Purpose Journal

I went to A Work of Heart for a half an hour last week. I know it sounds crazy to drive an hour for a half and creativity session, but I had to go to the neighborhood anyway. Half an hour was about all I could spend, but it was enough. Andrea, the owner, was there by herself working, so she set me up and I embellished the front of the journal.

I worked on the journal that I originally made (and wrote about) at A Work of Heart with CQFA back in October. I never do this kind of work at home so it really felt like play time to me. I didn’t feel pressure and I worked as though I couldn’t screw up.

Many in the blogosphere have talked about their own personal Word of the Year projects. I think I first heard about it through the Creative Mom Podcast. I have watched these discussions for the past couple of years with interest.

I have seen mention that Christine Kane started it, but I am sure someone was picking a word of the year before she promoted it. I have friends who have been choosing a Word of the Year for the past few years. Julie puts all the words into a vessel and picks one.

Julie’s process didn’t seem right for me. I never picked a word until this year.

Purpose Journal
Purpose Journal

Then, recently, the word Purpose came to mind and that seemed right to me. All the pieces started to fall into place. Now I have a list of questions to explore and this journal in which to write.

In a way it is an exploration via non-quilt media as well as via writing. I don’t know yet what I want to accomplish, but I have a great journal in which to accomplish it!

Word of the Day…Again

Or “oh, for heaven’s sake NOT that again”

I might be obsessed with thinking about creativity. I want another WOTD book, but am settling right now for Eric Maisel’s book, The Creativity Book: A Year’s Worth of Inspiration and Guidance. My sister sent it to me and I am making my best effort at it.

One thing that Julie does is pick a word of the year. I heard about this from the Creative Mom Podcast and from other places. I have never been able to settle on a word. OR, more accurately, I have never sat down and given a word for the year enough thought to choose one. I found Ali Edwards word of the year post and thought about it again.

Do you choose a word of the year? If so, what is your word (please post to comments).
If not, do you do something to inspire you every day?

clipped from aliedwards.typepad.com

My One Little Word : Story

For 2010 I have chosen the word STORY.

EDITED: I just came across this really nice free download “Word of the Year Discovery Tool” from blogger Christine Kane. It’s a worksheet for thinking through your word and essentially telling the story of your word. Totally recommended. This is a great action step.

  blog it

Word of the Day: Commitment

I am still doing the Word of the Day, even though I haven’t been posting most of the words here. I find it to be a good meditation and a good way to start my day. Today’s word is commitment and the description/passage really applies to quiltmaking. I wanted to share it with you.

The WOTD book I use is called 365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao. I am not a Taoist and I think the word, Tao, in most of the passages can be replaced with another word such as spirituality or quiltmaking, depending on the context. Here is today’s passage:

‘One may be quite far along on the path, but if one meets a beginner who sincerely seeks guidance, then one should help without reservation. If such a beginner were to come to you, what would you say? This is what I said to someone today:

“The time of beginning is one of the most precious times of all. It can be very exciting and full of wonderful growth. The first thing to do is to make up your mind that you are going to go the distance.

“When I first began, I made a lifelong commitment. I determined that I would learn from my teacher for at least seven years. Now, it has been much longer than that, but the essential element is still the same: commitment.

“But commitment needs something else in order to be perpetuated. It needs discipline. This is the perseverance to keep on when things are tough. Adversity is life’s way of testing and perfecting a person. Without that, we would never develop character.

“Rice suffers when it is milled. Jade must suffer when it is polished. But what emerges is something special. If you want to be special too, then you have to be able to stick to things even when they are difficult.”

Commitment and discipline-these are two of the most precious words for those who would seek [Tao].’

A lot of the words and phrases in the passage feel right in terms of quiltmaking. I think they say a lot once I sat down and took the time to read them.

I think that this passage can be easily applied to quiltmaking. I don’t think everyone makes a really sincere commitment to quiltmaking when they start. I think it is ok to try a variety of different crafts and reject the ones that don’t appeal. Crafts are different from spirituality and religion, after all.

