Sunday, August 31, 2014

100 Better Days

In the spirit of telling my story, I have with the support and loving encouragement from friends decided that the best way to be better is to do better. One step at a time. Not discouraging but encouraging myself and with every decision, choosing to be healthy. I'm NOT an expert in any of this, I'm a girl on a journey to be the strongest and happiest version of herself. So since I seem to love to throw the number 100 around, I've decided to go with 100 better days. Positive attitude, excited about what I can do to make myself healthier and more fit ...

That being said, I didn't convey how important I think it is that we make peace with our bodies and be comfortable in our skins. That bit of self love and drive has to come from what's inside and I know that. I just had a bit of a teeny meltdown because I am that kind of girl, a little stormy sometimes. Still I don't think it is ever ever a bad thing to want to do a little better.

So here is my plan, I'll try to gather real information and tips and will share with you how it's going for me . I would love love love if  you came along with me for this exciting and positive 100 days and see what happens. Please follow any Doctor's orders and don't take any of what I tell you for science. This is my real life journey and not anything close to being a strict regime or plan of any kind, because I'm messy and disorganized and need liveable changes that don't turn me inside out. Those never last. So here it is a bit at a time starting today..

Day 1. Stop eating processed sugar and flour and most importantly no fast food. I've done this before and I will tell you the first few days I get a little edgy.  Processed foods are not good for me and I want to only bring good things into my body.  I also did a little pool exercise for an hour. Drinking lots of water... There it is. A bit of change I can live with...

I won't be boring you all with EVERY SINGLE DAY updates, I don't want to be only about this process, it's just life changes.. I'll just check in and keep you posted randomly and I hope you do the same with me. And you can always email me at and we can privately keep in touch. If I find a healthy recipe I love, I'll share the link and anything else that comes to mind. I will also do some Instagram updates at @Barbarasuew which is my personal profile.

Love wins

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The victory in defeat

 This morning defeat is sharing space in my house. My son Hank is a high school senior and football player. Last night was the season opener in our stadium and the air was heavy with anticipation and expectation.  Months of preparation, early morning practices all summer, afternoon practices in 100 degrees, you know the story. These kids work hard, they persevere and they prepare...And the first game holds a magic promise of a successful season.  Well last night, the band played, the boys ran onto the field, pictures were taken with parents wearing jerseys and when the ball was kicked off to start the game, everyone on our side of the field expected a decisive and big win.   Well that happened alright... for the other team......

Hank is a cornerback and he is a darned good one. He is flashy and fast with some of the best hands around. He has handled his job against some of the best players this area has to offer and handled it well. Rarely are balls caught on his watch and it's a joy to watch his work in the air. Electrifying ...There was no doubt he would put on a show. But the show belonged to the receiver. He was faster, lots faster and for a fast kid to get out fasted in front of a stadium full of people screaming at's not an easy situation.    

So we lost and we lost decisively. Hank had 3 balls caught on his watch and 2 for touchdowns. He knocked down 4 other passes but those 3 undid him. My son left the field in tears of defeat and carried his mistakes heavy on his heart and there were no words to ease the hurt he carried home. Defeat moved in.

Last night was also parent night which means the moms wear their son's jerseys and the parents parade on the field to be introduced to the crowd and have a picture taken.  In front of a huge stadium full of students and supporters.   The night before, Hank handed me his away jersey to try on and I knew right away this was not going to be a good situation. The jersey was so tight, I think my eyes were popping out of my head. I looked pretty much like a sausage in a tight casing with a big #4 on the front. And it was unbearably uncomfortable. Now in my defense, Hank is a slender kid and these jerseys are very narrow through the body. A hard look for anyone with curves not wearing big shoulder pads. But for this mom, it was impossible. I knew there would be pictures which would just make the whole thing even worse, not only would I feel massively self conscious, there would be photographic proof of how horribly bad that jersey fit.  Hank and I talked and he said it was more important that I was comfortable and there for him... so I wore a cute football mom shirt with sweet football mom accessories and some sparkly gold sandals and looked in the mirror. And thought that even though I am a little fluffy,  I still looked pretty cute and headed off to the game. 

