In Kinship - A podcast for makers
who crave a vibrant life on their own terms

Show Notes

#33 - Finding balance, living intentionally and coming back to walking your dog

(want the transcripts? scroll to the bottom of the page)

I’m over the moon that I got to talk with Sarai Mitnick, of Seamwork!

Years and years ago, as a pretty new garment sewist I found Colette Patterns and promptly devoured the Colette Sewing Handbook.

It was the intention and depth in that book, not just in the technical aspects but on the mindfulness around wardrobes and choices that struck a deep chord in my own soul and I began a journey of mindful making and learning to show up in the world fully and authentically myself.

That book was a gateway.

I’ve been following Sarai online for many years and I’m thrilled I got to talk with her on the podcast. 

Her personal project Making Time, a Substack newsletter, has the same depth and thoughtful conversation that you’ll find in this episode of the podcast.

Sarai shares how she structures her day to give herself more grounding and ease, the ways in which she gives herself grace to simply be herself and how there really isn’t a finish line.  We even find a wee bit of time to talk about making things and what she’s excited to work on!

Give it a listen!


Sarai Mitnick

Sarai is the founder of Seamwork, a Creative Sewing Platform that helps you to design and sew your own wardrobe. She’s the author of a bestselling sewing book, the host of the Seamwork YouTube channel, and co-host of the Seamwork Radio podcast. Sarai’s been helping people to sew for 15 years, and loves to share the joy of this versatile craft. She lives in rural Oregon with her partner Kenn, her dog Lucy, and two mischievious felines named Rusty and Duke. 

Making Time (personal newsletter):

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In Kinship with Sarai Mitnick

Tina: You are listening to the InKinship podcast, a podcast for makers, makers who crave a vibrant life on their own terms. And I’m your host, Tina VanDenburg. This is a live show. So at the end of the show, we’re going to have an opportunity to ask questions, to comment and talk with Sarai, if you’d like to, which leads me to the guest I have today is Sarai Mitnick from Seamwork.

She also has a sub stack that I thoroughly enjoy called Making Time. All of those links will be in the show notes. Sarai, it’s wonderful to have you here. 

Sarai: Thank you for having me. I’m really excited to be here. 

Tina: Yay! So, I want to start this out, um, if you, if you were on early, early to the call, you know that I have a little fangirlness when it comes to Sarai, because she was one of the first people that I stumbled across doing Indie sewing pattern work, or even blogging, 16 years ago when I started sewing clothing.

In fact, I, have sewn several of her patterns when it was Collette patterns before seam work was even a thing. And I also devoured her book the moment it was, it was available. Um, the Collette Sewing Handbook. Is that correct? That’s 

Sarai: right. Yeah. 

Tina: Yeah. And so vintage, vintage designs have always been an inspiration to me.

I love the fifties kind of look and you certainly move into then out of, or you did move in and out of that type of, uh, style. And so I love that book. And I remember distinctly, I was at Christmas with my family and I have this book and it’s got, you know, this very vintage look to it and it’s sewing, all of which is sort of, um, in the non sewing world, it sort of feels sort of antiquated, I guess, to other people.

And my sister in law is like, Fully stuck in the 80s still, right? Like if she could do the tall bangs, she would do the tall bangs still, right? So she’s listening to the 80s. Now she can listen to it on, I don’t know, some kind of satellite radio. But at the time she was like, wait for the 80s band to come on.

And she’s like, what are you doing? Because she would never sew anything either. So I got a lot of family ridicule for that book. But it hit my soul so deeply and it hit my soul not only as somebody who was just beginning to sew clothing but also as somebody who I was in my late 20s, and I was really embracing the idea that joy Could be found in simple ways.

I had just read the book Julie and Julia And so I can’t, that my timeline might be a little scary here, but I had read the book, Julia and Julia, and I was so, um, by Julie Powell, and I was so taken by the fact that somebody could find purpose and meaning in their life just by giving themselves a project.

Right. So I was exploring that in my life. I was exploring food in my life. I was explaining sustainability in my life. And then your book came out and your take on intentionality and your making and your take on, um, mindfulness just hit me in all the right spots. And it is something that I can. a tribute to sort of being the gateway for my making journey.

In fact, I was part of, ages ago, I don’t even know what it was called, but I think you did it. I think they’re a blog post. You did a blog post on designing your own wardrobe, which is probably the precursor to the program that you have now in Seamwork. I guess. Yeah. 

Sarai: Yeah. It was called wardrobe architect.


Tina: It was it. Yes. I would devour it. In fact, I did it several years in a row. I like save the, this was like, you know, this was a while ago. So like save the blog post and then go back and I would read them and do it like the mindfulness of it really hit me. So I just wanted to say on behalf of everybody else who feels the same way I do, and I know there’s a ton of us, thank you for the work that you’ve done in the world.

Sarai: Well, thank you so much. That’s awesome to hear. I love hearing your story. I feel like, um, all of it really resonated with me, especially what you said about having a project and how important that is to our lives. I think having a creative project to work on can add so much to our lives. dimension and meaning to anyone’s life, um, whether that is, you know, a big project like running a business or, um, a hobby.

I, I think it, it really is something that is missing from a lot of people’s lives these days. 

Tina: Yeah, I agree. It just allows for that. Zing of excitement that comes from like, I just did this thing. Look what I’ve discovered or look what I found. And, you know, I can imagine it would be very similar on a smaller scale to like land exploration 

Guest: or something like that, exploring 

Tina: new lands.

So, Terry, will you share with us what prompted you 15 years ago to begin Collette Patterns? Paint the picture of where you were and what made you take the leap creating this business. 

Sarai: Well, I was, um, I was living in the Bay Area at the time. Um, so it was before I moved to Oregon and, uh, I was working in the tech industry.

I was working in a large company. Um, and it was sort of my, supposed to be my dream job. It was, What I wanted to do it was, um, shortly after grad school was the company. I really, really wanted to work for. Um, and in a lot of ways, it was a great career with really smart people that I enjoyed quite a bit, but I was getting really burned out on it.

