January 2018 – New Year

Welcome to 2018… it is a bit late, but that in-between Christmas and New Year period where you don’t know what day it is or what you are meant to be  doing with your life stayed with me for something of an extended period of time. The fog seems to be lifting and I know know it is Sunday, and I really should be writing.

2018 ended up being a bit of a strange year. I seemed to have a bit going on, but I also didn’t. I have managed to keep up with some of the quilting things I had going on (this afternoon I plan to do the last of my Bee Block commitments for 2017); I have also almost finished the top for Sarah Fielke’s Down the Rabbit Hole block of the month (coming soon to a post near you). I have a couple of other things in the works as well, but for the most part – that is it.

I had one last finish for 2017, a large pillow cover for a 12 year old Star Wars/Soccer fanatic in my life, I did some “forced improv” after accidentally putting a hole in it. Post coming soon.

Back in January 2017, I made some goals and assigned a word (nurture); this has had some mixed success…

I decided that this year I was going to have something of a focus on my health. In the middle of the year I was diagnosed as Celiac – which has helped me enormously. I am feeling better in many ways and have sorted out many of the physical challenges I had been having (I was also flu free though winter which was something of a minor miracle). The latter stages of the year have also seen me taper off and stop taking my anti-anxiety and depression medication (completely with doctor support; don’t ever do that on your own).  My brain is finally settling down, and other than a bit of a challenge trying to rein in my emotions from time to time (who knew advertisements could be so emotionally charged) I am doing okay.

My PhD continues, and I suspect that this year it is going to have to take more of a front seat in my world. I delivered my introductory seminar in September, and am currently trying to get my head in the theory game. I won’t bore you with this here – but it is progressing and I am still enjoying the topic (International Education).

Quilting happened. I have set myself a two year cycle for quilting goals (mostly due to my inability to make anything small). I am at the half way point and am on track. My quilting focus for 2018 is to make some utility quilts – you know, ones which aren’t covered in intricate appliqué that you panic about the cat throwing up on. I would also like to lift my free motion quilting game. The two goals are linked.

I haven’t decided on a 2018 word or focus yet – but I have given myself until Chinese New Year to sort that one out 😉

Broken Dishes

I had a teacup.

A few years ago I bought the same style of cup, but in different colours, for a close group of friends. We had been through some ups and downs together – nutty parents, relationship breakdowns, work stresses. But I thought that we would always have tea (or whatever beverage happened to find its way into the cups – gin… vodka… champagne…) and be together, regardless of where we physically were. And then mine made a noise that is quite distinctive, fine bone china hitting a hard floor, a kind of pop and then scatter as the parts of it all went over the sewing space floor. I had moved some border fabric and knocked it off the cutting table. Fortunately at that moment it was empty so there wasn’t also the mess of liquid to deal with.

In the aftermath of this I have been on the search for a new cup. I thought I found the perfect one on the weekend in Sydney, but that cup turned out to be the perfect cup for someone else, not for me. It was a William Morris Strawberry Thief print in red, the perfect cup for my favourite Bear. So I will keep looking for a cup of my own.

What I suppose this lengthy narrative about the cup and the search for its replacement is all about is how we sometimes need to be patient for the right thing to come along for us. I am not getting all mumbo jumbo about ‘putting the request out to the universe and waiting for the response’ (not that kind of girl), but rather not just grabbing the first thing that comes along to replace what it was that I have lost. I do have a gap in my life for an appropriate teacup (very meta),  but it is one which will need to take me though hours of reading and writing, planning and drawing, designing and building.

Or it could just be a broken teacup that I need to replace.

Putting this into the context of my theme of the year (nurture), I am finding that I am being a bit more deliberate with what I am doing. I am heading back to planning my week, identifying what needs to be done now and what I have coming up. I am planning my holidays, I am planning to take about six weeks off from the paid job, but then spend some time doing things for the paid job. Such is the life of an academic. Fortunately I am coming to really enjoy the research component of my job, I always seem to be learning something new.

Quilting is also something of a priority. The shop is almost ready to launch (yay!) and I am feeling more confident that I am going to be able to fit all the different elements of my world together in such a way that it isn’t going to kill me/burn me out. I almost need the different elements of my world (quilting, research, writing, planning and creating) as they have something of a symbiotic relationship with each other.

Until next time.

Midwinter

It is midwinter in my little corner of the world, and this coming weekend we are taking the younglings to the snow.

Being in Australia doesn’t make you immune from the popular imagery of different times of the year, and how things should be. Take winter for example. The youngest of the younglings wants to make a snowman this weekend – so we need a carrot and some stones. It is, finally, the time of year that some of the Christmas carols make sense (or they would if it were Christmas – don’t think we are doing Christmas in July this year). Although I really could get behind snow and cold during our Christmas celebrations which happen in the middle of the Australian summer (not fun for me). There is a part of me which wonders what it would be like to have snow on the ground, and be snowed in and not be able to go anywhere… we had a day like that once. A “black snow” day where we had to stay home because there had been a fire at a chemical plant and there was toxic smoke near where I worked and the kids went to school. But it wasn’t really the same to be honest.

