Discernment vs. Judgment

Growing up as a fundamentalist Christian, I spent most of my younger years being very judgmental, with the nobel goal of being “in the world but not of it” and trying to help others “see the light.”  I had to live my life to very high standards and, by golly, so should everyone else.  I was especially hard on other Christians who “stumbled.”

The weird thing is, I didn’t see it as being judgmental.  The world, in my mind, was very black and white, and so of course there were some things you just did not do.  It was that simple.

Obviously, as I got older I began to realize that nothing in life is really that simple, that even with the best of intentions, we all still stumble and fall.

But it wasn’t until quite recently that I began to understand more about my own character and how both judgment and discernment (see side note below) are part of how I express myself and interact with the world.

While I’ve learned to see that side of me as negative, along came someone who said that discernment is a positive aspect of my character.  I had to do a double take on that one…how can you possibly put a positive spin on this personality trait that I’ve been working so hard to get rid of.  Turns out that, channeled correctly, the ability to judge ideas and situations quickly can be an asset.  I’m not sure I can fully communicate how much of a weight that lifted off of me.  I can avoid being judgmental, but I don’t need to completely give up that part of my personality, the part that has allowed me to look at the big picture, assess all the information I have, make a quick decision about the direction I want to take, and begin working to make that happen.

On a brief side note about discernment, it is considered one of the Gifts of the Spirit, right up there with speaking in tongues and healing, but is not really taught much in the churches I attended growing up.  Conceptually, it’s the ability to judge well between things and to gain greater spiritual insight.  In practice, it’s when someone seems to have supernatural insight into a person’s life with the goal of encouraging (or admonishing) them in their walk with God.

On another side note, if this post has intrigued you as to how I gained this insight into my own character, check out Carol Tuttle’s website and book on beauty profiling.  I’m not entirely sold on the whole idea, which she would tell you is exactly in keeping with my “energy type” but her book has some really great information about how what you might consider a flaw is actually a beautiful part of your type of beauty.



On a Spiritual Journey

As I’ve started this whole hair covering journey, I’ve connected with a couple of wonderfully supportive and inclusive communities online, which has really helped immensely.  I recently got to thinking at it might also be nice to connect specifically with othe Christian women who cover their hair.

I really should have known what I would find.  The Christian websites were very full of religion rather than relationship.  As I dug a little deeper, I was surprised to discover that my rationale for covering actually aligned so much better with Pagan woman than with Christians.  Why is that?  I do still consider myself a Christian woman, and I really do feel that covering is part of my spiritual journey, but maybe that’s the issue.

Websites giving a Christian rationale for covering are so focused on justifying the practice as a religious law (meaning you are sinning if you don’t fall in line with this obscure teaching) that they fail to address the spirituality of it at all (how does it draw me into a closer relationship with God, my Maker).  By making it a law that must be followed (“or else…”), they miss the most powerful part of the practice.

Other Christian websites argue against the practice, but do so in a way that is just as inflammatory, aiming to discredit denominations that are insisting on hair coverings.  They add to the divisiveness and leave no room for someone like me.

On the contrary, Pagan women seem to have tapped into the spiritual aspect quite readily.  They recognize that wrapping can be empowering as well as an act of devotion.  AND they recognize that it is not part of everyone’s spiritual journey.

And so here I am, yet again, perplexed by a Church that is so far from what it should be that it only serves to alienate rather than draw people in, a church that is so focused on either law or grace that there is no room for personal experience and relationship.

I suppose that even this frustration is part of that personal journey for me.  It took doing this research for me to realize what I would say to other Christian women about why I cover.

As a Christian woman, I cover because the wrap is a constant reminder that I am a sinner covered by God’s grace.  I’ve spent much of my life, quite honestly, being far too judgmental of those around me.  I need this reminder that I am flawed, have been forgiven much, and should never presume to treat anyone else with anything other than the same grace I have received from above.  I feel closer to God and more confident in myself.

Not everyone needs this practice to feel closer to God and more confident in herself.  It’s simply something that I was searching for, and wrapping has fulfilled that hope at a time when I felt very hopeless.  I do, however, think that we could all benefit from anything that might help us be more loving (and, dare I say, more Christ-like) toward each other, whatever that may be.


Teaching as an Introvert

Today during lunch, I was thinking about why I don’t join the other teachers in the staff cafeteria.

When I was in my teaching program, our professors warned us away from hanging out in the teachers’ lounge or in the staff cafeteria.  They explained that a lot of negative complaining goes on in those places and that we should avoid that sort of talk.

While the ideal young me completely agreed with that assessment, that’s not why I still steer clear.

I’m an introvert.  It has taken many years to figure that out.  As a child, I was called shy by adults and “stuck up” by my peers.  I’ve always been slow to warm up to new people, quiet when in large groups with very outspoken people, and only keep a few close friends.  Over the years, I’ve discovered that rather than being something that I should try to overcome, it’s a part of my personality that I should embrace and nurture.

Lunch time at work is my ONE time of the day to recharge after having to be “on” all day for students.  As an introvert, I can’t afford to spend any of my social energy with colleagues, even though it would be a different sort of interaction.  During lunch, it’s like feeling a weight lifting off of my shoulders…I can finally relax for a moment before having to be “on” again.

