The “Nurture” of Words (and Quilts) – repost

Happy Saturday, I hope you are having a peaceful and restorative day or engaging in something fun. Here is a post from the tierneycreates archives from November 2013


The Nature and Nurture of Words and Quilts (repost from 11/10/13)

Last night I attended The Nature of Words (www.thenatureofwords.org) annual literary festival’s evening of “Guest Author Readings”. This local literary festival’s guest author evening included readings by two poets: an Oregon Poet Laureate, Professor Lawson Inada and a National Slam Poet, Karen Finneyfrock.

While listening to these wonderful poets and the other guest authors perform their poetry or read excerpts from their novels, I began to think about the “nurture of words”. Reading poetry and literature nurtures our souls and stimulates our creative spirits whether they explore complex painful emotions or humorous and joyous experiences.

Eventually my thoughts turned to quilting and creating handmade items (as my thoughts always do). Quilts are nurturing – they keep you warm, they make you smile, they say ‘someone cares about you so much that they took hours and hours (and hours and hours) of their time to make you a substantial gift’.

Quilts and quilting can be also thought of as poems. We carefully select a pattern for our quilts (as a poet might select the Haiku poetic form) or we create our own unique design (a free-form poetic structure). As we make our quilts, each section of the quilt we piece is essentially a stanza of our poem. The final product is something that we choose to share with the world, a private individual or just keep for ourselves (as poets do).  My friend who is a talented long-arm quilter essentially creates beautiful poems on her customers quilts with thread as her poetry composition medium. The process of creating a quilt,  quilting a quilt, and/or giving someone a quilt as a gift, can be as nurturing as beautifully crafted poignant words on a page of prose or poetry.

I wanted to end this post with a short poem about creating a quilt, but I am not a “written word poet”. Instead I will leave you with an image of one of my textile poemsCentral Oregon is Central to Me.

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“Central Oregon is Central to Me”, Tierney Davis Hogan, 2013

Straightened Curtains and Dalai Lama Wisdom

The plan was not to do a post until I finished my Happy Ending quilt discussed in previous posts. I am plugging away at it and have moved it from the “design wall” to the “design bed” (a concept I borrowed from Claire @ knitNkwilt) so hopefully in the near future I will post the completed quilt top.

But for now, I thought I would share a silly update from my 12/23/26 post Independent Bookstores (wonderful & magical places).

I took a vacation day from work today and went to lunch with my friend Jenny and a wander about downtown Bend, Oregon. After lunch we stopped at Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe for a Chai tea and bookstore browse. Dudley’s in the indie bookstore featured in my 12/23/16 post and had an upstairs curtain which was askew. After grabbing my tea, I rushed upstairs to see if the curtain was still askew as this time I planned to fix it (a little OCD humor discussed in the comments in the 12/23/16 post).

Well! The curtain was already fixed!

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The owner of Dudley’s had promised to leave the curtain askew for me after reading my 12/23/16 post but I guess some other patron fixed it before I could return!

After leaving Dudley’s we wandered around a couple other downtown shops. In one of the shops I saw this wonderful quote by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet (I had to google that to find his proper title) that gave me a moment of pause and reflection:

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I transposed the quote on a photo I snapped of a cloudy day in Central Oregon this past Fall. If you like it, feel free to copy the image and share it. I used PicMonkey’s Photo Editor.

Okay back to working on that quilt.

The Guest House

I am busy working on my Happy Ending quilt top from my recent post, What’s on the Design Wall. I hope my next post will be to show you the completed quilt top (fingers crossed). For now, here is something from the tierneycreates archives…


The Guest House (originally posted June 27, 2016)

Happy Monday to you and I hope you have a wonderful week filled with Inspiration, Creativity and Joy.

As I mentioned in last’s post “Listening and Reading“, currently I am listening to the audiobook The Here and Now Habit by Hugh Byrne. This book focuses on using “mindfulness” to break unwanted habits.

During my walk on Sunday with this audiobook, I listened to the author discuss one of my favorite poems by Rumi (Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī – a 13th century Persian poet and scholar) – The Guest House.  

The author discusses this poem in relation to finding peace in dealing with unwanted thoughts and feelings. What I love about the work of Rumi is that it can be interpreted in so many ways and the meaning can be personalized to what you needed to hear/read at that moment in your life.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness
comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
-Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
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Photo credit: Domagoj T. – freeimages.com

Check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s latest musings at schnauzersnips.wordpress.com/blog

Independent Bookstores (wonderful & magical places)

I won’t pretend I do not shop on Amazon.com for book deals or that I do not go to our local Barnes & Noble bookstore, but today I was reminded just how wonderful and magical Independent Bookstores are to have in one’s community. I plan to spend more time at indie bookshops!

Today we went for a wander around and hot beverage at downtown Bend’s Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe.

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As the sign upstairs at Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe reads:

Independent Bookstores are wonderful & magical places because each book will have been hand selected, you know all of them are jewels just waiting to be discovered…

After the friendly shopkeepers filled darling ceramic mugs with our hot cocoa (for me) and mocha (for Terry the Quilting Husband), we had a leisurely and delicious wander about the shop browsing and their well curated selections.

Come wander the shop with us for a moment…

Downstairs, where you enter Dudley’s bookshop and immediately think – “well this would be a fine place to nest for awhile”:

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People were nesting – they have WiFi and some were on their laptops and some were sipping their hot beverages and reading a book (or previewing a book!).

Among the shelves of books are fun things and objects to look at, including this wickedly funny sign:

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Now head upstairs (carefully carry your mug of hot beverage with you!) and check out the painted stairs celebrating books:

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(I love the step that reads: “Fifty Shades of Dudley’s)

At the top of the landing you will find a shelf of books (in case it was too long a journey to go without being able to browse any books from the bottom of the stairs to the top).

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Now, turn the corner…and…WOW: Here is the cozy reading nook you might have searched for while browsing any bookstore (and maybe dreamed about in your own home):

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The secret OCD person inside of me wanted to go and fix the left side of the curtain, but I was here to browse books, not adjust decor so I left it alone – ha!

After walking by the cozy reading nook, you come upon the upstairs room with more books to browse – how about a Art/Film/Music book to add to your collection?

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Even the bathroom was delightful and had this great poster called A Plotting of Fiction Genres:

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If you would like to know more about this poster, I did find it online at Pop Chart Lab. I did not want to spend too long in the bathroom reading it, but I was very impressed with it in my brief time with it!  Here is a better overall photo from the seller’s website.

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I could not leave Dudley’s Bookshop without a little something. If you have followed my blog for a while, you know I love our local public library and lately I get most of my reading through borrowing from the library (as I have been very naughty at bookshops in the past and have a huge book collection). I am trying not to add more books permanently to my home but I did want a little something from the indie bookstore, so I bought a cool set of greeting cards that you color yourself!

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Two of my many favorite authors, Neil Gaiman and Ann Patchett are huge advocated for preserving independent bookstores (Ann Patchett even owns her own indie bookstore, Parnassus Books) and have lauded the value of preserving these shops in their writing.

