Friday, December 20, 2013

A Line And A Question - Part 2

Almost every morning, I spend time studying and writing about creativity and spirituality. I trust God to provide me with both the information I need to hear and the direction I need to take. This past year has been an interesting journey. I've read more books than the ones quoted below and they've all had an impact but these are some highlights that stood out.

If most people don't do what you do, and you're passionately pursuing Jesus with your life, then it's probably not just a human plan. The heartbeat of God is probably somewhere within it. We need you, just you, to fulfill that purpose, complete that project, bring that gift to the world in a way that no one else can.
- You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth

This book practically vibrated itself off the shelf and into my hands. It was back in February when my e-reader broke and I had to buy a print book. I was perusing the shelves without my reading glasses and could barely see the text and it didn't seem to matter. The book was VERY insistent about coming home with me.

I remember praying that God would show me why this book quite quickly because I felt rather silly "listening" to a book. The quote above was on page eighteen. The words were the beginning of a calm around creativity as a career. I no longer felt like I had to actively make something happen. Rather, I felt that I was moving in the right direction and needed to simply put one foot in front of the other, do the work, and wait for the timing to be right. That feeling that I will at some point in the future once again have a career in creativity has never left me nor has the calm around waiting. I'm enjoying the space; thankful for the peace.

You're only kidding yourself if you put creativity before craft. Craft is where our best efforts begin. You should never worry that rote exercises aimed at developing skills will suffocate creativity. At the same time, it's important to recognize that demonstrating great technique is not the same as being creative.
 - The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharpe

There are three things I love with sewing. The first if fit. There's a challenge and an achievement to manipulating a two dimensional form in such a way that it sits on and flatters a three dimensional form. Aside from what styles suit my figure and which attributes will flatter my fashion personality, I love getting the pattern to fit well. And after that, my second love is technique. I get a high degree of personal satisfaction from a job well done whether I'm executing a familiar skill or developing a new one. First learning how and then learning how to do better is the way I approach life. However...

... both fit and technique could be labeled paint-by-number-ish from the perspective of once you've achieved good fit with a pattern, and once you've sewn it a few times, no matter which fabric you choose, you are simply repeating yourself... OR... at least... that's how I feel and it's not a feeling I like which led me to ponder what was it that engaged me and provided energy and nurturing and enthusiasm. For me, that's an element of not knowing. When I looked at the line study that I talked about yesterday - and at the parameters I'd drawn - it was becoming more a prison and less a passion.

Look at Joseph. There is no indication that God explained to Joseph what he was doing through those many years of heartache, or how the pieces would eventually fall together. He was expected, like you and me, to live out his days one at a time in something less than complete understanding. What pleased God was Joseph's faithfulness when nothing made sense
. - When God Doesn't Make Sense by Dr. James Dobson

Life got really messy in October, overwhelmingly so. Right now, there are things going on that are so difficult and so devastating that I can only talk about the situation in any depth with a few carefully chosen friends. For those who know me, that's scary in itself for they know my history and what that says about this situation and they know my preference for talking things out. I am learning to sit quietly with myself, to think through a situation on my own, to live with less drama, to cry in solitude, to deal with disappointment and disillusionment on many fronts, and to find a way forward. It doesn't make sense to me. I have to trust. And that takes a lot of energy.

The idea of the line study came before the mess and then, as time went on, and in light of this situation - the line study seemed more of what I didn't need - expectations and rules - and less of what I did need - energy, nurturing, passion.

Twyla writes: planning has to be sufficiently thoughtful and solid to get the work up and standing straight but it cannot take over. There's a fine line between good planning and over-planning. Yes... and so I made the bag... because I didn't want to let go of the structure I'd developed... it seemed like an anchor in the storm only instead it became a millstone... but where did that leave me... with a question. If not this, what next?

Researchers have discovered that weaving, sewing, and even chopping vegetables can be useful for decreasing stress - - - In general, from a mental health perspective, what you do with what happened is far more important than what actually happened. - - - Process not product is what we need to feel alive and well. - - - Things are given, things are taken away. Fate is fickle, and the best defense against challenging times is self possession, inner resources for solace.
- The Creativity Cure by Carrie Barron and Alton Barron.

