Stranger 82, Day 82 – Meet Sunshine, the “Crafty”

Stranger 82, Day 82 - Meet Sunshine

I was leaving the office before stopping by to say hello to Chandler, the “Wu-Tang Mentor” (Stranger 13). We chatted for a brief minute before asking him if there was a Stranger around to talk to (not seriously, but for fun). One gentleman was in the lobby of the office building, and I asked him if he had a few minutes, but he was unavailable. He had to rush upstairs to a meeting. All good.

I proceeded to the coffee shop on the first floor (Octane) to say goodbye to one of my coworkers. As I was seeing what he was up to and saying goodbye, I looked around for a Stranger in the coffee shop. A few seats away was a woman working diligently on her computer. So, of course, the challenge was on to see if this person who seemed to be working hard would take a few minutes to meet a Stranger.

She was so friendly, and happily accepted to be today’s Stranger.

Meet Sunshine, 39

Sunshine just had a birthday, so say happy birthday, readers!

Who are you?

“I’m still trying to find that out!” she laughs. “I don’t know!” But she tries anyways…

“I’m a girl. And I like to do crafty things sometimes. I like to drink coffee. This is the first time I’ve been to this Octane. I’m a wife and a traveler.”

So what is “crafty”? What does that mean?

“I like to make things. Doesn’t have to be significant. I just like to make stuff. I’m in my second or third year, and I have a little Esty shop on the side.” She points to her computer screen. “That’s what I was working on right now — my Etsy site.”

“I do things with leftover wood cuttings from my husband’s carpentry. And I also do some things with ceramics. But, that’s not all of it. I do things with my nieces and nephews. I’ll cut paper and color, and whatever it is. I like all that stuff.”

Why do you love doing that?

“I have two guesses. I haven’t really thought about this really hard. I’m sure that’s why you do this, right?” Yup!

“I used to when I was younger, I thought I wanted to be an artist, and decided not to. I went into business because I thought I didn’t want to be a starving artist. It’s just a creative outlet. Since I didn’t do that for a living, I’m doing it for fun on the side now. I think that’s one reason. And my… yes! So creative outlet, and I didn’t do it for a living.”

You wanted to be an artist but not a starving one.

“Yeah, yeah. So I have a job, and I do software development things, and then I do this on the side. It doesn’t pay any bills.” She corrects herself, “It pays for itself!” That’s hard sometimes to at least break-even, so congrats!

Is there anything at the job you find creative?

“Yes. To be clear, I’m not a software developer. I’m in software development. And so, I’m actually a product owner/ business analyst-type of person. I work with folks to make sure that what the vision calls for is built. That’s kind of where I am. And so, most of my creative outlet isn’t around something tangible, and I think that’s the difference between what I do and what I do on Etsy.”

“I do be creative. It just isn’t pretty at the end of the day,” she laughs. “I have to come up with ways for things to move forward even though it seems like they’ve come to a dead-end. That’s all creative and fun and everything, but I don’t know if it qualifies for left-brain, right-brain kind of activities.”

How did you get into crafting and start with Etsy?

“OH! I love this. My husband recently had a career pivot three years ago. He started doing carpentry independently. He was doing commercial construction before that. And his sister and him started up a little business together doing interior decor, and now, it’s turning into furniture. His carpentry skills got really, really tapped into. He was generating all this sawdust and wood pieces and stuff. One day, I picked one up, and I was like, ‘This could be a business card holder.’ That’s like up-cycled at its finest, right? It’s wood that would’ve been thrown away otherwise, and I thought people might want that. And they did! Yay!” She gives a big smile and a brief moment of extra enthusiasm.

“And so, his carpentry was able to get me to brush off all these little small things and just start making.”

“… tangible stuff, yeah.”

That’s very cool.

“He’s way better than me by the way.”

In some things.

“In those ways, for sure.”

You hear that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. So, that’s really, really cool. (I asked her if he participates in Scott Antique Marketing which occurs every second weekend of the month down by the Atlanta Airport — show marketplace full of original and vintage items.)

“They don’t. They actually sell at Queen of Hearts in Alpharetta. So it’s Scott’s, but much smaller.”

I’m also intrigued by Sunshine’s necklace — green-ish beads as necklace. Hanging from those beads is a picture of a single bird looking up at the sky, and sitting on two branches. So I ask for the story behind the necklace.

