VN Excerpt: The Joy of Doing Things

The Joy of Doing Things
Inspiration, 1922

Of all of the joys that enter into our lives, it would be difficult to find one greater than that which brings us the exclamation, “See, I did this all myself.” I know of a woman who, until about a year ago, could not bake a loaf of bread. And well do I know the happiness that came to her and her family, too “when she tried and persisted and found out that she could make bread as well as the next person. Her achievement meant not only good home-made bread, and then cakes and pies for her family, but a mother filled with an inward glow of happiness, and satisfaction in being able to do something she could not do before, a mother made more self-reliant with the assurance that she could do what she set out to do.

Every greater act we perform is but the result of a lesser beginning. And our reward is not alone the joy that comes with doing things, but also the assurance, the confidence, we gain on our very selves.

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When I first read the passage above, I thought of myself and how good it feels to accomplish a new task (for me especially cooking or baking a new recipe). But even more, I enjoy seeing others, especially my kids, excitement when they share an accomplishment of making something on their own…that “inward glow of happiness” is contagious.  Just last week a friend mentioned to me how much satisfaction his teenage daughter had in making a skirt for herself. It was so thrilling to hear the enthusiasm in his voice. This project had given his daughter self-esteem. He mentioned the smile on her face being like none other he had seen. ~ Amy

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I know that each and every one of you has a story about something you’ve accomplished that you didn’t think you could do before you started. Tell me about it.

77 Responses to “VN Excerpt: The Joy of Doing Things”

  1. Flatlander (Linda) August 27, 2010 at 11:50 am

    For many people who read this they might think, “Big deal”. But it is for me. You see, for as long as I can remember I have had problems COMPLETING something I start. They might call it something today like ADD but I am from a generation before acronyms for conditions became the norm. I have problems finishing things I start but I recently completed a quilt that I had been working on for a LONG time. The sense of accomplishment and pride that I feel having done that is amazing … it empowers me to want to do it again and again and again. So, one small step at a time I am working my way forward and achieving my own personal best. Thanks for this forum to vocalize our thoughts and feelings.

  2. Amy, I have loved both sites that you provide a wealth of art and ideas. I had written to your office when you discontinued your e-cards. They were the best on the web, and the gift was just oh so special. So I am sure that this book will also be special. I was blessed with learning some needlework crafts from my grandmother when I was quite young. She suffered with Rhuematoid Arthritis and was crippled. I loved the times we had together, she was so willing to share her knowledge. After she passed my life basically took the career path. I worked for Ford Motor Co for many years till I awoke one day with the dreaded disease of Lupus. In order to stimulate my mind and life crafts returned to my life. Your site was the first place I was drawn too. The Vintage is my cup of tea. Thank you. I made scrapbooks for each of my 4 children and my grandchildren. They loved them and I was surprised how well they came out. I now get patterns from IJ for needlework and I think I have every picture you offer on Vintage that I use for a variety of collage art and cards. Forgive me beng so windy. I would love to see your book. God Bless and Keep You, Allways, Karen

  3. Oh gosh, I am thankful for having a mother who could do everything – sewing, painting, baking, you name it she was terrific. She taught me to sew when I was 12 & I’ve loved it ever since. My highlight was making my wedding dress so many years ago. Of course, Mom did the hem! Thanks.

  4. Boy, that is a great article! And how true! Thank you for sharing!

  5. I am so looking forward to VINTAGE NOTIONS. I am from a long line of strong women who made do with what you had. My grandmothers were both avid quilters,my mother a seamtress, tailor and hatmaker. Me…I like to dabble in it all. I do claim to be a dollmaker.It is like giving birth, each has its own personality. There is no better therapy than doing things by hand. It fills you up.

  6. There is such a feeling of accomplishment learning to do something yourself. It can be anything from learning to make bread or pastries, learning to sew or even how to first use a computer. I have tried many things, not sure I could do it and worried I would fail, but I still tried. I still have many things I would like to try and still worry about failing, but hopefully I can still learn as I travel the downward slope of my life.

  7. I still remember the feeling of power the first time I hung up a shelf by myself; using a drill, installing molly bolts! That felt like doing something!

