Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - A Turning Point

Hello, lovely readers! I've noticed I have gained new followers this month - thank you kindly for supporting this blog as I've voiced my doubt about continuing, but more on that in a bit.  Well, I'm so excited to kiss this year goodbye! This will be a long post which I haven't done for sometime but it definitely comes from my heart. I've organized it into sections so you can jump past any topics as you wish to!
First of to set the stage, I must tell you what's been happening to me this year and then the rest will (hopefully) make more sense. 

(1) Your Money or Your Life.  We've all heard the expression and as I've grown older and wiser (ahem) I can certainly appreciate what that means. You work, you make money but there is little time to enjoy your life. The idea is that you make money while you can, and play when you retire. Well, I think we all know that this traditional mindset applies less and less in this fast changing (and downward declining) economy.

I am self-employed and have been able to work with two large sized clients for the last ten years or so. I've always been asked back by one of the other so even if there's been small gaps in work that was ok, I was still working. However, in the last couple of years the work has been dwindling. The face of the working world (literally, as a lot of my clients have retired or been downsized) has changed so that I have found myself being nudged aside by perhaps younger and let's face it, cheaper resources. That was the case back in May and I've been a woman of leisure since.

At first, I relished having the summer off and playing in the garden. I thought perhaps in the fall, as was typical, there may be work again.  However, this time around, it was all quiet except for the rustling leaves. I did talk to someone (a recruiter) about going back to work again but then I realized "I'm done." I couldn't imagine facing the corporate working world again, the tremendous stress that I went through in my last contract and many of my old colleagues are still going through. 

The long and short of it is  - I'm retired. At least I am retired from my previous work life and now the world is open to me to seek something new. I have no idea what it will be but I think I've finally admitted to myself that that old door is now closed, both pulled from the other side and kept closed on my side. So, lemonade anyone? Lemon Cake? Limoncello? Yes, when life hands you lemons...

2013 was a surprising turning point for me. I never would've imagined this. There are other elements too that made it a tough year but I think I will keep those to myself for now as they involve other people. So I am actually grateful that what happened to my career happened, and that I feel open to new possibilities. 2014, as my calendar above states, will be Living in Gratitude. 

(2) Enough words, onto some stitching!  I've created a new page above (see header) with all my 2013 stitching. You can see it here too.  

Yesterday I spent a lot of time with my scissors, fabric and sewing machine. I started to prepare some linens for my New Year's start! I also hauled out a lot of my smalls so that I start doing the handwork in January. Here's a snapshot of some of the pieces. 
One of the things I've had to adjust to not being able to buy things with the snap of my fingers! lol. But you know, we've all said to about our stash, there's more there than we could ever stitch so I am lucky to be able to finally stitch a lot of things that I've been squirreling away for my "retirement days". 

(3) Books - paper books, audio books, e-books...I love the written word. By the end of today I will have read and/or listened to 125 books this year! 
This is just a sampling of books.  

I have a lot of cookbooks. The one new one that I bought this year is Homemade with Love by Jennifer Perillo. I just love her cooking. What sold the book for me, when I first borrowed it from the library, was the chocolate scone recipe! Then I saw there was enough to admire that I bought my own copy. 

Fiction - thank goodness for the library or my life would be sadder and poorer for it. My favourite this year has to be The Rosie Project, which I've mentioned on my blog earlier this year. You see I've purchased my own copy. I've noticed I have purchased more e-books too which has astonished me.  The other book you see above called Three Souls, was given to me by a friend. Her friend is the author and this is her debut novel. I thought it was quite good and wanted to mention it here. 

I have read so many good books this year I feel so rich! I am on Goodreads though I have not been very active with making friends, etc. If you are there, look me up. (not sure if the link will work, let me know if it doesn`t).

The other two things in the photo are A Fine Romance by Susan Branch, and my set of Downton Abbey seasons 1-3 which just arrived today (notice the shrink-wrap is still on)!  Yes, I have missed all of the hoopla with Downton and have only started watching it this month via a library loan. Well, those discs were so worn they skipped and I saw this deal on Amazon after Christmas, so they are mine to watch at my leisure. However, I should watch them all soon as I understand Season 4 will launch soon.

(4) Isn't this the longest blog post ever? Yes, absolutely. That's also why I am thinking of starting another blog, one that's more for my writing, introspection, new discoveries, poems I like, art that I want to explore etc.  I think trying to fit everything here is too snug a fit. So, I shall see, but have no fear, I will keep this blog going and it will continue to have a stitching focus. 

I had mentioned I took a 6 week art course from a neighbour in May 2012. I had so much fun with it. Here is a couple of photos of my artwork. 

The class focused on some sketching and a lot of watercolour. I would take it again but, unfortunately, this woman has moved away so I must try and find another class. Meanwhile I want to get into a habit of doing some "art play" on my own. 

