Alt title: On Being a Hot Mess
In my kitchen are a gaggle of suitcases, two full with the accoutrement necessary for an upcoming teaching gig and a third waiting to be filled with things like my computer, and all that other stuff one needs when traveling. I’m bringing the color wheels, and so many practice pieces apropos of Learn to Stitch with Reckless Abandon, which is, as one might suspect, the title of an upcoming quilt lecture and machine quilting class.
Learning to stitch with reckless abandon takes a bit of commitment and a wee bit of willingness to make a lot of mistakes and bad choices until the whole reckless abandon of it all takes hold. This, as you might imagine takes some really good foundational work, which is, in and of itself, my specialty. Coming to understand with experience how needles, thread, tension, doodling, good pens, spiced up with a willingness to let the quilting show is the key to unlocking this. Understanding how all of these work together takes a wee bit of time and a lot of experimenting. And it takes something of a critical eye asking questions like, “where did this all go right?” and “how do I do this again?” and “what if I try this?” and loud exclamations of “wow! Wow! WOW!” Not quite what you were expecting was it? I am really happy to share with you where all the flaws are in my quilts because there are flaws. However when standing back and viewing the quilt your eyes are likely to glide right over these places where the stitching jogs as a direct result of my hands moving awkwardly or starting/stopping with an a lack of smoothness that, to my eye, has a neon sign pointing it out or one of those big arrows with the words “flaw here” emblazoned over the surface so it’s clear that this is where the flaw exists. Each quilt has a multitude of these.
However if I focused on the flaws and mistakes and jogs and weirdo color choices I would crawl up in a ball on the sofa and never try quilting again. Something I’ve understood for a while and has come up in Spiritual Direction is that Going Through is key to understanding, healing, growth. I’d love to avoid the going through part. Really. Because going through is challenging. I can assure you that as I quilted on quilt after quilt my head and the front of the sewing machine came together in a challenging way. The same happens in my faith life. Or all of this put together: Life.
When I focus, when we focus, when I focus on the mistakes I lose sight of the good that’s going on. Allow me to reiterate that, when I focus on the mistakes I lose sight of the good that’s going on and I miss out on what is going well. I need to know what’s going well as much as I need to know what’s going not so well. Or sometimes what’s totally insert vulgar word here.
Sometimes focusing in on the mistakes is necessary to figure out what’s going on and discover/discern what corrective action is necessary. And sometimes in order to figure out what’s going wackadoodle I need help. Even me who’s understand sewing machines has struggles with the machine, a needle & thread pairing, batting, humidity, personal tension, lack of sleep, lack of charity and machine oil. But sometimes I focus too much on the mistakes when it’s necessary is stepping back and taking a look at the overall picture.
So what does the Alt Title have to do with all of this? So, so much. Accepting the fact that I am a hot mess, that others are too, that the process of learning to quilt is a hot mess and the walk of faith is a hot mess that getting through this hot messness is the path to better quilting and holiness all in one fell swoop. Whether I’m working on growing in Faith, growing in quilting, in relationship with others it’s an active participation in the ongoing learning of life.
And yeah you’ve probably guessed that there’s more behind this post. And there is. And it’s good and hard and sacred and scary and work and a gift and one stitch at a time.