The last number of years, I written a year end post about the makes that happened to be highlights for me and learning (ie. disaster projects) – have a look here for 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 (there are older posts and I encourage you to look in the blog archive on the side bar if you’re interested). I also usually talk about goals for the coming year. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that I really like New Years – I like the beginning of things, taking on new tasks and often, overcommitting myself. This past year was no different but I began to get a handle on those things, stepping back from a few events that I was really excited about and decided to become a spectator instead. While it was hard to step back, it also gave me some perspective on where I like to spend my time, how I prefer to spend “me time” and what is important to me overall.
Instead of sharing a bunch of projects with you, I thought I would take a different approach this year and go through an exercise that has been on my mind for much of the past week. I wondered how I could do an ‘annual review’ without actually doing an annual review – mostly because I have the Patreon community that I serve and I want to strive to continue to move forward. Then, Seth Godin posted this on his blog and I thought, ‘Voila!’ but it’s taken me some time to sit down and go through it. I’m glad I let it percolate though – I think that time has helped me with my reflections. I hope you enjoy this ‘soft skills inventory’ and don’t worry, there’ll be pretty yarn photos because that’s why we’re all here!
1. What am I better at?
Overall, there are a few things I am better at but mostly, I’m better at managing everything that is going on in my life. A few years ago, I had lost that skill after having two kids quite close together and losing a bit of myself in the process. Now, I can honestly say, armed with sleep, lists and a supportive partner, I am able to manage the tasks that I set out for myself well. As well, I am better at podcasting – practice has made me a better speaker and articulating what one is trying to say takes practice! I look at some of my early episodes and I’m proud of how far the podcast has come in terms of quality and content – we’ve covered a lot of ground over the years. I’m also better at creating textured yarns, which have taken lots of practice:
2. Do people trust me more than they did?
This is a hard question and I’m not sure it’s completely related to what I do. I will say, though, I have made friends in this community that I never dreamed was possible a few years ago. They trust me enough to seek out what we’ve created and tell others. I call them friends, seek their advice and help, and trust them. A reciprocal relationship like that has to start somewhere and I’m glad I invested that time initially in recording those early episodes even though I didn’t know where I was going!
3. Am I hiding more (or less) than I did the last time I checked?
This is something I was talking to my husband about just this morning – the issue of transparency. This is very important to me because I want others to see that they can have a job, side-hustle, whatever they want to call it, in a creative industry. It may not be my main focus but it’s one that gives me an outlet to talk about projects, learning and challenges, as well as see what others are doing. There is no end of creativity out there!
4. Is my list of insightful, useful and frightening stats about my work, my budgets and my challenges complete? And have I shared it with someone I trust?
Yes, it is and I have. I work through much of my process by utilizing pen and paper, much of what I share with my husband. Friends have been a great source of inspiration and knowledge, as well as, brainstorming with one another ideas and thoughts we’d like to develop. I write much of that down and utilize it later as a means to inspiration.
5. If selling ideas is a skill, am I more skilled at it than I was?
This is a really tough one for me. The reality is, I have become more skilled and confident at selling. I find I have become more able to talk about what I do and share with others why I do what I do. At first, I wasn’t sure how to discuss the blog and podcast, but as it has become more and more a part of my life, I find myself more easily able to talk about it. Interestingly, I find people have thoughtful questions about what I do and often ask about YouTube, Patreon and WordPress from a purely curious perspective – they honestly want to know. Many don’t ask about Ravelry, mostly because it’s such a niche product, but they are interested in the reasons I choose certain websites over others: Instagram over Facebook for example. I have also come to embrace the fact that I can’t and won’t do all social media. There are only so many hours in the day and to do so many sites well, I have to choose. Instagram, for example, is visual and offers me a really great platform for sharing, whereas Facebook would get ‘clogged up’ with distance friends and family. These are all things I think about daily as I divide up my time!
6. Who have I developed?
I found this question hard to answer but I kept coming back to my students, both in person at the studio and online. You have developed me by asking for specific learning and tools, and I have developed you by sharing my knowledge with you. I find as my spinning continues to grow and develop, your thoughts and questions become more and more detailed and complicated. I love that because we grow together – improving and learning. That’s the whole point, right?!
7. Have I had any significant failures (learning opportunities) lately, and what have I learned?
There have been a few, which I won’t detail here for fear we will end up with a novel, but one of the things I have learned from podcasting and blogging is that I am not my work and feedback, comments and thoughts aren’t necessarily an attack on my person. As well, when I make a mistake, it’s because I am human. Our making is similar – it is not a reflection of our integrity as humans. Instead, I think we are called to remain empathetic, kind and generous towards one another. With that, I can learn and grow but without that, it’s easy to take offense, get my back up and react. There’s a difference in my approach to my work afterwards, too.
8. What predictions have I made that have come to pass? Am I better at seeing what’s going to happen next?
I never thought, when I turned on the webcam in January 2015, that the podcast would even become a podcast, let alone where it is today. I’ve said this before: I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do without the websites available to me and others now. As the community grows and we have more going on in the Ravelry group/Slack channel, I find myself able to predict how things will unfold. This still surprises me but also builds my confidence in offering various events. Simply, it’s really exciting!
9. Who have I helped? Especially when there was no upside for me…
I have and that feels incredible.
10. Am I more likely to be leading or following?
Leading. I feel privileged, blessed and honoured to be able to lead this community in the many directions we choose to grow it.
Lastly, I want to share my biggest accomplishment for 2017: my Fireside Pullover. I spun the yarn over Spinzilla 2016 and finished the knitting in March 2017.
I hope you have a wonderful New Years – see you on the other side in 2018! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your holiday celebrations, whatever that is for you and yours. I wanted to share one of my absolutely most favourite Christmas songs with you – it’s from my tradition and I hope you will enjoy it, even if it’s not from yours. This particular recording is by one of my favourite vocal groups – Pentatonix (Fun Fact: I am a huge fan of tenor and bass vocal music. For my 33rd birthday, my husband took me to Andrea Bocelli. Incredible.).
Merry Holidays, dear friends,