Tag Archive | fighting depression with positivity

Guilt-free quilting

Going through difficult times and wanting to stay at home rather than venture further afield makes it very easy for me to feel guilty that I’m not doing anything. Of course that is nonsensical as it is impossible for me to do nothing except when at my lowest nadir confined to bed and sleeping all day.

So when I look back at the last week or so, although I haven’t been out and about as much as the previous week, I have still achieved a lot and should take pride in that instead of beating myself up. We could all learn that lesson and be kinder to oneself more often.

I finished my mini-quilt swap for my swap partner in the US. I will now be able to put it in the post and wait for her reaction. I just hope she likes it. Likewise, I will be waiting for mine to drop through the letterbox and I am sure I will love mine! Just the thought that someone has spent their precious time and energy on a project for me is warming and I love this idea of quilt swapping.

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Mini-quilt swap Spring 2017[/caption

My quilt-swap partner lives in Texas and I therefore settled on a pattern which has one star at the centre as I understand that Texas is known as the “Lone Star State.” I also hand-quilted it with stars. I love how you can personalise even the smallest quilt either by pattern or colour, or both and all quilts are made with love. They are almost living things and each one gifted goes with a piece of me.

I have also started to hand-quilt one for me. It is divided into 4 large squares which I will sash together when quilted. I find it very relaxing to sit and stitch in the evenings whilst watching TV. Good chill-out time and, as I am being creative and making something tangible, it’s all guilt-free.

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I am also learning a lot about the history of quilting both in the UK and the US. I have to say that the US wins the “most interesting” award and I am now fascinated with the quilting stories, history and myths which abound. All this in addition to the Civil War quilts and fabrics mentioned previously.

[caption id="attachment_14798" width="2560"]IMG_5075 Easy 4-square mini-quilt

I may not be racing around like an ant, but I am still being productive and creative. This should not be underestimated!

Creative

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Weeks 4 and 5- Facing the world

worry

 

Anyone who has suffered with depression and/or anxiety knows how difficult it is to face the world. Since starting my annual break back in February I have been quite happy to remain indoors quilting, sewing and even organising my office in preference to venturing outdoors.

It’s a good job therefore that I have plenty of previous experience in dealing with these issues and know myself well enough to kick my own ass into gear. Challenging my negative thoughts I set myself some goals to try and recover some normality;

  1. I arranged to visit Will at University so he could drive me to IKEA for a mosey round the aisles then treat me to lunch. This was my agreed Birthday present carried forward from February and which I had been putting off.
  2. I agreed to go out with the girls for a pasta night-and thoroughly enjoyed myself!
  3. I arranged to go to the local Farm Shop to meet a friend for lunch-this was a big step and it had to be with someone who understands why I am not actively in touch for months but remains supportive and non-judgemental.
  4. I started to join in the Jasper/Feri walks-taking him to the fields for a good run and play in the muddy puddles and found that there is something incredibly uplifting watching a dog enjoy himself so much with total unbounded joy and
  5. Helping Will with distributing and collecting questionnaires in the town for his University dissertation. This involved talking to several strangers about his work and the flooding which affects our town regularly. I found it energising and interesting and it took the attention away from me and my thoughts to thinking about other problems and solutions.

All in all, my objectives were to become less focussed on remaining in my “craft-cave” and to be more interactive. It worked a treat and starting the process with people I trust led to me being more comfortable venturing outside those boundaries.

So over the last couple of weeks I have been busy out and about. A welcome change but, although it’s nice to go out, it’s nicer to come home.home

 

 

Week 3-“hiding”

It’s too easy to hide.

I need to make more of an effort to get out and meet people, communicate and take in some of the Spring sunshine. Sadly, I had enough to keep me busy indoors last week to provide my semi-guilty conscience with sufficient excuses to avoid people and continue my isolation indoors. Naughty.

Too peoply

So what did I do?

