Be You & Shine Your Light Bright - Part 4: Let's Just Talk

I was so beyond honored when Brittany of BHooked invited me on her podcast. As a fan of hers it was deeply humbling. As a designer it was incredibly flattering that she wanted me to share my thoughts on Garment Design with her audience. But scheduling was tough for me this year and it did not work out for that date and she was wrapping up her garment design series.

At first I was bummed. Then she asked me if I would like to be a guest on her Maker & Community Series.  Well, now this is some timing! I had just wrapped up my series of posts on community:

The minute she said the topic, I was instantly so grateful God had a plan better than my own and this message could be shared.

The outpouring of response and messages I have received since this aired has been incredible. So many have been touched and that is just so rewarding. I am re-sharing the podcast below and you can see all the notes, details and sign up to never miss and episode here on her page.

Be You & Shine Your Light Bright - Part 3: Finding Your Tribe

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I recently shared on social media about something I was facing:  The challenging side of maker world. I am both humbled and overwhelmed by the supportive messages I have received. It reminds me that it is too often that we allow others to dictate our self worth and how we feel. In an instant, the person(s) driving this situation had knocked me down. Sure I am human and have feelings. Yes, my feelings were hurt. But more importantly - it got me thinking.

Lots of prayer, quiet reflection and more prayer has gone into this post and what is the message of my experiences. What can these experiences not only teach me but can sharing about them possibly help others as well? I think it can and after receiving such an overwhelming response and realizing I am not alone in these challenges, I decided to expand on that social media post and talk about three of the biggest challenges of Maker World that have come from this recent experience:

Weighty stuff to be sure, but important stuff I think. So I hope that by splitting this up into 3 posts it has been a process for you to evaluate and dig deep in your own world.

Find YOUR tribe. It sounds magical right?
Love Your Tribe: It is more than a slogan but a command that gives the warm fuzzies right?
It can be magical and it can be amazing. If it IS truly Your Tribe!

When we were kids it was easy. Here you go little human. This is your class and these are your playmates now. Boom. Instant friendships formed and the "finding" and "seeking out" of our kindred and like minded folk was nary a factor. As we got older we tended to lean toward some relationships over others and small groups of similar interests are born but this all stems form that initial set up of instant connection.

As adults with busy lives, and especially artisans with a passion, this task of deep connection is much harder. While we seek out those who are like-minded, we may also find ourselves developing trust issues and finding it harder to be vulnerable. We've been burned. We've got the scars of a life lived. We have experiences that shape our view of others. And we have our passions and needs; a determined set of criteria we need from those we give our trust and vulnerability too. Ah yes, it has become much more complicated than those days of here you go class and these are now your friends. 

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This new adult version of friend making and tribe finding can be quite a weighty challenge. Especially if you are like me. I am an extremely socially awkward human being, which is probably why my fiber world is so important to me. I feel at home with my fiber.  But we all have that instinctive need to belong and be part of something bigger than ourselves. Part of a group. It is human nature and rightfully so. The key is to find where we fit. Where we ADD value. Where we can lift others up and be lifted ourselves.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
— Gal 5:13 (NLT)

What I have learned in all of my experiences is that we must first DEFINE our tribe!  This can be a painful process. But is so important.  This gives us the freedom to know when it is safe to take risks and know when we are truly supported.

To me, this is a layered approach and not simplistic in any way. My inner circle is so small I can name those in it on one hand and not use all my fingers. It is my circle of trust. It is my tribal elders for lack of better comparison. No questions asked and I have no doubts about trust and am free to be me and vulnerable. The good and the bad and all in between. I KNOW that anything my inner circle says to me is truly because they have MY best interest at heart. There is no other agenda at play.

Then there are other layers to your tribe. You can name them if you want, I don’t. I just know they are there. People who support me in one specific area or another. People I am friends with on various level and speak into my life. People who contribute to my journey. These are all people in my tribe and who add value. People who allow me to speak into their life and add value to them are also an important part of my tribe.

Then there is my own community and the community of this blog. These are also part of my tribe. I don’t care if I have ten followers or ten thousand. I care about the people behind the accounts and connecting with them.  I care about what value I can add to other people's lives, even if it is just this blog as a place to get some free patterns. Whatever it is, ADD VALUE.  

I have come to learn and accept, after much turmoil and these experiences, that all Maker groups are not for everyone. There are too many unknown, undisclosed factors and agendas (whether it is to sell merchandise or get people to believe a certain pricing method or doctrine or business approach or whatever). They serve a purpose to be sure, but may not be a good fit for all. The journey to discover this for myself did hurt, but I got it now. And it is essential for those challenges to shape and help us grow. And oh I have grown and in the process DEFINED MY TRIBE.

And defining your tribe will help you find your tribe and help them find you. Be your authentic true self and the right people will stick around. And they will love you.

