Black High-Waisted Dawn Jeans

This is my second pair of Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans. The first pair was a complete experiment in creating the perfect vintage-style 40s/50s jeans. I added 1-1/4 inches to the already high rise of the straight-legged version (View B) after researching blog posts by pattern testers who had similar body types and fitting issues as myself. It was an adventure, but overall I was pleased with the result:

When I came across some black denim at the Saver’s Thrift Store in El Paso, TX over the holidays, I immediately added black straight-leg Dawn jeans to my #MakeNine2019. I really wanted to just make the pattern as it is, as a modern take on a classic fit jean, and considering the price of the fabric, why not!?

I’ve said it before, and it remains true: I’m not really a sewing tutorial kind of person. But here are the progress pics I took throughout the process:

I decided mid-project to add some pink top stitching details since the pocket and waistband lining are pink.

The result? I love these jeans! The only modifications I made were to add my usual 1/2 inch to the rise to accommodate my long torso (I do this in all my pants) and making a zip fly instead of a button fly (again, I always do this; not a fan of button fly). In hindsight, I think I would have been fine without the additional 1/2 inch. I also shortened the hemline a few inches to make them ankle-length, then deliberately left the edge raw so it can fray naturally. I truly think these would have been perfect straight out of the envelope, which makes me want to try more of her patterns.

Things I Sew

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Numerology of My Name

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Soul Symbol = the Red Rose

As part of my journey through the chakras and the work I’ve been doing the past few years, I went through the process of doing the numerology on both my name at birth and my current name. These things come as part of a very big, very deep overall journey, one that is both difficult and rewarding at times. To truly know oneself is to love oneself, and as Oscar Wilde once said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Here goes…

MELANIE AMBER ROSE
4531595  14259  9615
32/15/6    21/3    20/2

All Letters  =  6/3/2 = 11/2  = Destiny number     (14/5 at birth)

A number 2 destiny number means that you are a peacemaker and balancer in life. Keywords are “spiritual teacher,” “visionary,” and “peacemaker.” You will be experienced  by others as gentle, having the strength and steadiness of water, continuing to seek a different approach at times when your path is blocked, requiring balance and flexibility, taking your time and doing what feels right for you. The number 11/2 is a Master Number. It includes all the qualities of 1 and 2. Number 1 in the destiny position signifies leadership, integrity, honesty and living courageously. You are to believe in yourself, and always stand by yourself. The number 11/2 represents someone who holds the lantern which lights our way to higher consciousness. Doubles 1s hold the doorway to this higher consciousness, and to go through this doorway takes inner strength and flexibility, with the message of getting clear in who your are and living in integrity. The 2s, on the other hand, signify surrendering to God’s will and cooperating with the flow of life. 11/2s are all about balance, and the balance of masculine and feminine energies, and teach balance to others through their actions, not necessarily their words, through their great integrity, strength, and gentleness. They illuminate the world to harmony and cooperation, teaching others how to stand tall in their own integrity while remaining gentle and sensitive to the self and others. They are the vision carriers, carrying the dream.

Vowels  =  2/6/[11/2]  =  10/1  =  Heart’s Desire number     (13/4 at birth)

A number 1 heart’s desire number signifies the realization that you already have the courage you need inside. You deeply desire a path of purity and integrity, and living true to the teachings of your inner guidance. You are happiest when starting new projects and blazing new trails, not following the same time-worn paths. It is important to tune into God within to maintain fearlessness in the face of opposition, as this courage will encourage others to do the same.

Consonants  =  3/6/[10/1]  =  10/1  =  Personality number     (10/1 at birth)

Numbers 1s are the pioneers and visionaries, ahead of their time. The keyword is “courage,” radiating the translucence of a flame. They are strong and independent, a true channel for the Word of the Creator. They stand with their head in the clouds but their feet firmly planted on the ground, listening only to their own inner voice. Their attributes are strong willpower, determination, originality, independence, leadership abilities, pioneering spirit, and unique individuality. Number 1s tend to be loners, ahead of their time, full of fresh ideas. They are innovators, the “idea people.” Number 1s don’t necessarily set out to be leaders, but may see a need and have the courage to fill it. It is common for number 1s to look at others and wonder why they are following a leader blindly. It is important that they completely accept and believe in themselves, understanding that their service is to know themselves, their needs, wants and desires, and how to fill them. Others will benefit from this clear knowing. They will be centered, heart to heart, with God.

Life Path Number:  24/6  (calculated from DOB)

A number 6 life path is about learning the life lessons of relationships, responsibility, love, service and beauty. Those with a number 6 life path are the healers of society, due to a loving, compassionate, and responsible nature. They will likely to find themselves following endeavours that involve helping those who are weak, and less fortunate. Those on the 24/6 life path are here to work through issues of perfectionism, process, and responsibility, taking life one step at a time, manifesting their vision in practical ways, and accepting the inherent perfection of their life.

ATTAINMENT  =  8

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         BIRTH PATH  =  6                                                                                    DESTINY  =  11/2

At birth:
Attainment  =  11/2
Birth path  =  6
Destiny  =  5

To have an attainment number of 8 means the goal is to achieve a greater sense of balance and direction in life, practicing the things that keep you centered and in harmony.

