25 November 2011

To be {me} or not to be...

I've been pondering, lately... About life, direction, dreams, destiny...

It all started with the realization that a few of my last shows have not been as profitable as they used to. A good friend kindly suggested that my stuff might be a bit "too sweet" for what people are looking for... You know, with the trend for neutrals and textures, burlaps and feed sacks, and  industrial and rustic pieces, a booth with floral barkcloth pillows and pink accents might turn people off... I know there are still some die-hard lovers of all things romantic that will get lost in all the pretties I offer, but is it enough? Do I change who I am at heart and feed into the trend or do I stay true to who I am and don't compromise my love affair with romance? Can I find a balance, where I can still be passionate about the things I bring forth yet offer more of what people are looking for? I enjoy what I do, but I also do it as a means to supplement our income... Learning to adjust to our ever changing environment is a key to any successful endeavor. At the same time, I need to recognize that there are things I can change, and there are things I can't. 

This all led me to a deeper reflection... An identity crisis of sorts, a restlessness in the depths of my soul... Is this really what I want to be doing for the rest of my life, or is there something else out there for me? And, if there is, will I find it?

I have always known that my true calling was to be a mom. I left all that was familiar and safe for me so I could start a family in a faraway land. Our nomadic military lives swirled us around the world, yet my husband and I were able to create a stable and grounded family. Far from having been the perfect parents (is there such a thing?), we still gaze at our children in awe of what amazing people they are becoming! I have had the priviledge of staying home with them and watch them grow, all the while finding ways to stay connected with other adults through creative outlets. In England I taught quilting classes from my home, in Morocco I published the American Embassy's newsletter... Here in Oregon I started a little venture selling vintage items at shows and antique malls...

My true calling is always going to be my true reason of being . I am aware, though, that as my children grow, they don't need me less, but they need me differently... As they get older and more independent,  so does my need to become more independent myself... I want to see myself happy and fulfilled, after all isn't that the best example I can set for my children? I see so many of my friends following their dreams, pursuing their passions, be it fashion, food, photography, jewelry... But what if you don't really know what you want? What if you are not exactly sure what your passion is...? Over twenty years ago I would have seen my life differently, having studied Economics and Business, I would most likely have been a career woman, a banker, a financial executive... But my life took turns that I will never regret but that changed the course of what I was to become...  I have always had a strong analytical side, and did not in the least considered myself the "creative" type... It wasn't until I moved to America that I learned to sew, quilt, paint furniture, decorate... I do love all those outlets, as I do hunting for vintage treasures... But where do I take it from here? How do I grow? Can I really find something that I am good at that is both emotionally fulfilling and financially rewarding?

Then, there is my practical side, the side that is thinking of dollars and sense, the side that realizes that outrageously high college tuitions are just a stone's throw away (oh, have I mentioned we have four kids?), the voice that says "forget your dreams, just get a job!" Easier said than done... How hard is it to find a job after being a stay-at-home mom for 17 years...? How hard is it to find a job, period? Do I go back to school and find a new vocation? Do I really want to?

My word for 2011 was GROWTH. I don't want to be too hard on myself, as I realize that I didn't quite accomplish many goals I set for myself... I am always growing... And I am still growing a family. Considering all the challenges set upon us, be it of economic, physical, social or any other nature, we actually all came out alright. Stronger. Closer. I will always strive for happiness. But my happiness is striving for a little clarity... An inspiring friend published a quote on her blog, that stuck with me: "The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you". That is the kind of inner peace I am looking for... If chasing your dream is hard, then finding your dream is even harder...


  1. Well said and reason for wish to you: contentment..
    Hugs Colette

  2. I am a military wife about to move overseas and am trying to find myself too...I wish you the best and look forward to following your blog on the adventure of figuring this all out! Your things are gorgeous and I love your style! I think you should do what comes naturally for you :) you do this look so well.

  3. You are such a sweet girl! I think that first of all we are persons, before being mothers, or wives we are human beings, with our desires and our inner necessities. And we have to listen to them first. Than the second step is look to reality and see what we really can achieve.
    In the balance between these two things I think is the secret of our equilibrium.
    Hugs from Italy

  4. I forgot to tell you I like so much your sweet things!

  5. ...sigh....a wistful, thoughtful sigh. I SO resemble the reflective restlessness you express so well here.

