Deep in the dye studio, working our new colourways and new dye application techniques

Welcome to the new year! Are you excited to see what 2017 holds for all of us? I am eager to see the year unfold to reveal its secrets. Are you a planner? Do you set resolutions for the new year? Here is a little bit about my annual new year’s process and the place where I find myself at the start of 2017. (This post is also available on the podcast too, if you prefer listening over reading).

My Personal Plan and Goal Setting

About 9 or 10 years ago, I started the practice of writing a personal plan each year and I have found this practice immensely helpful. For crafting, for business, for life, for everything. I have a separate strategic plan for SweetGeorgia that I work on each fall, but also this personal plan for myself. In it, I write about my deepest personal values… things like independence and integrity, achievement and authenticity. I also include an account of my history of significant learning experiences… things like serving as president of the UBC Dance Club back in university, starting my first business when I was 16, and also learning to surf and how it became like a metaphor for life for me. In my personal plan, I also include a long list of goals that I’d like to achieve, broken down into 1, 3, 5, and 10 year windows. Every year, I go back to this plan, re-read it, review, and revise it for the new year. There is some study somewhere that showed that writing down your goals made all the difference in achieving those goals. And I can definitely confirm that the act of writing down these goals and reviewing them each year has time after time allowed me to achieve these goals.

(If you need some ideas or guidance around setting your own goals, I recommend downloading this goal setting worksheet)

Each year, I spend a lot of time in December deep in thoughts, buried in scribbles, mind maps, and reviewing lists of things I earnestly wanted to achieve. Before having our family, my husband and I would spend New Year’s Day as a planning day where we would review the previous year and make plans for the new year, surrounded by plenty of coffee, inspired by our favourite books and influencers. This winter, I was faced with a lot questions for myself since I had actually checked off many, if not most, of the big goals (including writing my first book). Maybe one of the only ones left was going snowboarding in Japan.

Unboxing the first book I have ever authored! It's finally here! And it arrived on December 30th, 2016, no less.

Unboxing the first book I have ever authored! It’s finally here! And it arrived on December 30th, 2016, no less. 

But I hate to admit that this January I’ve been off to a rather slow start. After going up to Grouse Mountain to go snowboarding with a girlfriend for the first time in nearly 4 years, I caught a cold from Nina and have been fighting this cold through all of the Christmas holidays. I even received my advance copy of my book, Dyeing to Spin and Knit, and haven’t even really had a chance to post about it because I’ve been feeling so awful. But in case you are interested, my book is up on Amazon and will be shipping on January 12, yay! But my head is foggy and achy and while I desperately want to do my annual planning, I also don’t want to be artificially influenced by the needs of the moment… things like the need for rest, quiet time, healing.

I’ve found that New Year’s Day in and of itself is a real trigger for me, emotionally. Coming off of 2016 that was unbelievably blessed and full of wonderful, beautiful things makes me almost fear 2017. In a year that brought me a new baby girl, a book, teaching opportunities, and many incredible memories with my family and friends, how could 2017 ever be better than last year?

Another deep, deep fear is related to the global climate we currently live in. And all at once I feel helpless and anxious about what is to come. But I’m taking my husband’s advice on this matter and I’m going to absolutely stay positive and focus on the things that I actually have control over, which includes how I choose to look at things.

I truly want to start the new year feeling recharged, energized, and ready to really crush it.

Interestingly enough, right after I recorded the previous podcast episode on how I use my time, my husband sent me a link to a TED talk by Laura Vanderkam about how to gain control of your free time. How we find time for what matters most. And in the talk, Laura demonstrated how we will always find time for the things that are truly a priority. She asks the question:

“I want you to pretend it’s the end of next year, and it has been an absolutely amazing year for you and the people you care about. What three to five things did you do that made it so amazing?”

So the idea is to begin with the end in mind. How do you want to feel at the end of next year? what three to five things did you do, personally and professionally, that made it such an awesome year?

