Saturday, June 23, 2012

I'm Not Crazy -- My Quilt Accepted!

Sue Reno chose 20 pieces to be exhibited out of 128 art quilts by 86 artists.   According to curator Kathy Nida, "Together they create a compelling exhibition of work addressing issues of mental illness and the stigma attached to it." Wow! I still can't believe it. I'm so honored. The theme for I'm Not Crazy spoke to me immediately. Unfortunately, I don't think I am going to be able to actually see the exhibition so if you happen to be able to see it, please share your thoughts and images with me. Here is the schedule (more venues may be added):

Here is the list of people accepted:

Nancy L. Bardach                   Running Through
Jane B. Broaddus                   Another Panic Attack
Melinda Bula                           Good and Plenty
Gerrie Congdon                      Alternate Universe
Carol Howard Donati              In My Head
Judy Kirpich                            Circles No.5
Harue Konishi                         SYO#42
Karol Kusmaul                        Whee at the ALF
Susan Lenz                             Held Together By a Thread
Kathleen McCabe                   What Next?
Lea McComas                        Recovery
Salli McQuaid                         Bipolar 1: Loco
Elizabeth Michellod-Dutheil    Badly to be (Mal ĂȘtre)
Karen S. Musgrave                 Glimpses of the Dark Angel
Mary B. Pal                             Stogie
Judith A. Roderick                  Red Ravens
Connie Rohman                      Woven (For Jack)
Lois A. Sprague                      Moody Blues
Cynthia St Charles                  All Alone and Blue
Sylvia M. Weir                        Insane Asylum

I am hoping this is a good sign since I have decided to entered my work once again. It's not so much fearing rejection (it is going to happen), it's the cost. Anyway, I am going to enjoy this moment. By the way, can you find the angel?

Friday, June 22, 2012

ATC- Dew

This month's ATC exchange theme for Arts in the Cards was dew. Usually ideas come quickly to me. Not with this one, I struggled. My first attempt which was humorous ended up in the trash. The deadline was fast approaching and I do not like to miss deadlines especially for the reason "I just couldn't think of anything." I use ATCs as a way of playing around with new techniques, supplies, etc. I've been playing with watercolor so that's what I decided to do.  The leaf is a punch. I also used some silver fabric spray paint that I got on sale. It seemed to spray sideways so I got it everywhere including all over me! The quote, "Delicious tears! The heart's own dew," by poet Letitia Landon (1802-1838) and seemed to fit my experience personally. Not my best work but certainly not horrible. You can check out the wonderful dew cards on the group's blog. I particularly think Linda Edkins Wyatt rocked the theme. It's always best to surround yourself with people who make you step up. Which is why I am so sad that Wanda Stivison is leaving the group because of time constraints.  Wanda, you will be missed! Who makes you step up?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quotes for the Day

I've been cleaning my office again. It seems to be one of my challenge areas in my life. It is also something I do (clean) when I am feeling that I don't have control of my life. I pick something I can control.

I'm coming across all of these pieces of paper with quotes or proverbs on them. Thought I would share two of my favorites (so far) with you. The first one is a Kenyan Proverb:

"Be like the needle; so insignificant, but it sews the world together."

Next is a quote for the article Between Clothing and Nudity by Mario Perniola, an Italian philosopher.

"Everything is fabric, clothing to the very end. Everything turns to dust, 
but dust is still an extreme covering; it envelopes everything."

I love collecting quotes and they find their way into my art quite often. Tomorrow I'll share my ATC for the "dew" exchange with Arts in the Cards where I included a quote. Do you collect quotes? If so, please share your favorite.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Quilts in the Attic Ad--Need Your Thoughts

People think that as an author of a book (Quilts in the Attic: Uncovering the Hidden Stories of the Quilts We Love), I actually know what is going on with my book. I don't. I've heard other authors tell me the same thing so I know it isn't just me. I'll admit that I don't purchase many magazines anymore but I always flip through them to see what is happening. I was quite surprised to discover an ad for my book (photo) in the summer issue of Art Quilting Studio magazine (page 139 on the page with "Art Management Policy"). By the way, I did purchase the magazine.  Here are my questions and please know you cannot hurt my feelings so be honest; the more brutal the better.