Um, I’m working for a large business and all of the bureaucracy around that, I really felt like I, I had this lunch with, um, a friend of mine who also worked there and, um, I’m sure he wouldn’t even remember this, but he said, you know, when you work in a place like this, you’re having, uh, you’re having an impact on so many lives because it’s such a large company, but you’re having a very, very tiny, tiny impact.

you know, somebody who’s, for example, a teacher or a social worker, they have a huge impact on a smaller number of lives. And it’s really about what gives you the most meaning. And for me, I realized that I would prefer to have a larger impact on a smaller number of lives, and that I would feel more connected to people that way.

And so, um, that was one impetus. And then the other thing is that I’ve just always loved sewing. I’m really, to this day, you know, even 15 years later, even doing it day in, day out, talking about it, writing about it, thinking about it. Um, Looking at other people’s work, it just, it’s still really invigorating to me and I’m still really passionate about it.

I just love it. I just think it’s such an amazing hobby that allows so much learning and growth and fun and visual stimulation. I just love everything about it. So, um, I, I’ve been in drug sewing since I was a teenager and it really had a big impact on my life. And so at the time there was kind of this resurgence of craft happening.

Um, there were things like in San Francisco and the Bay Area, at least there was like the Maker Faire going on and people were getting really into Etsy and, um, knitting was big. There was an online knitting magazine called Knitty that I loved. Um, and I thought, It would be so cool to create sewing patterns that are different from what’s out there already, because I think a lot of people would be really into sewing if they had a way to learn it.

But many of us don’t have a teacher. We don’t have necessarily a mother or a grandmother who can teach us or, uh, somebody else in the family who can teach us. Uh, so a lot of people are trying to learn through patterns, but the patterns weren’t necessarily teaching instruments. They were, you know, really designed for people who already knew how to sew.

And so I thought, how about we create something, or I create something that can help people learn as they go, it has more detailed instructions, really kind of is a learning experience at the same time. So that was my, my impetus to start Colette Patterns, and we started with printed patterns. And I had five designs to begin with, which I spent about a year developing.

Um, and then I. I moved to Oregon and quit my job and launched the business. That’s kind of, that’s, that’s the origin story. 

Tina: I love that. You know what? You have, You have very much achieved what you were looking for, at least in this life. Like, certainly when I first found you, it was when I was just a burgeoning garment sewer.

So your book in particular, um, and your patterns, I guess as well, because I did sew several of your patterns, really taught me a lot about The actual act of sewing, not only like I said, what I talked about earlier, that more intentionality and the mindfulness that it also like just really connected with me on, but also just the, here’s how to put a facing in, or these, or here’s what you want to facing and all of that.

And so I, um, that is impressive throughout the years, your business has changed. I would say as an outsider, like getting quite a lot to what it, from what it began as to what it is now. And I wonder if, um, Is the business that you have now, is it what you envisioned or dreamed of 15 years ago, or is it different?

Sarai: Oh, that’s a great question. Uh, no, it’s, it’s not really, uh, what I imagined. I, but I don’t think I had a really clear vision of what I wanted to do with the business. It was, I remember, Um, I read this book that was about, um, starting a business before I began that was written by these two ladies and I can’t remember, uh, I can’t remember the name of it, but it talked about how you should write down your goals and write down like a little business plan and all of that stuff.

So I remember I had this little Moleskine notebook and just, what did I want? What did I want out of this business? And um, At the time it was really like, I, I mean, I’d like to be able to support myself. I’d like to, uh, have some freedom in my life and be able to go for walks in the middle of the day sometimes, you know, it was things like that.

Um, and I, I, I think about that a lot now because, um, you know, as we’ve built the business, it can be very easy to get into this mindset of, Oh, we need to, we need to grow. We need to do this. We need to do that. And really coming back to, you know, My original intention was to have a more creative and fulfilling life and to still have some freedom and still have some time to do things like take my dog for a walk in the middle of the day.

So, um, I try to remember that that is a really key component of having a business for me is just having the kind of life that I want as well. And now, now that I have employees, making sure that they also have that. balance in their life. So, um, in a way, yes, because those things, those values are still there.

But in a way, uh, no, because I didn’t really have much vision when I started out as far as what the business itself would look like. Right. 

Tina: Right.

Okay, I have like, I have two questions fighting in my head to get out of my mouth, and they’re in different directions. So I’m going to start with, um,

that idea of recalibrating back to what it is that you want. It feels like exploring Something that I explore a lot in my life as well. And this idea of like, as makers, right. We, I’m going to build this up from it, but as makers, we can continually like be grabbing onto all the new things we want to make.

I want to make this, this, and this, this, and I want to do this, this, and this, this. And then pretty soon your to do list has become really large. And I know it’s like a hobby to do list, but it still has, for me, it has weight to it still. And I think that, um, I also just bought property. People in the podcast were like, yes, we know, but a few months ago, and I have a million projects to work on it with, like I moved this little house on wheels onto it.

And I, like, there’s no yard yet. So I’m trying to figure out where the yard’s going to go. And I put in some apple trees and things like this. And, and, uh, I started to get this pressure of like, I want to get all these things done. I want to have it all finished and I want to get moving on it. And then if I can step back and remember like, all right, hold on.

How do I want to feel in my life? How did I want this to feel? It feels like that recalibration can really, um, inform everything that we do, including what, what projects we take on. 

Sarai: Yeah, absolutely. I think, um, that’s a lesson that I have to learn over and over and over again. Uh, so I’m sure I will learn it again in the future, but I do feel like having, having that base to return to of how you want to feel in your life and how you want to approach your life and really your values, I think, um, provides kind of a home base to, to return make sure that you are living in the way that you really want to live.

And I think that’s, that’s kind of what intentionality means to me. 

Tina: Yeah. So how, let’s shift for a moment to making time, the writing that you do as a personal project on Substack. Um, I know that you explore intentionality and mindfulness quite often, enjoy something that I also explore in this podcast.

