Creatively Busy

Since I have some free time on my hands these days, I’m working on a few things of my own. I used to do a lot of projects using old windows. About 13 years ago, a glass guy I know asked if I wanted a bunch of windows. A bunch, like 40! I took them, and I did make and sell a few things I created with them. I’ve done a lot of purging since then, but I keep hanging on to these darn windows! I’ve had a project in mind for quite a while, so now I’m putting that project into motion. It has something to do with what’s on my machine today. The fabrics are a mix of Hometown and Reunion by Sweetwater . 

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I also have a bit of Madrona Road by Violet Craft fun happening on my design wall! The Moda Bella solids really worked well with the prints!

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All of the tumbler blocks were cut using the Go! Studio Fabric Cutter. Sure made quick time of getting a gazillion blocks cut! I’m not sure what or who I’m making the quilt for, but I have a couple of ideas!

The Noise in Our Heads

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the things I want to do, the things that used to give me a lot of joy and satisfaction as an artist, and the reasons I quit doing those things.

I grew up with paper and pencil always at the ready. I sketched all the time. I loved playing with pen and ink, charcoal, pastels, and acrylics. My husband once told me, while he was watching me work on a painting, that I had a beautiful glow about me when I’d paint. I quit doing all of that when I got into quilting, because I never quite felt like I was good enough at fine arts. Good enough for what? I don’t know. Just not good enough. 

Some time ago, I had a sewing day with a couple of my friends, and one of them kept saying that her blocks weren’t good enough. Over the course of the day, there were lots of words of self-doubt and self-criticism. A lot of, “I can’t, I’m not good at…, I’ll never be able to…”.  I was reminded of that day when I was talking to my friend, Carie, about why I’ve not gotten on with writing a children’s book about Shamus. I answered that it was because I can’t illustrate it. As she is so good at doing, she asked a very simple question: “Why can’t you?”  It’s the kind of question that makes you go hmmmmmmmmmmm. 

I was instantly reminded of what I had said to my sewing friend that day. Where does all the noise in our heads come from? Where along the way, did all of those ugly words come from? Can’t, never, not good enough, ugly, stupid, insufficient. Lordy me, those are awful words! 

I can honestly say that for me, it has come from expectations that I set for myself. I compare my work to that of artists I admire, and I think I’ll never be able to do that, whatever “that” may be. I’ve always struggled with my weight, having curly hair, horrible acne as a teenager, and generally haven’t liked the way I look very much. For some reason, I’ve had this image in my head that an “artist” has to look funky, be cute, be stylish, blah blah blah. I have no idea where that noise came from, it’s just always been there. I have the notion that to be the part, I have to look the part. Why do I think that an artist can’t be a jeans and t-shirt sort of girl? I have no idea! Logically, I know many artists who are just like me, and I love their work and think they are beautiful! Why can’t I accept myself like that? It’s the noise in my head. 

As I’m getting older, I think I’m getting bolder. As I’m giving up almost everything I’ve ever known, there is a sense of adventure starting to creep in. An opportunity to sort of recreate myself is knocking at my door. Maybe recreate is not exactly the right word. Maybe it’s just a matter of self acceptance, love, kindness, patience, and a matter of allowing myself bloom. Digging out my drawing tablets and pencils, I feel a fresh bit of excitement starting to bubble. This could be a grand adventure, or it could be a huge disappointment. It’s a choice that I get to make! Keeping the negative noise down is going to take practice, but I’m ready to take on the challenge!

As I said to my self-doubting friend, “The next time that voice pops into your head and says that you aren’t good enough, tell it to shut the hell up!” 

Good, Bad or Indifferent, Life is Constantly Changing

So many things have happened over the past several weeks, that I’ve simply been too overwhelmed to write. Each time I sit down and try to organize my thoughts and process everything, I decide it’s easier to just go and do something else. 

I initially started this blog as a way of journaling my life as I explore a variety of artistic endeavors. I had great intentions, but life got in the way. I was busy with quilting, blogging for the Bakersfield Modern Quilt Guild, and generally trying to keep up with taking care of other people and other things. Sadly, my blog and my creativity have been sorely neglected. I needed a shake up, I guess!

