I didn’t want to open the envelope when these teaching samples came back, even though I’d been expecting them. The Guild Program Chair wrote me a lovely note telling me they’d never had to cancel a speaker before, and they were sorry.
How do I write a blog post about what’s going on under the surface for those of us who love going out and teaching and meeting new groups (groups of 50+!) and hanging out with quilters and celebrating what they make in their classes?
When Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of Modern Quilt Studio, in a newsletter, said that they’d canceled all classes and Guild visits until there is a vaccine, I knew that what I initially thought of a just-a-few-weeks experience was now going to be at least a year, if not two or three.
I think it’s been slowly dawning on most of us — as we stay carefully put, doing our “i-sew-lation” sewing, doing our best to be cheerful — that a creeping sadness is all around us. It’s not only the horrific amount of deaths from Coivd-19 or the stories of those on the front lines in the hospitals or that we share memes incessantly, trying hard not to be sucked under. That creeping sadness some call grief (and that may be what it is), interrupts creativity, joy, connection, and a host of other daily living patterns.
One morning’s walk this week, I dissolved in tears as my husband discussed all the formal steps we would have to take for possible retirement: forms to be signed, Zoom calls, separation from his job and mountains of research and careful planning. It wasn’t that we aren’t prepared or ready for this new shift in our lives. I was just jealous that he had forms to be signed, Zoom calls and mountains of careful planning.
I cried because all of sudden, doing what I loved was gone, and for the foreseeable future–it would remain out of reach. There were no forms to be signed. Just a lonely envelope in the mail from a most kind fellow quilter.
So many tears for such a little crisis, I thought. I immediately shifted into Counting the Blessings Mode, as that’s my usual. I have a wonderful home to shelter in, a sufficiently stocked sewing room, a kind and loving husband who works hard to understand me, sufficient steady income, a large family of brothers and sisters and parents and children and grandchildren and a wide expanse of friends, both in person and digital.
But it’s just hard to retire when you weren’t expecting to, when you’d found what you really loved to do. I don’t know how long it will be until I can greet quilting friends again in person. No one knows. But we’ll all just keep going, keep trying to count our blessings, keep working to bridge that not-in-person gap that we all face. Some days I do fine at this.
And other days an envelope makes me stop and have a good cry.
I’ll be in my Sewing Room — my particular version of a Happy Box — if you need me.
This came in my emailbox yesterday. Given what I wrote about above, I’m not surprised. I’m glad that the Modern Quilt Guild is being proactive on solving the problems that might exist in our new covid-centric world.
And as far as my teaching goes, I am in contact with my future quilt guild gigs, seeing what their plans are, if they will be holding events. If you have questions, and have already booked with me, please get in contact to discuss. Things change quickly.
The illlustration of the virus above is:
“A rendering of the outer shell of an adeno-associated virus with the exterior partially removed. The shell is used as a Trojan horse to deliver a genetic component of the coronavirus to raise an immune response. Credit: Eric Zinn and Luk H. Vandenberghe”
I thought the illustration beautiful.
17 thoughts on “Returned Samples”
This was timely. We are managing fine and even a bit on the upswing since there were only 34 new cases in Switzerland yesterday. But, again, for the Long Haul, it still means continuing to live prudently and wisely.
I came home from the grocery store, which is now a huge, weekly event, with social distance and trying to remember everything I might need for the week (and I remembered more spray starch for my quilting😊)…. And bumped my head on the open cubboard and burst into tears, more from the need to just let go of wall the emotions than from actually hurting myself.
But my good news this week is it looks like my COVID-19 art quilt may hang in the lobby of the University Hospital of Geneva as part of a thank you display from a local volunteer group we are in.
I do hope you make it to Switzerland again some time!
My last stop before the stay at home order was for eight cans of spray starch.
I am sorry about the cancellations. As a guild member I was ok with April;s meeting being cancelled, but now May and the Quilt show. It is a bummer. Things are ever changing aren’t they?
First I just have to say I’m sorry – sorry this is hitting you so hard and in so many different ways. And second, I’m just so glad we could spend time together on 9-19-19, live and in person. Oh, and third, I’m so glad you’re my quilting friend, in times of Covid-19 and in time of joy!
I understand your sentiments, Elizabeth. These days are worth grieving over. That QuiltCon 2021 (in person) is being cancelled, hit me really hard. I can deal with not teaching in person, especially as more than half of my local students have agreed to the idea of Zoom teaching to learn free motion quilting. But no QC to anticipate is a real downer. I’m glad your husband is moving forward toward retirement.