Um, I have certain ways that I make sure that I feel grounded in my day and then I make sure that I’m bringing in as much joy as I can because I have a belief that we as humans have more autonomy over how we feel or how we experience life than we maybe give ourselves credit for sometimes. So I wonder how you approach that feeling of ease and joyfulness, like what tools you have in place to bring you a sense of groundedness or whatever your sense of feeling is.

I wonder if you could share that with us. 

Sarai: Yeah. Um, I, I have quite a few, I think for me personally, um, you know, I think some of this comes down to personality type. And Yeah, things that work for one person might not be necessary or might not work for another person. But for me, um, I, my personality is a little bit obsessive.

Um, a little bit, uh, I would say I’m, I’m an ambitious person, but also a very enthusiastic person. So I get, I get super excited about things and I love trying new things. I’m, I’m very much into like, Novelty, I would say, like trying something new, but, you know, then there are kind of those threads throughout my life that I really stick to at the same time.

I, I just am a more, more, more kind of person, naturally, I would say. Um, so I have a tendency to, like you were talking about before, Tina, like collecting Uh, to do’s collecting hobbies, just keep piling on more and more and more and more stuff. Um, and I do it because I’m really genuinely excited to do it.

You know, I’m really, um, I’m really passionate about it and I have this just enthusiasm. And so. Uh, that can be, for me, it can be dangerous because it can lead to burnout. It can lead to just feeling like all of these things that I’ve piled on my plate are now, um, they’re now obligations. They’re things that I should be doing, that I promised myself I would do.

Oh, I was so excited about this a week ago. Why can’t I make it happen? What’s wrong with me? It leads to all that kind of, um, self talk. So, um, Over time, I’ve really discovered that I have to put boundaries in place for myself, and I have to have, um, rituals, I have to have things that I do on a day to day basis to ground myself, and to make sure that I’m not, um, both that I’m not over committing, because I have these things, you know, literally in my calendar, in my day, that I, that I have committed to myself that I will do in order to stay centered and calm, but also that will, um, Just bring peace of mind and remind me to be joyful in my life, because it’s so easy to miss that.

It’s so easy to forget that I have all of this amazing stuff, all of these amazing people around me. Um, you know, my animals, my, my home, everything that, um, I’ve been really lucky and privileged to have. to have, um, it’s really easy to forget about that. So it’s kind of that two pronged thing of actually having those boundaries in place, but then also having the tools to continually remember, um, to live life and just be happy.

Um, so that’s kind of a long preamble, but the actual things that I do, some of the things that I do, um, so when I, when I get up in the morning, I like to sit and read for a little while and just have at least, you know, 30, 40 minutes to just sit there and, and read a book, um, and have coffee. So that’s how I start my day every day.

And then, um, this, you know, this can change a little bit with the seasons, but, um, after that I meditate every day, um, and, uh, at, you know, just like 10 or 15 minutes, it’s not a long meditation, but I, I just do, um, a very, a very simple, um, you know, follow the breath type meditation, um, every day. And then I will, and sometimes I do other exercises and, and things like that.

Um, I like the, the app insight timer, which has a lot of guided meditation. So occasionally I will do a guided meditation. I usually don’t do a guided meditation, but sometimes I do, um, depending on how I feel and then I, I get ready for my day, um, shower and all that, and then, uh, play with my dog, go outside.

So this is, you know, this is kind of in detail, but, just to paint the picture of like a very quiet morning, like a very You know, I, I try to really use that time to, um, just think and be and, you know, enjoy life for a little while. And then after that, I get to work, um, I start by planning my day. So every day I sit down and I plan out my entire day.

I, I have something, um, on my calendar that I. Call my, um, I picked this up from some business guru, but, um, my, my perfect week. So that’s, you know, it has everything kind of mapped out, like in an ideal world, this is what my week would look like. And that’s actually on a calendar. So I can, I can do that. And I, I really try to have, um, large chunks of time in my day.

So, um, I, in the past I’ve had, you know, Uh, times where my calendar is very much divided up into these little meeting here, meeting there, you know, all these little things. And my, by the end of the day, I’m like, what did I do today? So I try to have large chunks of time to work on projects and really get deep into them because, um, that’s, that’s, that’s what I do.

one thing that really brings me joy is getting into that flow state, you know, with my work, because I am very passionate about my work. I, I really love what I do at work. And it’s also another thing that really creatively fulfills me. Um, but if I’m not, if I don’t have those big chunks of time dedicated to it, it’s not as, um, it’s not as easy to get into that flow state.

So I tried to structure my work day that way. And then, um, at five o’clock each day, I have a little closing ritual for my day where I. kind of review my day and what were the good things that happened today. Um, and I, I list three things that happened that day that were good. And then, um, and then I work out almost Every day after work, which I love.

I really love to get some exercise after work. Um, Yeah. And, oh, I should also mention, in the middle of the day, I take an hour to take my dog for a walk. So, back to that original, original modest vision. Lucy and I, Lucy and I go for a walk every day after lunch, um, which is awesome. We live in the country and it’s just, it’s just gorgeous, especially this time of year in June.

It’s just so beautiful. So, yeah. That’s a really great opportunity for me to step away from whatever I’m doing and appreciate the natural world. We walk, we usually walk down to, there’s a creek at the, we live kind of at the top of the hill. We, um, walk down to the creek at the bottom and she splashes around in the water and it’s just, it’s just beautiful.

So that, that’s in the middle of the day. And then, uh, and then after work, I usually, uh, you know, after dinner and making dinner and all that stuff, um, sometimes I’ll do yoga after work, um, and just kind of chill out, read a book, sit on the, sit on the porch, whatever it is. But I have very, so my, my partner, my husband works in the business with me.

He does a lot of our backend and, and web development. Um, so there, we have very strict boundaries in place about, about work and home and we don’t, you know, I have, I work nine to five, I don’t usually work beyond that. Um, and. We don’t talk about work outside of work hours. So that’s, that’s really important for us.

