Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Brace Yourself, It's a Long One

Today’s post is in a very different tenor than most and is completely devoid of pictures and full of words, a lot them. {Just giving you fair warning.} I’m going to try to do away with some of the blog informalities I am so fond of--all the brackets and dot, dot, dots--and share a story with you. How I share my own spirituality is this venue is often guarded or sporadic. When I was in college, I lived with a friend who was ardent and unabashed in her proclamation of her faith, and we had the verses painted on sheets and tacked to the side of the house to prove it. While her passion was commendable, I always felt like she discouraged more than she won. This, right or wrong, most undoubtedly shapes how I share my faith, especially with strangers. Nonetheless, I really felt the Lord prompting that it was time to share this story.

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If you were to meet me in person, you would probably think that I am small, or more aptly, thin. I am not waifish, but I am not heavy either. We have taken to reading Frog and Toad stories to Aidan before bed. There is one particularly story where Toad is dreaming that Frog is changing sizes. When Toad wakes up, he asks Frog, “Are you your own right size?” To which Frog answers, “Yes, I think so.” That is how I would describe it. I am “my own right size.” It’s funny, though, because some people have made assumptions that I don’t know what it might be like to struggle with weight or self-image when this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

When I was only 13 years old, I started to hear thoughts in my mind and embrace them as my own, never taking inventory if they were true or worth thinking. After all, I was only 13. Mostly these thoughts were negative about myself and my size, that I was essentially too big. At the time, I really was small, so I don’t see how I could have thought that, but still I did. So, as soon as I was in high school, I was always worried about my weight. I was always trying some fad diet: low fat diet, grapefruit diet, Hollywood diet, Atkins diet, cabbage soup diet. {Can’t help but cringe at that last one.} I remember from very early on thinking depreciating thoughts about myself any time I was getting dressed or caught a glimpse of my shape. I remember trying very hard to eat only 500 calories a day the weeks before my sixteenth birthday. But all those diets were unsuccessful, and I gained weight gradually after each year. When I went to college I was a fairly normal size, maybe having a little bit of childish roundness to me still. But with college came the freshman fifteen and then some, and the voices and the dieting got much worse. I was either on some ridiculous, impractical diet or I was eating with reckless abandonment. I was desperate for a solution, scouring magazines for answers and exercising religiously--all to no avail. That’s when I started to adopt some very unhealthy habbits. I don’t want to go into specifics because they are humiliating and probably obvious; I had no control and was very frustrated. Even though my college years were a wonderful experience, every moment was still woven with that black thread of discontent from this part of myself that I just could not live in harmony with. One church service, I was feeling physically sick, burdened over this issue. Then, I heard God speak, both gentle and firm: I have so much more for you than this.

That’s when it occurred to me that I was leaving God completely out of it. Even though I was a very spiritual person, prayed and read my Bible consistently, I kept this issue separate. I don’t think it was intentional; I suppose I just figured that God didn’t really care about something so trivial, or worse that He would be disappointed that my heart was so invested in something so shallow. But the truth is that God is passionate about what captivates every human heart: mine, yours. So, I decided to let Him in, make Him a part of my thoughts, let Him fix it, though I had no idea how.

