Return to Center

There is no true path without center
With center, the mind, body, and spirit –

Passion and commitment unleash
A force that cannot be contained.
Thomas Crum

A visit to the island of Maui a few weeks ago reminded me of the importance of ‘recharge’ breaks in life for staying centered and nurturing my artistic spirit. Maui had been an annual stopping point for my husband and I for many years. A little condo complex perched on the western shore offered an easy resting spot for us where we could quickly slip into a laid back routine. However, life has a way of intervening and it had been three years since our last visit.

It did not take long after our arrival for me to remember just why we had spent so many years trekking out to the spot annually. It felt as though the crashing waves outside our lanai were washing away tensions in my body. As I sat watching whales frolicking in the ocean, I realized the inspiration for many of my art quilts had emerged in similar moments sitting on a Maui lanai. The setting was a vehicle for me to nurture my own centered state akin to recharging a battery.

Back home on the mainland, I continued to play with the concept of recharging center. I began to identify and more fully appreciate the places in my travels where that feeling of ‘recharging’ was strongest and that I intuitively longed to return. I found each conveyed a deep feeling of peace that nurtured my creativity even though the locations varied significantly in landmark characteristics. High on my list were two sites in busy Paris – the sculpture gallery of the Louvre and the restored home of Rodin that displays many of his works.

Louvre Museum

Rodin Museum

Other ‘recharging stations’ for me were in more remote destinations: a beach on the west coast of Ireland, the ice in Antarctica, a mountain top perch in western Colorado.

County Mayo, Ireland

County Mayo, Ireland

Rocky Mountains

Fortunately, these places are not the only way for me to recharge. Daily meditation is my ‘at home’ go to for starting off a day in a balanced and inspired state, and sites such as the Seattle Art Museum, much more accessible than Antarctica, are guaranteed to recharge and inspire me. However, my Maui trip has reminded me of the importance of scheduling visits to some of those more distant magical places as often as possible. In fact, next year is already booked!

 

 

What a difference a few days make!

Farewell crisp autumn tones
Welcome snow scenes kindling my

quiet reflection

Most days I try to get out for either a walk or a run. One of my favorite spots close to my home is an old railroad bed that has been converted to a trail for the community. Here was the view on Monday – you can see winter in the air!

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Today this was the view from the same trail:

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I guess winter has come! As long as I don’t have to drive in it, I have to confess that I embrace the season. There is something calming about a snow covered landscape. Running in a snow covered lane, it is so quiet. It kindles a sort of  magical  feeling in me combined with reverence and awe. No wonder I loved my trip to Antarctica and still follow blogs on the area!

While our neighborhood was morphing from fall to winter, I was dealing with that stack of green fabric you saw last week on my blog.  As our plane flew into Shannon Airport in September, the view from my window was similar to this photo:

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It reminded me of a quilt with fringe between the blocks and I knew I had to create one. I remembered that our local quilt shop, Ivy Thimble, always has a fantastic inventory of flannels and that is where I headed last week. I was ready to improvise on a pattern but Ivy Thimble had a sample quilt with exactly the effect I was envisioning. Not only did they have a pattern written out, but I could purchase pre-cut blocks of batting! They also had kits but, of course, I wanted to pick out my fabrics.

It took relatively no time to cut out my assortment of fabrics and sew together each block as a sandwich of front/batting/backing. Each sandwich was stitched with a big X from corner to corner to hold it together .

I was then able to get to the fun part – laying them out in an order pleasing to me. This photo isn’t the greatest but it served as a useful guide as I was stitching the blocks together into rows. That turned out to be one of the trickiest parts as the seam allowances had to be to the front to create the fringe. With the least distraction, I was tearing out seams as years of sewing allowances to the rear kicked in.

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Once the pieces were sewn together, I clipped those seams and took the whole thing to the local laundromat for washing and drying. The instructions advocated not using your home machines as the lint created in the process is a bit excessive.

Here is what the quilt looked like before the washing/drying:

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And, here is the final version:

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I really like how the fringe curled up.

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So now I have a cozy quilt to curl up under during those cold winter nights! And, I had enough fabric left over to make a small quilt for a certain Corduroy Bear who will be a Christmas present for a little three-year-old I know.  🙂

Corduroy Bear quilt

 

PS. Linking as always to Off the Wall Friday.

Looking Back to Go Forward

Once you understand where you come from, you’ll be able to see where you’re going.

I read this quote a few weeks ago – the author attribution was simply ‘Irish saying’. I am planning a trip to Ireland in the fall to revisit where my grandmother was born and raised so it seemed a timely thing to save.

Last year I created a quilt depicting the remnants of a cottage that helped determine my grandmother’s life. It was of a place where her older sister lived after her arranged marriage. The cottage is out on the coast of Western Ireland. The closest town today is still only a few streets along a road, so it is probably an understatement to say that the cottage setting was quite remote.

Roots

The story as told to me was that my grandmother decided that she wished to have the freedom to choose whom she married and where she lived. It spurred her to reach out to relatives who had immigrated to the U.S. and soon she was making the journey across the Atlantic herself. As she saved her earnings over the next few years, she sent home funds to allow some of her younger sisters to have a similar choice and follow her.

That story has inspired me over the years. My grandmother was a wee bit of person physically but her determination was gigantic. We have a saying in aikido, true power is energy flowing towards a vision. I don’t doubt for a moment that my grandmother had a vision of a better life for her children and their children and she sure acted on it.  In moments of doubt, I have learned to revisit my own visions and move forward myself, one step at a time.

PS Linking to Off the Wall Friday so be sure to check out the other artists.