I will close this post with a Neil Gaiman quote, which is also on the Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe website, from his wonderful and magical book American Gods:

What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore it knows it’s not fooling a soul. – Neil Gaiman

Let’s Talk About Generosity

We went for a wander around Barnes & Nobles Bookstore earlier this afternoon and I spent an extended time browsing the magazine/periodical section. While browsing, I located a publication a friend of mine was looking for – the Nov/Dec 2016 issue of Poet & Writers magazine.  Upon returning home I decided to flip through this magazine before setting it aside to give to my friend.

On page 25 I discovered a feature called “The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises“. This section had writing prompts for Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction.

The “Nonfiction” prompt was “A Great Act of Generosity” and it encouraged the reader to “write a personal essay about a time when you have been the giver or receiver of a great act of generosity.” This was proceeded be a discussion on how the holiday season is often associated with generosity and giving.

I am not going to share a whole personal essay on an act of generosity but I do want to share how today I was overwhelmed with a feeling, let’s say “from the Universe”, that I needed to be generous:

After leaving our extended browsing through Barnes & Nobles bookstore, Terry the Quilting Husband suggested that we have lunch at our local Whole Foods Market as a treat.  Whole Foods was packed with Sunday shoppers and Sunday diners in the food court section. We grabbed a couple slices of pizza and searched for an open place to sit. The only available seating was a shared table with a homeless-looking man sitting at one end.

I started to hesitate and find another place to sit, but I thought “no, we need to sit here”. We sat at one end and the homeless-looking gentleman, who appeared to have all his worldly possession stuffed into an very old and falling apart backpack, sat at the other end of the table.

But he did not appear to be just sitting, he appeared to be cowering at the other end and was eating from a small can of beans. He was up against a window and he appeared to be trying to making himself appear to be as small as possible and a feeling a great sadness was emanating from him. Around us tables of other shoppers were chatting and laughing as they enjoyed their Whole Foods culinary delights. 

I tried to ignore the homeless-looking gentleman at first, I wanted to just eat my pizza and leave as quickly as possible. His sadness was palpable and ruining in my mind my good feelings from my recent fun browsing at the bookstore. Then I was overcome with a feeling that I needed to be generous and give this man some money. It was a very strong feeling as if I could not even leave Whole Foods without showing this man some generosity. (Usually we do not give money directly to homeless individuals but we donate to locate homeless shelters so that we know that the money is used for food and lodging and not “recreational uses”.)

So upon finishing my pizza, I stood up, gave the gentleman sitting in the corner $10 and wished him “Happy Holidays” and that I hoped he could get something else to eat beside the beans.  He looked at me in complete surprise, and then the most incredible smile came upon his face. It was one of those smiles that emanates from someone’s soul – what I call a “deep smile”. It was as if I had given him $1000. 

As we left the store and went to our car, we had to pass by the window in which he was sitting and I turned to see him profusely waving to me through the window, still with that huge and “deep smile” on his face. 

To me it was only $10, but I suspect to him it was a lot more.

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Photo credit: Juddson Vance, freeimages.com

Thank you for reading my about my experience with generosity today.

I now invite you to share a brief story if you like of an experience where you were a giver or receiver of an act of generosity.

You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ― John Bunyan


Postscript

I wanted to share a quick follow up to the recent posts Terry the Quilting Husband – Update and What’s on the Design…Bed.

We finished both quilt tops and they are now with the long-arm quilter! Next time I post on them, it will be to show you the finished quilts. Yay! (The feeling of actually finishing something is so wonderful, ha!)

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My Minimalism Journey: Part III

I am fortunate to have been nominated for two different blogging awards – recently the Black Cat Blue Sea Award by the blogger of  Of Tales & Dreams; and earlier this summer for a One Lovely Blog Award by the blogger of  Dewey Hop. I will share more about these awards in a future post. I am very honored and appreciative that my blog was recognized!


“Downsizing” vs. “Rightsizing”

You may be familiar with the euphemism “right-sizing” related to corporate lay-offs or the dreaded term – “downsizing”. As I continue on my discussion of my Minimalism Journey, I think of these two terms and I think what I have been working on over the past 15 years is not “downsizing” my life but “rightsizing” it.

So far in my posts on my Minimalism Journey (see posts My Minimalism Journey: Part I and My Minimalism Journey: Part II) I have shared how 9/11 shook me up and led me to desiring a change in my life, leading to our move to Central Oregon; and discovering I did not need all the “stuff” I had in my life.

Our move to Central Oregon also involved a decision to move from a 2800 square foot house to a 1340 square foot house. It is amazing how full we had our 2800 square foot house (including every closet stuffed). Now I live in a home where I know where everything is (believe me this is a big accomplishment to me) and when something new comes into the house, something old gets donated (and our closets and garage are actually relatively empty).

Speaking of closets – we went from a home of 6+ huge closets and an entire storage room, to a couple small closets including a small walk in closet that our clothes share with some storage. Below is a photo of our closet today.

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From a house full of closets and closets full of clothes, to sharing a closet for our small wardrobe of clothes (and it is not full)

It seems like this smaller house was the “rightsizing” we needed in our lives. I can clean it in a couple of hours (or if I put on really good and loud music I can have the whole house sparkling clean in 60 minutes!)

After moving to Central Oregon, becoming a full-time telecommuter (which impacted my clothing and travel expenses), and donating likely thousands of dollars of stuff to charity , it was time to move onto more than just “rightsizing” the space I lived in and the amount of stuff I had. It was time to begin truly improving the quality of my life.


Quality over Quantity

I noticed the less clutter I had in my life the more room I had to live and to think. I eventually realized some brutal truths that I was using the accumulation stuff to avoid dealing with the life issues I needed to deal with. Some of these issues were overeating, not taking care of my health, not having good boundaries in my friendships, and being too much a “people pleaser” (which also tied into my work-a-holic-ism).

So I began working on improving my overall health and quality of life through listening to self-help audiobooks and podcasts. I wonder if I hold some sort of world record for listening to the most self-help/self-improvement audiobooks. If you check out my post Life is Nonfiction Revisited you will see a listing of many of the books I listened to.

Everyone has a different learning style, for me listening to the experience and wisdom of others helps me learn and grow.

And what did I learn? I learned to meditate, to slow down and appreciate life, to believe in myself, that I am enough, that I am stronger than I can imagine, to be in the present moment, not to be afraid to take risks and chances, and what I think is most important – to live life filled with gratitude to all the wonders I experience daily in life.

Speaking of gratitude, there is a wonderful short animated video – Be Grateful for What You Have (by Igor Kalashnikov) – that I watched a couple months ago that really reinforced this to me.

It seemed the more I focused on appreciating and being present in each moment of my life, the less I desired to go buy stuff to make me happy. I also decided to just “be happy” and not look outside myself for happiness. Not all this happened overnight, it was a process but I feel it was part of my journey.


