Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Do your skills and talents line up with your daily choices?

A new stage in my life: working for another company, outside of CookiesCreations.com that I have come to love. It didn't happen overnight. I was using many of their products for years thanks to Marc Briley at Ashby Sewing in Kennesaw, GA.

 For the last several months, I have been focused on creating new projects and samples while learning new techniques for my position at RNK Distributing I can only smile when I tell you that I love the products and my new talented friends. And in truth, I knew many of them from the beginning days of machine embroidery. For those on my Facebook Fan Page, you have been making this journey with me while my blog has been put on hold. Now after 4 intense months of stitching in-between events, I am happy to be back online here.  Oh yes, it means I had to let a few other "jobs" go. That's part of the learning process of life, right?

Floriani Americana Applique
It is amazing how all the lifetime skills you have learned through experience will pull together all at once and then you realize how all the "growing pains" have served you well.

Remember when parents said, "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  While death was never a threat, there have been things in life that felt over whelming.  On the other side of those moments, you can see clearly how those same things provided a strengthening of character and perseverance.  Those type of challenges provide us with time management skills like the ability to say no, or to prioritize items in the order of importance or heaven forbid "impact". Oh, and let's not forget learning to have a poker face at the worst times of your life.  It's a skill through lessons learned.

RNK Thread Nest Tool
Tips from recent last few months learned through RNK:

  • Flying is fun, 
  • You can do Facebook posts and planning strategically up in the air! 
  • Embroidery and sewing or any skill must be a passion for you not to burn out while creating samples for work.  
  • If I read the product and stabilizer directions and follow them, I will have beautiful embroidery. If I don't do it correctly, I will have many samples of what not to do for my machine embroidery attendees. 
  •  Same holds true for following the recipe directions for dinner and avoid getting overly creative at the last minute.
  • Midnight sewing is not an occasion but rather a way of life when you don't say NO enough times. 

I expect to be getting my doctorate in "kNOw" within the close of 2016 - that is the art of saying no without any chance of a yes.

Things I have come to love in my last year with RNK: besides my Hot Fix and Thread Nest tools which I use weekly:

  • I now love quilting, paper piecing and hexagons, who knew?
  • Back of my Hexi's is so cool!
    Great companies attract nice peopled who strive to provide exceptional service. RNK yes!
  • If you disagree with something, share your thoughts with those who can initiate change.
  • Different eyes looking at a project can be the best gift for ideas ever.
  • Knoxville accents are adorable, and can be contagious!
  • You can love not only what you do for a living but also the people you interact with.
  • A critique is a good thing; it means someone cares enough to take time out for you to help improve skills.
  • Never stitch a thing without Floriani Chrome needles, I put them in my Babylock, Bernina and Brother machines. No more frustration with skipped stitches, broken threads, and shattering needles. Safe at last!.Not a sales pitch, it's a fact I embrace.
  • List things in alphabetical order to avoid favoritism as everyone has a favorite brand of machine!
  • Keep a log of projects and post them for inspiration with frequency.  
Anything that I have learned, is something all of us deal with in one way, or another. It's the realization of how all the puzzle pieces of your skills and talents fit together that makes a good opportunity a great choice. 

How do your skills and talents line up with what you do on a daily basis? Heading to Ohio this week, can't wait!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Fear of Flying has been overcome thanks to machine embroidery!

Work, family, and even hobbies can force us to face our fears. At times, this can mean confronting a long-held fear from childhood, but it can also be times in which we must perform a skill in which we lack confidence. 

I remember being on a plane with my dear friend, Pat Patterson, who shares my fear of flying. Pat and I became friends after meeting through an online embroidery forum.  We did exactly what we tell our kids not to do and exchanged info and met up. Pat and I became fast friends and soon decided to be daring and fly to Las Vegas to participate in one of the earliest embroidery conferences.  

Pat and I white-knuckled it together on the flight over. We quickly realized that if the plane went down, our children would never want our machines and they would go wasted.  We began writing our wishes on paper.  We left each other every machine with the exception of our simple straight sewing machines. We knew our kids would need at least one decent sewing machine, whether they believed it or not.  Being able to mend items at midnight matters!  Luckily, we arrived safely in Las Vegas and had a fabulous time, purchasing tons of designs and connecting with fellow embroidery enthusiasts.  Brimming with new sewing tips and ideas, we flew back to Atlanta, still nervous during the flight, but no longer writing out last will and testaments. 

