I was born to an amazing, Intrepid Mother who followed her heart and my Darling Dad who had itchy feet.
They taught me to love God, always be on time, love books and reading, and never to say “I am bored”. The last one would always end up by being given a job to do.
If we weren’t ready to leave when Dad was ready to go, he simply left us behind.
We children took turns doing the ironing while Mom read to us. We would take turns ironing and reading so learned a lot.
My parents were avid gardeners but had very different styles of gardening, Dad wanted everything to be in straight lines and Mom was more artistic in her placing of plants. It ended up with Dad being in charge of the kitchen garden and Mom the flowers.
On the Move (again)
As a family we were forever on the move, this was great for my adventurous spirit but not so good for my education. In all, I attended 8 schools all over South Africa and Zimbabwe. It was hard to adjust to the different subjects taught and the way they were put across so I tended to drift off into the world of dreams and make-believe, only concentrating my efforts on art and botany. Somehow I managed to get through the exams, how though, is a complete mystery.
Being Teased Mercilessly
From an early age, I was found to have extremely poor eyesight and was blighted to wear the most ghastly round spectacles with lenses as thick as bottle bottoms.
These were a great trial as it made it easy, as the new kid on the block, to become the butt of many jokes, name-calling and pranks. Was once led to “death rock” where my glasses were taken off me and thrown into the bush and then had chilli rubbed into my eyes.
As I was practically blind without glasses this was double trouble. Had to call on family reinforcement, having two older sisters who helped to find the glasses and lead me home. It took a while to recover from this, but recover I did. Not sure quite how much damage this did to my eyes but it certainly damaged my self-esteem and confidence.
Taking My Power back
The teasing went on until I realized that I could run rather fast and also was a good swimmer and diver and earned my stripes, so to speak, being chosen for team events etc, Thus I became more acceptable to the school community as a whole.
I was the happiest spending time following bush paths watching the platoons of army ants finding their way through the grass to wherever it was they were marching to. Riding my trusty bicycle out to Sebakwe Poort with my sisters and a group of friends. It was amazing to hear the baboons calling to each other high above us in the Kloof. Making forts on the big anthills across the road from our home in Redcliff and playing with my brother and the boys who lived behind us. We were so fortunate to live in Townsend Crescent so had the bush right across the road and the freedom to explore. We had so many wonderful adventures. We climbed trees, played with dinky cars making roads and bridges under the lemon tree. What wonderful memories to have of childhood. It was a privilege to be born at a time when it was safe to run wild, the biggest danger was stepping on a snake. Although we saw many and varied species, thank goodness that didn’t happen.
If I became tired of my outdoor activities I would spend time making dolls clothes and dressing up the dolls or the long-suffering dog. So began my love for creating and sewing.
Pros and Cons
We four children learned that there were pros and cons in life but far more pros than cons. Two pros for me were that I have two older sisters, they smoothed the way ahead of me in many ways. The downside (con) was the fact that Mom liked to dress us alike and I inherited two lots of identical hand-me-down dresses after growing out of my own. A plus was that Mom bought the dresses in different colours so although the style was the same the colour differed. No wonder I like to sew.
The Roles we are Called to Play in the Game of Life
This constant moving around and learning to adjust to new places and people was marvellous training for my future role as a ministers’ wife., not that I knew that at the time.
I have realized that God must have a wonderful sense of humour because the least likely person to have that role would be me. These experiences taught me to become quite self -sufficient and rely on my God and the talents He entrusted me with.
I love people and I love learning and sharing any knowledge I have gained. In almost all the Churches we have served I have run sewing classes and also gym classes.
Optimizing One’s Gifts and Talents
The love of learning blossomed and I decided to concentrate on the things I love. Hence Design and pattern making and tailoring courses set me on the road to having a home business in dressmaking.
The sheer joy of creating a beautiful wedding gown.
The swish of the fabric as it is taken off the roll is pure delight as is the very feeling of the softness against the skin. What excitement it evokes.
I lie in bed dreaming up new ideas and how to execute them.
