The Free Motion Quilting Project: Am I Really Afraid?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Am I Really Afraid?

Fear is my four letter "f" word. I struggle with it, try to wrap my brain around it, have even made quilts about it.

I recently found this quote in the book I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj:
Desire is the memory of pleasure and fear is the memory of pain.
Both make the mind restless.
I like this quote because many times I have feared things that have never happened to be before (like a car accident), but it is the fear of the potential pain that scares the pants off me.

Just recently I had an interesting opportunity to overcome my fears. I received two emails, nearly back to back, filled with harsh words criticizing my videos and how I teach online.

If you had asked me a week before how I would have reacted to two attacking emails like this, I would likely have looked alarmed and felt totally gutted and afraid at the prospect.

But here's the interesting thing - when the messages came in and I read them, I barely reacted. I shrugged my shoulders with acceptance that I'm not perfect and I can't make everyone happy.

So in the abstract I felt very afraid of being sent mean messages, but in reality, it doesn't really phase me.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I've been testing this theory a lot lately. When I fear criticism, I write myself a completely over-the-top letter filled with harsh words. I read it and usually find it's pretty funny!

Don't get me wrong, it still hurts to be cut down particularly when it's a personal attack on how I look or talk, but I'm no longer curled in a quivering ball over it. I'd rather meet this kind of thing when it happens, but stop living in fear of negativity in the abstract.

So what are you afraid of? Is there any way to face the fear and challenge yourself to deal with the emotions that boil up from it?

The ultimate point - don't let your fears hold you back.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. The electronic world lets people say things they would never say in person.....I don't understand this mentality and never will. I was taught that if you didn't have anything kind to say, then keep quiet. You have been my inspiration for some time and I give you credit for getting me where I am today with free motion quilting. Keep up the good work...I appreciate all your hard work and talent.

  2. that is crazy. Why in the world would anyone write a letter like that to you? Boggles my mind.

    1. Hi Leah,

      Apologies if this is a repeat post. ...

      Love you blog and am looking forward to your cookbook.

      I think you might enjoy these blogs: Raptitude and Zen Habits, as they seem to align with the way you think.

      Kind regards,

  3. The hateful people writing emails come from a bad mindset. You know the type better than many with your childhood experiences. Some people simply seek to hurt others. I don't understand it. I'm glad you are shrugging about those people.

    The rest of us truly feel you rock! I was pondering just last night what I would do if I ever got to meet you and a couple of the other teacher - mentors I follow in my quilting education. My first thought was that I would burst into tears (thoroughly embarrassing myself). You opened my eyes and taught me I could do it - I CAN quilt with all my imperfections. You encouraged me to embrace my unique ideas. Thank you!

    1. I'm so touched and honored by your comment Heidi! Yes, imperfection is a fact of life, the trick is just not being too afraid of being embarrassed when we act as we feel like acting. I've had a few people get teary when meeting me for the first time and it's usually a good start to a great conversation!

  4. Been in your spot. Had a well known quilter tell me I was calling names and yet she had said the same thing a week before. You have to be like a duck and let the bad water roll off your back. I get bored with some of the bloggers repeating their trips all the time and not dealing with the subject at hand. Yes you add your husband and son to your blog and also your DIY projects. This is the normal side of you. Most of the time the hateful comments come from people who don't have your skills. They are jealous and negativity is the norm for them. Sorry you had to experience this, I know how it feels. Keep on stitching and sharing and they will go away. Chin up live is to short to worry about what others say. Chris

  5. I just gave a dear friend a quilt that I made. I almost didn't give it to her because she is a quilter and is quite a perfectionist- and I am not to her level. For a while I was embarrassed that my FMQ lines weren't straight. I thought that she would secretly be glad that I don't drink because I can't even quilt a straight line while sober! I realized that I was being too harsh about my style and my abilities. This is only my 3rd quilt to FMQ. I forgave myself and stopped fearing that she would hate it and knew that she would love it- imperfections and all. And I was right- she loves the quilt!
    Whenever I would 'mess up' your voice would go through my head. I'd hear "and that's okay, it's not the end of the world" and "do you want to be an experienced seam ripper or quilter?" and I'd trudge on! Thank you for sharing your knowledge with the world!