If you are unaware of how bad California’s economy has been, then you’ve been living under a rock! 😉  Since my husband is employed by the State, we have been very negatively effected by the cut in my husband’s salary, the ever-climbing cost  of living, and the increase in college expenses for our son, who is a senior student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Many times over, I’ve felt like I was drowning, and there was no hope that a life boat would happen by. The goal was to simply get by, one day at a time. It seemed like everything in life became a matter of survival. That gets old!

I picked Scott up at the carpool one day, and he said, “Crescent City or San Luis Obispo?” My answer: “Yes?” He asked me again, and my answer was the same. He’s not usually one for teasing, but I could see the laughter in his eyes, and so I asked him what the heck he was referring to. He finally explained to me that all employees in his bargaining unit had been given notice that they may be laid off. He has 24.5 years in the department, so it wasn’t like he’d lose his job tomorrow. However, having received the notice, he was given the option to apply for a transfer to any institution that had an opening. He knows how much I love being near water, so he was asking which place I’d like to live. The next evening, he faxed his transfer request to state headquarters. It all came down to his seniority number. No interview, no testing, nada. I certainly hoped for a transfer to the happiest place in the U.S. (as deemed by Oprah), but I was so used to disappointment, I was afraid to hope. On Monday, February 4th, I was sitting here and sewing with Pam when the letter came. I couldn’t believe it! I read the first few lines, welcoming Scott to CMC in San Luis Obispo, and that’s as far as I got. I finally told Pam what was going on, and I felt like I was floating on a cloud of shock, disbelief, and pure joy! Jumping up and down, light-headed, happiness! Scott and I went to dinner that night and celebrated this unimaginable change that was about to happen in our lives.

The next day, I called our mortgage company and started the process of listing our home for short sale, due to this unexpected job transfer. Scott contacted the institution and found out that he was to report to his new job on February 19th, and I had already made plans and reservations to attend Quiltcon in Austin, TX, leaving on the 20th. Could it get any crazier? Ummmm, yes!

Tuesday evening, we were both pretty wiped out by all of the emotions we’d been  feeling, planning on how to orchestrate the move, my trip, selling the house, looking for a place to live, etc. Around 8:00, I noticed that Chipper was breathing quite fast. He would dream a lot, and his breathing would increase when he did. I asked Scott to reach over and touch him to see if he’d calm down a bit. He seemed to, but his breathing was still more rapid than it should have been. When the boys went out for the last time that night, Chip seemed fine. He ran to the fence and barked at the dogs next door, ran around the yard a bit, then joyfully ran into the kitchen for his treat. 

My dogs have their routine. Chip would always curl up between Scott’s feet, and Chunk would lie at the foot of the bed. As I was dozing off, I felt Chip get up and he seemed to have trouble getting comfortable. At some point, I heard him get off the bed, which he’d do if he got too warm. It was like being a mama of little children. You sleep with your ears open. I kept hearing him moving from one place to another, trying to get settled. I got up around 2:00 a.m., and I layed down in the floor with him. I slept most of the night like that, and I could hear the rattling in his breathing. All of my animals get asthma this time of year, and I thought he needed a steroid shot. I called the vet as soon as they opened the next morning, and I took him right in. He was very excited to get to go bye bye, hopped and ran and howled, all the way out to the truck. Even as perky as he was, I could still tell his breathing wasn’t quite right. At the vet’s office, he was friendly, took a treat from one of the techs, and seemed to be his spunky little self, but I could tell he wasn’t. I don’t care if it’s human babies or fur babies, a mama knows. 

