Blog Share

It’s common for bloggers to share the writing of others once in a while and I decided today to share a post written by my daughter on a most relevant subject.  She only posts once in a while, but I’m definitely not the only writer in the family 🙂  Please give her post a read through and check out her blog Unapologetically Kate.

Here is a share of her post from last night:

28 years and counting. Or, “you’re still single?!”

This morning, as I awoke and rolled over in my single bed all alone, it occurred to me that I will turn 29 in just under 5 months. And for the first time in my life, I kinda freaked out a bit about a birthday.

Single

Let’s backtrack a bit, shall we?

I had my life planned out. I was going to be married by 20, maybe 21. In fact, it was a standing joke among my friends that I would be the first one to be married. By 25, I would have two kids and be dreaming of a third. I’d be one half of a pair of young, cool parents.

Isn’t that what every young woman who came of age in the early 2000’s post-millenium Church, listening to the likes of Rebecca St. James (and others who will remain un-named) dreamt about?

In my early twenties (and I say that with a somewhat detached feeling of “how am I even referring to that in the past tense”), I could laugh it all off and, as I approached 25, it quickly got pushed back to a list of things I would do by the time I was 30. “Oh well, so life didn’t go quite as I had planned when I was 15. 25 is still young! I’m not even 30 yet!”

Slowly though, it began to eat away. One wedding invitation at a time.

Each one a reminder that another wedding season had come and I wasn’t the one mailing invites.

I like to say I’ve reached the “where did everyone go?” stage of single life. Trust me, it’s a thing.  It’s what happens after everyone else has returned from Niagara Falls, hung up the white dress in the back corner of the closet, ordered the best prints to enclose in the handmade thank you notes, and settled into a life of Mr. and Mrs. coffee mugs on lazy Sunday mornings.

The single friend just wakes up the next morning with smeared mascara, a slight headache, sore feet from dancing the night away, and the distinct feeling that there really is a biological clock and the ticking just got louder (but that could just be the headache from last night).

And life continues on as it always does.

It’s also at this stage that the unsolicited advice and comments from others starts to get more frequent and pointed. I don’t need to know that by my age, you had bought a house and you had 3 children. What am I to do with that information, add it to my list of failures? As if I’m not already aware of what I haven’t accomplished? And thanks, but telling me I may need to lower my standards if I ever want a relationship isn’t helpful advice. And who is anyone else to tell me my standards are too high? It would seem that in this day and age, the very fact that I have standards means they’re too high. If I’m not willing to swipe right, there must be something wrong with me. The fact that I’m attracted to a certain type of man (the type who is comfortable shopping at Harry Rosen…oy, those tailored suits…), and very un-attracted to other types makes me choosy. The fact that I crave long-term romance and so much more than the 3-date sex rule makes me prudish, not desperate enough, and means I may be single forever.

Well if not wanting to jump into bed means I’ll be single forever, then pass the Chardonnay and for God’s sake, get me a cat, because hell no, this girl is definitely not desperate enough.

But it’s not that I think about it all the time, either. You reach a point where you go through stages of loving the freedom that comes with single-ness, and stages where you want to murder every happy couple you see with a pillowcase full of bricks. One day happy to make spontaneous plans for the weekend without having to think of anyone else, the next longing for someone to cuddle with to share body heat when it feels like Antarctica outside your back door. Simultaneously embracing the abundance of alone time, while secretly longing for the Mr. and Mrs. coffee mugs on Sunday morning. Living life in the meantime, while having no idea what the future holds.

And that’s the problem, isn’t it? Having no freaking clue what the future holds. It’s terrifying.

What I do know is that in just a few short months, I will be 29. And that scares the shit out of me.

“I think we are going to have to love ourselves. F**k.”
-Liz Tuccillo

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Accept Your Limitations

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Readers will already know that I agree with Dr. Laura nine times out of ten.  But even if you don’t, there are some things that I believe are universally helpful, and something she talked about recently inspired me to share.

