Getting Connected – Part 1

Part1

As I was reflecting upon 2013, and figuring out what what my goals were in the upcoming year – I realized something.  I wasn’t connected anymore.  I am so thankful for all of the growth the Sewing Rabbit blog has undergone the past few years, so thankful for every single reader, viewer, and friend. In fact, we have gone through so much growth that I needed to take on a team in order to keep up with all of the work. After all, no one person can do everything – we all need help. And taking on the team was one of the best decisions I ever made. But in that growth, I lost something. I lost some of my connection with you. After all, when others are writing some of your content you lose a bit of the daily conversation. 

So one of my 2014 goals is to get connected again. To share some of my story each month, in an effort to help you get to know me better.

Of course I know some of you may not care, and are here for the tutorials or patterns – which is great!  Skip these monthly posts and keep coming back for the good stuff. I am writing these posts simply so you can get to know me better – the person behind to blog you read daily. To open up the conversation, to be friends, and to connect with you on a more personal ‘real’ basis.

So…where do I start?

I guess at the beginning…and don’t worry, I will skip over my entire life growing up. But there are some core things you need to know about me, that helped form who I am now.

IMG_2359 That’s me. Wasn’t I a little nugget? My mother was a teen Mom, getting pregnant unexpectedly at the age of 17. The pants she is wearing in that photo? Totally handmade. I love her for that. In fact, when people started asking questions about whether or not she was pregnant in High School, she started wearing a shirt that said ‘Baby’ and had an arrow on it. That’s my Mom, she is totally awesome and I love her in every way possible. Of course being pregnant at such a young age is usually not what people dream of, but I thank my lucky stars that she kept me – loved me – and raised me to be the woman I am today. I am very close with her, and very much like her.

The man holding me is my Father. I did not grow up with him in my life, which I will get into. My mother had another daughter while married to my Father, my sister and I are exact opposites in every way – but she is still one of my very best friends.

As mentioned, my parents divorced when I was very little. You see, my father is a very sick man – diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. He was abusive towards my Mother, and on a lot of drugs at his young age. I remember a few fights they had when we were very little – and standing in between my parents to try to get them to stop arguing.  It must  have been hard for my Mom, no one ever wants to separate their children from their birth father.  But I am so thankful she had the courage to do exactly that – what was best for her children. We ended up moving from Illinois to New York when she met and remarried my Stepfather, whom I consider my real father as he is the one who raised me.

I have no hard feelings towards my birth father, I understand he is mentally ill. Because of that I spent a lot of my young adulthood learning about Paranoid Schizophrenia, as it was always a concern for me that I would develop it.  My father and I developed a relationship in my early adulthood as well, writing letters back and forth. I take comfort knowing he has found Jesus, and that I will be able to talk with him when he has a sound mind someday with the Lord. I even learned that my great-grandfather on my Father’s side is a classified genius – having found stars in the sky that are now named after him.  Kinda cool. And thanks to Facebook, I am even ‘friends’ now with some Aunts and cousins from his side of the family.

Why do I share this?

One – because no family is perfect. One of the biggest misconceptions in blog-land is the image of the perfect family. We take beautiful photos, and only share what we want with the world. I have a lot of imperfect in my life – then and now. This is just the very tip of the ice berg. I thank God for the imperfect, because without it I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Two – because I think a lot of people are scared to share things like this with others. I know I was. No one wants to tell people that their real father is a paranoid shizophrenic, after all – what does that say about them?  You are not alone. 

Three – to be free. Secrets like this hold us back from so much happiness in our life. You never know what you share, and how it can affect others.  Letting go of our past hurts, our secrets can unlock the chains that bind you. This is no secret is my personal life, and I certainly wasn’t keeping it a secret here – it was simply never shared. But I tell you, when you hold things like this inside – you are binding yourself up in a way that will never allow you a life of freedom. God doesn’t want you to be under chains, He came to set you free from oppression, free from the yoke of burden.

