Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Setting Forth On Journeys...

This is the first year of doing the Nashville show that I don’t anticipate being up until the wee hours of the morning trying to finish everything off, pack etc. It seems almost strange to be doing the last step- blogging about the journey before I set off tomorrow.

Bethany still minds me leaving. How do I explain that one of the reasons I can be here when she gets off the bus from school is because I also have to go away on trips like these 4 or 5 times a year? Erin, of course, is old enough to understand and be a huge help to Nick... but her perceptions are also deeper. The other night she suddenly looked at me as said in a really quiet voice “Do you ever worry when you head off on a trip that something bad might happen?” What a cool thing to be able to have deep discussions now with my eldest child. One of the designs that I am releasing at this show contains a verse I wrote for the day they each leave home. It can be a great design to stitch up for a Graduation, adding the name, date and school in letters beneath the design, but it is also nice just on its own as a sort of wish/blessing for your child as they leave home to make their own way in the world. The design is called CHILD OF MINE and the verse goes as follows:

Child of mine, the time has come
To venture on your own.
May all you’ve learned go with you
To guide you now you’re grown.

Be brave and bold yet loving,
Be fair in all you do.
Be wise but have compassion.
To all you are... be true!

© Jennifer Aikman-Smith

I am glad that I will have my girls home for almost another decade or so, but already I can see how much they have grown and get glimpses of the astonishing young women they may become. The following quote is one that I want them to know.

It’s not the load that breaks you, it’s how you carry it.
-Leana Horne

We shared the load of building this giant snowman as a family, and it was quite bearable... but none of us could lift the middle section and head alone. Amazing that life lessons can come in the middle of fun and when you least expect them!

Friday, February 03, 2006

A New Path For My Husband!!!

I wrote about pieces and fragments last time and now it is about a whole new path for my husband. A chance to walk down a new trail and leave his own footprints!! Nick has interviewed for and won the position of Principal at Magnetic Hill school for a five year term starting next fall. He withdrew his applications for the other 2 schools and so is back at work today instead of in another round of interviews for a different position.

I am SO proud of him, so amazed at how much he has grown as an administrator and so excited for him. He worked very hard to get to this point in his career and is absolutely giddy about getting this school so close to home in the next boundary over. He measured the distance and it is just under 8 km from our door which means a much shorter commute and the chance to come home for dinner even if there are evening meetings or events he needs to return for.

There is also a sense of wonder as Nick gets his career path set for this 5 year term. After 4 years of change and upheaval as he switched schools in the middle of his Vice-Principalship, he now has a chance to vision, implement and watch things grow from year to year in the same place. He is SO ready for the challenge of his own school!!

This sense of wonder stems from wondering now where I am meant to be in terms of career. I will never walk away from cross stitching completely, but there is this knowledge that I also need to find my next challenge in a field that is not so prone to theft. Somehow, there became a climate of tolerance among to great a group that scanning and sharing designs was permissible. Technology and the industry have also changed so that I really can’t rely on cross stitch to make up a full third of my income anymore... I still find a deep sense of enjoyment from creating the designs and a sense of astonishment that so many stitchers have taken pleasure in creating their own versions of one of my designs, but I am also enough of a realist to know when I need to concentrate on other ways to help provide for my family.

If I am truly honest with myself, I must also admit that it is time to stop letting the fear of rejection keep me from doing one of the things I have always wanted to do... illustrate children’s books. Right before I got into cross stitch a dozen years ago, I was short-listed for 2 illustration projects and in both cases, the project went to one of the other 2 illustrators chosen to submit some rough designs. When selling and producing cross stitch designs started to take off and meet with success, it was very easy to put facing such rejection on the back burner and go with what was working. Adding children into the mix only meant more justification not to just work “on spec” but rather spend my “work time” on projects or areas that would bring in income within 30 -60 days.

I have wanted to draw pictures for a living for almost 30 years now and have, for the most part, been able to live that dream. But I have also wanted to know that my pictures brought joy to a child’s world as they discovered reading. I was that little kid who used to curl up in the corner of a library or bring home the pile of books that was almost too heavy to carry... so I think it is time to stop being afraid of failing at the one thing I have always wanted most and just start doing it!!

“The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I meant to post about this last week... but somehow in all the confusion, I never got my thoughts together again. A bit like Humpty Dumpty. Everyone wrestles with times when it feels as if all you are doing is running around trying to put pieces back together again or trying not to let things break in the first place. We struggle to keep everything together... to keep those outward appearances as smooth and perfect as an egg. How fragile that facade can be!

Bethany found out how fragile an arm bone can be and ended up in a cast for 3 weeks.

Nick found out how quickly things can change. He has 3 interviews for 3 separate Principalships that would begin for the 2006-2007 school year next fall. He has been picking up pieces of his teaching career and putting them together in a new mosaic of Power Point presentations (each school needs a different presentation) to create something new and wonderful... but he certainly feels like he's walking on eggshells!

Erin has been testing the limit of what her shell can bear with a lot of assignments and projects lately. She was also chosen for an enrichment project for her school to write and illustrate a book. She has it written and half drawn, but the deadline will be the end of this shortest month and she is beginning to feel the pressure, despite my telling her that she doesn't need to "do everything"!

I have had my nose to my stitching or the computer as I got a model finished, charts to the printers and other files ready for my trade show next week in Nashville. I haven't had the time I needed to also add to my portfolio for the DragonCon jury on March 1st, so I am feeling very much like the eggshell in the picture... a bunch of little pieces all scattered about. Life just seems to fly by at an alarming rate!

I'd like to share two of the quotes that finally snapped me out of that feeling and made me realize that perhaps there will always be things that I don't accomplish...

“The ambitious climbs up high and perilous stairs, and never cares how to come down; the desire of rising hath swallowed up his fear of a fall.” -Thomas Adams

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what ‘s a heaven for?”
-Robert Browning