I really need to … oh look! A butterfly!

When I was a child, I was undeterred. If I became engrossed in a book, you couldn’t even get through to me because I was so focused on what I was reading. I could concentrate on anything I wanted to focus on, and it was rarely a problem. As an adult, that ability escapes me much of the time, though I know my husband would tell you it’s the same way when I read a book now – he swears he has entire conversations with me when I’m reading that I’m pretty sure never took place. I don’t know, maybe I AM still able to concentrate on a book like that still, but I know that ability doesn’t really exist elsewhere in life for me at this point.

For example, I have completely lost interest in dieting, exercise and the like. I just don’t want to think about how much I’m eating, or should be eating, or shouldn’t be eating. I don’t want to exercise – mostly because my knee is KILLING me every time I try. I’m not interested in food or walking or any of that stuff right now. It’s completely off the table, and I think a good part of the reason is because the medication I’m taking right now stalls weight loss. It doesn’t cause weight gain, but it stalls losing. So I figure, why worry about it? And so, I’m not. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m not gaining weight, so why not just wait out the effects of the medication until I’m done with it in late July and stop obsessing about every little thing I eat?

But when I start to seriously screw up quilts I’ve worked on for months, nay YEARS, the lack of focus becomes much more serious. My lack of focus is seriously hindering my ability to create beautiful quilts that I am proud to show to others, and it’s really bothering me. In fact, the quilt I’ve been working on for Chris for the last two or three years (yes, I said years) is in such bad shape right now, I want to cry every time I think about it.  Part of the problem is that I’m losing skill level at an alarming rate because like any muscle, memory begins to atrophy when it isn’t used. Part of the problem is that I have a relatively new machine, which I still don’t fully understand because I haven’t used it enough, and it doesn’t always occur to me to read the book (hi, Mom) when something doesn’t work the way I think it should. A smaller part of my problem is that my studio, which doubles as our master bedroom, isn’t conducive to creativity. And I think the remainder of the problem is a lack of focus when I quilt lately. My mind is always somewhere else – work problems, kid drama, housework that isn’t done … anywhere BUT on my quilting. As a result, I’ve begun to become immensely discouraged.  I recognize what’s going on and I want to change my paradigm, but how? I think there are some things I can do to help myself get back to a better quilting place.

First of all, my lack of focus is because I try to do too much, I think. My photography has already fallen off, in large part because of ever rising gas prices and because quite frankly, I’m not inspired. I was pretty freaked out about that, but then realized that on a daily basis, I don’t really miss it all that much, so I’m not going to waste energy worrying about what I’m not doing there. Other hobbies have mostly fallen away, too, due to time constraints, money constraints, or other reasons (lack of interest, etc). Really, when it comes to a hobby, outside of reading, quilting and fabric arts are the only things I’m doing right now. I started to make myself some clothing, and I did manage to get a couple of garments made, but then I realized that I’m not really interested in making clothes right now because I don’t have a serger, and regular seams can be uncomfortable. Also, while I’m not currently losing weight, thanks to the meds, I do intend to go back to weight loss by the fall, so I don’t want to spend a lot of time, money and energy on making clothes that won’t fit in a few months.

The last few days, I’ve been able to focus on my quilting with a determination I wasn’t sure I possessed anymore. What was different, you ask? Well, in a word, the difference was me. I decided that I really wanted to get this quilt finished, since I have, after all, been working on it for three years (or so). I ran into some real problems – I am now calling it The Ugly Quilt for reasons that have nothing to do with the fabric selection or the pattern – but I was able to work out some of them, and I may go back and try to fix some of the worse parts of the quilting. Working on this quilt made me realize that if I really enjoy the quilting process so much (and I really do enjoy it), why do I try to rush through making a quilt? Why am I so worried about the “next project” when the current project is nowhere near done?? And why don’t I spend more time actually quilting instead of talking, writing, or reading about it?

My skills really have seriously atrophied in the last few years, so I have decided that I  need to go back to the beginning and re-learn how to quilt, how to slow down and enjoy the journey, and how to turn out a quality product I’m proud to put my name on. I’m going to start with something really simple – a crib-size strip quilt. I’m going to purchase the fabric for this one, not dye any, so it should be really quick to do, but if it isn’t, I’m not going to sweat it. I’ll continue to work on The Ugly Quilt too, but the crib quilt is a baby gift and I need to get it done before the baby arrives in a few months. 🙂

So, back to the drawing board for me – or well, the design wall. One foot in front of the other, and let’s see if I can get my quilting groove back. I really, really miss it.