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I've created a line of wooden peg looms to make potholders and projects of other sizes. Read the story behind the looms and check out my etsy shop.


Channelling Anxiety into Action: Gearing Up for Big Changes and the Recycled Art Market Tomorrow in Grand Rapids

It’s been a roller coaster week. The sky fell at the newspaper that has been the main source of my family income since 1998. Massive layoffs were announced and many talented people were let go. My husband survived the cut, but we’re still not sure what the future holds for us. Once the company reorganizes what will my husband’s next job be? Where will we live? Will I still have the opportunity to write a weekly art & craft column? How long before the economy takes another giant bite out of the journalism industry? What happens then?

I’m not sure about any of this and I don’t like to waste time sitting around worrying about things I can’t control, so I have kept myself busy making CraftSanity Weaving Looms of all sizes out of reclaimed wood to sell at tomorrow’s Recycled Art Market from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m at City High/Middle School, 1400 Fuller Ave. NE in Grand Rapids. Channelling my anxiousness into action that requires minimal mental concentration has resulted in sore hands and a record number of finished looms. So, come what may, I’m ready for the sale and looking forward to chatting with some of you there. :  )

I will also have print copies of the first four issues of CraftSanity Magazine for sale in my booth (PDFs are available for instant download on the left side bar of this site.) along with finished woven goods and supplies and maybe a few other little surprises that I whip up tonight.

After the sale I will dive back into production of the winter issue of the magazine and other projects with newfound energy. It’s amazing how focused I get when outside forces rock my boat. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. None of us do, really. And as unsettling as that is at times, it does make the story of our lives all the more riveting.

I think the important thing to remember in times like these is that even dead ends are opportunities. If my column is cancelled, it will have lasted far longer than I ever expected and I will have more time and energy to channel into writing for my own site and maybe even get going on that book I’ve been too busy to write. I’m not good at waiting patiently to find out what happens next, so I’m going to treat this as a “choose your own adventure” scenario and decide what I want to do next. Do I want to continue writing a weekly newspaper column? Is this the best use of my time and skills? What could I be doing instead? Podcasting on a regular schedule, book writing, daily blogging, filming a documentary? I have plenty of interesting projects to keep me busy.

It’s easy to slip into a pattern of living in response other people’s decisions and choices and forget that we are the ones in the driver’s seat of our lives and we still get to decide how we spend our time and energy.

It’s time to crack open the ol’ notebook and make a new list of goals and dreams for the future. And chances are good that if we can set aside the fear of the unknown for a bit and begin to fill a blank page with hopes and dreams and goals, something tells me we’ll be pleasantly surprised by the future of our own design that begins to take shape.

Today’s question to ponder in my favorite one to ask:

If you could do anything you wanted with your life, what would you do?


Comment from ellen
Time: November 4, 2011, 1:15 pm

I am crossing my fingers that you will be OK. I suspect you will, because you’ve got plenty of get up and go, but these are scary times for working people.

Comment from kalanicut
Time: November 4, 2011, 1:35 pm

Ah, your post came at just the right moment. We got some really big, out of the blue, life-changing news yesterday and I am still trying to process it. Your insights are immeasurably helpful to me in sorting out my logical feelings about it all, my anxiety and fears. Thank you for sharing. I wish you and your family the very best. I truly believe everything works out for the best and that there is always something good behind what seems disastrous. So easy to tell others and so much harder to stay focused on when it’s happening to oneself. Haa-haa. Best wishes to you!

Comment from Kelly V (Kelly the Fifth)
Time: November 4, 2011, 2:59 pm

Jennifer, I was thinking about how this may change things even more for your husband. I am glad he has you as I think between the two of you, your combined energies could push you both far. With your experience behind the camera and his experience with computers and newspapers, I would love to see you both produce an internet show like The Quilt Show but for crafters. (It is easier for me to dream for others than myself. Much less scary.)

Comment from Jess
Time: November 4, 2011, 3:56 pm

I’m doing it, kind of! (Just wish I could be doing it to the tune of more money but that’s coming soon I’m sure!) And it’s because other doors closed on me so I had to figure out what else to do, like you may be doing! I think sometimes it can be good when life pushes us in a new direction, though it’s also scary as crap. :)

Good luck on the next move! I, for one, love CraftSanity mag so if there’s a book like that coming out I’d be all over it!

Also, if I could really do ANY thing, I’d be a Muppetteer, probably. :)

Comment from Bonney
Time: November 4, 2011, 4:39 pm

Any chance there’s a 16 x 16 loom in the works? Fingers crossed for you and your family.

