Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A needed rest.

I stopped taking orders in my Etsy shop the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I didn't even stay open for Black Monday!  I turned down many people's requests via email or Etsy convos for signs to make an exception and make "just one more sign" for the holidays.

Some people thought I was nuts.  Some thought I was missing out on the best time of the year for online retail sales.  Some of the time I thought they were right. :)  Was I crazy???

I was talking about my reasons at a favorite annual family bakeoff and my wise uncle said, "you should blog about this".  So I am.  Here goes.....

It is hard for me to say no.  I am a woman who likes to make others happy.  I like to please people. I want people to like me.

I am also a driven woman.  I want to succeed.  I want my business to flourish.  I want to help my family with our income.  I want to be a great businesswoman and artist.

But......I am also tired.  I am a mom of 4, wife of a very patient man, and have many other things on my plate other than Cellar Designs.  Balancing all of these things is difficult.  The months from May to November were exciting, exhilerating, energizing, fun, creative.........but I didn't do a great job of balancing things.  I made mistakes.  I am learning.

So when deciding whether or not to close up shop for a month many things went on my pros and cons list in my head.  It was strikingly unbalanced though.  This is what it looked like:

                      PROS                                                            CONS
     ~time to finish holiday orders                         ~lost potential orders
     ~ability to make Christmas gifts myself         ~loss of potential income
     ~time to spend with my kids                           ~GREED
     ~enjoy holidays
     ~time to clean house before heading to MN
     ~not be rushed at holidays
     ~spend quality time with family
     ~no stress
     ~my kids miss me
     ~I have been a slacker mom
     ~I want a break.....a needed rest

The only real reason to stay open and keep orders coming in was greed.  It is a powerful thing.  It tempted me for weeks and even made me rethink my decision a few times. "Just think what you could do with that extra money",  "Can you imagine what December sales would have been like?" were statements dancing around in my head.

I am thankful I made the decision I did.  
I can't wait to open back up next week.  
I feel renewed and ready to hit the creative ground running!  
I am grateful for this rest.  
It has been a good rest.  
A family filled rest.  
A stressLESS rest. 
A needed rest.

I hope that you found time this holiday season to rest as well.
May you not succumb to greed and other temptations and

From my family to yours..... a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Do you see what I see?

****Some details in this post have been changed to protect the privacy of others.*****

I was listening to the radio today on my bi-weekly trek to Menards.  Christmas music has been playing since before Thanksgiving.  I admit that I tune out some of it, wishing that they would mix it 50/50 with regular tunes.  The one song I remember hearing was "Do you hear what I hear?"  You know the one I mean....."Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy "Do you hear what I hear?".....   I laughed to myself and thought 'nope...I am not the best listener...just ask my husband!'.  Hearing is not my strength...seeing is.

I am a visual gal.  I am at my best when I can see something.  When I can look at it and see it for whatever it is.  I learn best this way.  If someone tells me how to paint a cabinet so it looks rustic, I seem to hear half of it.  They talk and my brain just gets foggy.
(This might be why school was never easy for me!)  But, if someone shows me how....painting layer upon layer, demonstrating different techniques used to make it have a weathered feel, and roughing it up a bit to age it....then it is crystal clear!  Then I see the whole picture..the whole story...the whole lesson.

So, back to Menards.... Today I was being helped by courteous guy, Robert.   He was a young man who was creative with his hair and accessories.  Robert had a perfectly cut mohawk and several piercings.  He was knowledgeable about the product I was ordering, extremely professional and a generally cool dude.  I liked Robert.

A woman and man came up to the desk I was being helped at.  I had monopolized Robert's time so I told him if he wanted to help them quickly I would be happy to wait.  He thanked me and asked them if he could help them.  They were clearly irritated about having to wait and were rude to Robert.  He was patient with them and had to go check with his manager to find the solution to their problem.  As soon as he left the couple started to talk about him.  They made several awful remarks about his appearance and drew the conclusion that he, because of how he looked, was a screw-up.  The woman said "I can't believe Menards would have a guy like him up front helping customers".

