reflections & plans for the new year

I suppose it’s the time of year to do a little reflecting on the past year, & share some thoughts about what 2018 may hold.

1. I beat cancer! Not that there was a huge amount of doubt. I knew from the initial diagnosis that my endocervical adenocarcinoma had been caught early & was very treatable. I was fortunate enough to avoid chemo & radiation. I had a hysterectomy on Valentine’s Day & the pathology came back clear. I was released from oncology in April, & now I just have to stay on top of doing annual screenings for the next 25 years. The annual screenings for a person who no longer has a cervix or uterus, & a history of such a particularly pesky & challenging type of cancer, are kind of a big deal & no fun at all, but hey–things could be a lot worse.

I feel like I am still in the process of re-building my physical strength, as the post-surgical recovery was enormously taxing. I’m also still struggling emotionally. After Ramona was born, I had hoped & planned to have another baby at some point. I had a late-ish (ten weeks) miscarriage in the summer of 2015. But being diagnosed with cancer a year later cemented our status as an only-child family, & I am still having a tough time making my peace with that. This was reinforced the other day, when we met up in Boston with some friends we hadn’t seen in a few years. The mom in the family is pregnant with her second child & did not let us know in advance. So, just a PSA on that front: please don’t surprise your friends & loved ones with your pregnancy. Especially if you know they have a situation going on that might make pregnancy/babies a sensitive topic for them. But even if you don’t know that, as so many people experience miscarriage & infertility without sharing it openly. All you have to do is say, “Just so you’re not surprised when you see me–I’m pregnant.” This lets your friend process the information on her own time, privately, so that she can be happy for you when you see each other in person. & then you don’t have a situation where someone is sobbing in the middle of the Predators of North America exhibit.

2. Ramona starts school this fall! & this is big because it means that we need to finally decide where we want to live. We talked about moving back to Massachusetts a year ago. (If you don’t know, Jared was born & raised in Massachusetts, in the Boston area, & I moved there in 2001. That’s where we met & started dating. We moved to Kansas in 2009 so he could get his PhD at KU.) But we decided to postpone it so Ramona could finish her last year of preschool with her friends. Well, that didn’t work out, to say the least.

We’re feeling a lot more serious about making the move this year. Jared is getting licensed to teach secondary school in Massachusetts & we’re exploring western Mass to try to find the right balance of affordable housing & decent public schools. We’re hoping to make a commitment to either Kansas or Massachusetts in time for Ramona to start kindergarten.

3. #365DaysofSewing starts tomorrow! This is my own personal sewing challenge. I didn’t get to sew as much as I would have liked in 2017 due to my health challenges. (Aside from the cancer, I also broke my foot in October & am still recovering from that!) I did develop some new skills that I could do from bed or the couch, like cross stitching. But it was still a bit of a slow year for me.


Starting tomorrow, I am challenging myself to engage in some type of sewing thing everyday in 2018. In order to build in a little wiggle room, I’m going to count things like researching techniques, sourcing supplies, mending, etc. Especially if there’s a cross-country move happening sometime in 2018, I can’t limit myself to just work I do with the sewing machine. Tomorrow will be the first big test because we are flying home from Boston. It will be interesting to see what kind of sewing work I can fit into a full travel day with a five-year-old. (I did bring a cross stitch project with me, so I might be able to do that on the plane if my embroidery snips get past security.)

4. Shoemaking! This is the 2018 goal I am most excited about right now! I’ve done a ton of research while we’ve been in Boston for the holidays, & it’s amazing how many resources there are around here for people who want to learn shoemaking. I talked with a woman yesterday who does workshops teaching people how to make entirely hand-sewn leather shoes. She offered to let me be her guinea pig to see if I could figure out how to use her methods to make shoes at home via a kit, rather than in her workshop. Obviously, I don’t think I am ready to dive in at that level! But I’ve been accumulating some basic supplies, including a pair of wooden lasts I am really stoked about. I have wide feet & I’m especially particular about the shape of the toebox on my shoes. I hate tapered or pointed toeboxes with the fire of a thousand suns. I found a vintage set of extra-wide lasts with the nice round toebox I like best. I think I’m going to start small–I’m thinking lasted flats with a rubber sole. But ultimately, I’d love to get to the point where all of my shoes are handmade by me.

5. Reviving this blog! I was looking at my archives the other day & it really struck me how infrequently I wrote here in 2017. That was mainly due to my many health issues. I wasn’t sewing as much, so I didn’t have as much to share, & even when I did finish a project, I didn’t always have the energy to do photos & posts. (I have quite a few yet-to-be-blogged garments waiting in the wings…Like these mermaid sequin leggings!)


I’m hoping to stick to a posting schedule in 2018. I want to post at least twice: a weekly wrap-up on my #365DaysofSewing project (which I will also document on Instagram using that hashtag), & a completed project post once a week. Jared surprised me with a brand-new camera for Christmas, which is compatible with a remote. I’m really hoping this ups my photo game! Ramona does a surprisingly decent job of taking photos, considering that she’s only five years old, but her patience for the endeavor is limited, & for every usuable garment photo she gives me, I get like three photos of her thumb or a rock.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

3 thoughts on “reflections & plans for the new year

  1. Congrats on beating cancer! I feel like that’s enough of an accomplishment for a few years… at least!

    (I look forward to seeing more of your sewing projects, though!)

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