My faith is my most precious inner resource for solace. My creativity comes next. The morning after I finished reading The Creative Habit, while I was getting ready to go journal, I prayed about which book to study next and very clearly heard God say The Creativity Cure. I wondered why since I'd studied that book earlier this year, however, I'd asked, he'd answered, and it was on my shelf, available, and paid for. Those seemed good enough reasons. And then I read the quotes above and thought about where I was in life and the line study.

That first bag - the first step in the line study - was boring. It led to a lot of questions not the least of which were should I be making bags and should I even be doing a line study? Was this sudden discontent when I'd previously been so excited a warning sign to pay attention to or was it resistance - the critic - popping up her ugly head, daring me to back down. Those are difficult decisions on a good day never mind when you're feeling a little battered by life. When I mentioned them to a friend, she said make a second bag and see how that feels. I have no energy to begin and there's the answer.

I know how hard it can be in today's world to envision a future that is successful, purposeful, prosperous, stable, meaningful, and creative. You may think today is not the time to imagine. Life is too hard. Dreams are too unrealistic. Too impossible. The truth is you cannot allow what is happening in the natural - no matter how bad your circumstances look - to dictate what you imagine and more importantly, what God can imagine for you.
- Imagine Big by Terri Savelle Foy

On Monday, I began a new spiritual study. Like the other book, it was insistent except this one didn't seem like the right book. Sometimes God has the weirdest sense of humor and timing. In the middle of this mess, he gives me a book about dreaming, about trusting that whatever it is that God has called you to do, he is going to give you a pathway to get there. The exercises ask you to pray about, think about, detail, and build a plan around your God given dreams. And that's okay. Except, I couldn't dream which - added to the dwindling enthusiasm for the line study and the lack of direction around any other options - became a huge road block so I went back to what I know for sure...

... which is that while now is not the time, I have a strong feeling that I will eventually teach creativity again. If this is so, now is the prep time. And if I am prepping for what I hope to teach, that begs the question what do I hope to teach because only by answering that question can I determine where I should be investing. And by asking the question, I am dreaming again... just a little... perhaps it will grow.

I don't know the details but I do know that if I were to have a career in creativity again, it would be around the work that I personally find exciting and around writing about and teaching others to explore their own individual creativity and unique style with clothing. About exploring not knowing. About being brave and stepping out and trying things to see what happens. About not being prisoners to our own creative fears. Prepping means more not knowing, more experimenting, more learning, more being brave, more trying things to see what happens, and more exploring my own individual creativity and unique style WITH CLOTHING.

I'm not looking forward to the new year. 2012 was such a horrendous year that I eagerly anticipated the start of 2013 with the expectation that things would improve. They didn't. They are significantly harder. From that perspective, I'd much rather stay in 2013 with the devil I know than risk that things can't get worse. They can. Only life's not like that. We can't stop time. It just keeps rolling along.

My goal for 2013 was do the work. That seems entirely appropriate for 2014 as well. To do that thing that I do and most people don't, to utilize discipline and habit to perfect my craft and encourage my creativity, to trust and realize that not all is within my understanding nor will it ever be, to engage in process and let go of product in order to feel alive and well, and to realize that no matter how hard and impossible today's situation may seem, there are still dreams to be dreamed and goals to be achieved and God will provide the pathway for getting there if I keep walking in that direction. This is a peaceful conclusion, one I can move forward with.

The pieces in today's posting are not new. They are ones that I particularly enjoyed creating or wearing for reasons of fit, technique, not knowing, or individuality and are shown here to remind me of the engagement and energy that they provided and to encourage me toward my goal. While I am prepping and learning and growing my skills, I would be happy to just make nice things and get enough sleep. That seems a big enough goal for the next year - however - over the next few weeks, I'll be working through Imagine Big and praying about where God is leading. It's not like me to be quiet - LOL - so some of those thoughts and directions are likely to come up. I'm pretty sure - VBG - they include paint, stamps, and stenciling because that's a topic that's really been dancing.

