Saturday, August 15, 2015

My life as a bag of fabric scraps

My life has been a tapestry........

One of my favourite Carole King songs, describes our life as the weaving of a tapestry. You may have heard similar analogies. Even the back of the tapestry or weaving gets a mention.

Whilst the part we look at is a beautiful picture, the back can be a chaotic mess of threads and knots, which symbolises those things that happen in our lives to create the picture of who we are and who we are becoming.

The back of my cross stitch
The Front of my cross stitch
Except if you are my friend Clare. Once I showed her the back of a cross stitch I had done.
Evidence - left

I am not a great needle worker - maybe to do with my left handedness and the fact that I rush everything - I'm self taught and no one has shown me how to do things the "correct" way.

She commented about the back of mine and then showed me hers.

I'd never seen anything like it.

It was as neat as the front and there were no lumpy knots in site. Her stitches all went the same way. Maybe the weaving of her life was all ordered and un-eventful.

I guess analogies can only be taken so far.

Recently I was playing around with a pile of fabric strips I'd been holding onto. It had taken a while for the creative juices to flow and I was inspired when I saw a similar project in a fabric shop. After a weekend away, inspiration came. I think just getting out of the normal routine and outdoors into nature was water to my soul.

A pile of unrelated strips of fabric

So I pulled out my bag of fabric scraps and played around with combinations.  This process took a while as I wanted the random pieces to make sense when they were sewn together. Sometimes I like things to match and sometimes I love the juxtaposition of things that don't really go together.
Planning where they should go

And then I cut and played around with the strips until I was happy with the layout.

Now here is where I tell you about my amazing sewing sisters. These friends have fabric collections to die for and when they sew they make it look easy. A couple of times I've been on sewing camp and I'm amazed at what they pump out......4 or so quilt tops in a weekend. I chat, make cups of tea, cut out a square of fabric and might even get a single quilt block sewn. I'm still working on a quilt I started 10 or so years ago. These girls start and finish a quilt in a day!

I tell you my tale of sewing woe so you understand that I tend to dabble in arty pursuits but never really stick with one thing. And get frustrated with how things turn out. I think I'm cutting a straight line, even with a rotary cutter and cutting board and it looks straight to me. But then I sew it together and try as I might, my straight lines always seem to go awry.

A bit like life; my sewing skills. So I cut and sewed my teeny strips of fabric and came up with this. And then I started to see things in the fabric.
I went away for the weekend  with 15 other women. One I knew really well, a couple I had known of over the years and the rest were all new friends to be made. We ranged in age from 25 to 55 and the thread that wove us together was that we were or had been home schooling our children. I went along as one of the older gals who had finished her home school journey.

It was such an amazing time even though I was a bit apprehensive. But after a weekend of living together laughing, crying, sharing our ups and downs, we all felt connected in some way to each other. While I had gone to encourage some of the younger mums/daughters, they encouraged me. It was fun to hear their perspective and to see that they had become well adjusted young women who didn't completely despise their mum for teaching them at home.

So as I sewed this little picture together I started to see my new friends in the colourful strips of fabric. Before, we were just separate strips of fabric with no purpose or great connection but as we were sewn together we became a stronger piece of fabric able to support each other.

This little project has come to represent many groups of friends in my life, and also my family. While most of my family lives over east or overseas we are still woven together by threads of family ties and love. It also represents a group of women I am in a fb group with. Some live here in WA and some over east but many overseas. We encourage each other every few days. So while we don't live side by side we are also sewn together by threads of common interests and issues.
I see different people in the strips of fabric.There's the neat floral who lives an ordered life, and the crazy random colourful one who wears her hair wild and her clothes even wilder. Some are more mellow and others more outgoing and lively. There's the sun-shiny yellow friend who always has a smile and encouraging word.

We are different, each of us, but stitches of love, acceptance, understanding, empathy hold us  together.

Sometimes we are unpicked and we unravel and we feel like a remnant on the cutting room floor. But oh how sweet it is when someone you weren't expecting to invites you to be sewn back in or some one else just walks besides you until you feel that you feel whole again.
There are many more stories this little piece of sewing can tell and I've been madly playing with strips of fabric to create art pieces for my walls.
I'm enjoying playing with the pieces and letting them speak to me.

Monday, August 5, 2013

What do you want to be when you grow up?

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" a well meaning adult will ask a child.

I love the answers children give. One of mine wanted to be a pirate for a while. Later on he changed his chosen career to spy. Another wanted to be an archaeologist in South America. And both of the girls wanted to be a ballerina as most little girls do

When I was a little girl I wanted to travel the world, become a kindergarten teacher or to be a house painter like my dad. I wanted to be an interior designer or architect. I ended up being a teacher and recently travelled to Europe with my family -not the world but it's a beginning.

A few years ago I was watching daytime TV and the there was a story about finding your passion. The woman in the story was a mother and wife and had found herself in a bit of a rut. So she was encouraged to find something she loved doing when she was younger. She loved playing basketball so the counsellor encouraged her to find a way to incorporate this into her life. So she began to coach a team of disadvantaged girls in her local area. And she began to feel alive again.

I found her story helped me consider the things I loved and to find ways to include them in my life. My love of children's literature lead me to volunteer at the local library doing "Story Time" with the under fives. The librarian was so happy to have another volunteer. At the time I was home schooling all four children and they would come with me. They would sit in and listen or find books to borrow . The little children loved having these older kids around. The books and activity were chosen for me so all I had to do was turn up once a month, read the stories and present the activity. I loved this time and it reignited something in me.

