, Marisa! It’s a tricky balance: knowing how blessed I am just as things are, but also wanting very much to strive to improve.

      I hear you on the social media front. I’m not at all opposed to the sound-bitey, quick jolt of fun that Instagram and all the other social media platforms offer, but I’m a big fan of the wandering, exploratory and more involved (in a good way) nature of blogging.

  4. Hauoli Makahiki Hou! Thank you for sharing so much of your life on your blog! Forget the financial reports to us—I would much rather you continue with your stories, illustrations and projects. You only have so much time so do what feels good!

    1. Hauoli Makahiki Hou to you too, Li! I love learning new ways to say Happy New Year! Those dang financial reports…where it really causes problems is at home, whenever my husband reads them and is reminded of how little money I’m making. My “career” is taking its sweet old time to gain traction, but am I crazy to believe that it’s going to work out? Don’t answer that. I’m going to keep trying!

  5. I can relate so much to all your thoughts. I run such a tiny business, totally dependent on what I can make in a week. I have to learn to figure out how to live with these limitations as to how to “grow” it. I think about it everyday, but now I am trying to figure out how to accept it. I am a one man team.

    But, I never stop having ideas for all your talent. FABRIC!!! Notepaper. I do not know what Lotta Jansdottir does but I see her work everywhere and she and her family spend the summers playing in her home of Scandinavia!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, working smarter must be part of the answer. I don’t know.

    1. Haha! A friend told me once that she thought I could be the next Lotta Jansdotter and I nearly spewed out my drink. Them’s big aspirations. I agree about the working smarter approach. It’s definitely something I need to work on because I truly can’t burn the midnight oil anymore without my body falling apart, so I’ve got to get brainier!!!

      I’m now learning the struggles of a small business just like you — and I’m constantly faced with that question of how do I grow a business? Or I keep asking myself more frequently, “Do I REALLY want to grow a business? Is that even something I want to/can do?” We should have a pow-wow together! Thanks, Greta!

  6. I think the process is more important than the results. Of course you want to have milestones and goals, and everyone is going to miss some, but the main thing is that you’re moving in the right direction, at a good pace, and you can maintain what you’re doing.

    Yeah, I think the golden era of blogging as a source of income was about 10-15 years ago. Same with freelance article writing, which is what I used to do. The scene is too crowded now, and there is too much noise from people who are bad at writing, but good at working the search engines and saturating people with mediocre articles/posts with catchy titles.

    I think this blog is good for someone like you though, because you can use it to give yourself, and your other projects, more exposure. Plus you seem to enjoy it, right?

    Anyway, Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you Paul! I’ve never actually thought the blog would become a source of income, and quite frankly I’m astounded that I have any members at all through the Furoku, which is partly supporting the blog. My heart thuds with anxiety every month when I press “send”, but I’ve learned so much, it’s been amazing. In many ways, the Furoku makes me feel the way my blog did in the very early stages.

      That said, I totally agree that the blog is good for me — it’s a wonderful outlet for my obvious need to talk about myself and share the projects that no one in my real life cares about ;-). Seriously, though, it’s something that feels so natural and right for me, and I wish I had discovered it sooner.

      And yes!! Process over results, always. I’m excited to see what new processes I’ll come up with, and to see how I’ll change and grow, if at all. I’m wishing you a thought-provoking and rewarding 2016, Paul!

  7. You are inspiring to me in your honesty and genuineness! I do hope blogs don’t die because I would miss them. I have been avidly watching your financial endeavors because I think you are striking a good balance between promoting your business and not commercializing your blog.
    Whatever happens in the new year it will be sure to be full!

    1. Em! Thank you for such kind words – I don’t know if I’m striking the balance but I’m learning a lot, for sure. Yes, I think 2016 will be very full, and I hope in the best way possible for you and me both!! 🙂

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