The original line she referred to was from a Dirty Harry movie in which Clint Eastwood said. “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

She talked about how we all have borders, so to speak, the edges that at the same time outline the area between things we really aren’t good at and things we excel at and show us our limits.

She gave the example of some people being built for effective sports competitions while others might train and work hard yet never be as good as another who is naturally gifted in that area.  She talked about accepting our limitations and not comparing ourselves to others, which leads to unhappiness and a lack of fulfillment.

I’ve heard these things before, but sometimes when one person puts it in a slightly different way, it’s more effective.  I liked the way she presented the idea of looking at our limitations as a way of determining how to get the most out of our lives in order to be happy.  Here’s a synopsis:

There are things we’re really good at

We should do them as well as we can and enjoy the fact that we’re good at them, without always wishing we were better or as good as another at doing them.

There are things we’re only so-so at doing

We should do them as well as we can without always wishing we were as good at them as we are at doing the things we’re really good at doing.

There are things we just suck at doing BUT …

If we enjoy the process or the activity, we should still do those things and enjoy the parts we can enjoy rather than never doing them just because we can’t be really good at doing them, or as good as someone else is at doing them.

I think most of us tend to avoid doing things we aren’t good at and focus on doing things we do well but spend our time wishing we were even better at doing them.  That’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for improvement along the way because that’s part of the journey and the enjoyment, as long as it still allows us the ENJOYMENT.  But if that constant striving somehow prevents us from actually enjoying where we are and what we’re doing, it’s an obstacle to our happiness, not a tool for our betterment.

This made me think of my own real life examples, how I spend my time, and how I see my limitations in my own mind.  The following activities aren’t the only things that could fit within my borders, but this is just a blog post, not a novel…

So, without trying to sound boastful, I’ll start with what  I’m good at, free motion quilting.

My quilting hobby has sort of taken on a life of its own.  I started out knowing nothing about it, found myself enjoying it, did what I could with what I knew, and then wanted more.  I ventured into different areas to see what I liked, tried some techniques and styles that I loved and some that I didn’t enjoy at all, and have found my niche in a vast world of quilting ideas.  I’ve learned many new things along the way from fabulous quilters and teachers and I admit that at first, I had trouble looking at my work without comparing it to theirs.  I wanted to be able to do what they do, the way they do it. Others would compliment me on what I was doing, but I was focussed on mistakes and imperfections, always wishing I could do something more.

Then I discovered that even though I admired various stitching patterns and could practice them and get them pretty much the way I wanted them to look, I didn’t necessarily enjoy doing them.  I found that others were turning out a little differently than the ideas I was trying to imitate but still looked lovely.  I think this is when I started to realize that we each have our own style of stitching and even if we’re trying something that we’ve seen someone else do, no matter how well we do it, it will still turn out differently because it will have our unique touch.  Quilting is very much about how our brain learns, interprets and executes our stitching.  Our hands are tools.

I’ve also discovered that working within my own abilities and limitations (aging eyes, shoulders/back/neck strain, table size etc.) is where I am now and whatever I can develop within that area is great, and there is always room for improvement within that limited area, but if I were to spend time dreaming of being able to do something that is outside those limitations it would stop me from enjoying what I do.  I could bemoan the fact that even what I am doing now causes me pain in various parts of my body and wish that I had learned at a younger age so that I could have perhaps done different things or be even better at it with more years of practice behind me, but why bother?  I’m enjoying it now, as it is 🙂

I’m not interested in becoming a famous quilter, or a designer or even a competitor.  I just love to quilt and some people buy my quilts and that’s great!  Yes, others who are well known and competing get higher prices for their quilts, but they are also in a place where I don’t think I would be comfortable, and a lot of time is spent traveling, teaching, writing books etc.  I just want to quilt 🙂

