Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Second 100 days Redux

Some might call it a failure...I call it a temporary life pause. 

stitch meditation4

Right after I wrote about the first 100 day challenge and decided to add another 100 day challenge for myself the highest of high weed pollen season hit. We have had a very wet summer and had a bountiful crop of weeds. For most folks, this simply means sneezing, nose blowing and itchy eyes. Annoying but life goes on right? 

I have a mast cell disorder (MCAD for short). The A is for activation just in case you were wondering. This disorder is considered rare but I really just think it is very un-diagnosed. Testing has not been available for very long.

Basically, your mast cells are part of your immune system. They are found in every part of your body. Their job is to 'de-granulate' when there is a threat (real or not) and wipe it out by dumping a bunch of histamines into your system. The histamine takes down the offending invader.  This all works great when it works properly but when things got out of whack they release too much histamine at once or they release histamine all the time and chaos happens.

That is when anaphylactic shock can show up....or as in my case you just feel like you have been run over by a truck. In addition to the sneezing, nose blowing and itchy eyes I get achy joints, yucky guts, crazy fatigue, brain fog and yes sometimes crabby too! 

I have spent the last few weeks just getting done the things that must be done like prep for taping 3 sessions for Quilting Arts TV last week and getting ready to head to Virginia Beach, VA tomorrow to teach at Art and Soul.  I am letting everything else wait until we get some serious cold weather to kill those weeds!

It can be really easy to beat oneself up when setbacks happen. I used to try to push through any problem and get things done no matter what but, have learned that pushing through isn't always the best thing to do especially when healing is involved. 

Those of you who have asked about the Stitch Meditations they will be returning very soon (I really miss making them now) and I will also get back to drawing as well. It is getting better here and I could definitely tell the day the weed pollen count went from High to Moderate. 

Hope you don't mind as I cheer on the arrival of cold and snow! :-)

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Daily Stitch Meditations

 

daily stitch meditation

 

I have been getting some questions about  my daily stitch meditations so, I thought I would explain what I am doing, why I am doing and invite you to join me. I post them on my Facebook page,  PinterestInstagram , Tumblr,  and Twitter! I use the following hashtags: #100daysto100%, #tantalizingtextilewishes and #stitchmeditation 

 

My word for the year is Intention. I want to improve my meditation and mindfullness skills as well as focus on working more strategically in my business. I occasionally practice traditional meditation and while I find it fulfilling,I have discovered that I like a  meditation that involves keeping my hands busy while I let my mind clear. My goal is to use both types of meditation daily. It will take me a while to build up to that. 

daily stitch meditation

My friend, Deb Prewitt, wrote a blog post about 100 Days to 100% that resonated with me. I had been thinking about a new class based on small hand stitched textile collages and my intention to do something creative daily as well as increase my meditation skills. Thus, the Daily Stitch Meditations were born.

daily stitch meditation

I don't always finish a piece in one day and I don't always stitch every day. This last week was crazy busy and I realized that while I had time to stitch I didn't have enough time to figure out what to stitch on. In order to avoid that in the future I created a Daily Stitch Kit with lots of odds and ends of fabrics, stabilizers, thread, papers...weird bits that I find in the studio when I clean up. Now, I have everything in a basket ready to go.

 

I invite you to stitch with me. It is relaxing, fun and you create a pile of beautiful bits to add to your work or frame. There are no rules! just stitch something. I usually stitch for about 20 minutes...some days less, some more. My stitch meditations range from ATC size (2.5" x3.5") to 4" x 4" but some are a little bigger.  If you decide to stitch along use the hashtag #stitchmeditation so we can find them too!

 

 daily stitch meditation

 

I will be teaching these techniques and more in my class Tantalizing Textile wishes at Art and Soul in Portland OR 2015 .

 

 

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Love your photos! Warning: rant

me and judy at va beach 2013I have so many great things to share with you all about my travels the last 6 weeks. Great classes taken and given. Wonderful memories of making art with inspiring people but before I get to those posts I have a deep need to share my views on photos of yourself.

 

In my travels the last 6 weeks I have had 3 important encounters involving women and photos of themselves. Two hated having their picture taken and one boldly showed her swimming suit clad, approaching 70 year old body, declaring the joy of being at the beach she loves.

 

The two women who said keep me out of the photo because I hate photos of myself could not have been different! The first a plump middle aged nurse who gives her heart and energy to her patients. The second a young mom perhaps a bit too thin who shares her love of creating with others and encourages them to live richer lives through art.

