#DyeingToLive Stories From Our Community

#dyeingtolive feed

#DyeingtoLive is about the daily choices we make to lay the fears, failures and disappointments of life down, in order to rise up and find new freedom. For many of us this is a combination of walking through big challenges that take months or years to process, along with the small daily hurdles that require practice to confront so that we can move forward.

AMMA has had it’s fair share of #DyeingtoLive moments, some of which we will post on this feed over the coming weeks. We are excited to open up this space for our community to encourage, build-up and relate to each other during this uncertain time. If you would like to contribute you can post your story here.

#DyeingtoLive Story 7: Bella

Little mistakes. A chink in your chain. A stone on the pile. I used to think proficiency was a permanent state, that once achieved went unchanged. That professionalism was like an object which, if attained, you unflinchingly possessed. Childhood and youth, schooling and training, naturally feel like preparation; adulthood is a summit to reach to and once you get there- you’re complete! But I am here and I’m full of holes.

When the pressure is on and you need to practice your skills in a working environment, some days it doesn’t go to plan. When I started out working, I made so many little mistakes- each one a chink in my chain that hurt my pride- wrong thread, iron too hot, unpicked the wrong bit, haven’t allowed enough fabric…Every failure was a little stone I added to the pile of previous mistakes sitting in the back of my mind, casting a shadow of doubt and making me question, will I ever be good enough at this?

But worrying doesn’t get the dress put back together, so you troop on. Along the way, with every knock down, you get a bit hardier, a bit more persistent and patient too. Realising that while we can become more proficient and professional, we will also always make mistakes. Capability and confidence are constantly in flux and the struggle is never over.

So prepare to dig deep on the hard days and fly on the good days. Sometimes the fire goes out, but prodding, poking and willing it back to life only makes it more exciting when you finally see the flames.

#DyeingtoLive Story 6: Izzy

I have always thrived in being busy, being reliable and being in control of my day to day. So unfortunately, when I got ill in the summer of 2018, I found myself having to make tough decisions which made me compromise my values and what I had based my identity in. The immediate consequences were taking time off work and cancelling a holiday which had been planned for months. While I recovered from the worst of it within about a month, it continued to linger on for the next three months. I was at the beginning of my second year at university and I had to keep a strict eye on what I ate, how late my nights were and how many social events I could handle in a week.

This made me feel frustrated and exhausted as I was struggling to see when I would ever be at full health again. However, I took this as an opportunity to evaluate where I had been placing my self-worth. I began seeing it as a chance for me to slow down, learn how to be self-compassionate and be grateful for all the things I did have in my life. No matter how big or small. 

Now that I am back to full health, I continue to maintain that mindset. I text a friend at the end of each day saying what I am thankful for. I remember to slow down and take time over each task. And I remember to care of my mind, body and soul. 


#DyeingtoLive Story 5: Sasha

For much of my life, I felt that the world consisted of this square, rigid grid that my soul did not fit into. It’s only in recent years, through environmental activism and a dedication to the activities that bring me joy, that I have started reshaping this imagined, constricting gird and the lines of my life. I have always felt the heavy pressure of doing what is considered to be safe and practical, and I am proud that I invested myself in a “sensible” path that challenged me substantially in ways that were foreign to my brain. This has given me a valuable skills—from business sense to an appreciation for the hard work of the mundane—and a savings account I can put to use to jumpstart my new life.  

But for my well being, to ease the unrest in my soul, I also had to learn to take responsibility for my true wishes, passions, and intuitions. It’s remarkable how much the fear of disappointing others can crumble us, and how much their support can give us strength and inner-peace. I have found that obtaining that support takes patience, time, compassion, and empathy towards yourself and those that don’t believe in what you’re doing and why you are doing it, and even then you just might not get it and that’s ok. I have relied significantly on the positive reinforcement of anyone who could give me good, honest feedback and inspiration, from close friends to distant motivational speakers. 

After applying for and receiving a grant that would enable me to test an alternative career path I felt I was able to leave my good and comfortable full time job, to pursue my passion for the environment, textiles, and artistic expression.

