Tink, tink, tink…… Hello? Is anyone out there. My goodness, it’s been a long time since I last posted here and my blog is sadly out of date. Sigh. Somehow that nasty thief called TIME has gotten away from me. Yet again. I’ve spent so many nights drifting off to sleep thinking I would update my blog first thing the next morning. I’d wake up thinking the same thing; except the hustle and bustle of the day would quickly sneak in and distract me from the intention at hand. (And I know you know where the road paved with good intentions leads.) So rather than rehash the past couple of months of 2014, I think it is much better to start the new year on a fresh note and move forward from here. Even though there was plenty to be grateful for in abundance last year, there were also many hardships I’d rather not dwell on. Some things are just better left in the past. Don’t you agree?
At this very moment as I’m writing this, I’m flying at 38,000 feet somewhere over the Midwest on my way back to the mid-Atlantic to go home. I’ve just spent a fabulous week at Road2CA in Ontario, California, where I had the extreme privilege to judge the quilt contest with two other amazing judges. The quilts, oh the quilts! They were amazing! Beautiful! Extraordinary! The caliber of the executed skills was enough to literally take your breath away. Following two long but wonderful days of judging, I had the privilege to teach four completely sold-out classes of over a 100 students who inspired me with their talent and willingness to step out of their “box” and try new techniques and learn new things. They cut. They sewed. We talked. Shared. Laughed lots. And I listened. Listened to their stories. Listened to their questions. And helped them solve quilting issues both big and small. It was such a rewarding experience for me, and I pray it was for each of them as well.
So now I am on this plane full of people and I’ve been thinking about the events of this past week and how blessed I am to be able to do what I do as my chosen career. It amazes me how I have the opportunity to meet so many exceptional people when I travel or through online channels. And every single person is exceptional in his or her own way. I believe this with all my heart. Whether in person or through my classes on CRAFTSY.com, it is always my highest hope that I will somehow be a blessing — in some small way — in each of their lives. I want the light of God’s love to shine through me. It’s all Him. Not me. But here’s the most amazing revelation of it all: they always end up blessing me! Isn’t it funny how that works out?
NEW YEAR, NEW WORD
For the past several years I have chosen to forego making resolutions as the New Year begins and instead I’ve chosen ONE WORD to guide me through the year. My ONE WORD for 2014 was my best yet: it was GRATITUDE. I lived my life last year mindful of this word with a heart full of gratitude. For the big things, naturally, but also for the little things. What I learned is this: If you choose to be grateful in every situation and find things to be thankful for even when times are hard (and I, like so many of you, have gone through some really difficult circumstances in 2014) you can find happiness and contentment in almost every situation. A heart full of gratitude LEADS to contentment. And I read somewhere recently that scientists have discovered it is literally impossible for the human brain to experience the emotions of gratitude and anxiety simultaneously. Isn’t that interesting? It sure feels true. I have tried in the past year to always find the things for which to be thankful and it made me a much happier, more contented person. GRATITUDE was a good word for me.
In fact, I was invited to be part of an extraordinary quilt exhibit which just debuted at Road2CA called the Personal APP Quilt Exhibit. The instructions presented were simple enough. I was asked to design a quilt that represents my life and construct it to look like an “icon” for a personal app. I spent a lot of time thinking about this idea and researched the internet for the features that make a good personal app icon. I’m so pleased with the end result:
The following is the quilt’s description and artist’s statement:
The most beautiful app icons are simple, easily recognizable, with clean lines and pretty colors. I wanted my quilt to look beautiful if it was shrunk down to the size of an app on a tablet. I traced the silhouette of my Bernina 820, including an icon of my favorite brand of thread, Aurifil. On the machine, I embroidered the word FAITH where the motor is located, a heart and the word GRATITUDE which represents my “one word” for 2014, and the word JOY. Under the needle are a rainbow of fabrics which represent the importance of color in my life. On each fabric I embroidered the words FAMILY, FRIENDS, QUILTS, TRAVEL and SCUBA, which are elements of my life that I am passionate about and cherish. Above the sewing machine is the word CREATE because I choose to create the life I live by faith, with a heart of gratitude and joy, filled with vibrant color and all the things I hold near and dear to my heart!
