What happened to Brighter Day?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My very first bag
Back in 2011, while neck-deep in nursing school, I needed a creative outlet and decided to pick up sewing. I'd sewn a little bit before, but attempted a small clutch purse from a tutorial I found online. It was the first zipper I had ever installed and, though it probably took me hours longer than it should have, it actually turned out and I had a blast doing it. I took a picture of the bag, listed it in my Etsy shop (where I had formerly sold jewelry), and within 5 minutes, the bag sold. 

The next day, I made an identical bag and put it in my shop. It sold later that day. "I might be onto something," I thought. The following day, a bride sent me a request for 5 bags for her bridesmaids. I'd never made 5 bags before, but thought, "Why not?" and went to work.

Fast forward a year and a half. The business, Brighter Day, had taken off. I was working full-time as a nurse, was pregnant with Liam, and was sewing for hours each night. Once Liam arrived, the trend continued: working at the hospital 3 days a week and sewing on my days off. While there were some very long days and nights spent sewing, the work was invigorating and I felt creatively stretched in the best ways. I heard from brides all over the world who sent in very specific requests which had me hunting all over for the perfect fabric combinations and special touches to add to their bags. It wasn't long before I had bags in several boutiques, too. Soon, I was making as much money sewing as I made being a nurse, so I decided to quit my job at the hospital to stay home with Liam and sew full-time. For the next two years, this is what I did. A whole lot of sewing. As in... 1500 bags. 

For a short time, I employed another lady part-time to help me conquer the never-ending list of orders, which was incredibly helpful. Then we moved to North Carolina and I started working by myself again. I interviewed a few ladies to help me sew but there was always a catch: one smoked (the test purses were irreparably smelly), another had cats (and that smell is impossible to get out of a fabric bag). So it was just me, my sewing machine, and our growing little guy.

For a while, this setup worked. Our days consisted of trips to the fabric store and the post office while I wore Liam in the carrier, or sewing while he played on his play mat on the floor. I frequently felt frazzled, but I told myself daily (and sometimes hourly) how lucky I was to be doing this and getting to stay home with Liam at the same time.

But then, at some point just before we moved into our current house, things changed. I can't put my finger on it. Was it a certain number of orders per week that made me feel so consumed? Was it Liam's new mobility that made it impossible to work while he was awake? Was it the fact that Liam was now gone two mornings a week so I could work (and I missed him)? Was it the loneliness of having no coworkers? Was I just plain burnt out?

I think it was a combination of all of these reasons, but while I was pregnant with Lanie, the work began to feel like drudgery. Every time my phone would *ping* with a new sale, my heart would sink. I often had to work after the rest of my family went to bed, which made me feel like a slave to my business. It was hard work, lonely work, and at this point, uninspiring work. When people would say, "How lucky you are to get to work from home!" I would inwardly think, "Not really. With kids at home, it doesn't feel like much of a blessing at all." I had absolutely no down time, because if I wasn't playing with Liam, I was sewing. If I wasn't sewing, I was cleaning the kitchen. If I wasn't making dinner or grocery shopping, I was answering Etsy convos. There was never, ever a break.

Just before Lanie was born, I decided to close the shop indefinitely. I thought that maybe after a few months away, I'd begin to miss it. I finished up all of my orders and tied up every loose end before her birth and let out a deep sigh of relief.

Now, almost 4 months later, I have to be honest: I don't miss it at all. I feel a tinge of guilt when I admit that, though, because it doesn't negate how grateful I am for the years I was able to sew full-time. To work in my own home. To be my own boss. I don't take it for granted that many people dream of that setup and are never able to make it a reality.

So the shop, as it stands, is closed. Perhaps I'll pick it back up someday in some other form, but I can't make any promises. It certainly feels like a step of faith to say "no" to something that had become pretty unhealthy (read: pure stress) and yet to say "no," too, to income we needed. I'm really not sure what's next. At some point soon, I'd love to go back into nursing part-time. I'd love to do more writing. I'd love to do lots of things. Right now, though, the task at hand is two very full-time kids (and one who is having a difficult time sleeping for more than 3 hours at a time). I never thought I'd feel fulfilled in "just" caring for them, but right now, they are absolutely enough.

