Monday, April 17, 2006

Goals for Week of April 17th

I'm trying, trying, trying to get myself back on track. Last week was a disaster in terms of accomplishing its list of goals. I find myself back in the situation of feeling slightly panicked and needing to set everything else on hold in order to meet an entry deadline. Fortunately, the items I'd slotted into this week when I made my master list of goals for April are ones of such low priority I have no guilt or remorse associated with ignoring them for now. In fact, it's almost as if I subconsciously knew I'd need the time for something else.

I worked on a few things last week but didn't complete anything as I'd hoped. Cobblestones got quilted but not bound. The Easter piece still sits waiting for me to glue down the foil so threads can be couched, and the journal size version still needs to be quilted. I let my fear of "ruining it in the quilting" keep me from proceeding at all on my Small Works II entry - Strawberry Moon.

Besides all the interruptions and distractions of last week, part of this can be blamed on the season itself. Easter has not been easy for me since my mother died many years ago. We shared a special bond on Easter, much of it tied up in the music sung on that special day, the rest in little traditions like sharing tea we'd drink from mom's collection of china tea cups. I plain old get cranky and depressed, some years more so than others. I'd done pretty well this Lenten season, but it began unraveling last Thursday. Recognizing the mood for what it was, I stayed out of the studio and attended to other things, including a bit of purging, filing and shredding of various things, a precursor to the real cleaning out I need to do prior to moving later this year. Amazing how good it felt to be shed of those bits of papers I don't need any more.

I gave myself a stern talking to last night, sensing that if I didn't take control back soon, I'd risk making the downward spiral of last fall again. I was alarmed that the disinterest in my work had returned and all I seemed to want to do was read my novel or spend time on the computer. Taking the necessary steps to bring my work to completion felt like more effort than I had energy or desire to exert. Time to close myself off from the outside world, pick one focus and then force myself into action. Experience tells me that taking one step past any spot where I've frozen is all it takes to get rolling again, and suspending my interaction with others allows my mind to function.

So this week it is all about Strawberry Moon. I must quit dawdling about how to quilt it, how to mount it; I must just jump in and do it. I decided to go with my original thought to run a few lines of hand quilting through the discharge piece and batting only. Later it will be trimmed and attached to the base fabric (exactly how I will do that is still in question but I'm narrowing down the options). I tried three different threads before settling on a black polyneon. Once the stitches began to flow beneath my fingers, calm set in, my interest returned, my confidence came back. Relief is the best way to describe how I felt. Renewed excitement carried me through the next thought processes for the steps to be taken tomorrow.

I remembered that I hoped to have time to make another small piece so I would have more than one thing to enter. Harrumph, I thought, I've screwed that up. But now my inner self wouldn't listen to my negativity. These pieces are so small, surely you could get something else made, it encouraged. How about your idea for "Silver Birches" based on the same design? I got out the fabric set aside for that and yes, I think it might be possible to do that too and finish it out in the same way as Strawberry Moon. Ooo, a series??? Now let's not get too excited. We'll see how it goes.

The key to this week, indeed to all the weeks ahead, will be controlling anxiety. I say this because of something I gleaned while reading Julie K Norem's "Positive Power of Negative Thinking:"

"Anxiety is no fun, and it can get in the way of our efforts to reach our goals. It impairs our cognitive performance because it makes it hard to concentrate on a task - or indeed, on anything except ourselves and our subjective state. Anxiety can make us forget what we've learned, lose the thread of a conversation, or miss key pieces of information that we need to understand a situation."

And this, I decided, is what is happening when I stand in front of my work and freeze up. I let my anxiety about my abilities, about the next step to take, make me forget what I've learned and know how to do. Control anxiety and I control what I can accomplish.

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