I was so saddened and angered by this. They had not spent one bit of time allowing themselves to really know Robert.  They were angry about a problem with an order before they even walked in the door, were shocked by his appearance and automatically judged him.  It was like seeing hatred in action.  It was so very troubling.

It got me to thinking.  Why didn't they see him like I saw him?  Could they not see that he was just a regular guy who chose different accessories and haircuts than they did?
When looking at him couldn't they see that he was someone's son, brother, grandson
or husband?  This is true for many different kinds of people.
People are rude and judgemental of many....

When looking at an overweight woman can't people see her heart?  I have been that obese person and felt the weight of the stares from people.  Why is it when a baby has rolls it is "sweet", "tubby wubby" or "scrumptious"..........but not when they are older?

When seeing a young woman with multiple piercings don't they see that she is interesting and might have something important to say?  Why is it when a little girl gets her ears pierced for the first time it is "wonderful", "fun" or "exciting"..........but not when they are older?

Why is it that when a little baby's mom spikes his hair into a mohawk after a giggle-filled bath it "cute", "funny", or "adorable".........but those were not the words used by this couple this couple today to describe Robert's hair.


When I look at someone like Robert it is like looking at that cabinet I was shown to paint.  He probably has many layers, has a whole story and has learned many lessons.   He is beautiful today as he was when he was a baby.  He is a fine human being that is deserving of love and respect.  He is someone's son.......... 
He is God's son.

May you look at each person you meet as if they are that adorable little child.
May you see their whole story clearly.
May you show them love.  

Do you see what I see?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Best Gift

I am a mom.  It is what I firmly believe I was put on this earth to be.  Oh, I know there are many other things that I was intended to do and be, but this.......this mothering is my greatest purpose.
Little did I know that I would be QUADRUPELY blessed with this purpose!

The other day my oldest son turned 20!  Seriously?  I just was driving the car yesterday with him and we were singing "The Wheels On The Bus" at the top of our lungs........ well maybe not yesterday.  It sure seems like it was though.

Zack was a little boy that was filled with curiosity, wonder and knowledge.  He found great joy in knowing things.  But he also loved music.   From the time he was a baby music could bring him to extreme levels of excitement or peace.  He giggled and danced to every song on "Barney" but also would fall asleep to a lullably tape in his room.

Knowledge and music.  Sometimes the two don't always compliment each other.  Too much knowledge can restrict someone from just letting go of the stresses of life.  Music requires that release.  So, for Zack, one of my prayers has always been that he find that happy balance between the two.

This past week I was priviledged enough to witness such a balance in him!

On his birthday he got to be part of a worship team for a large campus ministry fellowship night at the university he attends.  My daughter, mom and I went downtown and snuck into the large lecture hall to watch him and the band lead worship.  What I saw brought tears to my eyes.  There was Zack, at a fine university that challenges him academically and is growing his "knowledge base" exponentially, playing guitar and singing with such joy, growing his "spiritual base" as well.  It was as if I was seeing my little 4 year old guy singing "The Wheels On The Bus" in a grown man's body.  It was such a blessing.  I turned to Taylor, my daughter, and said "he is in his happy place".

This was the one thing moms all over the world long to receive.  We yearn for, hope for and pray for our children to be happy.   We look forward to the day when we can see our children be exactly who they were meant to be.  We desire to see them hit a sweet spot.

I experienced this last week.  I received the best gift ever......
My son was happy being....simply....himself.

May you get the privilege to receive this kind of gift.
May you be able to recognize it when it shows up.
May you be grateful for that gift.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Power of Women

No, I am not a feminist.  Well...maybe a little.......
I just simply find there is great power in women and the relationships we have with one another.

This power can be felt in many ways throughout our lives......

The 8 year old girl who is in a class with 7 other girls.  3 of them are best pals and the other 4 have their little "posse" going.  That little girl feels the power in a very negative way.  She can be hurt by the exclusion and envious of the friendship she is left out of....and doesn't know how to change it.

