The Free Motion Quilting Project: Permission to Have Fun, Responsibility for Happiness

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Permission to Have Fun, Responsibility for Happiness

Yes, it's Easter weekend and I am officially giving myself permission to have fun!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I often struggle with this particular holiday, and yep, today I'm going to explain the full 9 yards of why this holiday and I have issues and how I aim to fix it this year. It's kind of personal so if you're not into hearing about my silly dysfunctional childhood family today, definitely go check out my other posts on Express Your Love.

Yes, my issues with Easter stem from my childhood. My mother would go overboard every Easter with giant baskets, creative scavenger hunt, and, when we were really small, even new cute white dresses for me and my sisters.

Unfortunately as we got older, this holiday became more and more chaotic, more and more guilt and resentment attached to every action or reaction until it felt like I was wading into a mine field as I searched for those stupid chocolate filled eggs.

The last Easter my old family was fully together, James was just six weeks old, I was at an all time hormonal high and just on the crashing point of PPD, so very, very sensitive. I was hoping that Easter would be a fun memory, but it was unfortunately one of the worst.

That holiday included not only tears, but also a massive argument between my oldest sister and I devolving into a "go f*ck yourself" sort of fight that left everyone angry, resentful, and in no desire to ever get together for that holiday again. And we never did. That was the last Easter my family was ever together.

So, it's understandable that I have issues with Easter. For the last five years I've tried to ignore Easter. I wished it would go away. I wished everyone would just stop making such a big deal about this holiday. Do we HAVE to hunt eggs? Do we HAVE to make a basket? Can I not just stick my head under my pillow and let this whole holiday blow over?

Digging into my feelings about it, I mostly feel that to get into it, to go over-the-top, and make it really FUN would be to risk being like my mother.

I would make a giant mess, I would whine for help to clean it up, I would make everyone in the house suffer for what I had ultimately decided to do. Instead of fun, I would be tired and pissed off and feel unappreciated through the whole thing, which would ultimately make everyone feel edgy and unsure of what to say or do. Not fun at all.

That is, after all, what I saw and heard from my mother every single year.

But this year has already been all about learning new habits and moving towards happiness with a single minded, focused intention and expressing my love as openly and honestly as I possibly can.

I'm ready for these Easter scars on my heart to heal and disappear. I'm ready to like Easter again, but more importantly, to DO IT RIGHT.

I want to go overboard! I want to make everyone a special basket! I want to have the Easter party James described with balloons and streamers and party hats and special cookies! I want to give in to Easter and put on a show that we all remember happily for the whole year.

But through it all, I WANT TO HAVE FUN! I don't want this to be torture! I want this to be an awesome experience!

It's just so great that I've read the Happiness Project two times now and I know that creating a really happy experience takes 4 steps:

1. Anticipate - James and I have planned our party together and I even pulled out a cookie mix we're going to make together. We've talked about it every day - what we're going to do, how it's going to go, what to expect through each part of our Easter party. Anticipating and planning it together has been tons of fun because we've allowed our imagination to build up the experience as super fun and exciting.

2. Savor - Yesterday we painted magnets together to go in the Easter baskets. This could easily have been a "grind it out" sort of experience where I rush James through the project and feel irritated at the lack of perfection of his painting. Instead we took the painting kits outside for another picnic in the front yard and managed to paint most of the projects before coming in for dinner.

3. Express - At the party itself, we need to express our happiness often. It's easy to get into a mode of hostess and forget to stop for a hug and a reminder of "I'm having so much fun!" but this is an important step. James often stops us in the middle of a meal with an announcement of "This is a wonderful dinner so let's give ourselves a hand!" Experiencing the full joy of clapping and cheering for other women at Sew South made me realize just how important expressing happiness is for the moment itself.

4. Recall - We need to take loads of photos of this party, the egg hunt, the basket hunt so we can recall this great day. Having happy memories to recall of a solidly good Easter will help blot out all the other less-savory holidays.