2019 is a personal year 7, essence 17

The number 7 personal year is a sabbatical year, a time to take off from life, go inside to look for real meaning and faith. Daily alone time is important, as this year is devoted to seeking peace of mind, taking time for yourself, asking the inner-self whatever questions you may have, achieving wisdom in the process. Incorporate more ceremony and celebration into your life. You are becoming a bridge, making a stronger commitment to share your light with the world. This is your year to achieve inner peace.

I am here to do the work of the Heart Chakra (Anahata) in the world:
ANAHATA
1518121 =  19  =  10/1

My birthstone is Topaz, and the semi-precious equivalent is Citrine:

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Source cited throughout:

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Journey Through the Chakras
Things I Think About

Sacral (Svadhisthana) Chakra Lessons

IMG_20190421_132046Orange is the color of the Sacral Chakra

The sacral chakra is all about intimacy, relationships, and creativity; pleasure, flowing, and wave-like movements, and trade and exchange. Blockages in this area lead to jealousy and uninhibited desire. A healthy sacral chakra leads to an ability to share; to be in harmony in relationships; to experience easy physical contact, fluid movements and attractiveness. It is the center of emotion and physical pleasure, and corresponds to joy, creativity, and the manifestation of personal power. The sacral chakra is located between the pubic bone and navel and governs the sexual organs, urinary tract, lower intestines, spinal fluid, lower back and the skin.

SOUL VOW:  Be a living, breathing work of art

LIFE VALUE:  I am a swirling rainbow of deep creativity, innovation and inspiration

ANIMAL:  Cardinal

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The cardinal symbolizes setting clear intentions, passion, warmth, and vibrancy. It also represents love, cheer, pride, focus, energy, renewal, starting new projects, strength, devotion, and nurturing. It is linked to the sacred feminine and life-giving blood. Cardinal teaches us to be of good cheer, and to realize that there are times to fly and times to stay firm. Wisdom comes from knowing the difference. Cardinal medicine is all about self-empowerment, and a willingness to be unique in dress and distinctive in voice, experiencing clarity, joy, uniqueness, improved communication, sense of duty and preparedness.

STONE:  Carnelian

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Carnelian boosts confidence and the power of true expression. It brings out playfulness and spontaneity, enabling us to take bold action. It helps to circulate vital energy at your center, where the deepest sexual desires and powerful creative instincts reside, empowering us to be the star of our own show. It helps to balance sexual energy with the vibration of love. Carnelian offers fresh inspiration, and is useful for overcoming abuse. It protects against envy, rage, and resentment, calming anger and emotional negativity. Carnelian strengthens the life force, vitality, and female reproductive organs, increasing fertility. It aids in overcoming frigidity and impotence; heals lower back problems, arthritis, neuralgia, depression, kidneys, bodily fluids; aids bones and ligaments, and stanches blood.

LESSONS:

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Eating a donut and enjoying some quality time with my favorite stuffed friends.

This is me at four years-old.  I am in the hospital about to have one of my right kidneys removed – that’s right, I had two. I was terrified of all things medical. And during the surgery, I would wake up from the anesthesia while cut open. By this point in my life, I had already been sexually assaulted several times and molested (including a gang rape by a group of teenage boys at a birthday gathering), had my leg broken by an adult in my life, experienced a near-death experience as the result of a heart defect, been plagued by memories about my death in my most recent life, and had a spiritual experience that involved leaving my body and receiving revelation about my life. Now I was about wake up from anesthesia and find myself staring at a tray of metal objects covered in my own blood. Sadly, this was only the beginning of the trauma in my young life.

Needless to say, chronic pelvic pain has plagued me my entire life. I have had chronic lower back pain and sharp pains in my lower right pelvic region, chronic bladder issues, right ovarian cysts, and a lot of cramping in the lower intestines and uterus. I also have a lot of pain in my right hip and SI joint that limits my mobility. Sometimes, when the inflammation gets going, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint where it’s coming from or narrow down the organ system. When I read about the organ systems governed by the sacral chakra and the issues related to it, I had some very tough emotions. I am the walking poster child for a blocked 2nd chakra. I gave myself permission to back up, spend more time in the root chakra to get more grounded, then proceed at whatever pace felt right for me. There are no 8-week programs in my world. It takes however long it takes.

I have done a lot of work on myself over the years. I’ve tried to be as brave as I possibly can in confronting my issues. But it’s been such a slow process. Apparently, if these things happen when you’re preverbal and/or too small for your underdeveloped brain to process what’s happening, they get stored in your body in a very primal, very physical way, and the path of healing and releasing these experiences is complicated. We are still in the early stages of understanding this type of trauma on this level, and tools have only become available in recent years to help the survivors. What do you do when you’re trying to do talk therapy around something that happened before you even knew how to speak? How do you release memories that exist in your body, but were unable to form in your infant brain? It’s been a long, painful, isolating road.