  6. thanks for sharing your inner thoughts im in the same lost..i try to find my place in this world and what my call should stay with what yu are good at and find other costumers that appreciate your lovely work. you are truly a talented woman. rmeber there will always be pp who are jelaous saying things to destroy 4 u...listen to your heart...

  7. Beautifully said! Whatever you decide I know you will put your heart and soul into it and do great!! Blessings~

  8. Isabel, I have missed you! Now I see why you have been absent for so long - deep reflections are swirling within you. I have been questioning these things myself as I grow older - love my vintage hunting and reselling, crafting pretty things, but as I approach age 69 I'm wondering what else I want to do(before it's too late!) :-)... My children are grown, no grandchildren :-(, and single at my age, the "vintage life" has kept me busy and engaged, but feel I am approaching a need to simply my life (and DESTASH!)... I can tell you are a wonderful wife and mother and how important that aspect of life is to you - I hope you find that balance that will satisfy your creative soul too.
    Wanda in NH
    p.s. - welcome back - yours is the first blog I check in the morning

  9. Thank you for this post. I too am feeling unsure of things and the direction my life should take right now.
    We will find our way.


  10. I've been at this biz now for 20 years and at 62, I'm still as enthusiastic now as I was then, but the last 5 years have really put a strain on the brain(recession), but I still roll with the flow, creating my whims, not making as much as I use-ta, but I'm feeling the need to not require so much. Trying not to do it all is the hard part, us creative souls have that need...but I find the greatest joy just sitting in quiet solitude listening to my chickens do they're thing and knowing that it will come when it comes...change!

    That said, there are huge changes going on in our biz, we're still trying to figure out what they want here in Iowa, but now, I'm just having fun with it and being as quirky as I can be, it sparks great conversation if nothing else, I think people are just bored with it, as I am, I just wanna have fun...AND NOT WORK SO DERNED HARD!!!

    Good luck...and just breathe!


  11. Well my dear true ROMANTIC Friend , I know you will follow your heart for you are a romantic ! I love your sweet look & you have brought in that layered, textured , look & married it into your displays too. You do so many things .You do them incredibly ! Your look is my favorite ! Your blog shows you have a great calling. I think you should make a book ! I'd buy it ! Your pictures ,your stories ! We all love you !
    I am a stay at home Mom of 5 children . All of our kids live at home . I sell sweet things too . Selling in the public I got tons of the quoted ''Too Sweet comments .'' I also heard how beautiful,like walking into a fairy tale , and how refreshing my color pallet was ! Yippee ! Selling online is profitable . It is work too but less than shows & you can get more money for your product online than in the public in my opinion.If your children want to go to higher education. Let them help you. I am the artist I create . I do not list or print labels .I am a computer dummy !Getting your kids involved is great . It teaches them hands on business too. In this economy we need jobs & hobbies that also produce . You have booths rented in Monticello, correct ? So play house & display there . It is such an important part of you ,I think a selling website for your sewn beauties would be great. I sure wish I sold pillows ! Easier to pack than my stuff. I'm a pitiful blogger but feel free to visit my blog to see my shop this past summer.
    I so hope you feel the peace you need . All of us artists feel this. You have mega, MEGA , talent ! Your England pictures were better than any of the books I have on England ! I love what you do . I'd be heart broken if you did not do it & show & post your LOVELY, SWEET, not too sweet , So Sweet , pictures ! Do what you love friend & it never hurts to pray ! Hugs to you, Rhonda WE LOVE YOU !!!!!

  12. Oh sweetie this is a tough one! I know how you feel about your business, we had to change the things we sell to stay alive in the market. My true love is white, but we starting selling industrial. Being we didn't have a choice this is what we both do for a living, we had to change to survive!

    But....I have been dealing with a lot of the same feeling you have lately. For one I think the business has taken a huge down turn lately because of the economy. I think people are holding tighter to their money. And it's been harder for us to find affordable inventory, people aren't selling their things off either.

    The shop is my last ditch effort to stay in the business, but I'm not sure if that is the answer either. I have a year to figure out if I can make it work. If not, I'm thinking about going back to college! Yikes! I'm 50, not sure this old brain will work anymore! Hahaha!