Zoom teaching It has its advantages, one being that students can participate on their “big machine,” not the portable machines most of them bring to class. The negative is on my end… figuring out how to set up extra lighting, and working with my laptop because I don’t have an online camera. Apparently Sherri Lynn Wood is finding great success with virtual teaching. As you do, I continue to feel very grateful for my lovely home to shelter in, my sewing room that fills my creative spirit, and a hubs who’s a great cook. The biggest negative is forcing myself to exercise!
So many emotions. Fear, frustration, anger. Throw in some insomnia and free floating anxiety. One I am grateful for is being part of a large online community, and that I have always embraced technology. I love a quilt shop as much as the next person, and along with my daughter, I miss a day of just bumming. But I love my Etsy sellers, too. I feel as much loyalty to them as I do any brick and mortar store. Anyway, just rambling, I want to start thinking about how I will move forward in this new abnormal.
I’m sorry you are having such a difficult time, Elizabeth. Humans are not meant to be hermits and I can imagine how devastated you are that you cannot share your love of quilting with others. As anyone who has lived long enough, we know these years pass quickly and this will all soon be a distant memory. How exciting it is for Dave to be retiring! I know it looks bleak now, but you two will have many plans to make soon. Perhaps in the meantime you can teach him to quilt!!!
My husband retired on March 26th. We had made such plans! Needless to say none of them have happened…yet. Everything is about the future. The focus now is those small surprises that give you joy. I walked home from work this morning to find a grey lopped ear bunny sitting in my driveway. Someone’s pet I am sure. I couldn’t catch him. I hope the coyotes don’t get him tonight.
I am so there with you on the emotions…don’t quite understand it as I already am retired and really not personally effected but the emotions right under the surface, a TV add can set those tears off. We all will get through this, right? Hugs to you and yours!
I so hear you – and cry with you. This is a huge loss for you, just as you were really entering the zenith of your career – it is so not fair! And that anxiety is underneath everything we do and feel these days. And when I hit my (hopefully temporary) wall this week, I realized that under that anxiety was fear. Fear of the unknown future, fear for my high-risk spouse, fear for our country as it has to re-imagine itself, fear for our world. But I can also see the possibilities for the new future: we now get to do a Zoom call with all of our kids (including the one in Switzerland) every week; I got to do a Zoom conversation with my granddaughter last weekend, and we talked over an hour (even though no hug); our pollution of the world has slowed, and we can have a chance to figure out how to keep it cleaner; and many others. So we can grieve the losses and celebrate the gains. My mantra – you may have to deal with it, but you don’t have to like it! Love to you.
That sadness is an undercurrent in all things for me. We had planned to pick up my sister in New Zealand in September. We foolishly perhaps bought new rain shells early in the stay at home days thinking we’d still get to use them. Now we are 95 percent sure we won’t be using any vacation time this year. My sister is gutted. She obviously wants us to be safe, but she so looked forward to showing us New Zealand before she left.
I’m also worried about my guild’s retreat. The organizer is hopeful, but my guts says it won’t happen. I’m bummed as it would have been my first one.
I calm myself by remembering life is a marathon and not a sprint. I’ll have other opportunities for retreats and travels later down the road. For now though, I focus on trying to clean my home (ha yeah right) and handling my daily work tasks, knowing I’m serving the residents around me from my dining table.
As they say, This Too Shall Pass.
Well! So much going on! My Mother always said, “This too will pass” in situations like this. I was already happily retired, and remain happy to be so, but I wouldn’t have liked it to be involuntary!
So many changes in our lives! It’s so hard. I just learned today that fall semester is going to be online. It felt like a punch in the gut.
Elizabeth, like you my business is also on hiatus. I teach quilt history and women’s history at guilds, museums, and universities. All your feelings are valid. For me, I’m going to take this time to create new programs and quilts. It’s how I’m coping. I hope it gets easier for you and wish you peace.
Loss is hard – especially when there are so many of them at one time. Loss of social interaction, a schedule, a lifestyle – and so much uncertainty. Sometimes a good cry is the only medicine. There are actually physiologic and psychological benefits to it. Do as much as you can that feeds your soul, continue your gratitude practice and know that you are beloved.
I look forward to your thoughtful posts and this one really resonates. You capture the underlying sadness and anxiety so well. I will do fine for days, and then just “lose it” – and I wake up every day feeling nervous. That can’t be healthy. I’m so sorry that what you love to do – large group presentations and teaching – has to be shelved, and for who knows how long. Some great ideas about virtual teaching in the comments here – but, I imagine that doesn’t really feel like a good substitute… yet?
My heart aches for your loss of the teaching gigs knowing what a people person you are. We are all on a roller coaster with some days (or even moments) up and others hitting bottom. Just hang tight and let those screams and tears come. But also keep your hands in the air with whoops of joy too.