Friday, February 18, 2011

So Much To Do, So Little Time

I've been behind in my blogging for a while now and I was doing so well there a couple of weeks ago. 

It got me to thinking, what was I doing with all of my time?

I don't know about you but there are times when I get resentful of the demands placed on me by others.  It's one of the reasons I don't have a lot of really close friends.  They might have expectations of me that I can't and sometimes don't even want to fulfill.

My husband and I are impressed by the amount of social activity engaged in by our friends.  They're busy all the time with one activity or the other.  Fortunately, he's like me in that he admits to being selfish about his time.  The thought of going out several nights a week, or spending every weekend hanging out with friends overwhelms us.  We both need time to do the things we love, the things that recharge our batteries.

For him it's working in the garden, hanging out and doing sports with our son, fly fishing, and music.  For me it's quilting, art, and writing....and of course, hanging out with my family.

What I find frustrating is when I get so busy doing things I don't really want to do but are commited to doing, that I can't find time to do the things I really want to do.  Of course, one of the main things is housework, which like most women I hate.  It isn't that it's difficult or not satisfying, (everyone loves a clean house!), it's just that it's too easy for me to find an excuse not to do it as often as I should.  And you know how that goes, putting cleaning off just makes it worse, and then you have a real mess to clean up which just makes you hate cleaning even more than you did before.

When I worked full time and had a young son at home I somehow managed to get more done.  Part of that could be that I was younger and had more energy, but I think a large part of it is that I had to manage my time better, so I did.  Now that I'm home all the time, I find it more difficult to separate my "work" from my family and my fun.  I find myself writing articles while everyone else is watching TV, or working on designs when I should be cleaning the bathrooms, or checking email when I should be chatting with my son about his day.

I've been making more of an effort to schedule my days so I can get everything done, but the days seem to be getting shorter, or I'm moving slower, or I'm procrastinating more than ever, so I keep sliding back into my bad habits.

Those of us who have lives we're trying to lead while trying to make quilts often have a hard time reconciling the two.  There are some things that I do that work, and others I need to work on.

I don't bring sewing or reading with me in the car anymore.  I used to use trips as a way to clear away some work, but now I treasure those trips as a great opportunity to chat with my husband while my son listens to music on his i-pod.  It's "alone" time we don't get enough of.  I also make a point of not bringing work along to my son's sports practices and games.  I usually spend that time watching him and chatting with the other parents.  I find it recharges my batteries and sometimes I get great ideas while I'm sitting on the grass watching the boys take batting practice.  We all need down time so try to find some activities you have to be a part of and just enjoy them.  Grab those moments with family and friends when you can.

I do need to work on wasting too much time on the internet.  I tend to get lost sometimes, something pops into my head, I search for it, then I end up going off on all kinds of weird tangents before realizing that I just spent an hour doing nothing productive.  I don't watch TV much, but I think I need to get off the laptop more often, it can be just as addictive.

Today I'm going to post the latest chapter of "A Piece of Work" over on, check my email and then shut this laptop down and clean my house.  Whoopee!!!

Have a great holiday weekend!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I'm sure you're like me, you hate spam!  Now, there are probably some of you that like the meat "Spam," ( I know I had my share of it when I was a kid), but what I'm talking about is that ubiquitous onslaught of email that clogs up inboxes and annoys the heck out of everyone.

A couple of weeks ago I lost my 12 year old hotmail account because someone hacked into it and started sending out spam messages to all of my contacts.  It's embarrassing and a real hassle to deal with.  I finally just copied my contacts and let the account die.

Since I've started blogging I've had issues off and on with spam.  Lately, it's been an avalanche.  Now that I have 3 blogs, I'm constantly checking and deleting.  The unfortunate thing is that I had to set up "anonymous" as "spam" so if you comment anonymously your comment won't show until I have the chance to go into the comments section and allow it to post.  It's a pain!

As usual, one annoying thing leads to another and I got to thinking about why spam bugs me so much.  For one thing a lot of it is obscene, (which is disgusting), but mostly it's just unwanted and unwelcomed communication.  So, "spam" doesn't just have to be an email, or a comment, or a tin of meat, it can be any kind of unwanted communication.

How many times have you been near a quilt at a quilt show only to overhear people making snarky comments about it, or little asides during a meeting, or a brazen barrage of critique and unwanted "advice" from another quilter?  We've all been victims of these kind of "spam" attacks.  It could be that people mean well, but frankly, attacking someone elses work, is never a good thing.  And those that want to offer unsolicited advice?  Who needs them.  If you want advice ask someone you trust who you know isn't there to bring you down but sincerely wants to help.

I can't tell you how many times I've encountered this kind of "spam."  As an artist I'm constantly being criticized for one thing or another.  "I don't like that color."  "Why didn't you put that over there instead?"  "You really need to work on your technique."   On, and on, and on.

For some reason, whenever you put your work out there others think they have a right to anaylize and criticize, when, really, all you want is to share what you made.  It can be daunting to a new or a less confident quilter.

OK, now I'm going to contribute a little "spam" of my own.  There's no way you're going to avoid making some people unhappy, or keep them from giving you unwanted advice, or even stop them from criticizing your work.   What you can do is be gracious, and then forget it.  Don't allow the spammers to control how you feel about yourself or your work.  Picture in your mind selecting and then deleting them, just like you'd delete spam from your email.

Oh, and while you're at it, maybe you can "unsubscribe" from a few as well.

Send them to the Recycle Bin!