I do think, however, that once I decide on a media, that I should make some kind of commitment to progress. Making a commitment to progress doesn’t preclude having fun. I also think that I don’t have to always work on progressing. I don’t think buying fabric is as much of a commitment as some people think it is.

I also think that I can always learn something and one of the things that I like about quiltmaking is that there are many teachers, websites and books from which to learn. I think that no matter how accomplished a quiltmaker a person is, there is always room to grow.

I also think that commiting time to various aspects of quiltmaking and working on those regularly constitutes discipline. for me, discipline leads to progress.

For me, my fabric work is not always a walk in the park. I have projects that just do not work out. Remember Hop, Skip and Jump from December 2008? Remember all the blocks that I replaced in the Tarts, such as the yellow china tea cup?

In general, this is a passage that made me think about my quiltmaking, discipline and commitment.

Note: You can see the beginning of the WOTD project on the January 1 post. While I am still doing the project in my journal, I am only posting WOTDs here when they really related to something I have seen or done. My last WOTD post on February 1, 2009 explains a little about my thinking.


Deirdre sent me the link to this entry in Susan Shie’s blog. The post is all about the process of making one of her pieces. I was riveted reading the detail which she includes in her post. Read the post!

Susan Shie's Savannah
Susan Shie’s Savannah

Process is something that has been on my mind as I have worked on the Tarts. I used to be only focused on the end product. I found it to be very unsatisfying, because the end product had a short-lived shelf life. What do you do with a finished product? Put in the bed, hang it on the wall and …. There is nothing after that. I would be finished with the piece. There isn’t much more interaction with a finished piece.

It occurred to me at some point that the process was what was important. I have, since then, tried to focus on the process. I wrote about it in blog post on March 14, 2009 and also mentioned process on January 1, 2009 in the 2008 UFO Report.

In focusing on the process, I try to work on what I am working on right at that moment fully and completely. I try not to think ahead to the next step or the next project. This was brought home to me in a big way as I worked on the Tarts. That project required my absolute full and undivided attention. Any time I thought “oh this will be fine” meant trouble and I would end up ripping something out. The lesson was, however, that Lorraine Torrence’s advice about making visual decisions visually was correct. I knew it was, but the Tarts hammered the mantra into my mind.

One of the other things I realized about process is that while I work on something, I am completely engaged with it. I feel the fabric in my hand. I feed the thread into the machine or hand sewing needle, feeling it with my fingers. I am close to the fabric and the project supplies.

Susan Shie’s post goes through her process in minute detail. It would bore me if I had heard it before, but I haven’t. I find everyone’s process to be different and, often, fascinating.

The other thing about process is that a process does not necessarily stay within the bounds of a specific project. A process can continue to another project once I have finished with a piece. Susan talks about making her Kitchen Tarot deck, which is a multi piece project. She is making a quilt for each of the many Tarot cards in a deck. I really admire someone who can commit to such a large project. Her pieces aren’t small either. She has committed to the process.

The Word of the Day for Labor Day, September 7, 2009 was Reverence. My immediate reaction was a sinking heart and steeling myself for a lecture. The reverence that the author talked about was multi-faceted and had nothing to do with a harangue about organized religion. The passage talked about reverence for a process and reverence for materials.

“Everything that we do should be imbued with reverence and so one would think that we should begin with this concept. But no. Reverence only comes with experience and care.”


“In our own small way, we must create and bring order to our lives each day. We must be responsible, and at the same time express the wonder of all we know as human.”


“The stately determination to make something worthy of the materials and the moment is reverence.”

I think that by engaging in a process, we gain experience. The more time I spend working on pieces the more experience I gain. I also think that being appreciative of the materials and what they are contributing to the process helps me work better.

It seems to me that reverence is part of a process.

In the process of writing this post, I became much more interested in Susan’s work, classes, blog etc. Perhaps there is a class with her in my future?