For all you avid sewers out there…
- Isn’t it the most satisfying thing to make something beautiful and useful?
- To be able to dress up and know that you will be the only person in the room with that dress or outfit?
- To know that with the skills at your very fingertips you can help to feed your family?
- To know that you can start so many various home based business just by being proficient on the sewing machine?
The list of options is as long as your imagination will allow itself to go.
The Little Black Book – Any Colour will do
If, you are anything like me, you have a notebook with you at all times and a pen and as things come to you, you jot them down.
These can be ideas about anything but it is quite a good idea to have a separate page for business ideas, sewing tips, new techniques, what new sewing accessories are out there?
The lists are endless and so very exciting. What you write in your book is likely to be very different from mine but it all leads to growing in knowledge and power.
Here are some of the businesses I have had, just using my sewing and pattern making skills:-
- General dressmaking
- Wedding and special event gowns
- Gym clothes – tracksuits, leotards etc.
- Medical garments – underwear and bathing costumes. Breast prosthetics etc.
- Machine embroidery – linen, gifts etc.
- Patchwork and quilting
Changing with the Times
Things changed as we moved from Church to Church and the ages of the children and their needs of my time etc. We also had my elderly parents living with us.
Dad with Alzheimer’s disease lived with us for 10 years and Mom, who was fine, although rather frail, for 20 years. As they required more and more of my caring attention, so I was able to change to whichever was the least time consuming of my business interests. It just goes to show just how flexible one can be in a business such as sewing.
If I can offer any advice it would be:
- Not to offer more than you can cope with. By this, I mean timewise and also within your capabilities. You don’t want either your precious family or your business to suffer due to having to rush a garment, or worse still, to let someone down altogether. This can be very damaging to your reputation as a reliable business owner.
- Look into the legalities of running your business from home.
- There are also tax considerations and what you can claim for the use of your room etc. Consult an Accountant and your Lawyer.
- Keep your precious sewing machines in good repair. I have a trusty 30 something-year-old Bernina and an old Afsew overlocker
- Be professional in your dealing with the public, they are the lifeblood of your business, without them, you have no business. They deserve the best you can offer.
- If life gets difficult, remember that there are more pros than cons, or at least that is what I believe.
- Most of all enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy it, you are in the wrong business and need to consult your little ideas book.
Good luck and happy sewing.
Hanging by a thread – My life as it is now
“Writing about me”, took quite a lot of courage, am sure those of you who have done this will testify to that. This next part has been even harder to do but I know I must do it. Here goes……
This is my amazing, supportive, loving family. This family photo was taken on the celebration of Matt’s and my 50th wedding anniversary three years ago.
The only family member not visible in this picture is our youngest grandson, he was being held by his father and was hidden from view. He does, however, appear in my profile picture. I am instructed by him that he is NOT the smallest, just the youngest. He does not consider himself small. He is a big boy now.
We, as a family, are not in the best of places right now. My beloved husband and their father and grandfather had a beastly illness called Lewy Body Disease. It is a brain disorder which incorporates aspects of Alzheimers and Parkinsons Disease. The neurons in his brain are disconnecting causing many frightening symptoms such as hallucinations and night terrors. He has gone down rapidly in these past two years and is now being cared for in a wonderful Frail Care Facility.
He is a retired Minister of the Presbyterian Church which he served for 35 years. Friends and family, from all over the country and locally have been visiting him and bringing comfort to me. Unfortunately, Matt is not able to communicate well anymore, it is not easy to understand some of his ramblings and he doesn’t always know us. I personally feel as though I have been in mourning for the past number of years, for the man he once was. It can be a very lonely place and be overwhelming to take over all the practical things he did, so capably.
Our amazing, loving children, their wonderfully caring spouses and grandchildren are also grieving but still manage to shower me with love and also practical caring. Between the children and our amazing friends, I am able to keep on keeping on. Some days are better than others.
I praise God for giving us all the courage and strength to get us through this time.
Best wishes to you all. Keep on keeping on.
P.S. Please feel free to comment on what I have written. It will be great to hear from you. Feel sure I will learn a lot from you too.