Stretch Your Wings – Learn Something New & Exciting!

Spread Your Wings - Learn Something New

There comes a point in everyone’s life where you just need to stretch your wings to the widest span. This desire may come from feeling stagnant. It may stem from a deep seated restlessness we just cannot explain. We just know we need to climb out of the rut we have created, and see something new and different. But exactly how do we do that?

This is January. The beginning of a new year. The posts you have read have given you permission to dream again. To dig deep and mine those glorious passions that have been buried deep.

From there, you have taken the next step of figuring out the difference between homemaking, homesteading and a simple life. If you are reading this post, I feel safe in saying these three things appeal to your passionate side.

Next, you packed your suitcase, spread out your map, and are taking the first steps to rekindling the passion fires that once burned. You even have a new Follow Your Dreams e-book that is helping you write down those passions and set your goals. Now you are ready to move forward.

You may have one main passion, but there are still others hanging around on the fringes that you want to explore. You may discover these side trips lead only to a dead end, or the world’s largest boulder. Or it may end up being a fascinating place that holds your wonder, and you can just feel your wings beginning to spread. Suddenly, you realize that stretch feels good.

But now that the feathers are gaining lift, just how do you fly? You want lift off, but aren’t sure if your wings will hold you aloft, or if you are about to take a nose dive in the dirt. I often find myself taking a sudden left turn on a side road. Often it is the ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’, as my friend Shawna at Homestead Self Reliance calls it. I chase it because it is shiny, but when I find it, there is nothing there but a figurative piece of used tin foil.

What I don’t do is consider that side trip a wasted effort. Instead, I view it as a short-lived adventure. It caught my eye. I explored it. It ended up being something I wasn’t interested in. So I just retrace my steps and keep moving.

It is the course of these side trips which help my wings become strong. They got a little exercise, and are building their strength for the unplanned road which ends in something fascinating. Once I arrive at that destination, my wings stretch their entire span, and I soar.

Are you ready to stretch your wings? Here are a few things you can do. And make sure you pack a picnic. Some side roads may lead you nowhere you want to go, but others may entice you to sit and stay awhile.

Stretch Your Wings

Where to Find Areas to Stretch your Wings

When you were reviving the dreams you once had, you narrowed in to one main focus. Now it is time to look at all the others on the list. Your overall goal may have been to live a simple life, and by doing so, ridding yourself of those things you no longer needed or wanted. By doing so, you have actually freed up space and time to explore other things that would fit in well with your Big Dream.

My biggest dream was exactly that. I wanted to live a simple, quiet life. Our farm gave me the foundation, through gardening and livestock. But I wanted more.

Stretch Your Wings

Begin to Stretch your Wings Slowly

Once you have reviewed your list, choose one of the items that makes your heart flutter the strongest. Then start doing a little research. This may mean reading books, an Internet search, or talking with others who have the same interest. Another place to do research is a museum or craft festival.

One of the things on my list was learning to weave. Years ago, my Mom and I visited Melrose Plantation, in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Melrose is a museum, and is best known for the time it became an artist’s retreat. Clementine Hunter, a well-known primitive painter, lived there for quite some time.

One of the outbuildings contained massive weaving looms and a spinning wheel, from the early days when Melrose was still a working plantation. Seeing those looms was love at first sight. My heart’s wings spread so wide I sneezed from all the feathers in my nose.

At that point in my life, time, money, space and situation would not allow me to fulfill that dream. But a couple years later, the Country Boy and I went back. Again, I was mesmerized, to the point I dared ask him if he could make a loom. To his credit, he studied it carefully. To my dismay, he said he probably could, but it would cost more for him to build it than it would to purchase one.

That didn’t stop me for long. I began to start reading up on weaving. I couldn’t find anyone around here who were weavers, but I did find a few folks on line that were willing to answer my questions. Shortly thereafter, I found a loom online. It now sits proudly in my bedroom, and my love for weaving is still as strong as the first day I set eyes on the loom at Melrose.