But we, you know, we have that unusual thing where we work together. So, uh, it’s, it’s necessary. 

Tina: I think that’s really impressive because, so I’ve worked. I’ve had a lot of different work that I’ve done, but I’ve often had my own business and I’ve often worked from home and it can be really difficult to delineate between working hours and non working hours.

And even if I find myself in the evening, if I’m answering work questions or I’m checking my work email energetically, it feels like I’m on the entire time, even if I’ve only actually spent 15, 20 minutes doing it. And I think there’s such a value. I’ve. As I also explore my own life and like what brings me peace, what brings me joy, what makes me the happiest, it’s like I need that delineation.

So I think that, um, two things here, I think that ritual that you do at the end of your day is really smart because it gives you that ability to like, delineate between the work day and the non work day. And I think that having the boundaries around that with your coworker husband is really smart as well.

And I think, um,

it sort of falls back to that idea of how much ease can come when we’re actually just doing one thing. 

Sarai: Yeah, I agree. Um, and I will say actually, you know, the closing ritual is something I’ve, I’ve implemented more recently, but for the last several years, um, I would work out right after I finished my workday.

And, uh, There’s something about that, about physical activity, that I think is so important for, um, for my mental health at least. Uh, there’s a, there’s a really great book, uh, I think I’ve probably recommended on the podcast before, um, called Burnout. And it’s, uh, one of the, one of the most important ideas in that book is that we have this natural kind of stress cycle in our bodies where, uh, it was something stresses us out or when we have, you know, that stress response, um, the way we’ve evolved is that our bodies want to do something physical to release that stress.

And if you can do something physical, like running or, you know, lifting weights, which is what I usually do after work, then you can, it tells your body that it’s, it’s safe to relax now that you’ve addressed whatever the issue was, you ran away from the tiger or whatever it is, 

Guest: and 

Sarai: you’re okay now. So there’s something about, um, And I think stress can be good.

I don’t think stress needs to necessarily be a bad thing. And we have natural stress, I think, throughout our day and especially in our work lives for many of us and for a lot of us in our family lives. And so I, I think having that time to, um, be physically active and physically release the stress. Um, and I think that’s really important to me because I think it’s really important to me to 

Tina: be able to feel safe in my body is really important to me.

Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of research personally on nervous system healing, and so a lot of the ways that we signal safety to our, to our bodies is through motion like shaking is kind of an idea to or just physically getting out and exerting our bodies. Um, And it just comes back to that idea to me that so that idea and then listening to you as you lay out your sort of structure for your day, right, which if probably if you hit those days you feel pretty satisfied, I would guess, with the day.

Yeah. You feel pretty like at ease with like this day was a good day like that feeling. Um, None of those were huge, insurmountable mountains to climb towards happiness or joy. I mean, they are in the moment because you have to make a choice to like read your book and drink your coffee rather than check your email right away.

Like you have to make those individual choices, but I am always struck by how it’s just small things really that we continually promise to do for ourselves that can bring so much reward into our lives. 

Sarai: Yeah, they are small things, but they, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re easy. I think, um, you know, they, they seem easy from when you’re just thinking about them from, you know, kind of an intellectual perspective.

What’s easier than drinking coffee and reading a book first thing in the morning, but that sounds pretty easy. But there are a lot of, you know, Messages, internal and external that, and a lot of pressures that can take you away from those really, really simple things. So it’s, it’s, it’s simple, but it’s, it’s not necessarily always easy.

And it’s, for me, it’s very easy to fall off the train if I, if https: otter. ai That’s kind of another component is just having that commitment to myself and enough care for myself that I’m willing to forgo things that seem urgent sometimes in order to prioritize, um, long term, you know, viability. So that’s, that’s a way I try to think about it.

But again, I’m. I’m far from perfect on this. And, you know, there are times where things don’t go right. And there are times where I just have to come back to it. You know, what we’re talking about before about reorienting. Um, and I think that’s just natural. That’s something I think we all go through. 

Tina: Yeah, I, um, I wouldn’t necessarily define myself as a perfectionist, but I do get really hard on myself when I don’t follow through on my commitments to myself.

And as, I don’t know if this is aging, I once, okay, I once had this woman’s circle, right? And I was in my mid 30s at the time, and the woman that said this was in her mid 40s, she was like, Oh yeah, that’s because you’re in your 30s. And I was like, What? That’s like that’s so insulted, right? Like, like, we’re just in this space because we’re this age.

And then now that I’m in my 40s, I’m like, Is this because I’m in my forties?

But I, I have found that like my biggest lessons are the biggest things that I’m working through right now in my own growth is like just allowing it to be. So like I, a morning ritual is really important to me as well. And for the longest time I had it, I can be really nerdy. So I had like the spreadsheet and I had it all listed out.

This is what that perfect week would look like. This is what the perfect day would look like. And then I finally realized like I had so much pressure on myself to achieve this and it became. I also had this sort of rebellious nature that’s like, let’s not do that. Let’s do this instead. Right. This is kind of that you have to fight.

So where I finally decided, which I think might be the key to life. I’m not sure. To just allow myself to be who I am. And rather than having morning, a morning ritual that is like, I do this for 10 minutes, I do that for 20, I do this for 30, have it be open and decide, like, I’m going to commit to doing a morning ritual.

I get to pick on that day, what that looks like. Right. And just allowing myself to work with my own personality and what, what really works for me so that I don’t instigate that little rebellious nature of mine to be like, Oh, don’t put me in this little box. Cause I’m going to do it how I want to. But I just keep coming back to the idea that, um,

There’s so much ease that comes from just allowing ourselves to be who we are. 

Sarai: Yeah. Yeah. And I think a lot of it is also experimentation and figuring out what works for you and being willing to change if it’s not working for you. Right. You know, you know, a lot of the things that I’ve tried have just been like you’re saying, maybe they were too rigid.

