“Have the Best Day that’s Available to You”

Most days, I feel like I was sent to this Earth to work myself to death in the pursuit of ideals.  I’ve been the queen of jamming as much stuff as possible into twenty-four hours and then berating myself for not getting more done. I’ve spent days cleaning and cooking and running errands and volunteering and folding laundry and getting a few moments of crafting and reading done, and then spending my falling-asleep time near tears because I’ve just not accomplished as much as I thought I should that day. I only mended three pairs of jeans instead of eight; we ate sandwiches for dinner instead of a pot roast and homemade rolls; I sat and watched my kids’ baseball games instead of walking around and getting in more steps. And then the Big Back Injury™ happened and that voice in my head telling me I wasn’t doing enough got even louder because yeah, hard to get stuff done when you’re loaded up on narcotics and can’t take a step without searing pain coursing through your body.

If you’ve ever needed to do some serious thinking about how your life is going, two years of bedrest and then three years of physical therapy that makes your body cry every day and THEN a pandemic will really give you that time.  #lifehack

Before the Big Back Injury™, I was busy. Busy with homeschooing, busy with doing as many homemaking tasks from scratch as possible, busy with driving four kids around to music lessons, theatre practices, sports practices and games, busy with church music, busy with my own interests and hobbies (if I could find time to squeeze them in). Running from place to place every single moment of the day. And I liked it; I liked being busy and watching my children develop their talents, and I liked feeling like I was a part of my community.

But I still went to bed every night thinking I should have done more than I did.

And then the injury, and…nothing. If you think you haven’t done enough in a day on your good days, that voice inside your head gets really hysterical when you’re bedridden.

So I started quilting because it was interesting enough to make me want to get out bed and deal with the discomfort of sitting upright. At first I could handle ten minutes a day. It was a huge milestone, about eighteen months after I started, when I could go all morning until lunch,. And still, every one of those nights I went to bed thinking I was such a loser because the laundry wasn’t done, I hadn’t cooked a dinner, I hadn’t gardened. I pushed harder and harder to measure up to the ideal in my head, and as a result, I developed overuse injuries non-stop.

Then the pandemic hit and I discovered e-loans from the library and started reading as much as my heart had desired for years. (I never have enough money to buy all the books I want to read! God bless libraries.) I read The Twelve Week Year, and it suggested to write out your ideal week in a planner, and to block out time to work on your goals, etc. So I did, and lo and behold, I could not fit everything I thought I should be doing into the hours I had available to me in a week. And not only could I not fit everything I thought I should be doing, I couldn’t even fit everything I needed to be doing into my week. It was a huge wake-up call.

About that time a friend mentioned the quote “I hope you have the best week that’s available to you” because I was dealing with yet another injury of sorts, and that quote really resonated with me. Normally it’s “Have a good week,” which seems like a command when you think about it, but “Have the best week that’s available to you” is an acknowledgment that life isn’t perfect, can’t be planned for perfectly, and that we each are allowed a measure of grace in regards to our productivity, especially in the face of unforeseen trials and circumstances that impede or directly oppose our aspirations. Which, realistically, happens all the freaking time.

I dutifully plan out my week each Sunday in my trusty Action Day planner, complete with my 12 Week Year Strategy, Buffer, Work, and Breakout sessions, and by the time the next Sunday rolls around, there’s a bunch of little slash marks and little appointments and explanations penciled into the margins as to why this and that didn’t happen and why that had to be cancelled. I don’t know the last time I had a day go as I planned it to go, because COVID guidelines change things; because I have four kids who, shocker, do the things that kids do; and because I have a physical body that, spoiler alert, isn’t fifteen years old anymore and has suffered a lot of physical trauma. But now, after a year of re-programming my internal thinking, I don’t look at all those interruptions and changes and get (as) annoyed with them.