  6. Hi Leah! Don't feel bad - I'm afraid of more things than I can list :) I don't know if I'll ever be "cured" of them, but when I face up to a fear, I get to call myself BRAVE. I have heard that no one can make you feel . . . (fill in the blank) . . . I was told to remember that I am in control of my emotions and reactions - Some days that actually helps me.
    Take care!
    Pam P.

  7. Check out the four agreements book, the negatives in your emails say much more about them than you. Your videos and instructions are an inspiration to many of us.

  8. Thank you, Leah, for all your inspirations, classes, books, DVDs, etc. I LOVE what you do, seldom tell you so. There are all kinds of folks in this world - don't let a few unkind words change anything you do!!!!

  9. It has to be jealousy. There is no way anyone could say anything about you. You are beautiful, talented and very well educated. Thanks for sharing your craft with us. Keep the faith.

  10. Well I had a laugh, thinking someone out there is criticizing your free and totally awesome quilting teaching. I follow your blog because a quilting buddy told me - you HAVE to follow this blog, she is amazing. So glad you can shrug it off. It's a hard but useful lesson, or life tool to have in your arsenal. And it's always unbelievable when people behave that way. Sorry you experienced it and way to go on ignoring it.

  11. It's so sad that some people feel the need to cut other people down with harsh words and meanness. I always look at someone like that and wonder: why are they in so much pain? Their meanness is really just a reflection of themselves and has NOTHING to do with you. And if you can receive such energy and let it go, you have done everyone a great service by not passing on such behavior. That is hard to do!

    You have been such an inspiration to me. I found your site about 1 1/2 years ago. It was what encouraged me to even TRY free motion quilting. And bit by bit through practice and experimentation I truly feel I can now call myself a quilter. It has been through your generosity, cheerleading, and encouragement that I have really grown as an artist. Thank you so much!

  12. Wow, I can't believe people spend the time to write nasty emails. What does it get them? I want you to know that we appreciate all you contribute to the quilting world! Please continue ignoring the critical emails.

  13. I am so sorry to hear that you have received such trash, because that is what it is TRASH. Good on you for not letting it get a hold on you, brilliant. I struggle with FMQ but am getting there with your help, and I love your e mails and blog you are so generous and honest just carry on being yourself.

  14. I really don't understand why some people feel the need to be so cruel. I have been following you since you first started on your 365 journey. I am very proud of you for all of the contributions that you have made to the quilting community and your perseverance to continue to improve and come up with new ideas. You have devoted a lot of your time and money to free videos for all to enjoy and learn from. I can't imagine what criticism that person had, but I am sure that you are your worst critic. Try not to let things like that get you down. Sincerely, Pam

  15. You are right Leah, you should not be worried about your looks, you are fine! (I really love that your hair is shorter, it makes you so much younger). The amount of information you give in your videos makes me think about you all the time when I get to the free motion quilting part. Everyone appreciates your videos, and all the work you are doing, so don't let the haters stop you! They say it's just a way of reflecting their own crap on somebody else!

  16. Love your take on this and the confidence you exude.

  17. I love all your tutorials and the way you teach.You actually make me believe that I can learn FMQ and I have improved. Take no notice of the nay sayers, jealousy is an ugly thing. You rock.

  18. Hi Lea,

    I'm from Germany and regularly visit your blog. For me it is every time a joy when you relist something new to quilting and I can learn a lot by your instructions. For these helpful instructions I would like to say THANK YOU today and ... Carry On. I find your work great.



Help us create more quilting tutorials! Check out our quilt shop at