Maybe they just made me feel like it was one more thing to do. One more thing on my to do list. The things that I. I do now, at least at this moment, don’t feel that way. So, you know, but that, and they, that might change, you know, over time. So I think a lot of it is just being willing to experiment a little bit and also listen to your, yourself and, you know, How you’re feeling, which is not always something I’ve been good at.

So that’s another thing that I feel like I have to practice is just, you know, how do I actually feel? Not how do I wish that I felt right now? Right. 

Tina: Right. And allowing that to be. Yeah. Yeah. Do you are, um, is this anything that interests you? Do you ever look at like your human design or astrology? Do you ever add any of that kind of information into the fact finding about yourself?

Sarai: No, I don’t really know very much about. Um, I, I have been, uh, learning a little bit about the Enneagram lately, which I think is really interesting and kind of fun to learn about. Um, so I, I learned that I’m a three, which is like the ambitious. Yeah. I guess. I have, I’m reading a book about it, so I’m, I’m, I’m trying to learn a little bit about it just because I think it’s really fun and, and I think it’s really interesting to learn about like personality types, even if I don’t completely buy into it, just because it kind of gives you a, a frame to think about things and, and talk about things and explore yourself and explore your relationships with other people.

So, um, that’s the one kind of like, uh, a little bit more woo thing that I am into right now. But, uh, but I don’t really, I don’t really do a lot of that. So, 

Tina: yeah. Yeah, I find it fascinating for that same reason. I think that it, um, I think our reaction to what we read is really telling, right? Like, are we really grounded in like, what?

No, that’s totally not me. Or like, for me, when I did my Enneagram, probably eight or nine years ago, um, I don’t remember exactly what it said. I think it was a three as well, but it said, it was highlighting when I’m in a dysregulated state or when I’m most sort of vulnerable to dysregulation is probably the best word.

And it was something along the lines of not feeling worthy of love, something like that. And I immediately was like, no, what? And What is this even? I was so angry that I actually might have thrown the book because I think I had a book across the room and I’m like, okay, so if my reaction is going to be so visceral and so strong to this, maybe there’s something there for me to explore.

And so it actually was the beginning of a really deep healing that I had. Um. In some ways, I didn’t even know that I had as a wound. 

Guest: And so 

Tina: that was really pivotal for me. Um, I still kind of hate Enneagram because it really still makes me kind of angry that that’s what it told me. But I do find it fascinating and I’m really into human design.

Um, again, that is like the be all end all, like this is who you are and who you need to like now confirm to be. But as in like, for me, there’s been so many areas where one, I might find insight based on my own reaction and to, um, I don’t know why we often need this, but I often find permission in it to kind of be myself.

Be like, Oh yeah, that is who I am. And maybe it was something that I found really frustrating, but now it’s like, Oh, it’s okay. This is who I’m supposed to be. 

Sarai: Yeah, that’s, that’s very true. You know, I read a really great book, um, recently that I had kind of a similar reaction to, which is, um, the perfectionist guide to losing control by Catherine Schaefer, I think her name is.

Um, so it’s about perfectionism and there was a time where I definitely did not consider myself a perfectionist. Uh, and it was actually, uh, reading Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection that made me realize, Oh, maybe I, I kind of am. And then this book was even more, I think, illuminating because she talks about different kinds of perfectionists.

And I discovered that I am what she refers to as a messy perfectionist, which is that I am highly organized, but also kind of messy. Like if you could see around me right now, there’s just. There’s sewing stuff everywhere. Um, it’s a little bit physically chaotic, but, um, I’m also extremely organized at the same time.

And it seems like such a contradiction, but it’s true. And I’m, the kind of person who just like, like I was saying before, is a more, more, more kind of person. I tend to just accumulate a lot of, a lot of things to do and a lot of hobbies and all kinds of stuff. So, um, I really saw myself in that characterization in that book.

But another really important point she makes is that if you are a perfectionist of one kind or another, That it’s okay. It’s okay to be that way. Right. You know, you don’t have to change yourself. Um, that it’s actually in many ways a superpower. And yes, it has some drawbacks to it, but Any strength you have has drawbacks to it.

And so learning that it’s okay to embrace the way you are and the things that make you, you, uh, as long as you’re not harming yourself or harming other people and finding a healthy way to do it, finding The way for you that feels good and feels healthy, um, is really what it’s all about. So that was a, that was a real eye opener for me about self acceptance and learning that, you know, I don’t, I don’t have to, I don’t have to conform.

To a certain, um, type of person that I, you know, I might dream of being that’s, you know, Zen all the time and doesn’t, doesn’t like, yeah, and isn’t, isn’t quite so, you know, harried or ambitious or whatever it is that I, I wish was different. So that was really, that was really eyeopening for me. 

Tina: Yeah, in that same woman’s group that I mentioned earlier, there was a good friend of mine, and she always used to say, which also used to irritate me, she always used to say, um, too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

And I’m like, shut up, you know, like, And now I’m like, wow, that was really wise. I’m going to have dinner with her tonight, so I’m going to have to tell her I’m going to apologize for the internal message I had when she used to say that. That’s funny. Yeah. So let’s figure back to making for a minute. What are you excited to work on now, as far as a personal project?

Like, do you, yeah, let’s just leave it at that. What are you excited to work on right now? 

Sarai: As far as, like, hobby projects and things like that? Um, oh, so many things. Like I said, I’m surrounded by the chaos of all my making right now. Um, So as far as sewing stuff goes, I, I’m working on some of our upcoming patterns right now, just making things for myself and for videos.

And I’m very excited about that at the moment because I’m, I’m really diving into details and like details that I can add to things, which is really, really fun for me. I’m going through a lot of my, um, I have a lot of, older sewing books, you know, you know, from the 80s and, and, um, whatnot that have a lot of cool heirloom details.

So I’m learning a bit about that. The other day I was, um, I was planning out a couple of these projects and, um, it was a Saturday and I was like, I’m going to, I’m going to go, you know, decide what I’m going to make and cut them out. And I ended up spending like two hours just looking through these books and trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to make.