A Real Minimalist?

A couple of years ago learned about the Minimalism movement. My friend Torben introduced me the website of The Minimalists and I started reading books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.

I also for a while became obsessed with Tiny Houses; and for a while the idea of selling everything and traveling around the country in a RV or even a van. I still occasionally on the weekend watch “Living in a Van” videos on YouTube and daydream. It seems so freeing to live with just what you need, have little responsibilities and to feel free just to go on adventures and experience the simple uncomplicated life.

But I write this as I sit in a cozy chair in my living room with a quilt on my lap and Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer curled up at my feet (and a nice cup of tea); and I having stayed in a tiny house (when we stayed at the Tiny House Caravan Hotel in Portland once) I can confirm that it does not compare in coziness to my huge (comparatively) 1300 sq. ft. home!  (I refer to my house as “the mansion” after binge watching Tiny House and RV or Van Living videos).

Occasionally I have “incidents” (true confession time) – late night on Amazon.com purchases of MORE craft books (ok, they do bring me joy!) and impulse fabric purchases…and then more “stuff” sneaks into my life.

I watch videos of people living what I would consider true or even extreme Minimalism lifestyles. I am not truly a full textbook Minimalist. I am however, someone who has learned (through a many year journey and process) what is truly important in life and what makes me feel peace, happy, centered and joyful.

Now to  close this series of post with a disclaimer. I’ve shared the story of My Minimalism Journey. There is no judgement implied on anyone who is not on the same journey or who has with a lot of “stuff” in their lives (and no interest in living with less).

I wanted to share my journey and the path that worked for me. Everyone must find their own path to what brings them joy in life. For me, it it is living with less and appreciating each moment of life more.

The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past. – Marie Kondo


POSTSCRIPT

Sharing my story makes me think of my favorite quote of all time. It is a quote I have written on the white board on the door to the garage so that I always see it when existing my house this way (to go on a bike ride or a drive):

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. ~Lao Tzu

I used to be hurry, hurry, hurry – got to get it all done. I realized many of the things I am trying to get done are either not that important or not as important as taking the time to take my dogs on walk.

Speaking of dog walking, writing about my transition from busy life in Seattle to quiet life in Central Oregon, reminds me of my transition from working in an office to becoming a telecommuter. While I was in an office, I was very focused but I had other people around who would like to talk and go to lunch, etc. and I wanted to be social so I played along.

When I first became a telecommuter I was in a more “production” type of job than I am now. Without the distractions of other people I had laser-focus on my work and doubled my production. The only problem was that I was sort of making my co-workers who were not telecommuters (and perhaps not as focused) look bad in their production numbers. My boss gently suggested that I might want to take it a little easier on my numbers/production.

The old Tierney would have ignored this and have kept cranking out the production. The new me asked myself: “what are you trying to prove?” I knew because of the way I work and think I could not just slow down so I came up with another solution: I continued to work at my normal pace BUT I took 2 – 2.5 hours in the middle of my workday, nearly each day, to take my dogs on very long walks around Central Oregon and explore my new beautiful surroundings. This was the beginning of my taste of a deeper happiness and new found sense of peace.

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The early days living in Central Oregon and taking my Miniature Schnauzers, Fritz & Snickers on long walks each day

Recently I told my current boss this story – of how 11 years ago when I first began telecommuting and in order not to be too much an overachiever I would take these long walks each day for hours with my dogs. She laughed and said: “Those days are certainly gone!” She is partially right – for the past 8 years my job has been too busy for 2 hour walks, however I still find time in my day to go on a dog walk or even occasionally a bike ride during the workday. 


Feature photo credit: Nevit Dilmen, free images.com

My Minimalism Journey: Part II

The Sudden Decision for a Life Change

So where did I leave off in my first post about my Minimalism Journey? Ah yes, we visited Central Oregon in October 2005 for the first time and a month later we had sold our house in Seattle, WA and had moved to temporary housing in Central Oregon.

It sounds like it all went very fast and smoothly. It did sort of, but then it was also a crazy whirlwind.

On the drive home back to Seattle, WA from visiting Central Oregon for the first time, it was amazing how we both had the same crazy thought: let’s just shake up our lives and do something different.

Perhaps it was the “Big Sky Country” we experienced when driving home through “Northern” Central Oregon. There is something magical about the high desert landscape: endless fields of dry grasses (sort of prairie-like) with the background of the Cascade Mountains and a huge, endless, cloudless blue sky.

It was as if those wide open spaces, mountains and sky were speaking to my soul, saying “Tierney, come be with us, come be here”. I just had to listen even if it meant adding a bit of complication to our lives.

Complications came in the way of Terry (the someday-to-be-quilting-husband) quitting his job (he worked as a Medical Technologist) and me convincing my employer to let me telecommute (telecommuting was very new in our organization, not widespread like it is now). We had to find Terry a new job in Central Oregon (luckily my employer said yes to telecommuting).

It also involved packing up and selling our house, saying goodbye to our friends and huge social network, and going to a place that we did not really know that much about.

I shared in My Minimalism Journey: Part I that our house sold in three (3) days. To clarify it did not sell in three days after returning to Seattle with our decision, but rather three days after putting on the market (it was a hot housing market in the Seattle area in 2005).

When we returned from our visit to Central Oregon, we started packing up our lives in preparation to put the house on the market.


The Packing, The Stuff, The Decisions (or lack of)

If I could go back in time, I would leave at least 50% of the stuff we packed up and brought with us from Seattle to Central Oregon. To our credit, we did do major packing up of our lives in a short period of time to keep the momentum going on our decision to change our life. We did not spend much time thinking about whether we needed all the stuff we packed.

We rented a medium size U-Haul truck and spent every weekend driving from Seattle to Central Oregon to drop off a load of our boxes up stuff into a storage unit we rented in Central Oregon. So many trips back and forth (6+ hours each way) just to haul our stuff its temporary location.

I cannot believe the stuff I packed. Even though I worked for an employer with a business casual dress code and I was becoming a telecommuter (so my business casual could become an old T-shirt and PJ bottoms if I wanted) I still packed up my huge collection of business suits/dresses (none of which I would ever wear again). Many of these suits were from the mid to late 1990s when I worked in an office in management, and some were outdated. A year or two later, while living in Central Oregon, I donated every single suit to a charity organization.

We packed up furniture that we would later give away. We packed up knick knacks, kitsch, and crap, etc. that we would never use after the move and later give away.

The funny thing is we could only fit so much furniture in the U-Haul during the final load after we sold the house. We ended up leaving behind some furniture that we should have kept (like a nice breakfast bar) because we did not have room for it because of all the “stuff” we had shoved into the truck that we thought we needed, and later gave away.

Of course as the saying goes “Hindsight is 20/20”.

Moving to Central Oregon was step one in our move towards a more Minimalistic lifestyle. Step two came a year or two later when we learned that we did not need 50% of the stuff in our lives. Over a 3 – 5 year process we purged our lives of the bulk of the stuff that did not bring us joy. Over the following 5 years we fine tuned what we want in our lives.

