Obligation Crack

I am home.

My travels are over. And while I miss the heat and sun of my adventures,  I am glad to be hunkered down in the far north for the final days of 2016. There is wood burning in the stove, fresh snow on the ground, and holidays. We are in the darkest hours of the year. I took this photo at 3:00 this afternoon. As you can see, the sun is well on its way down.

thumb_img_5807_1024When I haven’t blogged in a while, I am always unsure of where to pick things up. I am super excited to share my adventures, but I also need some sort of debriefing—what just happened and why? Where do I go next? Consequently, while this was supposed to be the first post about my trip to China, it has turned into a bit of a self-analysis session.

I am an organized person in that I love listing and documenting and filing. One of my dream jobs is to be a librarian. To silently push volumes on carts through towering shelves of information—book bliss.

7259912-funny-librarian-cartoon-stock-vector-educationBut I am not an organized person when it comes to getting things done ahead of time. I realize now that that has a lot to do with over-extending myself. Every idea, opportunity, experience that presents itself seems doable and desirable. So, I say yes. I think you would too.

I mean, if you could go to Beijing, China for a week and experience both their culture and their quilt show, I bet you would say yes.

thumb_img_1367_1024Teaching and lecturing and hanging out in Houston for the International Quilt Festival is a pretty good gig too.

thumb_img_2341_1024And what about Florida in December? Who wouldn’t say yes to that?

thumb_img_4770_1024And then there is the book. It is an honor to be asked to share your craft in such a tangible form even if the process is a challenge like no other.

thumb_img_3528_1024So I say yes. And then I say yes again, and again, until the consequences of committing are coming at me from all angles—like enemy fire. Not really, but you know, there is a reason some of these obligations are called DEADlines.

This time, while burying myself under fabric, I pardoned myself from social media in a professional manner instead of lurching off into the dark the way I usually do. On October 8th, (Was it that long ago?) I actually wrote a blog post about it letting you all know I would absent for a bit. And so I was.

3y6a8267Another thing I have discovered about deadlines and obligations and saying yes is that the bits and pieces of your life that you drop while your head is down and your hands are stitching must at some point be picked back up. Dusted. Ironed. Cooked. Paid. Watered.

So, I have been doing that, and I am almost done. The aftermath of deadlines and commitments must be cleaned up—and that takes time.

I also see an emerging (potentailly bad) habit manifesting after I cross a finish line. I often take a break from quilting and wander off into other areas of fiber. The first time I drug myself across a major finish deadline, I tried to start an up-cycled sweater line.

In my attempts to knit I have collected a few old school patterns. I love this pattern book. I just wish all the patterns were for women!

If you want the full story on that escapade you can read this entry and then scroll down for links to all the other sweater stories. 

Here is pattern piece on top of my stitched work. I want as little waste as possible.

In fact, I started this blog to document the sweater story. Have we really been together that long? 

IMG_1497Two years ago, I took up knitting. I think I sat in my office for four months straight cruising Raverly, learning how to read a pattern, dreaming of the perfect top down sweater. I was procrasti-knitting AND on a Knit-cation.

Maria Shell Image Journal #4 2015Both experiences lead to Project Every Day—you know that thing where I wear only clothing I have made for 365 days.

PED Photo ShootWhile I do hope to get some knitting and clothing made, I am not going to take up beading or basket weaving this time. I think I can promise you that. I really need to stay on task and follow through with the next phases of my life—wrapping up the book, documenting Project Every Day, creating a new body of work that has been stewing for too long.

All Of My Life--Maria ShellStill. Knowing that all of my major deadlines are over, and that there is no big NEXT strangely creates a bit of anxiety for me.

I will fix this. I know how. I  will fabricate some new deadlines and obligations. It is the way I am wired.

One year, I gave myself the challenge of finishing a fourteen quilts for presents. Which resulted in a very fun quote project for Grandma Patt, my neighbor in McCarthy. Part one is here and part two is even better. 

IMG_4960My initial impulse when I got to this sentence was to tell you that I was going to post EVERY DAY until my birthday. You know, cause I need come obligation crack.

Instead, I plan to have a Walking Dead marathon with Son #3. Or maybe both?

the-walking-dead-zombiesWhat do you think? How do you deal with the lack of deadlines? Do you wallow? Do you make things unrelated to your real work? Do start saying yes to everything all over again?

This entry was published on December 17, 2016 at 5:55 PM. It’s filed under News And Events, Quilt Stories, Thoughts and Opinions and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

20 thoughts on “Obligation Crack

  1. Welcome Home – Procrastination should be my first name. I have many years of experience, surviving stress-filled deadlines, and somehow pulling off the task/project. And when I completed something major, I always felt a bit of depression, varying levels depending on the completed project. Since I have retired (4 years now), I don’t have many deadlines. I took on the motto of “Retired and No Longer Required”. I have almost no stress in my life, yet I am also not nearly as productive creatively as I would like to be. I seem to go on binges of making, then lag for too long before the next binge. My goal is to be more creatively productive in this coming year, setting projects goals for myself. Wish me luck and I will let you know how it goes.

