Mindfully Crafted.

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The Well-Crafted Life explores the connections between the things we make, the things we use, and the life we lead. It also explores the concept of crafting the life we lead just as deliberately as we craft the things we use.

How it all came together

You know that light bulb moment, when you instantly see a connection between any number of events or circumstances in your life pointing to a central theme? That these events have all just coalesced into something greater than the sum of seemingly unrelated parts? I'd like to tell you about my light-bulb moment which helped me realize I can accomplish anything – anything – I wish to, and to share with you how this powerful realization can help you craft your heart's desire.

Over the last 25 years or so I have been a crafter. I might not have initially thought of myself in that way, but whether I was throwing pottery on a wheel, snapping photographs, turning wood on a lathe, knitting a lace shawl, or deadlifting in the gym, I have been crafting.

To help you understand how it all came together, we have to travel back to March of 2010. My family had just completed a big move from Colorado, where I grew up, to northern California. This was really the first step toward realizing a huge dream – to someday live in the bay area, which I fell in love with during my first visit when I was 17, back in 1993.

Almost every day, maybe upon waking, driving down the freeway, or walking through the grocery store the reality of having moved to another state would hit me all over again. I seemed almost surreal – I had affected this enormous change in my life. Sometimes it all seemed to have happened so easily, and other times I contemplated just how risky and painstaking such a significant change was and how at any moment something could have happened to knock us off course, and yet – and yet – here I was – here we were, exactly where we had set out to be.

This move to California lead me to realize how just a single daring act had changed my perspective on what is possible, what one can do in one's lifetime. Around this time I was pushing nearly 300 pounds. I had high cholesterol, borderline blood pressure, and was pre-diabetic. I hated the way I looked, and no amount of praise from others about my appearance outweighed the disgust I felt inside for myself and the body I had crafted to live in.

I realized yet another big change was desperately needed in my life – one that would literally be life-saving. I recognized that if I didn't make this big change, I'd probably be suffering a heart attack or any number of other serious health issues inside of a decade if not sooner. I'd gone through the same annual cycle as most other people, getting 'serious' about fitness in January, only to practically forget the name of the gym by February. But not this time – this was the time to make it stick, and I knew it.

Over the coming months my partner, Christian, and I committed to making healthy changes to the way we ate, shopped, and lived. Looking back, I realize these changes did not happen overnight, they sure weren't easy, and yes, we still have work left to do. I can clearly see, however, that so many small and deliberate changes resulted in real, lasting transformation. In a sense, Christian and I re-crafted the way we live to be healthier and ultimately happier with our bodies, ourselves. We each lost a good deal of weight and are very close to having the healthy strong bodies we have desired for so long.

Fast forward to August of 2012. I was reflecting on our big move and the physical transformation our bodies were making. Then it suddenly hit me: Christian and I were deliberately crafting the life we were living, just as easily and willfully as the cardigan I was knitting! Right in that moment it occurred to me just how important the act of crafting is in my life – the simple act of making a thing with my hands. I realized how much I'd learned about the world around me, the people around me, and about myself through the exploration of a craft. The thought that we'd been working on our bodies and overall health was no different than any other form of craft I'd sought to master.

It has taken me a while to lift this idea stemming from that light-bulb moment off the ground. I've been carefully thinking about these concepts and how best to explore them over the last 16 months or so. Just like my body (and like that cardigan I'm still slowly knitting), there is some work left to do on this site and in my idea's conveyance, but the simple and deliberate acts I have taken are crafting this idea, this collection of life experiences, into a touchstone for others to begin crafting the life they have always dreamed of living – an inspiration to help others take deliberate actions that lead into crafting a new and better reality for themselves. 

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in ourselves and our own mental space and never make progress on something because we want it all to come out of the gate oh-so-perfectly. But crafting doesn't always have to be like that. This week I had to remind myself the important thing is to grab hold of our craft, chip away at it in whatever way we can, even if at a snail's pace, and move forward. Life is a work in progress, and crafting anything well takes time (and sometimes even failed attempts along the way). Yet, in spite of the sometimes painfully slow process, in spite of failures and lessons we learn from them, If we keep molding our clay, keep lifting our weights or running a bit farther, keep knitting and knitting and knitting, bit by bit we'll end up with the beautiful work of art we've been dreaming of all along - we'll see a sweater or a body or a sculpture or a recipe – or a life – well-crafted into the summation of our efforts we always knew was possible. The important thing is to take that first step, and to never stop the work or give up until we finally realize our dream.

I hope you'll dream and do and craft a better reality for yourself with me as we explore crafting together.

-N