So, I’ll continue to skip on staff lunches and even many of the after school gatherings and reserve my social energy for meeting up with a handful of people after I’ve had time to recharge.


The cool weather has started to arrive, though we seem to still have some hot weather in the forecast.  I am a typical Californian (or perhaps stereotypical) in that I feel completely justified in complaining about our weather extremes even though our temperatures are always moderate in comparison with the rest of the country (and most of the rest of our state).

And yet, I’m also a costumer, which means that I will don multiple layers of clothing that cover much of my body even in the most extreme heat.

Of course, the trick is natural fibers and loose fit.  This knowledge has helped me immensely as, over the past couple of years, my personal style has become more covered.  Lately, I tend to prefer long, loose skirts that are mostly cotton or linen, paired with knit tops that can be layered with a long-sleeved shell in the winter.

This trend seems to also be working out with my new scarf collection.  I’ve tended to invest in scarves that are lighter weight in breathable fibers, rather than the heavier pashminas.  While I do have a few pashminas, which I’m sure I’ll be grateful for when the weather gets really cold, it’s nice to have all of these lighter scarves that I can start to play around with layering now that the weather is starting to cool just a bit.

I’m also realizing the value of variegated scarves like this signature scarf from Wrapunzel which, even though it is a pashmina, can be worn alone but still look wonderfully layered and vibrant.


Getting My Smile Back

I used to be one of “those” Christians…the ones who are constantly walking around with a big old grin on their faces.  No matter what is going on, no matter what the situation or circumstances, nothing ever seems to putter a damper on their high spirits.

Sure, for some people it is a show.  It can often cover deep unhappiness and can serve only as a mask for what’s really happening in a person’s life.

But for others, like me, it was a simple determination that I was not going to let my circumstances determine my mood, or my reactions.

I liked that part of me.

Of course, years of teaching started to take its toll, and my recent alienation from the church certainly has not helped.  I’ve found it more and more difficult to put that smile on, and only put it on when needed (mostly when interacting with my students).

This morning, as I was walking from the parking lot to my classroom, I realized that I was grinning from ear to ear.  This year is already a very challenging one; I have had more issues with student behavior at the beginning of this year than I ever have before.  Yet, here I was on my way to start what was doubtless to be another grueling day of teaching, smiling and with my heart filled with joy.

This is why I cover.



I feel more connected to my faith, more connected to my joy, and more confident in who I am.

On a related note, while I can’t cite a specific study, I remember reading that school culture (and how comfortable students are at school) can be heavily influenced by the way the adults interact with students while outside of class.  In schools where adults are friendly and approachable, students feel more comfortable confiding in adults and reporting bullying as well seeking help with personal matters.

Where I work, a smile can make all the difference.  So, welcome back smile!

Addicted to Decades

I kind of can’t get enough of these Decades of Style patterns right now.  Last weekend, I decided to make up the 1930’s Stardust skirt.  I was in a bit of a rush to just get it done, so I literally just threw it together in a couple of hours.  While I do love the finished skirt, but the next time I make it, I’m going to take the time to sew contrasting piping in the front seams.  Without something there, you really can’t see the lines of the skirt.  For now,I’m don’t have any other fabric on hand that I want to use for this pattern, so I think it will go on the back burner.


In the meantime, I have some new Doctor Who fabric that I’ve been mulling over for a week trying to decide what I want to make.  I have enough for a simple dress, but no dress patterns that I particularly want to fuss with in order to get something that fits well.  (I have a lot of problems fitting modern dress patterns up top and prefer to have separates that I can pair up with knit tops.)

Well, I just had a bit of a lightbulb come on that I could make one more Given A Chance dress, but lengthen it to be a maxi.  I think I’ll let that idea simmer this week and then go to the fabric store to get a nice contrasting fabric for the yoke next weekend.

Back to the sewing

Surprisingly, I’ve actually managed to make time for a little sewing here and there even though the school year has started back up.

image imageI made a couple of aprons for my kids.  The design needs a bit of tweaking as they are having a hard time keeping them on the shoulders, but I like the coverage they provide.  Plus, they are easily reversible to become “capes,” which my kids are currently enamoured with.

I also made another PB&J skirt, this time in a Star Wars print.


I do do apologize for any formatting issues with this post.  I’m working on my tablet today, which makes posting a little trickier.image image

Digging Deeper

As I mentioned in my previous post, the short answer to why I’m now wearing scarves on my head is that I’m unhappy with my hair.  What has been a source of angst for me for the past two and a half years is now a non-issue.  Fantastic!

However, as I got ready to go back to work and anticipated some of the reactions I might get, both from students as well as from colleagues I’ve worked with for over six years, I realized that I needed to dig a little deeper and figure out the motivation underlying this decision.

I did some of the type of soul-searching that I haven’t done in quite awhile.  Here’s what I came up with: I kind of don’t know who I am anymore.  The ways in which I’ve defined myself for nearly my whole adult life have all shifted in the last few years, leaving me feeling a bit unmoored.  I haven’t really noticed it until now because I’ve been so busy with being Everything I’m Supposed To Be.