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In wrapping up this series, I want you to know this:  There are parts of the community that work for you, and parts that won’t. And that is OK!  It's important that you find & stick to your own voice, and find your own tribe.

I hope sharing this experience and the lessons from it encourages you. I encourage you to be a source of kindness and adding value and let the rest take care of itself.

Be You & Shine Your Light Bright - Part 2: Know Your Worth

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I recently shared on social media about something I was facing:  The challenging side of maker world.

After an overwhelming response and realizing I am not alone in these experiences, I decided to expand on that social media post by doing a three part blog series to talk about three of the biggest challenges of Maker World and what I have learned about them:

This situation I experienced reminds me that it is too often that we allow others to dictate our self worth and how we feel. In an instant, the person(s) driving this situation had knocked me down. Sure I am human and have feelings. Yes, my feelings were hurt. Yes it blindsided me and knocked me off my game for a minute (a week). But all of that comes down to allowing someone else to determine my worth.

As I said in the first post of this series:

I have come to learn and accept, after much turmoil and these experiences, that all Maker groups are not for everyone. There are too many unknown undisclosed factors and agendas (whether it is to sell merchandise or get people to believe in or practice a certain methodology or something else) that work for some and maybe not for others. They serve a purpose to be sure but may not be a good fit for all. And that is ok.

While it was a a bumpy tough lesson to learn, this makes sense to me now.  Just because something may not be a good fit does not mean you are (I am) worth less. A bad fit does not equal less value. Period.

Keeping it real: Nobody will EVER care about what you do more than you. And the truth is that is how it should be. Fact! Yes, I care deeply about people in my life and what they are doing and want to support them, but I care MOST about what I am doing and what I can bring to the table and how I can serve my purpose. When we spend more time seeking and working for the approval and acceptance of others then we have let them determine our worth.

This is a hard pill to swallow. So get some tea. Take a minute. And soak it in. With love.

I love this article by Tania Kotsos and she really gets in the deep dive on self worth. She breaks it down and gets really real.

For me personally, it comes down to my relationship with God and who I am in Him and my ability to add value to the lives of others. It comes down to knowing I left more than I took when I leave a table.  It is about the quality of my work as a knitter, crocheter and human being. It is about MY voice and not the trend. My self worth comes from knowing at the end of the day I have given it my all and go to sleep and rest easy.

Yes of course insecurities pop up and we all have self doubt. But face that doubt head on and knock it down with your own awesomeness instead of projecting it onto others.

I said: KNOCK THAT DOUBT DOWN WITH YOUR OWN AWESOMENESS!!!

Without relying on others to validate your awesomeness - dig deep and KNOW that you are awesome. Say it out loud if you need to: Your worth is determined by the value you add to the lives of others, by what you bring to the table when you sit down. It is NOT determined by what others say it is.

I believe in community and I believe in the power of coming together as we are meant to be. I look at the scripture to know this is right:

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.
Heb 10:24-25 (NLT)

Because when we come together to learn, listen and engage we end up transformed in ways beyond our imagination. When we come together to add value to each other we are reminded of our awesomeness. But we must be cautious not to rely on the community group to determine your (my) value. It is so essential to know the value you (I) bring to the table before we even sit down!

Sometimes we feel so much pressure for being a "community" that we forget that we are awesome and listen to the voices of others instead of that small voice within. I know because I let this happen.

It is also easy to forget that some people need to knock others down to feel they are higher. I do not believe in this method. That is NOT community over competition. Heck, that is not even competition. I believe that we can all succeed and all meet our own destination and should all be striving for the best. I don’t have to knock you down to climb higher. We can both rise UP. And to do so we all need support. But that support should not determine if we are worth it. Knowing we are worth it needs to come from within.

So remember:

BE YOU but NOT at the expense of others.
Find YOUR groove and YOUR voice.
Embrace who you are with gusto and might and let that empower you to celebrate who other people are as well.
YOU determine your worth

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Be You & Shine Your Light Bright - Part 1: In Your Community

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I recently shared on social media about the challenging side of maker world. I'm humbled and overwhelmed by the messages I have received. After such an overwhelming response and realizing I am not alone in these experiences, I decided to expand on that social media post and talk about three of the biggest challenges of Maker World and what I have learned about them:

  • community aspect
  • defining our own self worth 
  • finding your tribe

Weighty stuff to be sure, but important stuff I think. I am splitting this up into 3 posts because it is a lot to process and I think each topic on their own is too important to gloss over.

So let's start with the community aspect.

I first heard the term “Maker” when I started my business Instagram account in January 2016. As I began to find other creative accounts this word kept popping up: “Maker”. Then, after I launched this blog in March 2016, I started to hear it A LOT.  Truly it seemed like “maker” this and “maker” that kept popping up everywhere. Along with social media accounts, Facebook groups also started coming across my suggestions feed.

And so many times “maker” was followed with the word “community”.