    I just want you to know you are not alone with these feelings! This is a hard business, it takes drastic turns when you least expect it! There is nothing wrong with changing what you sell, at least you will still be doing something you love.

    Stay true to yourself and you will figure it out! I have been self employed for so long I thing I would die if I had to start punching a clock again. And most jobs aren't even stable right now, people of 20 years of employment have been losing their jobs.

    I have to stop, I could go on all morning!


  13. I think you are doing it all and doing it well. We all ponder upon this things sometimes, it means you are alive and LIVING. I love your style but the market have change so much, for me in order to stay afloat financially I have to adapt to the new trends. I found that my creative soul is still being nourished and that change can be not so bad. I packed all my roses and beautiful textiles, my pinks and greens away and started to hunt for all the stuff people like right now. I still dedicate a little nook to my shabby chic, romantic items because that is really my heart. I can 't say I have life, the market or anything figured out. Everyday is a challenge and an opportunity to be you and do your best. I tackle life with a faithful heart towards God since He knows all my needs and is so invested in my wellbeing. It can get confusing at times but I stay still and listen, the answer is in you. Best wishes, something great will come out of this.

  14. See Isabele Lang How Very Fantastic You Are ! How the comments are coming in ! You could write many books ! This economy is a tough one ! Sad to say it is why they called a depression a depression . There are still people out there though & we still want . More than ever we dream ! In all my fluff I have discovered this ,our talents are just the tools that connect us but those with deep souls & words like you do my dear romantic speak to us !Write a book & fill it with your words & pictures & inspire us page by page.Then as we sit in our gardens or porches & gaze upon loveliness we can dream . Reality is dreaming . Living our lives is living our dreams & reality is when we smile at life in the mirror and it smiles back at us !

  15. I love your romantic style, always a classic. Don't like the industrial! Don't change your style!

  16. I love your style and your look! But don't be afraid to do something might find you like "different" too, whether it be go to school or get a job or ....
    I wish you clarity and peace...
    happy holidays...
    and be brave!

  17. Follow your heart and you will find your answer. You are such a beautiful spirit, always remember that. Our life takes us along a long, sometimes bumpy road, but if we stop and listen with our heart we will find our way! Hugs! Florence

  18. Isabel, I too adore your style and creative soul. As the others have said breathe and follow your heart, it has and will always lead to the right place to be. Just look at all you have accomplished so far, I believe you will continue to amaze yourself and us. Lots of love and good thoughts and support coming your way. Carol

  19. Isabel,
    I too understand the struggle! I think most of us do...ultimately doing what makes you happiest is the most important thing. You do the romantic look so well, and it will never go out of style and there will always be a market for it. I, personally, love to have a good mix but I don't have to worry about it as much as you because I don't do live shows, just my Etsy shop. The industrial look is so huge right now! But if you don't feel passionate about that look it will probably be fairly obvious.
    Here's hoping you find your happy medium soon....:).

  20. Isabel, you clearly have LOTS of feedback that your path has thrilled and delighted many people! I've personally admired that you've remained true to your deepest passions about design. No matter what you decide, there will always be a downside; so it's important to understand what lights you up inside. Your soulful urgings cannot be ignored, and you deserve to *let go* and listen. The answer(s) may not come easily, but know that your course will be revealed in its own time. Everything is necessary--even the angst. There is no correct answer that can come from others . . . only you.

    The business--and the economy--have changed dramatically (I've been involved one way or another for 28 years!), and it's never been easy. There have always been ups and downs. But it IS very rewarding on a level more than financial. Having said that, it is my only source of income, so we've had some pretty hard times! People who may be perceived as "successful" are probably struggling right along with you!

    Additionally, the competition has become quite fierce with the blogging, Facebook, Tweeting, etc. It's truly overwhelming! When I'm feeling self-doubt, it helps me to maintain perspective by focusing just one day at a time.