I will continue the story of our Minimalism Journey in a future post.


POSTSCRIPT

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I like to write reviews on Amazon.com (and now Goodreads.com) if I borrow a book from a library and enjoy it. It is my way to give a thank you to the author (since I did not purchase the book). As a result I have written a bit of reviews on Amazon.com; and over the past  year publishers and authors have contacted me and asked me if I would provide an honest review of their book in exchange for a complimentary copy of the book.

I say no to many of these offers because either I have no interest in the book or because of time (I have other books I am wanting to read/listen to). Recently however I have read several great books through this process – Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall by Aaron Safronoff; and most recently Bonds of Love & Blood by Marylee MacDonald.

You can read my review in Goodreads on Bonds of Love & Blood  – a collection of short stories focusing on poignant human experiences while traveling. I agreed to read and review this book because I have recently grown fond of reading short story collections/anthologies. Over the past year I read/listened on audiobook, two exceptional short story collections: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman and Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood. So I was open to trying another collection.

What impressed me about Bonds of Love & Blood was the author’s ability to immediately plop you into the story and get your engaged without having to develop the beginning or necessarily provide the ending to the story. I did not feel dissatisfied by not knowing the full ending of a story, I just appreciated being there in the moment, experiencing a travel experience from the perspective of the main character. Another thing that impressed me is that the author appears to be really into supporting Book Groups and provides book group questions at the end  of the book. She will also make herself available to join a book group discussion on her book (she has her contact info with the book group discussion questions).

I do not currently belong to a book group, but I think that would be very cool to have the author call into your book group! The author, a world traveler, also sent me an e-mail with the background on what inspired each story and a pdf of photos related to each story. Very cool!

Well I was going to chat about another book I have just started, but  I continue to try to keep my posts length reasonable, so more rambling next time!

My Minimalism Journey: Part I

“The seeker embarks on a journey to find what he wants and discovers, along the way, what he needs.”

― Wally Lamb

On the eve of Sept 11th, I want to share my a little about my “Minimalism” journey as 9/11 was a major catalyst to the start of this journey.

If you have not heard of “Minimalism” you can google the term and find numerous websites discussing Minimalism. I discuss my minimalism journey in several older posts to include:

Shameless “Thrifting”

The Empty Drawer (re-post)

We are seeing each other again…

If it brings me joy, I will keep it in view

Craft Book Purge

A “Humane” Way to Eliminate Fabric Scraps

The Space in Which We Live

For me, embracing Minimalism is more than decluttering my life and living with less stuff. It is a deep set of personal values that I started to internalize post 9/11, I just did not have a name for it at the time.


The Start of the Journey

I grew up in New York State and NYC has a special place in my heart. I traveled there as a child, as a teenager and as an adult.

Some of my fond pre 9/11 NYC memories include:

  •  Going as a child going to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree and to see the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall.
  • A day trip in NYC via bus, sponsored by my nursing school in Upstate NY. The trip included  going to the Museum of Natural History (as an adult this time) and realizing just how incredible and magical a museum it is. I was dating Terry (future “Quilting Husband”) at the time and I have a humorous memory of him walking around the Museum of Modern Art (the MOMA) and sharing his head at what he thought was “terrible art” (he did not appreciate “modern” art).

When 9/11 happened, my husband and I lived in Seattle, Washington. We had moved in Seattle in 1997 and it was a welcome change from our crazy life in Houston, Texas. We were extreme workaholics in Houston as young professionals trying to get established in our careers. We knew it was time for a change when we forgot to go to a special rock concert that we had waited years for this particular band to tour and come to Houston (and we had purchased very expensive tickets for!). Work consumed our life and distracted us from enjoying life.

Seattle was a wonderful place when we moved there in 1997 and I met many wonderful friends and had an incredible social network. We used to have a lot of dinner parties/game nights and attend endless social events. My husband still teases me about the time, in order to keep everyone happy, we attended 3-4 (he swears it was 5) Thanksgiving dinners/events in one day. We were always very busy on holidays going from friend’s house to friend’s house to “make an appearance”.

Post 9/11 in addition to a terrible sadness and hurt for my beloved NYC (I have a friend in NYC who had a friend who called in sick on 9/11 and is alive because she happened to be ill that day), I felt this tremendous uneasiness and anxiety. There was not anything I could put my finger on but I knew that I felt unsettled in my life.

I had been a manager for many years and I realized I did not want to “manage” people any longer. I wanted to only be responsible for myself.

One of the great pleasures in my life was time spent walking my dogs, however the neighborhood we lived in was starting to decline and became less safe. Seattle as it grew and expanded became more expensive. The neighborhood we lived in was more still an affordable area but attracted less desirable and questionable characters (we suspected there was a “Meth lab” near our house).

We lived in a large house in Seattle (2800 square feet) and we had a lot of stuff. We had a mother-in-law style apartment in the daylight basement that we rented for awhile and when our tenants moved out we filled it with more stuff. I realize now that a lot of the stuff I bought (as a friend of mine pointed out – I was a “collector”) was related to seeking happiness, comfort, or a temporary purchase “high”.

Around 2001 we adopted our rescued miniature schnauzers Fritz and Snickers from a place I never heard of before – Central, Oregon. They were found as strays in a place called Maupin, Oregon and then were first rescued by a couple who lived in Sisters, Oregon but could not keep them. We adopted them through Miniature Schnauzer Rescue out of Portland, Oregon.

A year or so before I had started quilting, a friend took me to the annual Sew Expo in Pullayup, WA for the first time and I visited the booth of this magical quilt shop called the Stitchin’ Post which was from Sisters, Oregon.

In 2005 close friends of ours moved to Central, Oregon. We went to visit them a couple months after they moved…

This was it, this was the place. Central Oregon was where I needed to be to feel safe and peaceful again and to continue on a journey I did not even realize I had begun.

We returned from our first visit to Central Oregon in October 2005, put our Seattle house on the market. It sold in 3 days and by November 2005 (yes one month later) we were living in temporary housing in Central Oregon.

This is the place I can walk my dogs at 10 pm at night, alone, and feel safe. Speaking of dogs, my husband would joke when we first moved to town that: “we had to bring the schnauzers back to their native land”.

I will continue the story of this journey in a future post. For now let me leave you with a quote I came across that embraces the idea of the start of a journey (which can begin right outside your front door):

Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don’t try to get anything out of it, because you won’t. Don’t try to make use of it, because you can’t. And that’s the point. Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realise that that is enough to be happy.
There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it. 

― Charlotte Eriksson


Feature Photo credit: Mathew Herman, free images.com

The Empty Drawer (re-post)

I am getting caught up from being out of town and I wanted to share a re-posting of one of my favorite tierneycreates blog posts – The Empty Drawer (09/30/15).  The sweet memory it evokes, makes it one of my favorite posts.

