So today I want to share with you some very powerful words that I'm learning to live.
I first saw these three words on the front of an Artful Blogging magazine and bought it simply for those small words in the left hand corner of the cover. It's like those words shouted at me - Hey you! This is what you're searching so hard for!
The article in the magazine showcased an amazing blog project started by Tracy Clark, which shares the stories of people finding the power and acceptance in the simple words I Am Enough.
At the time I found these words, I couldn't say them honestly to myself. In every area of my life I could only see where I wasn't measuring up. I worked hard every day, but I could always work harder. The joy I found in work was always tainted by my slave-driver mentality.
It's been two years since I first found that magazine article and in that time I've learned how to practice compassion and empathy. I say "practice" here with exactly the same meaning as practicing free motion quilting - I had to learn this from the ground up, and in the beginning, I totally sucked at it.
Compassion is accepting how you feel on a given day, giving yourself a place to rest, comforting yourself with a warm hug. Sometimes I would take a nap and wrap my arms around myself and say "I'm here, I love you, please rest now." Come to think of it, those would be good words to have in this quilt too!
Slowly I learned how to let go of that long list of all the ways I was lacking and began to accept myself for exactly who I am. I am enough.
The other words I've stitched on this quilt came to me the day I stitched them:
These words popped up in my journal the morning I made the video. Basically I was writing about how I wanted to be more open to my husband, willing to listen and hang out the way we used to. At some point in the last few years, I just started working all the time, to the point that even when we watched a movie together, I'm always stitching on something.
James was the one that clued me into this behavior. You never PLAY. You're always WORKING. Why can't you hit the X button and come play with me? (James already knows that the way to close a computer program is to hit the X in the upper right hand corner).
I never realized it could be a problem to always be working, particularly when my work is creative and portable and can be taken along with me anywhere in the house. I didn't realize that if I'm stitching on something, that means half my brain isn't clued in to what is really going on, meaning I'm not really ALL THERE. My body is physically sitting there, by my mind is concentrating on the next stitch, not on interacting with my family.
So after being clued into my behavior, I started journaling every morning about it. It was honestly hard to put down my work. I love to be stitching on stuff, and it's comforting to me so how can this be bad?!
But my family needs more from me. So those words "I have an open and willing heart." that is really a reminder to be open and willing to change my behavior. Over Christmas, Josh began playing a new video game and I sat down and watched him play.
We used to do this together all the time, just sit and chat over the game and laugh at the story. At some point in the last few years, I began seeing this as a waste of time and stopped watching. Sitting down again, taking the time to BE THERE without anything in my hands was awesome. It's surprising to me just out separate I've felt, how lonely and distant, and the issue all along was my compulsion to be stitching all the time.
Finally, there is one last set of words I stitched this morning:
Growing up, my mother often said: "I have nothing left to give." to explain why she didn't want to participate in our family or really care what was going on. I guess I learned my distant behavior from someone!
While I have hated this phrase my whole life, the idea behind it somehow still managed to worm its way into my brain and give me a mental picture that all my love fits into a giant glass of milk. And this glass is half empty, and one day it will run out.
This idea that there is a limit to my love, a limit to my caring and compassion for my family - I HATE THIS IDEA!
So stitching these words was another step away from that mentality, away from that horrible, soul corroding belief that I will one day be empty because I love and care for my family. My heart is open and my love is so deep and overwhelming my cup runs over with it. I will never be empty. I will never be not enough for this.
Reading back through this space, I love how the three messages work together:
I Am Enough.
I Have An Open And Willing Heart.
My Cup Runneth Over.
So enough talking about all of it! Let's learn how to quilt / thread paint these positive words into our quilt:
That's it for today! I hope you will give this a try. If you have a message you like better, just draw it into the space with a fabric pencil, then quilt right on the line and build up around 4-5 layers of thread over the surface.
In our next video, we will learn how to echo around each letter to fill in the space completely and add more texture to the quilt: