Sew South 2013 :: Part One

I have to admit, in the past it always annoyed me to see post after post about how great XYZ sewing trip was.

“It was like totally amazing”, etc etc.  
Let’s be real,  annoyance is really jealousy in disguise.
Well, insert foot in mouth, Sew South was like totally amazing!  No, really.   Like life changing amazing for me.
How can a sewing conference be life changing?
For starters, Sew South is not a conference.  It is a retreat.
A pamper you, energize you, relax you retreat where you are surrounded by like-minded people and doing what you love (sewing!) without dealing with the every day of being at home.    
Jennifer organized not only a place for us to sew but a place infused with southern charm and attention to detail that made us never want to leave.   It was just the right amount of people that we could really get to know one another but also have a wide variety of diversity to keep it interesting.
If you were a fly on the wall at the closing session of the retreat you would see that it was life changing for others too.   Pretty much everyone choked up when it was their turn to speak about what the best part of the weekend was.    And for most of us, it was not about the sewing!
I’m glad there’s a computer screen between us so that if I start to ugly cry again, you can’t see me! 
I am so thankful for the weekend because it pushed me outside of my current comfort zone and back in to the comfort zone I had before becoming a mother.   I was reminded of who Lindsey is.   Just Lindsey, not mama.
Being a mom is ultimately my calling and I am so grateful for the opportunity to stay at home and raise and love on my kids.   
But.   In the 7 years and 4 months that I have done so I have gradually lost sight of who I am outside of being a mother. Being a mother is hard!
I am raising a child with Autism, another who has a life-threating peanut allergy, all while battling an autoimmune disease myself that occasionally  leaves me unable to get out of the bed.    
As the years have gone by, I found myself living in yoga pants, sometimes not leaving the house for 2 days except to drop off and pick up the kids from school and rarely having a really meaningful adult conversation.    What started out as living in survival mode during some very trying times became my routine.   Even after  things got better.
Nothing against my husband, because he is AMAZING and supportive, but he is tired too from working hard and doing more then his fair share sometimes to keep our house running. 
This was my first weekend away in SEVEN YEARS.   What the heck!?
What I realized this weekend is that  we need to connect with other ladies who understand the goals we are working towards, who cheer us on, who aren’t competing with us.   Ladies to celebrate our victories and cry for our losses.  Ladies who understand how difficult being a wife and mother can be with the added bonus of a shared love of creating.
I found 50 of those kind of people this weekend.   And I’m encouraged to work harder at allowing the people in my personal life to know me better.   To not worry if they see the ugly and the messy that life can sometimes be.   To invest in those around me and open up and allow others to invest in me.    
This weekend I regained confidence in myself.   I would say, gosh I used to be funny, I used to love chatting with new people and now I’m afraid of those things.  I’m afraid I won’t be liked or understood.  
I threw myself into a weekend and was unabashedly Lindsey.   God has given me a  love for people, I love caring for and helping others and my tank was filled by having the opportunity to teach in front of 50 amazing women and to get to know them.     To find similarities with ladies I had never met and to talk about our lives all while making something pretty.
I solidified my love of teaching and encouraging others to sew.    And though my class was difficult (another post, lol) we powered through it and literally cheered each other on as one by one our bags were completed.   It took a village to make a duffle bag!  And we made a mountain of them!
I have been reminded this week of how important it is to get away from the computer screen and to get face to face.   The convenience of texting should never completely wipe out talking to another, or getting together in person.    We need to be hugged, sometimes we need someone to hold our hand and we can’t do that from behind a phone or computer screen.
Most of these ladies live no more then six hours away, which means that not getting together more often is unacceptable! 
I want to erase my old routine and make a new one.   Starting now.
I have much more I want to share.  My class, what I made, swapping, swag bags and even the hotel staff.  Sew South rocked my face off!    
And I can tell you that the next conference you go to can rock your face off too.    What made this one different from others I have attended is this:
  •  Get up and meet new people, don’t sit at your table and never talk to anyone else
  • Don’t judge someone else because they don’t like the same things as you.     As Ginny said, “We all speak one language and that is fabric and thread”.     You like batiks, I like polka dots.  Guess what, both are fabric.   I like artichokes, you hate them, who cares!?
  • If you came with a group of friends, don’t be a clique.  Look for someone who came by themselves and pull them into the group.   You may miss out on a long lost soul friend just because you’re being a snob.   
  • Mix it up, don’t eat dinner with the same people every night.   
  • Truly get to know the others, even those you think you have nothing in common with.  I guarantee you’ll find something!
  • Smile, belly laugh, be silly, give of yourself and your resources and  have FUN!
 Seriously big hugs,  Lindsey
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  • Sharlyn

