The Free Motion Quilting Project: Thoughts at 30

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Thoughts at 30

Ahhh....What a truly wonderful birthday! Yesterday I finally left my twenties, turned 30, and took a day off to relax and reflect on my life so far. This is one of my more personal posts, so only read if you're into this kind of thing! You can always enjoy our most recent design, Split Paisley, instead.

This birthday has been a long time coming because this past year I watched it so closely. I literally counted down to my birthday in my journal until the day arrived.

Mostly I was wanting to finish my 20's with no unfinished business. I even had the insane goal to try to finish all my unfinished projects (UFOs) in one year. Ha! Even if I had an entire year to focus on nothing else, I definitely couldn't have worked through all this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So halfway through the year I put aside my desire to finish physical projects and instead turned to my internal unfinished business. This was really the background to designing Express Your Love and sharing this quilting process since January:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The meaning behind this quilt is simple: express love. I wanted to show love to my family more freely and openly. I wanted to feel better, satisfied and whole, and somehow lose the constant gnawing guilt that I wasn't doing enough, working hard enough, treating everyone well enough.

In setting this intention, I got a lot of answers as to why these feelings exist and why sometimes it feels impossible to express my love freely. I thought going into it this was a simple as saying "I love you" more often. Now I know there's a lot more to all of this and I got a lot more than I bargained for, but in a good way!

Guilt was the first mystery I unraveled partway through the year. Hours of quilting would leave me feeling contaminated with excessive guilt, which made me snappish and surly, which only created more guilt!

Figuring out my guilt triggers, and most especially the negative voice in my head that likes to constantly berate me for being a bad mother, was a huge step forward. I'm absolutely not perfect, but at least now I can acknowledge when I'm feeling guilty and figure out what I can do about it.

Shame was the second mystery I unraveled this year. This is probably the most important discovery of my life because it is the core root of all issues. Shame isn't something we like to talk about because it's...well...shameful!

But it's still there, hiding in the darkness, lurking in the corners. When I first started reading about shame it's like I finally found a light switch in my heart and when I flicked the switch, I finally saw the monsters of shame that had been hiding there the whole time.

My monsters specifically are two accepted ideas that are unbelievably painful, but they have been the constant thread through my life since I was a little girl. They are No. 1 - I was not wanted, therefore I have no right to exist, and No. 2 - I will never be enough, so one day I will lose absolutely everything I have because I wasn't worthy of it in the first place.

These are two very common ideas for people who have been rooted and bound in shame. I know I'm not alone with these issues, and that they are very common for people raised in abusive, dysfunctional homes.

Working on this isn't easy. The fact that these two "truths" are actually lies doesn't seem to matter. When I describe letting go of them - it's like trying to cut off my legs while I'm standing on them - impossible. How can an idea I've taken for truth my whole life suddenly and instantaneously be accepted as a lie?

Most recently I've been slowly working through the book Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw, I've found a therapist (finally), and I'm actively working: strength training my mind and heart, to remove the monsters from my soul.

Ultimately I know that it IS possible to rise above what I was taught and told and shown as a young child. I know that my brain is a muscle that I can exercise and work in a new direction. I know that my thoughts, good or bad, are my responsibility. I have the ability to respond to these issues and I will succeed.

So today at 30, I know I have loads of hard work to do, but at least now I know WHAT this work is and what direction I must work in.

What has helped the most this year is finally accepting that I can't be perfect. I can't quilt perfect. I can't teach perfect. I'm not a perfect wife or a perfect mother. What I can do is try my best, and to ACCEPT what that is, whatever it is.

For many years I felt intense shame any time my mistakes showed. What will people think if I can't quilt this perfectly? Obviously I'm not good enough to be teaching!

These days I see all my mistakes as opportunities to teach. Here let me share how I am NOT perfect, but how I continue to move forward. I have to keep stitching and accept what happens next.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Standing here at 30, I feel so very grounded and solid, surrounded by my family, celebrated for existing. I feel unbelievably lucky and blessed to have these people around me, willing to do something special just to make my day great.

At 20, I didn't have this sense of stability, celebration, or happiness. My life was a great big question mark then - full of scary uncertainty and negative thoughts.

At 10, I was just entering the time when my mother had "nothing left to give" and began her great downward spiral. It was after this birthday that I began baking my own birthday cakes, otherwise I wouldn't get one at all.

It's amazing what can happen in 10 or 20 years.  It's amazing what can be discovered, learned, built, healed, and released. I am so fortunate to have these wonderful people in my life that have helped me grow so much in just 10 years from the confused girl I was to the woman I am now.