I’m learning to accept them. Interruptions and changes are just a part of normal life. They are constant, despite your best efforts to guard against them, and freaking out and getting angry about them accomplishes nothing except you being upset. I’ve learned that it’s better, when faced with an unforeseen situation that derails your plans, to say, “That sucks! I wish that hadn’t happened that way. OK then, what am I going to do now that that’s happened?” It works much better than sulking and ragin against the interference. In short, it’s better to acknowledge the unfortunate aspects of the situation, and then keep trying to have the best day that’s available to you.

The best day that’s available to you may not even be a good day. It may be such a terrible day that you wish it had never occurred, but you can still decide to let it be the best day available to you under the circumstances. There’s a huge power in the realization about how much you’re still in control of things even when things are completely out of your control. You can cry and hide from the world on the worst of the worst day and know that that was the best day to be had because that particular day was so rotten and overwhelming that the healthiest thing to do was to take a break and cry.

Other times you know you don’t have that option and so you do what you can as gracefully as you can given your resources, and then you make the decision to not beat yourself up over how the end result wasn’t perfect.

Some days you wake up in pain and you have to cancel. You do the necessary relaxation work that day and then make a phone call to your doctor to re-start physical therapy so you can get stronger and minimize the pain in the future.

Sometimes it goes exactly as planned.  CELEBRATE THAT.  SO MUCH.

Sometimes it goes nearly as planned, but only because you gutted it out and sacrificed and got stuck with jobs you didn’t originally sign on for, and you realize that it’s simply not worth the stress.  So you make plans to resign from those commitments because they’re only making you miserable.

All of these experiences are valid.  All of these experiences help us learn important life coping lessons.  And you are the final say as to how you’re going to deal with them and later frame them in the context of a good or bad day.

We were never created to be perfect.  We were created to experience life, which is a mix of good and bad.  No one is guaranteed an easy existence, but we are given the choice to decide how we’re going to handle our existence, and how we handle our situations is as individual as each of us because we all have so many different backgrounds that we bring into those situations.  Listen to your gut, get help with the stuff that’s too overwhelming or maladaptive, and celebrate your victories out loud.  Make plans to do better at the things that matter to you and make plans to let go of the things that make you feel terrible and unloved.  Be patient with the process of change because it can be exceedingly slow, and accept that there will be setbacks, but remember that setbacks aren’t permanent failures, just temporary hiccups.  Keep making the decision to have the best day that’s available to you and soon enough, you’ll be living the best life that’s available to you, warts and all.  Which actually is what we were sent to this Earth to do.

What’s the best life that’s available to you look like?  Only you can tell us.

May is the Best Month

Good morning lovelies, and a very merry new week and month! I think spring is the absolute best season there is; the awakening of the world after the cold, dark days of winter just stirs so much joy and optimism in my heart, and I believe that May is the glorious climax of the season. The fruit trees are heavy with blossoms, buds are peeking on the trees, flowers are planted and seeds are started…the fireworks of flowers in our lives for this year are now waiting in the side wings for their moments to shine. It’s just such a beautiful time of year, both visually and in regards to anticipation.

I spent loads of time in the garden this past weekend and the kids and I got almost all of the back garden planted. I’m opting to do a flower garden this year, rather than trying to grow food. I’ve decided that I hate growing food. I only do it because of the pressure the Church puts on gardening and food storage, and it turns out that I hate it. All the anxiety about whether or not the food will actually grow, the heartbreak when an animal or insect eats it, the stress of trying to eat it all when it comes into season, and then the backbreaking work of harvesting it and preserving it when it’s obvious that you can’t. HATE. IT.

But flowers? Just make me happy every time I look out the window. There’s no stress in growing flowers aside from the usual weeding and watering, which are quite meditative acts, and I’m rewarded with a beautiful scene that smells good and makes me want to sit in the sunshine. After last year’s wake-up call about the importance of self-care and doing more of what makes you happy to be alive, I’m actively trying to enjoy more of the things that Michael and I have worked so hard to achieve and possess. I’m now scheduling “Enjoy the garden” time in my planner, and “Have fun with the kids” on various afternoons. No ulterior motives, just enjoying life. That’s the whole point of all this rat race work, isn’t it? And it turns out that I harvest a lot of enjoyment from a flower garden, so flower-gazing and lemonade-drinking are my new jam.

