Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dream BIG! Then Make It Happen!

Today I made a little tiny comment on my Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles facebook page. I simply wrote: I should be in Paducah!

The tiny, shriveled, pessimistic, Scrooge-pre-epiphany side of my brain said, "You? You'll never get there. You'll never have anything accepted into the show. And you certainly will never have a book to sign or sell at any quilt show."

This is how I talk to myself. I wouldn't treat anyone that ruthlessly and negatively -- but I do it to myself whenever an opportunity knocks.

In contrast, an art quilter told about a midnight epiphany she had concerning some African batiks that she had purchased and been unable to find the right project in which to use them. Instead of talking herself out of it, she arose from her bed, went to her design wall and got to work. Her middle-of-the night project looked good by daylight, too. She continued to work on it, following her inspiration until she now has a series of four art quilts, one already finished and entered in a contest.

This isn't her first successful quilt project. But perhaps it explains how she comes about achieving these successes. She values her muse. She values her 'what if' inspirations. She trusts herself enough to put actions to those thoughts. And she follows through to complete the projects.

Sometimes I daydream of winning a best of show at the Houston Quilt Show and selling my best selling book while I'm there. In my dreams it seems like such a possibility. Of course if I do nothing. Nothing will come of it. But if I work my way toward that goal -- make little projects to hone my sewing skills and techniques. Pay attention to what others in the quilt/fabric art world are doing. Watch what is winning. Find my own voice in the cloth and trust it -- it could happen. It will take time and effort and trial and error and yet, if I do nothing I am guaranteed failure.

When Carol Soderlund started working on her best of show quilt, she couldn't find the fabrics she needed to make what she envisioned. (See photo: Covenant.)

Did she give up? Whine? Well, maybe a little.

But then she bought some white fabric, some dyes and began making what she needed. Her quilt went on to win Best of Show in Houston. She went on to teach one of the very best cloth dyeing workshops in the nation, maybe the world. And she continues to make award winning quilts.

What about my best selling book? The same goes for the book. If I just think about it and do nothing. I'm guaranteed failure. What's that scripture? Faith without works....

We dream too small. Lately I've just wanted to get through each day. Fulfill the current deadlines. And keep my husband's health in check. I'm dreaming way too small. I see women traveling the globe, sharing their art, teaching their craft, gathering awards for the works they made. Works that originated in their brains and made with their own hands.

Why is that not a possibility for me, too? Why have I spent my life saying, "I can't."

What will I lose today if I begin to say, "I can!"

Maybe that is one of the benefits of being the age I am. Failure pales in comparison with a life unlived. And I don't have that many more years to turn my act around. So those day dreams and what ifs are going to the top of my to do list. And words such as "can't," or "don't be silly," or "you aren't good enough" are excommunicated from my vocabulary.

Oh, and in response to my little mention on the facebook -- several responses. One that said, "I'll start saving today...." Little steps. One at a time lead to that goal, that success that seemed unattainable.

Once I thought I would never be published. Once I thought no one would ever see my writing as valuable. Once I thought I could never earn a living at writing.

I was wrong. Those goals have been met and exceeded. So what's stopping me now?

Action. That's what it takes! ACTION!