    To thine own self be true . . . and the rest will fall into place!!!

    xoxo Debi

  21. Isabel......stay true to who you are.....and sell only what you love... your customers will see your passion and love it too. We truly have the greatest creative outlet and through it you will find your way....

    xoxoxo Cindy

  22. gosh have the ideal life to me!! i see you as successful and creative and beyond talented!!! i wish i could have your stability and just a smidge of your talent!! we are military too and i can never grow a business because we move every 2 years. i love to sell...even if the trends are off....and can never quite get a customer base because we move and i get so bogged down with military life, my work and my family and hobbies seem to go on the back burner. you have done well!!! be proud. you have magic. so much magic!!! i have noticed the economy has put a strain on vendors right matter what the trends. i am feeling the pinch of selling for sure! i don't even have time to blog anymore! i dream of your life....having that amazing booth and doing all those shows!!!!! i am lucky if i get one day a week to do my hobbies and then when i finally get time, i get overwhelmed.

    when we did live in one place for a long time, i worked full time as a graphic artist for years and i longed every day to work a booth and make stuff. i thought about it as i sat at my desk hacking out ads all day long and racing to meet deadlines! if i had to go back to work full-time now, i think i would cry. i would think about all my pretty things, my little booth, my kids having someone flexible in their life, paying someone to do all the chores, fighting rush hour traffic to get to the commissary, and hopping from one fast food rest to the next trying to get dinner on the table. i would make money, but would i truly be happy? who knows?

    hang in there. you are amazing. we love you and i would shop your booth every stinking week if i lived closer!!!!!!! it is truly one yummy spot on this earth!!!!

    by the time my husband retires, i will be 50!! oh the fun trying to find a job then!!! i feel ya! where?? who will hire me? what skills will i have??? that is why i hang on to the dream of doing my own thing. until then, i will continue to love all the pretty, floral, pink yummy stuff. in or is beautiful!

    good luck!!!
    a huge fan!!

  23. Dear Isabel, I so understand. This is so the conundrum~~~~~~! We are our creative spirit, but need to stretch and grow with the times. All I can say is I understand. i have expressed the same!!!!!!

  24. What a great post. I have a fluffy sweet booth like yours, and have added the neutrals, burlap, French stuff, I have not gone industrial though. Yep, I think we have to incorporate new trends with out losing completely what we love! They try to say the economy is better, but we all know it's getting worse! I would guess sales for you are down because of the economy, not your style! I think you would probably be miserable in the corporate world i just left it 2 years ago and i will never go back, because of downturn in sales it is overly micromanaged, maybe you could get a job that would use your expertise, an antique store, selling ads for an antique magazine, write e books and sell them on line, you have so many talents it would be a shame not to use them, good luck in your journey!


  25. I just found your beautiful blog via Sandra Evertson's, and I'm in love with it! Above all else, I am a believer (and doer) of following your heart - because it truly knows the way. I've had several big Ts in the road, but somehow managed to make the right choices... and I'm sure you will as well.
    So happy to have found you,

  26. Hi Isabel,
    I've been following your blog for a long time since I briefly met you at Farm Chicks a few years back. I felt compelled to comment as I've been wrestling with similar feelings since moving from Spokane to Raleigh. I was a vendor at many local shows in the Northwest and it was passion of mine as well as supplement income. Since moving, I have had a hard time finding the same thing here and wondering if I just need to return to full-time employment (I was an accountant, financial analyst before). Do we stay true to our passion and dreams or be practical and realistic? It is a difficult decision... No matter what path you choose, you'll be successful and what matters is that you're a great mom, wife, friend. Thank you for being a source of inspiration the last several years.


  27. Isabel, I'm in a similar, yet different situation. I started out selling the white/shabby chic/girly items, but it wasn't true to ME, and it showed. I was marginally successful (but then again, this is a side business for me—I work fully time and live alone). In my area (Washington, DC), that look has been fading for quite a while, so I was happy to ditch it and go with what I love: the industrial/mantique/Ralph Laurenish look. It's been a hard transition, but I am happier. And sales are definitely picking up for me (booth in an antique mall/etsy shop).

    If your occasional sales have not been as profitable, it's not necessarily your items, but it could be that your area is falling out of love with that look. Or, the accursed economy, which is probably the case.

    I would suggest opening an etsy shop (or your own online shop). As evidenced by all the blogs we read, the shabby chic/romantic look is still going strong in many regions and your customers may now be online. Of course, that'll mean not buying as much furniture (which, honestly, is a hard sell in this economy), but it's doable and will still slake the urge to buy and create! It's a lot of work, but just might work for you.

