Monday, July 23, 2012

The beginning

Foxes by Felipe Merida

Today was a pretty big day. I named my clog company and started the proceedings for trademarking (I can't announce the name until next week). In some ways I feel crazy doing this, being that I'm not even a shoe designer. But in other ways it feels like the most perfect thing for me to be doing with my life. I'm gonna be making clogs.

When I got home last week, I started looking for graphic designers and photographers and other professionals to build the website. But then yesterday I stopped and suddenly realized that that's not how I want to start my dream company. That I want this to be a continuation of the exploration I've experienced through the Creative Sabbatical, not a business-as-usual business. I want to use it as a platform to support and highlight my friends' creativity. To trade clogs for drawings, animations, films, and music (and pay them too of course). I want it to be a place of play for not just me, but for my incredible circle of friends and family.

When I started the Sabbatical, I gave myself some rules. So, I'm going to try my best to:

-Know all the makers personally and pay them a fair wage
-Be sustainable
-Hire your friends
-Don't try to be cool
-Make stuff that you're friends would want to wear
-Make stuff that lasts
-Make it fun

And I'm starting by hiring my incredibly talented friend Felipe Merida to design my logo.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Back home

I'm back in Brooklyn, staying at my place again in what feels like the first time in months. My suitcase is unpacked and Billie seems to remember who I am. When I got home I looked up on the blackboard calendar that's up in my place. We'd reached the end of it's 3 month run, and I just really couldn't believe the huge changes that have taken place in such a short amount of time. It's totally fucking amazing.

Some pretty incredibly exciting stuff has happened in the last couple days. First, I've been trying to keep quiet about this, but I really just can't. So here goes. I'm starting a clog line!!! I know. Crazy, right? It feels a bit silly to start a business when I'm trying to be free and on a creative sabbatical, but I figure I can keep learning and growing while I'm doing this. I sketched this week, which was so awesome and fun and humbling all at the same time. More on that to come!

The second incredible thing that happened this week is that Apartment Therapy reached out to me and wants to feature me and my place on their home tour section. They found me through my entry to their Small and Cool Contest 3 months ago.  They are coming over next week to shoot the place, so it's time for me to clean the house and get my hair cut!!!

So I wiped off the old calendar, writing in the dates and the few appointments I have coming up. And I couldn't help but wonder where the hell I'm going to be 3 months from now.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lean into it

Marie's husband drove me down to the airport yesterday. He asked me if the apprenticeship had been everything I thought it would be.

Leaving Brooklyn 2 weeks ago I really had no idea what it was going to be. To be honest, I was excited but also quietly worried that I was going on a fools errand. What sort of a person my age does an apprenticeship anyway? I was lucky to have enthusiastic friends who pushed me on through my trepidation.

When I got to the gate, the agent announced that they were taking volunteers to be bumped to tomorrow flight. I can always use a flight voucher so I stepped forward. They ended up pulling 9 others off the flight due to the weather (the plane was too heavy) and gave us each a night in a local hotel. Close to me an older couple from England where complaining, and the wife was gently crying. She was tired and wanted to get to her destination.

It occurred to me that I'm getting a little better at dealing with unexpected situations these days, to enjoy the ride of going into something unknown. To lean into the discomfort, the unknown, the unexpected and embrace it.

Plus, it gave me a chance to watch a romantic comedy in my hotel room.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chew toy

A sort of quiet melancholy has snuck in yesterday, like a rude house guest coming home late from the pub. I spent the day tying up loose ends and working on finding a place to stay on my return, but I couldn't shake it.

At sunset, when the temperature had dropped a little and the sun wasn't so harsh, I went out for my last kayak ride. As I was paddling I realized what i was feeling was anxiety. Anxiety over moving, over leaving, over saying goodbye. But mostly it just felt like my brain was pleased to have something to gnaw on again.

Our brains do that. It's like they are a 2-year old Border Collie. If you leave them alone all day with nothing to do, they will destroy your favorite shoe. My brain wants to have something to worry about. It's her chew toy.