(5) Finally, THE END. It has taken me almost 2 hours to compose this post. I had actually made notes of all the things I've wanted to say first!  I feel I can cross another thing off my list.  And now I must away and get more things done before I kick back and sip bubbly all evening!  I will visit your blogs later and admire all your year-end reviews! 

I want to thank you all for your support throughout the year. I don't always reply, and I will repeat this once again, I can't comment on a lot of blogs. If your blog is on my Blogroll, I read it even if you never hear a peep from me. 

I'm sending you all a big hug and Best Wishes for a Healthy & Happy 2014! I am feeling sentimental and I haven't even started drinking yet! ;-)  Julius and Daisy are sending purri-hugs too.  !!! See you next year !!!


Barb said...

I will be going back to see all your work for the year. I hope this year will be wonderful for you. Some of the best things in my life have happened during times of change, change that I resisted. Thanks for the book suggestions. I will check my very good library for them.

Mary said...

A lovely post Melissa. I think our blogs are another outlet for communication and community in a world which is rapidly becoming so very commercial. I hope 2014 will bring you health, happiness and contentment and that whatever you do will bring you joy.

Carol said...

I think your decision to retire is a wise one, Melissa. Life is to short to spend in a career you aren't loving. I know something will find you that will make full use of your many talents!! Maybe volunteer somewhere and see if it feels "right?"

I'm so impressed with your book count--maybe you should become a librarian :) I just love Susan Branches books, too (of course--they are filled with hundreds of tiny illustrations!!). Will have to check out her latest one. I hope you will love Downton as much as I do--I've watched the 1st season three times!!

I hope that 2014 will bring you much happiness, dear Melissa. It will be exciting to see where your path leads you :)

Margaret said...

I know this has been a hard year for you, Melissa. I'm glad you are ready to move on and find new horizons. I hope 2014 brings you much joy and inspiration and fun. 125 books -- wow! That is quite a number! I think I would have read more except for the distraction of tennis. lol! I loved the Rosie Project! I'm so glad you recommended it! I had to wait for it to come out in the US, but once it did, I leaped on it! I always love seeing all your stitching. You have some beautiful pieces waiting for finishing too. Love your artwork too. I'm afraid of water colors. The best I've ever done was pencil sketching. All the best in the New Year for you and your family!

marly said...

Best wishes for a wonderful 2014! Love your last two finishes in the prior post.

WoolenSails said...

I hope you and your family have many blessings in the new year.


Anne said...

Oh Melissa! I know it's been a hard year in regards to work and whatnot. I'm so pleased you have officially retired and can enjoy all the wonderful delights that life can offer. We should get together in the new year for some tea and some chatting! I'm amazed at how many books you have read! 125?!! Well done! I love your watercolours too. It's something I've dabbled in and have even painted a red onion and a pansy like you, however, not as nice. Gorgeous BBD smalls you have stitched up. Can't wait to see them all finished. Love your previous two finishes as well. Snuggles to Daisy and Julius. All the best in the new year and have a wonderful time tonight! Hugs


Sharon said...

2013 was definitely a monumental year for you. Congrats on the retirement and I think it's amazing the 125 books you have read. I wish I could say the same. I also love your artwork and I hope you will find another class soon.

You had some awesome stitching this past year and now hopefully you will get to concentrate on more projects and continue to inspire us all.

Vonna, The Twisted Stitcher said...

I'm so sorry to read about your door closing...that's tough to chew and harder to swallow. But in my experience God doesn't close a door without opening a window. A very wise man told me once, "Whatever happens, happens for the best.." and you may not see it now, but there's a rainbow waiting for you around the bend! You are a gorgeously talented stitcher and your watercolors and sketches speak another level of talent. May 2014 bring you all your heart desires and blessings abundant!

Catherine said...

Great post of reflection and looking forward. 2013 was a tough one for many ~ I for one, am looking forward to what 2014 holds ~ best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful 2014!

Annette-California said...

I wish you ALL the best for 2014 Melissa. Soo sorry you went thru what you did but now you've changed it for the better - your retired. your samplers are soo pretty and your paintings you did are lovely.
Happy New Year - love Annette

Cath said...

A great post Melissa, thanks for sharing.
Happy New Year , hope it brings whatever you wish for xxx

Erica said...

Hi Melissa,
The same thing happenned to me, First the work was scarce, then dwindled to nothing, I found myself retired without even realizing it!

It did a number on my confidence, but now I am trying to re-invent myself, not for the workplace so much as for me!

Vickie said...

Good for you and your lemonade!!
May God richly bless you in this coming year!

Melody said...

Nice post. I hope the New Year is a good one for you. Glad to read that you are embracing retirement!

Andrea said...

Wish I could retire ... on the eve of me going back to work after 8 days off. :(

I wish you well, if you can retire, do it, enjoy life.

