It’s that New Year Stuff

When I’m deep in the tired mind blahs, mindlessly wandering through my Feedly list can sometimes yield nuggets that flash in my brain and perk me up.  I follow Zen Habits, and this week Leo Babauta’s words plonked into my brain with a spark.

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Apparently even Tarot cards are aware of this brain-fog issue.

What caught my eye was How to Have More Focused Hours in Your Day.  I see a lot of these change-your-life-in-the-new-year articles.  After having lived a few years on this planet, I usually just ignore their advice, but I did like this:

[Any] success I’ve had in increasing my focused time comes down to three habits:
•  Asking myself what meaningful, impactful work I can get done today.
•  Creating space for the meaningful work instead of just doing busywork or being distracted all day.
•  Working in fullscreen mode and diving in.

So I was interested to see that he and I have the first thing in common. I’ve used something similar for years: after I’ve ditzed around for part of the day, I ask myself “What do you want to have done before you quit working today?” and after identifying that ONE thing, I get to work on it.  It’s cured a lot of procrastination issues when I use it.

He expands by noting that “Most of us just dive into our inboxes, social media, favorite online sites, and busywork to start our day. We might have some bigger tasks on our lists, but they get lost in the woods of our day. It’s an incredible habit to take even a few moments at the beginning of your day (or the end of the day before) to give some thought to where you’d like to concentrate your attention. What is worth doing today? What is worth focusing on? What is worth spending the limited time you have in this life?” [italics are mine]

He approaches the second idea — of creating space — in a more roundabout way.  It’s almost like we have to trick ourselves.  He says “Set aside the next 20 minutes for writing, or getting moving on a big project. I don’t have to do the whole project in this time, but just the act of giving myself more space to focus is a huge shift. This is more of a mental act than a physical one: you just tell yourself that it’s time to focus on this important task. You breathe, and say, ‘This is worthy of my attention and effort right now. Let’s put aside everything else and give this some space.’ “January 2020 Messy RoomBut it’s also hard to get going when your sewing space looks like this.

Notice the chair is clear.  I can still do some work.  That’s what he means of working in the third idea, fullscreen mode: ignore everything else around the edges, and just focus in.  I used to only be able to work in a very clean, very tidy sewing room.  But I got over that.  I still like to clean it up, and did leave it sort of clean when we went up to Utah to help Mom and Dad clear out their condo of 30 years, in preparation for moving to a senior community, but I brought back various sewing things, a small Viking sewing machine THAT WAS MADE IN SWEDEN (I know, I know!) and I just plopped them around.

I spent three days quilting My Small World, and now it’s ready for borders.  I need to put a slim border around my Temperature Quilt before I move forward, and just like that…I am making a list in my mind about what I want to do first.

It’s also helped that the busyness that has been present in my life since — say, about September — culminated with our First Monday Sew Day this past week (pictures, above).  It’s quite gratifying to see Hayley, a beginning quilter, turn out such pristinely perfect pinwheels (lower left corner).  She’s only been sewing for about a month, and puts me to shame!

Here’s our flier from that day, where we covered snowball blocks and half-square triangles:

FirstMonday Jan2020 Sample

For the handout, click on this title: FirstMondaySewday_Jan6_2020

Pattern HSH underconstruction

Still working on revising Home, Sweet, Home–there are lots of new illustrations to make — as I will be teaching this a lot this year and want a shiny new version to take with me when I visit Guilds.  I also began new duties as VP of Communications for our local Modern Quilt Guild, and have my first board meeting next week.  I’m impressed with all the service I hear that you give to your Guilds and wanted to do the same.

Thank you notes 2020.jpg

Finally, I always begin the new year by writing my thank you notes.  These, from Quiltfolk, were perfect.  I hope you all have good beginnings to your new year!

Ring Out, Wild Bells

HappyNewYear

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

 Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Every New Year’s this poem, In Memoriam,  by Lord Alfred Tennyson, has been recited in Sweden to welcome in the new year.  It’s one of my favorite hymns, not only because of the arrangement (the Marsdon tune, arramged by Crawford Gates in an especially riveting D-minor key, which gives it a haunting quality) but mainly because the last stanza urges us to “Ring in the . . . larger heart, the kindlier hand,” among other things.  And while I could say that the wording might be reversed, giving us “kindlier heart and larger hand” and that would give us more chances to do quilting, I think I’ll leave it well enough alone and hope for what Tennyson wrote.

StarQuilt2012

Yesterday I just finished the quilt I started one year ago.  This is a terrible, horrible blurry picture, but you get the drift.  That’s what happens when you finish up late at night, and the pin wall has all sorts of other things pinned around the edges.  Better pictures are coming.  The fabric is Countdown to Christmas by Sweetwater, and the pattern is by Angela and found on Moda Bake Shop. Since the stars and I went several rounds before I finally was declared the victor, and because I think they look beyond wonky in some blocks, I’ve been thinking about the book Star Mother’s Youngest Child, a delightful story of how a wonderfully ugly little child comes down to earth to see what Christmas is all about, and ends up sharing the hearth with a grumpy old woman (which I certainly was at one point in this quilt’s construction).  It’s okay that nobody but me will know what it means, but I like that title: Star Mother’s Youngest Child.

I’m at the point of deciding whether to just piece up the extras for the back, or to take the last steps and make the shams that could go with this so as to decorate the guest room for the holidays.  I’ll just make up two star blocks, for they measure 16″ and then border them and call it a day.  It IS New Year’s Eve tomorrow, and I don’t have much on the schedule, so why not?

FabricStackDec2012

This is the stack from IKEA that I finally got washed up and ironed (yes, I’m one of those), excepting the bottom red/white snowflake fabric, which I bought on my way home from Utah in a bookstore that also carried fabric.  How great is that?  Forget coffee. Give me books and fabric and I’m happy.  But that red snowflake fabric  is destined to back the wonky snowman quilt I started LAST November, which is the next to go up on the pin wall, while I can still listen to Christmas carols and before the urge to clean out closets creeps in with the New Year.

closets(Self portrait)

I’m too old for resolutions, but I try to put down some things that have me looking forward, for that is where the future is.  One is our newest theme for Four-in-Art: trees.  I took lots of photos of snowy trees while in Utah, and here’s a photo that my husband snapped of me in a lull in my photo-snapping.

ESE SnowyDay

But the one tree I remember was by the side of the highway while I was driving up north, covered in glittery frost and standing completely out in a field, all by itself.  I did see snowy trees on the way home, but most were obliterated by a huge snowstorm which had me sitting up straight in the driver’s seat, clenching the steering wheel, praying that the semi-trucks would stay in their tracks and I could stay in mine.  I don’t know how the folks do it who live in snowy climes–you have my admiration.

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Another bright spot is the Mid-Century Modern Bee.  All of us Mid-Century Modern quilters are gathered together by Cindy, of Live a Colorful Life.  She and I had fun creating the logo together when she visited in November, and I look forward to participating with such a distinguished group of quilters.

I don’t know what this New Year will hold.  Certainly the Mayan calendar is going to go for another round of days, so I guess we should too.  I hope to add to my 200 Quilts list, with another quilt just back from the quilter and awaiting the binding, then the documentation onto the list. I hope to write more, both on this blog and others that I maintain, to teach well in the classroom, to read some books, and attend some quilting conferences (next up is Road to California, with its emphasis on glitter and crystals (not a fan), but hopefully I’ll find one or two that I love).

I hope that you are gathering some bright spots together in your future, and that we are all able, like Tennyson, to “Ring in the . . . larger heart, the kindlier hand.” Happy New Year of Quilting!

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