Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Setbacks

In a previous post I wrote about disappointments and how they can affect you.  Today I want to discuss setbacks.

Whew!  We all hate it when things are going along just fine and then powee! we get slapped down.  Unfortunately, things running smoothly is not the way the world works.  If we could control every aspect of our lives we might be able to keep setbacks at bay, but the reality is that we can't and they keep cropping up.

Of course there are levels of setbacks.  A minor cold that keeps you from running your errands is a small setback, a diagnosis of a major illness is another.  The one thing that's consistent for all setbacks is that they're usually out of your control.  It's very frustrating!

For years I've worked in the world of event graphic design.  This type of work requires working with a varied group of clients on all different kinds of jobs.  The one consistent thing about it is that it's inconsistent!

In order to maintain what sanity I have left, I learned a long time ago that the first thing you have to do when you experience a setback is to accept it.  The major mistake many folks make is to ignore it or get angry about it.  Neither strategy works.  It is what it is.  You have to deal with it.

In many ways it's similar to disappointment although I think setbacks are different in that there's still a chance to make things right.  Disappointment happens at the end of a road, setbacks are obstacles in that road.  How you handle the setbacks can make it possible to avoid disappointment.

I'm currently involved in a new business opportunity that has been chugging along just fine until....you've got it.....setbacks!  I will admit that giving up crossed my mind for a moment, but I still believe in what we're doing so I'm not going to give up.  Instead, I'm going to look at the setbacks as opportunities.

It's frustrating to not be able to have things the way you want them, but sometimes I think setbacks happen for a reason.   Perhaps you didn't think something through well enough, or you fell in love with something that you are stubbornly refusing to give up, or maybe it's just not the great idea you thought it was.  It's easy to fight against the inevitable, but impossible to win.  Better to stop, think, adjust, and move on.

I've had so many setbacks in my quilting life.  My UFO stack is full of them!  Sometimes I was overly ambitious, attempting something I wasn't quite ready for.  At other times I tackled something without enough materials on hand, or fabric I didn't have enough of.  My sewing machine has broken down, I've had irons die on me, I've even mislaid important parts of a project, only to find them tucked away somewhere else years later.

Every setback has been a learning experience, and the most important lesson for me is to not let them get me down.  Setbacks are annoying, and sometimes heartbreaking, but you can't let them deny you your dreams.

So, next time something goes wrong, deal with it and move on.

Happy Stitching,

Susan




Sunday, March 13, 2011

Time Flies.....

                        
Today is the day that most of us in the U.S. lose an hour. 

When I was a child the day we lost the hour was the worst day of the year.  My father worked long hours and his main pleasure was sleep.  He loved to sleep, and the thought that he just lost an hour of it was too much to take.  Of course, until we were teenagers we actually thought that the day we got the hour back in the fall was a national holiday.  Now that's a great day!

Isn't it interesting how when you are young time seems to go by so slowly?  I remember wishing that time would go faster so it would be summer and I wouldn't have to go to school.  Now I'm at the point in my life where time goes by so fast I can almost feel it rushing past me.  The hard part is that although my body is older, (and boy do I feel that when the weather gets cold!), my mind is still young.   So, my mind wants to do all of these things, but my body and my adult responsibilities mean I often have to put things off.

I hate that!  I'm one of these people who used to pride herself on doing two or three things at a time. As moms we do it all the time!  When I was younger it was easier, but now that menopause has settled in, I've found that I'm not so quick on the uptake and am more likely to forget one of my "multi-tasks" as I'm doing it.  Not particularly efficient.

I've been fighting this for a while, usually by piling more stuff on my plate, thinking that if I have more to do I'll find a way to get it done.  Not!  What I ended up with is a few things done OK, more things done halfway, and a lot of things completely forgotten and not done at all!

Lately, my design business has picked up, and I've been dealing with family illnesses, and my son's school and sport obligations.  For a while I tried to do it all, all at once, but it didn't take me long to accept that it's just not possible.  One of the things I had to cut back on was my blogging, which was hard for me.  I enjoy writing, and it's fun hearing back from my readers.  I also didn't want people to give up on me, or think I'd disappeared.

The fact is that I've had to make choices, and unfortunately they haven't all been about what's fun for me.  I guess that's what happens when you have a family; you can't live without them, but having them in your life requires a certain amount of personal sacrifice.  Sure, if I didn't have my parents, siblings, husband, son, and friends, I could get a lot more done.   But who would I share it with?  Like so much in life dealing with how you spend your time is one big compromise.

I haven't done any sewing at all for a few weeks.  I managed to get a quilt pieced and started on it, but then I got sidetracked and haven't even looked at it for a couple of weeks.  Fortunately, for me, these non productive quilting times usually end up with me having a spurt of new creative energy.  I hope I have some spurts left!

The point I want to make is that as much as we love quilting, sometimes we have to take care of other things first.  Even if we have stacks of fabric waiting for us, (and we feel guilty about not doing anything with them), we need to accept that sometimes we won't be in the mood, or have the time to do it.  Life has a way of getting in the way of our best laid plans.  As long as we aren't using what happens in our life as an excuse to avoid sharing our creativity, it's Ok to take a break now and then.  Sometimes you have to put your time on "auto pilot" and just let it fly.

