Edit that Story!

It happened yesterday.  I was in my kitchen washing dishes and cleaning when suddenly I realized what I was doing to myself.

I had a couple of experiences recently where things were said to and about me that were unkind, and suggested a complete lack of ability or effort on my part to be good enough.  In the moment I handled them fine.  I didn’t retaliate, I didn’t get upset, and I didn’t explain my situation to someone who didn’t deserve to know the inner workings of my life.  I moved on.  Or at least, I thought I did.  What brought me up short in my kitchen was the realization that as I was doing good things, I was listening to the person’s negative remarks over and over again.  I had someone else’s critical voice on repeat in my head.

I stood there a moment, considering the contrast.  On the outside I was working hard in positive ways.  But in my private, personal thoughts I was letting someone else tear me down.  The outer story was one of positive action.  The inner voice was the opposite.

Why do we do that?  Why do we let the thoughtless, unkind comments become a part of the story?  Why was I letting someone else’s voice override my own and decide who I was?  And WHY was I being a repeat audience to the performance?

There can be lots of reasons.  In this particular instance, there was a bit of truth in the criticism.  I know I can do better in that area.  I’m not as confident about it as I am about other things, but it’s an area in which I’m deeply invested and want to succeed.  I am aware of my shortcomings.  Still, the unkind words were wrong.  They were spoken in judgment without any effort to look at other factors or to offer me the benefit of the doubt.

Hearing criticism from someone strongly tempts me to lay the circumstances of my life out on the table in defense, so they can understand the parts they cannot see and recognize that I am trying.  I suppose the urge springs from hope that if my efforts and constraints are understood, the criticism will cease or be withdrawn.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in the past couple of years is that having someone notice and want to discuss a deficit in my life doesn’t give them any right to know the inner workings of my heart or my challenge, and it certainly doesn’t place them inside my circle of trust.  If they’re already inclined to misjudge me, giving them more information isn’t likely to help.

So on the outside, I’ve learned to handle these experiences just fine.  Yesterday I took a hard look at how I handle them on the inside.

Do I take a compliment home with me and let it replay over and over in my head as I clean my house?  Nope.  So why on earth did I let it happen with an insult?

I don’t think I’m alone in this.  I think we all tend to do it.  It got me thinking AGAIN about stories, how we tell them, and who we allow to be the voice in them. And how those voices on repeat can undo us.

Yesterday I had to shake off someone else’s voice and dig a little to find my own. Here’s my re-write on that kitchen sink experience:

“I am a daughter of God with a unique combination of talents, strengths, and weaknesses.  I am also a busy wife and mother with a great deal on my plate.  In spite of my mess-ups, it’s amazing how much I remember and accomplish.  It’s ok that choosing to do something important sometimes makes a temporary mess in another part of life, and it’s ok if others can’t see the good I AM doing because they’re focused on what I didn’t do.  I am learning.  I am growing.  I am trying.  I am praying.  I am relying on my Savior.  I am loved.  And with His grace, I am enough.”

End of story.  A bit more awesome in my bucket.  No more criticism on repeat.

What story do you need to re-write today?


State Flowerscape Quilt

I am so happy to share this State Flowerscape quilt today!  I have followed Kirsten Brinton (@turnofthecenturies) on Instagram for some time.  Her artwork is meticulous and beautiful.  I watched with interest when her family made a cross country move a while ago that landed her in one of my favorite places, Tacoma Washington.  I love seeing her photos as they are little glimpses at a place I lived and loved many years ago, and last summer we discovered that we share a birthday!

Pretty much I’m a fan of everything Kirsten does and really admire her work.  She draws the most beautiful maps, temples, and a gorgeous map of the United States, illustrated with the state flower for each state.  When this beautiful print became a fabric panel I jumped at the chance to sew with it.  Kirsten sent me the panel and pieces of most of the other prints in her debut collection for Moda, State Flowerscapes, and I have have loved sewing with it.

I knew that I wanted the map panel to be the central focus of my quilt so I began building around it, medallion style.  I added a few other fabric prints from my stash like the colorful triangle print by Alexander Henry, but I limited myself largely to solid colors so that Kirsten’s fabrics would take center stage.  The creative challenge of using a variety of solids was interesting as I didn’t have a master plan when I started, but instead let the design and color of each border evolve as I went.

I also wanted to personalize the map a little, so when quilting I tried my hand at “thread drawing” by stitching hearts where my husband and I were each raised, where we met, and where we are raising our family.  To me, it’s a fun mini-story.

Kirsten’s collection consists of the map panel, topography designs, the floral print, and a text print of all the states and their flowers.  Each of these is available in three colorways.  My favorite ended up being the flower print in gray and white.

I quilted the quilt on my domestic machine with several different designs, all of them VERY “organic”.  Every time I do this I wonder if someday I might enjoy learning longarm quilting.

I’ve been feeling the pull of medallion quilts lately.  I really love the way each border changes as you add another, and this quilt was no exception.  My favorite borders are the half square triangles in different greens and gray, and the flower strip bordered by purple at the top and bottom of the quilt.  They really make me smile.

For the backing I used a small Juliana Horner floral print and a strip of Heather Ross’ tiger lily, and framed it all with a rich blue binding.

Although the fabric collection is rather subdued as a whole, all of it works well with a range of colors.  I wanted to infuse it with as much color as I could manage, as that’s what flower gardens are to me:  masses of color splashed together, all playing off each other beautifully.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to see all 50 of these flowers together?

This quilt makes me feel like spring is on the way!  Hooray!

Ireland Flag Mini Quilt :: St. Patrick’s Day Placemat

With St. Patrick’s day just around the corner, it’s fun to think of simple ways to celebrate.  Last year I made some of these cute little mini quilts.  And since many St. Patty’s traditions are centered around a meal, they also make great placemats!  I had some of this fun Luck of the Irish fabric by Dear Stella, and it inspired me to make little Irish flags!

The Irish themed print made these placemats really cute, but you could easily substitute another low volume print, or plain white for the center strip.  For that matter, these would be really cute with all solid fabrics.

I combined the Ireland print with a green and orange fabric, also from Dear Stella, and cut one piece of each fabric, making all of them the same size.  For a placemat, I would cut each piece at least 12 inches tall and 6 inches wide.  Then I sewed them together to mimic the color placement of the Irish flag, and in two seams it was ready for quilting!  Simple straight line quilting every couple of inches made this a very fast but festive project.

I chose a simple binding for mine; a black swiss dot on white, and I opted for machine binding to save time.

I have gifted my creations to a couple of friends (both readheads) who love Ireland and teach Irish dance.  It was fun to surprise them with a small gift that celebrates a passion of theirs.  I’m tempted to whip up a few more just for fun before St. Patrick’s Day.

Happy sewing!

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