Tuesday, November 24, 2015

anyone can make you smile or cry, but it takes someone special to make you smile when you already have tears in your eyes

This week I received a parcel from Cat in Hong Kong.
She had been working on it for a while
and sent it to me as a nice surprise.

It was full of lovely handmade goodies,
but the thing I loved the most was the handwritten letter that she wrote.

I was touched so much by her words,
because she shared some of her own pain with me.

I felt so honoured to be able to receive her words
and the things that she said meant far more to me
because she was vulnerable with me.

I can't even tell you how much it meant to me,
to be able to hear someone else's pain
and to know about the path that they had walked
and because of this to know they understood where I was at.

I've been thinking about it since I opened the parcel 
and read the letter.

This year I have discovered who are my real friends,
and I have grown to value so much this tight knit circle of precious people.

But Cat in Hong Kong showed me something else,
true friends share not only the good times, the fun times,
but they are able to share the hard times too.

It is not just enough to say... I know how you feel,
it is far more valuable when someone shares with me the journey that they are on
and so that we feel like fellow travellers on the same journey.

When I write, I find it much easier to express how I feel,
but when I'm having a conversation with a friend,
I find that much more difficult.

I'm super grateful to Cat for not only sending me a precious parcel of treasures
but also for sharing her story with me
and thereby teaching me what real friendship is all about.

Monday, November 2, 2015

thoughts on life after marriage

This year as I've been patching my post-end of marriage life back together,
I've been learning a lot about myself, about love and about relationships.

Although I am no longer with David,
I am still in almost daily contact with him because we have children together.
I am stoked to see that (after a few initial hiccups) that he 
is building a life for himself that he loves.

He has found someone else who likes to experience life
the way he wants to and I'm so glad about that.

It surprises me that people think that I will be upset about this.
But the reality is that even though I still care about him,
I don't want to live with him anymore;
and so I'm thrilled to bits that he is moving on with his life
and making decisions about how he wants this to look.

In this way, I actually feel like I am living the promises I made to him,
to honour and respect him till death us do part.

I myself have had a few adventures in meeting guys because I 
wanted to see if it was possible, if anyone would actually want me.
These mostly end in disaster. It turns out mutual loneliness is not
a compelling reason to want to talk to someone. 

Because I had never ever dated,
I have zero skills when it comes to talking to guys
and so I now have a collection of funny and not so funny stories
about how not to date.

One stand out example of this is a guy called James who i really liked,
but who had been in prison for assault, was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict,
and who was a compulsive liar
and eventually died when his motorbike hit a horse.

This is actually a true story.

Things I have learned this year about myself...

I am stronger than I thought
I will only be treated as well as I treat myself
It is a mistake to confuse being needed with love
Being by yourself is not a bad thing
There is peace to be found in the quiet spaces

These three quilts were made from one small basket of scraps
that I found when I helped David clean out his garage.

I made three quite different quilts from them,
and although the scraps are mostly vintage sheets
the quilts have quite a modern look about them.

 Like these three patched together from scraps quilts, 
I am contented to keep patching my life back together,
to reclaim that which I lost over the years,
to make mistakes and to make the best of things.

I won't lie, there have been a lot of tears
and a lot of hard times this year.
I feel like my heart is surrounded by sandpaper.

But right now I'm happy.
I'm keen to keep going forward by myself
making the best of things, making plans for the future
and with high hopes that this will work out ok.

It is all going to be ok.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I myself am made entirely of flaws stitched together with good intentions...

 Exactly five years ago, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted some
fabric scraps that her mum was getting rid of.
(I know this because the Timehop app told me the other day)
She said how it was like a snapshot of her childhood,
so many memories all bundled up in fabric scraps.

When I got the fabric from her, I cut out a square or three from
each of the fabric in the bag.
There was a random assortment let me tell you. 
And then I stuffed them all in a bag
and thought I will get on to that sometime.

This week I after yet another parenting fail on my part,
I was explaining to David on the phone that 
the road to hell is paved with teenagers good intentions.

And then for some reason this particular good intention of mine
popped into my head.

It's been a crazy crazy last week of uni
with horrid assignments to finish,
So a simple sewing project was just what the doctor ordered really.
I pulled it out and in no time it was sewn together.

It's not perfect, but it is no longer a good intention.
I will send it to Shenleigh to quilt it within an inch of it's life.
I'm hoping the new owner will snuggle under it,
remember not only the good bits of her life
but also that lots of people love her.

Monday, October 12, 2015

sometimes the hardest part isn't letting go but rather learning to start over

Last weekend I feel like we moved every single item
in our house at least once.

In the course of this we found yet another basket of scraps
(free to a good home, comment below if you want them)
and this unfinished project.

