Mark My Word - March 2009

Mark My Word - March 2009

Used to be I would — as my mother would say — wish my life away. My son, Evan, has cured me of this hurry-up, but hopeful vice.

I adopted Evan as a single parent more than 16 years ago. That’s when all of this wishing stuff began to show its ugly side. When Evan was bassinet-bound, I would wish that he could crawl, and soon he was crawling everywhere and getting into everything not nailed down. When he’d babble, I would wish he could talk. And then the day came when all he said was “no.” I wished that one day he could feed himself and it wasn’t long before I found myself on my hands and knees picking up the mushy remains of every breakfast, lunch and dinner. When I wished that he could dress himself, I ended up in a majorleague power struggle over his insisting to wear the play-worn stripe/plaid combos that made him look like a skipping TV test pattern.

Oh, yes, my dears, wishing has gotten me nowhere and with time, as Evan got older, the ante has gotten higher. I wished he could drive so I could resign from chauffeur duty, but now I find myself worried sick wondering exactly where he is whenever he goes out. I could go on and on, but I won’t. You get the idea.

Now, you might think these experiences alone would have cured me of my wishing well-itis. But, oh noooo! I remained a hopeless wisher …until I was bitten by the quilting bug.

You see, I used to start a quilt then quickly wish it was finished, almost before I began, fighting for time or unable to stop the manic voices in my head urging me to buy more, more more! And sadly, I had few finished quilts to show for this angst. I’d always start out rotary-cutting like a maniac, and then sew as fast as my BabyLock would fly. To hell with perfect points and straight seams! I just wished I could finish the darn thing.

Of course, like my experience with Evan, the more I wished my quilt away, the more behind I got. I got finished sometimes (okay, rarely) but either someone else had to do it, help me, or more often, my too-expensive cut fabric was thrown onto yet another UFO pile waiting for finishing stitches.

See, the one thing quilting can teach a person like me — a quilter with too many irons in the fire — is patience. It reminds me that Rome wasn’t built in a day and, as cliché as it sounds, to stop and smell, er, sew the stitches.

As cavalier as I can be about my patchwork, I know many quilts worth piecing use techniques that take some practice, fortitude and more than an hour to make. I could wish it done, but that alone won’t make it happen and what have I accomplished? More importantly, what would I have lost in this wicked wish cycle?

First of all, I’d miss the chance to stop the world for 15, 30 even 45 minutes, and be with my patchwork and my self. I’d miss the chance to think and dream without interruption. I’d squander the opportunity to reflect on — and maybe figure out — my day-to-day struggles.

So, cupcakes, stop wishing your quilting and your life away. Find a project, even a small one, and finish it, or at least work on it at your own pace, but do work on it. And while you work your fabric, work out your life. Dream your dreams, reflect on what is not working and celebrate what is. Identify what’s going wrong in your world and how you can make it right, all while you cut and sew. Use the time with your stash as time to plan and create the life you want. It’s possible. I did it. I stopped wishing and started doing. Let your handwork lead the way.

Appeared in:

March 2009 Issue

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USER COMMENTS

Your wish cycle isn't wicked.
The three cardinal virtues are not faith, hope, and charity, but laziness, impatience, and hubris. A lazy man does things right the first time, rather than doing them over. An impatient man looks for ways to do things better. Hubris drives a man to accept nothing but the best from himself. The Puritan colonies, where quilting originally thrived, saw it as a penitentiary activity, for those obsessed with their own sinfulness - but that assumes that God makes junk, that he lacks the cardinal virtues. One need not engage in self-deprecation during quilting. One can, instead, praise God for his gifts, including the gift of fun. And pray that the poor souls at JoAnn might be saved.
Words worth living by!
Bravo! You have a gift with words and inspiration - I love you - you keep me going! Keep up the great work.

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