Word of the Day: Struggle

I was looking at the photos from the recent AQS show in Paducah. I looked at them (thanks, Leslie, for posting!) and thought they were unbelievably gorgeous. The work, the time, the creativity. I also thought that there was no point in me ever enering anything in Paducah, because that work is different from what I do. It isn’t that I probably couldn’t do what Sharon Schamber and Caryl Bryer Fallert do, but I really don’t want to. I love the work that I do and want to continue on the path that I am on and not make something just to enter it into Paducah.

Today when I read the Word of the Day, Struggle, I thought of these feelings I had when looking at the Paducah photos.

Deng Ming Dao, from 365 Tao writes (abridged by me!):

“Goals  are important. Forbearance is also important. But the very process of struggle is equally essential…Without it, we cannot know any true meaning in our accomplishments.”

“A writer will write significant passages as if they were dictated. Each might say, ‘It happened so fast!’ But in reality, it took all of them years of dedication and struggle to come to that moment of climaz. Thus even the virtuoso performance is the tip of a lifetime of struggle, and the gem of meanin is set in the metal of long perseverance.”

Struggle has a negative connotation at first glance, but this passage is great because it acknowledges past work and sums up success.

I think that we have to acknowledge our past work as we achieve success in the present and the future. We have to acknowledge how much we have learned and struggled to get where we are at this point. Caryl Bryer Fallert and Shawn Fanning (founder of Napster) did not have immediate success. What appears to be immediate success has some kind of backsory. Caryl Bryer Fallert had years of machine quitling experience behind before winning best of show at Paducah. Shawn Fanning knew about the Internet and programming before he created Napster.

I don’t think that a person can have instant and immediate success. There is always something behind doing something for the first time: family, classes, related experience. There has to be a foundation.

TFQ turned me on to a Flickr group called Mod Sampler Quilt-Along. It is related to the blog, Oh fransson! It seems that this is where people are gathering now and sharing their quilts in a way that is different from the Paducah show. TFQ and I had a long talk about the AQS show and how it relates to new quiltmakers. She is starting a blog and I hope she will write more about our discussion, but if not, I will pick it up later.

Note: You can see the beginning of the WOTD project on the January 1 post. While I am still doing the project in my journal, I am only posting WOTDs here when they really related to something I have seen or done. My last WOTD post on February 1, 2009 explains a little about my thinking.

Word of the Day: Orientation

The description of orientation didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. When I saw the word, I thought of the way I orient pieces in a quilt (one track mind, I know).

“Most of us embody disparate aspects in our personalities; these are our forms, the way we take shape. If we aren’t careful, we can become confused by such complexity. We should not deny any part of ourselves. We should arrange them. All elements are valid – they must simply be placed in the right context.”

I know that I have different aspects to my personality. The description of orientation in the book is a good passage to think about in relation to achieving balance with all of those different parts. Within quiltmaking alone are the following aspects: the art quiltmaker, the quiltmaker who is inspired by old quilts, the quilt historian, the machine appliquer, etc.

“…a diverse personality problematic only if some aspects dominate to the exclusion of others.”

I think what happens is that we try to feed all the different aspects of our quiltmaking personality and don’t see projects through. I am facing this a bit with the Tarts Come to Tea. I feel strongly that I should have powered through that project back in the day and to move forward with it now will mean incorporating the updated, new and emerging aspects of my personality that have changed and developed since I started the project. That means lots of ripping. I think though, that, after deciding it needs to be finished (versus abandoned) that I need to let those new aspects of my personality have some time in the sun and if that means ripping, so be it. I am reminding myself to be about the process and not the finished product right now.

“Just as the sun is the center of our solar system, so too must the mind of wisdom be the center of our diverse personalities. If our minds are strong, then the various parts of our lives will be held firmly to their proper courses, and there will be no chance of deviation.” There will be balance.

Word of the Day: Lovemaking

Oooh! Scary, love and sex in a quilt blog! I guess that is the breaks with a Word of the Day type project.