Four – back to my Mother. I share this because I am so very proud of her.  In fact, I am crying as I write this now. My Mother is a rock in my life, I never would be who I am today without her. She always encouraged us to be strong young women. To be able to stand up on our own two feet, to fight for what we want, and to live a life of happiness and joy. I imagine she had to learn that lesson the hard way, having had the courage to go through her struggles.  (And don’t think I went through life as a happy teenager with my Mom, I cursed her like all teenagers do and thought I had the worst Mom ever. Gosh, I was such a snot. Lol.) I write this as a Mother with 3 children of her own, looking back and knowing that my mother was the best Mom ever. She always did the best job she could with what she had. We didn’t have much back then – living with my grandparents. And then once she got re-married in a second floor apartment of her MILs house. But we were always happy – even when my sister and my greatest joy was popping the tar bubbles in the hot pavement during the Summer. We were always, happy.

I learned how to work hard from her. To reach for what I want in life, and to keep on striving until you get it. To be a strong independent woman. And I learned how to be a loving Mother, always bringing life and joy into my children’s lives. To be a silly, jump around and dance in the kitchen kind of Mom. To kiss their boo boos, and cuddle with a book kind of Mom. I also learned to scream when I am mad, laugh loudly, sing in the car, shop well, and be creative – all from her.

Why do I share this? Because I want to be connected with you. And in order to do that, you need to know a little bit more about me. About who I am, about my family, about some of the things I have been through and where I am going. Why I do what I do, and how I do it. Some of these monthly posts will be funny, some hopefully encouraging, and some may even be sad. ALL of them will be real.

Furthermore, this Friday you will get to meet the new 2014 Sewing Rabbit Team and learn a little bit about them!  And next week will bring a full new year of sewing tutorial awesomeness! In the meantime, if you ever want to reach out to me – I am always here to respond to comments, e-mails, and you can find me hanging out on Facebook and Instagram most frequently when time allots.

If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading. I look forward to getting to know YOU better in 2014 too.

IMG_0708

Photo snapped of me by my daughter while being crazy / dancing in the kitchen

Thanks so much for stopping by, and until next time…

Happy Sewing!

 

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Jess

Jess Abbott the Sewing Rabbit is the founder and creative director behind the me sew crazy blog, as well as SewSet.com, 5 & 10 Designs, GNO Events, and co-editor of STYLO. She resides in Virginia Beach with her husband and 3 children.
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Comments

  1. says

    This is the most beautiful post that I’ve read in a long time! You totally rock and I love that you shared all this! I also feel that besides sewing, tutorials and nice pics, connecting is the most amazing thing about blogging (so much that I even named my blog like this…). I really looking forward to getting to know the person behind your amazing blog better…

    • says

      I couldn’t agree more Annika! I was sitting down and thinking the other day about what was most important to me with this whole blogging thing, and I realized…it was the people. The connections I have made with friends is by far the very best thing that has ever come out of this :).

  2. tara says

    wonderful post! I always love the behind-the-veneer ones. My family story is similarly complicated. Enough so that I don’t think I could share on my blog without hurting family members who read it. But whenever I get asked about my parents/siblings I never quite know what to say without confusing or making people feel awkward. lol!

    • says

      Yeah, there are definitely things I will NOT be sharing. There is a fine line between being open, and hurting other people with your words :). As long as you have close friends you can confide in, or in your case a husband, that is what is important. I am glad you liked the post, I admit – was kinda nervous about it when I woke up this morning. Kinda like…what have I done?!!! HA

  3. says

    Thank you, Jess…..for giving us a slice of your life – real, raw, and uncensored. That takes guts….but it also makes those connections I think we all long for. I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for you, your family, your team, and your readers….

    • says

      Thank you so much!!! I loved watching your flip this pattern series unfold last year. Was by far one of the best ones out there, with so many people getting involved. Just awesome!!! :)

  4. says

    I love that you shared this with us as this is pretty much an identical story to mine. Its amazing how down you can feel with certain things in your life only to hear you are not alone and other awesome people also struggle with some of the same things. I had a young mother, who struggled with your fathers illness, and I have an absent father. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself when I see more “normal” families but had I not gone through any of that I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today! Thanks for sharing Jess, great story for the new year and motivating to get connected with everyone.