Now this is a (sometimes) quilting blog, and sometimes I really do quilt. Like the past few days I have been actually sewing, keeping up with the bee blocks, working on the Steam Punk quilt and a few other things… actually I think it may be time for a bit of a “what am I working on now” roundup and posting.

You may have noticed that I have given up putting the month in the title of the post – I am doing this for strategic and I don’t want to feel guilty about it reasons. I had managed to keep things going for the start of the month post, recapping on what had happened in the month previously. But when I didn’t meet this goal, I felt like I was something like a failure – and honestly there are other things I can be feeling like I am a failure about which would be more productive than that. So I am giving myself a break.

The year long mission to look after myself a bit better is stumbling along. I mentioned in the post about the Sydney quilt show (thanks to those who reached out after that, I too was glad – yet disappointed – that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way)… I mentioned that I had been diagnosed as Celiac (hello to my sister who I forgot to call and tell who read it on my blog… sorry), well I have been “clean” for about two weeks now and there are some changes. It is actually a bit easier to be gluten free when you just can’t have it. It isn’t a lifestyle choice or a preference, it is my reality. I just hope that I can continue to have milk as well because it may actually kill me to give up milk and cheese.

Having said that – I am not a fan of GF bread. Not. At. All.

March – the busiest of months

Somewhere between the my baby turning 21, teaching ramping up for the semester and life, I have been managing to do lots of sewing and knitting. I have finished a quilt which is big enough to snuggle under (post to come) and embarked on two new quilts. Isn’t that the way it goes – finish one and start two? I have also knitted a beanie… for me.

My goal of sticking to nurture has taken a bit of a beating these past few weeks, and with two weeks(ish) to go in the month perhaps it is time to try and turn that around a little.

Shall report back in a bit and let you know how that is going.

 

February, feeling the heat

The month isn’t as young as it was, but I have been busy.

I brought in the new month in Eden on the south coast of New South Wales (known as the Sapphire Coast), looking at the Killer Whale Museum, and traveling down a very long and dusty road to check out one of the local lighthouses (and we all know I love lighthouses). Leaving Canberra in the middle of a summer heatwave (it was 42 degrees Celsius = 106 Fahrenheit), dropping to about half that for the time we were on the coast. It was “cold” and it felt so good.

Taking the time off from work was something that needed to happen. In theory this was supposed to be the gap between finishing one job and starting the next, but that isn’t quite the way things happened (for the last week I have been doing almost three jobs, this week I am going to be scaling back to two). I am in transition, and it is going to take time.

My theme for the year (nurture) has been in my mind, as I grapple with how to manage this. So January ended up being about gathering the data, ready to make the changes which will need to happen. I am a bit of a pincushion to be honest. I have also been reading books (well a book) which has nothing to do with my research… hard to do when I feel guilty for not reading for the thesis. And don’t get me started  on writing.

January, how lovely to see you

2016 is now behind us all. It is time for new eyes and a bit of a (dare I say it) fresh approach.

2017 – at this early stage – holds promise. New job, new outlook and the beginning of something approaching normality. My PhD is progressing (slowly), I am back to designing some blocks for English Paper Piecing and applique, and I have something of a renewed interest in getting healthy.

I have finally realised that if I want to be able to do “all the things” then I am going to need to be a bit more selective in my approach to food and exercise. A few years ago I was diagnosed with the early stages of Hashimotos Disease, so my thyroid has gone on strike indefinitely. I have had some success with a gluten free approach, but I find it so hard to maintain – even though I do feel so much better when I don’t have it. But now I am faced with a choice. I can’t continue to do all the things I want to do, and continue down the path I am on. Things have to change, it is as simple as that.

I need to remember that trying to do your PhD with a foggy brain isn’t fun. Forgetting things isn’t charming all the time, it is annoying and frustrating. Not being able to walk properly because your hips are sore (something that happens if I eat gluten), only gets in the way of being able to get up and move about. If I want to be able to enjoy my life in the longer term, then there needs to be some changes, and they need to happen now.

Which brings me to my theme for the year.

In the past I have looked at different foci for the year – the year of less drama and the year of getting shit done were highlights. Last year was all about taking back some sense of control for myself – which I think I largely accomplished. This year is all about looking after myself.

I thought about different words or themes which would assist with this…

Deliberate in terms of being more thoughtful in my approach to things and thinking before acting – particularly with the little things – which then led me to mindful, which I then promptly abandoned because of reasons.

In the end I have decided on nurture – because really, that is what I need to do for myself. I need to nurture my health, my creativity, my research, my family and my community.

I think the signs for this have been there for a while. My garden has been cleared up and things have been planted (some of them have even survived the snails). I am being more thoughtful in my quilting, I am not longer signing up for things on a whim and then being cranky at myself for not keeping up, participating or adding to the whole.

My quilting goals are now being set for a two year period…

  1. To do something specifically to enter in a show, and
  2. To make a quilt which is challenging, yet “fun”, and completely for me.

I have other quilting goals, but for the moment this will do.

Welcome 2017, it is time to nurture.