“Too many layers of meaning have been imposed upon sex. Religions straitjacket it, ascetics deny it, romantics glorify it, intellectuals theorize about it, obsessives pervert it. These actions have nothing to do with lovemaking. They come from fanaticism and compulsive behavior.”

“Making love is something mysterious, sacred, and often the most profound interaction between people. Whether what is created is a relationship or pregnancy, the legacy of both partners will be inherent in their creation. What we put into love determines what we get out of it.”

Word of the Day: Scars

Another difficult word….

“Throughout our life, but especially during our youth, many scars are inflicted upon us…Others arise from bad education…Unless we recover from these injuries, the scars mar us forever.”


“The only way is through self cultivation…The true course of healing is up to us alone.”

I think that poor teaching, and thoughtless comments are the root of scars and lack of confidence in the quiltmaking world. People are flexible and can learn anything. If one is told s/he can’t, shouldn’t, won’t, or musn’t, the small nicks and cuts that lead to scars are inflicted and internalized. Often these comments come from the utter’s own lack of confidence. I must avoid the possibility of getting more scars or inflicting scars on others by gaining confidence in my own skills and being supportive and not critical of other works.

Word of the Day: Accountability

“Eventually, someone has to be at the top. And who will that person turn to? Let us invoke not deities but pragmatism. It is experience that is the ultimate teacher. That is why wise people travel constantly and test themselves against the flux of circumstance. It is only in this way that they can truly conform their thoughts and compensate for their shortcomings.”

I think that the jist of this passage and word of the day is that being a leader means that you have to guide people through uncharted territory and not let your ego lead. It is easy for me to let power go to my head, but is definitely not best for most situations. I think that quiltmakers who have achieved some success forget what it is to lead. In quiltmaking, participants need leaders to guide through the creative process while allowing participants to head off on their own as well. Participants need to respect their accountability as well and not suck the leaders dry.

Word of the Day: Feasting

When I saw this word, it conjured up a bunch of knights in shining armor around a big table covered with food having a grand time eating and toasting some victory.

“In the past, feasting was a way to bind. Whether they are cultural gatherings, times of group worship, or even special dinners with friends, we all need moments where we come together and reaffirm the importance of our group.”

On the CQFA quilt retreat we had a big dinner at Ma Maison in Aptos. the table was set up like a big square donut so we could all see each and talk together. It was a celebration of our group, the retreat and our creativity, in my mind.

The ‘feast’ part is so simple, too. Everyone has to eat, so celebrating while eating makes sense.

Word of the Day: Adoration

The book talks about adoration in terms of imagery and icons in religion. The author says “external worship is merely a means to point within the true source of salvation.” When I saw this word and read the associated piece I immediately got an image of sitting at the sewing machine ripping out a bit of stitching and then sewing it again. For me, stitching is a meditative process that allows my mind to swirl around touching on parts of my life that need attention.

Word of the Day: Uselessness

“Useful trees are cut down. Useless ones survive.

The same is true of people. The strong are conscripted. The beautiful are exploited. those who are too plain to be noticed are the ones who survive. They are left alone and safe.”

This gives those of us whose specialness has not been validated by the media the opportunity to do great things. As a blogging-quiltmaker I can share what I know so others can enjoy this creative process.

Word of the Day: Renewal

“…just find a little quiet time each day to withdraw into yourself…none of us can maintain the fertility of our beings without renewal.”

I recently started a course of career counseling, not so much to find a career, but to find my place within my skills and career. One discussion we had was about how I get energy. I think this is about renewal. How do you renew yourself in order to infuse energy into your quiltmaking. I think that this is an important question and is what helps us move on or ahead in our quiltmaking.

Word of the Day: Communication

“We cannot communicate directly from mind to mind, and so misinterpretation is a perennial problem.”

“….we know no absolute truth in the world, only varying forms of ambiguity.” There is a lot of ambiguity in the quiltmaking world. Every quiltmaker thinks s/he knows best and is the best judge of good and bad quilts. It is easy to judge, but because communication leads to ambiguity, perhaps it is better if the works speak for themselves?