It's Wednesday and for the past three days I've been working through more tree and landscape sections to the point that today, right now, I have just 2 trees and 1 landscape left to finish.
I'm so incredibly happy about this section. In just 12 days I've nearly completed this inner ring which means I can officially say this quilt is 1/2 way quilted. The borders will likely be very complicated and time consuming, but for now, I'm super pleased with how this has worked out.
Just like in May, I plan to hang Duchess Reigns back on the wall for a few days just to have a good look at her and get motivated for the next step. The pause I took in May was absolutely perfect, allowed me time to work on other things, and wrap my head around the enormity of this project. She really is overwhelming, even to me.
Once Duchess is out of the sewing room tomorrow, I plan to begin construction of 3 new Express Your Love goddess quilts. Each quilt will be constructed in a different way, and I'm especially wanting to challenge myself to stop running straight back to my default stitching scale of 1/8 inch or less. It's time to try other things!
I'm feeling the need to dig into Express Your Love and really get immersed in several different ideas that have been floating around my brain for awhile. It seems making this quilt has been a journey that is less about saying "I love you." to James and Josh (that's actually the easy part), and far more about working on self love and finding the strength and space to say those words to myself.
At the beginning of the year, the very first words I wrote into the first version of the quilt was "I am Enough." It's been 6 months since that first video and unfortunately I found myself yesterday saying the exact opposite. Why am I struggling with this all over again?
But it seems like my journey in the last few months has been heavy on self understanding. Reading books like Quiet and Focus and The Happiness Project and The Power of Habit have taught me so much about myself in such a short space of time, my brain is a bit overloaded trying to make sense of it all.
The fact is, until only very recently I've been a bit too flexible in my own definition of myself. This might sound a bit weird, but I regularly take on jobs and agree to do things that I don't want to do, some things that are actually very uncomfortable to my introverted nature, but because I CAN do it (I can grit my teeth and muscle through anything. Literally, I have a will of steel), I tend to say yes. I'm starting to see that my tendency to agree is more than a liability to my happiness, it's downright destructive to my whole family.
So I want to practice saying "No" and dealing with the waves of guilt and fear that rise up like a tidal wave anytime I say it. I also want to practice figuring out exactly what I WANT to do, not just what I feel compelled to do because I obligated myself. I also want to relearn how to quilt for me and only for me.
What do I mean by that? I Quilt for Me was a phrase I began saying more than 2 years ago, but I continue to struggle with it. Between the pressure to compete at quilt shows and make quilts for various people, companies, or classes, I find my personal projects always pushed to the back of the line.
I know I'm not alone with this issue, but whenever I give voice to it, all I can hear is my mother's words rebounding in my head, "It sounds to me like you're being selfish."
Maybe it is selfish, but I'm tired of putting myself last and I don't think this issue of self love will go away until I take a serious stand for who I really am and what I actually WANT to do.
Until May, Duchess Reigns was always on the back burner, always shunted to the side the second something "more important" came into the studio because I couldn't say for sure if I ever wanted to show her or not. The first Duchess was ruined after showing. It would absolutely break my heart to see this quilt damaged or lost in the mail.
But when Josh asked last night why I couldn't just work on Duchess Reigns for myself, only for me, never to show, not really to teach with, my instant gut response, which made me cry even as it came out of my mouth was, "I'm not enough for that. I don't deserve her."
My response was so incredibly ridiculous I think it finally snapped my attention to this very real need to change my mentality. It also helped that Josh's eyes nearly bugged out of his head and he made me repeat what I'd said three times until I saw for myself how ridiculous it was.
Through all this rambling and seeking, I find myself wanting to make these new versions of Express Your Love simply to dig further in. I feel like lately I've been standing on the edge of the diving board with these quilts, hesitant to dive in. What if I get overwhelmed and bogged down under so many various versions of the same quilt?
But on the flip side, what more will be revealed if I just give myself permission to make as many quilts as I want to make and to quilt them however I want?
It may be that this journey with this quilt takes longer than 1 year, and I need to hope and trust and cross my fingers that I won't bore you all to tears with it. The fact is, I need to make these for me, to work out some lingering shadows of self doubt, denial, and neglect that are still lurking in the back of my closet, and maybe, just maybe, it will be a journey you can share too.
That is one thing that makes this year feel very circular and solid - sharing Express Your Love on this blog was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It might not have the flair and instant appeal of the original 365 quilting designs, but to me at least, it is far more satisfying.
Let's go quilt,