I write this for two reasons. One is that a lot of people have no idea what running a small handmade business looks like. It isn't all just playing in beautiful fabrics and taking Instagram pictures of your latest ideas. It's late nights and business taxes, it's post office lines and broken sewing machines. At the same time, there's nothing like the satisfaction of a happy customer. Knowing you were able to bring tears to their eyes when they opened their package and saw their vision come to life is a gift.

The second reason is plain: So many of you have supported me and my little shop for years, and I really can't thank you enough. You often bought bags simply because you liked my blog and wanted to support my family, and that is a generous and beautiful gift. I will never look back in regret over the years I was able to spend working so hard and yet being able to stay home. It truly has been a privilege. So thank you. Seriously, thank you.

PS - I do still have my shop open with instant download sewing patterns available, and I will keep those up for the foreseeable future. This has become a great option, and I now get excited for every sale, hoping someone will be able to create their own bag from a pattern that took me years (and many late nights) to perfect.

Help me decide.

Monday, March 16, 2015

When we moved into our current house last August, we did a mad dash to decorate as quickly as possible, knowing we'd be having a baby soon and wouldn't have the time or motivation to accomplish much after that. Now that we've lived here for more than 6 months, I'm feeling an itch to really settle in decor-wise. Maybe it's Spring on its way, maybe it's cabin fever. I've hung four pictures in the past week and it's feeling homier with every one. 

The next decor project I want to tackle is this wall (straight ahead): 
It's in our main living/dining room where we spend most of our time, and it's feeling especially bare. I love gallery walls, but what I don't love is having to constantly straighten the frames to make sure they stay in place. With a little guy who jumps and bounds around, the frames get just a hair "off" and drive me a little nuts.

So what I'd love to create is a picture ledge. I love that you can change it up as often as you'd like without making new holes in the wall. I also love the look when it's kept somewhat simple. Here is some of my inspiration (click on the photos to take you to the original sites):

I love how bright and happy this one is with a few pops of color.
Source
I love the different size frames and the monochromatic look of this one.
Source

This one is my absolute favorite. Can I just move in tomorrow? I love how eclectic and yet uncluttered it looks.
Source
I have quite a few family photos in different sized frames that are ready to go. But I'd also love to incorporate a piece of art to break it up. Here's where I need your help. I've been looking at Minted.com for a standout piece for the picture ledge and have fallen in love with too many. Here are my top choices:

1. A subtle pop of color. Fresh and airy. I love the textured look of the paint, too.
Land of Plenty by Emily Jeffords
2. A bold "tangerine" color, I think this would tie together the mustard chairs we have on the opposite side of the room. Plus, it's one of my favorite colors. Bright, simple, and happy.
Abstract Layers 1 by Kelly Nasuta
3. This one is more abstract, but I'm just drawn to it for some reason. I love the simplicity of the patterns.
Pink India Fly by Lady Noble
4. This one is real gold foil and features a special place for Shawn and me (NYC, where we got engaged!). I also really like the gold foil maps of Chicago, Tennessee, and Germany. I'd buy them all if I could.
New York City Map
 5. I'm drawn to this one because of the color combination. I love it. Clean and modern.
Abstract Muted 2 by Kelly Nasuta
6. I love the ampersand sign, and this more muted look is appealing.
& i love to read by Niki Digrigorio
So what do you think? Do you have a vision for any one of these? Picture one of these in a large size plus several family photos in black & white and maybe a couple in color. I'd love to hear your thoughts and can't wait to show you what we decide!

This post is in collaboration with Minted.com, whose products I genuinely love, and the opinions expressed are all my own. 

2 months with Lane Eliette.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lanie girl,

This month was a big one for you. We saw such a transformation in you that we never expected. For weeks and weeks, you've fit every description of a colicky baby. You'd cry for an hour or two each night before bed and we couldn't figure out what to do to help you. It broke our hearts. We'd feed you, burp you, swaddle you, unswaddle you, dance with you around the house, sing hymn after hymn, lie next to you and rub your back... just hoping and praying for relief. For us and for you.