I did the work, I went through the writing prompts, and felt like very little was coming out. I felt so stuck, which was discouraging considering the amount of work I’ve done on these issues over the years. I assumed this meant I might be permanently blocked, with so much stored in my cellular memory that I might never access it all. This may be true, but on some level, I was chomping at the bit to move on. Yet, I persevered for about two weeks. I did my best to be as in touch with my feelings as possible as the anger inside me began to build. I found myself getting in touch with my true feelings about the way I have been treated in the most significant relationships in my life; the way I was not stood up for or believed; the way I have felt so dismissed and unheard when I have spoken up. How, after all these years, I still feel more invisible than I care to admit.

Yesterday morning, as I went for my morning walk in the green belt near my home, something compelled me to stop and take some photos of the yellow flowers near the trailhead. I don’t normally take pictures of anything because I’m just not a smart phone person. Even so, I found myself taking pictures of the flowers.

It was out of character, and as I continued on my walk I was puzzled at myself. About an hour later, I sat down to begin my work in my journal, and as I picked up my pen a pigeon came bobbing along the edge of my patio. Of course, there are pigeons everywhere, but the way this one came around the edge of my patio made me notice. She startled and delighted me with the pink hue around her neck and her funny little bobbing head. Normally, I would have ignored her, but for some reason I set my pen down and watched her for a second simply because she was cute.

The pigeon/dove is my solar plexus chakra animal. As I thought about the yellow flowers (the solar plexus chakra color) and Ms. Pigeon, I knew that this was the last day I would spend in the sacral chakra. It was played out, yet had I really accomplished anything? I still had volumes of my story stuck in my cellular memory, seemingly out of my grasp, still affecting my health and well-being. As I wrote in my journal, I was fuming with anger over the things I’ve held inside and not given voice to, or things I’ve said that weren’t received. I was angry over the way I’ve been treated by the people who are supposed to care for me the most, both past and present. Just when you think nothing will ever release, suddenly something does. I paced through the room, saying the things I needed to say to no one in particular. I reflected on how disempowered I have felt during the times I have spoken my truth, only to be stonewalled, ignored or dismissed. I grappled with the loneliness of having to be strong in ways I shouldn’t have had to be during the times I’ve been most vulnerable. I allowed rage to flow up and out of my soul. I felt powerful, articulate, wise, and in total control as the words came out of me, as I stood there firmly rooted in my power. Then I sat back down at the table in front of my journal and gave a huge exhale to center myself. As I did, I felt something leave my body. Something moved out of me, and all I felt in that moment was a strong sense of personal empowerment. I was ready for the work of the solar plexus.

I grabbed my little book and re-read the section on the sacral chakra with a fresh set of eyes. Suddenly, I realized why I felt blocked at this point – because I wasn’t stuck! I was holding myself back and keeping the process in a state of stagnation. Sure, I have my issues here, but I’ve worked hard on them over the years. The major blockages in this area didn’t belong to me, but to the people I am closest to in my life, and I had taken on the burden of their issues and started believing they were my own. How long had I been doing this? How long had I been playing the role of martyr, trying to reframe what I was experiencing, letting someone off the hook for their toxic and/or abusive behavior? When you’re a tiny human, there is only good and bad, right and wrong. Grown-ups tell the truth and you obey them for your own good. Life is not that nuanced. Somewhere in those early years, before my brain could process the horrific things I was experiencing, my perpetrators were speaking to me, telling me things about who I was, laying the burden of their crimes onto me, giving me some distinct and powerful messages about my worth. I have no memories of agreeing with them, or of anything that was being said to me. All I know was that by the age of six, I believed I was dirty to the point where I would scrub myself raw in the bath, and I was convinced I should never be a mother, because I was very bad and incapable of love. These beliefs had been so deeply ingrained so early on that I didn’t even realize they were still in there. I thought I had to recover my traumatic experiences to heal. But I did uncover something deeply traumatic: the core belief that I deserved to be mistreated and it was my responsibility to fix it all. It’s not and I don’t.

I can’t give someone what they won’t receive, and I can’t grow close to someone who never gives of themselves. I can’t develop physical and emotional intimacy with someone who is walled off and unwilling to take those walls down. As enough time goes on, these things become the norm. Normal? No. The norm? Yes. Somewhere deep down, I began to believe that I was the one who had all the intimacy issues. I’m an easy scapegoat because of the things I’ve been through. I sat there in my fierceness and began to sever myself energetically from other people’s shit. I am not responsible for other people’s shit. I am not going to make peace with someone who sets a storm in motion and then sits back and expects me to make it stop. My precious life energy is being wasted on this. When did these health issues blow up? The timeline became clear. I didn’t have to take back my power. I just had to remember I still had it. Something permanently shifted.