That’s when I decided that I wanted to be free of the slavery of impossible diets and bad habits and stepped out into the wilderness, metaphorically. I was trying to live in balance, eat when I was hungry and be happy, not listen to the destructive thoughts. But, what can I say, I was double-minded. Sometimes I was successful at that, but most often, I failed. I remember, after one particular failure, hearing an evening chapel service on God as a healer. I remember thinking, Healing? Did I need to be healed? I hadn’t even walked to the front before tears were streaming down my face, and I was mumbling all the while, it’s nothing, it’s nothing, it’s nothing. They listed to me and prayed for my struggle, and at the time I was surprised not to find judgment but compassion. Some of them told me much later that they continued to pray for me for months to follow. I wish I could say that in that instant I was better—healed. Instead it was almost 2 years of struggle. It was at its very worst the summer I taught English in China. I had vowed to myself that I would lose a significant amount of weight on the trip, even though that wasn’t really God’s way of doing things. Despite my aspirations, I wasn’t losing any weight, and as the trip came close to its end, I was increasingly desperate. I loathed myself for every single bite I took, then would sneak away to eat when no one was looking, hating myself. I was consumed and humiliated. I was reaching my very end, unable to handle the turmoil, the depreciating thoughts screaming at me in my head. I needed to escape them, even for a day. So I fasted, a spiritual fast, not to lose weight. I was worried that the kids in the program would notice my absence at meal time, but miraculously no one did. That night, after all the campers were asleep, I went upstairs and played praise songs on my guitar until almost 3 in the morning. {See, I’ve always been a night owl.} Finally, I went downstairs to sleep, but I was so restless. I heard these words, over and over again: You will always be like this. You will always struggle. This is the thorn in your side, my strength made perfect in weakness. I remember so acutely the horror of a lifetime of this; it was such a torturous thought that it wasn’t until around 5 in the morning that I finally fell asleep.

When I fell asleep, I had a dream. I was outside in a white stone building, much like those I had seen in Jerusalem. I had a broom in my hand, eyes down, sweeping away dried leaves. Suddenly He was coming, and all I saw was His feet, and I kneeled down to touch them.

I wish I could say that I woke up feeling better, but honestly, I still felt awful. The struggle was just as vehement as ever through the end of my stay there. A few weeks later, I left China, back home to Chicago, then back to college. But when I was back at school, I noticed that I was having a lot of good days. Just as in any struggle, there are good days and bad days. I was having a lot of good ones. In fact, all good ones. The realization came gradually that my mind wasn’t running round and round with those disparaging thoughts any more. I was living in harmony with food and with myself. Gradually, the weight started to come off too, though it wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t until a year later that I made the connection that when Satan attacked Jesus, he did it was Scripture. And I remembered the dream I had since forgotten and realized that God had healed me. Completely. Permanently. How? I don't know. God did it. I have no idea. Ann Lamott said it best when she said, “I know where I was and I know where I am now. And you just don’t get from here to there by any other way.” I never had the strength to just pull myself up, will myself into a better place. But I had enough strength to trust God and give it to Him. Now, here I am, 10 years and 2 pregnancies later, and all that turmoil has never resurfaced. I am smaller now than I ever was in college, smaller even than my freshman year of high school. I think, all-told, it was a difference of between 40 and 50 pounds. But I cannot stress enough, this is not a weight-loss story. This is a story of trusting God with a struggle, bringing it to Him, and believing He had good things for me.

The reason I took the time to type out this whole story today was because… well, I always think it’s good to encourage one another in faith, but also I share this because I got the strong impression that my story might help someone reading, someone I don’t really know. So, I am taking a risk and sharing a lot of myself and praying for this person, too.

If you made it all the way to the end, thank you for listening, so to speak. Oh, and I guess I couldn’t escape a little bit of my blog informalities after all…. ;)

“It is my joy to share with you, not just the good news, but my very life as well.” 1 Thess 2:8

Blessings.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Something New

Remember when I said I had something new for women to show you--an idea you probably haven't seen before? Well, I'm finally getting around to taking a picture. I'm so excited about these my hands are a little shaky, but... umm... I think that might just be the Red Bull. It started with the shoes pictured below, on the Anthropologie website.


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They are called Camellia Espadrilles. They retail for $368, and they are so popular that they are sold out. I don't know what it is about fucshia... it's not the most practical of colors, but I'm drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Anyway, I like the concept of the huge bright flower, but at that price tag, even if it was within my budget, it's not exactly something for everyday. So, I came up with this unique concept instead.
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I designed these shoe accessories. They have a t-strap made of cork that is backed with organic cotton. The ties are vintage seam binding. The concept is fairly simple. They have a small clear elastic loop that the middle toe slips into, and they stay quite securely and comfortably in place by tying them around the ankles. The idea is that you can take any shoes: peep toe, round toe, simple pumps or pointed toe in a neutral color and add this accessory. I used a pair of wedge sandals {currently available here at Target}, but most women who own high heels probably already have something in her closet that would work. I have a lot more designs: fringe, poppies, billowy chiffon for weddings. I wish I could just create new designs all day.
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As it is, I am so busy... much, much, much too busy. In fact, I am probably going to close for a bit. I was just contacted about some very good online press, so I'm hesitant. I hate to lose out on a press opportunity, but, at the same time, I'm try to stay low on the radar.