What I learned from this experience was that my “fear of flying” was less about planes and more about my lack of confidence in exploring places on my own.  Few people would work for the airlines if planes crashed on a regular basis. They really are safer than car travel. And the real laughter I have is coming to the realization YEARS LATER, that if the plane had crashed, neither Pat or I would have "inherited" our prized machines.  In fact, no one would have read our lists!  

What made me revisit this experience was my recent travels to California to teach machine embroidery-related classes. During that trip, I met up with Betsy Phillips, another attendee from the Las Vegas event of so many years ago.  We reminisced about that spectacular time and as we parted, I was again struck by how a hobby can be the catalyst to helping us conquer our fears. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Staying on track to pursuing your dreams...

When it comes to pursuing a dream what holds you back? Do you keep a list of steps to work towards it and things you need to change?

Every time I pack my suitcase for the airport, I find these brown eyes staring up at me.  It slows the packing process down by my need to bribe this sweet red headed poodle with play, treats and conversation.

This picture captures the story of how much a perceived negative "statement" can effect ones organization, creativity thought process and a need to justify.  In this "suitcase" I experience the need to make my little one happy and enthusiastic about packing. I am inwardly seeking her approval.  I laugh and tell her that without work she would never have received that knee replacement! I am rationalizing work to my poodle! FYI, her expression doesn't change.

I no longer justify my need for creativity with family and friends. Having friends and family members who are creative thinking with positive attitudes, supporting one another has proven to be the key in my own world. Trying out new ideas, meeting others who love sewing machines and sewing software keeps me creative. It adds self confidence in other areas. 

If you experience a slow down in creativity or a desire to try something new with no time available take a closer look at the "things" that deter you. Take the steps to discover how many obstacles you can remove.  

Of course, our pets are non negotiable to most of us - thankfully so. Looking into those sweet eyes keeps us caring and in touch with unconditional love.  She may just be saying with her eyes, "I will miss you and be here when you return. Come back soon!"

It's our past experiences that make us apply human thoughts to our pets. Looking at the thoughts we give our pets tells us much about ourselves.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Gaining Self Confidence Through Creativity...

My love of machine embroidery has taught me so much outside of digitizing and hooping skills. And the lessons I learned along the way apply to all hobbies and skills. (I enjoy card making, knitting and more - not cooking)

When I began in 1995 with machine embroidery, I brought my office skills with me:

MS Office
Word Perfect
MS Paint

Many have shared with me at events that the computer was enough to scare you off yet you persisted. 
In order for any of us to persist at something, we need to feel rewarded at some level.  
I had the advantage of some computer skills and photography. Yet, digitizing software was brand new on the market and it certainly was new to me. And as mentioned in my previous post there was an element of guilt for having spent so much money on a "hobby" machine and feeling the need to "validate" the purchase. (Of course, now I know there is no need to rationalize the pursuit of a hobby I enjoy and hope you do, too.) Did I mention, I also had guilt over the computer I purchased back then at the time? 
Machine embroidery made me face all the things that were my "quiet worries" and helped me to realize that this guilt was a lack of self-confidence. 
I doubted my own abilities to learn it all.  My husband and children never once doubted my abilities to learn any of this. Somewhere along the way from the moment we take our first steps all of us develop a sense of who we are, what others expect of us, our abilities, in short an inner voice telling us "stuff" all the time. It's really insane when you think about how we interpret what others say and it may have nothing to do with the way you hear it. Children are so impressionable and take things to heart in the same way. Today when I hear that inner voice of self doubt, I call into mind someone I loved who told me it doesn't matter what others do or say, don't look around just stay on task.  That advice has served me well, and I've learned to do many creative things.  
Pieced but never quilted - me, too!

I recall the sinking feeling with a first design of an airplane that looked like spaghetti when I pressed the next button in Version 1 of PE Design. It was a horrible moment and immediately began doubting how I had invested the $. The demo at the store was so flawless. I had read the manual, followed the steps and mine had fallen apart.  Knowing that it was brand new software and stores didn't know it yet I sought out others who were in the same situation. 