Comment from Theresa (Miss Charlotte)
Time: November 4, 2011, 4:54 pm

Open a REAL fabric and fiber store, with a tea shop in back…and books, yes, books….all about arts and such. Oh! and so much more…

Comment from Debbie-Esch House Quilts
Time: November 4, 2011, 6:48 pm

Good luck to you and your family in these tough times.

I’m sure your husband would be a great asset to the CraftSanity empire if that newspaper thing falls through :)

Comment from Julie
Time: November 4, 2011, 6:50 pm

This quote is always on my mind, and your post reminded me of it: Mary Oliver’s “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” As a mom who quit her health care job to start an in-home child care five years ago, I’ve started to dream of embarking on yet another career in about five years. I would love to be really dedicated to helping other people, but I am really not sure how. The idea is still steeping. Way to be proactive and shift your mind back to proactively planning your future (as much as we can, right?). I’m going to order one of those looms soon!

Comment from DianeP
Time: November 5, 2011, 7:59 am

I wish you and your family the very best in this difficult juncture in your lives. I really do believe that all’s for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

Several years ago, I lost my job of 26 years and had to find a new one – not easy at 50. That same year, my Mother passed away and my hair fell out. I got a wig, got a new job and kept on going.

Since then, my Father passed away and I had to quit my job to take care of my Aunt. I still believe things happen for a reason.

Although I have more time to craft with my Aunt, I want to find more ways to help others outside the nursing home. We all must be grateful for what we have right now.

Comment from Brandi
Time: November 5, 2011, 9:42 pm

I understand your anxiety as I’ve been dealing with much the same thing(i keep wondering if I’ll have to shut down my animal rescue). For now I am making it work and I’ll just keep plugging along. Honestly in answer to your question. I’m already doing what I love rescueing fiber animals, processing their fiber, selling fiber, writing a blog, and writing patterns. It’s perfect I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Comment from Allegra
Time: November 6, 2011, 2:30 am

I am sorry to hear about the newspaper. I do hope your husband’s job survives.
I too have been going through a similar situation. Just like journalism, classical music is suffering severely and my symphony is on the brink of shutting down. We are currently on an 8 week hiatus (although we’ve played a few well-selling concerts, I honestly don’t know what’s going on).
I am happy that I read this post tonight, as I am leaving tomorrow to take a very important audition for me. It’s scary to not know what your future holds, but at the same time, if you weren’t given these opportunities you wouldn’t know what else you are capable of and what you are meant to do.

“It’s easy to slip into a pattern of living in response other people’s decisions and choices and forget that we are the ones in the driver’s seat of our lives and we still get to decide how we spend our time and energy.”

Thank you for reminding me of this.

Best wishes—

Comment from JenF
Time: November 6, 2011, 11:28 pm


You are a power house of creativity, and its times like this which open up opportunities which we may never have pursued if everything stayed the same. Good luck and I’m sure your creativity will do more than just pay the bills :-)

Pingback from CraftSanity – A blog and podcast for those who love everything handmade » Crayon Blocks For Sale & the Weekend Show Report
Time: November 7, 2011, 12:58 pm

[…] off, I want to thank all the blog readers who posted kind words of support in response to the post I wrote last week about the latest round of cuts at the newspaper where my husband works and I freelance a weekly […]

Comment from Jaye
Time: November 7, 2011, 2:47 pm

I am sorry to hear about this. It is never a happy time to hear about layoffs. I hope that Jeff will be able to join you as a gainfully employed member of the CraftSanity Empire, because everyone will be buying your looms on Small Business Saturday. Thinking about you and yours.

Pingback from Various & Sundry #21 | Artquiltmaker Blog
Time: November 9, 2011, 12:51 am

[…] over at CraftSanity wrote, last week, about a new round of layoffs at the newspaper where she and her husband work. She has a […]

Comment from Niki
Time: November 16, 2011, 11:06 am

Oh, Jennifer.. this all sounds so familiar.. when the first recession hit a few years ago, many newspapers and magazines in Canada also fell.. I lost my weekly column that I had written for a major newspaper for 12 years.. then, another one was on the verge of shutting down.. and several magazines that were my bread and butter closed.. Just as I was beginning to consider moving on from the ‘garden writing game’, I signed my book deal! And 2 more magazines started up (I now write regularly for both!) and another newspaper.. and am now working on book #2.. I have been extremely lucky and I hope that you and your family also weather this storm stronger and happier..

Pingback from CraftSanity – A blog and podcast for those who love everything handmade » Gearing Up For The Detroit Urban Craft Fair December 3 and 4
Time: November 17, 2011, 9:58 pm

[…] everyone! I hope you’re all well and crafting up a storm. I’ve been a bit distracted lately, but I’m being very productive nonetheless. We’re headed to the printer with issue 5 of […]

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