Back to the concept above, I'd really love your help with a name... "t-straps" "shoe accessory"... I can't think of anything good, though I haven't invested a considerable amount of time trying. I made another design in brown and green, too. You can see those pictures here and here. So, not only do I have a couple of these new shoe accessories made, I also have more designs in baby shoes to post, but... honestly, I feel so overwhelmed right now. Hopefully, I'll get miraculously caught up. Have a lovely Tuesday!
Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

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Hello, friends. I feel like I have fallen off the face of blog world for a little while. I'm just busy--too much so, honestly. I have a few pictures to share with you from Easter holiday at my parents' house. I meant to take more of the rest of the family, but filled up my memory card chasing around Aidan. He looked so adorable in this little green hat, but would not let me take his picture. As it was, I think I had one foot in the pool trying to get a decent angle in the picture above. Here are a few more from our family gathering.

My dad and "the girls," Mia and Ella Bella. Two of the three grandchildren. This was the best picture, as Mia was picking her nose in all the other ones. *snicker*
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Mia and I in the sunshine.
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My brother Myles with Mia. There are 4 children in my family; I am the oldest. We are all abour 5 years apart. I am 30, Ryan is 25, Myles is 20, and Johnny is 15. Myles is a sophomore in college and a brilliant artist and mathematician. He discovered a formula while he was assisting his professor. I think it has something to do with differential equations, and that they are getting it published. Math is so not my thing, I don't even know how to describe what he's doing. But we are proud of him!
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Mia, always beautiful with her big brown eyes.
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Mia and I... we actually matched. I found this great vintage-looking cream dress at Anthropologie for $48, perfect with my shoes from Ruche. I had all these aspirations of making a dress and shoes for Mia, but instead she wore an old dress {size 3-6 months} and little leather sandals I got at a thrift store that barely fit. Like I said, at least we matched. :)
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Some random pictures, Myles teaching Mia how to drink water from my parents' fountain in the front yard. {Aren't brother's the best??} My dad teaching Aidan how to use an enormous squirt gun. That picture is the epitome of my dad. {When we were little we used to go to this restaraunt called the Squire that always served a bowl of popcorn. My dad taught us to shoot it out our noses. My mom loved that.} Robert by the pool trying not to act like he hates when I take his picture. Aidan eating his 3rd cupcake.

I hope you had a lovely holiday with family.

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"I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us." Anne Lamott

Happy Easter. He is risen indeed!
Monday, April 6, 2009

Michele's Visit

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This is my good friend, Michele, who came flew down from Michigan, where we used to live, to visit for a few days. We were in a very close married couples small group for almost 5 years. Even as I type that, I feel a looming sadness. I don't know if it's having little kids or just life, but our little group was so close and real. We don't have that kind of fellowship right now, and I truly miss it.

Houston isn't exactly a destination city, but we did plan some fun things to do. We went to a spa. I've never had a facial before, so I didn't know that they wash your feet first, then the arm and foot massage and the warm towels. *sigh* Nice. We also went to a comedy club, shopping, lunch, and a cooking class. We went to see the blue bells {more details to follow}. But the best part by far was the conversation. I have known Michele for almost a decade now, and it was nice just to talk, whether it was faith, marriage, kids, books, hopes, disappointments, movies... whatever. We talk freely and openingly and {in my case} incessantly. At any rate, it was so nice to see her.

