December 23: Looking Back

As the end of the year approached, the realization that it’s also the end of a DECADE really started to sink in.


This decade began with a bit of a fizzle. We made the hard decision to consolidate back under one roof, closing our SWAK in the City store. The effects of juggling a new baby and a business started to take its toll, coupled with a massive decline in the yarn market. The good-times of the turn of the millennium came to a screeching halt, and everyone in the industry was struggling to hang on. Many did not survive.

My snappy dresser!

Keith has quite the sense of humor. Don’t worry, the past decade was very kind to his business.

If I were to sum up my experience of this past decade with one word it would be SURVIVAL. Just about anyone can have a successful business when the market is good. It doesn’t take much skill. But when the chips are down and times are tough, that is when it takes every skill you have – plus some! I have gained more grit, determination, creativity, and mad skills over the past 10 years than all of the preceding decades. My motto for the new decade is Bring It, I’m ready!

Times weren’t just tough in business. It has been a most challenging decade for me personally. While adjusting to the demands of motherhood, I was also adding elder-care to my list of responsibilities taking care of my parents as their health started failing. It has been a time of great loss, starting with both of my grandmothers within a 4 month period of each other, followed by both parents in consecutive years, and other beloved family members who left us too soon.


It has also been a decade of awakening. I discovered my love of travel, rarely turning down an opportunity to hit the open road to explore and search for the interesting.

I beautified my surroundings, renovating our lovely 1930’s building from roof to floor, or actually to the dirt under the floor. Much of the work I did myself, which was a therapeutic endeavor. I grew up in a multi-generation household of construction workers, so I find the smell of sawdust comforting, although no one in their right mind would let me near a saw. I stick with paint brushes and things not likely to cause dismemberment.

Oddly enough, I found myself teaching graphic design to middle school students and loving it. This is my volunteer gig at St. Mary’s Catholic School. My son attended there since Pre-K and it is a fabulous school. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be doing something like this – and enjoying it.

And I became a farmer. Well, I just own a farm. Keith does all of the farmer stuff. I am not an outdoor person. Hopefully one day we’ll be able to live on the farm. That’s my goal.

big changes

Just this past year alone has brought huge changes.

Mason is now attending Casady School in Oklahoma City. This was a last minute decision this summer. He is a high achiever, and wanted opportunities offered in a larger school setting. I thought we had 2 more years to make this decision, but our plans suddenly changed. Fortunately there is a bus stop in Edmond we catch most days, but it still has me on the road back and forth every day. He is thriving there, so the hours spent in the car are totally worth it.

We transitioned into a Rowan Flagship Store, completely revamped our website, point of sale software system, accounting software, and the list goes on. Major changes and adjustments!

Last Christmas I received a most unwelcome surprise – hot flashes! Between the effects of this miserable change of life, and breaking my foot in May all of the weight I lost last year has come back. The side effects that accompany this change have been building throughout the year, and I can now hear my mother in my ear telling me to go and get myself some hormones. I KNOW this is what she would say, and plan on following her advice after the holidays. Perhaps this will improve my comportment.

I now live in my car. Between driving Mason back and forth to town for school, swim practice, and swim meets I spend more time driving than I do sleeping most days.


For Christmas this year, I treated myself to a NEW CAR! If you’re feeling guilty about splurging on something for yourself when you’re supposed to be buying gifts for others, keep this in mind. If anyone says anything, just point out that Keely bought herself a new CAR and that handbag, yarn, etc. that you brought home for yourself will seem rather trivial.

I would like to help you splurge on yourself this holiday season. Today I’m giving away a $75 gift card to one lucky reader. Here is what I want to know: if you could sum up the last decade in a few words, what would it be? And what is your mantra for moving forward into the new decade? Leave a comment on this post answering these burning questions to get your name in the hat for the drawing.

You have until midnight tonight!

congratulations clarissa coble – you’re the winner of the $75 gift card!

Please note that all prizes must be picked up at our shop no later than February 1, 2020. We do not mail or ship prizes.


  • Ellen McKenzie

    23.12.2019 at 06:13 Reply

    Loved your reflecting on the last decade. My reflection and mantra….hummm, that requires some thought, I’ll get back to you on that.