Sometimes you think you’re going to be in it for the long haul. You think you can’t possibly rise above, so great is your pain, so deep was the betrayal, so shattered the bits of brokenness which remain down inside. That’s the thing about healing, though. It’s not always about a BREAKTHROUGH that launches you into this big, magical version of yourself – it’s about a series of smaller breakthroughs that take you step by step forward as you make peace with yourself and grow into who you already are. I really thought the sacral chakra would be a stuck point for me. All of my trauma surrounded these issues. But as I move around the spiral of personal growth and evolution, I don’t have to solve everything. I just have to take the lessons and keep going, knowing that I will be back here again with more wisdom, a little more life experience, and better tools in my tool belt. There isn’t some big exam I have to pass in order to live my life’s purpose. I’m in my purpose. There is no reason to impose punishment on ourselves and think there is something we have to do, have, or be in order to live in triumph. All of the colors in the rainbow exist in unison, and the lessons of the chakras are always in interplay. Today, I am wearing yellow. Today, I journey on.

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“Overcoming others is strength.
Overcoming ourselves is true power.”

— Tao Te Ching

Journey Through the Chakras
Things I Think About

Star Wars Candy Skull Fun – A Gathered Skirt Sewing Tutorial

20190501_143713 (2)Well, it’s that time of year again…the holy trinity of holidays that all fall in the same two days: Cinco de Mayo, Audrey Hepburn’s birthday, and May the Fourth Be With You/Star Wars day. This year I have it covered. A few years back, I found this really cute Star Wars candy skull fabric at Walmart, pictured to the left. My Fella is obsessed with Star Wars and happens to be of Mexican heritage, so I grabbed it. It was way too colorful and feminine for him, so I decided to use it to make something for myself to support him. He wears Green Bay Packer’s stuff for me, so it’s the least I could do. Since Star Wars day falls on Audrey day, I decided to make a simple, self-drafted full skirt in homage to Audrey. This fabric was part of my #MakeNine2019 projects, focused on using my stash, and was originally supposed to be jammie bottoms. I forgot I had cut a square from it to make my Fella a bandana for his Star Wars bandana collection. Oops. But the skirt was another story. I have a lot of these skirts in my wardrobe, a pretty alternative to shorts in the warmer months.

Here’s the process:

Note – I use 1/2 inch seam allowances for my gathered skirts to make the math easy

Supplies:

  • 2+ yards of 45-inch wide cotton fabric
  • One 9-12 inch zipper
  • One or two 1-inch button(s)

2-1/4 yards of 45-inch wide cotton fabric will be more than enough (accounting for pre-shrinkage), but to be exact you will want to do the measurements for each piece as directed below. Add extra if you’re trying to match up a directional print, like I’m doing here. Also, I recommend using at least a 9-inch zipper. This is a high-waisted piece, and if you have any curve to your hips it will be difficult to get over your hips if it’s any shorter. Trust me – the 7-inch zipper is not your friend in this project.

Cutting it out:

Total yardage for me is 2-1/4 yards: 33″ (30 inch length plus hem/seam allowances) + 33″ (same) + 7″ (total width of waistband with fold over and seam allowances and two pockets) = 73 inches, rounded up to the nearest quarter yard to accommodate pre-shrinking. I am able to use the leftover bit from my waistband to cut the pockets. If you’re doing a narrower waistband, allow an extra 1/4 yard to accommodate them.

First, measure your exact waist measurement. Next, determine the width of your ideal waistband. A good standard size is 1-1/4 inch. I like wide waistbands on my skirts, so I’m going with 3 inches. Next, trace out your waistband. The total length will be your waist measurement plus 3 inches – 1/2 inch seam allowance at each end, overhang for button and buttonhole, and ease for fitting. The total width will be your ideal width, doubled for folding over, plus one inch (1/2 inch seam allowance for top and bottom). Mark this rectangle out onto your fabric, using one of your selvages as a guide.

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Waistband and pockets

At this point, cut out your interfacing for the waistband. It will be the same total length, but exactly 1/2 the total width to accommodate the fold over of the finished waistband without adding excessive thickness.

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Interfacing is exact length of the waistband piece, but exactly half the width.

Summary: Waistband piece is waist measurement plus 3 inches, by width measurement doubled plus one inch. Interfacing is the same length as this piece, but only one half the width.

For the skirt, you will decide your ideal skirt length (I like mine a little long, plus I’m 5’8″, so I go with 30 inches). Add 1/2 inch at the top for seam allowance and 2-1/2 inches at the hemline. So, basically your total length is your ideal length plus 3 inches. I always do a wide hem. I think it looks more expensive and adds to a nice drape overall. All you have to do is mark this total length at the selvage of the fabric and draw the lines across to the other side. You are just making a rectangle out of the full width of the yardage. From the top edge of this piece after cutting, repeat. These two identical pieces will be the front and back.

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Two identical pieces, one each for front and back

Summary: Skirt front and back are your full length plus 3 inches, using the entire width of the fabric. You will cut two of these.

Take one of the skirt pieces and cut it in half lengthwise by folding it in half lengthwise, selvage to selvage, and cutting it along the fold.

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You are creating two back pieces that will be reattached along the center back to accommodate the addition of a back zipper.

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One piece is cut in half lengthwise to accommodate the center back seam

Finally, if you want pockets (everyone wants pockets) cut out two 7-inch squares. See photo above. I use the leftover end from my waistband, since it’s already 7 inches.

