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Not to give up

The day the world changed.

My creative inspiration has been a little lacking lately. I can’t tell you the last time I powered up my sewing machine. Luckily, I always have meditative hand-stitching and knitting to work on.

The world seems heavy some days, but I’ve been collecting ideas. I’m starting to create again.

As a creative, I think it’s ok to expect times like this. Some days you need to collect ideas and process what you’re feeling. We need to ask ourselves, do I interpret what I’m thinking into art or go for a walk?

As a young person, I was never very athletic. No one encouraged that in me. I was always the last to be picked when teams were selected in gym class. However, I always had my art and my creativity was my asset.

Last month I took this photo on top of Hogback Mountain, MI. We hiked to the summit, a steep 1.5 mile walk up with a 564 foot elevation gain. As we neared the summit, I almost gave up because I didn’t realize how close we were to the top. Just a few more steps and we were above the trees. I had to conquer my age old fear of falling, but I made it. There in the horizon stretched “gichi-gami” (Gitche-Gummee), aka Lake Superior. I made it. However, later that day I heard news that rocked my core beliefs. Now, it has me questioning everything.

I’m home now and sifting through my photos, trying to decide what I’ll create next. I can look at this image and see many things. This day hike reminds me so much of my lifelong journey.  I see the luck I’ve had with my health and my determination to stay strong. I see beauty in nature which inspires my creativity and peace that comes from walking among the trees. There’s also a determination to fight for what I believe in and my stubbornness not to give up.

Inspire your creativity

For me creativity also means curiosity. I’m very curious about things. I love exploring a new area and learn about its history. When I go out of town, I don’t want to go to the same old chain restaurants that are dotted along the interstates. I want to eat what the locals eat.

I also like exploring the geographic regions and the local towns. I get inspired by these things. Maybe I won’t be creating new art specific to what I saw…but I do come back with ideas. And, of course photographs.

This year I planted a “wild flower” garden behind a retaining wall along our driveway. This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. Every few days I stop and look at what’s happening with it. Early in the summer, the bunnies visited trying to eat the new seedlings I planted. Now that the flowers are maturing, some of the flowers are going to seed. So its the goldfinches who are coming to play and of course the bees visit too. I could watch for hours. Of course, I’m documenting with my camera.

I’m curious what will happen next. After my morning walks its always a pleasure to stop and take a moment to just be present. See. Document the changes. Its truly inspiring me. This little “experiment” has my curiosity going and it will definitely generate new art. The ideas are flowing.

What makes you curious? Does this curiosity inspire your creativity?

Magic to enjoy

I’m currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic.” I love reading these creative self-help books because it reminds me to let go. As you may know, I’m a long time, self-proclaimed, recovering perfectionist. There was a time when my perfectionistic behavior stopped me from doing. I even gave up quilting once, because “she” sat on my shoulder too long, nagging me. She’s still there sometimes, swinging her feet enjoying the view. I try not to let her get to me, but I sometimes I still hear her.

So I found it interesting to read Gilbert’s chapter called “Fear in High Heels.” Ouch, this struck close to the nerve. She writes that perfectionism is just fear. So very spot on. I have had these nagging dialogs in my head:

“what will they think?”
“what if I do it wrong?”
“what if I make a typo?”
“what if they don’t like it?”
“what if my stitches are crooked?”…what if, what if…
Rinse and repeat. Yah, stop, … so what!

I know, some days, easier said than done. Why didn’t I realize this was fear talking? When these thoughts start swirling around the drain or I edit my written words for the 500th time (note: I’ve been doing a lot of this the last couple weeks), there’s really just a little kid inside who fears going to the principle’s office. What she really should be doing is sitting there swinging her feet with a big grin, enjoying the magic that’s happening around her. There really is so much magic to enjoy.

Faux-Float Frames

I received good news in my email today…I was notified that an article I wrote for Quilting Arts Magazine will be in their Summer edition and on newsstands June 14th, 2022.

Over the last few years, I’ve had a number of people asked me how I frame my smaller quilts. I explain it in this article called “Faux-Float Frames for Art Quilts” and now you can read all about my process.

If you don’t have a subscription or local newsstand that carries Quilting Arts Magazine, you can order it here (available mid-June) https://www.quiltingdaily.com/product-category/magazines-ebooks/quilting-arts/

If you read the article, please let me know what you think.

Enjoy!

 

What shall I call it?

Lately, my heart has been feeling heavy. There’s too much uncertainty and chaos in the world. Most of the worries are out of my control. I know I just have to be patient and watch it all play out.

So I step away from the news to find some peace. That’s what I’m trying to do anyway. My ever present comfort is the bird feeder in my backyard. I can see if from every window on the backside of my house.

I’ve been observing the summer birds arriving and hanging out again. They’ve been away for awhile. The red-headed woodpecker is back. And this morning, I saw a male and female pair of summer tanagers. The indigo bunting was here this week too. And, oh yes, the sweetness…this season’s first bluebird nestlings are almost fledged (ready to fly).

This is where to focus when you’re heart gets heavy. Stop, listen, and watch  the birds. Maybe even be inspired to make a new quilt. What shall I call it?