The vet could hear fluid in his lungs, so she took some chest x-rays. What she saw on those x-rays, shocked everyone in the office. Chipper was suffering from congestive heart failure. His heart was so enlarged, that it took up his entire chest cavity! Both of his lungs were full of fluid, and his heart was being squeezed by the fluid building up there, too. They gave him IV meds to reduce the fluids and said he’d improve over the next couple of hours. They sent me home with other medications to give him and told me to bring him back on Friday. We got home at 9:30, and Chipper died at noon. So fast, so unexpected, and a complete shock. I am so glad that I got to bring him home and be with him while he passed. He was an awesome pup, with tons of spunk and personality! He had quirks that were unusual and all Chipper. He’d lick a thousand times, like he was giving you kisses, yet never touch you. Tender, air kisses. He always smiled, and when he’d flop over for a belly rub, his tail wagged so much that his whole body wiggled. He’d steal your socks, underwear, dish towels, almost anything, and walk around with whatever it was, making this whiney sound and pacing the room. Finally, he’d settle down somewhere and sleep on whatever he’d stolen. He never chewed things up. It was like he had a wooby, and was trying to find the best place to settle down with it. He was always underfoot, and he was my constant companion. When I sewed, he curled up in the room with me. When I’d shower, he’d be curled up on a bath rug, waiting for me to get finished. When I cooked, he’d curl up on the kitchen rug right behind me. If I went down the hall for something, I’d trip on him if I turned around too quickly. I can’t count the number of times I’d scold him for being underfoot! I’d say to him, “My little Chip, wherever I go, he goes.”  He was a happy, smart pup, who was also feisty and a bit mischevious. We had Chipper’s mama, Penny, and we still have his brother, Chunk. He and Chunk were from the same litter, so they’d never been apart. The day he died, Chunk threw up uncontrollably, all day long. Even Shamus cried and yowelled all day, and he got sick, too! A visit to the vet for some anti-nausea meds for both of them, and they were both fine the next day. They were grieving, just like I was. 

I left for Quiltcon two weeks later. With everything that had happened, I almost didn’t go. My house sitter had moved, so I didn’t have anyone to watch the house until the day before I was to leave! I had a quilt in the show, and I really wanted to go, but I also struggled with feeling like I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. I was so raw in so many ways! My nephew and his girlfriend came to my rescue and offered to house and animal sit while I was gone. And so it happened, I did make it to Quiltcon after all. 

Quiltcon was great! I didn’t take any classes, because I wanted to go to the lectures and see demos. I also got to see some very special friends, and spent time getting to know new friends. There were so many serendipitous things that happened, that I almost can’t quite sort them all out in order to write about them! I don’t believe that things randomly happen. I believe God has a plan for me, and I tend to get in the way of things, because I’m a bit stubborn. This one time, I truly flew by the seat of my pants and let God do His thing. I’ve been wanting to design, create art, and write. That being said, I get caught up in every day life and other committments, and simply surviving. I was completely blown away by the opportunities that were presented to me, the connections that I made without trying, and the affirmations that came to me of what I need to be doing with my art. Blown away, I tell ya! Day after day, amazing things happened! Without sharing details, because I’m still overwhelmed by it all, God made himself very clear! 

The day to day things still have to be taken care of. I’m still in Bakersfield, taking care of getting the house sold and packing it up, while Scott is working and living in San Luis Obispo. We are blessed that my niece and her husband have provided him with a place to stay during the week. We got our house listed, and we had 13 offers in 3 days! I’m packing up things that we don’t need to use, and I’m searching for a place to live in San Luis Obispo. We are also looking at surrounding areas. So far, nothing has panned out. Because of everything that’s happened in the last 6 weeks, I know that God will bring us just the right place at just the right time. I’m trying like crazy not to get caught up in being lonesome and frustrated. You know, those human emotions that can stop us in our tracks if we’re not careful. This is a whole new chapter in our lives, and I know that we are going to grow in immeasureable ways.

As an artist, my soul is opening up in ways that I’ve only dreamed about. I’m discovering new facets of myself, and I’m amazed! Amazed at so many things! Like I said, I’m still overwhelmed! I’m going to try to be more diligent about blogging, so that I can share my adventures with anyone who wants to read about them! Hold on, it’s going to be a wild ride!

xoxo, Chipper….

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