Social Media Pitfalls, hopes and dreams!

Well, it would seem that I haven’t written a blog since October so I thought it was high time I wrote another!

Life has been so busy at this end, Christmas, birthdays, family gatherings, work, school…you know the drill! I decided this year that I would sew less though, I wanted to focus on some technical aspects of sewing that I had not yet attempted. The excitement of 2018 and figuring out I could sew just ran away with me, I couldn’t stop!! I think my Mum told me I’d sewn 100 odd items. Craziness! However, I also wanted to escape social media a little – it’s so easy to become wrapped up in a world that doesn’t really exist and you neglect the one that’s real and in front of you…or at least there’s a feeling of guilt that’s happening. I’m still very present and visible but my ‘screen time’ is very much less than in 2018.

(Photo- Dad and I in our matching sews! Made by me as a gift following his love for my dress)

Social media is amazing and it has its place and serves a purpose but it can also become claustrophobic. Sewing is a hobby for me, one that I adore. It’s a release from the seriousness and occasional sadness of working within a health profession. I love nothing more than coming home, playing with my boy until bedtime and then sitting at my machine and sewing away to my hearts content.

I had to remind myself of this recently because when you place yourself on social media you are inevitably judged. People like your page or they don’t and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is waking up in the morning, realising you’ve lost followers and then overthinking the reasons behind it!!!! What is that all about!!? I cherish my page, my new friends and my wonderful followers…so many of them make me laugh so often with lovely messages and comments but I think I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t fallen in the pitfall of overanalysing! Suddenly my hobby was becoming more about social media statistics than it was sewing! I felt a bit like I needed to be someone I wasn’t.

So, post Christmas the decision was made to slow down and only do what I wanted to do and to be totally true to myself. Social Media has its place but it is not everything – the most important thing is you and the reasons behind why you do what you do and what it is you’re trying to achieve.

For me, sewing started as a new craft – a release from the boredom of single parenting once Jenson is in bed. I started my Zipperfoot Instagram account for two reasons, one I wanted to document my progress and two I didn’t want to bombard my friends on my private account with sewing. The Zipperfoot account is public and so quickly expanded beyond my private account, all of a sudden there were 300. 400, 500 followers to where I am now at 7K…in under a year! It’s an insane number of people who feel like friends, they follow your progress, support your makes and encourage your endeavours. It feels like a crazy whirlwind. I now want to achieve something, what, I’m unsure of but there’s a dream and it’s a crafty dream. Something keeps pushing me and the drive comes from Jenson. I so want to be able to give him the world, well, maybe not the world but opportunities that are currently out of reach. I guess I just want the best for him.

I wonder if everybody goes through these emotions, people trying to build something. It gets to a certain point and you’re so proud. You cherish what you’ve built and you want to make it bigger and you so want for people to enjoy it….to be able to feel your excitement, to see the true you. For me, I always want to be relatable – I want for people to look at my page and think ‘if she can do it, so can I’.

Social Media is full of pitfalls though, you need to permanently remind yourself of who you are, what YOU are trying to achieve and stay true to yourself. There are so many people out there and they’re all striving to achieve something…it may not have started out that way but that’s the road it’s taken, and it’s easy to become distracted by others. They have an amazing vlog…look at her sewing room…she’s sewn 10 items this week…it goes on and on. Now, these thoughts don’t enter my head – I won’t allow it!! I’m ‘out there’ because I love what I do, I’d love to achieve things that will make my son proud…I want him to see that if you work hard, your dreams can come true and you can achieve amazing things. I’m here for my journey, a year ago it didn’t even exist…who knows what it’ll look like in the next year! I live and work within my means and they are modest and honest. More than anything I want to inspire others. As you may have seen from previous blogs…life has taken me on a real journey to date. I’m on my feet now and my quiet voice can be heard amongst a small community. A community that is now at the forefront of what I do in my spare time, a community who unknowingly helped me find myself and fill me with hopes and dreams.

(Photo of my sewing partner and I at the Handmade Fair. @carrie_can_make_it)

Sewing is the passion, Jenson is the drive, I am the belief and the dream? Well, the dream is still sitting at the end of the rainbow. Will I ever reach it…I don’t know but I will have tried and that’s the main thing.