So I sat there in the kayak, with pink waves around me, fish splashing and warm water on my fingertips, and I told my brain in my best Caesar Milan calm-assertive-voice to 'sit'.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rom com day-dream

Another true confession: i love romantic comedies. I can't help myself. I know they are fluff, but they just make me happy, with their watered down girl-power themes and optimistic endings. I was taking to my mum the other night and she mentioned that my life sounded like a rom com these days. "City girl throws it all away and starts again in rural Minnesota" ("New In Town, 2009). Though its pretty clear that my mum is hoping for the imminent arrival of some rugged handsome farmer, I see her point. It is a little bit dreamy here.

Today I said goodbye to the lovely ladies at Sven shoes, who have been so welcoming and generous with me. I'm headed back on Sunday to the city and my "real" life, and I'm sad to go.

I'm also a little nervous about really moving out and getting more serious about being in Minnesota for a longer time. Can I really be a full-time country girl? And more importantly, who will play me in the movie version? I'm voting for Kate Winslet opposite Clive owen. Hot!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mamas got a new pair of shoes.

Last night I had the idea for a pair of shoes inspired by papercut art, so this morning I got to working on them. The cut work is pretty messy and the design needs some improvement, but I think the idea is there.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blue eyes

There's a sweet girl working at Sven for the summer. She's a junior in high school, and she's quiet and shy. She is thin and pretty, with bleached blond hair. Marie told me had been going through a goth stage. She wears startling blue color contacts most days.

Today she came in and she'd dyed her hair dark brown and was wearing long hair extensions. She looked pretty, just in a different way. I told her she looked like snow white and she smiled slyly

I spent most of my teens and all though my 20's trying to find the perfect hair cut and color. I've had some really bad ones, like the jet black short cut with blue streaks, the blonde Mohawk and the red shirley temple permed do. It took me a very long time to accept my hair as it is. These days, I'm getting a little grey at the temples. I'm strangely looking forward to going silver (I can't say the same about my wrinkles, which I could really live without).

It's such an irony that when we are young we want to look like anything but ourselves and when we are old want to look like our young selves. It would be nice to just be happy with what we've got.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The journey of yes

I talked way back in April about the idea of the Rules of Improv, and the idea of starting with Yes. I can't believe it's been 3 months since I started this journey and how far Yes has already taken me.

The thing about Yes that's difficult for those of us with control issues is the worry that your life will go off on some helter-skelter tangent that has nothing to do with your goals or wishes. That it will lead to awkward, uncomfortable situations. The funny thing is that my experience has been the opposite. Yes has allowed me to step back a bit and really see what the universe is offering. It's allowed me to accept help from friends and start new friendships. Its allowed me to face my fears and fly in a 2-seater plane! It's hard not to get hippie dippie about this, because it really isn't grounded in logic, but for me pushing through the rational logical flinch has allowed me to connect to someone I think just might be a mentor for me. Which is something I wasn't even looking for or aware I needed.

I don't want to be preachy or bossy, but I hope if you are reading this today that you will say Yes to something that your flinch is saying no to, and see where it leads.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Along for the ride

This morning I drove back to my cabin from Minneapolis. Rather than follow google maps directions, I decided to stick by the smaller roads and see some more of the country side. My route took me up hwy 85, along the St. Croix river. The country up here is pretty gorgeous, passing farmhouse after farmhouse, corn field after cornfield. I pumped the radio up and cranked the AC.

With no special place to be or schedule to keep, I made an effort to stop at scenic look outs, and take a break at the little towns along the way. I even found one antique mall that kept me busy for an hour of browsing.

Mostly it make me aware of how seldom we allow ourselves to just dilly dally and take the slow road. We seem to be in such a hurry to get to our destination that we forget the journey is actually the point.

For me, it's been a challenge to remember this with my sabbatical. I have a tendency to want to get to the goal, and not just enjoy the ride. So I'm trying to remember that. To treat each place like I might never be back. To talk to people. To visit places. To be inquisitive and open. And mostly to let life open up and take me along for the ride.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Flying high

Marie's husband, Jeff, has a 2-seater plane and today he was nice enough to take me on a ride. I was worried I was going to freak out but then once we took off it was just so beautiful I couldn't think of being frightened. We did a water landing on green lake, which was super exciting. The countryside is gorgeous here, dotted with hundreds of little farms, all calling my name.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Here are my first boot design. They are brown leather and suede mix. I'm obsessed!!!

