It’s not working

Concentric yellow circles painted on asphalt surround the phrase “And so I chose to begin again” painted in white. Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I’ve temporarily lost my quilting mojo. I find myself not wanting to make any wrong moves for some reason. I know that mistakes come with the territory and that experimentation can go wrong OR right. It can all work out. But still, I sit among the carefully folded, color-coordinated stacks, not knowing where to begin—not wanting to begin. 

So if you feel stuck right now, I feel you. I’m right there with you.

Grace given and received

beach photo

Our shipping systems in the U.S. are overwhelmed. I sent a package on Dec. 3, and it’s still taking a tour of the U.S. I thought it was a goner but then received a tracking update after 10 days of radio silence. I mean, it’s in the wrong place. But it’s alive. It’s in circulation. There’s HOPE.*

I know that a lot of small businesses are in the same boat. People are upset and demanding refunds. I get it, I do. It’s disappointing to have something sent by priority mail and realize that those words no longer have meaning. If everything is a priority, then nothing is. That axiom applies to the mail, too. 

My lost package was sent by me, not a vendor, and some of the contents were handmade and one-of-a-kind. So it’s disappointing. I can’t replace everything that was inside the box. Yesterday, I reordered what I could, and I am hoping for the best. 

I’m trying to have faith and be patient with everything I am sending and receiving. Most of it will get to us. And if it doesn’t, we have a good story about the year without a Santa Claus (a.k.a. Priority Mail.) If you can, please let the small business people off the hook. Beyond sending it, they really aren’t responsible for mail delays. I find that when I extend grace like this to others, it comes back to me twofold.
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* Update: Since I wrote this post the package resurfaced and was finally delivered. YAY!

A maximalist falls in love with a minimalist

minimalist photography of open door

If I have a motto, it’s that more is more. I’m not usually talking about stuff, but if I am being honest, I am no minimalist. If I like something, I usually wind up with at least three of that item. So I have a hard time explaining my complete adoration for Dawn, The Minimal Mom on YouTube. I am hooked; I’ve already watched a handful of videos in the last five days. 

Maybe I’m trying to change my ways. I think I am realizing the limits of abundance. Dawn often mentions that she doesn’t want to manage that much inventory: I can so relate to that at this point in my life.  

Check out 5 EASY Ways to Make Christmas Extra Special This Year and especially Get rid of these 3 things to feel BETTER about yourself today!! Don’t wait to have clothes you love. Your weight is fine right now. Give away and recycle what no longer fits and love the body you have. Yes, a million times, yes.

Five to follow for more fun and joy

Russian Blue Kitten

Chris Barron (yes, that Chris Barron, from the Spin Doctors). Every Saturday is Caturday on Chris Barron’s Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/thechrisbarron

Tabitha Brown on Instagram and TikTok. Like so, like that, Tabitha Brown wraps you in a happy, loving embrace. Her “America’s Mom” title is spot on. An added bonus is all of the vegan goodies and recipes that she shares.   

Unicorn Manes by Mykey O’Halloran https://www.instagram.com/unicorn_manes_bymykey

RAINBOW HAIR MAKES ME HAPPY! So do the elaborate videos of Mykey and his housemates rolling out the trash barrels (bins). Mikey is someone who creates joy and art with hair. He’s always a pick-me-up.

Mark Kanemura

Mark is a dancer and a performer and a sweetheart of a human being. His performances always make me smile. Follow him on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mkik808/ 

Thoughts of Dog https://twitter.com/dog_feelings 

What *is* your dog thinking? You no longer have to wonder thanks to this Twitter account from Matt Nelson of We Rate Dogs. This account is one of the purest things on the internet.

Pick a Mantra, Any Mantra

Today was good, today was fun, Tomorrow is another one. Photo by @jannerboy62/Nick Fewings on Unsplash

When you feel stuck, unhappy, anxious, frustrated, or just a little lost, a mantra can help you keep going.

My go-to mantra: Right now, it’s like this.

Here are some others that might help you push through to a better place:

I’m safe right now.

Learn everything that you can.

Make friends.

Help people.

Breathe.

Stick with it.

Prepare for the future.

Don’t give up. 

It’s not about me.

I can do this.


Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

WFH (Work From Home)

Woman working at a laptop biting a pencil. Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

You have probably seen many WFH posts in the past week. I feel like they might be more accurately described as WTF! WFH? posts.

I’ve been doing the remote thing for a while. I hope that I can offer some assurance that it’s going to be okay and that you can do this.

My number one recommendation is to create a routine. You might have to time-shift a bit to accommodate working with kids or furkids, so take that into account.

Over the past year, my schedule has evolved into something like this:

Monday-Friday

  • Wake up
  • Start my morning routine.
    • Make coffee and feed the cat because she is starving OMG
    • Meditate with the cat
    • Read with the cat
    • Journal with the cat
    • Write*
    • Check the seedlings
    • Work out
    • Eat breakfast
    • Feed the dogs and take them for a walk
    • Get ready for work (For me, that’s hair, makeup and work clothes)
  • Work 8-noon: I stand up and walk around almost every hour (thank you FitBit), and I take a mid-morning break**
  • Break for lunch at noon
    • I suggest making lunch a standing meeting on your calendar. Don’t skip it, don’t eat at your desk, and as a rule, don’t create meetings during lunch.
    • Take the dogs outside and walk Buddy
    • Give the cat a snack OMG
    • Take a few turns in the game du jour (usually Splendor because it’s easy to play asynchronously, get the expansion pack once you’ve mastered the basic game)
  • Work 1-5ish: I stand up and walk around almost every hour (again, thank you FitBit), and I take a short mid-afternoon break**
  • Transition from work to home with what we call Miller Time (usually nachos) and feed the cat OMG***
  • Evening routine:
    • Make dinner
    • Feed the dogs and take them for a walk
    • Do something constructive/creative/fun*
    • Take a few turns
    • Do Duolingo lessons (Quiero hablar español)
    • Check the seedlings

*I’m still working on making this a daily habit.
** If you have access to LinkedIn Learning, check out https://www.linkedin.com/learning/time-management-working-from-home/plan-meaningful-breaks on the importance of taking meaningful breaks during the work day.
***Miller Time signals the end of the work day. I highly recommend a similar ritual. Sadly, I have no suggestions for dealing with perpetually starving felines.