Software used to design to this quilt:
Electric Quilt (EQ7)
Pfaff 5D Embroidery Software
Machines used to stitch this quilt:
Pfaff Creative Sensation
Techniques used to create this quilt:
Custom digitized machine embroidery
My ONE WORD for 2015 is…..
The older I get the more I have found that I really need to listen. I need to listen to many things but first and foremost is that still, small, voice of God. I need to listen for His guidance instead of relying upon my own direction. When I listen for His voice and His will, my life is doubly blessed. When I try to take the reigns and direct my life according to my wants and desires, the results are less than optimum and I’m rarely in a place of peace. Or happiness. Or gratitude.
I will also listen to my body. I only have one body in this life and I need to take care of it. I will listen and not push myself to exhaustion. I will strive to rest when I’m tired and pace myself with my work. (Honestly, this is not an easy task because I am a fairly driven individual. Can you tell?) I will listen to how my body feels when I eat healthy foods. Last year I stopped drinking diet sodas and eating foods with any Aspartame on February 23rd (but who’s counting) and I must admit the decision to change and give up a 40+ year diet soda habit was very difficult. But I do feel better and I know without a doubt it was a good decision for my body. I listened to the advice of experts about the dangers of chemicals such as Aspartame, and it has paid off.
I will listen to my family. Really, really listen. I realize I’m fortunate to have two young men still living at home (but not for much longer!) and I haven’t always been the best I could be about taking time to listen to them when they need to talk. Worse still, I need to draw them out and encourage them even when they say they don’t need to talk. I will strive to always listen with my heart, like reading between the lines. Its hard enough for all teenagers in this peer-pressure world and I want to make sure I’m the best Mom I can be to listen to their angsts, worries, or their interests even when it involves the latest video game or sports. I need to always listen without distractions — and encourage them to do likewise — which means turning off cell phones, tablets, computers, the television, etc.
The next one is easy. I love to listen to my students. I confess, this is an easy thing for me to do because I am genuinely interested in their stories; what makes them quilt and why they quilt. I love to know how quilting affects their lives, whether they quilt to relieve stress or to cope with the loss of a loved one. Whether just for the fellowship or to escape the frustrations of everyday life. This past week one lovely gal told me she flew all the way from Houston just to take a class with me in person at Road2CA and another sweet lady told me that she turns on my Craftsy video lessons whenever she’s sewing in her sewing room because it makes her feel as though I’m right there in the room with her. Just like a friend. Truly, sincerely, words cannot express just how much these stories touched my heart. What a blessing these lovely women are in my life! And these are just a couple of the many stories I heard this past week or that I have read in online comments through Craftsy or by receiving personal emails. I read them all and let the words sink in. What a blessing…..
I will listen to my sweet pup and three cuddly cats when they meow or bark or put their paws up on my leg beckoning me to step away to come play for a few moments. I confess that along with my Type A personality, I don’t always “hear” these gentle nudges and instead stay completely focused on my tasks at hand.
I will listen to the world around me. Oh, there are so many lovely sounds to be heard if only I will stop and listen with open ears and a receptive heart! Sounds of the wind blowing through the trees in our back yard, the cheerful tweets of a myriad of feathered friends outside my window and not the stale, artificial chirps of notifications on my cell phone. The delicious sound of giggles and laughter. The back-and-forth rhythm of friendly chatter and the sweet, soul-touching sounds of music. There is so much music to be appreciated and enjoyed and I keep my Bose speaker playing all different varieties of music throughout the day using the Pandora Radio App, although I freely admit that my favorite genre is instrumental inspirational music from artists such as Jim Brickman, John Bayless, and David Nevue, just to name a few.
There are also some things I will NOT listen to this year. I choose not to listen to the critics; the few folks out there who are critical or harsh and only have negative things to project into the world. I choose not to listen to the voice inside my head telling me I’m not good enough, or talented enough to dream big dreams and reach for the stars. I will not listen to the voice of doubt or insecurity or fear of failure. I will not listen to negative messages by the media or allow myself to be drawn into drama where there doesn’t need to be any. Period.
I’d love to know what you’ve chosen as your ONE WORD for 2015. Would you take a moment to share it here in the comment section? I read each and every one and it means so much to me to “hear” in your comments what is important to you as we get into the full swing of this promising, excellent new year.