Surrounded by the moms in their son's jerseys waiting to walk onto the field , I felt really out of place and not so great about the situation but still thinking I was pulling off the mom style. I smiled for pictures, took a few selfies with friends and as the boys ran onto the field with the band playing the fight song, goosebumps on my arm and the atmosphere full of possibility and excitement, I wasn't thinking about how I looked, just how much I loved to be there.  The game was ...well you already know how that went. 

I woke up this morning and went to the site where all the pictures are posted and first thing I saw this picture of myself...
And suddenly I realized that while the mirror was telling me what I wanted to hear, the pictures are telling me the truth.... I'm not going to lie. I've been crying for a couple of hours. I can give you all the reasons I am not as healthy or fit as I want to be but that is simply no longer relevant. What to do about all this, that is the question. This is my defeat; aging, having babies late in life, not putting the time in and quitting when there are no results. When the expecations don't measure up to the outcome. When effort isn't rewarded fast enough. When I want something to eat that I know isn't going to feed my goals and I have it anyway. When I stop because it gets hard and I excuse myself from the effort.

 I don't judge others on outer beauty. I believe we all are worthy of love and I believe in the beauty of every single person. But, I haven't done anything for my health or well being and that is the real deal. I love the people I love the same when I am thin as when I am not and my creative chaotic brain works in amazing ways no matter what size I wear. But I want more than this for myself. I want to do better. Defeat moved into my room as well and it feels really awful and mucky.

So as defeat is taking up space in my house I wonder what to do about it all. Clearly both Hank and I need a plan.   Three steps, accept the mistakes, learn the lessons and then move on without carrying the defeat with us. Let defeat remind us that we are made of more than giving up. By talking about defeat with no judgement or shame, I believe we will not give it more attention that defeat deserves. Instead I thank defeat for showing up and reminding me that I can do better, Hank can do better, we all can do better. And the beauty is, every minute is when we get the chance to do exactly that. Every single minute of every day... we get to dance with victory.

This cuff is something I wear most days from my friend at  .  So we stand up...again, again and again.   Hank is watching film and talking with his coaches early this Saturday morning so that he can be done with the mistakes of last night and move on. I am making a better grocery list, meal planning and buying some cute socks to sew pom poms on so that I have a bit of happy to put on my feet when I hit the streets when it cools down this evening so that for this day, I found a little victory in the stinging truth and   that is a place to start. I have  let the defeat hang out for a few hours already and by facing the truth, sharing the truth and taking away defeats shame I am saying  there is only room for one guest in this house and she is victory. 

Love wins

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Give a Little Bit-100 Hats Project

I may have shared with you my LOVE , I mean BIG LOVE for knitting, specifically hats. Hats are my favorite of all for so very many reasons.... They are cozy, they feel like love on a cold day, they are inherently adorable on almost everyone ( Please don't say you are not a hat person unless you have tried a hand knit or crocheted hat). To a homeless person, a hat can provide a shield against the elements, keep warmth in the body, help prevent ear infections and add just little bit of caring to hard life. To a preemie, a knit hat keeps their tiny bodies regulated by not allowing precious body heat from escaping and a little love to welcome them to this world. To children fighting cancer and other life threatening illnesses, a hat feels like soft bit of protection and brings a bit of style and coziness to a rough time. For a mom and kids in a shelter who are struggling with every bit of every day, a hat is just something soft, warm and kind when life is coming at them a little hard and fast.

 In my Dad's name, I work  to send off 25 each December to various charities. I have long wanted to do a 100 Hats Project (I just like the way that sounds....100 Hats)  but,  I didn't know how to link up with a pattern source that would work for people, still trying to figure out the logistics, I was fumbling around knitting blogs for some answers.