  • Linda Weston

    23.12.2019 at 06:47 Reply

    I would describe it with a quote from Charles Dickens’ _A Tale of Two Cities_: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” My mantra for 2020 (which just popped into my head last night, coincidentally) is “nevertheless, she persisted.” My goal this coming year is to continue actively moving toward my highest and greatest good physically, mentally, and spiritually.

  • Stephenia d

    23.12.2019 at 07:41 Reply

    Life goes on…….plus “thank you”. So many life changes for me in the past 10 , one thing is certain…life goes on and having a heart full of gratitude for the good things still standing, has created more good things to think about. Have a great holiday.

  • Judy Smith

    23.12.2019 at 07:46 Reply

    My plan is to recognize situations that I cannot change, accept it and move forward to new and exciting adventures.

  • Briana Titus

    23.12.2019 at 08:18 Reply

    What a great reflection on the decade! My decade involved big changes too–moving away from California and my family and buying a house out here in Oklahoma. This decade has been one of change and settling down. I’ve had two mantras lately that I plan to take into the new year. The first is “Let it go” – figure out what’s really important to you and don’t sweat the small stuff (this has informed my teaching, too!). The second is “Secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.” Teachers tend to take care of everyone else first and themselves last, which leads to emotional and physical burnout. I’m still working on living this mantra, but at least I’m committed to improving in this area!

  • Nyree Coffman

    23.12.2019 at 08:23 Reply

    The last decade: I’ve learned what I’m truly made of!
    Mantra moving forward: Don’t let anyone stand in the way of your dreams!

  • Jennifer Walker

    23.12.2019 at 08:24 Reply

    The last decade has brought some major life changes! I’ve been through 5 different jobs, and have finally landed one I really like! I traveled to Kenya and Italy during this time. I got engaged, married, and then had a baby. I also started and finished grad school! I learned how to play the saxophone and started playing clarinet again. It’s been really busy that last 10 years! Going forward I want to focus on my family. I want to spend time enjoying my son and helping him grow up.

  • Marilee Camerer

    23.12.2019 at 09:09 Reply

    Love and Loss …
    Gratitude and More Love❣️🙏

  • Mary Bourne

    23.12.2019 at 09:11 Reply

    Hmmm, this last decade? Don’t stop believing (and I’m not a Journey fan)

    This next decade? what I know is nothing is impossible, it might just take a little longer.

    Love the walk down memory lane.

  • Lesley Rodgers

    23.12.2019 at 09:12 Reply

    The last decade I lost both my parents, my husband had several surgeries and the joke was always “I am the ‘farmers’ wife not the farmer” and due to all his surgeries I ended up being the farmer. During this time I knitted scarves for the homeless which were received with many thanks, worked the food bank and also helped give out food boxes, doing this has helped me have a purpose in life and appreciate all the Blessings I have, wonderful grands and family.

  • Clarissa coble

    23.12.2019 at 09:22 Reply

    My mantra would be just keep going. I’ve basically been in school since 2013. I got my lpn license. Went back for my associates and now I’m one semester away from a bachelors in nursing All the while I’ve been working full time. One daughter graduated high school and moved away. The other graduates in the spring. I had a hysterectomy this week but next month it’s back to school and back to work. I’m almost there.

    • Keely

      24.12.2019 at 00:13 Reply

      Congratulations! You’re the winner. Please pick up your prize anytime before 2/1/20, or it will be put back in the prize hopper.

  • Evelyn Norvelle

    23.12.2019 at 09:54 Reply

    My last decade has been about changes and reinventing myself. I’m still in the process of reinventing myself. So that will continue through this new decade.

  • Jennifer Elkhair

    23.12.2019 at 09:55 Reply

    Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

  • Donna J Miller

    23.12.2019 at 09:58 Reply

    Mason is growing like my grandsons are growing and for me it’s sad/happy! I miss my babies but they are wonderful boys/young men. Keely, I am so proud of your shop and know you have put so much hard work into it. I always love coming to SWAK and getting to visit with you. And…HOT FLASHES STINK!!

  • Tammy Adamson

    23.12.2019 at 11:08 Reply

    Growth not fear. There was a lot of yucky that happened in my marriage, with my older boys, my hormones, and my sister’s family. I can look back and see how I’ve grown and the things I no longer fear because of the strength I’ve earned. I believe my mantra is strength. Going forward is knowing who my strength is from, knowing when I’m weak He is strong, and that strength isn’t a scary, fearful thing, but a gift, a right, and the ability to shine even through the yucky!

