Monday, December 5, 2016

You're Worth It!

The next emotion that I want to discuss that stops some from starting their piece is the fear of not finishing the project.  Actually it is more complex than that, it is the fear of having someone else imply that you are wasting money if you haven't finished.  Today I was talking to someone and I called it the Embroiderer's Guild equivalent of Catholic Guilt.

Yes, there is enormous pressure that we let others put on us to finish - that the output of anything that we women do is supposed to be a tangible object.  For some reason, we are not allowed to just enjoy ourselves.  You are hearing the voices in your head right now - yours, your friends, your mother's - all justifying something they want to have or enjoy with all kinds of complex arguments as if just enjoying yourself is evil.

I have heard it and so have you.  Sometimes out of my own mouth. "I will take this seminar class because I am going to use it as a Christmas gift".  Have you ever heard any gentleman protest that he is going fishing to catch a birthday gift for Grandma?  No, he is going to relax and enjoy himself by sitting in a boat for hours knowing it is likely to end in nothing, perhaps with a friend and a cooler.  It is time to be honest with ourselves, we don't spend hundreds of hours on a project because we only wanted the end product.  We love the PROCESS.  That is where we get all our joy.  It is rhythmic and progress at the end of a hard day of never-ending picking up after kids.  It is the love of colors and tactile pleasure.  It is using a guild meeting to get out of the house and have female friends and getting to see the cute things they have made.  And as you are stretching yourself to design, it is the excuse to read that book on renaissance history and go to the museum exhibit and sit on NING and converse with people all over the world and take another class to 'polish your skills' for the project.  And maybe start to watch auctions for examples to look at (and maybe buy).

If we had just wanted the end product - we would have found a way to buy it or something similar.  How many of us make quilts when we can have something similar from China or a lovely piece the Amish have made.  I can go to an antique faire and buy a really amazing antique quilt for around $500 instead of spending 10 times that much on my stash of reproduction fabrics.  (again that voice in my head says something like 'well we can use the quilts I make' to justify that lopsided monetary argument).  Sorry, the real reason is I LOVE fabric and playing with the colors.  The end product is the EXCUSE for all the stuff in-between that gives us joy.

So start to take the joy and make that the point.  Start with the thought that this will not be your only casket and just start for the fun of it, that nothing you do that gives you joy wastes money and damn it - you are worth it!  (Tell the whispers in your ear that Tricia said so!)

I have gotten so many emails from students who have admitted they haven't started and maybe never will, but they are so enjoying the journey.  That makes me happy as they have gotten to nirvana.  They are no longer fretting - but living inside their passion.  In fact, sadly we have had more than a handful of fellow students who took the class knowing they would not make it to the last lesson but who conversed with me and you all - wanting to drink as much beauty and photos of their passions while they underwent treatments they weren't sure would help.  I would cry when a husband or sister would email me and let me know the fight was over but that they had enjoyed being with us virtually when they no longer could stitch.

So yes, perhaps if you start your casket you might never finish it.  Your sides will grace your walls or the walls of your family - just make sure that the memories behind all of those pieces are happy memories of the journey you allowed yourself to take through every bit of research, every picture you looked at for inspiration, the get-togethers you had, the chatting on NING with someone so far away who was a soul mate and who understood your passion and the threads you stroked and stitched and ripped out.  Don't make it a guilt object of shame that you didn't finish it.  I am thinking of attaching a note to a box of samplers that I have never framed so my sons can find it after I am gone.

Dear boys - don't look at this pile of finished work and think of it as wasted time and for some sad, pathetic reason were never framed.  Not a bit of it was regretted.  It wasn't the finished piece that I needed at the time, it was the process and the rhythm and the comfort.  Each time I pull out the box I say to myself - oh look at these old friends!  They helped me through so many times.  Happy times and trying times.  This one helped me get through my PhD dissertation writing.  This one was in my hands as I fretted during your birth, helping to lower my blood pressure in the hospital and this one kept me busy as you were in the Nic-U.  This piece was worked on my first trip to Europe on the endless and amazing train rides.  This was an experiment in green linen.  Here I was obsessed with learning to use metallic Kreinik threads as a teen.  This was a seminar piece where I met lifelong friends.  Please look at them with those eyes, and then find someone for whom they give joy and pass on the old friends.  They were all stepping stones to something else I wanted and I had fun - and I was worth it.
So get out your coloring pencils and your half finished design and start coloring and humming and have fun.  Lay out the threads and organize them and make sample stitches on linen and make decisions without the guilt of never finishing and stop caring what others say.  Just look at them and say "I am having fun and I am worth it" - surprisingly your progress will actually go faster.

Go figure!


  1. You've nailed it. The joy and beauty of the threads and fabrics, the textures and colors, and all the many feelings that well up inside of you as you're planning and stitching a project ......... yes we are worth it !!! marsha

  2. You are so right... With out my 'casket' dreams I....
    ....Would not have created a Blog of my thoughts.....
    ....Would not have read 30+ books related to Jane Austen (and that's only a fraction out there) just validating my topic research...
    ....Taken Tricia's East Coast Casket Tour...and UK Casket Tour
    ....Taken two Jane Austen Tours of the United Kingdom
    ....Joined JASNA groups in both Detroit and Philadelphia, and met great people
    ....Attended Jane Austen Society Annual General Meetings in the UK, Montreal, Louisville and Washington DC and listened to some very entertaining lectures and concerts, taken city tours, made period clothing for myself, learned period dances... absolutely crazy and wonderful
    ....Moved outside Philadelphia to be closer to resources related to my themed casket
    ....Met the wonderful women in my 'casketeer' group
    ....Met the craftsmen and women dedicated to the casket 'dream'
    ....Surrounded myself with people that I want in my life
    ....If my life ended tomorrow I can say this has been one journey that has enriched my life immensely...but I fully intend to finish my casket!!!
    Thank YOU Tricia....