I’m not going to buy a bigger house to have a dedicated room for a long arm quilting machine that would allow me to make bigger quilts and not have to sandwich them on the floor (the biggest advantage I can see).  Yes, it would open up new possibilities perhaps, but my physical limitations would still come into play because I couldn’t stand all day at the machine (currently I use a sit down long arm) and there would be a large learning curve going from manipulating the fabric under the needle to manipulating the machine itself  along a track all over the stationary quilt, and while I’m sure with time I would learn, that is time I would have to take away from actually DOING what I now enjoy doing: quilting!  AND I have no need to make huge quilts; I’m happy making lap quilts/throws that accent homes and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time because I get bored quickly and am eager to move on to the next project.  So working within my limitations allows me to do what I love doing, using what I have available to me, whether it’s equipment or physical mobility.

I’m only so-so at photography.

I like the idea of taking great photos and I’ve often wished I could master a technical camera; I have a pretty decent one and I’ve taken a course to find out about all of the settings and features I could put to good use (didn’t complete it).  But I discovered that I really didn’t enjoy all the ins and outs of technical photography and am actually more interested in the photo editing side; I like working on the computer and I would like to learn more about photoshop so that when I take a basic picture I can have fun messing around with it.  But again, this is a so-so area for me.  Learning a program like photoshop takes time and perseverance and I’d rather be quilting.  But I still play with it once in a while when I want to make a poster or design a logo or a picture collage or make something look cool for my website.  I’m not intending to become a photoshop guru.  I don’t aspire to have a photography business.  And I’ve found that my new iPhone camera is pretty cool all on its own and there are classes even for that one so I can stay in an area of basic picture taking that satisfies my own curiosity and needs.  it doesn’t upset me at all that I’m not mastering the fancy camera sitting on my shelf; I can do a few neat things with it when I want to and that’s good enough.

I suck at sports.

I’ve never been athletic.  I remember being signed up for softball as a child because my dad took my brother to registration night and I was along for the ride.  My brother wanted to play ball and I think I must have asked to play because I was caught up in the moment.  I have vivid memories of being in the field and having the ball rolling on the ground towards me and trying to use the method the coach showed us for stopping a grounder.  I sucked at throwing the ball, so I hated it when the ball came to me and I was then responsible for getting it to the right person to complete a play.

My family golfed, and I eventually tried golfing because they were doing it all summer and when they weren’t golfing, they were talking about golfing, so I figured that if I wanted to be part of it I would have to go.  I hated it.  And I’m pretty sure they felt the same way about having me along because I hated being hot and having the sun on me, I hated the endless walking (in my case, back and forth across the fairway, in and out of the trees), the bugs, being lousy at hitting the ball, and I complained…a lot.  It has been suggested that I think of it as a nice walk in nature that happens to involve hitting a ball along the way.  I prefer to think of it as enduring torture because I get lunch at the end.  Over the years I’ve tried here and there and I still suck and I hate it (although I did go once with a friend and hit some good shots, but the enjoyment was the friend time, not the golfing!). I might get a bit better at it if I really worked hard, but I don’t care.

However, as Dr. Laura suggests, we still shouldn’t completely avoid things we aren’t good at if there is some enjoyment in it for us.  We just need to focus on the part we like and allow ourselves to have that without being upset that we suck.  So I’m perfectly willing to meet people at the nineteenth hole for a yummy lunch and a visit!  I will play a game of soccer with a fun group of people just for fun, and I wouldn’t even mind playing baseball with no pressure because having fun with people you enjoy being around is a good thing.  I will never be an Olympian and I’m OK with that.

I also agree with what Dr. Laura said about a lot of this understanding coming with age and life experience.  But she also hopes that younger people might listen and learn so that they can get there sooner than many of us did.  I hope so too 🙂

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(If you want to see an inspiring example of what happens when people embrace their limitations and work within them, check out this video on youtube that I came across just this morning.)