A big development in our household is that we have baby bunnies in our backyard, too. The mom, whom my children named Clover, has been hanging out in our yard for years. Last year she was keeping her babies in the divots in the grass on one side of our house, and we killed them all with the lawn mower because we didn’t see them before mowing. Super sad day. BUT this year she made a burrow under our blueberry plant, which is nestled in a protective raised planter, and now there’s at least three, if not four or five, healthy baby bunnies that scamper throughout the yard if you sit still long enough and they are adorable. I named the first one we saw “Sprout,” Renaissance named the second one we saw “Fennel,” and Nathaniel named the third one “Becky,” which seems like a random name, but he was trying to stay on theme with plant names and I was planting a Becky Shasta Daisy at the time, so Becky was a totally respectable plant name. If we do happen to see a fourth bunny, Rachel wants to name it “Cinnamon.” Michael had to mow the grass over the weekend and scared the buhjeezits out of them all and they scattered to other yards, but those yards all have dogs, so I think they’ll be back soon. I think I even might start leaving out some food, because why not? They’re adorable and I don’t begrudge them a few plants that they eat from time to time because they make my heart smile to see them. (Plus my sister-in-law keeps chanting to give them “whatever they want” to me via text and Facebook comments. Can’t disappoint her, now, can I?)

While I was gardening this weekend, one of my neighbors introduced themselves over the fence and let me know that they’re putting in beehives in their yard! So jealous! I think it’d be great fun to raise bees. She said she’d teach me, and that’s it’s not particularly difficult. So perhaps in a year or two I’ll explore that idea. She was so nice, too; she explained that bees really like chlorine, and seeing that we have the pool in our backyard, she’s taken out “bee insurance” in case any of my kids get stung. I didn’t even know that bee insurance was a thing, and I truly appreciate the gesture. I’ve seen lots of bee activity in my garden already, and the buzzing of the hives is such a soothing sound. Oh my gosh, I love being in my backyard right now. Spring is so lovely.

What are you all up to at your homes? Getting back to regular life activities? Not? Emms played an abbreviated tennis season and it’s wrapping up. Nathaniel is just getting into baseball season, and I keep chuckling over how much my life used to be run by softball/baseball season in years past. The leagues work differently here and would have had us driving all over the place and needing to be in three places at once in rush hour traffic, so we opted out of softball when we first got here, which made me so sad for my girls. Softball is a thing of the past for our family, but we sure had fun while it was in full swing, didn’t we?

On the fabric side of things, I have sewn up the muslin and am now officially starting to cut out the pieces of my Lavender Birthday Dress! I don’t know if I can get this done by my actual birthday, but it will be a very beautiful piece of clothing and welcome addition to my spring wardrobe even it can’t be worn on my birthday day. I’ve been trying to make room in this week’s schedule to afford me some more sewing time, I hope it works.

Keep in mind that that’s the WRONG SIDE of the fabric–it’s a much more vivid print! So excited!

And I hope this post finds you well at the beginning of this new week. I hope you’ve got interesting things to look forward to, and that the week passes without any negativity or strife. Happy May, everyone, and may this beautiful season cheer your heart.

How to Plan a Birthday Dress

I mentioned in my last post that I’m going to sew myself a dress for my birthday. I mentioned it for various reasons, most of them being that if I say out loud, I’ll feel like I need to actually do it, and by saying it’s for my birthday, it also gives me a deadline and I just can’t seem to function without a deadline breathing down my neck.