Putting it together:

Determine where the bottom stop of your zipper will end up along the center back of your back pieces, taking into account the 1/2 inch seam allowance at the waistline. Mark a notch there.

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Ignore my yucky old ironing board cover…

Finish off the edges, if they are not the selvage edges. Sew your two back pieces together along the center back, right sides together, from hemline to this notch; back-stitch. Baste the remainder closed for zipper placement. Press seam open and install your zipper.

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Attach the back of the skirt to the front along the side seams, right sides together. Finish off the edges if they are not the selvage edges, then press seams.

It’s time to attach the pockets. Overlock/finish off the edges of your pocket piece, then press under 1/2 inch along top edge and top stitch.

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Press remaining edges under 1/2 inch.

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You will now pin the pockets to the skirt front. They will be lined up exactly at the side seam. I place mine such that the top edge of the pocket is exactly 6 inches from the raw top edge of the skirt. I am 5’8″ and this proportion has worked well for me. Adjust according to your preference (measuring an existing garment helps). Top stitch into place along pocket edge.

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Lined up along side seam, on the front piece, about 6 inches from the top edge

Note – the pockets can be attached to the front prior to attaching the front to the back. Just leave the edge that will match up to the side open and unfinished so it can be incorporated into the side seam.

You will now be pre-gathering the skirt along the waistline, according to your preferred method. I like to gather in four sections: CF to side seams and CB to side seams. This way I can evenly match up all my landmarks between skirt and waistband and evenly distribute the gathers in manageable amounts. At this point, simply put in the stitching. We will be marking our waistband along the interfaced edge before creating the actual gathers.

Take your waistband piece and mark out your center back seams. With the interfaced edge facing you, mark out a 1/2 inch seam allowances along each end. At the left end, mark out a line 1-1/2 to 2 inches from the left end. This may sound confusing, but you have basically marked out your seam allowances, plus the overhang on the left back where the buttonholes will go. I like to add a total 1/2 to one inch of ease into my waistband for shirt tuckage, post-meal expansion, and occasional bloating. It’s a personal preference. I also like to have plenty of room to let a button or the gathers out, if need be. It has happened.

Next, mark the center front. The center front will be exactly midway between your right seam allowance line and the innermost seam line on the left end. Mark your side seams between these markings on both sides, exactly midway between the center back lines (as specified above) and the center front line.

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You can see some of my markings. Remember, the gathers will sit between the seam allowance seam on the right, and the innermost seam on the left. These are your center back markings. If you attach your skirt to the outermost line on the left, it will be too big, with no tab to fasten the waistband shut.

Pin your pre-gathered skirt to the markings on the waistband, right sides together, along interfaced edge. This way your landmarks are matched up at the waistline. Gather your sections and pin into place. Stitch together.

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Press the seam with the seam allowance facing upward.

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Press the top edge of the waistband under 1/2 inch.

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Turn the waistband down, right sides together, and sew 1/2 inch seam allowances at ends. Trim down seam allowances and turn right side out. Press into place and sew waistband closed.

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You will now put in the hem. Turn hemline under 1/2 inch and press under.

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Fold hem under 2 inches, press, and sew into place.

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Last, but not least, you will put in your buttons and buttonholes according to your preferred method. If you do a wide waistband like me, you will do two of each. Otherwise, just the one. The buttonholes will go on the left side tab, and the buttons will go underneath. That’s it! You now have a skirt!

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Things I Sew

Favorite Spring Reads, So Far…

the-subtle-art-of-not-giving-a-f-ck“When you give too many fucks – when you give a fuck about everyone and everything – you will feel that you’re perpetually entitled to be comfortable and happy at all times, that everything is supposed to be just exactly the fucking way you want it to be.” In anticipation of the release of his second book this May, I decided to give this one a re-read. I read it three years ago and found it very compelling, an irreverent, laugh-out-loud approach to happiness, suffering and deciding what matters in life. To not care about the things that eat us up inside, we have to care about something more important. It all comes down to values. It isn’t about indifference, but becoming okay with being different. To not give a fuck about anything is to become entirely self-absorbed, not standing for anything, not contributing anything. Life isn’t always supposed to feel great. To desire this is a form of narcissism, a belief that I’m entitled to feel good about life all the time, and if anything results in the contrary I’m a victim. We don’t say, “fuck it” to everything in life. We say it to what is unimportant in life. “You can’t be an important and life-changing presence for some people without also being a joke and an embarrassment to others. You just can’t. Because there’s no such thing as a lack of adversity. It doesn’t exist.” If we care too much about every trivial little thing, odds are we don’t have enough truly important things to give a fuck about, and that’s the real problem. The point is not to avoid suffering – suffering is an inevitable and important part of life. It is biologically useful for inspiring change. It’s not about NOT having problems, but simply having better problems. “Happiness is a constant work-in-progress, because solving problems is a constant work-in-progress – the solutions to today’s problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow’s problems, and so on. True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving.” The important thing to ask ourselves is, what pain do we want in our lives, what are we willing to struggle for? Success does not guarantee a life devoid of problems, it merely upgrades them. This book is a unique and refreshing take on happiness, success, and personal growth, and I can’t wait for the follow-up.