Looking forward to your stitching in 2014.

Ann at Beadlework. said...

A lovely retrospective post Melissa. I think it would be good if you could keep going with one blog and include all the other bits in it as well. Speaking personally, I enjoy seeing a mix of things on blogs - it makes for a more interesting visit.

Brigitte said...

Oh Melissa, what a great post this is. I love you turn your life into a new direction that will give you a lot of motivation and inspiration for the future, no matter what the future will bring you.

But you have already seen what the immediate future will bring you and you show it here so wisely. So, welcome to the club, lol.

Stitching and reading and crafts and arts will make you very happy. And let's face it - we don't need to buy new stash every week or month. Like you say, if we aren't beginners in the stitching field we have enough stash for several lifetimes, lol.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you turn your wonderful stitched pieces into. Whtat a great start of 2014.

I wish you all the best for the New Year, health and happiness over all.

barbara said...

It certainly has been a year of (self) discovery! Here's to all that we've learned in 2013 coming to fruition in 2014. Best wishes!!!

Giovanna said...

I hope you will have a great 2014. Your 2013 are just wonderful.

Joanie said...

Happy New Year, Melissa! I wish you all the best in 2014. Watch your mail...a RAK is coming your way from me!

Linda said...

I enjoyed this post!
You are a fabulous stitcher, writer, and now, you can add, watercolor painter to the list! I have some new watercolor paints here and want to try it out (for the first time). I will just be "playing" until I can figure out if I want to pursue it further.

I retired three years ago. After working in offices forever, and then working at the library for 10 years, I just decided I was done. Did not want to face going back to the corporate world! Now if I could find something I would love doing, I would consider working again. But for now, I'm very content here at home and hope you will be too!

Linda in VA

Penny said...

A wonderful post, Melissa! It can be hard to find your way through when life changes, but it sounds like you have a good handle on things. You are a very talented lady and I'm glad to hear that you aren't leaving the blogging world. :) I wish you and your family all the very best for the coming year!

Introverted Art said...

but Melissa, you said some very nice things here... especially about work. things have been so crazy, less money more pressure, really insane.

Rowyn said...

Wow, you accomplished lots of beautiful stitching in 2013 Melissa.

I hope 2014 will be a better year for you.

Lisa M said...

Just a follower to say I'm glad you've decided to keep blogging. Your stitching is so pretty.

Sounds like your retirement process while the right thing to do - but scary!

I love to read too and am an active member on LibraryThing, not so active of Goodreads but I do have an account. I LOVED the Rosie Project and my copy has been floating around being passed on to family and friends I don't care if I never get the copy back I'm glad others are reading and enjoying it. Reading is the best hobby it's free (because of libraries etc) and so portable.

Karoline said...

I hope you have a very enjoyable retirement and that 2014 is everything you want it to be

Maggee said...

The economy tanking has really done harm despite what the politicians say! I look forward to seeing some great finishes! And I will pray that your New Year is a great one! Hugs!

Cari-in-VA said...

I loved reading your post, Melissa! I have been out of the blogging world the last couple of years, but am determined to get back into it again! So good to see what's going on in your life - love your watercoulours! Happy New Year!

Lynn said...

Melissa, I truly hope 2014 is a much brighter and better year for you. I'm glad you are enjoying your retirement even if it was forced. There are often times I think that I should go back but I don't think I could face the stress anymore. It was all consuming.

Beautiful work on your watercolours! I hope you do continue with this.

Glad you stuck with the blogging too. I am so inspired with your finishes! I managed to continue posting this past year but I really fell behind in visiting blogs. I think I'm going to have to review my blogroll and cut it back somewhat.

Beth said...

We all have to reassess what is truly important once and a while. Health certain tops the list as does time for one's self and to share with others.

Introverted Art said...

HI Melissa, the Women's Circle Traveling Art Journal is going to start soon. Since you would like to participate and we would love to have you participate, stop by the blog to check the details!!!

Suzanne said...

I hope 2014 bring you much happiness and many new opportunities!

Your stitching accomplishments are amazing and you're very talented with the watercolours.

Joysze said...

I so understand where you're coming from on the job front. Change, whether chosen or forced upon, are never easy. I always see them as God leading me to something new and exciting. Scary, yes, but ultimately fulfilling.

I love your art pieces. You are so talented. I wish I could draw.

Wishing you all the blessings and joy you deserve for 2014. *hugs!*

Chocolates4Breakfast (TerriBoog) said...

I hope you are enjoying your retirment, Melissa. It sounds like you're at peace with it and not nearly as stressed as you have been earlier in the year. I am so happy for you about that.
I love your stitching (of course, when don't I?) and your watercolors are wonderful! YAY for you for trying something new.

Barbi said...

Hi Melissa! I've added you as a friend on Good reads, I hope that was ok :)