Do you get project paralysis when you’ve got a blank canvas in front of you? Too many choices, so you can’t actually narrow down what the heck you’re going to do? This is totally me, and I find that it works best to take any limitations into account, because limitations help hone your choices by booting out the choices that simply won’t work.

So, we have a time limitation with the birthday deadline: Saturday, May 8th (Not my birthday, but I want the dress done for the Sunday before my birthday) which gives me roughly four weeks. In all honesty, my creative brain totally thinks I’m going to be done with this in a week. My logic brain is worried I don’t actually have enough time to finish this because hi, it’s spring (gardening), school sports are starting up again for some of my kids, I have another secret project that’s going to be taking up a lot of my times, and OH YEAH I HAVE FOUR KIDS. (The four kids yelling thing is something my BFF keeps stage-yelling at me every time I get down on myself for not being “more productive.” I’m supposed to now always yell it whenever I’m thinking of things that I need to take into consideration when thinking about starting new projects, according to her.)

The fabric: Kokka Natural Garden Voile, purchased from Miss Matatabi during a sale in December. I have a rule that if I gasp out loud because a fabric or yarn is so beautiful, that I really need to figure out how to buy some. I gasped at this, saw it was on sale, and bought the rest of it. Not sorry at all. STALKS OF LAVENDER, people! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

Another limitation is the amount of fabric I have for this dress: 4 3/8 yards (8 meters). I know that seems like a lot of fabric, but it’s not because a) I am a full skirt addict, and b) I’m a plus-size gal with a lot going on up top. Of course, I want to do a beautiful circle or pleated skirt that swooshes around, but I just don’t have the yardage for it. I think I’m going to have to go with an A-Line skirt, which isn’t my favorite…but I can’t fight the reality of yardage amounts. It was end-of-bolt, so I got what I could get, and there’s nothing else I can do about it.

Two other limitations: Modesty (Has to have sleeves and hit below the knee), and I don’t really want to spend any more money on extras for this. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to line this because it is voile, but I’m hoping I already have something on-hand for that. I might buy 1/2-1 yard of a coordinating fabric, if my heart gets set on a contrast extra, like a Peter Pan collar, or cuffs, or a midriff section or something like that.

I haven’t made myself a dress in quite some time, and my measurements have changed a lot since then, so it might be a good idea to keep things simple–basic bodice, short sleeves, a-line skirt. There’ll need to be something extra, but I’m not quite sure what that’s going to be just yet. I’d like this dress to be prettily functional; nice enough for church, and not too nice for wearing to the grocery story on days where I want to be cute as I go about my errands.

OK…that’s not too tough. I’ve done it before! (Let’s just hope it doesn’t take me close to year to get it done like I did with the last one, k?)

Goals for this week:

  • Choose pattern
  • Make muslin
  • Adjust pattern
  • Buy lining, if needed
  • Cut fashion fabric and lining

It’s a big list, I know. Any progress will be good progress.

What spring projects are you thinking about right now?

Cobwebs

I’ve wanted to sit and type out a post for months, but I’ve entered this weird realm where it feels like I don’t have anything worth saying–quilty advice is easy to Google, I’m careful about what I share about my kids online, and my personal thoughts on a million subjects are too precious to cast out into the world to be trolled. But, oh, I miss writing and I miss reading blog posts.

I’m thinking I’ve just gotten out of the habit and everything feels scary because everything feels unfamiliar now.

So let’s clear some cobwebs and make way for some new and shiny posts, yes?