Fulfilling rewards

This morning I was listening to Macy Gray on a podcast. She said she caught her ideas for her songs when God and angels threw them at her. This isn’t as novel or “out there” as it may seem.  In “Big Magic,” Elizabeth Gilbert says basically the same thing, as does Phil Cousineau in his book “Stoking the Creative Fires.” (note: both books are good reads)

I find the concept fascinating. They’re all basically saying that there are moments when a creative idea comes to you. You can grab it and run with it…or let it pass. Gilbert goes as far to say if you let it pass, the idea might get tossed to someone else. I’ve had moments of “Oh wow! What if I do this?” I find it fascinating.

Creativity isn’t just about making a work of art. Creative expression could be starting a new business or non-profit, deciding to take a trip, inviting friends to start a support group or book club, coming up with an idea to teach a class, or… well you get the idea. The challenge is acting on the inspiration.

I come up with a lot of ideas, but grabbing them and acting on them is a different story. Reading these 2 books and, today, listening to Ms. Gray, I realized you can’t act on everything. You can easily forget an idea if you’re busy with something else or don’t write it down. Maybe you need time to percolate the reality of this creative spark. Maybe it was just an idea that passed by you, but was meant for someone else. If the idea is meant for you, hopefully it will return when you’re ready and bless you with many fulfilling rewards.

 

Back at you

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “beach person,” but I do love the beach. I don’t like the beaches that are crowded with people. I like walking the beach early in the morning or in cold months when no one else wants to be there. I had some time this past week to stroll barefoot in the sand and I kept running into great blue herons. This one stood still along the coast and pretended not to notice me. I was acting like a Frozen Charlotte and I knew he was watching me. Whenever I made the slightest move, his gaze would change or his body would move to reposition. It was a stand-off of mutual respect.

Had I been with other people, I know this encounter wouldn’t have happened. They likely wouldn’t have been so patient or quiet in waiting. Watching. It was magic. I watched how they interacted with people and tried to survive with the 2-legged trespassers. I watched how they adapted their feeding, as they attempted to steal the fish reeled in by the people fishing the surf. No longer the independent hunter, just a well-adapted opportunistic thief. I walked away emotionally changed.

I knew in just a few hours of my walk, things would be different for them. Instead of an occasional morning walker, they would deal with a steady stream of people passing up and down the coastal sand. They did what they could to survive. One stolen fish at a time.

This is were creative inspiration comes from; Stopping. Observing. Witnessing life around you. Take the time to slow down. The inspiration will probably be there looking right back at you.

 

 

Slow time

I’m feeling a whole lot of emotions right now. Yesterday felt like a trying day and there’s a lot going on today too. Some things are in my control, but there’s a whole lot that’s not. On days like this I feel like I’m falling behind. But, I know I’ll get done what I needs to get done. Some days it looks like the list will be cleared and I’ll get some time off. And then out of nowhere there’s another thing added to the list.

The list will always be there. It never ends (well, at least not until we end anyway). There’s always something that needs attention. Its just a matter of prioritizing and being patient with yourself. Time seems fleeting and we keep grasping. If we stop in the moment, it makes a difference. So…

  • Stop.
  • Take notice.
  • Listen.
  • Focus on what you see.
  • Can you feel yourself breathe?

And,… that’s how you slow time.

Allow space for things to happen

The past few months, I’ve been working in front of my computer. At times, it felt like slow movements; a nagging … “get it done, get it done.” At the same time, I was reading books and paying attention to how I felt. My feelings were: why the hurry? Give it time. Don’t rush it.

“Don’t rush anything. When the time is right, it’ll happen.” – Anonymous

I’ve been trying to give myself space. I didn’t make my mental deadlines public, because I wanted to work in a comfortable way (yes, those deadlines kept changing). I didn’t want the added burden of external expectations. I’ve done that before and failed. Creativity isn’t a place to rush. However, it is a place to attend to.

I could have literally spent 8-10 hours a day working on producing my next online class. Instead I gave it time to process. Since the time I started working on this (yes, its been awhile), I’ve run into technical and software issues. And, the online hosting platform I was using announced they were shutting down. (Stop. Re-group. Time to go down a rabbit hole of research.) Disappointment and hurdles can slow you down.

I didn’t give up though. I just gave myself patience and space. If it is meant to be, it will be. Breathe.

There have been times that I pushed myself to perform and found my health was affected by it. I’m older and don’t want to live like that. I think many people are feeling this way. Covid gave us all a time to really slow down. Now as things are returning to normal, many of us don’t want to go back to our old ways. It’s Ok. Its actually healthy to step off the treadmill and meditate.

Above all, it is important to be aware of how you feel toward what you are doing. Step back, check in, and reflect. Is it important to you? If yes, take time for it. If no, then let it go. Along the way, remember to be kind to yourself. It’s ok to allow space for things to happen.

Take me back home

There are those of us whose passion for creativity is deep. I, for one, cannot remember a time in my life when I was not creating “something.” Over the years, my path has changed course many times. But, there was always some creative passion following with me on the journey.

I frequently get pulled toward new adventures. Yet, sometimes the path doesn’t feel right. I can feel out of balance. Other times, I can’t even pin point what it is. What I know is, I’m off course. I’ve taken a wrong turn.

I’m realizing this is normal. We all have winding paths. Yet, maybe the path isn’t winding enough, so we feel stagnant. To me, the uneasiness means I’ve lost my way. When this happens, its important to reflect on what brings me joy. I ask, what is missing in my life? I usually find that my creative spirit is being ignored. Then, I must look to the light to take me back home.