Does all this seem like a lot of work? Yeah, but it's been fun, real, true, solid fun because I DECIDED to have fun with it every step of the way.

So much of life, I'm finding, is about attitude and perspective. I can be heavy and tired and dragged down by the long list of things to do to prepare, or I can be excited and enthusiastic and ready to have fun.

More and more I'm learning that this is a responsibility. I am responsible for my own happiness. No one can do it for me, but by choosing to be happy, I can make the people I love the most happier as well.

Following the Happiness Project has taught me that I LIKE to go overboard. I want to make a party with balloons and streamers and Easter baskets for everyone. I want to take loads of pictures and clap and cheer and smile my face off.

And ultimately what I'm learning this year is a simple fact I probably knew all along: good does not have to come with bad.

But in order to have 100% good time, you have to CHOOSE it and work for it. Doing something to make yourself happier will not always make you FEEL happy at the time.

Painting in the sun yesterday, I got both hungry and tired and when we came in, I began to channel my mother a bit when it came to cleaning up the house. I began to snapping and even yelling when James kept jumping on the couch as I tried to move it.

Waking up this morning, I realized I need a reminder to stay light, to stay focused on fun, and to make sure I remembered the price of negativity before I made a wrong choice. It is a responsibility, my happiness, my family's happiness, that I must not take for granted. So I made this funny label:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

It reads "Certified SAFE! No Babies Cried in the Creation of this Easter Basket. ~ guaranteed by mgmt. Leah Day"

Making this label took only a few minutes, but every time I look at it, I smile. It's a gentle reminder to myself to be nice - that whatever I'm doing it's not worth the tears of my family.

So with that in mind, I made another one for dinner:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I might end up making labels for every holiday or event in the year!

Now when it comes to holidays, another key of happiness I've just learned is flexibility. James went to bed with a snotty nose and we all woke up this morning feeling under the weather.

No party will be fun while we have a cold, and our family won't appreciate getting sick, so we've decided to postpone our Easter for next week. Because James and I have anticipated this event so much, another week of planning will only make it that much more fun.

It might even give me a chance to sew up a new dress or skirt for the occasion!

So that is my resolution for this year. I'm giving myself permission to have fun, and I'm taking on the responsibility for my happiness on this special day. Here's to a very Happy Easter!

Let's go have fun,

Leah Day


  1. Sounds like a great plan, i'm sure you and your family will have a wonderful time. You won't just enjoy the day - you'll always have the memories, and so will your family.
    Have fun, happy easter.

  2. Great post Leah, Good for you for looking to the positive and channeling happiness in what you are doing. Life can get so busy and overwhelming for us all. We have to slow down and savor every moment we can especially with our sweet little ones :)

  3. I love this post! I am a big believer that we all must take responsibility for our own happiness, and that no one else can do it for us. It sounds like you're well on your way to having a happy Easter! :)

  4. I have some issues with holiday stresses, and I find I can avoid channeling my mom if I choose to do what I *want* and not what I *should* do. I think it is a huge step for you to be able to reschedule your party- doing what is right for you and your family, not just what some mean inner voice is saying you *should* do.

  5. I love how you are not afraid to "tell it like it is". Good for you! Have a wonderful Easter party, it will be more fun when no one is sick.

  6. HI Leah.....Happy end of March, 2013!!! Many of your posts resonate with me.....I'm glad you're pulling past the pain and making it a positive experience. At 60, I'm not quite there yet....but......
    Oh well...whoever said their family put the FUN in dysFUNctional sure wasn't talking about mine. Isn't it amazing the scars we carry into adulthood? If only I'd known as I child I didn't have to "put up with" some of the crap that came my way...I just didn't know then. But on a positive note I appreciate you letting us in and giving us the opportunity to heal and deal with stuff ourselves. fmq is getting soooooo much better! Big Hug, Leah.

  7. You've got it under control!!! It is a lot of work...but I still have memories of our easter basket(s) and the baskets I would make for my kids. Just what we mothers glad you have your arms and heart wrapped around this event! ENJOY!