The 16 year old young woman who is hurt by words of another girl.  Those words can cut so deep and no matter how strong that young woman acts like she is, she becomes that 8 year old girl once again.  Hopefully she also has found a few great friends by then who help to balance out the "mean girl"...but this time of life is always a roller coaster ride of power.

The 30 year old woman who has 2 small kids and longs for another adult human being to talk to and laugh with.  She finds a playgroup full of women who become a lifeline for her.  She starts to learn that the power of women can be a positive thing.   These gals in this photo below were the ones who were there with me for many of those crazy, blurry years of having younger kiddos.

The 44 year old gal who has learned over the years that choosing wisely is important in the whole friend thing.  Positive, encouraging, smart, compassionate, interesting women who can make you laugh and will cry as well are the true friendships.  That has real power.   This is a photo of my 2 best gal pals today.

The 85 year old woman who has coffee with her friends every Friday morning knows very well that the power of women is extraordinary.  They talk about thier kids, grandkids and great grandkids, pray for each other, and then one day they attend the funeral of the other.  They go through life with each other....all phases.  These are 2 photos of my Gram.  The first on her wedding day...and the second of her at about age 75 with some of the same women....and many more.  She is the one in front on the ground laying out and laughing.  I loved her.

For many women the coffee is their power for the day..... for me... grabbing a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate or a smoothie as I prefer!)  with these kinds of women is a very strong energy source.
Just an hour with several great women fuels me for a long time.

May you look at what kind of power the women surrounding you have for your life.
 May you discern if this is a draining or uplifting power.
May you tap into the positive power that it can provide.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


About 10 years ago I was in a funk.  I was not a happy gal.  I was faking it.  I had just had our 3rd child and he was a sweet, content little baby....thankfully....but I had lost me!  I was willing to do just about anything to find my "happy" again.  Someone suggested that I start keeping a gratitude journal.  Now, those who know me know that I dislike journaling....alot!  So, the thought of doing of journaling about things I was grateful for was not something I was ready for!!  But I was a bit I decided to put aside my distaste for it and journal each day.

Each day I would "write" in a Word document 3 things I was grateful for that day.  Some days they were deep and thoughtful and other days it was more like "I am grateful that I got to take a shower."!  It made me focus on the good things in my life.  Sure, I focused still on the things that were frustrating, difficult or sad.  But.......what started to happen was transformative!!

With each passing week of focused gratitude I found myself seeing glimpses of my "happy".  I slowly and gratefully crawled and wrote my way out of that funk.

So, since then I have tried to remain positive and grateful.  It gets hard some days...and sometimes weeks would go by without me listing a few things that I was grateful for.  A few years ago I started "GratiTUESday" on my facebook page.  Every Tuesday I post 2-3 things that I am grateful for.   I find that it has helped me to keep my eye steadied on good things and be thankful for them.

 I am in the process of designing a new sign for our Etsy shop.  I will post photos when it is finished but until then here is the rough layout.....

The attitude of gratitude can be quite life changing.....and life SAVING.

May you recognize the little and big things for which you have to be grateful for.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Small Town Appeal

I love a big city!  I grew up in a medium/large sized city and have lived in many larger ones as well.  I love that anything you need is available in numerous places.  I love that there are great things like broadway theatre, concerts, malls, big sporting events and more in big cities.  I love a big city!

But.......I adore a small town.  I find great delight in the community closeness that I experience in our small town.  I can go to my local hardware store and the employees there know me and know my latest project.  I can go to the local grocery store and almost always see a few people I know well and the checkout clerk notices when my normal protien drink supply is not in my cart.  I can go to the local shipping store and the people there know my kids and I know a bit about them as well.  I can be at a soccer game on any given Saturday morning and know parents on all fields surrounding us.  I can become good friends with someone who has taught and loved my child in school.  The list goes on and on.....