My hair was really just the tip of the iceberg because that was one way in which I used to define myself (that girl with the long red hair) that’s now gone.

The deeper, but equally obvious change has been becoming a mother.  Don’t get me wrong–I absolutely adore my kids and wouldn’t change anything about them for the world.  Many of the changes they’ve brought have been welcome changes.  That doesn’t change the fact that I’ve had to let go, or at least put on the back burner, many of the things that used to be very important to me.  For two and a half years, I haven’t really been my own person because I belong to them right now, because they depend so entirely on me.

And then there is the incredibly deep issue that I can barely bring myself to write about.  My faith and belief system has undergone an incredibly drastic change over the past decade.  I still believe very deeply in the Bible and in the core values of the Christian faith.  What I’ve completely lost faith in is the American Church.  I am so disillusioned with what I see in the public/political face of the church right now.  It physically pains me to see how so-called “Christians” portray themselves and the issues that they choose to take up.  I feel the loss of this connection, this fellowship, very deeply and in ways I usually don’t let myself think about.  When I do think about it, I despair of ever finding a faith-filled community who share my focus and values.

So, these are the deeper reasons why I cover my hair now.  To show that I am myself…to be noticed as Me, but also as a way to both connect with my faith as well as set myself apart from what the church has become.


Love/Hate Relationship With My Hair

I’ve always had this sort of love/hate relationship with my hair.  At various times in my life I’ve hated it…for being fine, for being straight, for being some really nondescript shade of light brown, for how hard it is to curl, for going gray while I was still so young.

But at other times and in many other situations I absolutely loved my hair.  It is incredibly soft, which lent itself well to developing a long-lasting habit of playing with and twirling my hair.  It takes dye VERY well, so I’ve always been able to dye it at home, saving me a small fortune (since I had to start while I was still in my early twenties).  Overall, I’ve spent most of my life feeling very firmly that my hair was my best attribute…my crown…the one thing that I actually wanted people to notice and compliment me on.

And then I had kids.

I’m trying not to blame it on the kids (too much).  I’d already been a bit dissatisfied with my hair for several years.  I’d cut it short since it was looking very bedraggled when it was long.  It looked much better but was a lot of work to maintain, had to be “done” every day, and it just didn’t feel the same as when I’d had long hair.

Having the twins just sort of intensified all those problems as I no longer had the time or inclination to do my hair everyday…shoot, I don’t even have time to shower everyday, so doing my hair just isn’t happening.  This past summer, I spent more time with my hair thrown into a pony tail than I did with it down, which is a Big Deal for me–I’ve never liked how I look with my hair pulled back like that.

Shortly before going back to work, I sought out my stylist to try to get a workable style that would carry me through the school year.  While she did give me something lovely, after a few days I really just wasn’t feeling it.  I hoped it would grow on me but I found myself nearly crying over my appearance.

It was at nearly that exact moment that I was introduced to an online community of women who cover their hair for a very wide variety of reasons.  I discovered them through a costuming acquaintance, and something in my heart just clicked.  These women looked so beautiful and so confident…the very things I felt completely devoid of after a challenging summer with two two-year-olds.

After a brief conversation with K about it, I pulled out my meager stash of scarves and started experimenting, ordered a few items online to help me in this journey, and made the decision to jump into covering my hair full time, at least for this season in my life.


Goals and Changes

Years ago, when I first decided to start my own website, I was inspired by my costuming Heroes.  I wanted it to be something where I could share my process, what I learned as I went, and tips and tricks I came across in my sewing/costuming journey.

Over the years, my hobbies have expanded.  Originally, I tried to keep everything separate.  I worried that readers who were interested in costuming would not be interested in my modern sewing or my crochet and knitting projects, and that individuals who  might be interested in all of that might not be interested in my book reviews and my experiences in teaching.

I’ve slowly brought some of these things together as I’ve realized that I simply don’t have the time or the capacity to keep up with multiple blogs.  It also got a bit more complicated in those instances when hobbies sort of cross pollinated.

Lately, I’ve also stopped being quite so worried about readers knowing more about my personal life.  (Seriously though, I think there are maybe five or six of you reading my blog, so is this even really an issue?)  There has been a bit of chat in the costuming world lately about transparency and authenticity (my words, theirs were more like being a bit more open about one’s personal struggles in this hobby, but these are the words that are really resonating with me.)

In the midst of all this, I’m sort of going through my own sort of…identity crisis?…mid-life crisis?…spiritual crisis?…maybe all of the above.  It has me feeling like I should put my personal process out there for more than just myself.  Sure, maybe I’m still just talking to myself here, but sometimes it’s enough to just write it and send it out into the world.

I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that this blog is not just going to be about costuming anymore.  Costuming and sewing will still be a part of it, because that is still a big part of my personal identity, but there will also be a lot more posts about other parts of my life as well…being a wife, a mother, and a teacher… being a Christian who finds myself incredibly heartbroken over the modern American church…being a woman who is trying to figure out who she is again after so much change.