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“What unites Ethan and Sara, Greg and Olivia, and Luci and Steve is not what they’ve quit, but what they have gained. They find true joy in their work. They aren’t just suffering and renouncing. By living within limits, they find the sort of abundance so many of us long for. And after that, the need for money and cars and big homes just seems to fall away.”  This author set out to explore what it really means to live simply, cultivate the earth, and how this brings freedom in the lives of individuals and families. He visits a communal style collective in Missouri, a young couple farming the wasted neighborhoods of Detroit, and a homesteading family in Montana, to get into the mindsets and values of people who choose to reject societal values in their own unique ways. What does it actually mean to live simply? The answer is different for each of the individuals interviewed. “‘The greatest conspiracy on the planet is that we need to oppress, kill, and pollute in order to get our needs met,’ Ethan told me. ‘And it’s not true. I look at the trees and the birds and I know it’s not true. I’m not yet sure how to do it, but I’m going to learn.'” The author states that as people move increasingly away from smaller towns in the rural midwest and back into urban areas, there has been a rise in crime, an increase in national debt, an increase in soil erosion, and an increase in chemical contamination of the countryside. We need a new generation of people who are willing to go into these places with a very different mindset than their contemporaries. Modern universities, regardless of major, focus on preparing individuals primarily for upward mobility, which “[tends] to reward the same exploitation with which the prairie was settled.” Each section of the book is a heartfelt biographical account of the back stories of each individual and what led them to live in radical contradiction to the values that have been ingrained in all of us in terms of how we define prosperity, success, and well-being, and how these values affect us in the short and long-term. The perspectives are varied, the journeys full of ups and downs, but these folks have endured far beyond the point of others who have navigated a similar path. “[Ethan] lambasted warmongering conservatives ‘going to bible study 3 times a week…blessing the bombs we drop on women and children…and cursing the godlessness of this culture.’ He aimed his fiercest words at fellow liberals ‘going to their summer festivals in their cars eating organic fair trade chocolate while the bombs fall for their right to consume and casually talking about why the mainstream American can not embrace peace. “How could people be so ignorant,” they say while dancing to the sound system made by the sweat shops in China.'” The perspectives are thought-provoking, the lifestyles are demanding, and the passion for their way of life is inspiring. This book leads the reader on a journey into newer, better, deeper questions about the way we live, while leaving the topic open-ended. The answers are something each individual has to explore for oneself. Highly recommended.

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“‘To find your way in this world you need only answer three questions,’ the old man explained. ‘First, you must ask yourself: “Who am I?” You will know who you are when you see who you are not. ‘Second, you must ask yourself: “What is real?” You will know what is real when you accept what is not real. Third,’ the man finished, ‘you must ask yourself: “What is love?” You will know love when you realize what love is not.'” Like all of Ruiz’s work, this book is deceptively simple, yet packed full of wisdom that stops you in your tracks. For me, this book was almost like a prequel to The Four Agreements, yet paradoxically seems, after reading all of his other books, as though we are coming full circle to the beginning, checking in from a new vantage point. The Four Agreements is the ‘how’ – how the ways we show up in the world are impacted by our mindsets, and how to begin dismantling this; The Three Questions is the why – why do we show up the way we do, why do we believe the things we do about the self, about love, about truth. We get to the heart of our mindsets, deconstructing the stories we have been told about ourselves and used to define our sense of ME. The Four Agreements teaches us some new ways to interact with the world around us, and The Three Questions continually challenges us as to why we have interacted with the world as we have up to this point. “Our instinct is to cling to the picture we have of ourselves, which makes any new discoveries impossible. Questioning who we are gives us a chance to bring down a few walls – a few stubborn beliefs – and reconnect with life.” Ruiz challenges us to stop putting faith in our identity and expecting it to matter to other people. Our idea of who we are may not match anyone else’s idea of who we are. ME is a concept we’ve constructed that is not our true identity. We are life force energy – only life exists. Behavior is the by-product of belief, and beliefs can be changed. We are not the victim of our beliefs, but the creator and the artist. The canvas on which we create is our reality. “Life is truth, and it doesn’t need to be understood. Truth doesn’t need proof, or even faith, to survive. And it doesn’t need our stories. Truth existed before stories, before humanity; and truth will continue after all the storytellers are gone. We don’t need a thought or a theory to show us the truth. Truth can be felt in our loving and in our enduring passion to live.” This is a wonderful addition to the canon of Ruiz’s books and adds a new level to what he has already shared.

Things I Read

Homemade Sculpting Wax

20190428_103840Well, the inevitable happened. I chopped my hair off. I’ve always loved my hair short. It started at three years-old when I begged my mother for boy hair. She walked me down to my Aunt Yolanda’s house and refused to watch as my aunt went to work. As my hair fell to the ground around me, I felt happy and free. After years of cutting it off and growing it back out again, I decided to just embrace it.

I have been making hair products lately aimed at keeping my hair and scalp healthy as my hair grew longer. Eff it. The products will be more effective for my scalp now because they can reach it better. And if my scalp is healthy, my hair will follow suit.