Quilting of course- I finished my scrappy mug-rugs. Another sign of a restless mind is focussing on smaller projects which can be completed quickly and without too much concentration involved. I enjoyed putting together these mats with scraps from previous projects and it gave me a chance to practice a new quilting pattern (braiding) and to use my freebie quilting templates which I’ve had for a few weeks-see, I’m pretty good at justifying my lack of socialising by making something 1) out of scraps which otherwise wouldn’t be used; music to my frugal husband’s ears and 2) something practical.

I spent two days during the week sorting out my sewing kit and stash and my office so that everything is now in its place ready to use without rummaging through countless plastic boxes for just the right piece of fabric. Now I am not the tidiest person around, preferring to keep moving and leaving a trail of destruction behind me instead of being organised and tidy. This again is a sign that sitting on my bed folding small pieces of fabric into colour-coded bags was far more appealing than venturing outdoors.

I may have had to speak to someone. Horrors!

Whilst scouring Pinterest for mini-quilt ideas however, I did stumble across a fantastic Yahoo Group called “Smallquilttalk.” This is a mini-quilting group run and moderated by the “Sentimental Quilter” Kath Tracy. I found some of her free patterns on Pinterest, loved them and followed the links so that I finally came to the group. Most members are based in the US, but there are international quilters too. Kath’s blog describes the group as somewhere where you can “meet new quilting friends from around the world, share tips and show off your quilts.” All without leaving home- Perfect!

Being very self-critical it’s an easy option and a bit of a cheat but it’s a start. I have only been a contributing and active member of this group for two days but I have already found a new “tribe” of like-minded fellow-quilters who all seem incredibly friendly and helpful. It all seems so easy online. Why can’t I feel this comfortable in the actual presence of people? Strange and as yet, unexplained for me.

I’m trying to be kind to myself and am sure that this low-mood will lift in due course. In the meantime, I am participating in the “Mystery Quilt” challenge and the “Small-quilt 2017 swap.”

For the Mystery challenge, Kath gives the group instructions for a patchwork quilt Block every few weeks. The finished quilt won’t be complete and the mystery revealed until the last Block is made. This is good fun and although the challenge has been running for a few weeks now, I have managed to catch up;

 

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Mystery Quilt 2017-Block 1

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Mystery Quilt challenge- “square-in-a-square” blocks for later on

The quilt swap hasn’t been sorted out yet but I have listed my interest and am waiting for my “swap partner” to be allocated to me. I understand that we then correspond with each other regarding the quilts in order to find out favourite colours and patterns in the hope that the quilt I make for my swap partner and the quilt I receive is, at least, something that will be treasured.

Interestingly this is when the differences between quilts produced in the US and my quilts come to the fore. I have had a good look through the photos on the group pages and the different preferences and fabrics used are a lot more muted (in general). I understand that, having done some research, many of the fabrics and quilt patterns used relate back to the American Civil War  which clearly doesn’t impact us in the UK in the same way as in the US. I find this very interesting and with a passion for social history, I am already interested in finding out more of the history behind quilting both in the US and the UK.

Am I a nerd? (rhetorical)

So the end of week 3 leaves me with a new tribe, some interesting quilting tasks and an intention to make more of an effort to get out and about.

Let’s hope I can force myself past the front door and into the big wide-world.

happiness outside

 

 

Week 2- “productive”

After last week’s hectic schedule, this week just gone was a lot more relaxed and productive.

One of my favourite 2016 projects was revived for 2017 and I spent a couple of days putting together a “fidget” or “dementia activity” quilt following a request from a friend of my Aunt who had seen previous examples of mine on Facebook.

This project is more personal in that I have some information about the person I am making it for; I understand that he is a retired priest, a poet, loves Christmas and has an allotment. My task therefore is to tailor-make an activity quilt designed to be interactive, stimulate memories and discussion and to keep a sometimes troubled mind occupied.

I’m pleased with the result.

I also included a card printed with one of my favourite poems by Gerard Manley-Hopkins;

Pied Beauty.

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced –
fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

I hope he likes it.