And, um, So that’s something I’m really excited about right now, uh, and then other personal projects, my garden, it’s June, so I’m very immersed in gardening right now and growing vegetables, um, and some flowers, but a lot of vegetables. Um, so that’s, that’s exciting. Taking up a lot of my time right now and, um, making time, which is the, the Substack newsletter you mentioned earlier.

I’m trying to spend a little bit more time on that. That’s a little bit. Um, I try not to be too strict with myself about writing for that these days. When I started, I was like, I’m going to write every week and I’m going to have this, you know, schedule and. Right. And I, it just became kind of a little bit, I was being a little bit too strict with myself.

So, um, it’s really just my fun place to write about anything that’s interesting to me right now. You know, ideas that have come to me from books I’m reading or just things that I see reflected in my life. Um, I, I try to leave that space a little bit more open. I share links to really interesting things I’ve read online, that sort of thing.

Um, so, so that’s, It’s a fun little side project and definitely a bit of a creative outlet for me as well. 

Tina: Well, it resonates for me deeply and I look forward to them every time they come up. And I think, I love it that you’re giving yourself grace around it because. I think that probably all of us can relate to this, but when you’re a business owner as well, is we put so much pressure on like having to do things on a certain schedule or like you’ve put out a schedule, so now you have to maintain that schedule rather than just be like, this no longer works.

Now this is going to work. And like, I think that bit of grace when you’re in sort of the public eye, I think that having that little bit of grace for yourself and sharing it allows all the rest of us to set permission, right? 

Sarai: Yeah. Yeah. I think with, you know, with at least for me and having a business, um, I do feel definitely a sense of commitment.

Um, to everything that I’ve, I’m doing there as far as, you know, writing and creating videos and all the things that we’re doing at Seamwork and my commitments to the other people who work there. So, um, it’s nice to have when it comes to my hobbies, things outside of work, it’s nice to have a place to come where it’s, it’s what I feel like doing, you know, really.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 

Tina: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks. Sorry, before we open this up to any questions our guests today might have, I have a question I love to ask all of my guests on the podcast. And my question is, what do you think people shouldn’t, it’s of course a complicated word, but what do you think people should know deep in their hearts, or you wish that they knew deep in their hearts that maybe they don’t?

Sarai: This is, um, this might sound a little bit, a little bit of a downer. Uh, but for me, I think. Um, one thing that is important to remember is that life is limited and that life is short. Um, and we are all going to die at some point. Um, and I think that’s something that people, um, have a natural resistance to, of course.

And so we forget that. life is so limited and that, um, you know, this day is the only day like it that you’re going to have and, um, to make the most of, and it sounds like a cliche, but just to make the most of each day, each moment, and especially Each moment you have with the people that you love. And I think just remembering occasionally reflecting on the limited time we, we all have on earth and that we don’t know how long that time is going to be.

Um, for me, it’s, it’s. grounding and brings me back to what’s important in my life. So, um, it’s hard to think about. It’s not pleasant to think about. I was, before we started recording, I mentioned that I just read, um, a book by Sulekha Juad. I, I hope I’m pronouncing her name right. Um, but she, She, uh, she also has a wonderful Substack newsletter called The Isolation Journals.

And she, um, she battled with, uh, leukemia in her, in her 20s, um, and, and now. And, um, the, I read her memoir. It just finished her memoir, uh, and it just really made me think about the times in my life where I’ve had to face, um, uh, I’ve had to face, you know, challenging health circumstances, either for myself or somebody else, or had to face mortality and it’s, um, There is something in, in her memoir, there’s just something so beautiful and so enlightening about seeing somebody come through that and their perspective on the world afterwards.

And to me, that’s just something that I try to keep in mind and it helps me to be more connected and to remember to show love to other people as much as I possibly can. So I think if, if we all remembered that we might be a little kinder to each other. 

Tina: You know, yeah. Okay, that’s 

Sarai: beautiful. Thank you.

Thanks for asking. It’s a, it’s a great question. Yeah.

Tina: So any of you who are here with us live today, if you’d like to talk with Sarai or share something or ask a question, we would love to chat with you. Just raise your hand if you will. I’ll keep my eye out for some raised hands, but I did want to share, um, something that made me, I guess just like the invigoration that can come with facing the mortality of somebody that you love or facing your own mortality.

I have, um, I have a man that I dated for most of my 20s and he passed away last year, um, which was incredibly sad. But his younger sister, who is a decade younger than him, she and I still keep in touch. And she has started a new project to go and see the world. Cause she’s like, my older brother was 10 years older than me and he passed away.

And it just really hit her as if she only had 10 more years. What would she do with it? How would she have wanted to spend those 10 years? And I think that, um, for her invigorated her to do this project that she hadn’t found the energy or the time to, to get off the ground. And she’s like, what if I only had 10 more years left?

And she’s, she’s off and running. And I just think, um, I think that’s beautiful. And I have, uh, my dad is also often he’s on the kidney transplant list and he’s often in a state of, um, emergency. And so. I would not wish that on him by any means, but every time I go down and I spend time with him in the hospital, the gift of it, I guess, is it gives me this moment to sort of recalibrate my life and be like, all right, what matters here?

What doesn’t? Because I just want to sort of call the things that don’t really matter towards what I want in life. 

Sarai: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Um, I think, I think just that, um, that experience of being close to, close to someone who is, um, in danger in that way can be so, um, it’s so incredibly difficult. It’s like the most difficult thing that we can do.

We can deal with, um, but at the same time, I don’t know, it’s, um, there’s, there’s not really a silver lining to it. I don’t want to say that. It’s, it’s just, um, something we all have to deal with in life, I think. And so, and if, if you haven’t had to deal with it yet, you, you will at some point. And so I think there’s, um, there’s some, there is something very profound in it.

And very connecting to other people. 

Tina: Yes. Yeah. And it sort of has the opportunity to burn away, like I said, but the ways that we’re just filling our time, the ways that we’re just. Yeah. 