 

I am sorry to say that I jumped on both of these two ladies rather vehemently. Not sorry that I shared my views but maybe I was a little tough on them. You see, I used to be like them and I have learned that it truly doesn't matter what you look like. To borrow a phrase from motivational speaker, Lisa Nichols: It doesn't matter what your package looks like! 

 

What matters is the shine from your eyes and the smile of grace and beauty that lights up your face.

 

We have this media fed myth of physical perfection that is such a lie. It keeps us down and unable to be the powerful force of creation we are meant to be. It makes us sick and lonely, unable to love ourselves or even be kind to ourselves.

 

I too hid from photos for years...always offering to be the photographer rather than the photographee. I hated the 40 pounds I couldn't lose after having kids. I hated the 6 inch scar that splits my belly so it will never be flat even if I ever manage to lose that last 15lbs. I hated my big man-sized hands with nails that are soft and broken all the time. I hated my big wide feet with the short stubby toes deformed from too many years of living barefoot. The stretch marks, the scars and the bumpy bits all made me want to hide. And I did.

 

It took a lot of work and kindness towards myself to change my perspective. I am still a work in progress but I started with my hands. I realized that if I had been born with sweet dainty hands with slim fingers and beautifully shaped nails that they wouldn't be as strong as the hands I have. My hands are perfect for working and making art. I am not slowed down by worries that I might chip my polish or break a nail as I dig in the garden or create art. My hands are perfect for me.

 

If I still shied away from having my photo taken, I would have missed the opportunity to capture the photo above of me and my dearest friend Judy Gula. This was in the last few minutes before we closed down her on-site store at the Art and Soul retreat in Va Beach. We were both exhausted beyond measure, not well groomed, hot and sweaty. But, we were happy to be there together surrounded by people we love and basking in the energy of hundreds of creative people making art. A priceless photo in my opinion.

 

The third lady I wrote about? She was using that beautiful photo of herself in a collage book she started in my class. All her friends and family will see it. She told me that while it isn't the most attractive photo of herself with all her lumps, bumps and saggy skin in plain view, the photo perfectly summed up the joy and deep happiness she feels when she is at the beach. We can all take a lesson from her.

 

I challenge each of you to begin with one part of your body that you don't like and find the reasons to love it. Take time to create a journal page or small art piece about it. Repeat until you love each part of you.

 

Write this down and paste it on your mirror, your computer monitor, your car! Breathe it in every day.

It doesn't matter what package you got.

 

What matters is your heart and soul.

 

You are beautiful just as you are.

 

 

 

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Walk With Me ~ Sand Dunes

Over Thanksgiving I was in Alamogordo New Mexico to visit family. It was a great gathering of family and friends. Every trip there finds us visiting White Sands National Monument. White Sands is 275 square miles of gypsum sand dunes. It is an amazing place and it always captivates us. Our trips usually entail hauling kids up to the top of the dunes and watching them sled down however on this trip, the 'kids' had left early and we were left with some sturdy hikers and a couple of dogs that needed to run so we took one of the 'trail' hikes.

I use the term 'trail' loosely here. The trail is marked by posts sticking up along the path and one is warned that if they can't see the next post turn back because you will become hopelessly lost. The few stalwart plants cast beautiful shadows in the winter afternoon sun. You have to wonder how they survive in this seemingly barren land.

After a few minutes of trudging up and down dunes under incredible blue skies one may think 'well that is enough of that...let's go home'. But, like most desert landscapes one must persevere, slow down and take a closer look at what is around you. I find that a lot of life is like that too...sometimes you just have to slow down and examine things a bit closer to see what is really going on. You would not believe the many different types of lines the wind carves in the sand. Some are straight, some are more organic, some start and leave off with out a plan that I can discern. Some lines form patterns that are familiar and comfortable while others look like they must be from a different world. Lots of art inspiration to be found in all those lines.

This was the only eroded 'structure' that we saw that wasn't caused by a plant. Makes one wonder what is different about this spot of sand. Mostly the sand just blows where it wants, moving those giant dunes one grain at a time. One trail marker was almost totally buried, another was laying on the ground because the sand had blown away from the base.

It would be easy to become philosophical when walking the dunes...the silence and ripple lines of sand lend themselves to meditation and introspection...well that is if you didn't have 2 dogs dashing about hither and yon and the wind howling in your ears it would be serene.  I was simply happy to have the warm sun on my face and just 'be' in the moment. A gift found amidst the chaos of the holiday season...one that I can pull out when I need a few moments of virtual quiet and warm sun.
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