  • Cari Deen

    23.12.2019 at 11:46 Reply

    Live and let live, but love and help people as much as you can along the way.

  • Courtney Wilson

    23.12.2019 at 11:53 Reply

    Change has been surrounding me for the past decade. I am planning on moving forward this next year and getting my life together. Organization is on the horizon.

  • Stevie

    23.12.2019 at 11:59 Reply

    For me…. Children…. And moving forward…. Take care of yourself❤

  • Liz Hall

    23.12.2019 at 12:01 Reply

    My mantra comes in the form of a question. What do I want. I have lived to make others happy or to follow their rules and only recently started feeling comfortable to ask , answer and act on that answered. Honesty of and to myself are building and I find more contentment in my daily life.

    Wow. That’s deep. Thanks for sharing yourself with us Keely. I enjoy learning about all the layers of you.

  • Shawndalynn

    23.12.2019 at 12:06 Reply

    “Life is change” it is easy to forget that for me because I change so slowly, but I do change and grow over the last decade I feel like I have finally made peace with myself and accepted without shame the odd ball parts of me. Going forward my goal is to learn how to better take care of myself and those around me so for this new decade “change is growth.”

  • Summer Lee

    23.12.2019 at 12:30 Reply

    Summing up the last decade in a few words, I would have to say harrowing, thrilling, scary, and beautiful. My mantra for the next decade is exploration. The world is so full of mystery – I want to get out there and find magic anywhere I can.

  • Jo Jankowski

    23.12.2019 at 13:28 Reply

    This past decade has been about learning and personal growth for me. My mantra for the new decade will be to accept and embrace change. “The only constant in life is change”-Heraclitus.

  • Becca B

    23.12.2019 at 13:49 Reply

    This past decade has been Babies…. my youngest is now 4 and I am now sleeping through the nights again. Mantra for the new year is make, create and learn, for the whole family.

  • Melissa

    23.12.2019 at 14:15 Reply

    The last ten years have left me with two moves into states that I have never lived. I am learning to trust God , even when I don’t understand the reason. With time, I look back and everything makes sense. I feel like my acceptance with God’s choices has helped me to grow as a Christian. So words for me are “trust” and “continual growth.”

  • Nina WVZ

    23.12.2019 at 20:58 Reply

    I would have to describe the past decade as a time of discovery, growth, and more growth. In our household, that includes physical, intellectual, mental, ethereal, hahaha.
    My goal is to move forward and be fit and flexible, in all the ways I just mentioned. I figure that will give me the wherewithal to do anything I want!

  • Ellen McKenzie

    23.12.2019 at 21:42 Reply

    Ok…I’m back… last decade was tough but as it comes to a close I think “Grateful” (there’s good in everything) is the best way to describe it. Especially grateful to have a voice again and for the dr who made it so.

    Next decade—“Travel More”. Life is short so enjoy the ride!

  • Patricia Riden

    23.12.2019 at 21:53 Reply

    Life is messy. That’s what makes it so wonderful. Since I retired in 2009, I’ve found the rebel within , and I’m not afraid to say what I believe. I think my favorite quote /mantra from this past decade comes from the words of Leonard Cohen: “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

  • Anita Roesler

    23.12.2019 at 22:11 Reply

    This last decade included the caretaking of and losing my husband to Younger Onset Alzheimer’s disease. It was an emotional, physical, and financial roller coaster on a daily basis. I then had to learn how to live alone and start over. But I did it. I’ve married again and am happy. My mantra was: God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year or decade!!

  • Amber Ketchum

    23.12.2019 at 22:44 Reply

    I have learned how tough life is but I am so much tougher! I’ve lost my mom is this last decade, had my own son and then went through a long break up. I’ve ended the decade so much happier raising my son by myself. I am continuing into the new year reminding myself I AM ENOUGH!

  • Elise N.

    23.12.2019 at 23:28 Reply

    Past decade: Adulting, marriage, adventure, strugglebus, new leaf.

    Mantra: Don’t lose sight of those dreams and just keep swimming.

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