    Glad you got to,get away! You’re right, being a Mom is hard. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Pamela Adams

    I loved this post even though I did not go. I too am one of those who rarely leaves the house. My kids are grown and we have our first Grandbaby. I am 50 years old and don’t ever connect with other quilters/sewist except to leave a comment on a blog or IG. I do go quilt with my Sister who lives 740 miles away about once a year. Still that’s not enough. I am glad that you have learned a valuable insight while you are still young. This post made me tear up. Look forward to reading more about it.ReplyCancel

  • Excellent post!ReplyCancel

  • Dude. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a million more times . . . motherhood is not for wimps. Motherhood is the hardest job I’ve ever done. And the most rewarding. Your description of yourself during the last seven years is a carbon copy of my own. Except now my kids are 13 and 11 and over the six years I’ve found my place. My self. The things that make me tick — all while still be a mother. You’re on the brink of that too and I’m so happy that you are sharing that with us here on your blog.

    I totally and completely get you. And I’m on team Lindsey till the end!ReplyCancel

  • Amye -dotdotgoose

    “And I’m encouraged to work harder at allowing the people in my personal life to know me better.”…these words are exactly what is in my heart after leaving sew south. Being around all of you amazing girls encouraged me to be the person I was when I was 25, a person who I have “silenced” for many years. I’m hoping you and me both can take this experience and really, truly make a choice to live in the light instead of the shadows! Love ya! XoReplyCancel

  • ylmommyx4

    Beautifully written. We have more in common than I already knew about.ReplyCancel

  • Sweetness. SO glad you got the chance to go and that it was such a life-giving weekend for you!ReplyCancel

  • When I went to FQ Retreat last summer, it was only the second night away from my children in 7 1/2 years, and the first night away from husband ‘and’ kids; and although I work PT in a job I hate, I know exactly how you feel!
    I am so jealous and so pleased that Jennifer created such a wonderful time away, and that such a great group of people got to spend precious time together xxxReplyCancel

  • mindingmomma

    sounds like a terrific time, I too have lost who I was and appreciate your writing about this feelingReplyCancel

  • Lisa C

    Taking some time (and for everyone that’s a different amount) for yourself is worth it in every way. It is hard to read blogs about ladies who attend numerous retreats, produce massive amounts of gorgeous quilts, and seem to do it effortlessly and not feel a tiny bit jealous. In reality, they don’t do all of those things I’m sure, it’s just the perception of someone (me) who works full-time and has other obligations at the moment. My time will come and most days I remember that! Great post!ReplyCancel

  • Thank you for saying it so perfectly! I already feel myself slipping into that isolated place in motherhood and I think that the main thing I took away from the retreat was the importance of a physical community (and adult conversation) and being able to open up and just be. Now I just have to go try and get out there more. It was so lovely to meet you 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Cindy

    Awesome post Lindsey! It was fun having you sit in front of me. Thank you for helping me with my duffle!ReplyCancel

  • this is such a nice post! I love hearing your thoughts about it. And I love the whole concept of the group size, and it being a retreat. Yes, 7 years goes by too fast! I loved hearing about more of your personal side of things, too.ReplyCancel