Saturday and Sunday are similar but my work hours are for creative work and house projects with some playtime and couch lounging thrown into the mix.

I also have a list of things that I do once or twice a week that I associate with specific days (laundry, class, coaching, updating the Little Free Library, watering plants, etc.). You might think that this feels a bit constraining but I find it to be the opposite. It actually frees up headspace to turn my to-dos into habits. 

I’m not going to sugarcoat this. It took me a while to create all of these daily habits, and I didn’t add them all at once. I kept track of things in a Google Spreadsheet for a long time (nerd alert). But less than a year in, I find that many of the things that I struggled to do regularly in the beginning are now habits. I don’t know what the limit is on recommending a particular book, but I recommend Atomic Habits by James Clear if you are trying to develop habits. I love this book. Many of you have received this recommendation, so thanks for letting me fangirl again here. 

Here is a list of articles and other resources that might help you as you transition from working remotely. You don’t need to read them all (although you can, you overachiever), but there’s a lot of wisdom and useful hacks here. 

If you have access to LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com training through work or your local library, there are a ton of good trainings related to remote work and virtual teams (and many other topics). Check it out! Your local library probably has an online resources section with cool offerings. I’ll share more on that in a future post. 

Need face time?

I’m happy to meet with you (via Zoom, of course!) to talk through resources and strategies to adapt to WFH. Contact me!

At the end of the day, “We’re all just walking each other home” (Ram Dass). Reach out to others. Ask for what you need and offer what you can. You’ve got this. We’ve got this. 

Get out your seam ripper

Mistakes happen--that's why I own 8 seam ripperspper.

I recently worked on a quilt project, four placemats for my dad. The fabrics were selected to reflect his experience as a Boy Scout. He was an Eagle Scout, and he worked at a scout camp. One of his duties was to care for a fox on loan from the local zoo. Foxy made a big impression on my dad, so, of course, he had to be part of the quilt. 

I used a quilt-as-you-go technique for these mini quilts with two-inch strips set on a 45-degree angle. To keep the pieces straight, I start in the middle and sew to one corner, and then I flip the quilt over and sew from the middle to the opposite corner. I learned the hard way that starting from one side can result in some distortion. 🙁 

These went together pretty fast, and the strips covered the batting and the backing fabric almost perfectly. I trimmed the quilts to neat rectangles and then sewed the binding together. For the first time ever, I sewed all the mitered seams correctly without having to redo them! Yes!

Then I started sewing on the binding. This is where I first goofed up. I join the edges of the binding in a mitered seam but miscalculated the overlap, so the binding didn’t match up. Then I noticed an even bigger goof-up: the foxes were upside down.

The backing fabric features the Boy Scout Oath with a definite top to the material, and the eagle fabric was laid out in a particular way as well. When I flipped the quilts to sew from the middle to the left, I flipped the foxes, so they were right side up as I was sewing them. Alas, this rendered them upside down in the finished quilt! Things like this happen to everyone, even experienced sewers, but it’s not fun. 

At this point, I just had to get up and walk away. 

In the past, this is where I might have abandoned the project. I am sorry to admit that I have been short on grit more than once in my life. But it’s something I have been working on, so the next day I returned to the sewing room to assess the situation. Luckily, the fox fabric is the second strip from the edge so I would only need to remove two pieces. I had plenty of material and even had extra strips cut. I decided to try removing the binding only from the affected corner. I wasn’t sure if this would work but decided it was worth a try. 

I pulled out my seam ripper. Actually, I probably have eight seam rippers. It’s a small but indispensable sewing gadget prone to being misplaced. So, I have purchased multiple seam rippers over the years. My Clover 463 seam ripper is probably my favorite. Seam rippers are ingenious tools and helpful for all kinds of sewing and non-sewing related tasks.

I made my corrections in stages, so it wasn’t as frustrating to undo the work that I thought was done. I removed the binding first and then came back twice to remove the two corner pieces. Luckily my first quilt was correct. I always do one as a strip guide when making multiples of the same style. It didn’t work perfectly as a guide, but as I said, these things happen in spite of the precautions that we take to ensure a good outcome.

I ultimately sewed on the new corner strips, trimmed the quilts and sewed on the binding. I hand sew the binding in place as the last step, and I am happy to report that they turned out great. 

Mistakes are an inevitable part of the creative process. It helps to have tools in your toolbox to recover from errors and other setbacks, gadgets like my trusty seam ripper.

What are some other tools that can help you handle setbacks?

Mistakes are also an inevitable part of life–not just creative work. It’s a great idea to get good at failing: Acknowledge and label your feelings, don’t label yourself as a failure, and cultivate a sense of humor. Most importantly, remember that failure is an event, not a personality trait. 

Fall down seven times, get up eight. You’ve got this.