And then this happened. I stumbled on She Makes Hats....And read this story   And then I looked at her amazing hat patterns and fell in a deep hat knitting crush.  Robyn is a girl who also loves to knit hats and her patterns were so gorgeously simple but oh so lovely. ( I am  big fan of simple loveliness) . So for the last  few months I stalked/followed her blog, on Facebook and Instagram. She is a charity knitter and hat giver of epic proportions and a very cool chick. And then.....she started putting her patterns up for free...I mean really you guys, she has an AMAZING library of hat patterns and they are there as a gift.  I really really wanted a perfect hat pattern for you all to use and my pattern originated from a purchased pattern, which I tweeked and rewrote and adapted but because it's origins are protected, I can't give it away. So....I got super brave and wrote to Robyn to ask if I could direct my charity knitters to her site for the purposes of this project. And what I got back was an enthusiastic YES and a copy of her book to read. Which I did late into last night and I'm about done. The story telling and honesty are beautiful. The intentions are so loving and kind and she has knit more hats than I dream about. You should read the book. I mean the girl designs hat patterns, knits abundantly for charity and wrote a book about her story. She is a wife and mother and I'm in awe....stalking is totally justified.

So let me introduce you all to Robyn Devine, seriously the cutest name ever...and look at her wearing her new Peaks and Valleys hat.

So here is how it is all going to work... Starting NOW, I am accepting hats in all sizes, preemie, baby, child, teen, adult. I am asking that you use a washable yarn that is soft and lovely to wear. I personally love and use Vanna's Choice yarns from Lion Brand.  and Woolease also from Lion Brand Both are available at your big box craft stores or online at a reasonable price but, please use what you prefer. You can search the free patterns at thanks to the generosity of sweet Robyn who has given her permission to use her patterns for this project.  She has so many patterns to choose from and they are all just right for charity knitting.  I am dreaming big that we will have 100 hats but I don't mind at all if maybe we surpass that number. When you are done, you can send them to me at the address below and I will divide and share them with the  many awesome agencies who are in need. I am setting a deadline of  December 1st so that I have time to get hats shipped and delivered.  However, if I have enough to ship some out before Thanksgiving I will. This is about more than Christmas, it's cold weather and the Holidays in general. 

I want to thank Robyn Devine, her inspiration and generosity are boundless . Most importantly she didn't block  my email when I revealed myself and my crazy plan along with my stalking tendencies.  Get her book, follow her blog, give her some Facebook love and follow her on Instagram @shemakeshats and you can become a stalker like me. And please as always, gifted patterns are for charity and personal use only.  Follow her blog, it's one of my favorite knitting blogs .  Be inspired and enthused by the loving and giving  of this girl. The world would be a little better if everyone had a hand knit hat. Just my opinion.

I will also take crocheted hats, I am not discriminating at all, I just don't have a pattern I can recommend at this time because I don't crochet. However, you can find a million/bunches of free crochet patterns at ..  I know this post is full of links and information but I really would love it if you all joined in on the Give a Little Bit-100 Hats Project with me this fall. I will keep you posted and share the progress with you all both here and on my Wildflower 57 page on Facebook and my Instagram which is @Thewildflower57.  If you have any questions, my email is

The address for shipping hats is
Wildflower 57
1061 Stanford Ave
Clovis, CA 93611

Thanks for the support and for being a bright shiny star Robyn and thank you in advance for any help and support for the Give a Little Bit-100 Hats Project 2014. Love to you all and happy Yarn! <3 Barbara

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

25 Things

I was tagged yesterday on Facebook by my friend Lisa to start a Gratitude chain. She challenged  me to post 3 things I am grateful for for 5 days and tag 2 people each day. Because I am a scattered messy girl I am doing one big gratitude post and calling out everyone...all of you....And I couldn't stop at just 15 things so I allowed myself 25..or more...