  • I don’t think I’ve worked on a single quilt since before Christmas. Last year was A LOT of quilts, and I am burned out on them for the time being. The tops and their backings are sitting in a huge pile in my craft room, waiting for me to save up funds to send them out to the quilter, or get so tired of them that I take on the onerous task of quilting them myself.
  • I have been knitting a lot, and, weirdly, it’s almost ALL UFOs, which is awesome because the more in-progress projects I wrap up, the less pressure/guilt I experience. For the amount of unfinished projects I have, you’d think it wouldn’t bother me, but the guilt piles up and causes me anxiety some days. The UFO I’m working on now has been in the works for years, and it’s been one of the biggest guilt-inducers in the collection, so I’m really glad that I’m putting in the time to get it to the finish line.
  • I’ve also been sewing some clothes. I was starting to get going with that right before I got chosen for the Blank Quilting ambassador thing, and clothing-making went into the freezer for all of last year as a result. There’s something about a change in the seasons that always has me wanting to make clothing, and with spring singing its lovely tune outside my window each morning, I am in full-on spring sewing mode.
  • 2020 caused some major shifts in my perspectives on life. As we slowly move back towards a feeling of normalcy, I am not sure how to reconcile a lot of my newly-forming conclusions with the vestiges of what my life revolved around before the pandemic. I’m not ready to talk about these thoughts and feelings in a public setting as of yet, but I figured just mentioning that I’m experiencing this might bring some comfort to anyone out there in the world who may be feeling lost in regards to how they’re going to run their lives once things get going again, now that they’ve been deeply disturbed by the behavior of people (they once thought they respected) during the course of the last year. It’s unfortunate that so many of us are looking to revamp our social circles during a time where we literally cannot meet new people. But I am optimistic that, once things really get going good again, I will be able to find my tribe without sacrificing my personal integrity to fit in.
  • Y’all…raising teenagers kind of sucks. I don’t even think my kids are particularly troublesome, either. I hypothesize that most mid-life crises happen whilst parenting teenagers–you’ve dumped the last 10-15 years of your life into nurturing toddlers/preschoolers/kids who think you are amazing, and then suddenly they think you’re the lamest person in the room and they do a really poor job of hiding the body language that says exactly that. What do you do with that message?!?! I know–you question just what the heck have you done with your life all this time and was it worth it because these people that you created can’t stand you, yet still need instructing because they absolutely cannot adult. Doesn’t feel good. But you know it’s a phase and it will pass, but it still feels like crap to experience it and calmly instruct said grumpfaces about the civil ways to disagree, the civil ways to live with people who are annoying you that day, how to extricate yourself from a family activity without being a snot, and how to communicate why in the world you think not doing your chores is a valid option (because sometimes it is, but if you don’t communicate it BEFOREHAND, I guarantee you that we are going to have problems).
  • I cannot stop thinking about pretty spring dresses. I need them all.
  • I’m going to make myself a dress for my birthday and I am ecstatic about it.
  • I made a pencil skirt for Emms and it’s adorable and now I need one for myself as well.
  • I have a lot of emotional baggage when it comes to clothing and fashion. The messages in my head about clothing and dressing well…they are unkind. Especially when you consider that you wear clothes every day of your life. Why do we make each other feel bad about the clothes we wear if they’re not hurting anyone? The more I untangle this convoluted argument in my head, the sadder I get over all the joy I’ve denied myself over the years because of messages that I “couldn’t” wear something, or “shouldn’t” wear something because of someone else’s opinion. No more, my friends. No more.
  • We get this one life. And I am sick of procrastinating my own joy so that I can better hold myself to distorted views of what a woman should be, what a woman should look like, what a woman should act like, what a woman should allow into her life. I’ve been shoulding myself to death for ideals that I no longer find valid.
  • There’s something about having teenaged daughters and knowing that they’re getting ready to head out into the world, and looking around and realizing that the culture they’re surrounded by just isn’t good enough for them. And that you cannot stomach raising your son to perpetuate those harmful philosophies on other girls. I didn’t see it when I was young because I was the frog in the water that was slowly reaching boiling, but I’m now the chef with the frogs in my hand and there is no way I’m going to throw them into the pot and allow them to slowly boil to death.
  • And I guess I’ll stop there. Dentist appointments and all. Drastic philosophical reversals still demand sound teeth.

