Friday, December 19, 2014

This is 25.

This week was my 25th birthday! Woohoo! Not only am I a quarter of a century old, but I can change my age bracket on surveys (no more feeling like a baby in the 18-24 category) and rent a car. Though, that's about it. :D I've seen other bloggers write about birthdays, and this seems to be an important enough one for me to reflect on. I haven't really talked in depth about my life outside of quilting on the blog, so here's the scoop.

Self-worth is an important topic to talk about. It's a bit unusual to blog about, I think, because it could come off as sounding whiny, or, on the other end of the spectrum, overconfident. However you end up taking this in, I feel like I just need to talk about it. So, thank you in advance for reading. :)

My current long-term project in timeout: the epic Anna Maria Horner medallion quilt (original design)

My husband, family, friends, and this crazy awesome quilting thing have been holding me together these last two and a half years. When I graduated from college in May 2012, I was completely confident (and naive), believing I would soon be living my dream job as a teacher. I was a top ten student in high school, I graduated magna cum laude with History Department Honors in college, I was praised for the excellent job I had done in student teaching, I'd worked my butt off, I went on many, many interviews and some second and third interviews, and then... nothing. I try to convince myself that it isn't all me - the New Jersey teaching job market is so competitive and thin right now, and it's only gotten worse since 2012 (in my opinion).

The first September after graduation was the hardest. Several teachers in my graduating class did find teaching jobs and talked/posted pictures of their new classrooms, their back-to-school shopping, their excitement... and there I was with a very part time job and substitute teaching, sitting at my sewing machine at night. I was happy for them but it still hurt in an awkward way. It's really hard to train and pour tons of money into something that you feel is your life's calling, only not to get that chance. It beats you up inside. You wonder: "Am I not good enough for this?" "What was I thinking?" "What could I have done differently?"  and worst of all, "What do I do next?" I know these thoughts are pervasive amongst my generation as we travel the murky waters of our first years of employment.


I didn't stop trying. I worked a few maternity leave/summer school/after school teaching positions. I've gained a lot of experience teaching and helping many kids PreK-12 that I never would have met if I was a full time teacher. I'm so grateful for all those wonderfully unique, funny, brilliant students. The downside is the whole we-need-to-make-money part. I've been yearning to go back to school to earn more certifications and/or a master's degree, but that requires money that I especially don't have because I'm paying off the loans from my BA. Up until last week, I was working several part time education jobs (paraprofessional/aide, private tutor, tutor at a center, babysitting, substitute teaching), but now, I've acquired a full time paraprofessional position. This job allows me to work with kids all over the middle school (my favorite level), and that makes me so happy. So, for now, at least until school hiring season (around March), I can stop worrying about some things and wear less hats. My self-worth is on the mend. I'll be okay. I realize that everything will work out at some point and that I need to be a bit more patient. "Good thing come to those who wait," right?

Now: sewing. In Fall 2012, quilting was already in my life, but not in a way that I needed it. Over the last couple of years, it has morphed into much, much more than a hobby; it's more like a necessity and a lifeline. I realize that it's unusual for a twenty-something to sew as much as I do. I am on a mission to get as many people sewing as I can, no matter what age!


Back to the lifeline part: Sometimes, I wonder what I'd be doing without sewing (probably sitting around reading, but I make time for that anyway. Really, what would I be doing???). I get extremely antsy when I haven't sewn much in a week (ask Mike!) and/or when I have too many responsibilities and not enough free sewing time. That's why, next year, I'm going to try to focus on what I want to sew. I did a much better job of this overall in 2014, but there's always room for improvement. Now, I'll quote my brilliant friend, Renee:

"Dear Self, I promise never again to sign up for a fabric challenge I am not completely inspired by. I promise not to agree to use an advanced sewing pattern that I've never heard of before, know nothing about the pattern writer, or can find any additional resources for online. I promise not to try and make a style of quilt I'm not drawn to. I promise to try to be content, if not happy with the machine, fabric, thread, etc that I have now. And I'm sorry about all the headaches I've caused you recently by not doing all these things. XOXOX -Me." 

Because sewing is too much fun and too much of a blessing to be stressed about it. Say it with me and repeat!


Quilting and blogging as therapy has stretched me in other ways I couldn't have imagined a few years ago. As many of you know, I just completed my first year as President of the Central Jersey MQG, and I'm running for a second term in January. I've been acting as webmaster for going on 3 years, and I was VP before that. I've also become a teacher of quilting and a public speaker. I seriously can't wait to see what 2015 holds! Quilting has healed me and reinvigorated me to follow my dreams (corny as that sounds), whatever they end up becoming.


Here's my last thought: when people reach out to me through email, when people comment on this blog or on Instagram, when we start having funny conversations or drooling over fabric together or planning new quilts that many never even come to fruition... that puts the cherry on top of this quilting life.  Sometimes, it's like you've stuck your hand in my self-worth jar and succeeded in scraping some out. So, I'm thankful for all of you, and especially my guild members, for making all of this worth it!


So, this is 25. It will be a good one. I can feel it!


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27 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday! Great post. Love your quilts you showed.

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  2. You go girl! In my experience, at the point where you are completely balanced and happy--something amazing will happen to stretch you out even further. Keep networking, and make sure that you take the best full time job--not just the first one you are offered.

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  3. I'm so glad you found a good position finally! And other nice/encouraging things. I blame the narcotics and anesthesia. Sending hugs though! :-)

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  4. Jess, you are the mostest. Seriously, you inspire me all the time. A lesson I've learned: just because things don't work out the way you thought they would, doesn't mean that they can't still work out for the best. You are a blessing to so many, my friend. Hugs to you!!