1.  Abby, Tyler, Becky, Hank and Jack, my children. I am grateful for the way they fill my heart and teach me more about love and life than I ever thought possible..I am grateful for the last bits of children in the house and trying to appreciate every moment.  I am grateful for all of them, for every part of our relationships, all of it.  For marrying Chris, Tiffany and Michael and bringing more people I adore to my life.  Love multiplied
2. Five healthy and happy  grandchildren who I don't get to see nearly enough....I need to smush all your faces ASAP
3.. I am grateful for friends in all forms.  Those I have never met, those who I have spent time with, and those yet to come.... you all listen, understand and bring something important to my heart. The people who have picked me up, given unexpected gifts, said things that warmed my heart and shared their stories with me when they are broken.. Accepting, encouraging, and embracing.You rock my world. that's the truth. and you make me much...let's do more of that.
4. I am grateful for my little business, my big dream with a life of it's own.  I'm grateful that with a smart phone, computer and sewing machine, I can bring my passion to life and make it work in a way that makes sense to me. Trusting instincts, making mistakes, learning lessons.....I wouldn't trade all this for anything.  and I'm not done, I'm grateful for that.
5. I'm grateful for my big ideas ...they keep me up at night and give me purpose and a plan.Watch out for a girl with a purpose and a plan....She will change the world.
6. I'm so grateful for my days working at Quilters' Paradise and all the ladies that are there. You provide love, inspiration and encouragement plus lots of laughter. I am so lucky to spend hours with you all and know  each of you.
7. I am grateful for a warm, safe roof in a safe neighborhood. My children know there is food in the house every day and they have more than they need. I don't take that for granted.
8. I'm grateful for the parents I had,  My pursuit of creative expression, sense of adventure and my wild  yahooty heart came from them. They let me run barefoot and unfettered through childhood and here I am doing the same in my adult life.. Kindness, honesty and story telling...all of it came from them...
9. I'm grateful for my brothers, sister in laws, nieces and nephews. More people I miss daily and need to see more often.
10. I am grateful for music and the need to dance when I hear a beat that moves me.  For feeling it in my soul. From the epic concert days in the 70s to music on the streets of New Orleans, I love it all....there is a soundtrack to my life.
11. I am grateful for barefeet.   I love the feeling of the ground under my sole, I feel connected to the Earth and life walking without shoes  However,. I also love shoes; cute shoes in any form make me weak..I know... the conflict is real...
12. I am grateful for knitting and the fact I can take a couple of sticks and some yarn and make stuff, while I am watching tv or in the car. I don't sit still well. And I like knit hats, they are cozy. I love yarn...seriously, I just love yarn.
13. High school girlfriends that have stuck around, you know who you are. I could find you at anytime and ask anything and you would wrap me in love and make me laugh...without hesitation. And they also will cause trouble at the drop of a hat...I love that about them..
14. I am grateful for the little pool in our backyard and for floating on a hot summer day...weightless and careless for a little while.
15. I am grateful for things in the sky so that when I look up, I remember how amazing the world is. Clouds, stars, rain and the moon to name a few....
16. I am grateful that I know the view from the back of a horse, the smell and feel of the gorgeous coat, the feel of a coarse mane, the sound of hooves on the ground and the closest thing to flying I have found on this earth.  I found truth and love in the eyes of my mustang and I miss her so. I am grateful for the horse girl in me.
17. messy hair, I love that too
18. High School Friday Nights....the  marching band, the cannons, cheerleaders and my son running onto the field through the big huge Cougar Head, two boys  of mine doing what they love, knowing that these are the days of their lives. And I yell, a's so fun.
19. Jeans with patches.I love them lots...sparkly earrings, pedicures, cowgirl boots, perfect tee shirts, swirly skirts, stacks of bangles on my wrists, cardigans, denim jackets and sunglasses. Hamburgers, red wine, pepperoni and pineapple pizza, Disney animated movies, good books, girls night out, rain storms, the beach, the mountains, wild daisies and the wind in my face. And October, I seriously love October.
20. Business people who lift up, shout out, advise, understand and encourage. We are in this together and opportunity is not a pie with only enough for a few. There is some for everyone..Here's to ones with big dreams who cheer for other's big dreams.   Rockstars all of you...
21. Mistakes, I am grateful for those. Skinned knees, bruised ego, broken heart and embarrassing mistakes ...all of it, messy and honest..own them, learn from them and leave them behind.
22. My tangled nature...It's not easy to be a girl who is emotional and a chronic overthinker but I think it leads me to a deep sincere understanding of where I fit in the world. At least I hope so.
23...Being 56...Best kept secret ever is finding comfort in your own skin that comes with this age. Learning that I am okay the way I am without intensely grateful for finally getting this one figured out.
24.  Possibility...anything and I mean anything is possible.  You just have to work TOWARDS it not away from it and believe..
25.  Mostly, I'm just grateful and my list got longer than I expected because gratitude brings more gratitude....I am grateful for faith, truth and love in all forms.... And I went over the original 15. Because I can't seem to leave well enough alone...Now it's your turn, start a chain of intentional gratitude, make your list and see what happens.