    Anyone in this business will have doubts, setbacks, etc. Search your heart.

    Saudades e beijos! XOX Sue

  28. Love this post.. stay true girl, life is a roller coaster is it not?

  29. Hello..stopped by via pinterest.. I say be true to what you love. Too many are following the trends & then create a demand to the consumer of all they see.. most want to be up to date & have with what is in..maybe keep your style with touches of some of the trends to work back to your lovely feminine/vintage European style? I say you need wordly exposure for those who love what you do. I will be in line!

  30. It is amazing that I literally stumbled upon your blog on a day when I was sitting at home feeling sorry for myself because I have been a stay at home mom and housewife 25 years my kids no longer need me on a day to day level, I never worked outside the home and I have been thinking of trying to sell vintage items because I love them so much but have been afraid to try it and fail because it might cost us something finacially instead of help us. Believe it or not your blog helped me not feel so alone in the situation I find myself in. I say stay true to who you are because the style you say you love is not a trend it is classic and the same style I love. Sometimes we may think we are alone but then we discover there are others who feel the same. So stay true. Thank you.

  31. Wow, I think we, as artists, and people all feel the way you described at one time or another. I appreciate your honesty so much. Thank you for a wonderful post to give us all something to think about. Amy

  32. I love your style and your stuff. New follower.
    Blessings, Audrey

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. Dear one,
    just take some quiet time to listen to your heart...enjoying every single minute of the journey to your true self. Yes, it's difficult to understand which our real 'mission in life' is, I've been there too. But if you pay attention, if you work on that, the answer will come out clearly and effortlessly. Thinking of you.
    Big hugs,
    Monica xoxo

  35. Hi Isabel...

    This is a lovely and well thought out post, as all of yours are. I don't think that "your look" is outdated....your vintage dress collection is so "romantic prairie" and that's certainly in demand. There will always be a demand for pretty and feminine things...perhaps it's the venues themselves or if you maybe freshen up the marketing aspect?

    Above all....stay true to yourself and listen to your heart, most definitely! I think that the inner peace comes with age....especially when you love what you do:-)

    Let me know if I can help in any way....and P.S.....I am NOT a fan of industrial either!

  36. Hi isabel~ boy does this post ring in my ears lately, as i am striving to find out who I am and what makes me happy. I do have to say that I took the money and sense route, while having small children, I felt this was the best route, but 5 years later, tho I can provide for my children and myself, the day to day happiness is not there. I want to se an example for my children that happiness is key, yes money is important and stability, but happiness is greater. I think you are have so much talent and creativity that if you think selling vintage is where you want to be, perhaps stretch yourself a bit to incorporate a few things you think other people might like, even if it is not your style...just to keep the money coming in but don't change who you are and what you like completely and remember trends fade fast! :) Keep moving forward and keep your eyes open for new challenges and opportunities and take ones you may not have taken in the past! xo

  37. Hello sweet Isabel! Your post and where you are is so parallel to me & what I am going through in my life. Trying to figure out what is "hot" and venturing to a side that may not be familiar is very difficult. As a dealer, I am pretty much in the same boat. Do I stick to what I like or think out of my comfort zone box and try to please those who strive to keep up with the trends. So I add pieces to my space that are odd, quirky and so not me - but they sell. Wierd. Just be true to you and listen to your heart. It will take you where you need to be.


  38. I think you are telling the tale that is as old as time for us creative women. We all have our doubts and insecurities about the present and the future. I don't believe Romance will ever go out of style. Remember in this journey we must always stay true to who we are in our hearts. We are not the followers we are the tend setters, continue to create and make your heart happy. Let your heart lead you and you will always find your happiness, its when we start second guessing ourselves we go astray.
    Stay strong, stay beautiful!!

  39. Hi Isabel!
    I think you're slipping sales have far less to do with your style (which is wonderful IMHO) and far MORE to do with the economy in general. Almost everyone is down right now. I think the trend towards industrial is just that.....another trend. While your romantic style is a classic. Stay true to who you are. And I totally agree with the person who said you should do a book! You have a wonderful way of capturing a moment that makes me long to be in it! *winks* Vanna

  40. Isabel you have brought tears to my eyes. I'm right with you. I too have felt a lot of these emotions and self doubt in the last year. Some times when were in the middle of this over active brain chaos it's hard to see things as they really are. As you can tell I'm not very good at writing my feelings down so let me just say that I admire you and think your a wonderfully creative person and think you should stay true to yourself. You have an amazing gift for writing. Think about it!!!!!

