Staying Changed

cherryblossoms1

We came home to Spring.  All of Utah is changed.  Where there was rain and snow flurries, there are now blossom-covered trees, daffodils, tulips, and tiny green leaves.  The mountains look more magnificent than usual.  The clouds are more breathtaking.  I wonder how I could have forgotten that I live in such a beautiful place.

cherryblossoms3

And then I wonder, is it me?

I have changed.  I feel different inside.  Parts of me have healed, others are now deeper, still others softer.  In three days I laughed more than I’ve laughed in a year.  I saw new things, spent time in new places, and they influenced me.  I spent time in the woods, time by the sea.  I visited people I haven’t seen in years.  I held still.  I read a book.  I took a break from the cares of my everyday life.  The world looks a little different.

cherryblossoms2

As I wandered around my yard, it occurred to me that everyone around me is different too.  Like ocean waves that come and go from the same beach without pause, leaving it the same in identity and yet so different in detail, life does that to us.  I thought of these people I care about, how we’ve all collected another two weeks of stories, how we’re all still “us” but a newer version of us.  I felt a growing sense of awe and curiousity about the process, about my friends.  What a grand thing we are witnessing in our relationships, if we can see it!  I felt amazed that I am lucky enough to know them, hope that I can be the kind of friend who notices, supports, and nurtures the change in others.  Of course we all have things we would instantly dispose of, but the good?  Oh, how I want to grasp the good and somehow keep it!

I want to stay changed, just like I want to keep spring.  I’m afraid that before I know what’s happened, I’ll be back in the rut of my worries, schedules, and deadlines, and it will blind me to the wonder of it all.  I desperately want to avoid it.

readingspot

Spring, more than any other time of year, reminds me to live in the moment.  We ate dinner outside on Sunday.  I set a goal spend 10 minutes of every day “on vacation.”  So far those daily minutes have been spent sitting beneath my cherry tree, admiring the blossoms, listening to the humming of the bees as they flit from flower to flower, inhaling the scent.  I’ve watched the sky through the branches, closed my eyes and breathed deeply.  I’ve read a little.  And started to dream.

It feels good.

Invisible Drops of Awesome

vintagescale

I keep this really fun vintage scale in my kitchen.  My children and their friends all love to play with it, trying to get the two sides to be perfectly balanced as they pile various things on and move the hanging weight back and forth.  The concept of balance seems simple when using the scale.  If only it was so easy to figure out in life.

I feel like we’re out of balance, and it really wears on me.  Of course, we’re all tired thanks to daylight savings and it’s the end of a school term so stress levels have been high with my high school students.  The list goes on and on.  I sense our family moving from one stage to another and I’m struggling a little to understand my role, or how to be most effective in it.  There are obvious reasons why things feel wonky, but the result has been a growing sense of frustration in my heart and mind, which is hardly productive, but real.

I love to follow Kathryn Thompson, the author of the original Drops of Awesome blog post, and creator of the Drops of Awesome journal.  Of all the blog posts I’ve ever read, I think hers still stands out as the one I remember most vividly, the one that impacted me profoundly.   A few days ago I was going through some files and stumbled on this little message that I drew as a reminder of her post:

dropsofawesomedoodle

Almost three years ago I posted that picture, intending to do something awesome with it, and here it is, just the same and newly discovered.  It’s too small a thing to let the perfectionist in me (the one I try to keep bound and gagged in the corner of a dark closet) come tearing through, but the weight of everything combined has certainly got her pounding on that locked door, and it’s enough to get me going.

Last year I lived through what was, for me, a life-altering hard thing.  A thing that continues to be challenging, but because you can’t live in crisis mode forever, a thing we’ve learned to accommodate in daily life.  It affects my every day, but I’m learning.  A quote I’ve leaned on a lot is this one from Thomas S. Monson:

“There are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits.   However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were – better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.”