I am filled with wonder and excitement for the future. In the next year I hope to release my chains of shame and weights of guilt. I want to become ever more authentically ME - Perfectly imperfect, but still worthy of my life.

I also hope I can get a few of these unfinished projects done, but really...what does a finished quilt really matter in comparison to being able to truly say and finally believe: I AM ENOUGH?

Here's to the future!

Leah Day

36 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday Leah! Thanks for giving so much back.

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  2. Hace mucho tiempo te sigo ,trabajas muy hermoso .Felicitaciones
    Abrazos

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  3. Bonjour Leah,

    Quel beau témoignage pour tes 30 ans.

    Happy birthday et que la vie t'apporte encore plus de joie et de bonheur.

    Dominique

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  4. Happy Birthday Leah - Embrace 30 it's awesome! I turn 59 in January and I come from a similar background, abused verbally & sexually and was told no one would ever love me.But I love life and myself more now than ever. It sounds like you are figuring it out. I just found your site yesterday and am in awe at your videos and how well teach and present yourself. Don't ever underestimate yourself - mistakes are our best teachers. Keep up the great work on your site!

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  5. Dear Leah!

    Happy Birthday and all the best all over the ocean! I love to read your thoughts, because they gifor me e me so much strength and thoughts for me to reflect myself. Thanks a lot!

    Rike

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  6. You are amazing. Wish I could send your post to all of those out there who need some encouragement! You are fearfully and wonderfully made!

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  7. Happy Birthday to a very talented young lady. You have been an inspiration to me and many others. You are enough and we all love you for it!

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  8. Happy birthday, Leah!! You're a generous person, giving so much of yourself in the quilting posts and in the more personal ones. You're doing great, the hardest thing is to believe it...

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  9. Leah, It is amazing to see you continue to grow into your own skin! I know the work you are doing to accomplish this is difficult and tiring, but, geeze! look at the rewards you are reaping. I am so glad that quilting is helping you along this path and you continue to share your life and your skills with all of us. Have a great new year ahead.

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  10. Happy Birthday Leah! Thanks for sharing your journey to 30 :) Also, your sharing of your talents is very much appreciated! :)

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  11. Happy Birthday, hoping your special day is great. A beautiful post!
    Have a great day.
    Always, Queenie

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  12. Happy birthday and thank you for sharing. Perfection should never be the goal... Growth is what life is all about and it sounds like you've been doing a lot of that. Keep going! :-)

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  13. Hugs! Happy Birthday! You are awesome!

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  14. Happy Birthday Leah. You are a treasure. I am "some" years older than you...lol...and had a similar childhood. I don't think all of our guilt every goes away...there are so many little things that can cause it to rear it's ugly head. I was feeling very guilty about WANTING to quilt everyday. Our business is in the home just like yours. But you know what, when I really acknowledged that quilting is GOOD and HEALTHY for me, I explained to my Honey and he said GO FOR IT! Laughing, I told him, Oh I'm going to, I just wanted you to know. Life is more happy and peaceful than ever around here. Thank you for teaching all of us so much. I think I can speak for all that follow your blog. You are amazing at what you do. The fact that you GIVE this to us...even more amazing and a testiment to the person you are.

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  15. Just wanted to say Happy Birthday, Leah, and THANK YOU for helping all of us with the Free Motion Quilting Project! I'm a new quilter and just starting to FMQ ~ your posts are going to be a blessing for people like me!

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  16. Happy Happy Milestone Birthday, Leah! Your words gave me a lump of emotion in my throat. I think many of us can relate to those feelings of inadequacy. You are an amazing young woman, your open heart, your generosity, your desire to teach, to share your passion, show such strength of character. Thank you for helping ME over these past 7 months with FMQ on my Avanté. Just think where you'll be in 30 more years!!

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  17. Happy Birthday! So glad you feel this way at 30, some never get there and others, like myself, are late bloomers. That feeling and confidence came, more or less, at 40!

    Enjoy it!

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  18. Leah...To you: A heart felt and honest Happy Birthday! Thank YOU for the gift. What you have written here today about what you are doing to expand your knowledge and what you are doing to improve your life has just helped me see something I hadn't. Thank you for your words and for the gifts you give us daily.

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  19. You are more than enough! Happy Birthday!