Until then, I wish you a wonderful holiday with family and friends and all the best in 2014. I'll post again in the new year.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - faith

P.S. In the comments section of The Perfect Goldilock Thread, Kristin wrote... This one seems more like your textile art than a piece of clothing - a trend I've noticed in your work lately. And I see the ribbon as a metaphor for paths crossing and the length of life as a journey. What a fabulous sentiment for the next year. Thanks Kristin. I've used that image in the new header to remind myself every day.

P.P.S - There is currently a problem between Microsoft and Blogger. I can't reply to comments and when I tried to load the new header, it was blurry and distorted as was the previous one when I reloaded it. The new header will appear asap once those two start playing nicely again.


  1. "Sometimes it seems like God is being deliberately cruel." Myrna, what a terrible feeling to experience. I have to admit that many times it is difficult for me to understand your situation, not because i've never experienced big troubles, but because of the incredible good fortune you're had - one successful art career, children and grandkids. From the time i was 15 i've had recurring spells of severe, life-threatening bronchitis/asthma. Due to the illness and the effects of treatment, i've known since then i'd never be able to have kids or adopt or have a career (tho i was able to work full-time for a few years in my thirties).

    I'm not interested in having a 'woe is me' contest, especially since as i have gone thru life i've seen that most people have some type of big problems themselves or in family or close friends. And at the same time, i have incredible blessings - both parents alive and healthy and i have wonderful relationships with both of them, i have a great supportive husband, i'm fortunate to live in a beautiful area, my baby bro just retired and moved to be close to family (living with ma now who could use the help - yay!), i'm able to sew and have a sturdy machine, iron, and space on the dining room table......

    I know that life on this planet can become excruciatingly difficult. I do not speak from the same kind of faith background that you come from, though my spiritual life is - my life. So i don't know if this will make any sense to you or be helpful or not - but there's no use wondering why life on earth is the way it is. God isn't being cruel, life is how it is, beings come into existence, disease happens, then creatures dissipate so that others may arise. People and animals have free will, they need to be able to realize the consequences of their actions, and god can't micromanage every instance to 'grease the skids' for us. It is a very hard thing to comprehend, but we cannot change the fundamental nature of this world.

    Getting to the specifics of your 'waiting' time now, i learned some good advice from a spiritual teacher long ago. She advised asking for/working on qualities which will be of use to you in any situation. For example, you could work on clarity in written communication - this will help you in teaching, in organizing your own creative and personal life, and so on. Using this approach you can be making concrete progress on your goals even when the outer circumstances aren't ripe for manifesting.

    And i find that sometimes you have to start working and the 'juice' kicks in later. Barbara Sher talks about this in her 'Wishcraft' books. She says to keep track of when you do your creative stuff and how 'juicey' you're feeling. Often people find that they get great stuff accomplished even when they are feeling quite 'blah'. I know i've experienced this, and it really cheers me up when i have actually accomplished something great! Or, i'll use that 'blah' time to do something kind of mindless like fusing interfacing on a long hem or zigzagging a length of fabric prior to pre-shrinking.

    One way or the other, please know that we're rooting for you! All this life and creative expression stuff is hard, but what else can we do? take care and hope this helps some, steph

  2. Mryna, in my view you are already teaching all the things you describe in your paragraph about the future career in creativity, to an audience you have not met in person, the people like myself that read your writings here. I know that for me your words are often part of the spark of the day in my own life, many times with just what I need to hear right at that time. I have not the time this morning to write to you all that I want to say about this post, and I want to think more about it first... but I will say that you are in my thoughts of lovingkindness and concern, particularly when I do not see any posts from you...

    Steph, thank you for your reply to Myrna, a lot there for me to mull over as well...

    For me too 2012 was the hardest year, and all 2013 I have been just barely putting one foot in front of another, and cannot see any clear view ahead, but continue. Doggedly. Into the year to come. One of my many watchwords is Faith is the ground, stubborn is the crop, though at this point I am not sure what I mean or meant by faith, but I do know that I walked through fire to continue to be here on this earth and there must have been some reason why I wanted to do that.

    I wish for you Myrna fortitude and gentle kindness - know that there are people out there you have never met, who care about you and your journey

  3. Reply to Steph - I added a note to the posting because I meant more that God has a weird sense of humour than that he's deliberately cruel. My tone didn't transfer on that one. Thanks for letting me know.