I warned Michele that I would be snap happy with pictures. I actually wanted to take a lot more, since I'm still figuring out this camera, but didn't want to freak her out either. Speaking of pictures, part of our trip was to Brenham to see the blue bonnets {though I forever want to call them blue bells.}

Our trip was little bit like a comedy of errors, leaving much too late in the day and arriving with the kiddos super upset and cranky... not finding anything of interest and driving about only to find ourself along side beautiful, rolling fields of flowers... all fenced and private. There were minature ponys, which we missed, a winey, which was closed, and some sort of flower emporium, but we got lost.

We finally came to a field of blue bells... er, bonnets, that didn't have a gate, so we started taking pictures. I was adjusting my camera, when I noticed a burning sensation creeping up my leg... fire ants from the huge pile of them I stepped in. Then, what I can only assume was the owner of the property came out and watched us, threateningly moving slowly down the hill. The sun was too bright, Aidan stepped in prickers, and it was time to go, after a mere 5 minutes. I never got the shot I wanted. Sadly, this was the best one, they were all so over exposed.

Mia looks happy, though, pre prickers and fire ants.
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We drove around some more to go to a park with trails, per a local's recommendation. The trails didn't seem to go anywhere and there weren't too many flowers. The sun was slipping down the sky and the kids were getting tired; we walked a little among the fields before we headed back for home. I did get a few more pictures. Mia at an interesting angle.
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And this picture of the kiddos. I love Aidan's passionate embrace of Mia. He loves her in such a rough and tumble and very boyish sort of way.
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Mia at sunset in the pink wild flowers.
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Another one of Michele.
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I have more Mia Joie items to take pictures of and post, but I am so very, very busy. While I am always pleased and flattered by press, I am weary of constantly saying no to wholesale orders... of being perpetually behind and of so much of my life revolving around booties. To clarify, I love what I do with Mia Joie, I just wish I could create better boundaries. It's a challenge. When you love something, it's easy to let it pervade every moment... from when you wake up in the morning to when you finally go to bed late at night. At any rate, that's is where I am off to now. Have a lovely night!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More National Press!

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Thank you so much, Pregnancy and Newborn, for featuring my Peyton Cork shoes on p. 88!

A Little Orange Inspiration

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Featured items, left to right, top to bottom: bliss artwork by Homeshanti, prickly pincushion by Prettylilthings, mischief artwork also by Homeshanti, orange wedge shoes by Mohop, skirt by Sarah Clemens Clothing, and floor canvas by Studio Melange.

I thought, for a quick blog post, I could create a montage of images that I find inspirational. Well, it was not so quick after all. I am in the middle of putting henna {an herbal conditioner} in my hair and fighting inward panic. I received 27 emails in the span of an hour yesterday. I sold 17 pairs of shoes in a little over a day last week. I also have my dear friend, Michele, coming to visit tonight and staying for a few days, which means the house needs to be cleaned, groceries stocked, time taken off, etc. No wonder that gray hair sprouted in the middle of my head. {I think there must be a thousand more that lay dormant, thus the henna.} If this busy trend continues, I might need to close shop again... even though I feel like I just reopened. I still have so much more to list, but am holding off for now. I have some lovely things planned with my friend: spa, blue bells {bonnests?}, winery, cooking classes, etc and hope I can share some of those stories and pictures with you.

I almost forgot to add, check out those shoes from Mohop. They have a wood wedge heel and interchangable ties--very cool. Also, I have a wonderful new item for women that is unlike anything you've seen before. I was really hoping to post pictures today, but needed a few more supplies. I'm really excited about it and wish I could have made a post about it today. Why am I making women's things when I am so busy? I have no idea. I get inspired late at night, and I can't stave off the creativity with a big stick.

Oh, and after I posted the cherry blossoms tip, I thought... maybe people will think this look is cheesy. But check out this link and the entire spring Pottery Barn catalgoue. Okay, off to work. Have a lovely day, friends!

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I just checked my blog stats and they are through the roof. I was approached about some national press, but that wasn't for a few weeks I thought. I must have some press out there I don't know about.... Can anybody help me out?

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