Hello! I’m Sarah and I am Functional Rustic.

Join me as I build the life I want for myself with what I have in front me.

Gladys and Sarah
Sarah with Gladys the Bronze Turkey of Functional Rustic

In 2017 I moved to the small town of Dryden, MI. Here in Dryden we “Serve Our Friendliness Country Style.”  I LOVE it. Too far away to have food delivered but a drive into town consisting of stunning dirt roads and majestic farms. Beauty and wildlife abound and on any given day there is certain to be a barn sale at which to explore.

The opportunity to move to the country and start my Happily Ever After occurred at a time in my life when I was making major life changes. Most notable of these changes was leaving my career as a clinical social worker. I loved the work and the clients but the emotional toll the job took on me was too much. I burned out.

Being a social worker is more than a degree or a job title – its a way of life. So, when I left the career of social work I made sure my next career embodied the same principles that guided me as a social worker. What I came up with is Functional Rustic.

If I’m being honest, Functional Rustic is really just a collection of my coping skills. I have anxiety. I cope with trauma. I manage grief. I live with depressive symptoms. I have chronic pain. The strategies I implement to live the life I always wanted are physically manifested on the pages of this website.

Pallet Palmer Park
The Functional Rustic Barn and the pallet that inspired the dream.

I was overwhelmed by the stress of selling/buying a house, actually moving and coming to terms with the fact that I left a career without any clue as to what I would do next. Fortunately, the new house came with a barn and some wooden shipping pallets. To cope with the stress of the move, life etc. I began building things out of the pallets; signs, book cases, tables and candle holders.

I was simply building them to see if I could. Apparently I could. Ha.

It was truly empowering to complete a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project on my own. I don’t consider myself to be artsy, crafty or particularly creative but, I was able to create something out of nothing. I repurposed something that was once considered battered and broken into something beautiful and functional.

Repurposing something that was once considered battered and broken into something beautiful and functional is basically the job description of a social worker. As a social worker I worked in a psychiatric hospital, a community mental health clinic, a jail and numerous addiction treatment programs. All of those jobs required me to meet an individual during one of their most painful periods in their life and help them cope with their situation and recognize their potential in order that they may live the life they want with the resources available to them.

I was having fun creating new things and soon had a barn full of home decor and no actual plan for the future.  My time spent building in the barn helped me cope with the stress of life.  I was empowered by my new skills and wanted to teach them to others to inspire them to create their own projects. As I was realizing this new life path, someone suggested I could actually sell the crafts I built. In that moment the concept for Functional Rustic was born.

As my background is in clinical social work and not business, I have no idea how to start or run my own business. I knew I wanted to teach people DIY projects so that they too could experience that empowering feeling of accomplishing something too and hopefully be inspired to make other positive changes in their life.

Most importantly, I wanted to make certain that this chapter of my life focuses on taking care of myself – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

I Started My Own Business and I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

In my minds-eye I can see the empire that Functional Rustic will become and all of the lives that will be positively influenced by its message. Being able to envision my goal is great but, achieving that goal involves a lot of trial and error. Mostly error. Ha. With each new set back my confidence plummeted. However, in those darkest days of despair I learned how best I could teach others to cope with the realities of making their own life changes.

Share my own story.

Not my past – my present. My current story. When I searched the internet for guidance and support on how to start my business all I found were successful people recalling what it was like at the beginning. Instead of waiting until I am successful and offering platitudes of how hard it was when I was starting out – I am documenting my lessons and strategies as they happen.

Yeah, part of that documenting involves sharing my actual business strategies (thousands per month to the website and millions to Pinterest!) but mostly it is how I deal with the emotional aspects of starting a business. I share how I cope with the doubt, the negative thoughts and the bad habits I’ve learned over the years that prevent me from achieving my goals.

Like I said before, every part of this website is a coping skill for me.

  • Repurposing / salvaging items makes me feel empowered
  • Writing tutorials each week enables me to learn something new every week
  • Sharing tutorials each week gives me the opportunity to provide someone with the chance to feel empowered too
  • Collecting quotes encourages, motivates and inspires me when I have doubts/fears
  • Sharing quotes daily provides me with much needed structure in my life AND gives me the opportunity to brighten someone else’s day with kind words
  • Filming & photographing nature every single day forces me to literally take a break and appreciate the beauty around me
  • Sharing my daily photos/videos allows others to experience the overwhelming power that comes with spending time in nature
  • Caring for the ducks provides me with purpose, structure and hours of pure joy
  • Sharing duck photos/videos/stores enables me to teach others about Muscovy ducks, their care and the profound life lessons they can teach us all
  • Blogging about my stressors forces me to be mindful of what is happening around me and how it impacts me
  • Knowing I will be sharing my coping skills in specific times of stress forces me to actively seek out and understand possible coping strategies
  • Sharing my coping strategies provides me the opportunity to use my real life scenarios to demonstrate to others effective and healthy approaches to mental illness

Thanks for taking the time to read my story and learn about Functional Rustic.


Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

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