At the end of 2016, I now realize, looking back on the year that I’ve been suffering a long-standing loss of identity related to becoming a mother. It’s why I feel so strongly about taking back time to do my own creative work. It’s why I felt compelled to start a personal instagram account alongside a professional one. It’s why I feel guilt pretty much every minute of the day, that either I’m not spending enough time with my kids, or my husband, or my team at SweetGeorgia. But now that I’ve celebrated a rather significant milestone birthday in 2016, I feel like it’s about time I just start taking better care of myself. And not in a nutrition and exercise kind of way, even though that’s important too (because in 2017 I’m actually signed up to run two half marathons), but in terms of relieving myself of the pressure to be all things to all people. At the end of 2017, I want to feel truly free to enjoy my work, my family, what I make, and what I do equally and without guilt. I want to feel like there is an abundance of time, energy, and focus for all the people and activities I love and enjoy.

For this next year, I am practically and powerfully choosing to invest in my relationships, my work, and myself.

People first.

December 2016 // our SweetGeorgia Christmas dinner where we finally got everybody together for a photo!

December 2016 // our SweetGeorgia Christmas dinner where we finally got everybody and their husbands, wives, and sig figs together for a photo! (sad we are missing Tabetha and her family here!)

In terms of relationships, this includes my husband, our kids, my extended family, our friends, my team at SweetGeorgia, and our wider community. I feel like I’ve fallen off the edge of the world sometimes, and I’m hoping to come back and start reconnecting with people that I’ve missed. I’m also looking forward to traveling in the new year with both my family and my husband’s family.

All work and all play.

Deep in the dye studio, working our new colourways and new dye application techniques

Deep in the dye studio, working our new colourways and new dye application techniques

In terms of my work, I am talking about SweetGeorgia, the blog, this podcast, teaching, writing, dyeing, everything. Now that the book is complete, I’m hoping to organize a little launch party for the folks in Vancouver, so that’s coming soon. I also have a lot of creative work that I want to realize in the new year and I feel like it requires me to be full out, camera-in-hand, knee-deep in the dye studio kind of work. And I’m actually very excited about that. And finally, I’m focused on finding a way to offer teaching without getting on a plane and leaving my kids at home. I absolutely love meeting students face to face but this season is not ideal for doing that kind of teaching, so I’m looking to see how else I can do this.

Me, myself, and I

Where I'm finding my peace these days. A few minutes here and there at the loom becomes a yard or two very quickly.

Where I’m finding my peace these days. A few minutes here and there at the loom becomes a yard or two very quickly.

And finally, in terms of myself, I am working on my loss of identity. It’s been so hard to articulate for many many months. I feel like I’ve been trying to explain this since the summer, but it’s all tied up so intimately with SweetGeorgia. I love my work deeply and I guess my identity was all tied up in SweetGeorgia. It is me and I am it. And it’s hard to separate the two. When I had babies, SweetGeorgia didn’t have babies. I did. It was as if we were girlfriends and my life changed, but my girlfriend’s life stayed the same. And we had trouble keeping touch and being able to talk about the same things. Because I just wanted to talk about baby wearing and the terrible twos all the time and my girlfriend wanted to talk about all the sweaters she wanted to knit. And we found it hard to connect.

But here is an alternative idea. SweetGeorgia is a sculpture. She is not cast in bronze or frozen in time in any way. Eleven years and a half years ago, I created her from a tiny piece of clay. Over the years, I added bits of clay to her to give her shape, and invited friends of mine to join me and help me shape and form her. SweetGeorgia is constantly changing, constantly improving, constantly growing, just like me. We can’t and won’t stay the same. While my identity reshuffles and evolves, so does the identity of SweetGeorgia. At the core, we are both still the same. Our passion for handcrafted color and authentic creative expression are still the things that drive both of us. But she’s growing up too. Getting into that super awkward pre-teen stage.

So my plan is to continue deliberately making time for my own crafting. Whether that takes the form of knitting or sewing or weaving this year, I am going to leave that window open and play a little. This is not about rediscovering or finding a way back. This is all about progression and moving forward.

Dyeing more Spun Silk Lace weft yarn.

Dyeing more Spun Silk Lace weft yarn.

Learning things from my first handwoven baby wrap

Learning things from my first handwoven baby wrap

With that, I am incredibly thankful for an absolutely amazing year last year and excited to step into this new year together with you. I would love to hear from you if you have any big plans for 2017 or if you don’t like making resolutions or things like that. Feel free to drop me an email at felicia@sweetgeorgiayarns.com or leave us a comment. Or catch me on my instagram account @sweetgeorgia or @felicialowong. You know it’s mostly baby spam on my personal instagram account, but I also post a lot of current weaving photos there too and whatever else I am making.

Happy New Year to you!

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