We’ve been driving for days. And there are days still to go. This, our first road trip of any consequence…oh. my.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a wonky sense of scale for the contiguous 48 states. I’ll own it. I grew up in Alaska, ask me about the last great frontier. But please don’t look to me to tell you where Pennsylvania is in relation to the rest of the north east. It’s over there somewhere. And so, here we are, somewhere between Illinois and Arizona. They’re a lot farther apart than I thought they’d be.
With all this drive time, I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey as a quilter. That’s what I am, at heart, even though I’m just now putting words to it. I’ve been practicing over half my life, I’m not sure why it just now occurs to me to own it, but here I am. A quilter.
We’ll call the first part of my quilting journey 1.0. Call it the project manager in me. It’s the first version, perfectly useful but bursting with potential. I practiced all the techniques, played with fabric and pattern combinations, and poured love into every piece. I consumed all of quilting that I could find.
But I didn’t recognize or embrace the central role the practice had in the wellness of my soul. It was just something I did.
Creating and making is important, no matter the form it takes. So it’s with caution that I have been trying to distinguish the difference between how I created then and how I’ve been creating lately. The bit I missed back then was the focus on creativity. I was more focused on productivity than pouring myself into my pieces. Both ways are fine and produce beautiful things. Right now what my soul needs is the tender, generous care that only a creative practice can give.
In this new season of my quilty journey, I have shifted. More than just getting a project done, it’s a multi-sensory experience that lights my soul and renews an dull senses. Picasso said, “art washes away from the soul the dust of every day life.” And that’s exactly the experience I’ve had this time. Most of my quilting happens late at night, after everyone goes to bed, when the house is quiet, when nobody needs me. I get lost. Stop watching the time. Flow.
When the bustling of a day settles, it’s just me in this space where there was once so many little feet bouncing, running, playing, messing. It’s just me in the quietness, left to think, breathe, make. I can see, feel, hear, even smell quilting. And my heart is full of peaceful gratitude.
I sit. Breathe. Wait. Thankful.
When I set out weeks ago, to create a little baby gift, I didn’t expect the visceral connection that happened when I felt the familiar softness of the fabric and heard the comforting hum of my old sewing machine. Home sweet home.
The connection to my art has been undeniable. While I’ve dabbled in many forms, even investing in all the pottery equipment any ceramicist could want. But nothing resonated. Nothing changed me like my quilting. Like a heart song. I would be remiss to neglect the practice of the one thing that fills an emptiness.
So friends, if you’ve not had your own encounter with creativity, you can borrow mine. Make something. Practice. Close your eyes and breathe with gratitude.