Do you really even know?
My mention of a "self-examined life" yesterday has sent my brain spinning in so many different directions. Preparing to begin a new chapter in my life means that the possibilities are almost endless. Whether a new life chapter starts by chance or by choice, time should be taken to evaluate exactly what we want and what steps we need to take to get there. Otherwise, we can just roll along on the current of life, letting it take us wherever it wants to go, until we wake up one day and wonder how we got so far off track.
I used to have a quote that I kept around for years and years, but, of course, now that I want it, I can't find it. I don't think I ever found out who said it, but it was something about how we go through life with a plan in mind, but one little thing happens that gets us sidetracked a bit, then another thing comes along and sends us off another way, and after a while, life just takes over and we don't even remember where we were going in the first place. I always thought it was a very pessimistic way of looking at life, but it could certainly happen that way if we don't stay on top of things.
Another reason for occasional re-evaluation of our goals is that things change, but we can be so stuck in the old plan that we don't even notice that something has gone wrong. I had a huge epiphany in the middle of the night last night, so I'm going to share it here as an example of what I mean.
I'm a quilt artist. For almost twenty years I lived for quilting. I started a quilt shop 21 years ago so a real job wouldn't distract me from my passion. I woke early in the morning so I could work on quilts before I went to the shop, and I stayed up late at night to get in a few more blocks or a few more stitches before bed. After a time, running the business was interfering too much with my quilting time, so I retired from the shop and did custom machine quilting from home, sold quilts through an art gallery, and taught quilting classes in many different places. In order to keep my passion fed, I had kept a piece of almost every fabric that I carried in my shop, and I eventually moved that fabric to Mexico. Once here, I got together with a couple other women to start a quilt guild, and I kept on quilting. But there's no market for quilts down here. Mexican artisans accept such small pay for their work that few art buyers are willing to pay a fair price for a handmade quilt. Eventually, I've slowed down my quilting, but I haven't quit completely. I entered and won Judge's Choice at a national quilt show just last year. But it is hard to keep the flame of passion burning when the results of my work are just piling up higher and higher.
In preparation for my move, and to help pay for it, I've been going through my fabric, deciding what I can part with, measuring it and marking it with prices. I've gone through all of it, and so far, half of it is in the 'sell' pile. But that still leaves an awful lot in the 'take' pile. So here's my conundrum...
I would like to rent a tiny studio apartment when I get to Portland. If I can keep the price down, I won't have to get a job to supplement my Social Security to pay the rent. If I take the fabric, I may be able to make and sell quilts up there because the market is much better. However, if I take the fabric, I will have to have at least one bedroom to use as a studio, and that will make the rent $100-200 higher. If everything fell into place just perfectly, I would be able to make and sell a quilt a month and that would more than cover the extra rent.
So this is where my epiphany came in last night. I awoke from an apparently sound sleep to the realization that I don't want to quilt any more. I'm absolutely sick to death of the tedius cutting and piecing of tiny little pieces of fabric, the monotonous machine stitching and pressing of all those pieces, and then the endless hours to quilt the layers together.
I still like quilts. I still want to snuggle under a quilt. I want to decorate my home with quilts, but I don't want to make any more. I have plenty unfinished projects that I still love and still want to finish, but that's enough already!
So I woke up this morning with determination to get back into my studio and start to work on getting that 'take' pile down to only my most special favorites. I can't even begin to explain the relief I feel after making this decision. A whole huge burden has been lifted off my back. The thing is, it doesn't mean I can never quilt again; it just means I might have to buy some new fabric IF I ever make that decision. But I know it will never become a life-consuming passion like it was before. And I'm good with that.
For the moral of my story, I have to go back to blogger Joshua Becker:
"We can never fully know how much of a burden our possessions have become until we begin to remove them."
What burdens are you carrying around that you aren't even aware of? What are you allowing to stand between you and your perfect life?