Hello and Welcome! or What in the world am I doing?

Dunnottar Castle Scotland UK

I thought my first blog post would be an introduction to me and my background, which will be next, but first a little bit of existential crisis to deal with.

I have always been the type of person that just works hard or harder to get things done. Not enough money? Get another job, or three. Not happy with career? Go back to school and learn something new as many times as it takes. I grew up in the countryside of western New York State, where you work hard because you have to in order to survive. My father worked hard to have his own taxidermy business from our home, and my mom stayed at home to raise us until I was 3, then she got a job in an office. We never had a lot of money, but we had a lot of fresh air, fresh food, and room to run. They taught me to always finish what I start, and to work hard to overcome whatever life brings you. I am very grateful for their guidance and wisdom and it is the basis of my character.

At the end of 2015, after studying and researching for over a year for my Master's Degree in Ethnology and Folklore in Scotland, I started to have stomach issues. I will spare you the details and lengthy diagnosis story, but in the summer of 2017 I finally got the confirmed diagnosis of having Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). I have been out of work since early 2017 due to my illness and I am still struggling in 2020 to find a treatment that will get me into remission. My immune system is very overzealous!

As a US citizen that was employed as an accountant for various companies in the states for over 10 years, I should qualify for social security disability, which is based on contribution. I waited nearly two and a half years to be denied a few months ago, and I am now going through the appeals process. Living in the UK makes an already complicated and difficult process even slower, if you can imagine. I am lucky to have a very supportive and loving Scottish in-law family, so I am not in danger of being homeless or hungry (which I am thankful for everyday). But it is hard to be an adult that is fully dependant on anyone, and I find it has a real affect on my self-worth.

One of the few things I have always been able to enjoy throughout my illness has been cross stitch (except the time they gave me a course of steroids, my hands shook too much to stitch and boy, was I angry!). I feel productive and useful sitting on the sofa in pain, and it helps to centre my thoughts to the here and now instead of worrying or stressing. In short, it has been a saving grace for me and my mental health. Going from a very healthy and athletic outdoors person, able to eat anything and everything, to an ill person on a strict diet, on the verge of malnutrition, and unable to walk more than a mile or two a day has been a very hard adjustment. Without cross stitch I'm afraid to think what state my mind would be in.

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My illness has made me unable to work anything like a real job, but I can cross stitch at home. It may take me longer than I'd like to get things done since I am limited by pain and fatigue, but I'm still trying every day. Some days I only get 10 mins of work done and some days it could be a few hours, but it all adds up. So, where is my rambling leading? My whole point is that I started this project as way of doing whatever I can to make the best out of what I have. My social media skills are probably below your mum's on Facebook, I have no experience in building or running a website, and marketing has always been a weakness of mine. (Not to mention the dreaded selfie.) But despite all that, and despite my illness slowing me down, despite my nervousness and anxiety about putting my designs, (and myself) into the void of the internet, I am taking the chance to try to create something I can be proud of. While money is obviously one aim, it is more about adding to my own self-worth, giving myself something to be proud of, and to use my skills, education, and life experiences to build a community of people with similar interests and ideas. I hope I can add my small contribution to people's cross stitching experiences. The possibility of helping other people enjoy the benefits and fun of cross stitch that my favourite designers have brought me, makes all the anxiety, fear, and nerves seem worth it. And if nothing else, I have created cross stitch patterns that I have found relaxation and joy in stitching.

This site will also be a place for me to practise my folklorist and ethnologist skills in relation to my travels around Scotland. Although my travelling has been limited due to illness of late, I was able to visit a lot of places previously with tours, by myself, and through my education - and I look forward sharing and learning more about those places for this blog. I am also intrigued by the hidden history of the Picts and the standing stones of Scotland, so you will get to see plenty of that type of thing as well.

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So, if Scotland, history, art, cross stitch, or landscape photography and painting are of interest to you, please consider having a look around my site, and if you would like to stay up to date with new patterns and blogs join my email list below.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. Let me know if you have had a similar experience, or if you have the same relationship with cross stitch and needlework that I do.

Until next time. Joyous stitching!


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