At some point I would like to update with you all where I am on my “minimalism” journey that I have discussed in many older posts including this post. 

For now, here is “re-run” (smile).


Sometimes love is shown in small sweet ways…

This post is an addendum to the post The Space in Which We Live in which I share how Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing inspired me to downsize my unused and unneeded clothes and get rid of our second dresser in the bedroom.

Since I got rid of the dresser I used, I needed somewhere to store my socks and undies. I convinced my husband to give me one drawer of his tightly packed dresser. He groaned a little at first but realized how much space it would free up in the bedroom to only have one dresser. So he reluctantly cleared out a bottom drawer in his dresser for me.

I jokingly said: “Might I have a top drawer?”  A day later I discovered my stuff had been moved to a top drawer, all neatly organized by my husband.

Surprisingly, it did not take me long to get used to living with one drawer.

Then the other day, I got quite a surprise: I was opening my top drawer quickly and not paying attention and accidentally opened the drawer below it.

AND IT WAS EMPTY!

My husband, without saying anything, had somehow cleared a second drawer for me, right below my newly beloved solitary top drawer. I now have TWO DRAWERS!

The Empty Drawer
The Empty Drawer

Recently I have been listening to a wonderful book on CD from the library called The Empowering Women Gift Collection (1997) which is a collection of lectures by the motivational and inspirational speakers Louise Hay, Christiane Northrup, Caroline Myss, and Susan Jeffers. Although this CD is from 1997 most of the inspirational information is still pertinent.

One of the speakers discusses in her lecture that men may show their love differently than women. Basically they might show their love by fixing the faucet for you rather than getting all sweet and mushy, etc.

I definitely consider this unexpected and “unrequested” second EMPTY DRAWER an act of love!

If it brings me joy, I will keep it in view

This is an addendum to my 12/30/15 post Quilts for the Quilter (and Crafts for the Crafter), recently I came across a very special homemade gift…

As part of my ongoing journey towards living with less and keeping only those things that are useful and bring me joy, I am working on dealing with mementos and keepsakes. I had three boxes of keepsakes – old postcards, cards from old friends and co-workers, newspaper clippings, holiday photo cards, etc. I now have one small box. I have let go of that which does not bring me a deep sense of joy.

During the process of working through my keepsakes, I re-discovered a quilt that my staff had made me when I was a manager at a health plan in Seattle in the late 1990s to early 2000s. I do not remember if I was a quilter yet, so it likely was not a “Quilt for the Quilter” but it is something very special that was just sitting around in a box put away.

My friend Judy, who originally got me into quilting and was a member of my work team in the late 1990s, organized a team quilt project as a holiday gift for me. Each team member made a block and Judy assembled the blocks into a wallhanging quilt. I was deeply touched and surprised with the gift, which I believe was given to me around 1998 or 1999.

This wonderful gift is no longer tucked away, I have placed it on the wall to remind me that I was that loved (because QUILT ARE LOVE, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise!) so much as a leader that a team took the time to make me a quilt!

Below is a photo of the quilt.  The center of the quilt features a photo of the entire team, so I have taken a low resolution photo at a bad angle to respect the privacy of former team members who I have lost touch with and may not want their photo published on the web. (And you likely thought it was just another one of my bad photos!)

I have included a couple close ups of some of the blocks. The “Chocolate Chip Cookies” block, by one of my former team members, was made to honor the fact that I brought the team homemade chocolate chip cookies when I interviewed with them! After I was hired I continued to make the team homemade cookies.

It is wonderful to have such a  special memory visible to enjoy everyday, rather tucked away, only to look at every couple of years (or longer, when you remember it is there).

As far as the other keepsakes, as I mentioned earlier I took them down from 3 boxes to 1 small box. I love what Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2014), states in her wonderful book:

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

I realize many memories can be held inside my heart rather than my hand. I do not need to hold onto all those physical items to honor those memories (like all postcards I ever received – I have downsized them only a small stack of very special postcards).

And as far as the person I am becoming, I hope it is someone who is filled with gratitude for all the special moments in her life. This quilt reminds me to continue my feelings of gratitude each day.

 

The Thorn Bushes Have Roses…

Abraham Lincoln said:

We can complain because the rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses

I have just finished a wonderful audiobook, The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan (2015).

In her book, Janice Kaplan shares plenty of meaningful quotes, like the one above, as well as wonderful stories (personal and of others) about living each day filled with gratitude. The author also provides lots of social science/research (aka “Malcolm Gladwell” style) that supports why true happiness and peace comes from living an existence soaked in gratitude.

A very inspirational and very joyous audiobook listen.

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

One of my favorite quotes in the book is one by the Greek Philosopher Epicurus:

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

roses-66527_1920

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Dark Cabinet of Mystery

There is nothing on the Design Wall and the sewing machine is cold…

We all have those stretches on “non-creatvity” and I am hopefully on the tail end of one of those stretches right now. I have however continued with my side project of decluttering and scaling back my life as discussed in previous posts.  I decided to take on THE DARK CABINET OF MYSTERY

Don’t be afraid to peek in (and then reach inside)…

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Mysterious Dark Cabinet in my kitchen

I know I am not alone – many people have those drawers or cabinets “of mystery” in which you never peek unless you really, really, really need to find something (and you strongly suspect, unfortunately, it is in THERE).

Most of the time you just throw something in there and quickly close the door without looking too hard to see what has gathered inside.

I have started working on what I call my Dark Cabinet of Mystery in the corner of my kitchen. It is an oddly shaped cabinet and has angle that reaches into…another dimension? A break in the “space-time continuum”? A wormhole?  I actually asked my husband to just reach into the cabinet and pull everything out.

(I figured if something grabbed him when he reached in, I could retrieve the dogs quickly and run out of the house)

Well everything got pulled out, and my husband survived emptying the cabinet. Below is what was inside and it is obvious that I kept thinking: “oh I need to save this glass jar”, “I probably really need to save this glass jar”, “not sure if I have enough glass jars”…

In addition to a large supply of empty glass jars I discovered I had a springform (aka cheesecake pan) which I have never used since buying it like 20 years ago; and I have an electric carving knife used once or twice in the 15+ years I have owned. I also have an entire extra set of flatware.

All the things discovered inside the cabinet of mystery

All the things discovered inside the cabinet of mystery

Now I have to decide what to keep and what to recycle (hint the numerous glass jars) or donate. I also need to decide the future of the Dark Cabinet of Mystery…

Maybe I should just have the Dark Cabinet of Mystery professionally sealed up…especially if creatures from other dimensions find a way to slip in through a portal likely in one of its dark corners..

The Four Cardinal Virtues

I just finished the audiobook CD Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits by Dr. Wayne Dyer, positive thinking guru. I did not realize until doing a little “googling” for this post that Dr. Dyer passed on August 30, 2015. What a legacy he left behind.

