Let’s continue our little trip down quilt memory lane. This quilt I made in 2013. In fact, it was the first quilt I started that year. If you follow me on Instagram, you have heard me say that I was confused for a long time. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and at that point I had dabbed into so many things, you know, jack-of-all-trades. Some of you have heard this Ad nauseam, but let me state it here for the last time and I promise this subject is closed.
At one point earlier in my life, I thought of myself as a Neurologist. I spent 4 years getting a degree in Cell & Molecular Biology (also known as fancy useless degree). All of the signs during my college years pointed to “you are doing the wrong thing”. It all seems so obvious now. While I was good at what I was studying. I wasn’t great and some days I just loathed it. But, I kept on trucking along. I got a summer internship at the prestigious National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at National Institutes of Health in Washington D.C. the semester before my graduation. I was so proud of it. One main reason, I was one of two from a state university chosen by that institute. And it wasn’t necessarily easy to compete with 10 thousand other applicants.
The sad part was that while my colleagues were busy trying to figure out which Ivy League they would apply at for medical school, I was ever so sure that spending my days in a lab (or hospital) was not what I wanted to do. And YES, I should have gone to design school. Who doesn’t live with a little “should have, could have” in their lives? I struggled big time in accepting that my “dream” was never going to come true. And it wasn’t coming true because I was unwilling to do the work. My soul was not made for a windowless basement, rats, chemicals, blood, or sick people. And you may say, didn’t you know that before starting your degree? Yes I did. And I had at that point spent countless hours in hospitals. But, something inside of my shifted after I had my first baby. And medicine was no longer my focus, not only for the obvious reason, a baby changes everything, but because I grew restless to sew and work with my hands creating art. I also became very connected to my own domestic self. And I loved (still do) it.
Now fast forward to 2012 (after baby number two). In the midst of my life crisis, a sweet friend sent me a text and said, why don’t you just devote a year to quilting and cooking, then write a book about it. At first I thought, me write a book? Did you forget English is not my first language and I can’t spell to save my life? She said, do it! It took me some time to follow through with her idea. In fact, I was toying with the idea of applying for a degree in Architecture. What?? And after searching in the depths of my soul, I remembered how much I enjoyed sewing and yes cooking. So, I decided to start making quilts (which I had learned some 9 year prior and just never got serious about it). My goal was to make one a month, but I ended up the year with 16 finished quilts and hungry for more.
Today, I dream, live, and breath quilts. I can’t wait for my two days a week of uninterrupted sewing. I feel like my devotion to the craft has allowed me to connect with others who share the same passion and also hone in my skills. I am slowly training my eyes to see past color and design and create my own unique style. Sure, these things take time and I don’t claim expertise in the subject. I just know what I know.
Of course, as you birth something new or invest your time in learning a craft, those nagging voices in your head start to chatter. The you are not good enough syndrome starts to kick in. Those pesky voices remind me constantly that I didn’t go to design school. That I had the chance to learn Illustrator and design theories. The trick is learning to shut these useless voices off and start listening to the ones that matter. The ones that say, you are doing an amazing job, you’ve got this, if you can teach yourself English you can also teach yourself illustrator. Don’t be afraid, do the work.
During the beginnings of my self-discovery I came across this poem, and I have held it close to my heart. I am ever so thankful for my friend Sharon Taylor for telling me I was really good at what I did and I should invest more time in doing it. There’s power in believing in yourself and also to have friends who are genuine and cheering for you.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations, though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
but little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Mary Oliver, Dream Work, Grove Atlantic Inc., 1986 & New and Selected Poems, Beacon Press, 1992.
Enjoy taking a peak at Lazy Days. I keep this quilt by the sofa and we are fond of snuggling under it. This was a present to myself. The first step in the direction I have always known I should have taken. It wasn’t late.
You will see my sketches rarely resemble the finished piece.They are more like a place holder. The beginning of an idea.