just going…no step is too small.

I don’t believe in magical thinking, in being positive without action. I do believe that one can manifest things or people or places into their lives by educating one’s self and taking actions, even tiny ones, toward that thing, that place, or even a person. This may be especially good information for young people these days.

This post is going to be about this sort of thing. It’s also about shibori, Japan, travel, and probably other things I’m not aware of just yet.

You all know I like to garden. Nature relaxes me. Gardening inspires me and gives me small daily moments to appreciate the details of Nature. Seed planting is one example of this. I can literally throw some seeds on the ground and they might sprout. Nature might convene with me. And maybe not. They may be easy to take care of where they pop up or they may be in a path and get trampled to death without ever flowering and re-seeding themselves. The location might be too sunny, too shady, or take too much water to thrive. Or, I can plant the seeds, nurture them in a container until they become a strong seedling and transplant them somewhere they will successfully grow to maturity.
We can’t (and aren’t meant to) control everything but we can work with what we have and adjust and learn along the way.

You probably know I grew up in Japan. I really longed to return-to surround myself with that place I remembered and had fond memories. Many years ago, I was selling my porcelain buttons at Quilt Festival. In those days (mid 90’s), there were many Japanese visitors to that show-much to my surprise at the time. I didn’t then know how popular quilting in Japan had become. I had great fun interacting with these women and speaking with them using my rudimentary Japanese. Eventually, they would make a point of always coming to my booth and sometimes even asking for my help with another vendor to make a purchase or ask a question. Then, an interesting thing happened.
I was invited to go to Japan and sell my porcelain buttons at the first World Quilt show in Tokyo. Only ten US vendors were invited. They would handle everything. The booth would be free. They paired me up with a quilter who was also doing the show at whose home I was graciously offered to stay. All I had to do was get to Japan with my goods. I went from dreaming of going back to standing on the street in Kawasaki. I could feel it all around me, the climate, the street shops, the aromas… I literally cried right then and there, I was so overcome with gratitude from ending up just standing in that spot. I’m pretty sure anyone who might have seen me in that moment on the street was mystified. But I was HOME!

It was probably about a decade later that I had closed the porcelain company and had given myself a year sabbatical to figure out what the heck I was going to do next. It was time to reinvent Life. By this time, I’d processed the death of my first husband, married a second, had two kids (then in high school) and was still in the process of a very ugly complicated divorce that was just dragging on and on. Phil had come into the picture. But dammit- I was going to take the kids to Japan! They had been studying Japanese at school and were anxious to go. So we went! Again, in co-operation with the Universe I was once again HOME! We went on a very tight budget- often spending $40 a night for all of us in a “gaijin house”- pre AirBNB. We stayed with some Yakuza too, another interesting adventure and a story for another time.
It was 2006. I returned back to Long Beach and began to make shibori- and shibori ribbon was born!

Back to the Quilt Festival I went with the ribbon and my other shibori textiles. This was around 2007. Enter Maggie Backman (for whom I’ll forever be grateful). Maggie was the originator and seller of the Colorhue Silk Dyes and herself was a master of Japanese embroidery selling both the dyes and the silk threads to other US distributors. She asked me to teach some shibori on silk classes using her dyes at the show. I told her didn’t feel I was qualified. She fortunately did not listen to this nonsense! (If you know Maggie-she’s hard to say NO to!) And so it was. I ended up teaching shibori there for many years, really coming into my own. Another HOMEcoming of sorts thanks to Maggie. Turned out we had both lived in Yokohama/Yokosuka at the same time. Me, as an elementary school girl, and she, the wife of a Navy Captain and mother to her own kids.

A couple of years later she was beginning the Silk Study Tour to Japan. She had gone once to lay some groundwork and was now ready to take some paying travelers. It was 2009. She INSISTED I come. When I demurred because of the cost, she arranged a loan from a fund her Aunt had left with easy pay back terms so I could go. I went and assisted her in every way I could. By the next tour, she really needed my help (due to her husband’s health and the fact she was 81) and I started to take over the tour for her. By 2011, I was in charge of the tour and although Maggie no longer comes with us (she turned 92 this year!) she always loves a full report and gives advice.

So where is all this leading you may ask by now(if you are still here!)? I’m circling it back to how one manifests the life you want to live. This is for you-feel free to share the sentiment:

when what you do is perceived as being frivolous, persist!


