Embroidery Journaling: How I Select Icons for Bad Days

When it comes to embroidering an icon a day on your embroidery journal, you almost expect to have nothing but great days, right? But that’s not always the case, what happens when you have some bad days that you have to sum up into an icon for your embroidery journal? After embroidering iiver 1,000 icons over the past three years, I’ve experience a bad day or two. Let me take you through my thought process.

Bad News

In all honesty, there isn’t a way to prepare for this. You have to take each day as it comes. For example, in 2021, I was on the receiving end of some bad news one morning. Queue me crying for half the day, calling out of work, and going to the grocery store and buying a ton of gummy candies (It’s what I needed in the moment, don’t judge). It took me a few days to figure out what to stitch on my embroidery journal that day, but all I could think about was the shear amount of disbelief that I was feeling. So that’s what I stitched; the word “DISBELIEF” was added to my embroidery journal in a bold orange thread.

Trouble at Work

In October of 2020 I was driving to my job as a housekeeping manager and could see smoke in the hills of Irvine, California. It turns out that a wildfire had broken out in the area which led to one of my most stressful days of my entire career. I ended up cleaning rooms for most of the day after some of my team had to evacuate their homes. The evacuation zone had ended about a quarter mile away from our hotel. Throughout the day, there was not only the stress of having enough clean rooms to support the evacuees, but also the worry of having to evacuate our own hotel and all of our guests. Luckily it didn’t come to that, but it was still an incredibly stressful day.

Now hopefully you don’t have any days that come as close to the amount of stress that I felt on that particular day. For that day, I chose to embroider the phrase, “this is fine”. You know, from this popular meme?


In the second half of 2020, I was diagnosed with a bone infection in my foot. Needless to say, I was worried about my health. My doctor played off the seriousness somewhat in order to calm my nerves. It wasn’t until months later that she told me she was genuinely worried about me losing a toe. Don’t worry, I still have all 10.

The treatment for a bone infection was taxing on me. It involved getting tubing inserted into my arm (called a PICC line) to allow for IV antibiotics. We started with two treatments per day which I gave to myself, then it was upped to three doses per day, as close to every 8 hours as possible. Each treatment took about an hour. This lasted for a month. It was exhausting, I pretty much did nothing but focus on my health throughout this period. Then there were of course weekly blood tests, X-Rays, and so many more other tests.

When it came to adding icons to my embroidery journal for this period, I ended up with an entire cluster on medical themed icons. When you’re just sitting around doing nothing but watching TV and giving yourself IV antibiotics, you end up with some pretty boring icons.

I am lucky enough to have not experienced anything too upsetting, such as a death in the family. It’s not something that you can really plan for, so it’s not something I try to think about.

Overall though, I’ve found it best not to plan for what to stitch on the bad days. I prefer to give myself time to come to terms with the situation and then figure out an icon. Just remember, the good days will hopefully outweigh the bad ones. I can count on both hands the amount of truly bad days that I’ve had to embroider over the past few years of keeping n embroidery journal, but there have been so many more amazing days to embroider. The bad days are completely outnumbered from my perspective.

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