    • says

      Thank you so much Nicole! I love it when I learn that people have or are going through similar situations. It can be so hard, but knowing others are right there with you totally helps you get through :). What a great way to start off the New Year!

  5. says

    Beautiful post Jess!! Thank you for sharing about yourself. There is power in honesty and the example you are setting is amazing. Can’t wait to follow along. :)

  6. says

    Wonderful post!!! As proud as you are of your mom, I can’t imagine how she must feel about you! <3 Thank you so much for your desire to feel connected with your readers! It's what I love about blogging and social media too!

    • says

      I don’t think she knows I wrote this yet….eek! HA. I know, I feel like I have remained somewhat connected via Instagram, just not on the website. Part of the reason I love being on IG – you get to see bits and pieces of people’s everyday life :)

      • Mom says

        It’s ME, mom!!! I cried at the exact point you mentioned you were crying! Great post Jessica! Proud of you
        for being so brave and uncensored! big hugs and love

  7. says

    Lovely post and your mom MUST be super awesome because you’re super awesome. She sounds like a very strong woman and I’m so glad you shared!

  8. says

    What a beautiful and BRAVE way to start off 2014, Jess! Thank you, first, for having the desire to connect. That shows your heart. And, secondly, thank you for sharing the complexity of your childhood. It shows your strength. It’s our vulnerabilities that make us human, and it’s only when we share those “imperfections” and insecurities that we can connect with each other on a deeper level. Choosing to embrace your past is not easy, but you’ve done it, and it has made you the awesome person that you are today. I applaud you. Truly. I look forward to learning more about you in future posts. (Your mom sounds like an amazing woman!)

  9. says

    Thank you for sharing this Jess! It’s so easy to forget about the “person behind the blog” and just consume the tutorials without giving a second thought to the deeper heart and soul behind the words on a site. You are amazing and I can’t wait to learn more about you through your posts this year!

    • says

      I am blessed to already be able to call you a friend Elisa :). I agree, it can be hard to remember that there is a person behind the blog sometimes. I say that as someone who reads blogs, especially the larger ones – where you see them as a brand, and not so much a person!

  10. says

    I remeber when I wrote a difficult post about my brother and it was so hard,but was so freeing at the same time. Thanks for sharing a little about the genius behind the curtain. You! Happy new year!

  11. says

    I wish I had an ounce of your courage to share my story. I think we have a lot in common you and me. What a beautiful post and great to start the year. So looking forward to know you. Here’s to 2014! You are awesome Jess and always such an inspiration in every sense.

      • says

        I wanted to tell you, I am “clinically insane:” In 2004, I started Hearing Voices. I waited till 2009 to take medication. I take medication and am allright now. Isn’t life interesteting?

        maybe I was knocking on the right door ALL ALONG!

        medication gets rid of my “psychotic disorder” symptoms: hearing voices and hallucinations.

        Your younger image is still a huge inspiration to me! =LOVE

  12. says

    Nice to meet you and learn more about you, Jess. I think the real-er and more honest people are with each other, especially women, the less hostile and crappy we are to each other. Everyone has walked a rough mile or two in their shoes . I love that you are reaching a hand out to us. :)

    • says

      I agree! I truly believe everyone has their own story. I don’t know of a single person I have ever met that doesn’t have their own ‘issues’. I just love being able to connect with people about them, and help each other out whenever we can!

  13. says

    Great post! What a wonderful mom and a fabulous dancing photo :) I also love knowing people behind beautiful sewing though I don’t have much courage to share my story.. Looking forward to seeing more of your stories and Team Sewing Rabbit 2014! Happy New Year!

  14. says

    Beautiful post! You say that your mother is the best ever, but I think you’re the best daughter no one can have!
    No family is perfect, but that’s the way we grow as persons, enjoying good things and learning from the bad ones.
    And remember… your father is not a bad person, he is only sick!!
    A big kiss from Spain

  15. says

    Beautiful post!! I’m a firm believer in the “you just never know what people are going through or have been through so give them the benefit of the doubt”. More so now than ever before after Ruby. Thanks for writing this and letting us get to know you better. And what a precious photo of your parents!

