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Spirited Pursuits

I have always been a person who enjoys hand crafts. My interests are usually pulled towards sewing and quilting with a touch of crocheting here and there. It is relaxing to me and I enjoy the distraction it provides my mind and spirit. I have always found doing a craft like this gives my hands a busy motion that is soothing and my mind can focus on something other than what’s been bothering me. You know it is almost like a mini-vacation that I can checkout from stress on.

It wasn’t until my 30s before I made my first quilt, I had always sewn however. It was just something I learned out of necessity for making my own clothes growing up. There was an elderly lady that lived down the road from us that owned a clothing store in town. She made all the clothes for her store and did a lot of custom work for people. My mom worked there and would bring home the scraps and remnants of fabric that we would then use to make our own clothes. We were poor and didn’t have extra for new clothes. This not only gave us the chance to have something new once in a while but to learn an important skill that has stuck with me all of my life.

As an adult I didn’t have to make my own clothes anymore and realized while it could be fun to do so, it wasn’t a big interest of mine. Instead I quilted. My first quilts were disasters but I didn’t care. It felt good to be at the machine putting pieces of fabric together in a pattern of my own creation. It brought back the soothing sounds that had helped me pass the time as a kid where I needed the distraction from abuse, lack of food and image issues of being the poor kids. I felt my confidence rebuild behind that machine and give myself the needed time out to think about what I could create with my own hands.

There would come a time someone would ask to buy one of my quilts. No one had ever done that before. I shared what I made on social media because I was proud of my work and wanted to show friends where I had been spending my time. I never dreamed I could actually sell some of them. Later other people would ask me to make a special quilt for them out of t-shirts or special fabrics they had. I gladly did it all but all the while saying to them it was only a hobby. In fact it was what I nicknamed needle therapy as it continued to offer me solace from stress that was going on in my life from my job, a husband suffering from PTSD and a young son that needed a mom.

Like most hobbies I don’t have a lot of time for doing it. Mostly it is a weekend activity after the housework is done, errands are checked off and the family is off doing their own thing. It might only be for a few hours but wow how it changes me. It changes how I feel, how I see a situation occurring in my life and just how I can relax. Hobbies may not pay anything at all but their ability to transform us is sometimes the greater value over money. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my sewing machine.

It was always curious to my why quilting. So much of my life has been a pursuit to not have reminders of my past in the present and yet here sits a beautiful sewing machine in my home. I think it wasn’t so much I didn’t want the past in my life but rather I wanted the small parts that felt the best and gave me the path forward to still be there for me. We all do that, sometimes though what we bring forward isn’t the healthiest for us. I’m sure whether I meant to or not I have also brought forward some bad things too. It is what makes us who we are; that beautiful mixed up pairing of a lot of different fabric experiences sewn together to form us.

When I think about my quilting I see my natural self. At first a young scared girl who was shy, quiet, not confident and thinking of her survival. I then see a struggling young woman with no one to help her in life trying to just make it again with a primary focus on just surviving. Then I see a grown woman who sometimes still doesn’t have it all figured out and still gets scared but has developed a life for herself b