Saturday, January 4, 2020

What I Learned in 2019

Big Bear Cabin Quilt from Patchwork USA for Lucky Spool by Heidi Staples
My Big Bear Cabin Quilt from Patchwork USA

Happy New Year, friends! It's been a whirlwind of holidays and activities, family time and friendship over the past two months, and I've loved every second of it. So much has been happening in real time that it's been difficult to slip away to this space, but I'm tiptoeing back into the blog, and it feels great to be here with you again.

2019 was good to me. There were things to celebrate and not too many things to mourn. There was plenty of learning and growing which is always helpful. And there was a conscious decision to set aside time for family which was probably the best thing of all. I sat down this morning to think about what stood out to me over the past 12 months, and this is what came to mind...

1. biggest sewing accomplishment: Patchwork USA has been in the works since 2015, and I was thrilled to see it finally released into the world last July. This book is dear to my heart for many reasons, which you can read about here. Getting beautiful messages from readers who love it has brought all kinds of joy to my heart. To each one of you who bought it, thanks a million! And to those of you who haven't, you can still get a copy of your own. I hope you'll love it as much as I do.

2. biggest life change: This was the year that I felt the definite shift from being the mother of 3 little girls to the mother of 3 preteen daughters. It's been wonderful, terrifying, frustrating, exhausting, and exciting all at once, but we're finding our way one step at a time. Having my amazing husband and parents here to support me has been a lifesaver in this area more times than I can count, and together we make a great team. I'm learning the value of perspective and patience, and that sometimes it's better (but not easier) to hold my tongue and listen when the girls are having an off day. I'm pretty darn proud of these young women we're raising, who are each so smart and strong and fun. Being their mother is the hardest job in the world, but it's the best one too.

3. most surprising new habit: I've spent my whole life as a night owl, but this year I dabbled in being an early bird, and I'm still amazed at how much I like it. I don't do it every day, but getting up before dawn and sitting down with a cup of coffee (another new habit, believe it or not!) and my Bible to have a bit of quiet time before the girls are awake has been an anchor for my soul in the mornings. I'm craving more of that peace as I go into the new year.

4. most challenging new habit: I started intermittent fasting at the end of November, which basically just means that on most days, I don't eat after 2:30 in the afternoon. It's been a slow adjustment, but so far I've been pleased to see that it's really helping some of the health issues that were plaguing me last year. Like most things, it seems to get easier the longer you do it. We'll see how it goes over the next few months.

5. favorite unexpected project: I had so much fun designing some enamel pins and vinyl stickers for Maker Pin Co. last spring! They're still available here if you like that sort of thing. It was a dream assignment for me, and I love sharing them with friends when I can.

6. most influential read: The book that had the biggest impact on me this year was definitely Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I had been hurtling through life at breakneck speed for too long without realizing how much it was costing me, and this book was the wake up call I desperately needed. I'm still figuring out a lot of this stuff as I go along, but the change has been real and important in how I spend my days, and I'm so grateful.

7. favorite new accessory: My glasses are a permanent fixture now that I've crossed over into my 40's, but I like seeing a more interesting face look back at me in the mirror. Being able to read without feeling like I'm going blind is pretty nice too.

8. biggest schedule change: Now that my girls are getting older (they're currently in 4th, 5th, and 8th grade), school is taking a lot more of my time each day. We do a DVD based home school program where the girls watch their classes (taught by amazing teachers in real classrooms) at their desks, and then I make sure that they do their assignments, help them study for quizzes and tests, reteach lessons or tutor as needed, and grade all their papers. As the work is getting more challenging, the time I need to devote to teaching each day is growing. I'm perfectly happy with that since my daughters' education is the most important work I do, but it's meant that I've had to get creative sometimes when it comes to finishing the rest of my tasks each day. Exploring new ways to do this better is on my list of goals for 2020.

So those are the highlights that come to mind at the moment. I had another birthday last month, and it feels surprisingly good. The best thing about being 42 so far is realizing that I no longer need to make excuses for who I want to be. I don't need to apologize for wearing message tees, listening to Billie Holiday, reading old books about the Civil War, and staying home at night watching reruns of Psych with my husband instead of going out on the town. I don't have to feel guilty about lying down for 15 minutes with a good book in the afternoon, letting the dishes sit on the kitchen counter until later in the day, or sneaking off to get ice cream on the weekend without my daughters. The best thing I'm learning is that I don't have to be an all or nothing person in every area of my life. I can ease into new habits, tweak them a bit here and there, and take time to see what works instead of feeling like I have to start a new regime and get everything right immediately or it's no good. It takes a lot of pressure off when you stop trying to live up to the Pinterest boards and give yourself permission to be a human being.

But seriously, don't tell my daughters about the ice cream, because I still feel a little guilty about that one...


  1. I really like the quilt you have pictured today and I'm hoping for a tutorial! WIll check it out.

  2. Heidi, you certainly did have a good year. I'm very encouraged at how well you are assessing the changes in your family, the girls' maturing, and their education and how it affects you and your family. And Billie Holiday is always good, in my opinion :-)

  3. You are living the best years of your life!! I love that you are homeschooling your wasn't something I had even heard about when my girls were in school. It's fun to learn how your daughters learn...visual, audio or kinesthetic, or combination thereof! Cooking and cleaning can encompass chemistry and physics, making a quilt is heavy into math - measuring, geometry...I wish I could home-school my grandchildren! You had a great 2019...I hope 2020 is even better for you and your family!


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