 

 

Money Business

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I like to imagine just for fun what I would do with a huge lottery prize.  I remember being a teenager when the 6/49 first went to a large amount – $11 million – which was a shock to many.  My dad, being the practical planner, got us talking about how we would handle winning that much money all at once and pointed out some very important factors to consider.  It was fun to dream about it, but also a good learning experience because since then I’ve always had a plan.  Sometimes the plan is updated or tweaked, but there is always a plan.  I’ve heard of too many people winning large sums of money and having their lives ruined because of it and based on my personality, my upbringing, and my general perspective on money, I think having a good solid plan in mind will save me from falling off the cliff should the occasion ever arise that I find myself holding a winning ticket.

I rarely buy tickets, because I figure that if God wants me to be rich, he only needs one ticket, right?  It’s not like he’s sitting up there thinking, “I’d really like Ann to win the lottery this week but she just isn’t paying attention.” No, he’s God, so if he really really wants to give it to me, he will use one of the rare occasions on which I actually take a chance.

Last week the Lotto Max went to $60 million and I bought a ticket.  Nobody won the big prize so it’s now carried over for this coming Friday.  While driving with my daughter on the weekend we had one of our fun “what would be do if we won?” conversations.  It helps with the plan.  And basically, what I discover time and again is that I don’t have a list of things I want.  I have a list of things I want to do.  For other people.  As anonymously as possible.

And then we moved into another part of the discussion, which is what prompted this post:

THERE ARE EXPECTATIONS WHEN YOU HAVE MONEY.

Now first off, I do believe that those who are blessed with wealth are meant to share with others to make the world better and that having money is not just about being rich and doing whatever you want.  We live in communities; we help each other and sharing is as good for the giver as it is for the receiver.

BUT …

There seems to be a lot of fuss the past while (and maybe it isn’t just the recent past, but I’ve only been seeing it regularly in the past while) whenever a person of wealth donates money to a particular cause, gives freely to certain people, or uses their money to do something beautiful that enhances a community.  Some people jump all over them with questions about why they didn’t instead do this, or that, or give the money to this group, or that group, etc. etc. etc. with no thought for the fact that this rich person is probably doing lots of things no one knows about and people should mind their own business.

IT REALLY BUGS ME.

I remember when a lady walked into Toys R Us in Edmonton at Christmas time and paid off every layaway account, anonymously, as a gesture of good will.  The criticisms came immediately in the media: why wouldn’t she instead help homeless people …

I remember a story about a man who bought a historical mansion to fix it up and bring it back to life and instead of people appreciating the effort and the restoration of beauty which is often lost on this generation, they jumped on him for using his money there instead of giving it to charity…

When our country started accepting refugees and a Church group got together to raise money to help support some of them as a project of their own, they were criticized because money was being given to outsiders and not to veterans, or other local charities …

I’ve heard local gossip when others have won money but public gifts haven’t been seen or heard about …

It’s obvious that in our society, with all its social media and quick reactions to everything, NO MATTER WHAT GOOD YOU TRY TO DO, SOMEONE WILL SAY YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING ELSE, and they’ll assume you aren’t already doing it.

The conversation with my daughter was filled with great ideas of personally lifting up other people by sharing our money in unique and private ways.  It made me feel great just thinking about it, never mind how I would feel if I could actually do it.  But it wouldn’t be good enough.  Once the word got out that we had won there would be expectations and, because we would prefer to help people anonymously, others wouldn’t know what we were doing and we would be criticized for not donating to this or that community effort – even though people would have no idea whether or not we did it.  Sixty million is a lot of money and unless our picture showed up in the paper presenting a big fake cardboard cheque to some group leader, many people would assume we gave nothing.  And that’s pretty sad.

*This is no judgment on anyone whose picture does appear in the paper presenting money, because there is a time and a place for that, and often businesses need to have this publicity for reasons other than mere recognition.  Those who want to do it should be free to do it.  But the fact that a picture doesn’t appear is no indication of a lack of action.