Take a Class

If you think you would love doing it, but find the initial start-up costs are out of your budget range, take a class first. Money is a serious consideration for any project, and it is better to spend a few dollars learning how to do something, than spend hundreds or thousands, and then figuring out you don’t really love doing it as much as you thought.

Taking a class gives you the opportunity to spread your wings, and see if you take flight. You will have a better understanding of the supplies and equipment involved, how much time it takes, and the costs of getting started. There will also be practical application, which helps you determine your ability to follow through to a finished project.

Check the Price Tag

I learned this one the hard way. Once my weaving loom arrived, I needed additional supplies. Disappointment hit when I realized the closest place I could find to purchase shuttles and fiber was Austin, Texas. A. Seven. Hour. Drive. Yikes!

Fortunately, we had friend in San Marcos, and scheduled a visit. I did get a few supplies, but overall, there was no one available to answer questions. One good thing I found was a Handwoven Magazine. It was the first I had heard of it, so purchased a copy.

While Linda was looking it over that evening, she suddenly thrust the magazine under my nose and pointed. Lo and behold, there was a weaving shop closer to me – only a four hour drive. Once I returned home, I called and spoke with the owner. A few weeks later, I was taking my first weaving lesson, and had a source for all my supplies.

When I first bought my loom, I really put the cart before the horse, as the old timers say. I didn’t do my research carefully enough. When I figured in expenses, I never considered adding fuel. Learning to weave took a lot longer than I expected, and cost more than I originally thought.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Sitting down at my loom reignites my passion for it. But I did learn my lesson. Learning to spin is a prime example. Once my loom was set up, my heart started itching for a spinning wheel. This time, even the cost of fuel and hotel expenses have been added to my cost analysis. Not only will my chosen wheel cost $800 +, but the nearest place I can take a class will be up in Arkansas, at a once-a-year fiber festival. I don’t have my wheel yet, but I do have a drop spindle and a basket full of roving. I can at least scratch that heart itch until the time for a wheel is right.

Start small - stretch your wings with Pin loom weaving

When Your Wings Just Won’t Stretch

Did you think weaving and spinning sounds like fun? Did your research? Cost analysis? Maybe you even took it a step further and got one of those children’s pot holder looms to try it out, or what is labeled a ‘pin’ or ‘small’ loom. (And yes, those pot holder looms are a great place to start. You can make amazing projects with one – and I don’t mean by using the stretchy bands that come with it.) What happened when you looked into it?

a) Did your heart clamor for more?   Then maybe it’s time to get started.  Graduate to a bigger frame loom.  From there, start saving and planning for a floor loom. Search for someone in your area who is willing to teach you how to get started, or find a class for beginning weavers.

b) Not so much.    The process got frustrating. You lost interest. The loom/research/cost analysis ended up in the trash can. Don’t worry. First, if all you did was a little internet searching, all you ‘spent’ was a little time. If you purchased a potholder loom, your investment was less than $10.00.

The point is, you tried. Now all you have to do is mark that dream off your list, and move to the next one. The whole idea behind this is to find those few things that fit well with your Big Dream and incorporate them into your new life. It is also to finally lay to rest the Shiny Object Syndrome, and learn to focus on what is most important.

Throughout the year, I will be offering a ‘Stretch Your Wings’ column. Each one will highlight a different area where you can try out a new idea and determine if it fits with your dreams and goals. There will be posts on baking bread, making cheese, weaving on small looms, gardening, and other aspects of living a simple life.

If there is something on your list you want to learn more about, drop me a note in the comment section. Depending on if I have done it or not,  I will share with you my successes and failures. If I haven’t, more than likely it will also be of interest to me, and I will take these same steps to see if it is a Shiny Object, or if my heart is going to stretch its wings all over again.

Go ahead and stretch your wings! Keep me posted on your list, what you are trying, and what you have marked off. Share with me your process, and definitely your progress. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!!!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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