  16. says

    Wonderful, thoughtful post, Jessica! It’s tough to be one’s self on a blog; everyone is expecting you to be this certain thing they’ve made up in their minds. To be so honest is rare. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to getting to know you better in 2014. :)

    • says

      Same here Lauren – you have been one of my greatest discoveries this past month. I love getting to know you better – you always make me smile! The good, the bad, the funny, and the crazy – it is all awesome.

  17. says

    I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing. I too have a young mom, unfortunate biological father, sister that is my opposite, and wonderful stepdad (he actually adopted me). You just never know how much you have in common with someone. I so look forward to this series, you rock!

  18. Jeannie says

    Great post Jess! I am almost 70 and live out in the Maine woods, one mile from my nearest neighbor, and 2+ hours from the nearest mall. Part of the fun of the few blogs/Facebook I follow is for the personal as well as the learning/sharing. I think keeping in touch with people is healthy and can only help with your creativity. Rock on in 2014!

  19. says

    What an amazing post, Jess! You are so brave for pouring your heart out to the world. And what a terrific mom you have! Never take your time with her for granted. I look forward to reading more…

    • says

      I know Veronica, she is pretty amazing. I wish I could say I never do take my time with her for granted, but all too often I do. I need to get better with that, New Years resolution of mine with my entire family!

  20. Mom says

    Hello and Happy New Year to ALL! I am Jessica’s Mom. I have written, erased, retyped…..again, again and again. First, I love you Jessica! I used to say more than you’ll ever know but now that your a Mom I think you get it. I couldn’t be the Mom I am without having such beautiful children both inside and out. So simply put. I love YOU! I’m proud of YOU! Your talents impress me more and more each day! If people could glow, I’d be a glow worm. Ok, I’ll stop. Hugs hugs and more hugs! And in case I haven’t told you lately, I love you.

  21. says

    Wow Jess, this was wonderful and thank you so much for opening up and being honest. I really do feel like I know you better now. My mom is mentally ill as well, she’s bi-polar with schizophrenic tendencies and I too worried how that would manifest in me and my children but I think if nothing else it has made us stronger and more aware of our feelings. Love you lady and can’t wait to see where you take the Sewing Rabbit team this year

  22. says

    What a perfect way to start off the new year! I feel so blessed to have made so many blog friends and you guys are some of the most amazing women I have ever known. You are truly inspirational with everything you have accomplished and I can’t wait to get to know you better through this series.

    • says

      Thank you so much Jen!!! I feel the same way about you, you inspire me in so many ways – and I am honored to know you and call your friend. You are an AMAZING woman AND mother!!! Here is to 2014, I’ve decided its going to be totally awesome. HA

  23. says

    Oh Jess, this is beautiful. We all have battles we struggle through, and they make us who we are. I’m honored to read your story! Much Love, Karen

  24. says

    Wow Jess – I’ve been thinking over this post for quite some time now – trying to put into words how I feel… In short, you’re amazing. Your mom? Amazing. (Hi Jess’s mom – I love your comments and your daughter rocks, but then, you know that!!) I love that you are letting people in, connecting – I’m always a big fan of connecting. I’m excited to watch this series unfold, to learn more about you, and I hope we can share more of ourselves as well. We all have our family challenges – either in our own generation or in generations past, passed down for the newer generations to sort through. Your children are lucky to have you as a mom, and I am so very lucky to have met you this year (and IRL so very soon!!) xoxo

    • says

      I seriously cannot wait to meet you at ALT Andrea, like cannot w-a-i-t. You are such an inspiration to me in all that you do, to get to know you this past year has been such a blessing! Thank you so much for all of your kind words.

  25. says

    Oh Jess, I LOVE this! Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing so much with us! I am so touched (my eyes watered a few times) and inspired to open up more myself. I’m looking forward to all the things you have coming this year! Mwah!

