The Free Motion Quilting Project: Getting Back to Hot Cast

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Getting Back to Hot Cast

I haven't posted much about Hot Cast in the last few weeks.

free motion quilting | Leah DayIn biological terms, I've been letting her gestate.

It's funny I use that word because for the last 2 months I've really been wanting to nest - to curl up in a room with pretty fabric, beautiful thread, and inspiring books, exactly the same way I felt when I was pregnant with James.

Before you run off thinking I'm knocked up, I can guarantee this is not that kind of nesting.

But it is nesting in another sense. It is a moment of peace and silence. It is a moment of slow growth and minimal movement.

While little has changed, I've been slowly working through some deep issues that embody this quilt. Most specifically my issues with anger and with self love.

To start, let me explain that the initial design of Hot Cast was exactly that: hot, angry, molten, and constantly changing. My mood swings during the design process of this quilt were incredible. Happy go lucky one minute to raving rage-filled lunatic the next.

The anger was a by product of Sinkhole. The last words I stitched on that quilt were "I am enough. My love for myself can move mountains. I do not need your approval to be happy or free."

Since stitching them, I've been trying to live these words every day. The last line were words particularly directed to my mother, the person that instilled inside of me a deep well of rage and anger.

She taught me to be angry over almost nothing, but to express it only when the fire reached the boiling point. She taught me that it's wrong to speak my mind and express how I feel, unless of course it's in a constant drone of angry nagging to everyone around me.

Having grown up to constant nagging, I refuse to do it myself as an adult. That used to leave only two outlets for my anger: 1. seethe in fury 2. blow up and destroy everything.

Over the last few weeks, I've slowly hand appliqued the hair of Hot Cast, and I've tried to learn a more positive way to express anger.

More than anything else, I've learned that many things I used to get angry and overreact about were not just out of my control, but out of everyone's control.

A great example is a trip Josh and I took to Hendersonville, NC on Friday. We had a great time, but James ended up in a constant coughing fit all night long so none of us got any sleep.

Even a month ago, I would have gotten up on Saturday in a towering rage, ready to smite all who I perceived responsible for the situation. I could see that this was an avenue my anger was used to taking, but it no longer made any sense.

It certainly wasn't mine or Josh's fault James caught a cold and coughed all night . It wasn't even James's fault as he probably caught it from some snotty nosed kid in preschool!

So I now see the edge of my anger. I see the road I used to turn down, but I no longer take it.

It's not a monumental change, but it is a change nonetheless.

Hot Cast has also challenged me to love myself in a way I never have before. In this simplest terms I'm learning how to be good to myself.

Being good and kind to myself isn't easy. I can be a real slave driver. I like to see a lot accomplished and I get really annoyed with my body if I'm too tired or sick or stressed out to accomplish it. A good chunk of my self worth comes from what gets done and if nothing is getting done, I usually feel like total crap.

So I've had to not only redefine how I love myself, but also how I find a sense of self worth.

Building self worth off of accomplishments works to a degree, but it's ultimately a castle built on sand because when you can't work, you can't finish anything, and then you just feel like crap.

I think this is the area I will focus on more as I continue with Hot Cast. Figuring out how to take that love in my heart, nurture it, grow it, and stretch it out, so even when I've got a migraine or a head cold and I just can't work on anything that day, I still feel okay.

I know I'm already working on this because I find myself saying a few words over and over:

Be gentle. Soften those lines. (the tension in my face). I am enough. Go rest.

So on that note, I'm off to rest and be gentle with myself today. I've been running through a cycle of extreme headaches this week and the only fix has been to chill out in a dark room for a few hours. I'd hoped to get more done today, but it's just not happening when my head feels like it's going to explode.

To softening and accepting what the day brings,

Leah Day


  1. Girl, I feel you. Completely in the metaphysical sense and a mother sense. For me, the word I want to reach down to the depths of my soul is CALM. I have anger, rage and a great deal of remorse for what I put those I love through. You are not alone.

    As for the headaches, go see a doctor, those sound like migraines especially if you can't get them to go away without absence of all senses - dark and quiet. Last year, I had multiple bouts 22, 27, and 26 days a piece. Drs start to freak out after day 4. Four days of headaches see a doctor. Feel better.

  2. It's difficult for people who are work-oriented to see that they would still have value even if they did nothing. I had to come to terms with this when I was considering becoming an "older mother," knowing that the odds of genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome increase with the mother's age. I gradually came to see that even with a serious disability that limits self-actualization, every human is hugely valued by God. (That had a lot to do with my becoming a special education teacher.) Life is not merely about doing, and contrary to what I was taught in school, "to be" is an active verb. Sometimes our journey to that recognition can be a difficult one--but it makes arriving there an even greater blessing.

  3. I know what you mean about feeling like crap if you don't get done what you wanted to accomplish. It's the story of my life! Every day I feel like crap, because I need about 6 more hours in a day to even hope to keep up with everything. I struggle with it. Good luck to you. I hope your headaches subside and agree with Jenny. If you haven't seen a doctor, it's well worth considering doing so.

  4. I love that you are using your art as your therapy to work through all of these things! It is very inspiring to me. Thank you for sharing what is bound to be a difficult process.

  5. Really lovely post, Leah. You might enjoy this cartoon about unconditional self-love.

  6. After reading several books on God's unconditional love and grace, I started praying that I would try my best to show every human being more love and grace. That worked well, then last week it hit me that I never considered giving myself unconditional love and grace. If I don't give freely to myself I won't feel like giving it to others. I vowed to be nicer to me. Take care.

  7. You have a very generous soul, thank you for sharing your thoughts and skills with us.


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