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Finishing Instructions

We made it to the end of the sew along! We’ve made it to the end of 2020! When I volunteered to take on this task at the beginning of the year, I didn’t imagine in my wildest dreams how this would end up going this year. But I’m glad we at least had this little block of the month to keep us connected. Thanks for going on this journey with me, and thanks for the little texts and Facebook messages with pictures of your blocks! I love seeing them!

So here it is, the finishing instructions for this quilt:

I hope your quilts come together with ease and I look forward to seeing them in actual real life AT SOME POINT when all this craziness has passed us. Pat yourself on the back for finishing this up! Good job!

As always, if you’re posting your block to Instagram, please make sure to tag it with the #crystalquiltersbom (If you’re a member of the guild) and #sewmanystarsquilt hashtags so we can find your blocks!

Happy sewing! (And thank you!)

The 12 Week Year: Figuring out your Life Vision

I read The 12 Week Year during lockdown this year, and my life has dramatically changed as a result. I’ve read handfuls of goal-setting and time-management books over the years, and found much to like about them, but I cannot shut up about The 12 Week Year. Anyone who I can get to listen to me will hear about this book because, finally, I now know what I want out of life and how to create a plan to get it.

I’ve seen this book around for a few years, but the title, The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, led me to believe it was more of a business-y/efficiency/time management manual, and I’m a mother of four–I have figured out how to eke as much as I can out of my days already, thankyouverymuch. Pass.

But then I saw a random review of it online and the reviewer said it helped them define what they wanted out of life and helped them figure out a plan to actually work on the things that would get them there. And that “helped them define what they wanted out of life” line…I wanted that. So I borrowed it via e-loan from my library (because quarantine!) and…it just spoke to me, especially chapters 3 (The Emotional Connection) and 13 (Establish Your Vision).

I’ve read The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, and I know about “beginning with the end in mind” and prioritizing the important tasks and mission statements. I’ve also read Getting Things Done and written down my random “5 Years from Now” and “Someday” goals/ideas.

But never had I ever sat down and brainstormed about what I want out of life or what a great life would look like for me. Which is such a simple exercise that I feel like an absolute moron for not ever making the connection to do it on my own. What would a great life look like to me? If I could have everything I was interested in, and everything went right and I did have it, what would that look like?

I had plenty of ideas of what other people had told me a great life entailed; some things I thought were good and some things I would never be interested in in a million years, but I didn’t know what my personal core-of-my-heart desires were, and if you don’t know what you actually want out of life, it’s pretty stinking hard to make a plan to live your best life…because you have no idea what that is.

I just lent my copy of The 12 Week Year to a friend, promising her that it will totally help her figure out her life vision. Only problem is, as I was reading through it while walking over to her house, I realized that the book doesn’t actually spell out the whole “figure out your life vision” exercise…and that maybe I had actually put a lot more effort into that part because I wanted to desperately figure it out for once and for all, so I figured I’d write a post to explain my process before my friends think I’m talking crazy about how this book is going to help you figure out your life direction and then not being to figure out how I came to that conclusion.

So, here it is, my Thanksgiving gift to you:

How To Figure Out What YOU Want Out of Life

Materials Needed:
*A ruled notebook
*A writing utensil
*~3 hours of uninterrupted time
*Optional: A copy of The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington (not really needed for this exercise, but it will be absolutely amazing in helping you start working on the things you figure out with this exercise)

1: Get comfy in a place where you won’t be interrupted. Open your notebook and write “ASPIRATIONAL VISION (Long-Term)” across the top of the first page. Below that, write “The Life You Deeply Desire”.

Now, write down the following seven categories, with a few blank lines in between them for listing ideas:

Spiritual
Spouse (or Relationship or whatever works for you)
Family
Community
Physical
Personal
Business

These are the seven areas of “life balance” listed in the book. (Depending on which version you’re reading, they may have different names. I noticed that they were a little different between my e-loan from the library vs. my purchased hard copy.)

