Friday, May 27, 2016

A Bobbin A Day

While I'm avoiding hills, stairs, and ladders, I am able to walk on flat surfaces which is perfect since the paths along the lake are - relatively speaking - flat and there are several of them so I can alter the route day-to-day. The sky was...

... absolutely gorgeous on Monday when I took these pictures near the park. Along the pier, there are LOTS of bird watching tourists coming from places international and setting up their large telescopes and cameras. It's quite the scene. And interesting even though I'm not a bird watcher although I did take...

... this picture of a mother and baby ducks for my oldest grandson. When I talked to him Wednesday night, he wanted to see more and then he decided he should come to Grandma's house and see them. YES YES - that means he had a good time when he was here and that's good news since I want my family to enjoy spending time together.


Christine Houghton, above left, and Tracey Kutscheker, above right, are two of my favourite artists. I love the free form, organic feel of their pieces. If I were to paint paintings, it would be in this style and the pictures that I took of the lake would be perfect as starting points... only I'm not quite ready for paint on canvas although I did...

... experiment with paint on cardboard. These "cuffs" started life as the inner core of yarn. A friend cut them into varying widths that I covered with a sealer and then layers of paint. I kept working the layers until they looked like something. They're only okay but as a back door to trick my artist into moving in a new direction, it worked wonderfully. After two days of working with paint, I missed fabric terribly and now I'm exploring covering the cores with fabric.

Above is a pin created by my coach, Diane Ericson. It illustrates the collages she builds that are a combination of found objects, structure, softness, and versatility. The pin could be worn as a brooch or attached to a cuff bracelet or necklace. That combination of structure and softness is something I'm working toward in my own pieces. I'm glad to have this artistic inspiration to work from. Being exposed to the work of another artist is a wonderful opportunity to develop and evolve my own work - not in a copy-that-exactly kind of way but an aim-in-the-direction-of-the-essence kind of way.

One of the books I read recently talked about chunking and described chunks as similar to the letters of language. Alone each letter is not that useful but combined into words they're more communicative and when those words becomes sentence and paragraphs, the possibilities increase. The author referred to chunking as breaking down the objective into the smallest of bits - letters - and then working at each "letter" to perfect your ability to execute them before combining them into fuller expressions like words. I've read a lot about goal setting and about breaking larger goals into smaller objectives and yet I found that analogy quite encouraging. I realized my "chunks" were too big and I needed to work even smaller.

The last time Diane and I talked, I mentioned my frustration with the fact that I hadn't really done much in the past year and she said hold on just a minute.... I love that Diane keeps me grounded just as she also helps me stretch. It's a good balance. I did go back and read May 2015's blog postings though and it seems May last year was rather productive. Interesting. I always thought January and February were my best months.


This time last year, I felt the tingle of pending change which turned out to be my move. I feel it again now only I know it's not about moving. I'm here and happy. I think it's possibly about digging into my art in a more concentrated manner. I haven't worked on a major project in a really long time which is totally understandable with how busy last year was... and moving... and falling... and healing... and... and... and... however, it feels like now might be the right time for a major project.

It's possible that it's something like writing a book, or developing a workshop, or putting together an exhibit. Since these are familiar, they come to mind easily but I don't really know. It could be something else entirely. Time will tell and it'll be interesting to see what unfolds as I walk in that direction and keep my eyes and ears open for the next step on what I call my path of joy and abundance.

I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic and it's FABULOUS. The author is seven years younger than me but she arrived at some absolutely fantastic conclusions much faster than I did. Perhaps it's because at a young age she made a vow to never require her writing to pay the bills and a vow to write no matter what. While I've always been creative, I certainly got sucked into trying to make a living from creativity and that's a journey I'm not much interested in repeating. Whatever I do must be done for the love of creating with any income a bonus rather than the primary objective. Reading the book made me feel calm about what the future may hold.

