By Jane Fried Sheinfeld
Sometimes I think my life is a lot like an episode of South Park. It isn’t the unrelenting and often irreverent social commentary–putting my opinions out there is not really my thing –but more in the way South Park tells a story to make a point. In each episode, the characters try to make sense of the world around them, and as they explore the topic at hand, events build upon themselves, reaching a crescendo in outrageously unpredictable ways, until the story ends someplace you never imagined possible and miles from where it started. When you watch it from the beginning, the progression makes total sense. Join in at the end, and well, you’re just left scratching your head and thinking it is pretty ridiculous.
I am not saying my life is ridiculous, although since I had four sons graduate Greeley in five years, I have had my share of ridiculous moments. I have found that my life has moved along in a way that, to a recent acquaintance, or someone who hasn’t been along with me for the ride, just doesn’t make sense.
As a newly minted empty nester, I split my professional life between a few different businesses. At compUtomation, I teach people how to use their computers. I also love to tutor students in math. These two professions make sense, as I was a banker and have graduate degrees in business and computer science. It’s my third profession that surprises most people. I am sole proprietor of The Pieced Palette, for which I design and sew fabric keepsakes, mostly pillows, as gifts to celebrate births, bar/bat mitzvahs, communions, sweet 16s, weddings and other events. If you read my resume, or worked with me when I volunteered for seemingly every possible job when my children were young, my fifth baby, The Pieced Palette, just doesn’t seem to fit.
But each of these endeavors provides me opportunities for fulfillment. I can make people happy and gain tremendous satisfaction when my creativity allows me to figure out the ideal solution. Teaching someone a skill that they either never thought they could master, or were struggling to, is incredibly rewarding. Similarly, through The Pieced Palette, each keepsake I craft is unique and my latest project is always my favorite. It truly makes me happy to create something so personal to mark a milestone in someone’s life.
I once received a thank you note from a client who described the reaction from the gift recipient right before her bat mitzvah ceremony. This young woman started screaming and ran to show it to her mother because she loved it so much. That my little sewing machine can provide someone with that much happiness never ceases to amaze me.
I’m now referred to as “The Pillow Lady.” I never thought that my prior incarnations as student, banker, mother, and volunteer would lead me to this place when my kids were grown and gone. But I see now that my latest act is really a logical extension of my life experience to date. Through compUtomation, I solve other people’s business problems. Through The Pieced Palette, I solve my own. I am constantly educating myself, as I educate others.
The Pieced Palette is four years old now, and I am every bit as excited and passionate about it as I was when I started. Where I am now is not at all where I thought I would be, but it kind of makes sense when you put the pieces together! And like an episode of South Park, if you were in on the story from the beginning, it all makes perfect sense.
Jane Fried Sheinfeld and her husband are newly minted empty nesters. You can usually find her either behind her sewing machine, or walking her dogs (Chester and Dublin) at Gedney Park. You can see her pillows at thepiecedpalette.com.