    • Kay- I can relate to all that you said. The deadline is a good and bad thing. It motivates us, but too much of it can really be bad for the adrenal glands. I wish you the best in your 2017 goals and I hope you will keep me posted!

  2. All I can say is make hay while the sun shines. Retirement has its share of health issues for not only self but partners. Energy wanes and time speeds up so create those deadlines, work hard and fast and learn what you can while you can.

    There seems to be time when the kids go off to college and you dream of lots left for us but it gets used up with grandchildren and expanding family that you had no inkling of age’s unintended consequences. Not to say there is no joy in any of it; creativity can morph into new and hopefully equally exciting issues. Go with the flow. Creativity takes all kinds of forms you never dreamed of. Good luck with your book. Your blog writing experiences will serve you well. Carole .

    • Carole- I am already experiencing a bit of that. I cannot push myself as I did ten years ago. Especially on the long arm quilting machine. My body won’t do it. Happy Holidays Aunt Carole! It is always good to hear from you!

  3. pmgarrett2 on said:

    I love you

  4. mickeybb on said:

    Love your up-cycled sweaters! Can’t wait to hear about your trips. When you get chances to do things you have to take them!

    • In this cold weather, I have been thinking about those sweaters alot. Most of the ones I have I have worn out. I need to make new ones, but that means digging the wool out of storage, so I am only going to think about them,not actually do them. You are right. When life gives you changes, you should take them! Happy Holidays Mickey, I am sure you will create some wonderful things in the new year!

  5. Jean Jankovich on said:

    Maria, your year has been so filled with wonderful adventures. I too am wired to over commit at times, and then feel overwhelmed with deadlines … when the dust settles, I think you deserve to give yourself to some family time and enjoy the holidays before your family is grown, and you are an empty nester with no family to enjoy the most beautiful time of the year. Merry Christmas! Look forward to your next blog after the new year. All the best! P.s. We had sunny skies and high 70s here in S Florida today (and no snow that I know of lol).

  6. Maria! I can relate to so much of this post. I too love filing and organizing OTHER PEOPLE’S STUFF 🙂 I used to be an over-committer too. When I worked full time, my schedule book was still stuffed full of obligations. Until one day I felt so down, I actually thought ‘you might as well kill yourself.’ I am an optimistic person, so that thought was not dangerous. But it was serious. Deadlines (haha) are still good for me, otherwise I might never finish anything. But my schedule book is no longer stuffed full of obligations. Right now my biggest obligation and challenge is to get into the studio and start working by 7am 🙂

    And now I want to hear about your trip to China!!

    • I had a very similar experience Debby. I was always saying yes and all of time was totally booked and it was exhausting. Now I limit my life to my family, my work, and the Wrangell Mountains Center & SAQA. I give my time to those things. It has helped me to have good deadlines, and at the same time keep me centered.

  7. Wow. Another secret librarian. Glad to know I’m not the only one.
    I can absolutely relate to over committing. I’m coming off the tail end of a long year of that as well. I have a few more months of obligations and then…. the abyss. Where next, Columbus?
    How do I deal with lack of deadlines: I go around commenting on other people’s blogs (instead of updating my own).
    Do I wallow? Not often. There seems to be so many things I want to do, and never enough hours.
    Do I “make” things unrelated to my own work… yes, I do (though much of my “making” is done with a computer).
    Part of MY problem is really deciding what “my work” is, as I transition out of 30 years of one profession, into something else. My head is loaded with ideas, with things to do, but so few of them are going to feed me, literally or figuratively.
    I think you are being a little hard on yourself in this post too. Sometimes we just need to grab the experiences when they present themselves. Decompressing later with “diversions” from our primary focus should just be considered a way of allowing our inspiration batteries to recharge. If you just sat in a room with fabric for 12 months straight, you might get a lot of sewing done, but you wouldn’t be exposing yourself to new ideas. Whether you are knitting or Netflixing, you’re feeding a part of yourself that is hungry. It’s all good!

  8. Penny Hyde on said:

    I am an introvert and tend to under commit due to my fear of deadlines that would require me to dip into my quite time and then reach out regardless of how I “feel” at the reaching out moment. Of course, it’s about balance. I’ve always admired your vision and stamina. But, rest is good and stillness is its own kind of movement. Enjoy! (thank-you again for the mitt pattern! It arrived on Monday).

  9. Annette Guerrero on said:

    You are an inspiration as always. I wish you the very best and happiest new year.

  10. Sometimes when I get overcommitted or cut my deadlines too close, a lull appears in my making. Yes, as you said, there is that initial cleaning up, sorting taking care of business phase. This is usually followed by a bit of slow motion, unfocused dabbling until I have new obligations and deadlines. And so it goes….

    • Marla– my cycle is like that too! It is as if I need a rest–like catching up on sleeping–to recharge. I have been making clothes and knitting. I still need to tackle the studio clean up which is always an obstacle. Things get so messy I can’t create, but I don’t want to take the time to tidy. That is the problem I must solve this week! Happy New Year Marla! I hope you have a good one planned.

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