If I had a time machine, this is what I would tell my younger self…

Jennifer in the CraftSanity booth on opening day of the Fulton Street Artisans Market in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 14, 2015. Photo Credit: Jonathan D. Lopez

Jennifer in the CraftSanity booth on opening day of the Fulton Street Artisans Market in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 14, 2015. Photo Credit: Jonathan D. Lopez

If I had a time machine and went back about seven years and told my younger self that I would someday have a booth at the Fulton Street Artisans Market in Grand Rapids filled with handprinted goods, my younger self would have said: “No way. That’s ridiculous.”

And my older self would smile and unzip the black leather jacket she sports all the time to reveal this fitted tee:

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And then we both would laugh super loud.

So, Sunday I found myself in a booth filled with handprinted t-shirts, totes and embroidery kits in addition to the usual CraftSanity looms and magazines. I was so exhausted from staying up late to print and sew patches that it all could have been some wild and crazy dream, but other people in my life participated, witnessed and documented this and they assure me it all really happened.

For the record, I was this tired:

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This print is very autobiographical and sums up how I feel the morning after every art & craft binge. (Shout-out to my husband Jeff in the background.) Photo credit: Jonathan D. Lopez

I actually did a little printing on my new turquoise press while I was there. I had to pay extra to get a custom turquoise model, but I’m completely smitten with the color so in my turquoise-loving mind it was a justified expense. Just humor me on this one, folks. This color makes me weak in the knees now more than ever and I’m not fighting it. Look at this beautiful machine and tell me she’s not pretty. : )

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And all this pretty machine business is something else my younger self would not believe. I’ve never been one to swoon over machinery. Wooden weaving looms and spinning wheels, of course, but metal machines? There was just no way my younger self would ever pine for one like I did years later.

“You know, you’re going to drop a serious wad on etching presses in 2014 and 2015,” I’d tell younger myself outside that aforementioned time machine made of handwoven potholders.

“Am I rich in the future?” my younger self would ask while smoothing her half apron.

“Nope,” I tell her. “Quite the opposite. You end up doing another stint as an adjunct journalism professor.”

“No sh–, why?!” she says, her blue eyes wide, eyebrows raised.

“Because no one else would do it and you still like that whole impossible, suffering superhero routine,” I tell her. “You can’t help yourself.”

“Did I write a book yet?” she asks.

“Not yet,” I reply.

She’s quiet for a bit and then she says:. “Am I happy?”

“What do you think?” I reply, unzipping my jacket again revealing yet another t-shirt:
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“What?! I made that, too?” she said, pointing to the t-shirt. “What’s going on?”

“You go on to have a lot of fun,” I say. “There are going to be some crappy parts, but you manage to find humor in it all. You’re good at that. When people frustrate you you go stay up late after Jeff and the kids go to bed and you print sarcastic t-shirt patches to sell in your Etsy shop. Your pre-teen daughters like your work and ask you to print shirts for them, too.”

“Wow,” she replies.

Before she can ask more questions, I’d step pack into the time machine. I don’t want to give too much away. Some things are best left unknown.

But, then I’d poke my head back out. There’s a couple more things I need to tell her.

“Hey, do yourself a favor and lay off the Pepsi, ok?” I  say. “And just remember to be kind to yourself, savor all the creative opportunities that come your way and stop holding back. Do the stuff you’ve always wanted to do. Stop waiting for the perfect time. Start now.”

She smiles knowingly. I hope she listens.

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Flash forward to the present day.IMG_4255

Here I am sitting in the recliner by the book shelf with my left leg elevated up on a stack of pillows. The dull ache radiating from my left pinky toe is familiar and part of the healing process. I’m writing this about 15 hours post-op from the second and hopefully last minor foot surgery I have to have on my left pinky toe. This time the surgeon went in to retrieve the screw he installed last August after it decided to work it’s way loose.

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The numbness has faded and I’m not a fan of narcotics, so the incision is smarting a bit without their pain-masking powers. And it’s in this ever-so-slightly-compromised state that I feel the most anxious about my future. I want to do everything right now, especially all the stuff that involves walking around. Ha! I have a million ideas swirling around in my head – many of which are humorous and slightly ridiculous yet completely possible with the right team of collaborators.

I felt this anxiousness when I was on bed rest waiting for my oldest daughter to be born, too. I just don’t know how to be still and I seem to fight opportunities to rest especially when there are no other options.

I just want get up and run. And I believe I will be able to do that in a month or so. In the meantime, I’m going to keep expanding my bucket list and making fantastic plans.

High five to anyone else who’s feeling down for the count. We’ll be getting traction again soon. We just need to be patient now. Easier said then done. Believe me, I know. :  )

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