  • meg


    Loved your retreat experience download for us. My boys now are in college or graduated (!) and that voice calling me to BE ME is still with me. It’s always been there, nudging me on. Whether I am doing the mom-thing, the work-thing, the daughter-thing, the yoga-thing, the cooking-thing, the girlfriend-thing, the wife-thing, the creative goddess-thing. How can it NOT be there? Sometimes we choose not to listen, but it is there.
    You write, “Being a mom is ultimately my calling….”, I posit it is only ONE of your many callings. We are called to wear multiple hats, and to wear them as best as possible: no guilt, no shame, no regrets. Hats change. Lean into uncertainty and change, it is ever-present.
    Enjoy the ride and all it’s complicated and conflicting emotions, they are what make us so fully human.ReplyCancel

  • eamylove

    This was a great post – even though I’m mad at you for not putting up pictures yet of the duffle bags. {Just kidding!} How worthwhile for you to take this opportunity, and run with it…your family will be happy to see you illuminated and refreshed, and loving them as much as always.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah

    What a wonderful experience! I’m so glad you were able to have such a fulfilling retreat, and share your feelings with us. As a mom of twenty-somethings, who rarely got away when they were younger, I agree with you that is so important to connect with people away from your life as a mom. It makes you better at everything! May I share your advice at the end of this post with the guild group I’m about to go on retreat with? It’s always good to remind ourselves how to make the weekend special.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle's Dish

    I loved this post, so true for even women without kids. It is easy to get lazy and just do the norm. I’m glad you had a great time!! AND glad you are playing tennis which is another non-mommy activity. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • no fair! now you made me ugly cry LOL… great post… wish I could have been there 🙂ReplyCancel

  • mary maben

    Your post got me a little teary eyed, Being a Mom is hard but as a Mom of five wonderful kids 4 of them grown already I have to say that all the sacrifices my husband and I made for them is worth it in the end because not only did we raise good children, but we raised good PEOPLE, and since I started so young I still have all this time left for me. I grew so much with my children and they made me the person I am today, so while it is important to have time to yourself your kids are only little for a short time and then they are grown going off to college and then living their own life and it just seems like yesterday I was taking them to their 1st day of school…. its all about balance.
    Big HugsReplyCancel

  • Wow, Sew South sounds like the perfect retreat! Beautifully written post that obviously touches so many of us, whether we were there or not! Quilting can be such a solitary pursuit but we need to connect with people too…but it is so easy to remain solitary, we need to make the effort to reach out and touch, physically!!! I’m so glad you found yourself again – don’t let it get pushed behind the door again!!!ReplyCancel

  • natski

    This post made me smile because you can feel your joy and energy just bouncing out of the computer screen. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Teresa

    You said it ALL… sister sewist!!ReplyCancel

  • Firstly, I shall say. It was wonderful to spend time with you this past weekend. I think you are a rock star. For real. Mom, artist, business lady, and amazing person. I think I know what you mean, even though I am not a mom. I felt so “me” last weekend and I realized that I am maybe not really true to myself most of the time. I think I am going to take your advice to heart and try and let that girl get to know people more often. Also, we all do need to get together more often! It is good for the soul.ReplyCancel

  • So glad you had a great escape, looking forward to seeing the results of your class 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Girl…you are absolutely amazing and I loved reading your post! So nice to finally meet you and I can’t wait to see you again! XoxoReplyCancel

  • Can I just give you a big hug?! I adore you. What a special weekend we had! Thank you for your honesty in this post. I am grateful to call you friend. And agreed-we must get together again!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay Conner

    What a sweet post! I am so glad to hear that it was a heart-warming and amazing experience for all! So glad that you found a little bit of “you” this weekend and rediscovered that you are not the sum of the things that you do for others, but that there’s a whole lot of life inside of YOU. 🙂 Beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • You are so amazing! I feel so blessed to have met you at the retreat this year and really enjoyed getting to know you! Thanks for putting yourself out there – as I am so happy to have made a new friend.ReplyCancel

  • Oh Lindsey, you worded that so well! The part about loving being a mom, but losing “who we really are” in the process – I totally agree. I am a little further away in Florida, but I can be on a plane in a heartbeat if you all decide to get together!! I am hugging you through the computer 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer O.