    I'm not interested in a "woe is me" contest either. We do not know the details of another's history unless they share them and then we only know what another has shared not what is so deep and private it never makes the pretty, polished surface. I hope that my posting did not come across as wallowing. This is a very difficult phase I'm in and even so my goal is to push forward. I have been not talking about it for the very reason that I don't want pity of any kind, even self pity. That's a waste of time.

    Your paragraphs about working on qualities which will be of use to you and about keeping track are exactly why I decided not to continue with the line study and to do the things that energize me. YES YES - I totally agree.

    THANK YOU for your caring.

  4. Reply to Alison - thank you for letting me know that I am teaching the things I described. I want to do more of that and be of even more inspiration and encouragement to my readers. It's what I really love to do.

    I understand what you mean by barely putting one foot in front of the other. I don't believe it's important how long it takes us to lift and move and settle down that next step as much as that it's important for us to do so - to keep moving forward - to keep accomplishing - and to keep believing and in and having hope and faith for the future.

    THANK YOU for your support. It seems that my posting came across as more negative than I'd intended. I meant it to illustrate the processes I've worked through this year and to show that even in the midst of the mess, I am moving forward. LOL - may need to rewrite the whole thing.

  5. Oh, so glad that comment resonated. It hit me immediately!

  6. Okay - I simply went in and changed the line to reflect what I'd meant and deleted the original wording. LOVE that about blogging. I can change what I want to change.

  7. Note to Kristin: it totally resonated. I really appreciated the insight and as soon as Blogger and Microsoft start playing nicely again, I'll make the change.

  8. Oh I so enjoy your blog! You are real, and honest, and living what you believe. (and I appreciate the time you took to email me too, it helped tremendously). I feel more willing to step out of the box in creativity, and take a few more chances. I haven't yet, but I am willing now, which is a huge step. Thank you for all you give of yourself.

    Joyce (in Cranbrook)

  9. I find it interesting how you position your thoughts on the year ahead and the year that has passed. The past three years (at least) my mom has expressed feelings of wishing the previous year didn't happen and every time she does (as recently as Sunday) my first thought is no. I know my experiences are part of what she "didn't like" of the year before, and maybe I've just got a swiss cheese memory, but I don't feel like I'd wish the whole year didn't happen. A bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater maybe. And to your point, a new year doesn't mean the end of old problems or that it's all going to be sunshine and roses on the other side, it's just a date. I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this, maybe just that I struggle with understanding how I feel about the relentless marching of time too.

    And I'll second the comments above, you're already teaching in a sound bite/blog format. Keep at it and see where it goes.

  10. Reply to Joyce - thank you for your comments about how I present myself and the blog and for letting me know that my email was helpful. I'm glad. That's truly what I wanted to do, support and encourage you. HUGS - you can do it.

  11. Reply to Seraphinalina - the new year is just a date and I totally understand what you mean by that. For me, it's a hopeful date like my birthday or the first Tuesday after the labour day weekend. These are dates on which I evaluate how life is going, make corrections, and try to set a direction that will be positive and encouraging for myself and those around me. It's nice when I do that and then things work out smoothly but reality is that they don't always. The odds are after all 50/50. There are good days all year long and bad days all year long. It's nice when they're more evenly mixed. One of my most delightful events happened this year. I certainly wouldn't trade that away and it has made the rest of the year much more special than it would have been otherwise. I'm not excited for the date to change but I am excited to move in growing directions and happy that even though the line study doesn't seem to be the answer, there is an answer and something to work on and toward. This is good. I find it easier to have direction in my life rather than aimlessness and wishing. I'm of the do something mentality so I get quite cranky when I'm not sure what to do and feel settled and purposeful when there's a plan.

  12. And a comment back:
    "One of my most delightful events happened this year. I certainly wouldn't trade that away"
    When my mom says these things, that is the part I wonder if she sees or not. I know I do, or at least, that's what I try to focus on.

    And yes, September is a new year of it's own isn't it? My birthday is usually over Labour Day weekend so I think that's a better start of a new year for me too.