    I celebrated 40 this year so it's a big milestone for both of us :-)

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  20. Happy happy happy birthday from the deep south of New Zealand! Keep enjoying life; may you have many many years ahead of you to achieve all that you dream of! Best wishes, Jenny

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  21. I was reading your book today thinking how smart and good you are. :)
    Happy Birthday :) 30s are better than 20s :))

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  22. Love your post and a belated Happy Birthday. What I didn't see in your post is that you agonize what your next project will be. This is one of my "challenges". I surf, look at various pins and think of the fabrics in my stash and then try to contemplate what I could try next as I'm looking for something new and stimulating. See you're so far ahead of some others. You have to finish and I just have to start. I don't like to many UFOs in my cupboard. Yesterday was monogrammed towels (sorry not quilted) but a challenge as I'm a newbie at embroidery.

    Take care.

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  23. It is hard work to wrestle the demon of "not good enough". You are giving yourself and your family an amazing gift to work it out now.
    What a gift to all.
    Happy Birthday!

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  24. Happy Birthday...keep up with your wonderful work. Learn to love yourself..a journey that is not easy. Thank you for sharing. You make me rethink my own demons(myself)so I too can keep on moving forward.

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  25. Wow, Leah, what sad and beautiful sentiments. Happy birthday! You're too wise to be only 30! Hard to believe! I've recently started following your blog, as I've been quilting for years but never, until recently, tried fmq. I hope to learn a lot from you. Thank you! :)

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  26. Happy birthday! And thank you so much for sharing part of your personal story! I can relate to the things you spoke about so much. My childhood was quite different yet the way you describe the shame and things you feel are so spot on to my own feelings. I'll be 30 in March, hopefully I can start becoming more comfortable in my skin as well. And as a new quilter I love getting lessons where teachers explain their mistakes!! It's so incredibly helpful and gives us students confidence when we make that same mistake and are able to diagnose it! Keep up the good work :)

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  27. Happy Happy Birthday Leah! You are enough! You are amazing in every way! I will turn 48 next week and I still struggle with my childhood issues. I was told if abortion was possible, I would never have been born. They were wrong. My husband and family know better. Now I need to learn. Your honesty is giving me the courage to deal with my monsters. Thank you so much!

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  28. Most heartfelt Happy Birthday Leah! Enjoy your 30s.
    I am really sorry to hear that you had a really tough childhood. But you survived and have a wonderful loving family now. Yes, it must be hard to let go the past. But the more you think of the present, the memories of past will be replace by present loving and wonderful experiences.

    Enjoy your 30s. Its lot of fun!

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  29. Leah, you don't have to be perfect!! Do you think those of us who are reading your blogs are perfect? Heck no! We're reading your blog because you help us, you teach us new designs in FMQ. And we don't need you to be perfect. You inspire us to try new things with our own FMQ, and that's better than being perfect. Happy Birthday!

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  30. Hei Leah, gratulerer med dagen, that's the way we congratulate in Norway. And not only will I congratulate you with your 30st birthday, I want to congratulate you with this new birth. How good of you to share this her. I hope for a lot of good things and happiness in your live. Beste helsing, Eke

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  31. Happy Birthday Leah! I am so thankful to have found your site and for the work you do. I am also amazed at how empowered you are at 30 and how it encourages me to find myself...at 48. Keep up the great work!!!

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  32. Happy Birthday Leah, Thanks for your great Blog. Keep up all your beautiful work!

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  33. Leah, thank you for your posts! I appreciate everything. You are my go to for anything I want to learn with quilting. I also think you are more than enough. Even though I have never spoken with you, I feel you to be a friend. You are spectacular and really inspiring. I also turn 30 this month, and you have been talked about at my kitchen table, and the inspiration you have brought me to think about what i want for my dreams. I am glad you had a fantastic day

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  34. Dear Leah
    Thank you for sharing this heartwarming post with us. You are so talented, your quilting is so perfect, your generosity so amazing. I have learned so much from your blog and your books. My quilting is not perfect, but thanks to you it is far, far better than it used to be. At 30 you have achieved far more than other young people that age. Keep it up and have many, many more fantastic days like this one. Happy Birthday from a 60 year old quilter in Switzerland.

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  35. Leah, God Bless you! Oh and Happy Birthday too!. Thank you for sharing your story and struggles. I have had very similar struggles with feeling "not good enough..." I wish I had come out of it when I was 30. All the wasted time listening to that little sometimes very loud voice... I am good enough and so are you. I just recently found your site and so far I am loving it. Keep up the good work and remember, You are a beloved child of God and are precious in his sight.
    Eileen

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