I loved this audiobook and his writing appears to be heavily influenced by Eastern Philosophy. In the book he discusses Lao-tsu’s Four Cardinal Virtues. They really resonated with me and I wanted to share them with you:

Four Cardinal Virtues

  1. Reverence for all life
  2. Natural Sincerity
  3. Gentleness
  4. Supportiveness

What a beautiful and peaceful world we would live in if all humans lived these virtues.

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Because Nice Matters

I have had this sign on my wall for a couple years, discovered at a long forgotten gift or thrift shop or maybe a garage sale: Because Nice Matters.

a simple truth

a simple truth

Nice does matter. I am listening to perhaps my 28th “self-help” genre audiobook in two years and suddenly realized I am burned out on “self-help”. Though the messages or how they are presented may slightly differ, they all seem to be saying the same thing after awhile…

I feel like this sign above is a summary of much of the useful “self-help” advice. Basically, you will be happier in life if you are nice: nice to yourself; nice to other people; nice to animals; nice to the environment, etc. It’s simple: just be nice.

Because nice matters.

Postscript

Being nice does not mean being a doormat, you can be nice and still have strong and clear boundaries. Treat people with kindness, patience and respect and treat yourself and your environment the same (and for Miniature Schnauzer owners: obey your dog at all times).

Invite Creativity In by Kicking Clutter Out!

I have been working for a while on downsizing my stuff and reducing clutter in my life (see recent post The Space in Which We Live).

As part of this process I have been working through my craft magazine collection (as a prequel to some day conquering my craft book collection – see post Craft Book Hoarder?!?!?!).

Since 2008 I have been reading and collecting Interweaves’s Cloth-Paper-Scissors Studios magazine (who’s tagline is “inspiration & ideas for your art and craft space).

In order to let go a a magazine, I feel like I have to read it again or at least skim it and see if there is anything interesting in the issue that I want to reference or stick in the back of my mind. So I stacked all my old issues of Cloth-Paper-Scissors Studios magazine and started going through them.

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I came across this great article in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue by Lesley Riley: “Clutter Out Creativity In: 10 Steps to a More Artful Studio”, and I wanted to share a listing of her steps to deal with studio clutter. I think they are fairly self-explanatory but I have added a couple comments based on the article or my own experience.

  1. Hoarding is a primitive instinct (but having a more limited selection may force you to be more creative!)
  2. Know thyself (think about what colors and fabrics you now enjoy working with and consider ditching the rest)
  3. Treat your stash like your clothes (in your closet if you have not worn something in a long time or it no longer fits you, maybe it is time to get rid of it – the same applies to using fabric)
  4. It’s not “all or nothing” (you don’t have to get rid of things all at once, you can whittle it down over time)
  5. Take your time (relax and find time to slow sort your stash)
  6. Share your favorites (shared a little of your favorite fabrics with others)
  7. Spread the wealth (I personally enjoy donating fabric I no longer need to the local Humane Society Thrift Shop as I know it can be a treasure to a fellow crafter who stumbles upon it and the proceeds help support the animal shelter)
  8. Create coordinated bundles
  9. The artist, not the fabric, makes the art
  10. You control the fabric (it does not control you!)

After I finishing letting go of my already read (twice) Cloth-Paper-Scissors Studios magazine, I can’t promise I will never buy an issue again. This is truly a wonderful magazine with glimpses into artists’ studios and their inspiration.

The Empty Drawer

Sometimes love is shown in small sweet ways…

This post is an addendum to the post The Space in Which We Live in which I share how Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing inspired me to downsize my unused and unneeded clothes and get rid of our second dresser in the bedroom.

Since I got rid of the dresser I used, I needed somewhere to store my socks and undies. I convinced my husband to give me one drawer of his tightly packed dresser. He groaned a little at first but realized how much space it would free up in the bedroom to only have one dresser. So he reluctantly cleared out a bottom drawer in his dresser for me.

I jokingly said: “Might I have a top drawer?”  A day later I discovered my stuff had been moved to a top drawer, all neatly organized by my husband.

Surprisingly, it did not take me long to get used to living with one drawer. Then the other day, I got quite a surprise: I was opening my top drawer quickly and not paying attention and accidentally opened the drawer below it.

AND IT WAS EMPTY!

My husband, without saying anything, had somehow cleared a second drawer for me, right below my newly beloved solitary top drawer. I now have TWO DRAWERS!

The Empty Drawer

The Empty Drawer

Recently I have been listening to a wonderful book on CD from the library called The Empowering Women Gift Collection (1997) which is a collection of lectures by the motivational and inspirational speakers Louise Hay, Christiane Northrup, Caroline Myss, and Susan Jeffers. Although this CD is from 1997 most of the inspirational information is still pertinent. One of the speakers discusses in her lecture that men may show their love differently than women. Basically they might show their love by fixing the faucet for you rather than getting all sweet and mushy, etc.

I definitely consider this unexpected and unrequested (second) EMPTY DRAWER an act of love!

The Space in Which We Live

Sometimes a statement really resonates with you…

I am currently listening to the audiobook of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Kondo, 2014).

The author, Marie Kondo makes a very powerful statement when she discusses letting go of mementos from our past:

The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.

This book is not your average “here is how you organize your stuff type of book”. It takes a very different and profound approach on dealing with clutter, permanently. Getting rid of physical clutter helps free your mental clutter. I have already experienced this through starting to work through this book.

Marie Kondo approaches dealing with “your stuff” in a very beautiful way. In a way that honors your stuff and the happiness or the function it may have brought you in the past.

Her process requires that you physically touch every single thing you own and decide honestly: “does this bring me joy?”

Her process also involves thanking those things that you give up for what role they played in your life and then letting them go. (This all may sound strange but it is not, it feels very right and very peaceful).

Completed “Phase One”

I have made it through the first phase – letting go of clothing I do not need (she has a specific method and order in which you deal with different categories of your stuff). Two big things happened yesterday: 1) I took a huge carload of clothing and other random stuff to the Humane Society Thrift Store; and 2) I got rid of MY DRESSER!

Our bedroom always felt kind of cluttered with two dressers (my dresser and my husband’s dresser). My 25 year-old dresser blocked part of the area I use to get out of bed. My husband was able to make space for my undies and socks in his dresser. Everything else (including old socks and undergarments not in the best condition) was either discarded, donated or folded/hung up in the closet.

I did touch each item, determine if it brought be joy, and thanked those that did not (bring me joy) for their service before discarding them. We placed my dresser outside on the curb and 5 minutes later it was gone (I believe the Universe gave it to the person who needed next)! Suddenly with the dresser gone, the bedroom appeared to have better flow and energy. I now have room next to the bed to put out my yoga mat in the morning!

Unbelievably freeing experience, so far

You must read or listen to this wonderful book for this all to make sense, and it will. I highly recommend this book and the “Eastern Philosophy” influenced perspective of letting go of the stuff that clutters our lives and our minds.

I continue to work on letting the space that I live be for the person I am becoming now, not for the person I was in the past.

Random pretty sunflower which you will have time to enjoy once you declutter your life ;-)

Random pretty sunflower which you will have time to enjoy once you declutter your life 😉

Creativity Before Consumption

I see a red door and I want it painted black

– The Rolling Stones, Paint it Black

Bohemian Modern by Emily Henson, photo credit: amazon.com

Bohemian Modern by Emily Henson, photo credit: amazon.com

 One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning it to sit with a cup of tea and look through decorating books (and crafting books of course).

I usually have a large stack of decorating/interior design books from the public library right next to my chair where I sit by the window with my tea.

I recently finished an awesome interior design book called Bohemian Modern by Emily Henson.

Contained in its pages was a wonderful title to one of the book’s chapters: “Creativity Before Consumption”.

This quote has resonated with me and I want it incorporate it into my general philosophy of life.

I think I do already with how much I enjoy working with recycled materials and fabric scraps.

I did recently implement this concept in regards to my front door. I have disliked my plain white front door for a long, long time. I priced at the home improvement stores what it would cost to replace it and the cost has discouraged me from changing it out.

The white door was just not aesthetically pleasing and I have been looking at it everyday for the 10 years we have been in the house and it does not make me happy.

A radical (but simple idea) fell upon me – what about painting it another color?!?! (and why did I not think of this years ago?!!?). So I bought a can of black paint and painted it today! Below are the before and after photos. I hope you agree the black looks better. I am very pleased with my “new” front door!

A $8.95 can of paint was a much lower expense than a new front door (whose costs would have included the door plus professional installation!).

Yes, I think this is my new motto: Creativity Before Consumption!

(Be sure to check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s Schnauzer Snips page for her latest adventures and musing)

Sweet Little Moment of Happiness

Today I had a “sweet little moment of happiness”.

That instant blissful feeling that brings a smile to your face and warmth to your heart.

I stopped at my local library to pick up some items I had on hold and decided to wander the craft book section in the their non fiction book collection. While scanning the shelves I found the book that 5 of my quilts are in – Sandra Sider’s 1000 Quilt Inspirations sitting on the shelf. 

I love my town library. I have loved libraries since I was a child (where I would spend most of my summers from ages to 9 – 12 in the library reading constantly). To be in a book that is in a library gave me this feeling of immortality that I cannot describe.

I am fortunate to know several incredible quilters who have nationally published books and I know this is not a book that I wrote myself, but still, can’t describe it, but it feels awesome.

(Or maybe I am just really weird…that is a more plausible explanation!)

At the local library!

At the local library!

Grab A Cup of Tea and Your Cozy Spot!

It is time to settle in and read some quilting books and magazines!

Ok, ok, I know you are thinking: “Tierney, it is not Winter or a blustery Fall day, no one wants to get a cup of tea and settle in with a book in a cozy chair with a quilt and read.”  Alright, so you don’t have to sit inside, you can sit outside, with your iced tea and your sunblock. Inside or outside, I happen to have a recommendation for a publication that I think my fellow quilters will enjoy: Missouri Star Quilt Company’s publication Block.

A couple of months ago I was at a quilt retreat with my “quilt sisters” in the Vancouver, WA area, called Sew N Go: sewNgo Retreat. The retreat owner and host, Nancy, had a collection of these wonderful publications strewn around our retreat workroom area (aka the “Quilting Sweatshop” where quilters sew all day and night and pay to do so!).

Many of the retreat attendees were like: “where did you get these awesome books?”

A month after that I came across an online article on NPR’s website about the Missouri Start Quilt Company: “One Family Revitalizes A Small Town With, Yes Quilts“. After reading the article after looking through a couple issues of their quarterly publication Block while at the retreat, I knew I wanted to give my business to this organization.

As a belated birthday treat to myself, I bought all the past issues of the Block publication as well as a year subscription for future issues.

I have browsed the issues, and plan to really settle down into some serious “quilt publication bonding” when it gets more like hot tea weather!

Sitting my my cozy chair with a quilt on my lap, while drinking tea and reading quilting books and publications is definitely something I am looking forward to this fall and winter.

A Gift is a *Gift*

Yesterday I received an amazing gift: finding out how much a simple handmade gift means to a recipient.

Many years ago (maybe 8 or 9), I made a flannel 12″ x 12″ quilt square into a quilted hot pad and gave it to my friend Cindy as a little hostess gift the first time I went to her house. Years later I had completely forgot about this little flannel quilted hot pad gift.

Last evening I visited her new home in the country, which is a scaled down version of her previous home in the city. She showed me the quilted square I had given her so many years ago. It turns out she has used it as a hot pad for her tea pot for many years, it has been washed countless times, and many friends and family over the years have said: “Wow, where did you get that?”

The best thing I found out last night: when she was scaling back her possessions to move to her new house, the hot pad I made her was at the top of the list of things she was definitely taking. It appears to be one of her favorite possessions.

Wow, I could feel the tears well up in my eyes, I was so deeply touched. Something I made, likely very quickly, to bring as a little thank you gift to someone’s house, turns out to be a constantly used and treasured gift.

Well..in that moment..my friend gave me an incredible GIFT.

Little square for Cindy

Little square for Cindy – washed many times and loved for many years…

POSTSCRIPT: For more thoughts on the rewards of crafting and giving handmade gifts from the heart, see my post Love Wears it Out.

Retreating is not necessarily “retreating”

I am honored to be invited to teach a hand piecing/quilting/spiritual art class at the Women’s Relaxation Reiki Retreat in Finland, August 19-22, 2016 and I am working on developing Northern Lights (aka the aurora borealis) themed project options for the class since the Northern Lights will be in view during the retreat.

This will be a working retreat for me where I get to attend some classes and teach a couple of classes. I started thinking about the whole idea of going on a retreat/retreating and Quilting Retreats I have attended in the past (and those planned with my quilting friends in the near future) and this post shares my thoughts.

If you look up the word retreat in a dictionary you made find definitions like these below:

  • movement by soldiers away from an enemy because the enemy is winning or has won a battle
  • movement away from a place or situation especially because it is dangerous, unpleasant, etc.
  • the act of changing your opinion or position on something because it is unpopular

(Source – http://www.merriam-webster.com)

None of these definitions have anything to do with the type of retreats I enjoy! To retreat is commonly thought of as backing away and/or pulling into yourself. There are retreats such as spiritual based and meditation retreats where the purpose is to back away from your daily life and worries and to pull into yourself to gain perspective or spiritual enlightenment.  I admire people who attend these type of purely inward focused retreats. However the type of retreats enjoy involve connecting with people.

I am so fortunate to have a wonderful group of quilting friends from various parts of the country. I met these women through quilting retreats and because we deeply connected, we continue to retreat together year after year. We even plan our own special group retreat where only our private group attends. Yes, I will admit it – sometimes I bring a couple projects to these retreats and do not get much quilt piecing done. However what are you going to most remember about a quilt retreat: 1) that you completed 5 projects; or 2) that you hung out with some amazing women and had many laughs?