Of course… now I need a sculpting wax. After a little research, I came up with a recipe using ingredients I love, including the same essential oil blend I used in my Herbal Hair and Scalp Oil. I absolutely love the blend since I’ve been using it and this will be one more way to get these oils into my life.

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Here’s the recipe:
Note – The final product will be very stiff. To make a softer product, pull back on the amount of beeswax.

  • 1/4 cup Jojoba oil
  • 3 Tbsp shea butter
  • 2 Tbsp beeswax
  • 40 drops Rosemary essential oil
  • 25 drops Sage essential oil
  • 20 drops Lemon essential oil
  • 15 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 15 drops Lemongrass essential oil
  • 10 drops Peppermint essential oil

Here’s the process:

Place the jojoba oil, shea butter, and beeswax into a small saucepan; heat over low heat until the butter and wax JUST melt.

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Pour into small jar and allow to cool slightly (not so much that it solidifies, but enough that the essential oils won’t evaporate).

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Stir in the essential oils and allow to harden. That’s it!

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I had to divide mine into two jars, as the mixture came all the way to the brim. I just divided the essential oils in half, rounding down a drop on the odd numbered amounts.

Ingredient actions:

Jojoba oil:  Softening and moisturizing, closely emulating natural sebum from scalp; highly emollient and nutritive; easily absorbed; does not turn rancid and requires no refrigeration.
Shea butter:  Skin-softening and emollient; high concentration of oleic and stearic fatty acids, rich in vitamins A and E as well as other vitamins and minerals; low-level of UV protection (approximately SPF-6); promotes hydration and suppleness of skin; reinforces acid mantle; alleviates patchy skin and accelerates cell turnover; protects against oxidation; improves circulation and absorbs UV rays.
Beeswax:  Thickener; soothing and antibiotic; adds a sweet, honey-like fragrance.
Lavender EO:  
Adaptogenic – normalizes both dry and oily conditions for the hair and scalp; antimicrobial; anti-inflammatory; skin regenerative; great for sensitive or mature skin; aids in dandruff and hair loss.
Lemon EO:  Antiseptic, astringent, antibacterial, cleansing, cell regenerative, regulates sebum production, shine-enhancing, effective for inflamed skin and dandruff conditions.
Lemongrass EO:  Antiseptic, astringent and stimulating; antifungal; natural bug deterrent.
Peppermint EO:  Cooling, cleansing, stimulating, invigorating, antiseptic, toning, anti-inflammatory, good for dermatitis and dandruff conditions.
Rosemary EO:  Great for darkening the hair; helps hair grown and thicken; fantastic conditioner; antiseptic, cleansing; stimulates skin; rejuvenates cells; helps prevent hair loss and thinning; strengthens hair; great for dandruff and dermatitis.
Sage EO:  Astringent, antiseptic, invigorating, stimulating; effective for hair loss and sensitive skin.

Favorite sources used:

Things I Make

Earth Star Chakra Lessons

Black and brown are the colors of the Earth Star Chakra

The Earth Star Chakra is located in the ground, about 12-18 inches beneath your feet. It grounds all the other chakras, connecting us to the Earth and all its inhabitants. It also contains info on our past lives. A balanced Earth Chakra keeps us feeling grounded and balanced, helping discharge negative and impure energy to the earth as well as drawing divine and pure energy from earth. It connects our physical body to our etheric body, and aligns us with the earth’s magnetic core.

SOUL VOW:  Be firmly rooted in the here and now

LIFE VALUE:  Mother Earth and I are one; we nourish and mutually support one another

ANIMAL:  Rabbit

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Rabbit is a creatures of the earth, living close to the ground. It symbolizes fertility, abundance, cleverness, spontaneity, keen senses, creativity and wealth. It is associated with fear due to its timidity because of its tendency to bolt. Rabbit teaches us to overcome irrational fears while still protecting ourselves from harm. Rabbits are extremely fertile; they represent fertility of ideas, encouraging the acting on of ideas and plans. They have the ability to plan ahead and stay healthy even in the harshest winter months, teaching us to work hard and save. Rabbit is clever and creative, teaching us to use our intelligence and skill to solve problems that others can’t, thinking outside the box, knowing when to zig or zag. It reminds us to avoid neglecting our creative side, as well as reminding us that moving in an unexpected direction might bring about positive change. Stop, look, and listen to avoid difficulties. Rabbit assists with effective planning, financially and physically. Rabbit acts as a guide between heaven, earth, and the underworld, an emblem of Shamanic journeys; it represents sensitives, seers and psychics. Rabbit’s motto is “look before you leap” and keep one foot in reality.

STONE:  Smoky Quartz

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Smokey quartz grounds, anchors, cleanses, and improves serenity. It improves the connection to the physical world. This is a very healing stone in dealing with emotional wounds. It works to release emotions like jealousy, fear and anger, and helps one to move on from painful memories of the past. This stone is also associated with the higher crown chakra, so it acts as a spiritual satellite that connects heaven and earth –  we are anchored to the earth while keeping our minds on things above, ‘head in the clouds, feet on the ground.’