Sarai: Yeah. And I, I do wonder sometimes I, I had an experience. So when I was, um, when I was young, when I was 12 years old, um, I, I had a very serious surgery and spent some time in the hospital and I, I look back on that and I sometimes wonder if the pain I experienced at a young age and, you know, relearning how to walk and doing.

some of these things that put me, I, I wasn’t, you know, in danger of, of, of dying or anything, but I, um, just dealing with, uh, that physical limitation and that physical difficulty, I do wonder if that had some kind of effect on my outlook on life. Yeah. Later, and feeling, um, like a little bit more risk tolerant than a lot of people I know and kind of willing to do things that maybe, um, a lot of people aren’t so comfortable with.

Guest: Yeah. 

Sarai: Um, so I, not that, you know, I mean, other people have different life circumstances and different approaches to life naturally, so I, I don’t want to, I don’t want to attribute it to only that, but 

Tina: I don’t know if you’ve cut out for anybody else, but I didn’t catch that last part. 

Sarai: Oh, I was just saying, I think, you know, it’s, um, everybody has different life circumstances and different natural personalities.

So I can’t really attribute anything, but I. Yeah. I do wonder about that. 

Tina: Right. Right. I, I think those experiences that we have in life are so pivotal. So when I was in my young years and in early twenties, we had, I was in three different house fires. And so I don’t have any belongings from before 25 in my life.

And um, they were horrific in their own ways.

I love to call what I have. I love to go through and like shift things and only keep what’s really important to me. And I don’t have that same sort of for better or worse, I guess. I don’t have that same sort of like hang on to things to me. And I wondered if that, because I lost everything several times.

I wonder if that, um, influence that, right. That I’d be able to, I know what it feels like to not have anything and it’s okay. 

Sarai: Yeah. 

Tina: For me. 

Sarai: Yeah, you really don’t know where painful experiences are going to take you. 

Tina: Yeah. 

Sarai: You know? When they’re happening, they feel so horrible, um, and they, they are, but it, at the same time without them.

You have to wonder what kind of a what kind of a person you’d be without without pain in your life, you know, right, right. 

Tina: Oh, anyone in our audience want to jump in. I know we’ve gone into sort of a deep conversation. You’re welcome to join in that conversation if you’d like or if you want to share anything that you’re making or any thoughts that came up for you during our conversation today.

Feel free to do that. 

Guest: So, Yes, I joined you last week at the end and I just enjoyed it so much. And this is an amazing podcast and Sarai, I. Followed you also and appreciate you. And I’m learning about Tina now, but, um, this has been an amazing, it’s more like church that it is.

Before you all said it about the Enneagram and I’m an Episcopalian and there’s a lady in our diocese that had a 12 week class on Enneagram using Suzanne Stabile’s work. If you look it up, it’s called Life in the Trinity and she’s out of Dallas, but she has her curriculum. So we had a 12 week curriculum.

I took it in the fall with my sister. And I’m in Illinois now with my, with my kids. And, um, then we took it again in the spring. So I had that and it’s not the gospel, but it is helpful. And, uh, I, I think it was interesting that I’ll show, um, I lost my job in December. Uh, anyway, Like I was 64 and I got let go from being a special ed teacher and it was traumatic.

But then I said, In the, in the exit interview, I said, well, I’m a strong believer in Providence.

Daughter said, mom, just come live with me. And they were in North Carolina and we moved all across the state to Illinois. And my other two daughters came here too. So we had a house full of my daughters and my precious son in law. But anyway, the first few weeks after that Enneagram, I thought to myself that God was saying, You know, you might could try loving again.

As far as a romantic, because I, we divorced, I divorced 16 years ago, mentally 29 year marriage, mentally unhealthy husband, who’s totally out of the picture. My kids and I are just really close because of that. And I hadn’t gone to coffee with a man in 16 years. And then I met this really nice man at the YMCA.

And he’s, he’s eight years older, but We talk and he’s Catholic and I’m Episcopalian and I love, you know, religion stuff and. Anyway, it’s just been really sweet and I’m, you know, I don’t want to get married. I don’t want to go live with him, you know, but it’s just, it’s enriched my life as many other things have.

But I told him when I first met him in November, I said, if you’ll do the, any of.

So he endured 12 weeks of the Enneagram and he’s an eight and he’s a very business like and he was like, he did it for me, but he held it in there. So guys give us, uh, my kids had done it and they would, they knew all about it and they talked, you know, Brene Brown and the Enneagram and I thought, well, what are y’all talking about?

So anyway, it’s, it is a tool that is interesting and helpful. So, but I just. Appreciate all of your wonderful, profound comments. And I agree about the, the deaths, the, the, even the divorce deaths, you know, and it had to happen. I couldn’t, I did all I could for 29 years and that was it. And we call it Independence Day.

My middle child took his life, you know, 24 and a half and that was his, He made that commitment and we talked about it and he talked to his sisters and we couldn’t change his mind. So, you know, he’s just right over there. He’s just over the veil, but I’m not going to let myself be obsessed because that’s what he did.

What do you want to do? He was adult, whatever. So we all have these things and it’s just beautiful to visit with you lovely ladies about all these things. for 

Tina: sharing. Yeah. It’s nice to hear from you. 

Sarai: Um, Yeah, I’m trying to, I’m trying to get my husband to do the Enneagram, like the, there’s like an online, uh, like 30 minute quiz you can do to, that helps you uncover which one you are.

So I told him I would send it to him today. If nothing else, it’s just a way to, to have a conversation about your personality and who you are. So there’s no harm in it. Yep. Yep. Super fun. I don’t 

Guest: think men like it very much though. 

Sarai: Especially skeptical men.

Tina: So, well, thank you for joining us. It’s so nice to have you here. 

Guest: But I also want to say that just what you all were talking about, planning your day and making your day count. And, you know, Bill and I, my, my boyfriend and I just had this conversation last night because he’s very much, if he gets his to do list done, he’s been retired 12 years, but you know, and.