1. If you purchased the magazine, did you notice the ad?
2. Does the ad make you want to purchase the book?
3. Do you know anything about the following women- Mary Lee Bendolph, Marie Webster, and Ruby Short McKim?
4. What do you think of the overall design of the ad?

Thanks! I promise to share my thoughts too but I don't want to taint your thoughts with mine. Bring it on!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

One Lovely Blog award

I've been nominated for the One Lovely Blog award by Franki Kohler.
Thank you Franki! Franki loves ginkgo leaves and creates amazing pieces of art using them as inspiration so she's got my heart. She is also the wonderful leader of Postmark'd Art.
 To everyone who visits and leave comments, I am so appreciative.

  In keeping with the spirit of the award, nominees are expected to
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link.

2. Name 7 random things about yourself.

3. Pass the recognition to blogs you enjoy and let them know.
Seven very random things about me:

1. I have lived in  five states and one foreign country--
Indiana, New Jersey, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois and Aruba.

2. I made my first quilt, a baby quilt, in 1973. It had drawings on 
it made with fabric crayons.

3. I keep five different journals and will soon start a six dealing with my garden.

4. It took me five months working nearly every day including Christmas to write my book 
Quilts in the Attic

5. I have traveled to Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan with quilts.

6. I cannot wait to be a grandma.

7. I have been trying and succeeding at not spending much time online. It's amazing 
how much I am accomplishing!

Blogs I love Just to name a few (see #7 above):

5. Every Person is a Philosopher (challenging writing in under served 
areas in Chicago and great inspiration)


Friday, June 15, 2012

Journal Fun!

I love to play with paper and stickers. And a day with my friend Barbara is heaven! It's been more than six weeks since we got together again. Today we transformed $1.00 journals into gifts for family and friends. I got 10 done!  It was just what I needed. I'm ready to dive into some new projects. For me, this is just the thing (mindless play) to get my creative juices flowing! How do you get your juices flowing?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Catching Up and Other Thoughts

Time seems to slip by so quickly lately. I have been spending some time gardening mostly in my son's and daughter-in-law's yard. Gardening teaches me so much. I am very present when I'm working in my garden and wonderful ideas often pop into my head. Actually, I don't consider it work, I even call it "playing in the dirt."  Gardening is also a great stress reducer for me which I seem to need lately. So time to do a little catching up.

One of Ava's, a member of Las puntadas del alma/Stitches of the Soul, quilts went missing. I don't know why, but in my heart I knew it would turn up. When the stuffed envelope turned up in my mailbox, I honestly wasn't thinking about Ava's quilt. I was wondering what the heck I had ordered and forgotten. Why it was mailed to me and not Ava, I can't answer. Nor can I answer who mailed it as there was no return address. Frankly, I didn't care and still don't. It had turned up! Ava chose to pick it up in person. We had lunch (salads at Penera's) and visited Pieceful Heart Fabrics. I got to see the sweet garden quilt that Ava is making with her granddaughter and I got to share some of my new work with her. It was only later in the evening that it occurred to me that we would not have had this wonderful time together had her quilt not gone missing. I want to thank the person who returned it for this wonderful gift (and of course for returning the quilt).

While at the quilt shop, I ran into one of my former students, Kathy. She shared with me that in the last five years the only quilts she has finished are the quilt-as-you-go ones from the classes I taught.  Made me happy! I got to see the fabric for her next one--a "techie" quilt. She had some fabulous fabrics! The hug was appreciated too. I'm a hugger. One of my nieces, Jennifer, even describes me that way. "Look out my Aunt Karen is a hugger. You will be hugged." I am a firm believe that we need at least three just to maintain.

Yesterday I had a strange message on m answering machine. I did recognize the name so I decided to give her a call. She didn't mean to call me and we are not even sure how she got my number because she called using a list from the AQSG conference and I didn't attend. We ended by talking for almost two hours and I have a new friend--Gail Ingram! I love when these kind of things happen in life.