  41. Hi Isabel!

    Your post was so sweet and honest and for those of us who sell antiques, we know it can be slow in this economy. But if you spend some quiet time and ask God these questions, you will get inspirations as to what direction to take. I have a full time job that pays well, and I keep my antique booth as a hobby.

    If you are concerned about the college education of your children, then make that a priority. You may have to take a few classes or start at the bottom in a job and work your way up. Look for jobs that have growth potential in large institutions. You may want to explore a part time job in banking for instance.

    You may want to change your venue not your style. Your romantic style may be better suited on Etsy or your own website.

    You are an intelligent woman and your downturn in sales may be a message that something has to change. You are right to question that a change is needed but this isn't about "Who am I" it is about what makes sense in your situation.

    Best wishes for success!

  42. Life is a journey. This is what I have learned and I hope it helps. Nothing else in life really matters if your kids don't turn out (whatever you perceive that to be). I have four children, too. Ranging in age from 24 to 4. My oldest graduated from college and is interested in persuing a Ph.D. No. 2 has no interest in college. The little ones have time.
    I've learned that if they have the desire and work hard the money to put them through college will appear. I don't know how it happens but it happens. There is a lot of free money out there.
    You are traveling through a period of growth. Years ago I read, The Feminine Mystique, and that helped. Know that other women struggle with the same questions you are asking now.
    It's it lovely that as women we have so many choices. We don't have to do everything at the same time. We are all working women. Some of us work in the home others outside.
    Your work is lovely. Create from your heart don't follow trends. Be a style original. Create things that are both beautiful and useful. None of us have as much disposable as we used to but we still have things we need to buy.
    Enjoy the place you are in. When I was a full time mom that was wonderful I have worked outside of the home for years out of necessity and I am making the best of it.
    Love yourself first and everything will fall into position. Best wishes.

  43. Great pictures of Monticello. Good luck with the growth. What a great word to choose this past year and I think it is having an impact on you. This year I chose Believe and didn't really think it had much to teach me, but was I ever wrong. A single word can move mountains.

  44. Wow! You spoke right to my heart. I too have been home for 17 years raising my two sons and will be looking at colleges this summer. Where does the time go? I wish I could do it all over again..don't you? I think your romantic style is wonderful...I love it.

  45. My Dearest Isabel, Please be true to yourself. There is only one you and your taste and beauty effect everyone around you. People still love the Romantic feeling! The white and industrial yes, is in vogue, but if you're not feeling it, it won't seem authentic to you. The business downturn is the result of the economy, so many people have lost jobs and homes and many other things. It is coming back slowly, and the people who have been too nervous to spend are beginning slowly to buy again. Some people do change their style a lot to "keep up" with the trends, and then everyone you know, everywhere you go is nothing but white (which I DO love, but I crave the Romantic more). If you go with the flow and aren't true to yourself, you'll never have to worry. It will pick up.


  46. I am a new follower and an instant admirer. Your courage to be transparent and be able to express yourself truthfully is such an encouragement and inspiration to me. I am not alone after all in this struggle between my creative calling and the "real life"! I once had a space selling vintage decor in Old Town Temecula {California} which also was a financial disaster, having given-up my day job as Medical Assistant. It took years for me to finally reconcile my love of decorating {which I know is my calling} and my responsibility to share in living expenses. I finally came to the conclusion that I have to embrace both- my soul will die if I am not able to express my creativity- and at the same time apply my skills in the work area {I am working as an Admin. Assistant}. I continue to pursue beauty & creativity be it in re-decorating our house, visiting flea markets & old towns, sharing photographs in my blog of new finds...and have found peace within myself.
    I hope you continue to respond to your creative calling-profitable or not.This way, your heart will be glad and your desire fulfilled. You are so talented and I love your style {I am semi-romantic/semi-rustic}. Our creativity is part of us but so is our family and the practical side of living- all in one-equals ME!


I so enjoy and appreciate your comments!! Thank you so much for stopping by!!!

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin