Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My First Birthing Gown! sister is due to have her baby in December and she has asked me to make her a birthing gown so that she wouldn't have to deal with the hospital gowns. I don't blame her, I'm not a fan of them myself. I had enough of an issue when I was getting foot surgery done, I can't imagine trying to have a baby in one of those. I've sewn two skirts before but have never done a full dress so it was definitely a new experience. Some parts were frustrating, some parts were much easier than I thought. And I have to say, I absolutely love my sewing machine. It had the perfect stitch for this stretchy fabric and made life soooooo much easier!

Rather than just being something to wear while in the hospital, she requested that this dress be modified so that she could comfortably wearing it as a nursing gown and whenever she wanted to wear something comfortable around the house. So! Here are the finalized results. Remember, this is my first attempt at making a gown so it will look a bit rough.

Final look (Forgive the mannequin, it's a little small for the dress):

The pattern that was used to make the dress was Butterick B5860, the wrap-around dress. And forgive the mirror, I probably should have moved that out of the shot. *facepalm*
The fabric that was used is a stretchy knit fabric and I found, after cutting out the panels, that there is indeed a right side and a wrong side of the fabric. The color just looks so close that it is hard to tell. xP I

To make it easier to nurse, rather than sewing the shoulder straps together I added snaps to connect them:

There are snaps on both shoulders to make it easy to switch sides when it comes to nursing. I used the simple metal snaps and reinforced the edges to reduce any sort of pulling on the stretchy material. The area itself doesn't stretch and the snaps are (thankfully) easy to snap and unsnap. Also, since this is a wrap-around dress, if you don't want to mess with the snaps then adjusting the fabric to allow breastfeeding is also easy to do!

Here is a close-sup shot of the snaps that I used, a little bit of the interfacing is sticking out so you can see the reinforcement:

And now for the back:

In the case of needing to get access to the back for an epidural, I've included a zipper. It's a 22" zipper that is set low enough that it'll open all the way down to the end of the tailbone. Above the zipper, there are two hook-and-eye pieces to hold the two sides together. That way, when the zipper is undone, you've still got a little something holding the back together!

For a first attempt, I'd have to say that it wasn't a complete failure. There are definitely some things that I'd do a bit differently if I was asked to do it again but overall, it was a fun project. I will not lie though, I am honestly glad to be done with it.

Monday, March 30, 2015

It's MY Colors

My name is Camille Ludwig, I am 25 years old today and I am a Latter-Day Saint. Some people take pride in using the nickname “Mormon” and others don’t, feeling that the nickname encompasses them in the negative stereotype that others may have heard or believe. If people wish to refer to me as a Mormon then I don’t mind, but I prefer being known as a Latter-Day Saint. I believe firmly in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that we have a modern living prophet on the world, that sealings and temple ordinances are necessary to gain exaltation. I don’t believe this because I grew up in Utah, I don’t believe this because so many people around me say so. I believe this because I have felt a calming reassurance that this is right. I have received a personal revelation so strong that I cannot deny what I have learned, for I would be denying what God has given me.

Now, let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I have one set of piercings in my ears, though sometimes I love to wear a clip a little higher up on my ear. Not often, but I like to add it in to some of my looks. I used to have a belly ring but decided I was tired of it after constantly catching boxes or other containers on the ring and having it pull. And not only that, I didn’t show my belly that often so I didn’t see the reason to keep something that others won’t see but constantly catches on things that I am carrying. I love unique styles, bright colored fabrics and flowing dresses. I love dressing up in costumes and playing around with others at conventions or just for the fun of it. I love odd-looking heels that you don’t see every day; one of my favorite pair of heels are blue and pink with a large pink bow on the side. I don’t wear unique, bright clothes or shoes to get the attention of others, I wear them because I feel an obvious change in my energy from wearing things that I like, verses wearing things that are “normal.”

I have a tattoo behind my left ear. A small feather with a set of initials. The tattoo was done in reminder of a sister that was lost to us in the summer of 2012. It was the most challenging time of my life and even now it still hurts, but the tattoo for me is a constant reminder that she’s not gone, she’s just finished with what she had to do here and is on the other side of the veil, continuing to live and work. Though sometimes I consider getting it either altered or removed, I do not regret getting it. It was my choice and my choice alone, not something done out of rebellion. My hair is short and currently red, but tomorrow it will be shorter and a different color. It will have some brighter, unnatural colors in it. Nothing bold but something different.

I love going to church, I love Conference, I love going to the temple and walking around the temple grounds. I cannot tell you how much I love the temple. There are times that I am told that I am different and sometimes the intention behind those words aren’t positive. I have been told that I intimidate people, that they don’t know how to approach me or talk to me because I dress differently. I simply wear bright colors. I’ve also been told that if I get unnatural colors in my hair, then I’m just doing it for attention and I’m not mature enough to take out additional covenants in the temple. I wish I could explain to you how it feels to me to wear bright colors but the only description that I can think of is that I get somewhat of an energy high from it. I feel happy, I feel energetic.

If anyone says that I dress differently or do my hair differently to attraction attention then they don’t know me. I don’t like a lot of attention on me. In fact, I get anxious and panic if a lot of people are looking at me. I don’t do public speaking and I don’t like crowds. It’s terrifying to me. My ideal days involve me being able to do what I want to do at my own pace; to work on hobbies, play video games or to even OCCASIONALLY hang out with good friends. I’m the kind of person you might not notice that hangs out in the back of the room at a dance. I can go through an entire 3 hour church block without anyone talking to me. And you know what? Though sometimes I feel lonely, most of the time I don’t mind it. Because it allows me to come and go as I wish. It allows me to take in what is going on without distractions.

I am a quiet person that learns by observation. I love to watch and listen rather than talk. But I am also a bright, bubbly person. And I want to be that. I don’t need anyone’s attention to want to wear bright colors or dress differently, I want to do it even if there’s no one watching. I have a blast by simply dressing up and staying in my room. If I get a lot of attention then that’s usually followed by anxiety. Not something that I want to bring upon myself by intention. I guess that I could always lose the bright colors and the unique style, but then I also lose that excitement, that energy that comes with it. Why would I do that just to fit in? To get people to be more willing to talk to me? I would be changing who I am for the approval of others.

In all honesty, I’m angry. I am angry that people would be so eager to tell me that how I dress and the colors that I choose determine my level of maturity or spirituality. I am angry that they would impose limitations on me because I don’t look and act like everyone else. And in this anger, there is one thing that I am going to do. I am going to do what I do. I am going to dress in bright, modest outfits. I am going to waltz around in costumes and put unique colors in my hair. I am going to do this because I don’t seek the approval of my peers, I don’t strive each day to fit in and be like any other Mormon that you come across on the streets.

“But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the hearth.”   - 1 Samuel 16:7

God did not send us to this earth to be just like one another, to dress and act the same. He sent us to this earth to learn and to prove ourselves to Him, prove that we can follow Him while not in His presence. We all have unique talents and missions, even as spirits we are not all the same. So yes, I am angry that people tell me that I have to be more subdued and not any sort of a distraction. But I will take that anger and use it for something better. I will keep my eyes on the Lord God and keep my steps firm. Because hair color and fabric color doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I strive to be like Him and that is just what I will do, no matter the color.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Quiet Thoughts of the Heart - 1

I am told again and again that if you want to get thoughts out of your head, the best way to do it is to write it down. I've always been better with describing things with the written word, but I'm not sure how well one can effectively put feelings onto a page, virtual or not. It has not been an easy week, not in the least. I made it to Friday but I'm ready to just crawl into bed and go into hibernation until summer, to avoid any and all responsibilities and thoughts.

I lost touch with a really good friend earlier this week. There is much more to that but first and foremost, he has always been a friend. The reasons it was done were good reasons and will remain as such. A voice had been whispering to me for the last while that it was coming, that I needed to brace myself and ready for it. So I tried. But when it happened, it hurt a lot more than I thought it would. Much more. How do you take three years of habit, of continually speaking to someone, and then just put it behind you? Not think about it and focus on other things? I keep trying to look at things from his point of view and I understand what happened, but it hasn't done too much with making things easier. No more familiar messages, no more of that annoyance when you haven't responded for a while and he sends multiple messages in a row wanting to know where you are. I had expected it to happen, but I hadn't expected all that would follow it.

I've started up an Institute class (LDS religious class for those that don't know) and I've managed to make two out of four classes so far. Not a great record but considering I haven't gone to Institute since college, I'm quite proud of myself. The lessons that were taught have been great, things that I really needed to hear. I am very glad that I started it, yet when I looked around the room the other night, I couldn't help but feel so very much out of place. People were talking and mingling, friends sitting next to one another. It was a happy atmosphere, people were looking forward to being with friends and having fun at Institute. I was sitting on the end of a table and though there were people sitting in front of me and behind me, there were two empty chairs next to me. Maybe it was the stresses of the week that were running through my mind, but the feelings of invisibility and loneliness really reared up again. I didn't have the usual friends to talk to, there was nothing to look forward to that night.

This is where people would start asking, well why don't you socialize? Start making the effort and talk to people. And let me be the first to say, I do try. I may not speak up, but I try to mingle and be around people. And each time, I'm shortly on the move again after the people encounter other friends and wander away. Although I saw a friend that I hadn't seen in years, I soon wanted nothing more than to leave the building, to get out before anyone might see the distress that I had been trying to hide all night. The lesson was wonderful, the teacher is very engaging and I love the way he gets up and teaches. It was just a struggle to sit through class that night, especially when you're in a room filled with people but you feel invisible, like you're not even there.

I constantly ask myself if it is something that I am doing wrong. Is my style wrong? Do I look so different from other girls in the area that I intimidate others or give off the wrong impression? If I didn't dye my hair such red colors, if I didn't organize and decorate my outfits like I normally do, would I fit in easier? Would people be more willing to talk to me at church if I styled my outfits more like what others wear? I recently colored my hair but struggled with the fear of having it noticed by people here. If people already avoid me enough out in public, how much worse would it get with a vibrant hair color?

The lesson of that Institute class was about being able to produce enough faith to trust God over all things, including your thoughts, feelings and experiences. To believe and exercise the belief that despite what is going on, that God knows what is best and has provided a way. I am trying to exercise that faith, trying to figure out what it is that I am supposed to be learning in this time of trial. It's not easy, losing friends, feeling lost in a sea of faces and as if what should be a part of you is gone, like you never had it in the first place.

I am trying my best to keep my head up. Like Elder Scott said back in 2009, "I never complain, I never ask why, but instead ask what it is that I am supposed to learn from this." I don't want to complain, I don't want to spend my prayers asking why, asking what I did to deserve any of this. It is all just a moment in eternity, a small speck of time. I will get over it, I will be stronger from all of this. I don't know how long it will take to get through, I don't know how long I will be hurting from this. But I will do all that I can to exercise my faith that God knows what is best. So instead of asking, I will spend my prayers in thanks. And whatever it is I am to learn from this, I will attempt to learn with a humble spirit and gratitude. For it is true when it is said that God knows what is best, and he will bless you in more ways than you can possibly imagine. All you have to do is have faith, humility and gratitude. The rest will follow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's Only Nail Polish

Up until recently, I was never a fan of painting my nails. I was always doing something with my hands and because of that, the polish never lasted for very long. A complete waste of time in my book. Yet over the past two years, I've been finding it quite relaxing and enjoyable to paint my nails. Another form of art, if you will. I liked to practice with different color combinations and designs, from ombre to tape designs. I even attempted some designs with watercolors and dropping polish into a cup of water, a fail on my part. But hey, it was still fun!

The past month and a half, I heard a few people from church speaking about life and what we are to learn from it. And if you are wondering what this has to do with nail polish, just bear with me for a little longer. You'll soon understand.


Through many different speakers and a few different lessons over the past month and a half, I heard a lot of different things concerning the purpose of this life. We are here to grow, to learn and to experience things, learn how to use our agency and strive to fulfill pre-mortal promises that we had made to our Father. And it's always about the bigger things. Obedience to commandments, studying scriptures, trusting our Father, standing strong in the face of adversary. And personally, I find it somewhat overwhelming at times. And then I happened to come across one of President Gordon B. Hinckley's quotes, something that really reached out to me.

“In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” - Gordon B. Hinckley

That quote returned to my mind that Sunday evening as I was laying on my floor, my music playing as I applied a fresh coat of polish to my nails, a design already mapped out in my head. Life is to be enjoyed. I happened to realize at that moment exactly how much fun I was having with this task of painting my nails. I was thoroughly enjoying it, loving the colors, the artistic design that was taking form, the possibly-too-loud beats of my music. I took a little time to look at my nails as I let the polish dry, letting the thought run through my mind a second time. And then things started to really fall into place.

Yes, there are a lot of purposes in this life. We are to learn and grow, to be obedient and strong. But we are also to experience happiness. It doesn't have to be the kind of happiness that you get from going to a theme park, going out dancing with friends, celebrating a holiday with family, or anything like that. People are always broadcasting their joy of going out, of getting a gift or achieving something that they had been working toward. But what about the quieter joys? The happiness you feel when you're holding a cup of hot cocoa? The peace of taking a nap or the thrill of taking a bite of your favorite food?

I have a testimony that small and quiet joys can be so very powerful in life and shouldn't be overlooked. They shouldn't be compared to the big things for though they themselves are small, their impact can be very strong. I found a peaceful joy in painting my nails, in doing a small task that almost everyone I encounter wouldn't notice. But it was enough to lift my soul in quiet rejoicing that I had the opportunity in my life to paint my nails. In this world, people may look at painted nails like a simple thing, something that's very common and minuscule, and not give it a second thought. But to me, it's not just a bottle of colored polish. To me, it's a reminder that joy comes in all different sizes, as well as different shades of color.

Friday, November 21, 2014

What Is A Dream?

As some of you have noticed, the past few days I've been dealing with some mental and emotional confusion that hasn't really left me in a good place. This concern has come to me many times throughout the years, all the way back when I started to question my English major in my second year of college. So five years now. And on a side note, I only miss college when it has nothing to do with homework and tests. :P

Modern society definitely hasn't helped me with these, in fact they only make the turmoil a bit worse. Mainly because of the whole, "Oh you're so young, you've got your entire life ahead of you! Stop worrying about life, you've only started it." But how much of that is true? What is an entire life? And how do you know you're going to live long into your old years? You don't, and that's the problem. On top of that, you've got other people who have been working on their lifelong careers since they were kids in elementary, or at least they have an idea worked out as they get into college. Now, I'm not saying that everyone has figured this out, out of about 7 billion people in the world, I doubt that nearly everyone has figured it out.

My question isn't about what I ultimately want in life. I know that much already. I ultimately want a home, a family, the ability to help others less fortunate or more beaten down than me. But what do I want to do in life? What kind of job/career do I want? And that right there opens up a can of worms because I overthink. I come up with situations, real and imagined, that could put me at a setback or leave me worse off than I was before. And it terrifies me. It scares me more than the uncertainty that I'm going to live to be I'm fifty. But that in itself is confusing. Why are dreams and goals so high prized, so feared, that it completely puts people off? What is it about them that makes them so important?

I want to be a performer. I want to be able to sing, to dance, act in films, or something that would ultimately bring people joy or a time of peace. But at the same time, I'm scared to pursue that. I don't have thick skin, I get scared easily, heck, I even (occasionally) break down in tears if a new bill arises that I need to pay or negative news reports fill my facebook page. How am I supposed to be a performer if I cry that easily? After all, you have to be able to take the bad with the good and brush it off, right? Not allow the haters from tearing you down?