It’s gotta be more than about the to do list, you know, and he kind of sees that, but anyway, I struggle with all the, all the things that y’all do. 

Tina: Yeah. 

Guest: Thank you for this though, it’s been great. 

Tina: Thank you.

Anyone else want to hop in and chat with us?

Sarai: That was really, that was really wonderful though. 

Tina: It’s 

Sarai: fun. It’s, 

Tina: it’s always fun to have, yeah. Somebody else come in and I, I was before our call and Sybil really reinforces for, for me, it was like, I actually, one of the questions I didn’t get, I have a million questions I didn’t get to with you because we just had this beautiful flow in this conversation, but one of the questions was, um,

When it comes to joy, when it comes to intentional living, do you think we ever get there, wherever there is? Do you think we ever get to that spot, like the spot that we’re sort of striving to get to? 

Sarai: Oh, I, I don’t think there is a finish line, personally. I, I’ve kind of given up on that. I, I think, you know, life comes and goes and I don’t think there’s ever a period where we just experience Joy all the time.

you know, I just don’t think that’s in human nature. 

Tina: Yeah. 

Sarai: Personally. Um, and I, I both because there are a lot of external things that are bound to happen to you that are naturally gonna be unhappy. Um, yeah. But, but I also think, I think humans have a lot of natural tendencies that, um, that take us away from that.

And I think it’s just about coming back to it over and over again. And that’s why practices and rituals are so important to me and why I, I write about that a lot on, on the personal newsletters, just, um, I think it’s always a, uh, recentering and returning process and not necessarily a, uh, stability that is going to last through the rest of your life.

Tina: I agree. I agree. One hundred percent. I agree with that. And then, like I said, I was walking with my friend. this morning and I’m talking about the property and all the projects and like, there is not a, not that long ago in my life that would have caused me a lot of stress to think about all the things I have to do to, in order to get the place, the vision that I see.

Right. And then I’m like, I, again, I’m not sure if this has been in my mid forties, if this is just growth or what this is, but there’s something about this year that I’m looking at all these projects and I’m like, I’m just gonna, go at each project with the kind of energy that I want to feel every day.

And I’m going to allow them to unfold as they do. And yeah, I have a grander vision for what it’s going to look out my window here. I have a grander vision for what it’s going to look like, but I’m just going to work at it. And I may never get there. It may never happen. 

Sarai: Yeah, that’s a, um, if anybody has read, uh, the writer Oliver Berkman, um, uh, he writes about this a lot.

And this idea that, um, you know, a big part of it, of life is just accepting its limitations so that you’re, you know, you’re never going to be, you’re never going to reach some state where you are able to do all the things that you want to do. It’s just, that’s just not going to happen. And so, you know, a big part of finding peace is just like being willing to accept that You know, I think that has, you know, he writes a lot about productivity from that point of view, that, you know, There is no perfect productivity and, um, that really resonates for me because I feel like a certain amount of finding happiness is just accepting that, um, some things are going to go by the wayside and, you know, maybe my house is not going to be clean a hundred percent of the time and, you know, I just have to accept that.

So, which is, it’s tough if you are a perfectionist, but, um, I think that’s, that’s a big life lesson for me that I’m continually learning. Very nice. 

Tina: Okay. Do you mind if I ask you one last question? It is what else right here. So I don’t want to hold anybody who’s gonna jump. Um, but along those same lines, I wonder how do you keep, to bring it back to making for a minute, how do you keep your making fresh?

And do you feel like you ever get to, uh,

I’m assuming the answer will be similar, but do you ever get to a state of like finished when it comes to what you’re going to learn or what you can embrace as far as your making goes? 

Sarai: Um, no, I mean, I think it’s just, it’s like the rest of life. But I think that’s one of the, at least for my creativity and the things I do just for creative practice, I feel like that’s part of the joy of it is just the continual learning.

And that’s one reason I really love sewing is just that I’m always learning something. It’s the same reason I love running a business is just there’s always more to learn. Um, and for me, that’s very gratifying. I, I love learning new things. It’s one of my big motivators in life is learning something and then sharing whatever I learn.

And hopefully it’s helpful to somebody else. Um. Yeah. That’s, that’s something that I just get tremendous joy from. So, um, and, and so lucky to have built an entire career around that, about, you know, learning about something I’m really excited about, which is sewing and then sharing that with other people.

Um, so I don’t think there’s ever a point where I feel like. You know, things are going to be done. And thank goodness, you know, that’s not, that’s, that’s for me, that’s not the point. So, um, and I guess that’s a good lesson to take into life too, you know, if you think about it that way. Um, That life’s never going to be perfect and done and just the way you want it.

And that’s the beauty of it is that you’re always going to be changing and you’re always going to be learning and growing and becoming somebody new. And isn’t that cool? It is. It is so cool. 

Tina: Sorry. You know, else’s cool. It was so cool to talk to you today. I’m so glad you’re here. 

Sarai: Yeah, this was an awesome conversation.

Thank you so much for having me. I’m I’m so happy that you asked me to be here. Good. I’m glad to have 

Tina: you here. Before we jump off real quick, if folks want to find you, um, where can they find you online? And I will have this in the show notes, but if they’re just wanting to look at it right now, where can they find you online?

Sarai: Our podcast is Seamwork Radio. And, uh, so if you like listening to this podcast, you can check that out. Um, you can check us out on YouTube. I make, I love making videos. That’s one of the things that I love doing in my work. Um, and we’re always improving our videos. So, uh, you can find us on YouTube at Seamwork video.

Uh, you can go to Seamwork. com, which is where you’ll find Um, our community and all of our patterns and everything that we do is right there at Seamwork. Um, and then if you want to check out my own personal newsletter, it’s called Making Time and it’s, um, it’s on Substack. 

Tina: Very nice. Thank you for being here.

I was just checking to make sure we didn’t miss any questions, but we didn’t. Lots of love for the work that you do and your podcast and so. Thank you so much. Bye. Thank you everyone for being here. Thank you for listening.

Have a great day.