But finally, just last week, we saw the beginnings of a breakthrough. I had been limiting my dairy intake but hadn't completely cut it out until a week ago. And you know what happened? You morphed into the baby we knew you could be. Mimi and Poppy were in town to witness your transformation from a very uncomfortable-all-the-time, red-faced baby to a much more smiley, pleasant girl. Praise Jesus! I will not touch butter or cheese or anything that comes from a cow for a very long time, I promise. We're all so much better without it. (Nights are still a different story, but your days are much happier.)


So it's really just in the past week or so that I've gotten to know the real you. The one that lights up when we sing her name. The one who focuses so intently on her brother as he romps around the room with dinosaurs in hand. The one who melts her grandparents' hearts (you'd do that even if you were screaming, though.) I couldn't believe how many smiling pictures I had to choose from on your two-month birthday. Too many to count!

My prayer for you this month is that you'd continue to blossom. My prayer for me this month is that I would continue to have patience for that process (especially for the sleeping through the night part). You've already helped me to draw closer to Jesus - often in exhausted desperation - and He has proven Himself to be our rest. Our strength. Our comfort. Our peace. I can't wait for you to know Him in those ways and so many more.

I love you, girlie,
Mommy

Mimi and Poppy were here on your 2-month birthday!

Overheard at dinner.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Last night, Shawn and I were recounting the events of the day when I mentioned that Liam had had a hard time welcoming some friends over to our house. For whatever reason, our usually very social little guy was just not in the mood to see people. When they arrived at the door, he said, "No friends!" and shut the door. (He eventually warmed up and had a great time.)

Shawn: Buddy, we should welcome our friends into our home because Jesus welcomed you into His home, even when you were a stranger. Even when you were His enemy!
Liam: Ohhh. Dat's amazing.

It is amazing, little love. The most amazing news you'll ever hear! We have no idea what the Lord is doing in your heart or what you understand, but we believe it's something magnificent.

The post that took me weeks to write.

Monday, March 2, 2015

I dove into newbornhood with Lanie feeling slightly overconfident. "Liam is a fantastic sleeper, so surely Lanie won't be that bad. At least we know what we're doing this time around." Ha! Mere days after Lanie's birth, I realized how wrong I had been. Even though two babies share a gene pool and look nearly identical, they could not be more different if they tried. Especially regarding sleep.

Until just a few nights ago, Lanie has woken up to nurse every 2 hours through the night, with a rare 3- to 4-hour stretch thrown in from time to time. At first, friends would ask, "So how's it going? How's life with two?" and we'd respond, smiling, "It's challenging this time around. But we're making it!" Then we'd steer the conversation toward Liam and how he's becoming the sweetest big brother. These days, though, we're more honest: "This is really, really tough. Being awake every 2 to 3 hours for weeks on end is taking its toll."

I know that I risk sounding like I'm complaining. I'm sure there are women reading this who yearn to be mothers and to stay up all night every night if they were waking up to the cries of their own baby. But part of this space, for me at least, is to be honest. And honestly, this is hard. This part of being a mom is not fun. Seven weeks of sleeplessness is not something anyone can be prepared for.

At the same time, motherhood is such a paradox because I am loving having two kids. I hear myself say it to Shawn nearly every night and kind of can't believe the words coming out of my mouth. Any other job that demanded such long, ungodly hours and even physical pain and sacrifice would not be enjoyable. But this? Seeing her smile for the first time? Heavenly. Watching my two children loving on each other in the primitive ways they know how? Soul-filling. They are gifts, whether or not they sleep. They are not inconveniences, even though their needs currently feel nothing but inconvenient.

I don't even know how to wrap this up. No sleep will do that, I guess. This transition has been so much harder on my body and so much kinder on my heart than I ever expected.

PS - The day I'm posting this comes after one of Lanie's very best nights (3 4-hour stretches!). I have essential oils and answered prayer to thank, but mostly answered prayer.
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