a peek into my progress . . . the blocks are all sewn and i am now in the process of hand sewing them into their rows and the rows into the center section of the quilt. i have remained remarkably true to my initial vision and am quite satisfied. once the center is finished, i'll add a skinny (red) border and then it will be time to hand quilt it. that's my favorite part~!~
Carolyn asked me if this was a "slow cloth" and when i read her question i had to laugh because i live a slow life in general so yep, it must be~!~ Carolyns comment lead me (happily) back to her own blog and i discovered the term "slow cloth" once again . . . imagine Carolyn being thought of as slow at anything~!?!~ one of the reasons that i enjoy her blog so much is that there is always so much going on . . . so much to see . . . so much to LOVE~!!~ and her "slow cloth" piece was pictured in progress and it's no exception; it's bold, it's red, it's beautiful AND, apparently, it's "slow cloth" ~!~
so once again i was left pondering just what this term "slow cloth" was about . . . and via this link and that link and a brief google search i discovered Elaine of Red Thread Studio: www.lainie.typepad.com/redthread/ This is an intriguing term and she's given it a lot of thought and some definition within her blog. i will let you go and discover it if you're interested but in a very small nutshell it is the idea that one works through an art process with a lot of attention to the process itself, the history of the process and the joy found within that process and less attention to the finished product. it seems like such an obvious thing: enjoying the creative moment but it's amazingly easy to become caught up in achievement in art simply for the sake of the finished work. i am constantly raking myself over the coals about what must be done in any given day and what isn't crossed off of that (long) list is ammunition i use against myself to consider my self worth less.
i used to be this busy, productive person who could do pretty much anything that i concentrated on trying to do. very energetic and very motivated. but even when i was at my peak (so to speak) i found that i would get through my art pieces in a relatively slow manner . . . allowing one process to influence the next. sounds good doesn't it? the problem was (and still is) that i didn't think that was good enough. i was constantly comparing myself to others who seemingly finished so much more than i did. i see now that i almost had it right . . . it just might be okay to work in this way and it's okay if that happens to mean less measurable progress.
i know, i'm ranting . . . still trying to piece it all together and feeling like i almost have it figured out . . . the "zen" of practicing art . . .
all of this thinking has brought to mind a book that i've had for quite some time called "Wherever You Go There You Are" by Jon Kabat-Zinn. i dug it out and have begun to re-read it.
this a.m. i read: "Fundamentally, mindfulness is a simple concept. Its power lies in its practice and its applications. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present-moment reality. It wakes us up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments. If we are not fully present for many of those moments , we may not only miss what is most valuable in our lives but also fail to realize the richness and the depth of our possibilities for growth and transformation."
before i retired i was feeling completely overwhelmed. i was angry and less capable of doing what i needed to do with every passing day. so i pursued and was given the gift of an early retirement. i looked forward to being able to take better care of myself and yes, enjoying each moment that i could more fully. i'm surprised to be discovering that in some ways i've become much less satisfied with life in general and with myself in particular. how in the world could this possibly happen when i'm given each day with the only real agenda being self care~!?!~ if i take things easy and rest as much as i should then i feel lazy and unproductive but if i add many things to my to-do lists i feel sick and sicker . . . quite the nasty cycle.
one of the suggested exercises within the beginning of this book is to just "stop": to simply be a witness to a given moment (or more if you can). JUST a witness, nothing more. "Die to having to have anything be different in this moment; in your mind and in your heart, give yourself permission to allow this moment to be exactly as it is, and allow yourself to be exactly as you are." i'll tell you that it's a lot harder than it sounds~!~
. . . the "zen" of practicing life . . .
i'll also tell you that Gracie thinks she has a thing or two to teach me about this whole process. she is a regular practitioner of this mindful moment stuff . . . the "zen" of being a cat . . .