My goal this year is to rebuild my life.  Now, there’s a ton of good that’s sturdy as ever, lots of stuff unchanged by our trial, but parts of me have been permanently rearranged, and that’s where the rebuilding needs to happen.  I remind myself that it’s worth it to try new things, to see if I can fit the pieces together in a new, better pattern.  Some pieces may be gone forever, but that simply means that more will arrive to fill in the holes.  What I’m learning, though, is that it takes time, effort, and some trial and error to figure it all out and it’s ok that I’m not nailing it on my first try.  It’s a process.  The drops of awesome reminder probably came at the perfect time.

As we continue to pick our way through, I’m sure there are drops of awesome falling, and probably in more places than I’d guess.  They just seem invisible right now.  Their invisibility is a good indicator that I need to correct my vision.  So I’m committing myself to get back in the groove of noticing and giving myself credit for what is going right, even when what is going wrong is huge and painful.  Starting today.

Lara Casey is a fan of saying that there’s nothing magical about January 1st.  She’s right.  We can begin, or begin again at any time.  Today is the best time.  It usually is.  I took a pizza to my son at school a few minutes ago, because he didn’t pack one this morning in the rush to finish an art project.  Drop of awesome, right there.

All is well.
Jennifer

Established. {a finished variation of the wishing well quilt}

establishedA1

Every quilt has a story.

This one is no different.  Perhaps it will interest you, or perhaps because I made it and experienced it, the story is only important for me.  Either way, I’d like to share it.

establishedA2

Sometimes creative ideas come all in one, but sometimes several unrelated things all converge at the same time, and at the intersection, inspiration is born.  This quilt, named “Established”, is a result of such an intersection, and it builds on the story I shared here of making my Wishing Well quilt.  As you can see, this is a large, single block quilt.  I have always been drawn to barn quilts.  I love the way they look, and wondered, if I were to have one of my own, which block I would choose.  A barn quilt, the prosperity block, 2 Chronicles 20:20, were sort of swimming around in my mind.  Then I read about a contest being held, and to enter you simply had to make a quilt out of American Made Brand solids.  I had never made a quilt entirely of solids, so I decided to try it and see what would happen.

establishedback

The funny thing is, I don’t think I’ve ever been interrupted so much while trying to get something done!  It was a crazy time of year, and school was starting, and it was that insane year (August 2014) that ALL EIGHT of my children were going to be in school, from kindergarten to 12th grade.  I would race to my machine to sew, and within minutes someone needed something.  Each time I took a deep breath, reminded myself that quilts can wait and mothering is my #1 priority, and went to meet the need.  The deadline loomed and I thought I’d never make it.  The deadline was extended and I hoped.  I was interrupted.  Again and again.  At last the deadline came and passed and I had only begun to piece my backing.  Oh well.

established2

The kids got settled in school.  I kept working on it.  I decided to learn some new things, like carefully marking my straight line quilting, and learning how to free motion quilt some feathers.  I made mistakes and told myself it wouldn’t have shown well, anyway.  But I also loved it because it was so strong and bold.  And that beautiful verse of scripture was now so deeply rooted in my associations with this quilt block that I thought of it every time I worked on it.

establishedbinding

Finally it was finished, and it represented many firsts for me.  The backing was my first try at improv piecing, a result of using every last scrap to make it fit.  The quilting was a first.  All solids were a first.  Lots of things happened here that I’d never done before.  I wondered if I would be disappointed that I hadn’t reached my goal, but to my surprise, I wasn’t at all.  When I looked at it, it made me happy because it reminded me that I’d kept things in the proper perspective and stayed rooted in my values and in commitments I’d made about being a mother.  I wanted it to have its own name, but also wanted it to be closely related to my Prosper (wishing well) quilt.  So I called it, “Established.”  And I love it.  It’s the first quilt (other than a few minis) that I’ve hung in our home for display.

establishedA3

Also, I think this is my favorite picture I’ve ever taken of a quilt.  I feel like the spot and the quilt were made for each other.  I almost wished I could just leave it there, or paint one there, or take this place home with me so I could hang it there always.  It makes me so happy.

 

1 2 3 419