So…it is New Year. Past new year. The 2nd day of the new year. It is, of course, the time for resolutions and fresh starts and all that kind of thing.
Its hard to put a finger on what I want to do this year. My decisiveness is not helped by the start of a headache brought about by too much lawn mowing yesterday.
I want to save money to do some of the big things I need to do, like replace my car and my roof and loads of other jobs around my home. Like a lot of people I want to be healthier, fitter and feel less like I’m old when I hobble out of bed in the morning. I want to be kinder, to myself and others. Most of all I want to find the time and the energy and the drive to do all of the things I have been promising my self I would do for the last ten years, but never got round to. I don’t want to get to the end of another year and ask – where did the time go?
So…this year, this is the year of finishing what I started. I’m going to get those language learning DVD’s off the bookshelf where they have been gathering dust, take my pencils out of the tin, quilt the quilts that need quilting, actually play my guitar instead of leaning it against the wall where it looks pretty and open my laptop and finish anyone of the novels I have started. I don’t have to do it well, if no one else ever sees my efforts but me, that is ok. I just have to do and in some cases I have to let go. Some of the things I thought I would do are no longer me, are no longer important. There’s no point in having such an overwhelming list of to do that it would take two life times to complete. I have to know what is important to me to finish and what is not.
I am going to start easy. I have decided that for the first few weeks I am allowed to watch TV while I am doing stuff. Even though it distracts me slightly, at least it won’t be a total shock to the system. Today I am going to finish mowing the lawn and weeding the back garden bed. Then I am going to mulch the back garden bed, because I should have done it last year. Hopefully that means I won’t have to spend the rest of the year weeding it again like I did last year. I have also started hand quilting one of the quilt tops in my pile to finish. So I am going to quilt and I am going to read some of my manual on Microsoft Access (because I haven’t used it in years and need a refresher).
Quilting in progress on my dinosaur fabric quilt. Should be finished in no time.
For some reason this year I seem to have completely lost the goal-accomplishing plot. I stopped for a moment during the week to think about whether I was on track and realised I had completely forgotten what my goals were. I suppose it had to happen at some point.
At least I am sewing again. I managed to get two quilts finished in the last couple of weeks (photos below). Plus I have a couple of days off work this week which I can use to regroup, refocus and get moving again. And…there is still more than half of the year left. Plenty of time to get things finished.
I have been pondering my possible goals for the year. I know it’s almost the end of January but I did put a whole month of goal pondering on my schedule, so I am determined not to fret about my tardiness. The added bonus is that a month without pressing deadlines and just pondering is giving me new perspective and time to read things and figure out how they fit. For example, I was reading an article in an online newspaper which turned out to be helpful (I can’t remember which one, I should have made a note of it but it wasn’t until I pondered on it that I realised it was relevant). The article was about health, more specifically not trying to lose weight but focusing instead on being healthy. Which is fair enough you might think, but you can’t be healthy when you are overweight, so you have to lose weight, which leaves you…I’m not entirely sure where. But then I thought about it. Back in the days when I used to be really skinny I didn’t think about my weight. I used to do a lot of exercise, but mostly because I had a long walk to the nearest bus stop and because I actually wanted to do it. I didn’t make myself do exercise because I wanted to keep my weight under control, I did it because I enjoyed being fit, I enjoyed health and strength. It was only after I got my first office job, and travelled overseas, and then came back and did more office jobs that I started worrying about my weight. Ironically after that is when the pounds really started to pile on.
As an aside, I am convinced in years to come we will probably be suing people who got us to work in offices in the same way they sue cigarette companies. Lets face it, they know it’s bad for us. They keep sending round those things about taking regular breaks and desk stretching etc. Yet they still keep employing more people to do more office work.
But…back to my main point…the goals for the year. I have put away my scales and my food trackers and my guilt and I am now going to focus on health. It makes it as hard a goal to track as improving my quilting but I am confident that I can do it, because I’ll know it when I’ve got it. Sad though it is to say it, I haven’t felt healthy for a long while. Not that I’m sick, I just don’t feel healthy. Even when I was losing weight last year I didn’t feel healthy. So my new goal is not going to be about what the outside looks like but how I feel on the inside. How does what I do make me feel?
My job for this week is to come up with a tracker, something that makes sense of the imprecision.
On a happier note, I have started quilting some of the smaller bits and pieces I finished last year. I have been practicing free motion machine quilting. Unfortunately, I am not very good at it. My first effort was a table runner and I stippled all over, which I don’t think suits it very well at all. It’s just too distracting. Because of this, for my next piece I decided I would try doing lines along the edge of the block pieces. I’ll let you judge from the photos how well that went. The problem is I can’t seem to get an even consistent stitch. I have seen other people doing it and their stitching is very slow and steady and my machine doesn’t seem to do slow and steady. As soon as you so much as touch the foot pedal it is flat-out and I can’t move my hand fast enough to make a decent size stitch. I probably just need to practice more.
It is almost the end of another year and it has got me thinking about next year. New goals. Which is tricky, firstly because I haven’t really finished most of my goals from this year, and secondly because while I have an idea about the kinds of things I want to accomplish I am struggling to turn them into measurable goals.
