24 June 2008

Creative Play

June has been an overloaded month. Professional commitments, following one after the other, have kept me hopping. The month is drawing to a close and I am exhausted. I have a few more days and then I have two blessed weeks off.

Knowing the craziness of my schedule, I have been practicing all the time management and healthy living skills I know. I've been eating well, exercising, scheduling some quiet time to laze about, asking for help, and temporarily dropping my standards. But on Sunday, I learned something new: that time for creative play--even in the midst of a hectic schedule--can provide an energy boost.

Sunday was a very scattered day. I slept in (until 10:00 a.m.!), ate, got dressed, and completed various chores. I planned my day around watching the Spain/Italy quarterfinal at 2:45 p.m. (Hey! No matter how busy I am, I must have my weekly footie allotment.) After extra time and penalty kicks, which Spain won (Viva Espana!), I headed back upstairs, feeling like a slug after having not really moved from the couch for the duration of the game.

I sat around in my sluggish state waiting for a late dinner because neither of us were hungry. Then I had a Thought! (Given my mental and physical exhaustion, having a Thought! was momentous.) Why not go play in my studio?

So I headed to my studio with the intent to play. That meant that projects currently in progress were verboten. I wasn't to finish anything or even start anything with an intention of finishing it. Instead, I was just to find simple pleasure in cutting up fabric and sewing it together.

I paged through books and riffled through my stash hoping to find something fun, easy, and inspirational. And then I found a bag containing my play project from a couple years ago. My plan was to make various freeform quilt parts and then figure out how they would go together. I didn't get very far before I packaged it up, but one thing I did have was a pile of precut fabric strips in copper and teal and plum and moss and taupes. I pulled out the strips and began sewing them together.

I sewed them together using varying seam allowances for a free-form look and created this little strip set before dinner. But, more importantly, as I went upstairs to chop veggies for salad, I felt more energized and excited than I had all day. (Well, not including the excitement I felt when Spain won!)

This was a revelation to me. Usually when I'm busy I don't make time to sew or play. My assumption is that my creative energy lies dormant during busy times. Instead, I learned that it is there, beneath the surface, ready to be tapped.

I have a few more busy days ahead of me. If I have time, I'll play a little more with this project. If not, that's okay too. But I'll try to remember during future busy stretches that creative play can be energizing, even when I think I'm too exhausted.

19 June 2008

Permission to Laze About Granted

I've taken this morning off because June's crazy schedule is beginning to wear on me. My upper back is tense, my nerves are a bit jangled, and my patience is wearing thin. This morning I told my cat to stop looking at me. So a morning off is welcome. And probably necessary.

My plan was to spend the morning puttering in my studio, maybe quilting or perhaps stitching a binding, and to also take care of a few home tasks, like menu planning and laundry. But here it is 10:00 a.m. and I am still sitting on the recliner with my laptop. Earlier I crawled back into bed and read a magazine cover-to-cover. The most ambitious thing I've done today is make oatmeal. Oh yeah, I ate it too.

So my plan to be productive in my studio and kitchen crashed up against the reality that I'm just too tired and need to sit. In the past, this would cause much angst and self-denigration. "Oh, I'm so lazy and I'll never accomplish anything. Blah blah blah."

But as I've sat today and quietly observed my thoughts and emotions, I realized that lazing about was exactly what I needed to do at this particular moment. Lazing about today doesn't mean that I will laze about tomorrow. It doesn't even mean I'm lazy. All it means is that I'm tired and need to sit right now.

So here I sit.

15 June 2008


Things happen in life that throw you off balance. And sometimes it takes longer to regain equilibrium than you imagined. This is a blog entry I've been meaning to write for a while, but I have been putting it off (which is ironic, given the point of the entry, as you'll soon read.)

In February, my mother called to tell me that my Aunt Linda recently discovered a lump in her breast and would need a biopsy. Almost immediately, a little voice in my head said, You should make her a quilt. We talked some more and I asked her to keep me informed.

Over the next month, that little voice regularly reminded me that You need to make Linda a quilt to let her know how much you care for her.

Linda's biopsy was scheduled for April 14th. The little voice in my head was insistent, You should make her a quilt and give it to her before her biopsy.

My mother scheduled a trip to visit us early in April. That was the extra encouragement I needed to finish it. Earlier I had decided that Linda would love a top I had that just needed quilting. It was bright and happy with lots of purple (her favorite color) and hand-appliqued stars. I had a piece of tie-dyed Minkee that would make a cozy backing. I added batting so it would be nice and warm.

Two days before my mother was to arrive I basted, quilted, and bound it. I sent it home with my mother packaged in a gift bag. The little voice in my head was happy and quiet.

My mother called me the next day to let me know Linda was touched and loved the quilt and that I would be hearing from her soon. A couple days later I talked with Linda for a bit. She was feeling fine and really appreciated the quilt.

Linda's biopsy was scheduled for April 14th. That evening, I called my mother to ask how it went. She said it went well and that they would get the results in a few days. I told her to let Linda know I was thinking of her.

On April 15th, I received a phone call from my mother. Linda had suffered a massive heart attack. She was only 55. She left behind two sons, Davy and Adam, and three grandchildren, Davy, Aria, and Josef.

On her bureau they found her last correspondence--an unmailed thank-you note for the quilt.