 

On The Up

I don’t know where the time goes and I cant believe that its 8 days since I wrote my Blog. In that time however I have managed to establish some sort of equilibrium and am much calmer.

Earlier in the week Jasper alerted me to a juvenile hedgehog eating its dinner in the night garden. It was clearly obvious that the hedgehog was not particularly big, so I asked hubby to bring me the scales from the kitchen.

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I weighed “Cheeky Charlie” (named because he/she didn’t curl up for long) and found that the 375gms was not sufficient for him/her to survive winter hibernation. I understand that hedgehogs should be at least 500-600gms to survive over winter so I prepared the cat carrier, complete with towels, hot water bottle, newspaper, food and water for the hedgehog’s overnight stay with us, before taking him/her to the local Wildlife Hospital the next day.

The hospital welcomed the new addition and promised that we can have him/her back in the Spring.

The hospital will keep the juvenile hedgehogs, not ready for hibernation, in warm conditions so they don’t try to hibernate. This would probably kill them as they don’t have enough body fat to live on whilst their body slows down. Hopefully, after a Spring and Summer back in our garden Cheeky Charlie will be ready to hibernate this time next year.

In the meantime, soft as I am, I have built the hogs a shelter so they don’t have to eat their dinner in the rain……..

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Am I daft?

Chalk it up to experience

One of my favourite pastimes which I discovered a couple of years ago is painting furniture. It’s amazing what a difference a coat or two of chalk paint can make to a tired table, chair, or set of wooden drawers.

These have been in my garage for a few years just waiting for my inspiration to flash and some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to come calling. I already had some stencils in my stash which added to the olde-worlde Parisienne look I was looking for.

Here’s the result.

Old-White coupled with a lovely muted Duck-Egg Blue and I have a pretty new piece of furniture to use.

These will hold lots of my fabric fat quarters, colour coordinated of course, and I am now on the look out for my next project.

 

The HSP in me

It’s that time of year. The nights are drawing in; no more sitting outside in a comfortable warmth as it gets dark. The mornings are distinctly chillier and I am more inclined to snuggle back under the duvet than to leap out of bed raring to go. Energy levels are sapping just as work schedules are increasing massively over the winter period.

Of course I have a 16-week break to look forward to between February and June, but it seems a long time to wait just now.

So how do I make sure that I maintain equilibrium in the meantime? I know that I need to rest, stay healthy and as stress-free as possible. But how?

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Targets, financial deadlines, Christmas, all words guaranteed to set my soul a-flutter at the mere mention. I am normally very good at managing my stressors but when I’m busy or distracted it’s easy to forget my coping strategies so here are a couple of reminders to myself;

Plan ahead

This is really important and saves me from a lot of unnecessary stress. Last week for instance I had to travel to London for a training day. I knew that the train would be busy, the Underground even more so. I am used to working from home in a quiet environment much of which I can control directly so being in a lecture room with a group of colleagues can be daunting. As can shopping for lunch at a busy time at the midday break.

I booked my ticket in advance and reserved my seat. An early train to get me into London before the main rush-hour. I took my lunch with me.

I also booked the next day off as holiday. I knew that I would be tired after a long day traveling combined with the training so I made sure that I had a restful day before returning to work. Luckily the weather was sunny and bright and I spent the day in the garden and in the garage making hedgehog houses. Perfect recuperation.

Routine maintenance

Maintaining a routine is not easy for me as my sleep patterns vary so much, as do my energy levels. I have learned instead to “go with the flow” and not worry too much if I don’t quite follow my plans to the letter.

Good routines include, at least an hour or two before bedtime, shutting down all electronic equipment. As an information and social media junkie this is difficult for me and I probably pay the price in that my sleep can be disturbed by vivid dreams and I often wake after just 4 hours rest. Instead, I should read (a proper book, with real paper pages and not on Kindle) and in the morning, I should make time to start the day in a calm way by practising something like yoga or writing my journal.

I definitely need to work on this one. I think I’ll start tomorrow.

Hopefully I shall survive my “busy” season with sanity intact having followed my own advice but roll on February.

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