Two years ago, when we had just moved into our first house the coolest little vintage shop moved in up the street from me. I was beyond smitten. I remember walking in and being immediately dazed by how beautiful it was, and saying to the beautiful young owner of the shop “I've never seen a shop that's this beautiful!”. Everything was arranged into perfect vignettes of vintage kitchenware, furniture, and amazing clothes. The space was impossibly tiny, but it felt spacious and like there were treasures everywhere just waiting to be found.
“Jesse, I want to be her when I grow up!! I think that was her little son in the store with her!!” was all I could manage to squeak out when we left. I went every weekend and bought one thing with my tiny budget for fun things.
One day Jesse saw my dream bike (vintage baby blue Schwinn cruiser!) outside the shop and we were able to scoop it up. I was so excited I had to show my blog friends, so I popped open my new blog and posted about it and about how Lune Vintage was on of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Around the same time my friend Amber (with the cool ‘smile' hand tatto!) sent me the link to a blog she thought I would like because “She's awesome- so crafty and cute! And she lives in your city!! Her blog is called Freckled Nest. You're welcome.” I almost didn't believe her at first- there was a blogger who lived in my city! She even posted regularly, and seemed to be making her living full time from design. Her blog was inspiring and creative, and her personality was sweet and disarming. I was hooked. Lune Vintage and Freckled Nest were my first reads every day.
I read Leigh-Ann's blog all the time, and started exploring her sponsor's and friend's blogs. It was like I stepped into a parallel reality. I started finding the most beautiful craft, design, and personal blogs run by amazing young women who seemed so confident and strong in themselves. Many of them had side businesses and young families, beautiful vintage furniture and incredible fashion sense, quirky and interesting lifestyles and photos of either late night parties or early bedtimes with their children. They were totally normal and completely otherworldly in the same moment, and while they lived all across Canada and the US, in my mind they all lived in the same space- and it was just around the corner if I could work hard enough and dream big enough.
I started focusing on making my blog reflect my interests more, and trying to make every post a little more “me” than I had before- and then one day Leigh-Ann announced a course called Indie Business! It was exactly what I was looking for, and the biggest surprise? That the owner of Lune Vintage was one of the teachers! I was hopping up and down with excitement and registered right away – I even made a countdown to the day it started in my day planner. :)
During the course I gave it my all, I asked questions and soaked in everything I could. I decided that I was going to become full time self employed in two years, and worked out all the details of A Little Thistle – from what I would sell, to the name and the branding – using the guidance of the class and my classmates. And without my knowing it, Jill had found my original post about the bike and her shop, and she really loved it. She had even told Leigh-Ann about it when it happened, and recognized me in the class. Leigh-Ann started visiting my blog, and within a few weeks of the class ending I got an e-mail asking it I wanted to meet up for coffee…
Sometimes first steps can feel impossibly small. Buying a new bike, posting pictures to your blog, or enrolling in a class? These are all things that you do because you're excited, or because you're in love with something, or because you need a dream to escape into for a while but they aren't supposed to lead to anything. Looking back, I'm so glad that I walked into that little vintage store around the corner and bumped into Jill in her beautiful shop, and that Amber sent me the link to Leigh-Ann's creative and playful online space. The moment I found them, and even though we didn't know each other, I felt like I had a choice: I could will and work my dream life into existence or I could walk away.
Even when a step toward a dream feels small, it's still a step toward a dream- and they add up.
This summer I'm having my bike restored, and I'm going to ride it to work every day. Seeing it outside of Lune Vintage in 2009 drew me into my dream life, and maybe if I park it outside the space we share with Lune Vintage it will draw another determined dreamer into hers. In the spirit of little steps adding up, it seems like the right thing to do.