Happy Stitching,

Susan

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dealing with the Downside

Wow, I'm really terrible.  I'm so sorry I haven't been posting.  I have a business opportunity that's taking too much of my time, and I also was working on my son's basketball team's end of season DVD.  It takes me a full week to get that done, along with the posters I make for each kid.  It's a lot of work, but so worth it for the boys and their parents.

I've been thinking a lot lately about disappointment. A lot of it had to do with the fact that my son didn't get back on his old baseball team this year.  Of course, his coach tried to get him, but at his age the kids all have to go into the draft and my son did great at tryouts.....so, he got picked early.  Since his coach had to take two kids with his assistant coach, (brothers), he lost his first pick, and by the time his chance came around again, not only was my son gone, but a lot of his teammates as well.

When I got the call from his "new" coach's wife I was so disappointed.  My son is 13 and was in one of those, "everyone hates me, nothing goes right for me, everything is horrible" moods.  I was so worried that when I gave him this bit of news he'd whine even more than usual, and I just didn't want to hear it! 

Well, he was upset, but accepting.  We knew all along it was a long shot, so by the time we saw his coach at basketball practice that night we were in the mood to give him a hard time, in a good natured way.  His coach was upset, but sent my son's disappointment into pride when he told him he'd been picked in the first round.  I think that meant more to him than anything, and we're all proud of him for handling the disappointment as well as he did.

I know that we all deal with disappointment on a regular basis.  Things just don't always go the way we hoped and/or planned and we find ourselves fighting against fate.  I know my first thought when I got the call was to try to find a way to make things the way I wanted them to be, even though I knew that wasn't possible.  When I called my husband to give him the bad news, his mind automatically went in the same direction.   The only one's who didn't was my son's.  He expressed his disappointment, and then started asking me about his new coaches and who else was on his team.  He moved on so much more quickly than we did.

What is it about us that makes us challenge the disappointments in our lives?  I know that in some cases it's because we have a fantasy about how things should be, and when things don't live up to our expectations we get disappointed.  Sometimes, I get mad at myself because I can see clearly that it was a decision that I made that led to that disappointment.  But most of the time, life just takes a different turn and we have to deal with it; usually it's not anyone's fault, we just have to learn how to accept.

In the case of the baseball team something happened that very night at basketball practice that made me realize that I'd just escaped from a situation that was dangerous for me.  As a menopausal woman I can get very upset and although I handle it pretty well, if I'm pushed, I'm not always sure about how well I'll deal with it.  Suffice it to say I realized that there was a parent that was going to be on my son's old team that I've had run-ins with before.  When I found out her son was going to be on the team, I realized that my son's move to the "Angels" was a good thing.  I don't want to fight with this person, but she's one of those people who pushes my buttons and I'm so glad I won't have to deal with her on a regular basis.  Hallelujah!

Once my mind turned in that direction I realized that avoiding this person wasn't the only benefit.  Since we don't know anyone on our team it's an opportunity to make new friends, for my husband and myself, and for my son as well.  Also, since no one knows me, no one knows that my husband is a great photographer and I'm a graphic designer who knows how to make team DVDs.  That means I won't feel obliged to do it, and that will give me more time to devote to my business venture, and my blogs!  It also means that my husband and I can sit together at the games now since he won't be walking the sidelines taking photos.

I went from picturing myself feeling lonely and uninvolved, to kind of liking the opportunity to enjoy baseball afternoons with my husband and our dog; just hanging out at the ballpark enjoying the game and not worrying about anything else.  What a blessing that will be!

As to how this applies to quilting, well, who hasn't been disappointed in the quilt you just finished, or in not winning any ribbons in a show, or in not getting an enthusiastic response to your new quilt at a guild meeting?  It's hard to deal with disappointment, but in my experience there is usually some kind of silver lining.  A quilt that didn't turned out as you planned is a learning experience of what "not" to do.  Not winning any ribbons in a show is tough, but look at your competition.  If you want to win ribbons you may have to step it up a notch or two, or enter a different kind of show where your style will shine.  Besides, more people left disappointed than not, you can't win every time!  Most importantly, if you don't get an enthusiastic response to your quilt at your guild meeting there are a few things to consider.  First of all, does it deserve a great response?  Sometimes what we think is fab in the comfort of our studio doesn't show as well outside of it.  Secondly, are you showing a Civil War quilt to an "art quilt" type guild or vice versa?  Knowing your audience is key.  I think the most important thing to learn from this is whether or not you're in the right guild.  Maybe the people are too self centered to be generous, or too structured to be accepting, or just downright mean.  Any of those reasons would be enough for me to look elsewhere.

I can't promise to post more than a few times a week or every other week for a while.  Once things settle down into a more regular rhythm I'll be able to write more often.  In the meantime, please check in when you can, and know that if you love what you're doing, it's always worth it!

Happy Stitching!

Susan