  13. Your writing does not strike me as "wallowing"--but rather thoughtful and honest to the extent that you can be in this format. Having a deep foundation--as you do--is something to be cherished when your world is being buffeted. I'm sorry that your life is so rough right now, and hope that these wisps of support through the ether can add to the sturdy support of close friends. Elle

  14. 2nd reply to Seraphinalina - it's so important to count our blessings and be grateful for all that we do have. That attitude - IMHO - balances things and is something I had to learn how to do and something I've come to cherish as I get older.

  15. Reply to Elle - thank you. I'd hate to be seen as wallowing. I was at my friend's this afternoon and had her read the posting just to be sure I wasn't missing where I might be coming across as negative. Of course she knows me better and knows my tone of voice but she thought as you did that it was honest and real. I am VERY thankful for my foundation. I'm not sure I'd still be standing otherwise. Definitely the support through the ether is much appreciated and times like these make you even more grateful for true friends.

    While I was at my friend's we talked about challenges for next year. Based on what I talked about in the posting I've been thinking about something like one pattern twelve ways to explore different ideas within a familiar and fitted structure. That could be fun. Just have to decide which pattern. My most used pattern is Katherine Tilton's top - I showed it twice in today's posting. LOVE that pattern.

    1. Please think about teaching this class. I'm creatively challenged and need help figuring out how to creative different looks. One of my goals has been to take a basic top and see how many different ideas should come from that one pattern. Sewing is my buffer from the stresses of life. It gives me peace, thinking and quiet time. A sewing challenge can occupy my mind when it needs to stop thinking.

      I don't think that your post was negative, you are being honest and speaking from your heart. One of the things that I find is that we are good as sucking up bad happenings. Being a strong woman is harder than it looks. Having your world rocked sucks, it hurts. It is painful having to go on while you are trying to deal with the situation.

      I frequently say that God has good jokes. I know that he is there for me. Some days when I read something that you have written, it serves to remind me of my foundation and to reinforce my faith. To me faith is a form of trust. I'm trusting that if I keeping moving forward and depending on God, I will be where he wants me to be.

  16. Reply to Towanda: You must be using a different program than I am because I can't click on reply. How strange. Annoying. Computers ! ! !

    Are you thinking an on-line course? Weekly? Monthly? What instruction/guidance would you be hoping for? I'd appreciate more details. It might be possible.

    God does have the weirdest sense of humour. I really appreciated the message of When God Doesn't Make Sense because it's interesting on a good day and difficult on a hard one to realize that just because he can, doesn't mean he will. Sometimes, trust is all we've got. Thankfully.

    I'm glad my post wasn't negative. YES - being strong is often taken for granted and comes with heavy expectations as if somehow because you're strong nothing bothers you. It's not so and those assumptions and the often accompanying lack of support can make a difficult situation even more discouraging. Thanks for recognizing that truth.

  17. Myrna, your post certainly was not negative! So what if it had been? We ALL have times when we're negative. Other people, like you, teach us ways to deal with our negativity and inspire us to move out of a negative space so that we don't limit ourselves. My favorite post of yours is "Don't be a didn't do" from 11/22/13. I have it bookmarked!!!

  18. Reply to Judi - Thanks. You're right. I could write a negative posting but I try not to do that because it doesn't serve much purpose and isn't what I want to be known for HOWEVER... reality is what reality is and not all days are sunshine and roses. I'm glad you enjoyed that particular posting. I feel very strongly about what I said. When life is difficult, the lack of those things adds a level of hurt and disillusionment that I wish we could avoid.

  19. Thank you Myrna and Thank you Alison! i appreciate both of your writing and sewing so much, it's the best feeling to give back at least a little :)

    It's a balance, to go through life in a forward looking direction whilst acknowledging - not wallowing in - the very hard, rough spots. How lucky are we to have a space in which we can work towards hashing all this out - and keep our eyes and hands focussed on making, making, making no matter what ! :)

    Much more to say but this time is very busy so i will just add one thing. Myrna, i'm sure you remember how i like to give names to numbered patterns which i plan to make multiple times (partly because i can't link the numbers with the clothes!). I'm poised to make a long tunic/short dress version (my first) of Katherine Tilton's 8691 which you showcase here so beautifully. I kept mixing up the numbers in my head, which doesn't matter but was bugging me nonetheless.