Me as little girl wearing a handbag on my head - no idea why I would do such a thing. 

As I looked back at what I loved as a child and teenager I discovered that the woman I am now is not unlike the little girl -

I loved building cubby houses and now I love decorating a bigger cubby house, our home.

I loved playing teacher and bossing my brother around and did became a teacher (I think the bossy thing meant that I was a leader)

I drew house plans and am still fascinated with houses and architecture and design.

I have always collected pictures of decorating ideas and now I still do on pinterest.

I was always tidying my room and changing things around and I still love organising and de-cluttering

I loved helping people find resources and I became a teacher librarian. Now I enjoy helping people find things they are looking for. I might get a phone call, "Do you know where I can get.....?"

I wanted to help people like my mum and dad did and was going to study  Social Work but decided that teaching would be better. I thought I could change the world by getting them young. I still love helping people but am still learning where helping is helpful and when it is not.

I also wanted to dance and act and sing but when my mum sent me to ballet classes with our babysitter I was to shy to go in. Later on I did some classes. I still love watching dance and it still moves me.

I talked a lot and I still do.....but hopefully I have learnt to listen

Me Talking on the phone - Some things never change
For a long time I felt a bit lost. Oh I was happy being a wife and a mother but I still felt a bit lost and so a few years ago I began a journal where I wrote about the things I loved and what brought me joy. Just recently I read back over some earlier entries and I could start to see thread running through it - hospitality, encouraging women one to one, teaching, a welcoming home for our friends and our children's friends.

I have so many ideas running through my head. I dream of coffee shops and running a B and B and all sorts of other things. A gorgeous friend once helped me see that the essence of my dreams can be possible. She got me to think about the elements of running a B and B or coffee shop. And then she explained to me that our family already did these things when we had people over for a meal or afternoon tea. We just weren't charging for it. My husband loves making coffee and makes the best scones and as we sit around our table great food and conversation and friendship happens. A group of friends and their children come for a meal and in the madness and mayhem we have a wonderful time doing life together.

So in some ways I am doing the things I have always wanted to do. It may not look exactly the same as the way I saw it as a child but it brings great joy and richness to my life.

So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Monday, July 22, 2013

She's not dead yet!

So I posted my first post. Not so scary.
That was easy.
Now the second.....well that's a different story.

Recently I was looking at an old journal and came across a line I had written in 2009. It was at a time when I was struggling with things –  perhaps a little depressed or anxious * and I had written

“I’m still not sure what my passion is,
                                    what my calling is,        
                                                what excites me,
                                                            what makes me get up in the morning….
But I am certainly on a journey and will fan into flame the flickering ember – I'm not dead yet”

I kind of laughed at the last bit. There must have been a flicker of hope... And since then I have worked to get better mentally, physically and spiritually with the help of family, friends, professionals and my faith in God.    

Part of that journey is writing this blog where I hope to encourage people by sharing about the reality of our lives. It’s the “real’ and the simple that makes our lives rich.

Today's Circuit Breaker - Coffee with hubby across the road from this
When I am frazzled and frumpy I can stay in that place for quite awhile. A wise young woman I know recently encouraged me to find my "Circuit Breakers"  - the things I like doing that would take me out of that place or mood or just give me the rest I needed. So I came home and grabbed a piece of paper and using textas wrote a fancy list of things I would/could do.

So for the scrappers and stampers and arty ones out there this could be a double circuit breaker for you - making a beautiful art piece of things you like doing that give you peace or a laugh or a well needed rest.

Today, hubby and I went to the coast (about 7 minutes drive from where we live in Perth) to have a coffee. A double bonus was bumping in to a dear friend of ours and chatting with her whilst looking at this view across the road. We also fit a walk in before heading home.

This made such a difference in my day.

I encourage you to make a list of "circuit breakers" in the most creative way possible and then pick one when you need a pick-me-up.

Some of mine to get you started.... a walk along the beach, coffee with a friend, read, a bath, buy a punnet of strawberries just for me, op shopping, buy a little gift for someone etc. etc. etc.

Id love to hear how you go.

*I had been in denial for a long time and once I started talking to friends realized that many people were struggling with some element of depression or anxiety. We have to talk about this stuff more so that people don’t feel so alienated, isolated or alone.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

To blog or not to blog

To blog or not to blog.....

I posed this question to friends when our family was about to embark on a trip to Europe earlier this year. A travel blog for 6 weeks was less threatening than a regular blog. It was fun to write about our travels and it gave me a taste for writing for an audience other than the pages in my journal and the odd letter to a relative. I had set up a blogger account late 2010 but just couldn't seem to get my thoughts down. Maybe i was nervous about going public.

So we have been back for 5 or so weeks and now is the time to jump in.

I told myself that now was the time to do something; to find my passion again, to find my thing, to explore new things, to ponder out loud, to encourage, to write.

This season of my life is bringing many changes as my children launch into their own lives. Our youngest is 16 and after many years of home schooling she is of to do her own studies. Her orientation was today so I thought it fitting to start this blog today.

Oil painting - A Girl Writing; The Pet Goldfinch
Girl Writing(1874) - Henriette Brown (1829-1901)

As a child I loved to write. I wrote stories. I wrote to pen pals all over the world making 2 or 3 rough copies before I rewrote the final good copy. As a teen I started keeping journals. Today I keep a variety of journals on the go. I write what I am thankful for, or a quote I like, a line from a book or something a child did to annoy me or delight me. But this is always for my eyes only.

Today I write for anyone to read. That is scary and exciting and full of potential.