How to Take Back Your Life When Life Dishes Bullsh*t

Yes, there may be a way to take back your life in chunks

I can still remember the very first dress I had custom-made by a local dressmaker.

It was the cutest white leopard print silkie (that is, polyester posing as silk) dress with cutaway shoulders that skimmed lovingly over my 19-year-old curves. I looked and felt smashing in that dress. And I proudly wore it with yellow pantyhose. Don’t judge! It was the 80’s!

It was this dress that aroused my first interest in the craft of sewing.

Back then, I wanted to sew my own clothes, so I could unleash my inner Doris Day. But I lacked the confidence or commitment or both to follow through. It wasn’t until many decades later when my skull was invaded by the brain tumor from hell that I decided life was too short to make choices based on a lack of confidence or resources.

So I dusted off the layers of cobwebs from my old desire and my old Janome 415 sewing machine. And I immersed myself in everything sewing-related. In the process of teaching myself to sew I learned something truly amazing:

Deep concentration gave me my life back.

When I’m in the flow of sewing, I can totally forget that I have a chronic illness and the uncomfortable fugliness of it all. Fact is, my 24/7 physical symptoms become mute the deeper I concentrate on sourcing high-quality fabrics with sensuous textures, in stunning hues, or with show-stopping prints; prepping the fabric for cutting; fitting the pattern to my curves; pinning and cutting out the pattern pieces; transferring the pattern markings; and sewing the most perfect stitches or gathers or installing a truly invisible zipper.

Yes, it’s during these periods of deep concentration I get my life — me — back.

Today, I’m still truly, madly, and deeply in love with the art of sewing. Over the years, I’ve completed many sewing projects. Frankly, too many were dismal failures — so much beautiful fabric has been sacrificed.

But I’ve had more than a few successes too where I’ve even gotten to do my “happy dressmaker’s” dance. Plus, I get to proudly flaunt a custom-made, insanely pretty dress. And then I get to step onto the red carpet of my life wearing something I, Janine, brought to life with my own two hands in spite of this damn, damn brain tumor.

Bottom line:

Whether a project is a failure or a success, the simple act of engagement in the craft of sewing gives me back my life in large chunks.

So if you’re struggling with or against something — anything — that’s sucking the joy, peace, and sanity out of your life and you’re looking for a “lifejacket” to save yourself, then I encourage you to find your thing — for example, a hobby.

… think back to the years before you grew up.

Can’t think of anything that would fling you into the flow? Well, here’s one suggestion: Get quiet. Think back to the years before you grew up. What activities did you enjoy and stopped because you “grew up” and had “serious” things to accomplish? I bet, there’s something buried in your past.

And if there isn’t, just choose something that you dreamed of doing or seems interesting and go for it. You never know, you may just fall into the flow and in love.

These days, sewing and writing are my saviors. And I thank whoever or whatever that I have found activities that make being chronically uncomfortable in my body and the social chaos and overwhelm of life bearable.

Yes, if you’re struggling in a body or a life that’s doing everything in its power to steal your joy, your peace, even your sanity, I encourage you to find that thing that you can do or learn to do — and attempt to save yourself even if it’s only in chunks.


4 thoughts on “How to Take Back Your Life When Life Dishes Bullsh*t”

  1. I am retired, and I love it! But there are times when I feel as if something is missing. You have given me food for thought. I am dusting off these cobwebs from my brain. I believe there is something there that will give me pleasure and help me to reinvent myself and come alive again.


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