I have taken a risk and pressed the reset button on my career, at 32 years old I’m learning to crawl again. Just as I was beginning a wonderful natural dye research apprenticeship at AMMA, COVID-19 forced me to leave Sri Lanka and return home to the U.S.A, where I continue my creative efforts and natural dye research. It’s terrifying and disorienting to be without a prescribed path, and I have to stay focused on looking ahead and proactively engage with others who are creating a network of sustainable textile projects and businesses. I realize now that through my activism and the quest for joy and courage, I have cultivated a deep sense of belonging in my body, in my community, on this planet, and in my lifetime. This conviction that my ideas and intuitions have a role in our society is critical in keeping me moving forward. 

#DyeingtoLive Story 4: Kate

I have four wonderful children, but 3 years ago my youngest, quite suddenly, became very anxious, and couldn’t attend school. I had always been very involved in the school-helping in the class, going on trips, helping with art projects etc, but now I couldn’t even get my child in his uniform and into school! I felt a failure! After many tests and explorations into his anxiety-many of which I had to fight for, we discovered he had some health problems and learning issues, which meant school was very difficult for him in numerous ways. Three years later, he is at a place with the right support and actually enjoys school! I have had to fight for this support which has been really tough at times, but our children are worth it! If you’re in a battle, don’t give up!

#DyeingtoLive Story 3: Libby

At the time of finishing my A-levels I was well set up for the next stage of my life; university in Exeter. I’d visited, fallen in love with the place and the course, and already knew of a community of people like me who I got on with and looked up to. What I wasn’t ready for was not getting the right grades, and when this happened, I realised how much of my decision making had been based on being so close to Bristol, the city my boyfriend was going to university.

I had to decide: resit, or consider my other options. I chose the uncomfortable option and ended up enrolling at the University of Aberdeen, on a course that far better suited me, walking distance from a surfing beach and with access to some of the UK’s best mountaineering. Letting go of the comfort of familiarity has put me in a place I can fully enjoy being and opened so many opportunities for me that I would not have had, if I’d not given up the dream of going to Exeter.


#DyeingtoLive Story 2: Josie

My sense of self has always been strongly linked to my purpose. So when outside circumstances meant that both my personal life and professional life took a hit at the same time, I found myself diving down into a pit of grief that I hadn't felt before. I had to come to terms with my purpose in multiple areas of my life being silenced due to other peoples actions. This made me feel both angry and helpless. I knew that grief passed in stages and that the more vulnerable I was to realising my feelings the quicker it would pass. I started to make decisions around the areas of my life that I did still have control over, like my personal well being, where I lived and what activities brought me joy. I travelled through Vietnam by myself and made the decision to move to New Zealand and apply for a Fellowship program. 

I am still processing the grief around my personal life, but I feel happier and more me than ever before. My professional life… AMMA… made it through that particular challenge, only to be confronted by a new one - Coronavirus. The difference now is that I’m not scared of AMMA failing because my sense of purpose will take a hit, I know that I will use the strength I’ve gained from founding AMMA and take it to my next project. I’m fierce for AMMA to succeed because it is a positive example of transformation in the world and I don’t believe it’s time is over.

#DyeingtoLive Story 1: AMMA

I feel like I’m becoming more resilient to uncertainty by the day and this strength comes from my team of women who face and overcome adversity on a daily basis. If a business is built on the shoulders of the people it employs, then I have a very strong foundation. I’ve watched as my women arrive, hang up their bags and share thoughts and feelings about the day ahead. I’ve cried as my women have had to navigate loss, illness and prejudice and I’ve found comfort in the knowledge that they are all in this together and not alone. I’ve celebrated when my Rosie could get electricity in her home for the first time because I could pay her a fair salary. I’ve been stunned to hear that Kogila doesn’t need to rely on medication anymore to support her mental health, and that the environment I provide lifts her spirits and brings her peace. Like one body we move over and under the waves of life, we swerve past the shark, sometimes ending up on the rocks. I think of myself as a living organism, not just a business. An organism that can unite women from different villages, open their minds for learning and occupy their hands with precious work. Calling myself a business is too sterile for my emotive resilience.