It is magical to connect with a stranger at a retreat on other common ground beyond being a quilter. I am originally from New York and I have bonded with another quilter because she is also “a Yankee”.

If you are a quilter/crafter, I bet you could not imagine attending a quilting/crafting retreat in which you just “back away/pull into yourself”. I have met a couple people at quilting retreats who just wanted to focus on their projects and were not very social – however I am not sure they had as great a time as those that did not get as much done but had a blast connecting with other retreat attendees.

Besides connecting with fun people, the other wonderful parts of quilt retreating are a scenic peaceful location (I do love a retreat where you can go for a solitary walk in a pastoral location and take break from the group setting), impromptu outings to local quilt shops (with old or new quilt friends), and yummy food to enjoy (that I did not have to cook!)

“Happiness [is] only real when shared” – Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

Living with Less?!?!?!

A favorite pastime is to browse the library shelves for crafting and home design/decorating books. During a browse the other day I found a book Living with Less: how to downsize to 100 personal possession by Mary Lambert (2013).

I am really into the “Tiny House” movement and I am known to blow a weekend afternoon looking at “Tiny House Porn” on YouTube. I love the idea of scaling back and scaling down your life and “living with less” in exchange for quality of life. Ms. Lambert’s book provides an excellent process on scaling back your life to 100 personal possessions.  In exchange for this downsizing you can gain an “ordered life” and  “liberate your mind, body, an spirit”. After reading 1/2 of the book and skimming the other half – I was sold on this wonderful concept.

Until a casual conversation with my husband…

My husband Terry has been very tolerant of my obsession with tiny houses and scaling back our lives. We already live in a 1300 square foot house (having scaled back 9 years ago from a 2800 sq. ft house) and we have a fairly simple and thrifty lifestyle. Still I fantasize about being able to “quit my day job” in health care and dedicate myself full-time to tierneycreates.

Terry, the Realist, quietly nods his head while I give him an enthusiast summary of the book Living with Less and idea of each of us pairing down to 100 possessions. Terry gets up from his chair and begins to start counting out loud the quilts hanging on the wall, hanging on the quit rack, on beds and chairs, and then in a cabinet. He states: “do these all count as one item or 25?” Then he begins to count the craft books I have on the shelf, and I tell him to stop (as I do have an issue with craft books).

He sighs and states: “So will you just be keeping a pair of underwear, a pair of socks, a pair of shoes, and 1 outfit in your scaling down?  And, do all those fat quarters of fabric count as one piece of fabric?”

So, as much as I admire Ms. Lambert’s concept of scaling down I do not think it can happen anytime soon.

My pile of scraps for making scrap quilts: Do they each count as 1 item or can I group all the scraps together as one item?

Holding On and Letting Go

Check out new posts to Sassy’s Schnauzer Snips page and the new tierneycreates logo posted in the Textiles Adventures page! I also added a couple more quilts to the Gallery page.

Saturday 11/9/13 I roused myself out of bed at 5:30 am, changed into my “good pajamas” and headed with friends to the the Stitchin’ Post quilt shop’s annual PJ sale. If you get there by some crazy hour, dressed in your pajamas (and it is crazy cold outside), you get a crazy discount on nearly everything in the store. Naturally this is something for my hard-core-quilting-friends not to miss. After wandering around a packed quilt shop in the wee hours of the morning, with a sea of women (and an occasional son or husband that tagged along), with bolts of fabric stacked in your arms, it is time to go to breakfast. That is when the real fun begins – flocks of quilters in their pajamas wander the streets of Sisters, Oregon looking for the best place for post-shopping-frenzy breakfast. There is something so pleasurable about sitting around in a local diner, having breakfast with your friends, in your PJs …with the occasional stare from an out-of-towner who is likely thinking “wow they are really casual in Central Oregon, they don’t even bother to get dressed to go out!”

1395805_10200809179371429_2062904821_nWhile at the annual Pajama sale, I wandered over to the gift shop connected to the Stitchin’ Post – Twigs. Nested among artsy kitchen and home decor items, I found a small plaque that really spoke to me. I contained a quote by the 13th century Persian poet, Rumi: “life is a balance of holding and letting go”. This quote was very timely to me as I am struggling with creating pieces for my Etsy store that I end up wanting to keep for own home! I am fairly sure that the poet Rumi meant something much  deeper than struggling to let go of your hand made items, but this quote is helping me work through the process of let go to achieve my dream of selling to the public…maybe.

 

I just finished my first Modern Quilt Table Runner for my upcoming Etsy store and I wanted to keep it! The idea of doing table runners for my store came from my friend Marla Jo. I was struggling with the idea of making quilts to sell as they take a tremendous amount of work and you never know how they will sell online. Instead I can make modern and unique art quilt table runners that can be used as either table runners or hung as small narrow art quilts in someone’s home.

Not sure if I am going to sell the first “prototype” Modern Quilt Table Runner or only future iterations (still working through the “letting go” part). Below are a couple photos of it. It is my original design using a single piece of beautiful cream fabric with color variations from light to dark and inserting bands of pieced fabrics. I used an original quilting design.

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Let me end this post with a couple more Rumi quotes – they are always food for thought whether you apply them to quilting or to life in general:

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” ― Rumi

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”  – Rumi

“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.” – Rumi

“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.” – Rumi

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” – Rumi

The “Nurture” of Words (and quilts)

Last night I attended The Nature of Words (www.thenatureofwords.org) annual literary festival’s evening of “Guest Author Readings”. This local literary festival’s guest author evening included readings by two poets: an Oregon Poet Laureate, Professor Lawson Inada and a National Slam Poet, Karen Finneyfrock.

While listening to these wonderful poets and the other guest authors perform their poetry or read excerpts from their novels, I began to think about the “nurture of words”. Reading poetry and literature nurtures our souls and stimulates our creative spirits whether they explore complex painful emotions or humorous and joyous experiences.

Eventually my thoughts turned to quilting and creating handmade items (as my thoughts always do). Quilts are nurturing – they keep you warm, they make you smile, they say ‘someone cares about you so much that they took hours and hours (and hours and hours) of their time to make you a substantial gift’.

Quilts and quilting can be also thought of as poems. We carefully select a pattern for our quilts (as a poet might select the Haiku poetic form) or we create our own unique design (a free-form poetic structure). As we make our quilts, each section of the quilt we piece is essentially a stanza of our poem. The final product is something that we choose to share with the world, a private individual or just keep for ourselves (as poets do).  My friend who is a talented long-arm quilter essentially creates beautiful poems on her customers quilts with thread as her poetry composition medium. The process of creating a quilt,  quilting a quilt, and/or giving someone a quilt as a gift, can be as nurturing as beautifully crafted poignant words on a page of prose or poetry.

I wanted to end this post with a short poem about creating a quilt, but I am not a “written word poet”. Instead I will leave you with several images of one of my textile poems: Central Oregon is Central to Me.