  26. says

    Jess! What a great post! Thank you so much for sharing with us, your courage and strength in doing so is amazing! Yes, no family is perfect, not our families growing up and not those now in our present…it is important to be reminded of that, especially here in blog land! You are amazing! xo

    • says

      What do you mean Jane? My family now is definitely PERFECT. Hahahahaha, thank you so much my friend for your kind words. Looking forward to continuing to get to know you better this year :)

  27. says

    There isn’t one way to do things, and we all have unconventional things about us. I love your courage in sharing this. It is the stories that link us together as humans.
    Beautiful.
    ~Michelle

  28. says

    Jess, thank you for sharing as you did. Mental illness is very common and it is so sad for the person afflicted as well as their family. I know how it robs a person of so much and I am pleased that you have come to terms with it and see your Dad as a person who is unwell not as a monster. Thankfully one day he will be free of the illness as you say. I love reading about all the projects you and your team present even though I am in my sixties. I am in a hot Australia so our seasons are reversed and the cool US weather sounds very nice to us here in the middle of a heat wave.

    Happy New Year,

    Chel

    • says

      Thank you so much Chel. I couldn’t agree more – it is something so many people struggle with in one form or another. And it effects not only them, but everyone around them. I am thankful for those who have the courage and strength to get help, and continue to do the best they can with the life they are given :).

  29. says

    Love knowing more about you Jess! It sounds like our moms are really similar- I always hope that I can be a dance-in-the-kitchen, drop-everything-for-a-snuggle kind of mama. I love it that you’re doing that. :)
    Also, love this connected series. Great idea, friend!

  30. says

    What a beautifully touching post! I cried while reading it because my childhood was similar. You are right, these experiences make us who we are. My mom also had the courage to leave with four young girls all under the age of 8. As a mother now I don’t know how she did it. We had absolutely nothing but we had love and peace.

    Thank you for sharing your story and may 2014 be the best year yet!

  31. says

    Happy 2014! Thank you so much for this touching post! What a lovely idea! And I think its always nice to know that there is always a real person with a heart behind a blog. Especially in this fast passing environment I think we need to learn and go a little bit “back to the basis” and connect to the real people again :)
    San xx

  32. says

    You are amazing Jess! Thank you so much for sharing all of that with us! I know it’s very hard sharing intimate things about ourselves not only online but in real life with others. At least that has always been the case with me. My biological father was abusive too and my mother is so amazing to have done what she did for us and get us away from it. Thank you again for sharing! Happy New Year!

  33. says

    Thank you for sharing this! You are right NO family is perfect and we all have a “online” persona. I am in awe of your courage and your moms courage! Y’all ROCK! :)

  34. says

    I love this…I have spent so much more time feeling like I ‘see’ who the writers behind the screens are through instagram than through blog posts sometimes. I love this first little bio. There is something powerful and uplifting in the stories behind everything else. Keep ‘em coming! :)

  35. says

    Brave post. Thank you for sharing. Admiration for you has taken root.
    Side effect of your post: never going to complain about the blessings we have. So, thank you again.

  36. says

    Oh jess this post was amazing. So beautiful and vulnerable and real! I think this is going to bless you as well as your readers – this sharing of yourself and opening your heart like this. You’re amazing and I am so glad to know you!! Xoxo

  37. says

    Love this, your raw honesty and most how you talk about The Lord! Recently my husband secretly snapped a video of me dancing in the kitchen while I served the children their dinner, we could be sisters… rather we are sisters in Christ ;)❤

  38. Nancy says

    Thank you for sharing your imperfections, we all have them. I have been in your mom’s shoes and it is a difficult path to continue to live and enjoy life without becoming wrapped up in the other person’s issue.

  39. Susan the farm quilter says

    Thank you for being willing to open yourself up and share a bit of your life story with us. It makes you more of a real person to those of us who only know you from your blog. The love and admiration you have for your mother comes through loud and clear – obviously she is awesome and she did a right good job of raising a wonderful daughter! Blessings for the new year to you and yours.

  40. memesue says

    I really liked reading your “introduction of your life”. I think sometimes we all think we are the only ones who have bad things happen in our lives or we’re the only ones with dysfunctional families. Most of us try to keep those facts to ourselves out of fear, shame, or embarrassment. Thank you so much for being brave enough to open up to us. I’m sure it was freeing. I’m looking forward to more. God bless you.