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Modesty vs. Humility

Sorry it's been a while between posts.  I was sick last week and when Monday came around I had to catch up on all of the things I wasn't able to do the week before.  So, as you can imagine, Monday and Tuesday were spent cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping and all of the other little things I wasn't able to do before.

Then, Wednesday afternoon, my son got sick again!  Another totally different flu bug with a high fever, chills, and body aches  Poor kid was suffering Wednesday and Thursday, then we thought he was getting better on Friday and the fever jumped back up again!  So, he's still lying on the couch and I'm still trying to take care of him, my lingering cough, and do everything I can to keep my husband and myself from catching this latest bug.  It's been one of those winters!

Even though I haven't been posting I have been thinking about it.  When I saw this graphic it made me think about modesty and humility.  The big thing now is "self esteem" which for years educators thought was so important to inculcate into our children.  Well, now they've discovered that it might not be the be-all and end-all they thought it was.  Turns out the people with the best self esteem are in prison!  So much for that concept.

I'm not particularly ancient, but I remember being taught modesty and humility.  Modesty is a difficult concept for many people.  It isn't about knocking yourself down, it's about knowing your worth, but not bragging about it.  A person's modesty about their acheivements isn't an indication that those acheivements have less value.  It's actually the opposite.  A person is modest because they're pleased with themselves but are polite enought not to lord it over others.  A modest person will accept compliments easily, but won't go on and on about how great they are.  They're confident in their abilities and let them stand on their own without embellishment.

Humility is different.  One is humbled by the realization of their good fortune.  If, for instance you're involved in a quilting competition with many talented artists, you may be humbled by being chosen as the winner.  Humility comes from our very real human sense that we are not entirely responsible for our good fortune.  That's why when someone wins an award they thank others, and sometimes God for assistance to get to that place.  So, we're humbled by our feeling that "we're not worthy" because we appreciate the talents of others and all of the help we've received to get where we are.

My son loves to watch the American Idol auditions.  In past years I thought they were exploiting people and making fools of them, but this year the tone has changed a bit.  We have noticed that whenever there's a contestant who is convinced they're the next American Idol, they usually have no talent at all.  It's generally the quiet ones who come out and blow everyone away. 

I believe that there's a difference between those who are gifted and those who are not.  A gifted person views their gifts as part of themselves, they may struggle with how to deal with the results of their gifts, but the gifts are accepted by them for what they are.  It's those that don't have those gifts that have to puff themselves up and make pronouncements about how great they are.

That's why you'll notice that the least talented people are the most vocal about their talents, while those who are talented take it as a matter of course.

Remember this when you're dealing with other quilters.  If you're the timid sort you might be intimidated by the loudmouths, who always know better, and always have something negative to say about everyone else's work.  These people are rarely talented.  They may be able to execute well, but it's doubtful their quilts "sing." 

It takes a modest and humble heart to receive the gifts of inspiration.  A person who is always tooting their own horn is usually desperately trying to get the attention they crave.  Let your work speak for itself.   That doesn't mean that you have to sit there quietly and let others walk all over you.  It means that you can hold your head up, confident that you've done your best, and humbled by the other real talent around you. 

Quilt on!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Embarrassing Moments

I love this cartoon because it reminds me of my worst nightmare.  Now, you might say, why would you love it then?  Well, it's because it makes me laugh about it!

I don't know about you but it's been many, (and I mean MANY), years since I've gone to school.  Even now, after all this time, I still have those school nightmares.  You know, the ones where you discover you have a final in a course you didn't even know you were taking?  Or, when you discover you've been sittiing in the wrong classroom for months, or you're naked, or you just realize you're supposed to be at school and you aren't?  This cartoon reminds me of all of those dreams, along with the real life experiences I've had of discovering that I'd completely misunderstood something.

What I think is most telling about this is that although the student with the play-dough is obviously mortified, none of the other students seems to notice.  That's the way many of our most embarrassing moments have probably played out, but we were so upset that we didn't notice how little other people cared.

I got over being embarrassed years ago when I had a problem with my balance.  When I was in Junior College one of my ears completely plugged up.  Since it came upon me slowly, I didn't really notice the lack of hearing, but after a while it began to affect my balance.  I'd never been particularly clumsy but all of a sudden I was falling over and as young people do, just assumed that I had embarked on a new stage of my life, clumsy Susan.

Now, this happened to be going on during the Olympics and for some reason I started giving myself points for my falls.  It became kind of a running routine, if I fell, I'd say "that was an 8.7" and everyone, including myself, would laugh.  Once I had a fairly spectacular fall where somehow I managed to do a full turn before ending up on my back. For that one, I got style points!

Now, if I was falling like that now I'd be in the hospital, but I was 18 years old and just jumped up and dusted myself off.  I realized that the people around me were usually concerned if I was OK, and then we'd all have a good laugh together about how "graceful" I was.  It was then that I discovered that being able to laugh at myself was my best weapon against embarrassment.

Once my ear problem was resolved I stopped falling over all the time, but I transferred that way of dealing with it into other aspects of my life.  I won't say that I haven't been embarrassed since, but it's become a lot easier to deal with it when it happens.

I've also come to the realization that, just like the other students in the cartoon, many times the people around us don't think twice about our "embarrassing" moments.  People have their own lives and troubles, and tend to forget about what happens to others to focus on their own "embarrassing" moments.

So, if you're afraid of being embarrassed about something, just laugh it off, and remember, everyone, I don't care who they are, have had embarrassing moments too.

So, try not to dwell on it and it will soon be forgotten,