My first shoes designed

Oh my god, I just designed my first pair of shoes with marie! I sketches some out last night then we looked at them together and chose which ones to make (yes, plural!!!) This is the best day ever!!!!!!!!!


I woke up before dawn this morning, and dropped Erin and Ryan off at the airport before heading back to chisago city and my cabin. The sun was coming up over the cornfields as I drove back, the heat building for another scorching day. On the side of the road read a hand painted sign,

"Don't let your possessions possess you."

I've been living out of a suit case for nearly six weeks now. Away from my apartment ( that I was so proud of, and all my things that make me feel home. Living out of a suitcase feels strangely gratifying. There's and efficiency and self-sufficiency that fits nicely. It makes me feel like I could get up and go anywhere, with just my little grey rolly bag and a passport.

I'm at the age where nesting sets in big time and there's a strong urge to lay down roots, buy a home and stay put for a while. It's weird to have been given this incredible gift of freedom at this point in my life. But I suppose you can't choose the path your life is going to take.

I might just pack up all my possessions and go wander for a while, and see where fate takes me.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The boogie man

True confessions: I'm reading this cheesy self-help book right now called "It's called a break up because it's broken" by Greg Behrendt. Reading is an understatement, it's more like im holding it to my chest and going back to it every day- my own break-up bible.

One of the major ideas in the book is that the pain that you are feeling is in a large part fear- fear of being alone, fear of what you will become, fear of the unknown.

In the last couple weeks I've had a lot of laughably literal experiences. I almost want to raise my head and ask "really?", because it seemed so ridiculously obvious that I'm getting a "life lesson".

Last night was the first night in my cabin. Booking it from brooklyn I was so excited to be in the woods but once I got here I realized something obvious. I'm going to be scared stiff sleeping here alone! Scared like your freaked out 8 year old who wants in your bed scared. I'm in this remote cabin, no glass on the windows only mesh (hello murderers and monsters), no telephone. Just me under the covers freaking out. I finally got to sleep after a glass of wine and keeping the light on, only to be woken up at around 3am by this giant lightening storm. Huge winds, pelting rain (remember, no glass in windows) and huge flashes of lightening over head and on the lake for about 2 hours. The whole cabin was creaking and felt like it was going to come down around me.

And I laughed. If this was the worst that being alone would feel then I had done it. I'd starred my fears in the face and not been eaten by wolves or dragged away by a faceless hitchhiker. In the morning, the heat of yesterday had passed and there was a cool breeze blowing. Oh, and a broken tree looming precariously over the cabin.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The New girl

Today was my first day at Sven. The Theisens dropped me off at the office like a nervous preteen on her first day of camp. I felt awkward and out of place, sick to my stomach and wanting to bail on the whole ridiculous idea. What the hell was I doing here anyway?

Marie, the owner and heart of the company welcomed me in, chatting away with total ease and confidence. In the workshop were just 4 girls, including Marie. They cut, sew, stretch and staple every pair themselves, one pair at a time. It's pretty incredible, and I'm hoping I'll have a chance to get behind one of the machines and make some stuff myself.

Marie is totally inspiring to me. She just really loves making. She's in there 6 days a week, til 7 or 8 every night because she's addicted to it. Though she's taught her girls the skills, she still spends most of her time behind the machines, not in front of a computer screen. I honestly never really knew you could be a success and stay being the crafts person like she has and it gives me hope for myself.

I'm also beginning to learn what Minnesota hospitality is, as Marie and her husband Jeff take me to dinner at Applebee's and offer to let me stay at there house to get away from the heat and a trip in Jeff's 2-seater airplane if we have time. So far, Minnesota rules, though to be honest I still feel like the new girl.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I've been staying this weekend with my friends and their family at their lake cabin in Wisconsin. Ryan's family have been so incredibly welcoming and generous with me. Constant laughter and goofiness keeping my mind away from the sadness of the past couple weeks. It's been a real blessing to get away from it all and laugh and swim and be in the sun.

My apprenticeship starts tomorrow. I have no idea what it's going to be like, what I will learn or even what I'll be doing. I'm a pretty shy person, so these sort of situations make me nervous. But mostly I am excited to start something new and learn a new skill.

Clogs here we come!