  41. Karrie Smith says

    When I started to read this, I had to recheck your name to see if you weren’t my cousin! My uncle has the same thing; he was blown up in a tank in Vietnam and lost his best friend/leader?(sorry can’t think of the term) in that explosion. He also was burning trash and his younger brother had oil on him from fixing a go=cart, and his younger brother caught on fire and died 2 months later. This was in the 50s I guess, because my Mom was born in 59 and she was a baby. After the younger brother died, my Grandfather became an alcoholic and died when my mom was 12. Then my Mom married young at 17 so my Grandmother could see the wedding. My Grandmother passed in 78 when my Mom was pregnant with me. I inherited her red hair. In the 80s, my uncle was really erratic until they invented the right medication to deal with his symptoms. He has been well for a really long time, and goes to AA. His wife passed away suddenly about 5 years ago? His kids refuse to talk to him. He has tried to send them money and a last resort to get to know them. I think this is sad, because it’s not his fault. Many people with mental illness use drugs to cope with the symptoms. In the 80s my uncle would call over-and-over and leave horrible messages on our answering machine-about killings and threats to kill. My mom taught us at a young age to never go with him. I grew up scared and anxious, but I guess that is better than not careful, but that’s hard on a little kid to know the world is dangerous since age 8. Well. that’s my Mom’s side.

    My dad has 6 brothers and sisters. Everyone lived within 15 minutes of each other (even my Mom’s family does). We grew up at my Grandma’s and Grandpa’s and it was great! I had an awesome childhood, luckily. My grandpa passed in 07, and it really changed the family. I never thought I had “bad” family members until this happened. My grandma was starting to get dementia at the time and since my grandpa’s death, someone has always been with her. My dad spends the nights on Fridays and they split the time. One son is a jerk and lives the closest (except the son who lives literally next door) and doesn’t help at all. (the “bad” family, haha).

    I was born in 79 and my sister in 81. In Jan 09 she was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer 3b (meaning that it has spread but not to another organ yet). She developed a blood clot in the summer of 09 and had the most extreme pain I have ever seen. I am a RN and graduated in 2006 and worked on 2 different Oncology floors. She had difficulty walking after the blood clot. She got rid of the cancer at one point, but it returned on the outside of her kidney. They tried to shrink it, but that didn’t work. She ended up losing so much weight, that she developed a pressure ulcer from the loose skin pressing against her bones, it opened and got infected. The cancer at that point ravaged her. She passed on Aug 7, 2010. I have some demons myself, but don’t feel comfortable sharing them here. I was pregnant at 16 and gave birth at 17 to my beautiful, wonderful daughter. I started sewing as a hobby after my sister’s passing. I needed a hobby so bad, that I decided to make a quilt. Then I found blogs, and the sewing/quilting community and have been totally sucked in! I haven’t had a lot of money in the past few years, so I haven’t posted a lot of stuff. This year is going to be a lot different. I have to change things instead of waiting for things to change. I hope to learn a lot and wearing cute dresses that I make and snuggle in awesome quilts that I quilt! I love your site! I’m so excited what you guys bring to this year! Sorry for the long post. But I’m “connecting”!!!

    -karrie
    feel free to email me

    • Karrie Smith says

      So I left out a big part about my uncle. His wife and kids left him pretty early. His kids were still in elementary school. And my point about the traumas he has been through, is because those things can bring out the disease, plus he was in his early 20s. I feel bad only leaving one sentence about my daughter, because she’s such a huge part. She is literally my favorite person in the world. In HS I was in love with her Dad, but he was super immature. We tried a relationship when she was around 7 for three years, but it could not work out. I have been on auto-pilot for the past few years. I stopped working as a nurse, because it is too hard for me. So this year I may go back, or decide to do something completely different.

  42. Amanda says

    Thank you so much for sharing with us Jess, I was married to someone like your Dad so I know a bit about what your mother went through. She must be a very strong woman and you can tell she loves you very much, makes me wish my Mom was still alive.
    I wish you all the best for 2014 and am so looking forward to getting to know you even more and seeing everything that you do this year.
    God bless to you and your Mom and that you grow from strength to strength xxx

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