Whenever I go to a funeral of someone I know well, I marvel at how the person is portrayed. So seldom is the wonderfully imperfect person present instead I hear idealized descriptions and wonder, "Who are they talking about?" Okay, I know this is meant to comfort, but it only sanitizes the life of the deceased. To know someone fully and love them in spite of, even because of, their imperfections is an act that requires us to recognize and forgive, two important qualities we should all embrace. Because if we can do that for others, just maybe we can do it for ourselves. It is our fallibility and uncertainty that make us human. Our constant challenge is not to seek perfection in ourselves and others, but to find ways to be happy in an imperfect world. When I die, share all the good and the bad. And please make sure you share the funny too.

And before I forget, the plant in the photograph is an Acanthus Spinosus (Spiny Bear's Breeches) and it's in my front yard next to my lime green bird bath. The flower is 16 inches tall. I feel in love with this plant the instant I saw it. I want another one!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Book Signing

Last night's book signing at Pieceful Heart Fabrics in Lisle, Illinois, was amazing. What a great group of women and Chuck! And thanks to everyone who agreed to be in my photo shoot! The questions asked made me think and I felt like a star! Writing this book was a labor of love so it means so much that people actually want to read it. I was also blown away by how many people bought the more than one copy of the book! Thanks also to Gina and everyone at Pieceful Heart Fabrics for making it a night to remember! Now it's time to come down from the clouds and get to work although I think I may float a little while longer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Postmark'd Art

I joined Postmark'd Art in July 2004 which began my wonderful journey into making postcards to trade. In 2005, we had a website which was maintained by a webmaster. In October 2011, Franki Kohler, our fearless and kind leader, decided it was time for a change. Now Franki, Lynn Chinnis and I work together to maintain the website. We are serious about promoting fiber art, fiber postcards and our wonderfully creative members. I encourage you to check out the website because it is a great place to be inspired and it is not just about postcards.  

Lynn Chinnis does the First Friday Studio Tour and my studio is this month's tour. So if you want to know more about my studio space which is the second largest bedroom in my house, please check it out. I didn't even clean before taking the photos! I am happy when I was asked that the place wasn't a total disaster. I am very messy when I am in the creative zone. I drop lots of fabric and other things on the floor.

I have been writing a three part piece on postcard backs. When I began I truly didn't think I would have so much to say! The first installment was on May 30th, the second installment  will appear tomorrow June 6 and the final installment will be on June 13. 

To everyone who shared stories about people making them feel terrible about their failures, you have my heartfelt sympathy. Too many of us have been there.  A friend shared that she calls these people "balloon busters." Isn't that a great way to view them? All I can say is release those people with love and move on.

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch.

- e.e. cummings -

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

This I Believe-Thoughts on Burn Out

A few people shared that they couldn't find balance because they felt burnt out and failures. I think most of us get burned out every once in a while and if we don't feel occasionally that we have failed then we aren't trying enough.

 I wasn't just burnt out, I was crispy at the end of my more than ten years with the one quilt organizations (serving on the board as development chair, running a major project, writing press releases, etc.). You get the picture. The sad part was the people around me didn't see burn out, they just saw a "difficult" person. I was so unhappy, but in the craziness of trying to do it all, I didn't know just how unhappy.  It really was another lesson on balance because I think burn out occurs when we are most definitely way out of balance. And for me, it had to do with not valuing myself. 

Life is a journey.  We often fall on our face, the important thing is to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and take another step.  It's part of the journey of self-discovery. The value of failure lies in what we do with it. If we deny it or diminish it, we can't learn from it. I want to be able to face life squarely, ask myself questions and be willing to learn from the answer even if it is painful. Rosalind Russel said it well, "Flops are a part of life's menu and I've never been on to miss out on any of the course." And look at the wisdom of May Pickford's words, "Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for the thing we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down."

I love synchronicity. Last night I decided to continue to share my thoughts on life  and this morning this excerpt was waiting for me in my inbox.