  8. Dear Amy,

    I LOVE THIS ARTICLE! It speaks tenderly to my heart, and is directly connected to the vision I have for starting ‘Domestic Arts’ classes at my tea room, Heirlooms. After 25+ years as a “career woman” in commercial interior design, I finally had the opportunity to start the business I’d been dreaming about for over 15 years. The Tea Room and Special events part of the business has been very well-received in our area, and now I have a nice customer base to begin the next part of the vision. Here’s a description that I wrote for a recent presentation at a local church’s Women’s Ministry luncheon:

    “I envision hosting etiquette and historical events, and teaching etiquette lessons to enrich youth with a greater respect for themselves and others. The most exciting part of the vision God gave me for Heirlooms is a Domestic Arts center. I feel that there are so many precious things that will be lost if we don’t pass them on to the younger generations. And here is where you can help! I’d like to invite local citizens to teach lessons in “traditional home arts” that are soon to be lost in our modern technology driven society. My desire is to involve local Senior Citizens to share their skills of knitting, crochet, embroidery, crewel, needlepoint, tatting, hand sewing, etc. to the younger generations. I envision older women surrounded by youth in the comfort of our sitting room, sharing their incredible talents with the next generations. This would complete the vision for Heirlooms – passing on the gifts of time and talents to be treasured for generations to come. If you have a skill that you would like to share, please indicate your interest on s sign-up sheet, and I will contact you this summer as I make plans for next fall.”

    Needless to say, I CAN’T WAIT TO READ YOUR NEW BOOK!

    Audrey Hollatz
    Tea Room and Special Occasions

  9. For as long as I can remember, I have been sewing and cooking. I have always felt the joy of discovering my own inner resources and I am not afraid to tackle most things. A shining example for me of how empowered it can make you feel was completing the reupholstering of our family room sofa. Despite having made slipcovers I was not quite sure that I could reupholster a whole sofa. I have since done an arm chair and almost finished another sofa. I believe that more important than remaking the furniture economically and to our taste, is that my children can witness their mother finding her own inner resource and be inspired to do the same.

  10. I’ve been teaching myself to sew through the use of old, vintage sewing books and web tutorials. I’ve always enjoyed creating, but often was intimidated by the task. Now when I accomplish a new sewing feat, I celebrate and feel my confidence grow. I often picture my Grandma who was a quilter and sewer, and imagine how proud she would be. I sure wish she were here for me to talk to about what I am doing. But, it is so nice to cover up with one of her quilts and think about her. I want the same thing for my boys and my quilts. For the last two years, I’ve sewn a backpack for my youngest boy. He carries it with pride because he knows there no one else with one like it. For my older boys, I sewed football handwarmers last year. The were thrilled and told the team that I had made them just for them, but I was just too busy to make any more. 🙂 They didn’t want to share in the uniqueness of having them made just for them, I guess. It made me smile to know that I must have not only warmed their hands but their hearts as well.

  11. When I was a very little girl I told my my [Grand]Mama that I wanted to make my own clothing. She then taught me how to sew on a button, embroider and helped me stitch up pre-printed Barbie clothes – by hand!

    I still have those sad little Barbie dresses some 40+ years later. These remind me of my beginnings as a Seamstress and of my beloved Mama.

    She determined that I was ready for machine stitching after about 3 years of learning. I decided to make a smock top as those were very trendy in 1972. My mother, her daughter, thought it was all very foolish and made fun of my efforts.

    But with Mama’s love and guidance I made a cute little denim smock with a calico yoke and pockets and snap closures. The smock now adorns my dress dummy and is as wearable as it was then.

  12. I can still remember as a teenager, deciding to sew a granny nightgown entirely by hand. After all, gorgeous gowns used to be hand sewn, surely a nightgown would be simple. I don’t remember much about the finished product, but I do remember sewing seams of soft, blue flannel and reminiscing about the sisters in Little Women stitching up the seams of their sheets! I felt so “connected”!

  13. My whole life has been an endless string of accomplishments and things I have overcome-I hope everyone can have this richness in their lives for good or bad. I think lately my accomplishment has been having a sewing business not only creating and selling but teaching others to enjoy the craft. I really did not think I could do this on my own and who the heck would want to come and spend time with me or buy something I made…turns out I had more joy in my life than I realized!

