Last week while selling hand-dyed fabrics at the quilt show, someone posed this question to me: "are you still at it"? It is a question I get with some regularity, as though one would expect I might have given up by now ;-). I suspect there is a belief out there that making a living as a quilt artist is not possible. I used to hold this belief myself..The fact is that, at the age of 53, if I "give up" I will quite simply have to find a conventional 9-5 job. Those of us who decide to make a career as a quilt artist do so partly because we don't fit into that 9-5 mold anymore. So I've always approached my job with the attitude that I have to be successful at it because the alternative (fitting into a regular job again) is unbearable to think about. I am sure we all have difference definitions of success as well.
Given that I finally had some time to breathe this past week, I had some much-needed time to reflect. And being out in nature (at Mer Bleu Conservation Area) for a beautiful walk on a glorious sunny Sunday of a long weekend here in Canada, my mind was free and clear to wander.
There is much about this career that you can't control, but there is one thing that is a given. You won't make it without a lot of hard work. I think it is way more necessary than talent.
Now I'm sure you will find reading what I have to say more enjoyable with some beautiful visual stimulation so I'm including photos from our walk.
What keeps the skies blue in my world is being my own boss, having a certain amount of freedom, being able to travel, and having good health. Health is a subject I've reflected a lot on this year. This year marks an important anniversary for me. In 1985 (30 years ago!) I faced a life-threatening medical condition when a malignant tumor was diagnosed in my left ear. Many of you know that I am deaf on my left side, but you may not have known why. This landmark year brings me happiness each day. When the illness was discovered I felt my future uncertain, and yet here I am much happier 30 years later. This anniversary also gives me endless excuses for being good to myself. Stay tuned as I strike off a few items on my bucket list this year!
Finally, I've found a new shoe that isn't leaving me in pain and that I don't dread stepping into in the morning. I am a happy camper! I'm walking my path a little easier now.
Being a travelling teacher has its challenges. I usually need to take two large pieces of check-in luggage when I fly. When I drive my car is usually filled to capacity with "stuff". Of course we teachers have wheels on our suitcases and wheeled carts, but that doesn't always work when we encounter a billet with stairs or a lecture hall or classroom with stairs. I've started asking for a hotel room as a first preference in my contract because I know there will be an elevator. It also gives me much-needed down time after a day of teaching. I still stay in homes if they can provide a ground floor bed and bath, and if they aren't able to provide that, then I need help with my bags. A few trips ago I came home with shoulder and elbow problems from pulling around a heavy bag. Those pains lingered through, and worsened, with all the dyeing, ironing, and cutting.
Seven and a half years ago when I became a full-time artist and teacher, I kept a crazier pace. Yes, I do just as much teaching as then, perhaps more, but now I try to book time to myself between bookings, even if only a day alone at a hotel somewhere. I am taking better care of myself. If I don't, who will?
So yes I AM STILL AT IT!! And if time ever permits, you might see more quilted art works in the hosta theme (as well as new themes). I took these photos yesterday right in my own yard.
I even turned on my sewing machine yesterday. Don't get too excited thinking a piece of quilted art is soon going to emerge. It was only to fix a blouse. I know that teaching schedules ebb and flow. Sometimes you are in more demand, sometimes less. There will be days in the studio again. Right now I'm just counting my blessings.