    Today the curtains parted and it became clear - of course it's The Myrna! I especially admire the kind of stripped-down, vaguely industrial take you've put on some of your versions of this one which will definitely apply in this one i'm starting (using the leftover digital knit i made up my espresso leggings out of). Yay! heehee, now my mind can rest as all's right with the world ;)

    all you ladies take care and have fun!!! steph

  20. 2nd Reply to Steph - gosh I'll be happy when I can reply like normal again. This is so frustrating.

    YES it is a balance to go through life looking forward. Wallowing has great appeal at times but certainly isn't a place to sit too long. I've been trying to have a good cry each day but not cry all day. Subtle but infinitely different. I feel very blessed to have my studio to heal and be creative in.

    LOL - the Myrna. Wonder how Katherine would feel about that. Too funny. That is my most popular pattern of 2013 and the one I'm contemplating working on over the next year although I think I make pick two or three for variation because not all ideas are applicable to the same lines. Can't wait to see what you create.

    Please do explain what you mean by stripped-down, vaguely industrial? I'm trying to figure that one out and all I'm coming up with is minus the ruffle.

  21. Hullo Myrna no of course i did not forget about you!!! first, "...what you mean by stripped-down, vaguely industrial?" to my mind, and i'm thinking about picture number 4 in this post - minus the ruffley ruffle but keeping a flat band, exposed/emphasized seam piecing, rusty/blacked/greyed color and very subtle color gradations, the splotchy print that looks like bleach was spilled on your top by perfect little style angels. But that's just my impression, you know how that goes, and i think it's partly that all those elements are pulled together in this one piece and they reinforce each other nicely. I also love how it's kinda 'industrial' but also very very flattering! Nothing beats pulling off the impossible :)

    "...the Myrna. Wonder how Katherine would feel about that." well, if I were Katherine, i'd be thrilled to little bits and pieces that someone as talented as you was loving my design so much she made it over and over, in such a wonderful variety, finding new aspects to it, and is even considering making it in a series, to the point where other people were starting to see it as a bit of her trademark!!! Really, you think any pattern designer wants to imagine all of their designs just dustily languishing in forgotten drawers? How depressing.

    On the other hand, how rocking to have people all over the world zipping up all type of versions of your clothes, with sempstresses getting so into your designs they discover new, core aspects of themselves!!! To me, anyhoo, THAT is the sign of an amazing pattern designer.

    "Can't wait to see what you create." heesh, me either! Tony came back from visiting family in NY for a week along with an ENT type virus, which of course i caught, i've spent all day today in bed - right after i got a length of gorgeous violet-inky blue polar fleece from Marcy!!! (i'm thinking V8932, possibly lengthened somehow, i need warm things like no one's business, the last two winters have been massively colder here than the previous couple of decades and it's a big clothing problem). my mind's been racing with all type of ideas for all types of things just when i'm in no shape to act on any of them....i'm doing my best to remember the good parts for later implementation ;)

    take care, have fun, merry christmas everybody!!! steph

  22. 3rd Reply to Steph - those are bleach spots - LOL. That top was made from cutting up a half dozen black t-shirts that had faded and stretched and then spritzing them with a bleach/water mix and then cutting shapes and putting them back together to make fabric and then cutting out the individual pieces of the top and sewing those together. No ruffle. I love tiny ruffles but I'm not a big ruffle kind of girl. I'll email you some pictures of the top so you can see the details better. I posted about it in August 2012 and I think it's in the part of the blog I deleted when I started over.

    I do hope Katherine will be thrilled to have her pattern renamed The Myrna. Hopefully she likes some of the things I've done. It's a pattern that works for me and I love those. Another is the Burda 8213 trumpet skirt. I have ideas running through my head for both of these. With Katherine's pattern, I see a cardigan that I'll start on asap. I find it really fun to push the possibilities of one pattern.

    I'm sorry you're sick. Not so nice of Tony to share this. I can think of way better things to bring back from NY. I live in the land of layers. We have such extremes in weather. It'll give you another angle to explore in depth. I'll look forward to seeing your violet-inky-blue V8932. LOL - it rhymes.

    Merry Christmas


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.