My Instagram account can be found @thezipperfoot

Until next time….!!

Emma

This is me…

As I approach 2000 followers on my Instagram page @thezipperfoot, I felt I wanted to properly introduce myself and give you a small insight into what this sewing journey means to me. I’m not writing this for dramatic effect or to have anyone feel sorry for me – I’m writing it because I know there will be people out there who are going through tough times and feel like there may be no light at the end of the tunnel and I just want to try and reassure those people that there is. There’s not only light but adventure, strength, fun and friendship. This is not a sewing blog as such but a blog that explains a little about how it’s helped me. So, let me take you back a few years and also introduce myself.

My name is Emma and I work in Occupational Health for a Railway Company. I have worked here all of my life in various roles and am on the approach to my 20 years service. 8 years ago Jenson, my son, entered the world and my seemingly perfect life was turned on its head. At that time I was working in a high earning management role and I had a nice life. This changed dramatically when my sons father left us, never to return. Jenson was 6 weeks old, I was recovering from a C-section and I was about to fall onto half pay. Undeterred (naively) I went into survival mode – fight or flight – and boy did I fight. I moved into a smaller property, I put on my big girl pants and went back to work full time placing my son in nursery 4 days a week from 08.00-17.30. Fine I thought, the money is still coming in, I’ve still got a great career, a house – I can do the strong single Mum thing. No problem. The only thing being, it was a problem, slowly and unknowingly, I must have lost myself. I woke up one morning, a morning I will never forget as long as I live. Jenson was screaming in the room next to me and I was in my bed crying, feeling the most broken I have ever felt. I felt alone because I hadn’t told a soul how I felt, I just wanted to be the best Mum in the world. I felt frightened and almost child like. I called work and said I wouldn’t be in, followed by a call to my GP to say I would be in!!! I went and was signed off work for 6 weeks – I couldn’t be signed off was my immediate reaction! My GP told me it wasn’t something I had a choice over, it was happening and I would be attending counselling sessions across those 6 weeks. I was also advised not to be alone and so I moved home for 6 weeks where my folks welcomed me with open arms.

To cut a long story a little shorter I realised across those 6 weeks that I didn’t even really know my son. Someone else was taking care of him more than I was. I was missing milestones because they were happening at nursery and I just couldn’t miss anymore. I started looking for new work within the company and found a part time admin role. I applied, interviewed and got the job. This made me so happy, I was in Tesco car park at the time I received the call and I told the caller from HR that I loved them…!!!! Not an entirely appropriate response I know but I was elated and it just popped out! I would now have a Wednesday off and finish work on the other days at 14.00! I wouldn’t know myself and I didn’t!! However, this demotion brought another issue with it, overnight I had kissed goodbye to 30k a year. I would be bringing in much less money and have zero responsibility. Two things I was incredibly unsure how I’d feel about. I had worked for a decade to reach the position I was in and overnight I was back earning the same as I had on my first day as a 17 year old with the railway. I was worried….again!

Alongside this worry my health had taken a bit of a bashing and after numerous, invasive investigations which I won’t go into I was diagnosed with IBD. This brought along it’s own issues, mainly anxiety related. I was worried to go anywhere as my body was not behaving quite as I’d like it to!!!! Haha!! I’ve never been a fan of public toilets but I soon learned, if I wanted a life, I was going to have to overcome this fear!! Getting out of the house in the morning was an issue as this was when it was at it’s worst. Looking back I think the madness of my mornings, getting myself up and ready, getting Jenson ready, fighting the traffic etc. None of it helped, all I would think was ‘what if I need to use the bathroom and I’m stuck in traffic…!’ Guess what started happening…I started to need the bathroom whilst stuck in traffic…! The mind is a terrible thing, so strong when we are so weak.

So, these two issues ruled my life for probably the next 3-4 years. Lack of finance and a toilet as a best friend. However, there were positives…I was happy. Jenson was happy and there were no wolves at our door. We had a very modest lifestyle but actually somehow I felt happier.