I want to be my own boss. I want to be able to work from home, make my own hours and income, do the things that I want to do. But why does the thought of not being able to do these kinds of things make me so upset? What specifically is it about having to work a typical job, get a typical wage, commute back and forth to work that bothers me so badly? To the point of not wanting to be around anyone? I'm probably being overdramatic lol. I'm told a lot that I should take my what I'm good at and focus on those. So let's see: cake decorating, art, nails, writing, acting, singing, cashiering, customer service, organization.....Yeah, that seems pretty overwhelming to me. How am I supposed to pick? And would it be a waste of time if I pick one and it doesn't work?

Trust me, I know that if you pick something and you don't like it, you just pick something else. You don't have to stick with one thing. But what about the time that's lost? You can't get time back. And for those of you that know me, I'm not that great with patience either. I'm working on it, but I haven't overcome it. I am scared of failure. I'm scared of looking back and seeing that what I've done in life is scattered and unimportant. And yes, once again, I know I'm still young. But like I said, you never know what life has in store for you.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What Is The Temple To You?

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about life and my goals, only to have the conversation come to a halt with a comment that he made. Which was very unfortunately because technically, the conversation hadn't ended. But he had said that he had noticed that recently, I had been going to the temple grounds more often, as if there was a pull there. Which really got me thinking, why had I been going to the temple more often?

I didn't used to be a fan of the temple, when I first saw the Salt Lake Temple I thought that Disney had built an amusement castle in the middle of Salt Lake.  And after being converted to the LDS faith and going to the Vernal temple to do baptisms, I found it to be quite intimidating. It had almost felt too quiet and solemn, a heavy weight placed upon you when you went inside. I wasn't too impressed with it, the best part about going to the temple was the trip to Golden Corral afterward. When I graduated from college, the institute class had been awarded with a road trip to Nauvoo, Illinois. I was growing more curious about this faith that I had, for some reason or another, just jumped right into, so I signed up to go.

After that, things seemed to change. The temple wasn't just a large, ominous building where heavy weights and expectations were set upon your shoulders the moment you entered the doors. It became fascinating, the inside of it so beautifully decorated and clean, I just wanted to explore all of it. The outside of the temple is beautiful in its own right, but the inside is something completely different. It's still quiet, but no longer the heavy silence that I used to feel.

I haven't been able to go to the temple for the past 3 or 4 years because of personal life choices that I had made, and to be honest, I didn't really miss it. But this past summer, life had started to become really difficult. Work was cutting hours, finances were strained, relationships didn't seem to be working out at all. Then last month I had a thought enter my mind. Why don't I take my pocket sized Book of Mormon and just visit the Provo temple? Just wander around for a bit until I decide to leave. After all, I would be driving so I could choose my own schedule. So I went. And ended up spending 4 and a half hours there. I have no idea where the time went.

My mind wasn't in a very good place when I went, it was in turmoil and full of discouragement. After all, nothing was going as it should be. Life sucked, to be frank. I felt tiny and forgotten, an unnoticed speck drifting through time and space. But that trip turned out to be more than just a trip. It was special. After the first few hours of feeling conflicted and alone, I started to calm down. My mind went quiet, something that is very rare for me. And I dreaded leaving. I only left because the sun was going down and it was getting cold. And I hadn't eaten dinner and was feeling pretty hungry. The temple has become a place of comfort for me, a place where I can go if I've had a rough day. Once I step onto the grounds and sit in front of the temple doors, I start to calm down and my mind quiets. I feel peaceful, no longer lost in the rushed turmoil of life. I've made several trips back to the grounds, always when my mind is conflicted and I need peace. Each time I went to the temple I wasn't able to go inside, but I didn't need to.

I heard once that one of the reasons why the temple seems to glow in the light is because the Spirit of the Lord seeps from the building onto the surrounding grounds. And I believe it. The Spirit doesn't only dwell in the temple building, it also surrounds it. You don't have to go into the temple to feel peace, you just have to be willing to open yourself up to the Spirit, allow it to touch you. For me, the temple isn't just a place to go to do baptisms, endowments and sealings. It is much more than that. For me, the temple is a place of safety, a place that is quiet and is a refuge for the pained soul. It will always be more than just a building that requires a recommend to enter. It is a piece of heaven given to us here on earth.