Lucky for me, I live just 20 minutes from a large city so I get the best of both worlds!  Most people think that the drive that I take, sometimes daily, would be irritating.  It isn't at all.  It actually is this wonderful transition ride for me.  I slowly leave the city and enter the roads of the farming community.  The scenery moves from that of buildings and big residential and commercial areas to that of fields of corn and other crops, barns and farms.  It is a ride that naturally takes me and eases me into and out of each environment.  It is a ride that I use to get my thoughts together, have a phone conversation that won't be interrupted by a "hey momma...", and many times to have a chat with God.  Here is a picture of one amazing day on that road.........

I feel blessed to have the bigger city within my reach but to have my feet planted firmly in the small town.

What a lucky gal I am!

May you find that sweet spot to live your life.
May your spirit be content in that place.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why "Cellar" Designs?

People have often asked me why I chose Cellar Designs for the name of my business.  Some thought it was due to fun nights hanging out with family or friends and a bottle of wine.  Some thought it was because I would cut the hair of my family in our basement.  Although those all could be reasons.....
I never have really shared the real reason....until now.

Storm cellars are a "must have" for a rural farm or home that does not have a basement.  It is necessary for protection, shelter, and security.  A storm cellar that works well is angled so debris of a storm would blow up and off of it, not blocking it so it couldn't be opened back up.  They are usually a bit away from the main house, yet close enough so it could be reached quickly if needed.

For me, there is great beauty in a storm cellar door.  It usually has large hinge straps that help to keep it closed.....but yet help it to open up when ready...and the coast is clear.  These straps usually can withhold great winds and the elements for decades. They just get rusty and antiqued....but that is what is beautiful about them.

When choosing a name for my business I had to think about what is most important to me at my very core.  For me.....that is God.  I believe that God is my storm cellar and much more.  I believe that the number of storms we put Him through had to have weathered His hinge straps! :) the end.... they are strong and more beautiful with every passing year.

So, Cellar Designs was born of my gratitude to God for taking some of those big gusts of wind for me, allowing the debris to blow off the angled door, and helping me to know when the coast was clear for me to emerge from the cellar.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Autumn Inspiration

Autumn is my favorite season...hands down!  I love the energy I derive from the crisp air and the colors of the changing foliage.  It truly feeds my spirit.  There is something to be learned by this.  We pass by the same trees every day of the year... and don't pay any attention to them.  Then autumn rolls around and those same trees show off thier most gorgeous colors...and we "see" them finally.

Today we drove to my Uncle Tom's farm for the annual pumpkin patch party.  It is such a special day.  I love the sense of family and community that comes from a small gathering of people to pick pumpkins.  The drive there was wonderful.... It was just myself and our two youngest.  In years past they have either watched a movie or played thier hand held video games for the 45 minute drive. This year was different.  I was so energized by the scenery that I kept saying "look how beautiful it is" to them.  About half way there my 10 year old, Luke, said "Was this all here last year when we drove to Tom's farm?".  :) Yes, it was...we just weren't seeing it.

So here are a few pictures of our day and the things that inspired me!



May you notice that tree that we, otherwise, pass by every day of the year
and don't notice....before it explodes with autumnal colors.
May you look for things in your life that you might pass by
unnoticed....till something big happens?
May you notice and appreciate that person who you otherwise
might have overlooked....before they bloom.

Friday, October 7, 2011

In the beginning...

....was the shadowbox frame.  These frames were the first thing that we sold in our shop.  My husband, Craig, had made them for us to give as Christmas presents for a few family members.  I had always tried to do some of our gifts homemade......for budget reasons in the beginning but ended up being for much bigger reasons.   Here is just a sampling of some of the shadowbox frames that Cellar Designs currently sells.

Blog Launch

Cellar Designs is joining the blogging world!

I hope to use this as a place to share what is at the heart of who I am
and what comes from Cellar Designs.
I will show you some of the newest designs and what inspired them,  
feature some other people
that have the same creative spirit that I do and who inspire me, 
and share tidbits of my life and the lessons I have learned from them.

Let me introduce myself....

I am Sarah Stevens.
I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt and friend.
I am a woman who thrives on creativity, love, compassion and...
 most importantly, my faith.
I am the owner and creative director of Cellar Designs.
I feel blessed to live the life I do and hope to do so with
grace, humility,compassion and a lot of fun!