I never met anyone in the time that Jenson’s Dad left until last year. I was a single Mum and I was determined I wasn’t going to carry the unfortunate tag that seems to go with that title…scrounger / benefits mummy / just out to get pregnant. I wasn’t having it, there was a strong desire to still succeed within me and to do it alongside being a single Mum. I didn’t feel like I needed or wanted a man and actually that was the best decision I ever made. I don’t hate men or anything so awful as that, I was just focussed. I wanted to feel better and I wanted to achieve. Years passed and the IBD was kept at bay with both medication and some cognitive behavioural therapy – this basically gives you coping strategies to stop you panicking when it all kicks off! I put it into practice and it has helped me immensely. I learned to live within my means and go without certain luxuries. The greatest thing that happened across this period of time though is that I re-found myself but this time I found a much stronger version of myself, someone who wasn’t afraid anymore, someone who didn’t care what people thought anymore and someone who was wholly independent and self sufficient. What a feeling.

I started to look for new work on the railway, Jenson was at school by now and I had more time. The opportunity within Occupation Health arose and I could finally put my education to good use! I retrained to get the additional qualifications that were required and I got the bloody job!!!!! Yes!!!! I knew this would be good for us, it would give me the opportunity to once again earn a better salary, to satisfy my need and thirst for knowledge and to be able to provide and offer better opportunities for Jenson. This almost brings us up to date, I have been in Occ’ Health for three years now and I finally feel totally back to me. Prior to this, I felt like I was climbing up a mountain, a beautiful one but I was keen to see the view from the top. It’s amazing what you can see when you’re above the clouds, you see that a lot of life is false, people aren’t as happy as they make out, social media does have a lot to answer for and life can be happy without loads of money. We live in a very materialistic, pressurised world and we need to take a step back sometimes. Appreciate the small things, appreciate each other and just appreciate your life!!! I feel so lucky and yet I have nothing really…nothing of financial value anyway!!

You may wonder where this fits into my sewing story! Well, a few months back when I reached the peak of my mountain I felt it was right about time that I did something for me. I had spent the previous 8 years living and breathing for my son. I had an existence in some ways, I was Jenson’s Mum. I have friends, obviously, but we always end up talking about our kids which is fine but I just wanted something else, something more and I’m not talking about with regard to my friends as I love them dearly. I mean I wanted to do something where people knew me as Emma and where nobody knows me or my history.  This is when I started my Instagram page, @thezipperfoot. Four months ago now I signed up to Instagram and I started learning how to sew and I shared it all with the sewing community. I could never have imagined what was to come, never. I was met by a community who warmly welcomed me into their lives, who encouraged me, praised me and advised me. I have made friends who I know solely because they sew too, I know nothing about them and they know nothing about me! We are joined by one common thread, a love of sewing. I now chat to some of these people almost daily, sometimes just to check in, sometimes with sewing issues! I love it and I love them!!!!  I feel like I’ve been given such a great gift and this is where social media does shine – by connecting people. People that otherwise would probably not have met. Best of all, it’s mine. It has nothing to do with Jenson, it’s mine and I’m Emma there. It’s the icing on my cake. I feel very blessed.

I’m sharing this because I had a chat with a lady on instagram last week who is having a rubbish time, outwardly you would never know and I just saw myself in her. Don’t damage yourself as I did, share. Talk to someone, a friend, a relative, a professional…don’t keep it bottled up. The greatest gift we have in this life is humanity, people can be cruel but they can also be kind…in fact they can be amazing and sometimes help comes from the most unlikely of people! I think we need to look after and protect each other – praise each other and be kind. Life is hard enough without competition or unrealistic materialistic expectations!!!!

Live within your means and be proud of them, don’t be afraid to take a backwards step – sometimes it’s just preparing you for the greatest leap forward, love those around you, believe in yourself and don’t feel bad to do something that’s solely for you. We all need that.

Climb your mountain because the view from the top is pretty outstanding 🙂

Emma

And thank you @sewersofinstagram for giving me the best gift I could wish for – acceptance, encouragement, praise and friendship. There are too many to mention but I can’t not mention @notimetosew, @mummabmakes, @make140, @robinsnest1926 @pocketortwo, @the.polka.dot.palace, @carrie_can_make_it and @louisalovestosew … you guys rock!!