We blink a thousand times a day. A thousand times a day the world goes dark. A thousand times a day we wake. We can't escape this opening and closing. It's a reflex we can't control. Even as you read this, your eyes, along with your heart and mind, are blinking -- opening and closing repeatedly, no matter what you do. It is part of being human. 

Yet so much depends on which you see as home -- being open or closed. Do you see life as one stream of light interspersed with nights of dark, or as one stream of darkness interspersed with days of light? Though there will never be an answer, what we believe about the nature of life matters. It lifts or burdens our days. So ask yourself, more than once, Is life one long miracle of feeling interspersed with moments of breaking? Do we repeatedly fall into our humanness from never-ending light? Or is life one long painful breaking interspersed with moments of wonder? Do we struggle up from the unending dark briefly into glimpses of light? 

Obviously there are times we feel one way and times we are certain it is the other. There are even times we even know it is both. But how we allow for both -- how much we make the light our home and how much we settle into the dark -- determines the personal alchemy of our hope and despair, our optimism and pessimism, our belief and doubt. 

Perhaps the wisdom in blinking is that it keeps us in the middle, keeps us from drowning in the dark and from burning up from the light. Perhaps this is the reflex that lets us make sense of being human.
--Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Make it a great day! I am.



Monday, June 4, 2012

This I Believe--Perception

Wow! I never would have thought my post on balance would cause such strong emotions. I am not "telling" anyone what to do. I wouldn't want that job even if it was available. I am simply sharing my thoughts and journey. Personally when something brings up strong emotions in me I try to pause and understand why. For all of you who sent words of appreciation, thank you.

I do stand by my belief that we create our own reality. Our perceptual positions determine how we view things. I cannot think of anyone who has said something better about perception than actress Shelly Winters: "I think on-stage nudity is disgusting, shameful and damaging to all things American. But if I were twenty-two with a great body, it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic and a progressive religious experience."

I am always saddened when I hear people express the belief that genes, family, education, and environment have predetermined their destiny. They don't believe that change is possible. I think this is what Henry David Thoreau was describing when he said "lives of quiet desperation."

I am a strong believer in conscious intention. I've learned that I have to take chances and let go of things, people and thinking that hold me back. It took a leap of faith to get on an airplane, travel a third of the world away with no idea what would happen next. I am so glad that I felt the fear and did it anyway. It changed my life for the better.  I choose to do things that frighten me and the more I do things the less frightening the experience becomes. I call it "putting stretch marks on my comfort zone." As a matter of fact, if I go too long without doing something that scares me, I force myself even if it is something like finally doing my colonoscopy (thankfully don't have to do that again for another 10 years).

Many people love to talk about something they would like to do or create. They read books, collect supplies, discuss it with friends, admire people who actually do it, but they never actually do it. And that's okay. It's just not me and it's not conscious intention in my book either.

I love to play with intention. Yesterday I decided I was going to find a penny while out running errands. I even told my husband my plan. Before leaving the house, I sat in my car and visualized a penny. I even said out loud, "I am going to find a penny." Of course, I promptly forgot about the penny as I focused on accomplishing my errands. As I was going to my car after my last errand, I remembered my intention and there before me one the ground wasn't a penny but a dime! Now I know some will think and probably tell me that my intention didn't work. Personally, I think the universe is telling me to think bigger and I plan to listen. How's that for an attitude which, of course, is a whole other thing.

Look closely at the present you are constructing: 
it should look like the future you are dreaming.  -Alice Walker

Sunday, June 3, 2012

This I Believe--Thoughts on Balance

Finding balance has been a discussion with the members of Postmark'd Art and inspired me to write this post.  Finding balance was an issue I too had for years. Here are my thoughts on how I came to creating balance in my life.

I remember at the end of yet another exhausting day of too much to do and too little time to actually enjoy what I was doing, I yelled out loud, "This is nuts! Things have to change." I knew it was not going to be easy to change the patterns, perceptions and attitudes that had gotten me to this point, but I was ready.