As a side note, when our family was hit with the tragedy of my husband’s accident, donations came to us from so many people, most of whom we are not aware.  There is no way for me to know who or how many people put money into the trust account that was set up for us to help with our immediate and ongoing expenses incurred while trying to cope with the shock.  Many donations came directly to me; many more were directed through the account with no names.  I still walk down the street and have no idea if the person I am walking past was someone who helped me.  And I don’t need to know because in my mind the community helped me.  Yes, there were other causes.  Yes, there were others who were worse off than I was.  And yes, I believe that the people who generously gave to our family, also gave to others because they are GENEROUS.  I don’t need to know when, where, or how they give.  It’s not my business.

Why can’t people just look at an act of generosity and be thankful that it happened?  Why can’t they assume that if a person cares that much they are most likely doing other good things too?  Everyone has their “pet” cause (and no, just for the record, I’m not donating a bunch of money to PETA). We’re all different and different things speak to our hearts.  We have life experiences and insights and compassion and we’re each led in different directions by these things.  Where and how this leads us to share our money is our own business and no one else’s.

Our conversation left us satisfied with our own ideas and plans should we ever hold a winning ticket, and at the same time wondering if the best thing to do would be to move away to a place where we are not known, a place where we could share our money as we please, in private, without anyone expecting anything or asking questions.

I still think my dad’s plan was a good one: go claim the prize, deposit the cheque in a branch of your bank where no one knows you, get on a plane and go somewhere for a while to think and plan so that when you get home, you’re ready.  In this day and age, you can’t stop people from knowing you won but you CAN keep them guessing!

 

 

 

 

Rites of Spring

I chose that title for this post because it reminds me of an episode of the Golden Girls – a favourite TV show of mine – that focussed on all the ways they had tried to lose weight, exercise, make changes in their lives on various occasions.  It was kind of a mixed up episode with a few different scenes, and that’s pretty much how I’m feeling these days.

In just over a week it will be one year since I lost my husband and as I approach that date I continue to have flashbacks that are terribly painful as well as memories that surface and make me smile.  Where this year has gone I don’t know but it has passed and now I’m here at this place, still surviving.

With that, I prepare for another change to come in only a few days when my daughter begins the move into her own apartment and my nest will be empty.  I’m happy for her as she plans how she will set up her own place and we’re shopping for cool things, making lists, going through cupboards and getting her ready for the next adventure in her life.  I remember the fun that was for me and I share her excitement.  But of course, usually when a mother’s nest empties, she still has a spouse to share her life with. So once again I’m reminded of how things are backwards for me, and the typical sadness I would likely feel is compounded by my loneliness for Pat at a time when we would normally be sharing a new stage in our own lives.

But starting out with the Golden Girls reference means that I have to move into a happy place in this post!  Anything less wouldn’t be fitting 🙂  So I decided to share my new adventure:  I’ve taken the step (leap?) into custom quilting.  I’ve been thinking about it for a while but wanted to make sure I had enough of a variety of skills at my disposal before I put myself out there.  I’ve been selling some quilts and getting questions about custom work, so I did some research and got my website set up, started advertising on a small scale, and we’ll see what happens from here.  If it flies, great, and if it doesn’t that’s OK too.  I’m open and I’m enjoying what I’m doing so – as I’ve grown accustomed to doing – I’ll take it one day at a time.

I guess these changes will be my rites of spring since our winter has been so mild that it has felt like spring here for weeks already.  I’m not going to the gym with the Golden Girls, but I have been getting exercise reorganizing and updating my craft room 🙂  I’m also planning to start taking some online quilting classes and a Photoshop course, both of which I can do in my pyjamas while enjoying my morning tea.  I’m always up early, so after studying there’s still plenty of time for quilting!

If you’d like to check out my website, you can find it here: Ann Walsh Quilting

It also has a “follow” option if you’re so inclined.  I will post some projects along the way in addition to the quilts I have available for sale.