Over-Commitment as Motivation

A few weeks ago I wrote about resolutions and about how this year I didn’t plan to make any. Instead, I’ve decided to motivate myself using a tactic that flies in the face of everything I’ve been trying to achieve since deciding to quit my job and move to New Mexico. I have decided to over-commit. Will it add stress back into my life? Yes. But it will be a different kind of stress than I left behind. Writer Jeff Goins explained the rationale for this seemingly counter-intuitive tactic best in his guest post for Zen Habits:

“The adage “under-promise and over-deliver” is a farce. It only propagates the status quo. Real difference-makers push boundaries. They test, prod, and poke until something gives. You can do this, too, by saying “yes” to more things than you’re comfortable with. Learn to stretch yourself. You might be surprised by what you’re actually capable of. Your confidence will grow, too.”

And so, I have committed to a number of new things. I joined a writing group, took on a coaching job, became co-leader of my quilting group, and signed up to create two quilts for a March quilting show. Yes, March. This March. And believe me, that last one is taking me way out of my comfort zone. Not just because of the deadlines, but because I’ve also decided to make my first two art quilts.

Challenge 1: Create a quilt using the fabrics of blind New Mexico artist George Mendoza

Challenge 2: Create an Irish-themed quilt (the show opens on Saint Patrick’s Day)

I have already come up with both designs, sketched them, bought the fabrics, but that’s as far as I got. Until today, when I started work on Challenge 1.

I’m still not sure how the clouds will work and I may change the direction of the lightning, but I got the base fabric (flowers) and second layer (rain) out of the bag and onto the board which is a good first step. Second step — finish sewing the two quilts that are due on February 13th, but that’s another post altogether (as is Challenge 2).


Anatomy of a Quilter

I am a fourth generation quilter. Like my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother before me, I have always been captivated by the feel and sight of different fabrics, by transforming scraps into comforting works of art. I made my first patchwork quilt when I was 10 years old. It was a simple strip quilt made from leftover fabrics from quilts and clothes my mother had made. Since then I have made more than 20 quilts in a variety of sizes, all traditional patchwork patterns, but have longed to break away from right angles and other geometry into the freedom of art quilting.


Quilt ideas come to me the same way poetry does. Something catches my eye or mind — a color, a pattern, a feeling, an idea. When that happens with words, I clear my mind, pick up a pen, and let the words rush out. When it happens with quilts, I make a bee-line for the closest fabric store (in town or online) and let the colors and patterns swim together until a picture comes out. When it does, I sketch it, post it on my cork board, and get to work. I especially love quilting challenges because they force me to break out of my usual thought patterns and let the fabric or topic speak to me.

It has been years since I’ve made a quilt, but since moving from San Francisco to Santa Fe I am alive with inspiration. My board is crammed with ideas, some my own, and others inspired by challenges. I am currently working on three quilts: a traditional patterned donation quilt for Quilts of Valor that was inspired by a memoir I’ve been working on about my grandfather who fought in WWII, a challenge quilt featuring the fabrics of local blind painter George Mendoza, and a St. Patrick’s day challenge quilt featuring the Green Man drawn from my graduate school research on the same topic. Oh yes, and of course my Pizza Quilt. What better way to embrace Santa Fe than a southwest-style quilt made for me by my new guild sisters. 2012 is going to be an exciting year.