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” 
― Elizabeth Gilbert


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Saying Goodbye

   I feel like I need to step back a little and tell you about how my company started.   I've made stuff from other stuff for as long as I can remember. I am the daughter of very creative parents and the granddaughter of  two women who learned to  sew and knit when it was a necessity but kept their craft alive long  after they were able to afford to buy sweaters and dresses. The making of things is as much a part of me as my brown eyes.I only wanted two things as a young girl. To make things and to be a cowgirl. As I went through high school, college, marriage, babies, career, divorce, career burnout, marriage and more babies, the constant thing, my safe haven has been my love of making things.

Many years down the road, I had two small boys, a mustang horse and not much money; living on a farm outside a town called Pumpkin Center which consisted mostly of a feed store, small post office, gas station and thrift store. I wandered into the thrift store one afternoon and back in the corner stumbled on a stack of gorgeous sheets and they were cheap! I spent $10 for  five vintage sheets and rushed home to make aprons and bags that afternoon. And I took this picture and decided I had a business, making things from other tattered and faded things.  I was lucky enough to have a horse named Gypsy and my cowgirl life, so I named my company on a whim.  Shabby Cowgirl, just like that....

    Another fast forward, my boys were bigger and the farm was being sold and there was a move to a  new town, Gypsy had to go to a new home and I was a cowgirl without a horse, living in a neighborhood with sidewalks and fences.. I joined Facebook, opened a page and without a better name for my company and still clinging to my cowgirl life (saddle in the garage and spurs on the dresser mirror) , I opened my Shabby Cowgirl page and lucky for  me, good things happened, AMAZING things happened. However,  fast growth and an inexperienced business girl are sometimes hard to manage, the idea gets bigger than the ability to handle things and I got the high speed wobbles a few times, took more orders than one girl could produce timely and committed to everything because you feel like that is what you must do. I couldn't run as fast as I needed to and there were bumps in my road. I had super good days and days when I wanted to run away but always there was the making of things and wonderful people who loved my work. My page grew in a way I could never have imagined or hoped and Shabby Cowgirl was experiencing so many wonderful opportunities that I didn't want to say no to any of them..  I clung to the notion that I knew what I was doing even though I knew I needed to seriously regroup and gather myself up, take a breath and sort it out.

As happens in a sorting, I realized that I wanted to take back the intention of my work, the joy and the excitement of designing from my heart. I needed to get a grip and do this right or not at all.   I love the name Shabby Cowgirl but I had been encountering the issue of the domain name being bought and offered to me at a high price and the social media names  were taken by someone who offered to sell them to me at a price. I found out this is a common practice when there is a perception that a small business has enough of a following that people will pay to keep their name. I didn't want to pay to take back a name I was not sure was the right one for me.   But also, I don't do strictly western or shabby style and I was struggling with the notion that the company name didn't reflect the true design aesthetic of my brand. I felt inconsistent and then there was the fact that I don't have a horse right now and although I have the heart and soul of a cowgirl, I am not one at the moment.  Small detail but it nagged at me.