LESSONS:

I didn’t set out to work beyond the 7 chakra system, but this is where I found myself. I couldn’t do my root chakra work without the Earth Star Chakra. The two go hand-in-hand. Whereas the root chakra is all about provision and security in life, the Earth Star chakra is the foundation. Without the earth to provide the resources, our work would not come to fruition. I experience these two as Mother Earth and Father Sky – the interplay between the gifts we receive from our Creator and what nourishes us from the ground on which we stand. Squirrel scurries on the ground, burying and digging up, then scampering through the trees as it navigates its way across the highest heights of the forest. The rabbit stays close to the ground, always watching and listening, discerning, lounging, scavenging and gathering along the ground like squirrel, but finding its safety and security deep in the heart of the earth. For me, the two go hand-in-hand.

When I was 8 years-old, I spent a week at summer camp with my church group. The camp was called Forest Home and was tucked away in the San Bernadino mountains of southern California, not too far from Big Bear Lake. It was an amazing place. As a child who was currently residing in a suburb of 3 million people at the southern end of Los Angeles county, being in the woods surrounded by nature was a rare and special treat. As part of the camp experience, each camper was expected to choose a group activity to participate in during the afternoons. We were gathered together that first afternoon, as each counselor went up front to describe the activity they were leading in excited tones. The camper’s job was to run up and get in line when they found the activity they wanted to join. I sat through several presentations until at long last a male counselor got up and began to describe nature hiking. I lit up with excitement – the opportunity to get out in the woods and connect, to observe plants, animal and birds, and to learn all about basic wilderness skills. When the invitation was offered, I ran to the front excitedly and got in line. “Well, well,” said the camp leader into the microphone in a laughing tone. “Looks like we have a girl in the group this week.” Everyone started laughing, even the grown-ups. I looked around me, and indeed I was surrounded by boys. As a child who was painfully shy, I was mortified, fighting back tears. As a little girl who was sporting a pixie cut and corduroy shorts, I was humiliated, fighting back waves of shame. I went a short way into the woods at the very back of the line of boys, then turned and ran back into camp to join a group of little girls who were learning underwater basket-weaving. Nature was for boys. Making pretty things at the poolside and talking about which swimsuits we liked was the domain of girls. Message received.

There was an emptiness inside of me throughout the rest of my childhood and adolescence. I was a deep child, who felt a strong connection to spiritual things. I began my secret morning prayer practice at age 3 after a powerful experience in Sunday School, and I had already been through many things in my young life. The joy I felt at that invitation to come and connect with Mother Nature was real and abundant. Yet it was shut down – hard. I went on to live the life of an 80s teen, going to the mall, eating fast food, and spending my babysitting money on trendy outfits, but deep down was an unfulfilled longing that I didn’t understand.

Fast forward to 1994. I found myself as a young newlywed living in a small town in Oregon at the base of Mount Hood. I was so happy to be away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. I began the journey back into the arms of my Mama. I vowed to always stay connected to nature, one way or another. I started hiking a lot and eventually became a trail runner. I radically changed my diet, and discovered a passion for nutrition. I got a degree in biology, and ended up getting an education in naturopathic medicine. I finally unleashed that little tomboy and let her run free in the woods and play. Every time I went running, I imagined that I was a different animal based on how I was feeling that day – swift and light as a doe one day, powerful and strong like a wildcat on another. I would sit sometimes, tucked away under the forest canopy, and eavesdrop on the birds as they conversed across the distance. I was a wild thing, born of the soil, made of stardust, at one with my sisters, the trees.

Over the years, the earth has been my nurturer, my support system, my playground. It has also been a force to reckoned with, threatening to take me back into itself at times. Between several natural disasters and a hapless encounter with a deer tick, our relationship has become distant at times. Ultimately, healing has always been found right where I stand, right beneath my minimally-shod feet. Nature is a powerful force, a healing force. She reminds us that control is an illusion, that the very forces which heal are the same ones which can summon a storm. She models resilience, a will to go on, and an amazing ability to find balance against the odds. She teaches me that no matter what happens to you on the surface, there is still life teeming within the depths, ready to spring forth – it is never too late to try again. The landscape may be ever-changing, but who you are at the core is what matters. These are the lessons I learn as I live on this planet. Our bodies want to heal, our planet wants to provide for our needs. We are stubborn kids who think we know better than Mama, that we don’t need to respect the wisdom we’ve been offered. We’re wrong. But I can’t change anyone else. I can’t single-handedly fix humanity or turn back the course of history. I can only do what I’m able to as one person, but I will do it to the best of my ability. I will start by being firmly rooted in the here and now. I will make the least negative impact I possibly can and vice-versa, because Mother Earth and I are one. We mutually support and nourish one another.

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Good afternoon, sisters. A storm is in the forecast today,
but we will make it through.

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“Know the ways of the ones who take care of you,
so that you may take care of them…
Sustain the ones who sustain you
and the earth will last forever.”

— Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Journey Through the Chakras
Things I Think About