Mark My Word July/Aug 2008
The world is going crazy. I mean major flipping cuckoo! Julia Roberts says she never wears deodorant. Idiots are lining up to become Paris Hilton’s new television BFF. Camerastarved Star Jones drop kicked her husband (that didn’t take long). We have a hugely controversial war that is killing our soldiers in Iraq while President Bush appears on Deal or No Deal and Laura hosts the Today show soon thereafter (Makes you wonder what kind of under-the-table kickbacks General Electric got for that?) The kicker? Rock of Love’s Brett Michaels wears European hair extensions under those horrible triple-wide bandanas of his. So pretty.
Yes, my dears, the world is nuts. But luckily for us, we can make it all go away by picking up a needle and thread. With our tools in hand, whether it’s our machines and pre-cut fabric, redwork, appliqué, quilting, or the other gazillion techniques that patchwork offers, we have the opportunity to get into our own groove, tune out the planet, slow down, and shrink the day-to-day stress that’s slowly killing us. (Well, if the stress isn’t killing us, try standing next to Julia Roberts during the high heat of August in a crowded subway while she’s strap-hanging. That can kill a human!)
Everything around us seems to be reaching new levels of strangeness. As the rice shortage (huh?) builds and this summer’s gas prices pair with the “faux recession” to continue to devour the last few cents of your disposable income, you’ve still got a happy place. Flip on the quilting switch and take advantage of your hobby to get you through these freaky-deaky times.
Quilting takes me into meditation mode. And when I crave the healing touch of the Q-zone, there are certain things that I’ve learned over the years that transports me to a soulful, quiet place for just 10 to 15 minutes a day while working on a new quilting project or that damn unfinished quilt top.
First, I let go of perfection. Let some other moron deal with perfectionism—free yourself! The repetitive act of piecing and quilting slows me down. I’m not creating any great work of fabric art, just trying to be aware of the rhythm of my machine or hand stitches that move me from the day-to-day chaos to the quiet action dictated by my quilting hobby. I thaw out the stress by letting go of any limits or expectations I might burden myself with as I work.
Then I focus and let myself to become hyper-aware of my actual quilting process. My senses soak in all the physical experiences that come with my piecing. I’m conscious of the fabric’s texture, the vibration of my sewing machine, the smell and sounds of my sewing space. I try to create a steady rhythm for my breathing, too.
When I’m in the Q-zone, I pump myself up with a positive energy pep-talk. I take stock of only the good things that I have done, am doing, or plan to do. Sometimes I’ll take a single word like “relax” or “abundance” or “prosperity” and repeat it over and over again while I quilt. Pray, if that’s your bag. I don’t kill myself over missing a stitch or muffing a quarter-inch seam. I allow the fabric and the process to literally heal me, rather than try to control it or worry about the results.
When all is said and done, I have meditated and have escaped the nuts-o world for few minutes. I feel centered and rested. Rejuvenated and inspired. I have worked on my hobby—and on myself.
Try it. Don’t just make a quilt. Learn day-by-day to become the quilt and to live in the moment. Be patient with yourself. It may take a couple of weeks of conscious, mindful quilting before you find your own meditative quilting groove. Just keep at it. It really works.
In the meantime, put on your deodorant this summer (do us all a favor) and learn to heal your life, the planet, and escape our wacked-out world through quilting.
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