“My sister-in-law, who my husband’s in business with, she also makes jewelry. She made this for me.”

“I don’t know if it has any significance for her, but for me, it’s just a very special piece. She made it, and gave it me.”

So suppose the necklace was made specifically for you. Why do you think she would have made this for you?

She thinks about this — “Oh, dear…”

“Because, I’m not very colorful, and I need help.” She laughs. “‘Being colorful.’ I don’t know… it’s pretty. I don’t know if the bird has any meaning. I can’t sing. I don’t feel trapped or clipped. So maybe we’re both free birds. I don’t know.”

Do you see crafting and making things evolving into anything else? Maybe something you want to tap into beyond? Do you want to make this your career?

“Dude! I would love to. I would love to. I am very well aware the fact that I have certain income requirements for myself and things that I want. And so, unless I hit something that was able to be a ‘cash cow’ type of thing, this is probably going to stay just on the side.”

“Over 10 years ago, now that I’m 39, my husband and I sold everything and moved to New Zealand for a year. That’s when I learned two things that was really fun, but we liked things. At the end of that, we decided to come home and go back to corporate-types of jobs and everything. I don’t know that I’ll ever make a leap like that. But if he does, which is what I kind of want to happen, if he does and his company has success or there are some risks we can take around that, I’m behind it 100%.”

To wrap this up, how do you deal with adversity? (Thanks to Tesh, Stranger 81)

“That’s a really good question. Tesh is super smart. I have two approaches that it depends. Most adversity that’s not for my immediate family, I take head-on. So, I’m pretty fearless when it comes to taking on challenges with Strangers in the street or with people I work with and stuff. In my family situation now, I usually just avoid it as best as I can. These are people I need to spend the rest of my life with in peace. And I make that alternate choice for my family.”

How do you still address those? Or do you just never address those?

“Pretty much never address, and just find the positive things to focus on and be a part of.”

So before you get your chance to ask your question, I’m also curious about this little piece. (As I point to her bracelet.)

“Oh yay! Okay. So this piece, my best cousin gave to me. She visited here in Atlanta. My mom’s first cousin’s daughter, and we’ve become friends probably over the last 15 years. We weren’t friends as children. We didn’t know each other well. She was here visiting, and we were in a shop over in Westside, and we bought each other these bracelets. They each have different quotes, and we picked our own out, and then gifted them to each other. We both have the same style of jewelry that we like, which is why I guess we picked out the same thing.”

“I think that everyone has the potential to be brilliant, and I think it’s an important thing to remind people of. You’ll see that it’s facing you. It’s not facing me. I put it on intentionally in that direction. It’s for you.” She points and shows me how the bracelet reads, “Be Brilliant”.

“It’s for you,” she tells me.

If I was to wear it, what do you think that you’re brilliant at?

She laughs. “These are hard questions!” haha

“I’m a really good wife. So, I’m brilliant with my husband. It’s my favorite thing to be.”

That’s awesome. I bet when you share with him this, he’ll tell you how much he loves you (and what he finds brilliant about you).

“Or, he’ll tell me how wrong I am, and what I can do to improve. So, we’ll find out.” She laughs again.

So you’re turn now. What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“What makes you most happy?”

After the handshake.

I don’t think I said “smile” enough as I wrote up our interactions. Sure, I could sprinkle them in post-write-up, but just take it from me that she was smiling a lot. She was happy, and it was like she was really enjoying life.

Afterwards, we talked some more as she asked me questions about this journey. She found it interesting, and I think, she became more and more interested in the higher inspirations of this journey. It was great to see her continue to smile and be inquisitive. I told her, too, that I thought many readers (you) would/ could find inspiration in her story as she pursues her passion of being crafty not as a full-time job, but as a side-gig. I think that’s an important thing to think about as so many people think that’s it’s an “either/ or” dilemma. However, it’s not. This journey is proof that you can have a tough job + work out + go to yoga + see friends and family and STILL make time for a passion journey (“project”).

Sunshine was gracious to allow me to distract her and learn more about her, and I’m happy she did. I was in a happy mood before I spoke to her, but after speaking with her, I had a noticeable uptick just because of her energy. So great to meet her.

Meet Sunshine. No longer a Stranger.

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