Now, community is a word I knew and was fond of. I had long been a supporter of building a community, not a following on other social media platforms. But this “Maker Community” was new and interesting. Have I stumbled upon some amazing group of creative people scattered all over the world but coming together online? Short answer: Yes. Longer answer: keep reading...

Sidebar: I will do a future post about being a “maker” but for this post I want to stay focused on the “Maker Community” aspect.

A year later I have come to think that by associating those two words “Maker” and “Community”, that a silent pressure is created and it actually, in my opinion, can be stifling to your own individual creative calling. Being part of a community is incredible. But so is our individual calling. You should not have to sacrifice one for the other and it concerns me that I see pressure to do so in groups and with hashtags like "community over competition".  I support and use the hashtag but worry it is misleading. You can, and should, have BOTH in harmony!

Personally, I love competition. It pushes us. It pushes ME. It makes us (me) do better. It inspires us (me) to work harder and achieve our (my)  best results. I also believe it is in our DNA. It is in fact instinctive.

Putting it scriptural:
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

I am also a huge fan of community, as anyone who knows me will tell you. I truly believe it is in  our best interest and it is our responsibility to be in community and be of service to one another.  Lifting people up comes naturally to me. I have been accused of "people pleasing" and "kissing up". Neither are true. I just find it natural to support people.

Putting it scriptural (again):
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.
Heb 10:24-25 (NLT)

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
Gal 5:13 (NLT)

I am not trying to give you a sermon. I want to give you the basis of my belief. My ethos.

With this blog, for example, I want to impart my knowledge to you and share things that have helped me succeed as well as share failures that have taught me lessons. I am not worried about "giving it away" because ultimately, the core of my business is to best serve my customers and the community. It is just that simple.

I want to share my knowledge to support, encourage and empower you to make your own decision for YOUR journey. So, for example, when you ask how much should you charge for something you make, I can give you the well used and pretty standard pricing structure. I can tell you to look at what the “market” calls for in competitor pricing. I can suggest you charge what you think you're worth. I can suggest you charge what you think you can get. I can suggest lots of things.

Still, none of us are the same and no one can know all of someone else’s factors. Only YOU know what pricing formula works for you and your target market and your customer base and only YOU have to feel like you are satisfied at the end of a day. A dollar in New York City is not the same as a dollar in Peoria, Illinois for example so can you really charge the same in both? I don't know. That is for YOU to decide. This applies to all areas, not just pricing of your creations.

When we share knowledge, I think it should be given freely so that the person receiving it can then apply it (or not) as it suits their own course. Only you (or me for myself) can ever decide how to use information we receive.

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To me, this seems natural.  We are making handmade creations so it is natural to me that each business would be as unique as the “Maker” behind it.  No cookie cutter format works for all of us. This is what makes what we do so very very special: who we are as individuals. Maintaining that individual clarity is very freeing. These recent experiences have really taught me that.

So be that. BE YOU!

Still, being part of a community is equally awesome.  After all, in business or in personal journey, isn't it all about people, relationships and having an impact on each other? Life IS about community. It’s about adding value and serving each other well.

Having that resource for encouragement and support from people who are in the same trenches as you can be invaluable. Being able to shine YOUR light and bring something to your community is essential and fulfilling. It is about what we can do that adds value to the community that matters. We can only do that by being ourselves. By shining our OWN light. It is not about conforming but rather bringing something TO the community.

So do not dim your light so that others may shine. That is not what "Community of Competition" or being in community means. As I elaborated more in this post, it's not about self-deprecating humility where you knock yourself down just to lift others up. Nor is it about being equal.

Because the truth is that some businesses will not make it. For one reason or another that is a fact. You can root for them and support them but we all have a different path. Being part of a community does not mean helping another succeed at the expense of your own success. 

And while I am a huge fan of the COMMUNITY aspect, I am weary of things I have seen when pressure is applied to follow certain thoughts or methods or a process that may not work for all under the guise of "community over competition". I have to wonder if that truly serves the community or is that serving the agenda of THAT group leadership?

I have come to learn and accept, after much turmoil and these experiences, that all Maker groups are not for everyone. There are too many unknown undisclosed factors and agendas (whether it is to sell merchandise or get people to believe in or practice a certain methodology or something else) that work for some and maybe not for others. They serve a purpose to be sure but may not be a good fit for all. And that is ok.

I SAID: THAT IS OK.
(we will talk more about this in posts 2 & 3 of this series)

The journey to discover this for myself was bumpy and not without hurt, but I've got it now. And it is so important for those challenges to shape and help us grow and move forward. And just as important to share them so others can learn and grow.

So I encourage you to sharpen others. Shine YOUR light and lift others up. Serve your community well. Not at your own expense and not out of jealousy or hidden agendas but out of love and fellowship. Show compassion to those who may need it if they hurt you and add value where you can. THAT is the value of being in community. And the value of being YOU!

I go back to that scripture:

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.
Heb 10:24-25 (NLT)