    Wow, that sounds like an amazing time! I wish I had known, maybe I would have made the drive from DC. It would be so great to have someone of the same tribe to talk to – my mom quilts but no one in my daily life understands my passion, or why I keep buying fabric! Not to say my friends don’t appreciate what I do, but they don’t “get it.”ReplyCancel

  • Heather

    Lindsey – I am so glad to hear that *someone* convinced you to come out of your comfort zone and join us for Sew South. You were truly the MVP of the retreat, and I think of you and Jennifer equally as the “heart” of the experience for me (and not just because of all the awesome stuff you gave me!). Thanks so much for coming and giving so much to all of us – I’m truly grateful to have met you!ReplyCancel

  • This isn’t about your retreat post as much as it is a reply to your comment about battling an autoimmune disease. I have recently been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. My friend had lupus (notice the past tense) which is also an incurable AI Disease. She recently refered me to a Doctor that has changed her life. She lost 60 lbs in a year. (Without exercise). That is what caught my attention initially. Well it turns out she just got her annual labs done and her lupus markers are all gone. She had already gotten off all of her meds which had been treating her symptoms. I need to lose weight and also hate the thought of taking Methotrexate the rest of my life. I have a variety of other health issues which in addition to my medications have seen me steadily gain weight (50 lbs + overweight – and no matter how hard I try, (exercise 1-2 hours at least 5 days a week & less than 1200 cals per day) I cannot lose more than 1-4 lbs. I decided to try to follow the Dr.’s advice and changed the way I eat. I thought I would try it for his suggested 6 weeks and prove that it wouldn’t work. I am not kidding you when I tell you that I lost 16 lbs in 5 weeks and I truly was not starving myself. My complete loss of energy has seen a significant boost. i have only been doing it for around 2 months but I have lost 20 lbs and am no longer sick and tired. I wish I could shout it from the mountaintops. It has given me hope for a long and healthy life. Please check him out. Sadly, you can’t really get any info from his website, and probably will have to buy a book. That made me very skeptical at first, but he has a VOOK -video book- that you can download for around $6-7 and it is a pretty quick read. It was convicting and life changing for me. I dont want to live the rest of my life sick and in so much pain. I don’t want anybody to have to live like that. Please consider it. Good luck and thank you for the fabulous post about the retreat!ReplyCancel

  • You said it so well! Love ya!ReplyCancel

  • I saw a picture of your duffle bag on another blog and I loved it! I hope you teach it somewhere here in Atlanta ;0) I would SOOOO take THAT class!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey it was so great to meet you at Sew South! You are such a talented sewist/teacher, and such a warm and funny lady. Looking forward to sewing with you again soon!ReplyCancel

  • I’m glad that you got the chance to get away and find some parts of yourself again. I, too, have a son with autism, live in yoga pants, rarely leave the house and, surprisingly to me, am afraid to meet new people (that wasn’t me 4 years ago). I’ve recently been connecting with some new faces at the DCMQG. One person in particular has this knack for actually seeing me and hearing me when we talk. I forgot what that felt like and she nearly brings me to tears every time we get together. Anyway, your post really struck me. I’m happy that Sew South was so good for you 🙂

  • I’m new to your blog and a newbie blogger myself. Looks like your post resonated with a lot of people! I write this while wearing yoga pants, letting two kids climb the walls while I wait for my husband to get home from work. Everyone says, “make sure to take care of yourself.” What they don’t tell you is HOW to do that, and that you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Balance? Ha. Glad you’re getting out and rediscovering yourself.ReplyCancel

  • Deb Cox

    Thank you Lindsey. I just found your site and what a story. You go girl. Thanks for the inspiration. Life doesn’t always give us a bowl of jello but we can jiggle and have fun!ReplyCancel

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