Several months ago, I started putting aside things to do for this hip resting period - projects that would, hopefully, teach me how to actively rest and be physically still while keeping my brain challenged. I don't want to go stir crazy. Right now, I'm knitting a throw for the couch using some purple yarn that I bought YEARS ago for this exact reason. It's good to finally be knitting with it. I've also worked my way through a stack of knitted scarves that needed blocking and the ends woven in. Some ended up back in balls and that's okay too. I've been following up those Pinterest emails that - supposedly - have topics I'll enjoy. Not all, but some, have resonated and most especially felted works that I think could be re-interpreted in fabric. The question of how to do that idea my way occupies my mind while I'm knitting or hand stitching with my feet up or while watching TV or reading a book lounging like a princess with my hip elevated. Too funny.

Bobbin by bobbin, I am finishing the second quilt for the guest room. I stitch some lengths with my right foot and some with my left foot on the presser foot to take the pressure off my hip. LOL - I'm an ambidextrous sew-er. A bobbin a day eventually gets you to finished. There's about 24" or roughly four more bobbins to go. Once I've finished the quilting, I'll straighten the two quilts to the same size, sew on the binding by machine, turn it to the wrong side, and slip stitch it in place... which I prefer... even though I could sew it on completely by machine... because... as I already said... handwork is fabulous thinking time and...

... I love a good question to think about. In my journal time, I study three resources - a daily inspirational reading, a book about spirituality, and a book about creativity. The books are constantly evolving. As I finish one, I start another. It's not a deliberate pairing so it always amazes me when they're on the same topic on the same day, which you'd think might happen infrequently but actually happens quite often. I always see that as God's way of sending me a strong message. Since the topic is obvious, the message often is too. In this case...

... I've been reading about happiness, about enjoying personal creativity, about why skills trump passion, about deliberate practice, about why talent is overrated, and about stretching and reaching. They all talk about having activities that are just over the edge of your ability. One book calls it slightly uncomfortable while another labels it the sweet spot. Both mean that space where you can't quite do what you want to do, yet you really want to do it, and you're reaching for the next level.

In The Law of Happiness, author Henry Cloud discusses how spiritual wisdom and modern science can change your life. He writes: One of the great findings of the flow research is that to experience flow, you have to get out of your comfort zone and stretch yourself to a challenging level. It's all about being alive at deep invested levels. Make sure you are choosing activities and ways to spend your time that fully engage you. Pick worthwhile things to do that make time go away, as opposed to "passing the time."

In The Little Book of Talent, author Daniel Coyle gives 52 tips for improving  your skills. Tip seventeen is to embrace struggle. He writes: The struggle and frustrations you feel at the edges of your ability is the sensation of constructing new neural connections. Your brain works just like your muscles: no pain, no gain. In an earlier tip, he identified the comfort zone as a place where your work is successful 80% or more of the time, the survival zone as a place where your work is successful less than 50% of the time, and the sweet spot as a place where your work is successful 50-80% of the time. Hmm...

... that certainly does make you think. Why is it that we want to learn and grow, develop and evolve, and yet we also want 100% success 100% of the time... or I used to... and now I see that as paint-by-number and I find making a "mistake" that I need to recover from far more satisfying.

There are times for sitcoms, mindless knitting, fluffy novels, and simple projects. For me, they are the resting place but they are not a place that I could inhabit for any length of time. I get bored. I'm happiest in that sweet spot. And I think that's what the tingling is about - moving just over the edge of comfortable into the sweet spot. And I think that's why Elizabeth's book was so calming. Stretching and reaching doesn't have to be for any other reason than you love what you do and you want to do it better and - quite possibly - through that process encourage others to love it more and do it better too. I hope so.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - books


  1. I also enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert's book and was particularly struck by the same point. She has a series of podcasts up that are fun (and she's working on a 2nd series).

    1. I can see why that point resonated with you as well. Are the podcasts on her website or on YouTube? Is that a second book to go with Big Magic or... ? THANKS.

    2. I think they're on the publisher's website. I found them via the magic of Google, as I remember. :)

  2. This comment struck me...."Stretching and reaching doesn't have to be for any other reason than you love what you do and you want to do it better". I agree. Or maybe not do it better, just different, as there are infinite ways to do any one thing.

    Hope you are healing well!

    1. My oldest son and I were discussing the "infinite ways to do any one thing" over breakfast. We were talking about how some people, like the two of us, go deep into a subject while others have a variety of subjects they explore BUT... how our one subject also has many varieties. Too fun.

  3. Wow. Your words really resonate with me. Thank you.


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