In non traditional careers, we are often told to “get a real job”. The arts can be perceived as a frivolous pursuit. But my advice is to discard that thinking. Visualize getting where you want to go or what you want to do. Everything you do is a step in that direction. Even when it doesn’t seem so. Make it so.
It’s part of you becoming. Wishing doesn’t make things so. Actions do. Small and large. Sometimes even just reminding oneself of the direction or the destination is enough in the moment. There are lots of off and on ramps along the way! Take the road less traveled!
This post above was written several weeks ago and I just hadn’t published it. I was just wondering about it. Lots of activity here and finally now calming down a bit (I think) and I’m back to the blogging “mood”-ha!
I’ve been cleaning out the studio and found some of those old buttons on sample cards- I enjoyed looking at them and remembering the process.
Plant a seed. Adjust. Take small steps. Collectively you’ll get somewhere!

33 thoughts on “just going…no step is too small.

  1. mritan55

    Thanks so much for sharing some of your personal story and thoughts about living a life driven by the artistic process. Inspiring. I admire your courage.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gaylyn777gmailcom

    This is absolutely inspiring! I am in deep gratitude for your sharing. A beautiful fulfilling life you have created. Inspires hope and dreaming. This is exactly what I needed to hear!. 😊 Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rose Estes

    This advice has proved to be true in my own life except with the big difference that I didn’t know that I WAS on a path of any sort. As the single mother of three small children I was trying to stick with my career path but kept sidetracking and doing things that I actually enjoyed. Long story short, I “accidentally” became an author. My books have sold more than 16 million copies. But it took a very long time to realize that the “accident” was really the path I belonged on. Had I followed my the practical road map I’d laid out for my life, I might have become financially secure but unfulfilled and ultimately unhappy. In thinking about the journey I’ve taken I’ve realized that everything I was “supposed” to be doing was hard and what I wound up doing the side roads) were easy even though hard financially, but easier in all other ways with an exhilarating sense of freedom. The question for me is, how do you recognize the right path when it occurs? I loved this blog entry, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. shiborigirl Post author

      you might not recognize it in real time! i can look back now and see it clearly. i only stood the course of making my work something i loved. some times the $ worked out, and sometimes it meant a struggle. but if i could give one bit of advice to younger people it would be to live small financially. that allows you to make choices not ruled by $$. and perseverance is key. I heard someone say today, “if you think you are going through Hell, just keep on going!” You are just passing through! great advice!

      I have to tell you this story since you are a writer- Once a long time ago (boys were in preschool so about 27 years ago) I was on a new Parent participation nursery Co Op council board and we were doing intros around the room. the icebreaker was to share one thing you wanted to do/become. When it came my turn, I said “I’d like to write a book.” The gal next to me said, “I’d like to PUBLISH a book!” I knew then that I loved that gal! I ended up Pres of the state organization later and she was the “in House” director- who was the editor/ clearing house for all publications and communications to the public. And in the end, she became a published writer of many many books (still is) in the romance novel genre. All her books had a historical aspect as she majored in archeology. so all small steps matter.


  4. nancydas

    I am so glad you were in the blogging mood! It’s fun to learn more about you and your philosophy of life. Thanks for sharing yourself in this way. You always inspire me. And my goodness those buttons!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. shiborigirl Post author

      I’m always blogging in my head! I have said in the past, when there is an archeological dig of human society many of these buttons will be found and recorded. Man did we ever make a ton of them! It’s fun when you make something you really like as much as the customer does. Not to mention I was able to employ many women with small children in my shop for a couple of decades who loved working with me. I run into some of their children and grandchildren around town from time to time. Conversation always begins with… “Did you use to make porcelain flowers and buttons? My mom used to work for you and loved it.”…Gotta love it. fond memories.


  5. Nancy

    Thank you for this gift of sharing your story! I found this inspiring to learn of these other turns your life has taken. When you Know where home is, you just know. Love this.
    The buttons are amazing…beautiful, varied, interesting. What a legacy you have created. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. mamillsrcgc

    Loved seeing the wide variety of porcelain buttons from your prior business. Appreciate the way your Japan tours materialized & the intention to allow gifts from the universe! Must say, majorly miss the dyeing classes though using the hiatus to do necessary family work that I will try to finish by end of summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Debbie thompson

    Love the story! Thank you for sharing a piece of your history….fingers crossed that you decide to sell some of these buttons on your website.❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. kayben

    Gorgeous buttons, beautifully displayed!
    Thank you for this: “Plant a seed. Adjust. Take small steps. Collectively you’ll get somewhere!”

    Liked by 1 person


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