For example, excepting the blocks that I am hand piecing together I have now put all my blocks into tops (30 tops and 33 small objects – I counted them this morning when I was cleaning out my closet), but I don’t know that I necessarily want my goal for the year to be quilting all those tops. What I would like is that by the end of the year I am better at machine quilting than I am now. So the trick is how I measure better. Quilting all the tops doesn’t really work as a measure of what I want to achieve because I could in theory quilt all of them badly.
This year I would like to improve my machine quilting, become better at talking and listening, get the whole business on the side thing going on and finish two of my goals from last year (writing a novel and getting down to a healthy BMI). Just need to find some way of measuring that doesn’t involve saying better than I am now. Though really at the end of the day, since I’m the only person judging, if I feel I’m better at something maybe that’s enough of a measure. I guess it all comes down to how good at self-delusion you are. There are plenty of people out there wandering round thinking they are great at something when in reality they’re not. I don’t really want to be one of those people.
I just downloaded Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography to my kindle in the hope of some inspiration/answers. Apparently at some point when he was a young man someone sat him down and told him that he was up himself, and no-one liked him because of it. In order to fix this he devised a scheme to overcome the up-himself-ness, which I have heard is documented in the autobiography. If that isn’t finding a way to measure the unmeasurable I don’t know what is.
I can’t believe it has been two weeks since my last post. However, I never got round to doing much last weekend because a combination of hay fever and caffeine withdrawal kept me lying on the couch in the air-conditioning for most of the weekend.
I have actually been very productive the last couple of days. I did myself a really thorough list. You know the honest kind, where you actually list every little thing you need to do including cleaning the bathroom and shaving your legs. I find if I do that, really list everything, I’m actually more realistic about what I can get done, and I do more. Having lists and plans for accomplishing your goals is all well and good but there are other things to be done too, stuff that keeps your life running smoothly and you need to factor those into your plans. Not to mention planning some down time, space where you can just relax and do nothing, at least for a small amount of time.
So…how am I going on my goals:
100 places I’ve never been before – finished
Quilt blocks made into things – almost done with making things into tops.
Healthy BMI – struggling
Novel – just hit 16,000 words
Loads of stuff left to do, and nowhere near enough time to do it in, but it doesn’t really bother me at the moment. I’m not sure why, I’ve kind of mellowed about the whole thing. I think setting myself some fairly hefty goals has taught me a lot about accepting imperfection in myself, and there were some lessons there that I really needed to learn. Now I just need to learn the lesson about not mowing the lawn without wearing sunscreen and I’ll be right for a while. For now, I am going to take my sun burn away to a cool room where I can spend the rest of the day reading a book and pretending it’s not 35C outside.
I’ve been doing a little bit with single blogs that don’t really go with anything else. This one I will probably make into a bag.
I was going to make this into a cushion, but I think it might be a bit big
This one into a place mat
This is a table runner from a block that I sliced up
…and two biggish quilt tops that I have finished
I have arrived home from my travels safe and sound. Before I got back I had the best of intentions. I was going to be driven, organised and efficient. I was going to waste no time and get stuck right into finishing off the remainder of my goals. However, after four days back at work with little sleep because I am still adjusting to a new time zone I have to confess that I have accomplished nothing. Well, other than what I did at work and a little bit of gardening I did this morning.
I have lost pretty much all my enthusiasm at this point and am having a serious rethink about my goals. One in particular, the aim of turning all my 1000 quilt blocks into something by the end of the year. Firstly, I am starting to doubt that it is possible given the amount of time I have left. More importantly, I am starting to question why I am even doing it at all.
All the other goals I have set myself I can see the point of. There are of course moments when I hate the goal and I really don’t want to be working on it, but I can still see the point. Lets face it, losing weight isn’t fun. I don’t particularly enjoy having to watch what I eat. If I could eat chocolate all day instead I would. But I can see the point of it. I can see that there is a benefit of a healthier me at the end of it.
Similarly with my other goals (making 1000 quilt blocks, writing a novel, going 100 places I’ve never been before). While sometimes I have to force myself to work on them I can see that I am learning about myself and the world because I do them. In these cases a time limit is important too, because without a deadline procrastination is always possible.
Making these blocks into things is bugging me though. While there is a bit of a challenge in trying to make the blocks fit together, I usually don’t like the finished quilt. They are okay, but I don’t love them. Do I really want to spend the rest of the year making quilts I don’t love? I think the reason why I decided that making the blocks into things should be a goal was because I thought it would be an emotional drain having these blocks sitting here not being used. I thought I wouldn’t be able to move onto other things until they were gone. I am not entirely sure I was right about that, even if they were an emotional drain there are a number of other ways I could deal with them.
- I have a cupboard in my laundry I don’t use because I need a ladder to get to it. They could sit in there for years and never bother me.
- I could give them away. Plenty of people love receiving stray blocks, either to make quilts for charity of for themselves.
- I could use them as pieced backings for other quilts.
- I could even throw them out. Though that last one does sound like a tremendous waste.
But it could just be that I am going through a phase and what I really need to do is rummage through the pile of blocks again, find something simple to get started on, and just start working.