Those others are now life long friends that I met on the Internet in chat rooms and lists. It's the exact thing we tell our kids not to do! I was "cmonsterx". After all of us comparing notes, we began to realize that the key was in the graphics and tools we used.  Our learning curve was faster because we had each other to bounce off ideas. Suddenly the stores were asking me to teach.  Self-confidence grew and I said yes.
Each new skill mastered produces positive feedback and increased self-confidence.  I want the same for my students.
I remember vividly the panicked faces as I sat down with new hobbyists behind computers at Atlanta Sewing Center. I brought treats for us to snack on to make it fun and relaxed. Left clicking a "mouse" was a tough skill back then for many yet they persevered that first hour. We laughed as a group at our challenges. I shared different mice so each student could see what felt best in his or her hand. Yes, even the guys felt challenged. I understood the pressure they felt because I was once there, too. I would hear how they were already obligated by others to do great embroidery and this was the first time turning on the power button of a computer. Yet we managed on for weeks in lessons and today I see several of my students with great websites and designs for sale.  Others, I see at events wearing beautiful creations made by them from garment to the design embellishments.  

My students learned the power of saying, "I would love to, but I can't." If you use this statement say it with the air of self-confidence. Do not say another word. If you feel compelled to say anything else be sure to have a recommended store to send them to due to your heavy schedule of fun. ~Cookie


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why love machine embroidery? My story begins...

A well-respected mentor asked why do I love machine embroidery so much recently asked me? Such a simple question, yet the more I gave it thought, I realized that my story might be true for many creative careers. And perhaps by sharing how this all began I might help someone with a passion for creativity get that little boost of confidence to move forward.

I love the many facets of machine embroidery: designing, planning, software packages, sewing, new products, stabilizer and thread knowledge, learning and teaching, exchanging ideas and inspiration, balancing time, and most of all teaching.  Being an instructor of machine embroidery is the most gratifying experience out of my list.

I must love it, or I couldn't do it for over 20 plus years, right? I remember what it was like sitting in a presentation seeing the first embroidery machine at my local store and realizing that this machine was doing it all.  Up until then I was sewing skate, dance and Halloween costumes.  It was incredible to behold a machine stitching out a 4x4 design all by itself.

While watching the machine stitch, I was quickly thinking of how I was going to come up with a reason to purchase this wonderful embroidery miracle.  By the time I reached home, I had my sales pitch ready.  Like many women, I felt the need to justify the purchase and shared with my husband what I witnessed at the dealer while getting my "well used" Bernina machine serviced.

Step 1: " I could embroider all your shirts with monograms, if I had this machine". The negotiations had begun. How many of you have felt the need to do this?

Step 2: I brought my children to the store to see all the fun designs this machine could do.   I was enlisting their help in my campaign with their dad. Again, how many of us bring in assisted sales help?

Thank goodness for Mother's Day!  And so the first embroidery machine arrived.

I learned how to use this machine by trial and error. I had an excellent sewing dealer but the machine was new to them and so was selling one.  Little things that they didn't send home with it like embroidery thread and stabilizer.

I make jokes about how smart my son was. He let his sister's shorts go first.  I hooped them up, threaded the machine with sewing thread, selected a built in design, and pressed Start! Success! 80+ fingertip towels (I had not mastered saying "No" to friends, family and teammates) later I moved on to T-shirts!

My walk away today for towels:
Back then I used a water-soluble topping to keep the pokies under control and a tear away on the bottom.  It worked but I had to be carefully to hoop carefully to avoid getting hoop marks which we refer to as hoop burn. All of us have had that happen, and cold water or magic sizing helps remove those marks if used quickly.

My preferred method today is using Heat N Gone topping on my towels instead of water soluble because the iron removes the exposed topping quickly and it never washes away under the stitches.  I like that! I use Perfect Stick tearaway or Wet N Stick tearaway stabilizer in the hoop and I can avoid hoop burn entirely and the towel is new crisp and ready to be gifted or used.

Lots of friends and their friends, in my old neighborhood, own those fingertips and bandanas because back then I had to come up with $$ to feed my need for designs, stabilizers, needles and thread. I smiled fondly remembering the nightly drives to Walmart! Now Amazon has fingertip blanks, if only it existed back then! What I learned: you need not justify your hobby.