The word Wildflower popped up over and over in songs and quotes, it's always been a word that I connected with, I am not highly manicured, I'm a bit unruly, disorganized and tangled. I am at home in rocky and rugged places where blooming isn't always easy. At a crossroads with my work and my world, this was the time.  And in a quick moment, again on a perfect whim I knew it was Wildflower. I added 57 to the name. I have 5 children, 7 is my favorite number, I was born in 57 and this is my 57th year. So there you are, Wildflower 57 it is. I am happy with the change, I am happy with the direction of my work and I am happy with what I have learned the hard way. I love love love Shabby Cowgirl, she is after all, me. I am not leaving her, she is with me always in my wild heart. My design work comes from a deep love for farm, faded prairie, vintage, fresh,  gypsy, boho and  cowgirls, always cowgirls...I expect that Wildflower 57 will reflect all that and the love of making things from other things. As I close the door on Shabby Cowgirl with gratitude and love, I will  let myself fully fall into the field of tangled, sundrenched wildflowers that will carry this dream on down the road.

Shine and grow.....<3 Barbara

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pinatas and other stuff

I've told you I have a couple of teenage boys in my house and they sometimes bring me right back down to earth with their comments. The other day I posted something on Instagram about getting to work with the music loud and how much I love my work (I seriously do) and my almost 17 year old said "I feel like you try to make your life look way more awesome than it is...I mean, look at our house."   So in the interest of full disclosure here is the truth.

I don't have a gorgeous, organized work space. I have piles everywhere in most of our living spaces and my sewing machine is on the floor in the corner so I can put it on the table after breakfast is done. I share the kitchen table with well everything else... I do play really good music loud. have office snacks on the counter and lose myself in the creating  and for those hours that I am working, it's my amazing gorgeous work space where fun things happen  That being said..... this is the true scene at my table this morning. Sewing machine, football helmet and my youngest having breakfast he got for himself because I'm in the middle of organizing a pile of papers.  Please note the stack of fabric in the upper right of the picture about to fall on the floor and demanding to be folded.... The struggle is real my friends, I'm a hot mess, always have been, always will be, I'm messy and happy. And this kid at my table doesn't mind.

Also this week I got a haircut. This is a significant event because I hover between let it grow and all the adorable haircuts in my Good Hair Day Pinterest board.   It's hot here, my weirdly wavy hair was getting all flat which is not as cute as weird waves , so I got the cut...3 inches off and it looked amazing leaving the salon, soft curls swishing in the breeze. I was feeling like I looked like the Pinterest example until the breeze turned into a decent hot wind while I was trying to take a picture, my hair got all whipped up and this is the picture I got.
. The good news is, it washed up perfectly and the weird random waves have returned (I've convinced myself it's "beachy")  and I don't even have to dry it or do fancy things every morning. That is a good thing because we have probably already established that I'm a bit of a tangled and messy girl...hence the long random pieces that I specifically asked for...

So the last piece of what is on my mind.... I am feeling a bit like this...
photo from
A pinata....I feel like a pinata, like the hits keep coming from all directions. Nothing major, just stuff. Life; car breakdowns; power outages on a hot day; witnessed a horrible accident; very early morning football practices; lost paperwork;  mean comments from people I love; comments that feel like judgement from people I like and stuff that probably has more to do with all of them feeling a bit pinata-ish than anything else.    Somehow I get the feeling you all know what I'm talking about. Pinata-ish.... I don't have any big earthshaking words of wisdom for myself and all the other pinata people. For me I get a little quiet on social media, put my phone in another room and let what I love wash over me.  And I try to is gather all the grace and kindness I can and just search for happiness among all that candy that falls to the ground when I break into pieces.