Take a few minutes to think about what a great life would look like in each of these categories in ten, twenty, fifty years. What would you like to be able to say those areas included in your life? What would you like them to look like?

Write down those thoughts next to the category they apply to. Don’t limit yourself here, it’s just brainstorming your pie-in-the-sky happy thoughts. No one is ever going to see this, so be free with your dreams.

2: On the next page, write:
THREE YEAR VISION
A: What needs to happen in the next three years to move towards long-term vision?
B: What would a GREAT personal and professional life look like, three years from now?

Now you’ll write an “area of life balance” category (spiritual, spouse, family, community, physical, personal, or business) and then under that heading write “A:” and then list everything you can think of that needs to happen in the next three years to move towards the long-term vision you wrote down on the first page of your notebook for that category. (You’ll be flipping back to that page A LOT throughout this exercise!)

When you finish listing all those things, start a new line with “B:” and write down what a GREAT life in that particular category would look like, three years from now.

For example, on my first page/ASPIRATIONAL VISION, under the category of “Physical,” I wrote:
Physical: Healthy weight, would love to be able to run, as pain-free as possible, no meds.

A couple of pages later, for the Physical category, I wrote:
A: Lose weight, keep doing physical therapy, strengthen full-body, build up walking plan to running plan, control eating
B: Wake up and work out hard without fear of injury, can run. Move fluidly, no pain. Eat healthy diet–lean meats, lots of produce. Don’t crave junk. Food is healthy and good–don’t feel deprived. Kids are healthy. Ankles don’t swell and bones in feet don’t ache. Back doesn’t ache, and I can move easily.

A special note for the “personal” category: Because there were so many, unrelated topics in my aspirational vision for my personal life (read: hobbies and interests), I had to organize that section differently when I came to it. Let’s say you list, among other things, the three ideas of “can speak other languages,” “can play musical instruments,” and “travel.” I organized this category like this:

6. PERSONAL
A. What needs to happen in the next three years?

I. Choose & learn languages
a. Spanish
b. Mandarin (or Cantonese?)

II. Musical Instruments
a. Piano: Keep practicing & progressing
b. Bagpipes: Find a teacher, rent a set, start learning
c. Other instruments?

III. Travel
a. Brainstorm/Research
b. Save $$$
c. Learn appropriate languages
d. Photography equipment/skills

B. What would a great life look like in this category, three years from now?

I. Languages
a. Can hold basic conversations in Spanish and Mandarin(?)
b. Can read easy books in target languages

II. Music
a. Piano: Can sight-play hymns
b. Bagpipes: Be a member of a bagpipe group and perform with them
c. Other: Violin? Play prelude @ church

III. Travel
a. Know of places I want to see/excited about specific areas/attractions
b. Savings for trips building up/have an amount that gets automatically deposited
c. Progressing in languages
d. Offered opportunities to travel because I’m good at what I do at work
e. Have the photography equipment to take good pictures, and I’ve practiced enough to do a really great job at it

(No, I don’t actually want to learn to play the bagpipes; I just thought it’d be a great way to show how to brainstorm about something out of your comfort/knowledge zone.)

And…that’s it. When you’re done with this exercise, you’ll definitely be prepared to follow the rest of the 12 Week Year plan and start moving forward wisely towards goals that actually mean something to you. The book tells you how to set it all up and track it, so there’s no point to me reiterating it here.

Writing down and figuring out your life vision is the keystone of this goal-setting system. I remember when I was in the middle of my first 12 Week cycle, and in the depths of despair over my (seemingly) sluggish progress towards my goals, and wondering if I should just give up or if any of it even mattered, and I happened to read through whatever chapter said that part of my planning/strategic time each week should include re-reading my life vision and checking and seeing if I was still emotionally connected with it.