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  5. Glad you found something you like. In the long run it is not the destination but the journey that counts. I love your positive attitude and am often inspired by it. Hugs.

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  6. What a great post. I follow more bloggers than I care to admit, but when your posts appear in my very long bloglovin list they are among the first that I open. Great quote too - I definitely need to take that pledge. Enjoy being 25.

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  7. Happy birthday! Hope 25 is everything you think it will be and more.

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  8. Sometimes the waiting is so hard Jess, and not easy. Thankfully you have a husband and family who have wrapped their arms around you and held you together. Congratulations on the job. Maybe the journey is different to what you expected but I am sure the training has helped with teaching quilting classes. Wish I lived closer (than new Zealand) as I would love to meet for a coffee-fellow Sagittarians. Happy 25th birthday.

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  9. I have a 22, 21 19 17 and 13 yr old and one thing I have learned from them is you will find your place. Follow your heart, do what you love and what suits you! As a parent my children have gravitated towards their strengths and things have worked out. ( so far , fingers crossed! ). Go with what you know and have confidence. You work hard so you will get there :) Wishing you the best . Lovely post.

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  10. 25 was a year of huge change for me! Good change. I hope that your quilring career continues to grow in the coming year. You are such a blessing to "know" and I can't wait to meet you at QuiltCon. Happy birthday again, December baby! :)

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  11. Happy Birthday!!! Oh, and congrats on the new job.

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  12. Happiest of birthday years to you. My mom and a DIL were/are teachers-both middle school. I so admire the profession so I hope that the perfect job will eventually come to you.

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  13. Happy Birthday, Jess! Such a great post, thanks for sharing it! Sometimes, we think we know the path, but life has a way of taking us in a different direction than we planned. Perhaps your teacher training was meant to lead you to a very successful life as a Sewing Teacher - for both children and adults. Keep working hard and enjoying what you do, and it will all work out! Happy 25th!

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  14. Such strength you are gaining through this struggle....love your quilts and your determination.....a little love and support help so much in this life doesnt it?

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  15. Happy birthda Jessie. May you get your dream job. Maybe you needed this little detour to make a difference for someone else via your quilt teaching first. Prayers for you getting your teaching job.

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  16. Happy birthday! I love this.blog post. It resonates with me. Sewing.is.definitely a life line. Keep doing it. You inspire.me!

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  17. First of all, I want to say Happy 25th Birthday! Your story sounds so similar to my own: a twenty-something crafty lady, graduated from college with a great degree and had to wait quite a while for her dream job working with kids (or in my case, teens). Don't ever give up on your dreams! Life has a funny way of putting you exactly where you are supposed to be. :) Have a great holiday season and Happy New Year!
    -Brittany

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  18. Happy Birthday!!! Teaching is a difficult field to get a job in and it is not what you know but who you know! When I got my degree in elementary education, I applied for jobs but for every job opening there was there were 100 applicants. Most were filled by those who did their student teaching at that school. I took long-term sub jobs all year until my next door neighbor moved from doing half-day resource room/half-day pre-school to all day pre-school and she asked me to sub her resource room in the morning and in the afternoon be her aide in pre-school. I did that from Easter until the end of the school year...in August the principal called me and asked me if I was interested in a one-year only contract as a resource teacher where I fell in love with special ed. It honestly is who you know way more than what you know. If you can find a job and you need a certification in it, they usually give you 3 years to get certified while you teach. Also, save getting your Master's until after you get a job - it costs more for a teacher with a Master's then it does with one with a B.S., so districts are more apt to hire a cheaper B.S. :) Hang in there, the right opportunity will come!

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  19. Happy Birthday Jess! You are very talented and will create your way well! All the best and Merry Christmas! x Teje

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  20. Happy 25th birthday Jess! You are an amazing young woman, thoughtful and so hardworking. We need more teachers like you, especially for middle schoolers (my favorite age too) and I'm pulling for you to get your dream teaching job soon. Meanwhile, I hope you know how important you are to the quilting movement. It makes me so happy to read your blog, experiencing your enthusiasm for quilting.

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  21. Happy 25th birthday. I wish you all the best for the next twenty five and beyond!
    A thoughtful, insightful post -- thanks for sharing.

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  22. Happy Bday Jess! Little late I know :) You are doing great job with all the things you do. Just keep on going! All the best for the upcoming year!

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  23. Happy birthday Jess! (It's my birthday today but I'm now in the no longer 20-something club, ugh) I agree with you it is just the cherry on top having exchanges with people who enjoy crafting the way I do. Your work BTW is just wonderful. Keep on crafting!!

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  24. Didn't realize of course things had been so touch...hoping for the best for you with the new job and future long term employment! Happy Birthday!

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  25. Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful post. 25... you're young and still have tons of time ahead of you to make your dreams come true. You deserve every bit of success you have, and will have in the future because you're an amazing person with such a big heart and I feel so lucky to have met you through this great community. Things may take more time now than they did 7-8 years ago (I feel lucky to have squeeked into employment JUST before the bubble burst) but slowly all good things will come! The job market, frankly, sucks... especially in "pink collar" professions where people with the education and qualifications are often undervalued. I know in librarianship, often you have to work a paraprofessional job before getting a professional position even if you have a degree. I'm so happy that you were able to find a full time job that you're enjoying and I'm sure it will lead to a full time teaching gig. Half the battle is getting your foot in the door. and I KNOW you'll be successful in your crafty teaching endeavors because you kick butt! Happy birthday, friend, and here's to many more <3

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  26. Great post Jess, it takes guts to share that much with the world. All the best for the new job and I hope it leads to the most wonderful things for you and the kids you work with.

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