  8. My childhood was a pretty crappy one and I really appreciate when you choose to share that side of your life with us! I hope you have a fantasic Easter

  9. How wonderful that you can own your own piece of the dysfunction and now move on to a better place. Blessings!

  10. I think many people have issues with holidays, and there are always TV families and Martha Stewart to show us a false perfection. I appreciate your sharing of the process of creating happiness, and there are lessons here that I will apply to my life. Thanks!

  11. Leah, enjoy the Easter holiday by doing whatever makes you happy! I've got some baggage leftover from my family too. We're grown ups now and can do whatever we feel like! Have fun and enjoy it your own way!!

  12. Love your outlook Leah. Hope y'all feel much better soon. And yes, a round of applause for happy choices!

  13. I am simply going to say..."YOU GO GIRL!!" I completely understand every word of what you wrote. It's so nice to read a 'not so perfect' story in the quilty blog world. It helps us all grow, so kudos to you and have one heck of a crazy fun Easter!!

  14. Hope you all are feeling better already, Leah! I can relate to so many of your family issues you share from time to time it's not even funny. I'm glad you found a way to work around them, I'm sure James will thank you later! Have a wonderful Easter next week, I'm sure it'll turn out even more fun than you anticipated!

  15. Best wishes for a joy-filled Easter, Leah. Your openness and honesty about the challenge you've faced with your family and desire to overcome it is beautiful and inspiring.

  16. Big hand for opening up and sharing your consciousness raising with us, families can so easily repeat nu-constructive patterns of previous generations: it takes a brave heart to identify it and a big voice to say 'I'm changing it'. Hugs xx

  17. Another person who is up in years, 60. this is always an evolving process. Just remember next year you don't have to try and top this year, it is always okay to take a step back. What I am finding is my family is changing, my parents are elderly and we have to accomodate that. So, we are celebrating over three weekends. Last weekend was with the Grandchildren, this weekend is with my parents and next weekend my husband and I are planning a special meal and Spring celebration. This is making me not feel so crazy.

  18. Leah, I marvel at the growth I've seen in you through your blog posts this year. Keep up the good work while making new happy traditions for your family and breaking those old manipulative habits you grew up with (me too - had to stop and think before doing "what mom always did." Permission to have fun granted [by you] for everyone in your current family.

  19. Leah, I'm so,happy for you to be able to recognize old bad habits or things that just did not make you happy and trying to change how you make memories. We all try our best and do what we think is the right thing for our kids, but sometime it just doesn't come out that way. If you can keep telling yourself to relax and have fun, you'll do great and everyone will be happier. Hope you and your family are feeling better. Have a great Easter party next weekend!

  20. Great post. I was that slamming, banging over stressed mother for the first part of my kids growing up. Then someone told me. "it is better to have a can of soup served with love and a smile and hug rather that a four course dinner where you are serving with anger and resentment that no one noticed all of the hard work you did. That statement helped me have a new perspective. What is done in joy will create the kind of atmosphere and memories that you desire. Not about the doing but the loving.Glad for you that you have that going on in your house at this stage of your life!

  21. I loved this post! How apt to experience such a renewal, at Easter! I know you guys will have a fantastic Easter party next week. :o)

  22. A lot of what you wrote here resonated with me-- I'm also trying to redefine holidays in a less stress centered way, and I think your approach is great. Hope next week's Easter is a blast!

  23. Oh, Gramma Quilter, such an inspiring message! Leah, your children are simply adorable. No family is without their challenges. Every challenge, whether it be with relationships or our general ever evolving perspective through the years , returns time and again until we figure it out. Life lessons. It takes some a lifetime to figure out the elements to a content and balanced journey in this world. The world is what you make it to be. Your world is nicely coming together. Gosh, with all that you do, I applaud the way you are taking on your lifestyle adjustments to allow everyone in your world to breathe in the love and time you give of yourself.


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