So I did. And I cried. Because, YES, I wanted to be able to say that my life consisted of those things! It gave me the psychological boost to keep showing up and performing the actions I knew I needed to do to move towards those goals. I was even able to condense my vision down into two sentences after that, and I repeat those two sentences to myself all the time because they make me excited to keep doing the hard work that will eventually get me to those goals.

And the beauty of having written this all down in a notebook? You can use the remaining pages for figuring out what goals you’re going to work on in future 12 Week cycles, keep track of your tactics, and all that other good stuff. All my brainstormings, to-do-lists…in that one notebook. Easy peasy.

I hope this clears up any confusion anyone may have had about what I’ve been talking about!

(If there’s interest, I can also write a post about how I choose what my next goals are going to be, and how I plan my week so I can actually find time to work on my goals.)

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Block 9: Martha Washington Star

THE LAST BLOCK! WE MADE IT!

When I volunteered to do this Block of the Month, I don’t even think I’d heard of COVID-19, and we got a late start on it because of quarantine and not knowing what the heck was going on. But here we are, nearing the end of a very long year, and I’m so glad to have been able to offer this little spark of light to you throughout it. Hopefully your quilts are looking good, and I hope that the time when we can finally gather in-person to see each others’ blocks arrives sooner than later.

I left this block until to the end because I didn’t know how I was going to be able to “draw” it in the PDF. I gave up and just threw in some actual photos on the second page of the pattern. If the directions are a little unclear, this block has a lot of pattern explanations all over the internet…I did my best.

You can download the instructions for the Martha Washington Star block here:

Good job, everyone! Keep sewing and look for the bright side in these murky times!

Half Yard Jam Quilt

Fat Quarter Shop contacted me a while ago about sewing up one of their new patterns, the Half Yard Jam Quilt. Seeing that I’d like to redecorate my bedroom, and the quilt is queen-sized, I jumped at the opportunity.

It’s an easy pattern–simple seams and BIG blocks. I got it done really fast once I got through the headache of starching my fabrics.

The pattern uses eighteen half yard cuts and I decided to make mine out of two boxes of those beautiful Art Gallery Color Master collections that always get me dreaming whenever I scroll past them on Fat Quarter Shop’s website. I decided to use the Fresh Waters and Coraline collections.

I think this will be a GREAT pattern for wedding and gift quilts–fast, modern, and you can definitely showcase the personalities of recipients. And, obviously, it will work well for indulging one’s desire to redecorate without going overboard with an overly-complicated new quilt.

You can download the pattern here:  https://www.fatquartershop.com/half-yard-jam-free-pdf-quilt-pattern

And Fat Quarter Shop has a quilt kit available, that you can look at here:  https://www.fatquartershop.com/half-yard-jam-quilt-kit

And you can visit the Fat Quarter Shop’s blog to learn more about the quilt, too: https://blog.fatquartershop.com/shortcut-quilt-half-yard-jam

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop, for inviting me to join you on this new pattern’s release! I really love this quilt and can’t wait to finish redecorating so I can start using it!

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Block 8: Rail Fence Star

OK, let’s see if my blog is finally going to let me publish an actual post…it’s being weird this week, and coupled with how lousy I was feeling yesterday, I decided to just wait out the bug. A few hours late shouldn’t hurt anyone’s plans, I hope…

We are getting so close to the end, you all! How exciting!

You can download the pattern instructions here:

If you’re posting your block to Instagram, please make sure to tag it with the #crystalquiltersbom (If you’re a member of the guild) and #sewmanystarsquilt hashtags so we can find your blocks!

Happy sewing!

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Block 7: Shoofly Star Block

We’re starting to get close to the end of our sew along! School has started, and hopefully that means a little extra time in your sewing rooms! Alright, this month’s block is the Shoofly Star Block:

You can download the pattern instructions here:

If you’re posting your block to Instagram, please make sure to tag it with the #crystalquiltersbom (If you’re a member of the guild) and #sewmanystarsquilt hashtags so we can find your blocks!

Happy sewing!