Mark 12: 30 & 31
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
This one has been in my draft folder for quite a while. Sitting here waiting for the right moment and the right words. Years ago my mother-in-law told me about a book she read about the art of selfishness. A couple of weeks ago I found the book while in the process of making space for my sister to come stay with us for a while. The point of the book, her point is to make time for yourself so that giving time to others is possible. There are all kinds of analogies that I can come up with and the new testament is full of examples of being prepared. And taking time to be refreshed and renewed.
Side note: I did learn something this trip about being prepared. As a general rule I leave a few things at home that I need to remember to bring with me. Sometimes things happen, like blizzards, that will prevent me from getting home at the scheduled time. Having things like shampoo, not trashing my toothbrush until I get home, extra clean clothes etc. will make travel so much easier. It’s definitely time to get newer luggage.
Every time I teach quilting I learn something new or something is reinforced that I already knew. One thing that is totally reinforced is that we as quilters must give ourselves permission to 1) play; 2) explore and experiment and make mistakes and 3) understand that for most of us, all of us really quilting is fun. Let’s look at these:
When quilting isn’t fun anymore, when quilting is no longer a place to be refreshed and renewed and recharged it’s perhaps time to rethink what we’re doing. I don’t mean that it’s always going to be fun and easy, particularly when we’re in the process of learning a new technique. Even when we’re struggling a bit quilting should leave us wanting more. Teasing us with the promise of something delightful and refreshing.
If you’re not having fun take a break and figure out what’s working and not working. Take time to look through your fabrics and see what speaks to your heart in this moment, and your thread and magazines and books and seek out inspiration. It might come from a totally unexpected place.
Explore and experiment and make mistakes
Exploring and experimenting and making mistakes is just part of the process of learning how to play with our quilts. I think, no I know we need to relearn how to play. As teenagers and adults we learn how to be serious. And to a great degree we need to be serious. We’re adults we need to take care of things.
When we give ourselves to explore and experiment and make mistakes, particularly in our quilt making we are taking the opportunity to learn how to problem solve. This is crucial. The giving permission part. When we’re free to make mistakes we’re not as bothered and obsessed when they happen.
Here’s an example: I made a lot of mistakes through the process of making When Alex and Jinny met in NY, Beauty Happened. Learning how to paper piece, to essentially think upside down and backwards, I cut the wrong piece of fabric more than 10 times, I left my stitch length too long compromising my seams and making the paper unbearably hard to tear, I walked out of the sewing room on more than one occasion knowing with all certainty that I would never go back in there. And yet the desire to finish, the desire to see what this would look like when it was done drew me back in. The quilt was finished, it won an award and I still love it. The story behind the quilt means more to me. I see the process, I see what I learned. I see how this quilt brought me to “the next level” in this quilting adventure.
This is the hardest part of all. Playing. I know that for a long period of time quilting was not play time. I’d go in there and try to be about serious business. And while that’s good I lost sight of why I wanted to quilt. It’s fun. Making quilts is fun. Looking at and fondling fabric and thread is fun. Getting inspiration from the books I have in my sewing room is fun. FUN. Looking at and playing with thread is fun. It’s playtime. PLAY time. Come play with me in my sandbox or quilt room as it were. Play. Have fun.
Play time rejuvenates and feeds our souls. It fills us up so we have something to offer, something to give. It’s a spark that starts small and grows and becomes something more than we ever thought.
Play with fabric see what it can do for you. Play with reckless wild abandon. take a look at the colors that speak to you and let them begin giggling.
I love teaching, it’s hard work to be sure but watching my students faces as they get something is amazing. There’s a little drop of oil for my lamp. It fills me up. It gives me more. I teach to help my students learn to play again, to explore and find their own quilterly path. I teach for that little drop of grace that I am meant to share.
Go be refreshed and renewed. Love your self enough to love others well.