Here's to a happy, happy new year! We're embracing everything 2018 has to offer with open arms and starting it off the best way we know how — with great friends, like the wildly talented Cate Havstad of Havstad Hat Company. It's no secret that the end of one year and beginning of another brings about a time of reflection and reminiscence. In this spirit, Cate shared her reflections on mindfulness, working meditations, intentions and work ethic as a maker.
The end of the year is my favorite time of year, well second to the river and lake days of summer in Central Oregon. The introspection that this time of year inspires is unique. I look back at the year and, all of the sudden, I can see just how much I accomplished. This is a stark contrast to the feeling I have more than I like to admit — that I'm not doing enough, that I'm behind, that I should be further ahead than I am... I wonder if this plagues many other makers? I have a feeling it does. It is profound to look back over the 52 weeks of the year and see the body of work completed, and I revel in this rare time where I feel a sense of completion. In my world, a sense of completion is rare because I have, at all times, a fairly large production list. This is one of those gift problems... I am so fortunate to stay busy in my workshop with orders all year long, I don't take that for granted. I do have to admit that staying grounded, staying on top of the workload, staying balanced in work/ relationships/ self care, and keeping my grace is a challenge and I am a work in progress on all of these levels.
There are many things we are taught are important to be "successful." Work hard, persevere, stay organized, be on time, manage your finances in a smart way... etc, etc. What I have realized might be one of the biggest lessons I am just now learning is that finding a way to stay mindful and present in day to day life might be the biggest key to my success as an independent maker.
There are days and weeks when finding the flow is difficult, and I wouldn't describe my mood as "inspired," but I don't have the luxury of only working when I feel that way. In my practice of learning how to change and influence my mindset on a day-to-day basis, I have learned that inspiration and motivation can be cultivated. Here are the ways that I pull myself out of funk, and cultivate motivation and inspiration.
- Exercise. Getting out of my head and deeper into my body is key for me. I try and take breaks throughout the day to have a quick stretch.
- Meditation. There are a lot of ways to strive for the quieting of the mind. For a long time the word meditation intimidated me. I didn't think I could sit still for 30 minutes or an hour, and in the beginning, I couldn't. I started with just taking 10 minutes each day to build this practice, and it has been an instrumental practice this year.
- A great audiobook or podcast to look forward to. There are days when I don't feel "motivated," but if I have an audiobook I'm really enjoying, I actually get excited to get back into my workshop to dive back into the book.
- A killer playlist. In the same way a great audiobook can suck me into a flow for hours, a great playlist can do the same. Today I danced through my workshop listening to Freddie King, Charles Bradley and A Tribe Called Quest.
- A **reasonable and attainable** To Do List. I love sitting down and writing out a solid To Do list, but I have learned through making this mistake for years that writing out an unrealistic list can lead to me feeling stuck, or feeling frantic looking at more work than I know how to handle. By pairing it down and keeping it realistic, I work through crossing things off in a calmer frame of mind.
My biggest lesson of 2017 is that mindset is everything, and even amidst difficulties and challenges, we all have the power to cultivate the mindset we need to be successful. A flow state is possible when I am in the moment, so finding ways to quiet my mind and become more present helps me get into this flow in the workshop. Experiment with what tools and practices work for you in shifting your mindset, consistently return to these tools, and get after it in a present, steady way. Here's to a happy, productive, mindful flow in 2018 friends.
Cate has been building hats independently as Havstad Hat Co in Central Oregon for 5 years. Each hat is handcrafted from start to finish by Cate. From using the finest beaver fur felts made in the USA, the highest quality sheepskin leather sweatbands, to utilizing hand-shaping techniques and hunting down original hatter’s equipment dating back to the late 1800s, Cate’s approach to hat making both honors the history and traditions of the past while incorporating her modern day flare into her designs and business.