100 Days

Back in 2017, I saw #the100dayproject on instagram (most likely from @elisejoy) and caught the bug. I was on the tail end of my second maternity leave from a job that was tough, let's just call it tough.

I thought of myself as a creative person but I wasn't creating much. Honestly, I was a little envious of people sharing their art and creations and ideas and projects while I felt overwhelmed just keeping two kids alive and getting to work five days a week.

But here's an interesting thing. While having two kids (or one kid, or seven kids, or just a demanding houseplant, whatever, no judgements) can make you feel entirely incapable of just about anything 99% of the time, it also coincidentally can make you feel superhuman, indestructible and able to do any damn thing you set your mind to. I birthed two kids, I can do hard things.

So I took my feelings of self-pity, made a commitment and #100daysofgraciestitches was born and with it @gracie_stitches.

I've said it before but that first #100dayproject was life-changing. I told myself I would sew, something, anything, every day, for 100 days. (If you're thinking to yourself, "I should do this," go here). With a newborn, and a three-year old and a tough job, I committed to sew every day. And I did it. I sewed every day, for 100 days.

I skipped days and some days I only sewed for five minutes, or only cut fabric, or measured fabric, or ironed fabric, or just looked at fabric. But mostly, for 100 days, I sewed. And it became a thing I did. And a thing I shared. And I thing I was okay talking about. And a little bit of an identity. Because if you do something for 100 days it becomes a little bit of who you are. 

And here's what changed. I made things. I was creating things. I was taking a little time to myself every day to do something I wanted to do (honestly, if you're not doing this you should start right now).

I carved out space in my home and space in my life to make things. I gave up some things to make that space and in doing so found what things weren't important to me and what things were.

I made things I liked, I made things I didn't like. I learned things. I improved. I listened to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts. I took over our kitchen table with my sewing machine and fabric. I cleaned out our guest room and tucked a little table in the corner. I brought some felt and needle and thread on vacation and attempted to sew on the road.

I would sometimes tap on the #100dayproject hashtag to see what other people were making. Drawing, sewing, painting, sculpting, making, moving, doing, it was so inspiring to see people doing their things. 

I told myself if you're envious about something, do something to change it. And I taught myself that I could fix a thing in my life that wasn't working. 

During that first 100 days I watched my first kiddo turn four, my second kiddo went from a 3-month-old to a 6-month-old and I quit the tough job. I can't explain exactly how that all fits together but it does.

I made space in my life for what was important and let go of what wasn't. I told myself that if other people could make time for what was important to them, I could make time for what was important to me. And Gracie Stitches was born. 

In 2018 I tried something slightly different with #100graciequiltdesigns and I made it 12 days. Because let's be real, sometimes year two is harder than year one. 

So this year, I went back to what worked with #100daysofgraciestitches2019. And today is my 100th day. April 2nd to July 14th, just a few days behind schedule. I sewed (almost) every day for 100 days.

I made blankets (mostly). I made quilts. I made a tiny yellow dress. I sold some of the things I made. I gifted a lot of the things I made. I kept a few of my favorites and least favorites.

I sewed with a two-year-old on my lap. I sewed with a lot of Power Rangers on in the background. I sewed at school with 4th and 5th graders. I sewed late at night but mostly during nap time. I had my machine professionally cleaned (highly recommend) and I treated myself to fabric I've been wanting for years. I listened to a lot of podcasts (the Daily is my current fave) and a lot of audiobooks (guys, I'm obsessed with the enneagram, I'm like several books deep).

I finished a lot of blankets. I finished a project I started two years ago. I still have at least 7 unfinished projects. I abandoned at least one project. I did a lot of planning and doodling. I followed a quilt pattern for the first time ever. I got my blankets in two stores. I told my husband "I'll wash the dishes if I can sew while you give the kids baths" a lot of times. I wrote 'sew' on my to-do list literally every day for 100 days. 

It's a pretty boring simple little thing really. But also a great big cool thing. That's my takeaway. The boring simple little things make the great big cool things. Do something a little bit, every day, or almost every day, and change your whole life. That's a great big cool thing. 

Annie Dillard wrote "How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives," which is a pretty strong motivator to get off your phone and get to work. How are you spending your days? What have you done in the last 100 days?

Epictetus said "If you wish to be a writer, write." To me that's the same as "if you want to be a runner, run," "if you want to be a painter, paint," "if you want to be a sewer, sew." If you want to be a comedian or just someone who makes other people laugh, sign up for an open mic night. Just start. Do your simple little thing. I know it might not feel simple or little. Do your next right thing. Do one thing. 

My kind, smart, hardworking friend Beth (she owns a B&B, she's amazing) said this about running your own business: "it's scary because if you don't do the things you want to do or know you need to do, no one is going to make you, you don't have a boss telling you what to do, no one is pushing you forward, telling you to work, making you grow your business."

And shit guys, that's how life is too. Your life is your business and you don't have a boss. No one is going to tell you to do the things you want to do. No one is going to tell you to do the things you need to do. I mean, they might. You might have bossy or helpful or well-meaning people in your life. But you can ignore them, it's really easy to ignore them.

Do your boring simple little thing. Paint a picture. Read a book. Write a book. Bake your bread. Run your marathon. Tell your jokes. Do your weird creative thing that no one has ever heard of and you're too shy to talk about. Talk about your thing. We want to hear about it. I want to hear about it. We're down here in the arena doing our great big cool thing and we're cheering you on.

Do your great big thing one time. Then do it for 100 days, or 12 days, again, no judgments.