  14. Wow, this means a lot to me. I never thought I could handle having special needs children….but I have….and handling my last two children out of the five I have, who have needed trachs, g-tubes, and 19 surgeries between the two of them….made me really examine what it meant to “take of myself”. What that meant was getting in touch with my creative side…..I did not grow up in family that really did anything creative. I learned to knit after my first baby came out of his month NICU stay….and have LOVED it….and I bought my first sewing machine after my last baby, who also has a trach….and have taken sewing lessons and such….and LOVE it, too!! I am even going to open up my own ETSY shop soon.
    So…..I look forward to connecting my newly emerging home arts skills with the history of other women’s journeys, and learning new things as I go.
    Thanks, Amy!!

  15. Congratulation on your book. The two two things I am most proud of doing is having the courage to start my own business at sixty years old . Once I accomplished that I decided i would love to be a published artist which I am now . Good luck on your book ! What a major accomplishment .

  16. Inspiration means “in-breathing” so the impetus to create is a vital life-force. I live and breathe quilting, especially the creative process of designing, choosing just the right fabrics, and playing with colors. The end product is a pleasure, but the greatest blessing is the creating of it.

  17. In this throw away world, it is especially satisfying to see my kids and d-i-l embrace the concept of making old things new and finding inspiration for creative products EVERYWHERE – their own backyard, “garage-sale-give-aways” and thrift shops.

    See Aug. 23rd entry for an example My daughter has truly caught the vision for making the found and old “new.

    A couple of years ago we were on the island of Maui for my father’s 80th birthday celebration. A favorite memory of our week – the six of them scouring the local thrift shops and coming up with some amazing Hawaiiana ensembles!

  18. Once upon a time, I never thought I could learn to quilt. But through persistence, great local quilt shops, and patient teachers, I have! Feels great!

  19. I have always loved home-made quilts. I did lots of sewing but had never attempted a quilt. When my son got married I had to buy a home-made quilt to
    give them. I told them the next one I give them will be made by me. As so I began to teach myself. Now, 10 years later I have made many quilts.
    I have discovered my passion. Whoever thought cutting up material into little pieces and sewing them back together again could be so much fun! I receive so much pleasure when I give my hand-made quilts away.

  20. This soooo reminds me of fond memories of time spent with my Grandmother – she has always been my inspiration for all my crafting and collecting. Can’t wait to get the book!!!

  21. I am always trying to encourage my children to try making things on their own. It has been fun to watch them do basic cooking and baking. I love to bake from scratch. I can still remember my dad using a sharp knife to hack the brownies out of the pan (of course i forgot to grease it) and crunching down on the piece (I forgot to set the timer and overcooked them). He smiled and said, “I like them firm like this!” With that kind of encouragement of course I got much better at it!

  22. Even as a child I have always enjoyed making things. It seems like today I have a million hobbies and much to my husband’s consternation, I am always picking up new materials for crafts! I cannot help but look at things and say “you know what, I can make that!” The satisfaction — especially after a particularly challenging project– to say “yep, I certainly can!” makes it worth it.

  23. Last year at a pampered chef party, we were asked to say one word that described ourselves in the kitchen. Mine was “inept”. A few months ago, a good friend showed me how to make an easy foccacia bread. I then made it by myself the following week. Wow! What a feeling! Makes me believe I CAN make other things too. Who knew? It only took 45 years to figure out.

  24. I just started a quilt and I have never really quilted before. I took a class with a friend about 5+ years ago. It’s going well and I am proud of myself!

  25. I made a pie–inspired by my deceased Grandma, who was the Queen of Pies and who sort of taught me how to make them–and won a ribbon at the county fair, the very first pie I ever entered! Many bad pies were made and rejected, and in the end…a winner! It was mostly for my Grandma that I did it…

  26. My mom loved to take simple things and embellish them – your book has inspired me to continue in her footsteps.

  27. Aug. 25, 2010 3::41pst. p.m.

    I am new to your blog and IndygoJunction but I enjoy the ideas, inspiration and accomplishments of “fellow womanhood.” Being a woman of a “certain age” and facing remaking myself again, it is a good thing to look back at past accomplishments and look ahead to future ones. I am experiencing an “empty nest” for the second time in my life as my two adopted twin daughters are leaving for college adventures. My husband of 43 years and I are enjoying their academic accomplishments and excitement with relish because it is a feeling of completion and vindication for having made our “sacrifice” to adopt at a later age than most. I salute all women and men today who see opportunities in difficulty and sacrifice. The best is always yet to come!