There is an old story about a hunter who is walking through the woods. He comes across hundreds of large colorful targets painted on all kinds of trees and all of the arrows on all of the targets have hit the bull's eyes! Never a miss! He's dumbfounded, amazed. The hunter goes off to search for this perfect marksman. Finally he finds him and asks, "Please tell me, what is your secret behind your perfect aim? You never miss!"  The archer smiles and replies, "It is really quite simple. First I shoot my arrows. Then I paint the targets."

The marksman trusted himself and knew wherever he aimed, with clear intention and honest effort, he would always hit his mark. Running around trying to do it all, I was missing the mark. I knew that I needed to be fueled by the desire for self-knowledge and the courage to move forward and explore knowing that there was no end product or finish line. It truly was about process and connecting to my life in a meaningful way.

We choose how to live our lives. We create our own reality. In other words, I had to take responsibility.

I have always believed that we do what is important to us. I needed to take some time and really think about what was important to me. Was I choosing to be an object in my life, letting others tell me who I was and what I was capable of being or the subject of my life, determining my own destiny? What did I want out of this life I have been given?

I started a journal that tracked my activities for the day (which I continue to do). How was I spending my time? The journal put it all in black and white for me to see. After a month, I looked back through my entries and honestly evaluated.

I bought a small white board (it's actually purple) and put it on my desk. It has a running list of things that I want to accomplish and who I want to be. It helps remind me what I have determined is important and helps keep me on track.

Saying "no," has always been hard for me and it's always been comforting to I know I am not alone.  Having been fascinated by the studies on how language influences behavior and a writer, I know the power of words. So I decided to say, "I wish I could, but I can't," instead of "no," when presented with something that I was tempted to do, but for whatever reason was not something for me (remembering what was important to me). This helped keep relationships open and it was much easier for me because I truly wish I could do it all. I know I cannot.

Step away from the computer! I started charting the time that I spent on my computer--e-mail, reading the messages on the different list-serves, Facebook, surfing the web, writing my blog, etc. I was shocked how much time was being eaten up by sitting in front of my computer. Time I would never get back. I started noticing how often people who said that life got in the way so they couldn't meet a deadline were online continually posting all over the place. This helped me to limit the time I spend online.

Don't answer the phone! I use to feel that when the phone rang, I needed to answer it. I didn't matter that I was doing something important, I would stop and answer it. I found all too often that while it was great connecting to the person on the other end, I lost the connection to what I was doing. Or worse, I would pick up the phone to discover a telemarketer. In other words, my time has value and I need to use it wisely. I have an answering machine and I can call people back.

Letting go of people is another thing that has always been hard for me. I came to realize that too many of my relationships while my support, work and efforts were wanted, I was not truly valued.  I wasn't one of the "cool" kids. It took a really hard, painful lesson for me to finally get "it." No more would I stay in a relationship where I was not valued completely. No more giving away my talents to be put in a corner. I now release with love and I am finding that the people in my life are truly wonderful and help me grow instead of making me feel bad about myself.

There is an old Polish saying, "Sleep faster, we need the pillows." It reminds us that there are some things that simply cannot be rushed. I feel life is one of them.  I worked on slowing down. Being present.  I find working (still not totally there) one this skill cultivates and promotes, patience, relaxation and a deeper connection to myself. I stopped multitasking. Whatever made me think I could do more than one thing at a time and do them well? I find I accomplish more and I'm happier with the results.

I worked on self-forgiveness. I didn't look at working toward attaining balance as a need to "fix" myself (I was so tired of thinking of myself as broken), but as a way of being fully who I am and embracing who I will become. Silencing the inner critic was easier some days than others. Reality is layered, like an onion. And to quote Carl Sandburg, "Life is like an onion: you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep." Asking questions is one of the ways you can peel off the layers one by one, to find out what is really real for you. Questioning draws out your truth. Revelation is part of the payoff.

At first making the changes was difficult but over time--as I consistently worked to change--I found that my life was much more fulfilling, I was happier and I was accomplishing more not less.  This is not to say that my life does not get out of balance from time to time. That is life. However, it is no longer a way of life