This is the project that I was making at the time of the Christchurch earthquakes.
It is for my cousin Fiona, who has been patiently waiting for it for the last 
five years. (I sincerely hope she forgot she was getting it).

On the 21 February 2011, I clearly remember sitting on the sofa
after dinner (it was Reuben's birthday)
watching the most spectacular sunset and stitching on this quilt.

Of course the very next day everything turned to custard
and I never ever picked it up again.

I don't really know why. 
Maybe there is something in that saying about getting back on the horse,
there might be some psychological reason that I don't really know.

Anyway, I pulled it out and looked at it,
and technically I could finish it.

But my heart isn't in it anymore. I've moved on.

So here it is, sitting on the trolley of things that need to go somewhere,
does anyone want to finish it?? I'll post it anywhere in the world.
Everything is there except the pattern
(which I borrowed from someone and lost)
but you can easily figure it out.

I'm going to start again and
I'm going to buy a whole lot of cat fabric
and make Fiona a quilt she will love and I will love making.

I think there is some life lesson here
about letting go of things that make you feel sad
and embracing the way things have changed;
but I'm too tired to process it right now (#studentproblems)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

why love is like shallots

A long time ago I read somewhere
that love is like shallots, you just keep dividing it
and it keeps right on going.

Over the years I've found its true,
it seems that the heart has limitless potential to love others, its a wonderful thing.

This weekend we rearranged our home and split up those shallots,
and moved in an incredibly nice young man
who needed somewhere to call home for a bit.

It is the best feeling in the world to say yes,
yes there is room in our home for you,
yes you can be part of our family,
yes yes yes.

It might be a tiny bit inconvenient,
but actually it is completely worth it.

Plus it is Annie's dream come true to share a room
(and a bed) with me. Christchurch post-earthquake children
are far more clingy that their older counterparts
and it seems you cannot give them enough reassurance.

So now our home is filled with big boys
and we don't mind a bit.

I love to listen to their stories,
I love to hear about their day.

I love to see the way they interact with each other
and I appreciate how polite they are with the younger children and I. 

I think I am the most uncool person around,
but that doesn't seem to matter.

What boys need is someone to listen
someone who isn't judgemental
and someone who doesn't have an agenda of their own.

I'm more than willing to do that.
Plus I'm pretty handy at magicking up a chocolate pudding
and getting a favourite pair of jeans hurried through the wash
and providing a fluffy towel for a hot shower.

Our house is not fancy, but it is a real home.
The welcome mat is always out,
there is always a spare bed (or sofa) somewhere for someone.

After all,
isn't that actually what makes a house a home?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Trusting the Process

When I make a quilt, I don't do any quilt maths. (I'm dyslexic, it's beyond me.) I don't work out if I have enough fabric, or how many squares I need. I just put together a pile of fabrics I like and cut up all the fabric and then sew it all together. This is how I often end up with an auxiliary quilt or two (or three).  I have made a lot of quilts now and I guess I know how to eyeball the pile and know it will work out. And if it turns out too small, I just cut some more. If it turns out too big, I make two quilts. No problem.

At the moment my life is pretty stressful, with school holidays plus the end of semester. I do not have exams, but just essay after essay after essay. Throw in a few curve balls on top of that, and melt down is inevitable. Today was not a good day. I was writing an essay till the early hours of this morning and then had an early lecture. Tears may have been shed.

During the day I suddenly remembered a project I cut out last year and started. But I made a mistake with the dimensions (I thought I would sew half rectangle triangles. There must be some trick to it) and it got put aside. The solution popped into my head and so at lunch time I dragged it out and realised that it would work. I pressed and cut the rest of the fabric in my study breaks today and then after dinner I sat down at the machine and sewed for a couple of hours.

By bedtime I had a simple quilt top put together. I did not lay it out before I sewed. I just picked up rectangles and sewed them together. Then I sewed those pairs in pairs and so on until I had strips and then I sewed the strips together. I didn't even press the thing and I definitely didn't pin it. I didn't look at the finished top until I had finished pressing it and then I laid it on the floor.

It turned out just right. The dimensions are right, there was just enough fabric. There are only a handful of the animal print rectangles left over because I had the feeling there was quite a lot in the pairs I sewed.

I am sure that I could have laid out the whole quilt before I started and made sure the fabric placement was right. I definitely could have pressed as I went, pinned and made it all perfect. But today I was simply sewing because I enjoy the simple act of sewing and I wanted to stop worrying about life for a while.

I've learned to trust the process and know it will turn out all right.

Now if I could just apply that same principal to the rest of my life, I'd be sweet!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Dear America, [a rant]

Here at the bottom of the globe, we have looked to you. We absorb your culture on our television screens, we watch your movies and we listen to your music. We listen when you tell us what we should think and do, even when it is not in our best interests. We even fight wars because you tell us the cause is just (Vietnam anyone?).

We see you America, as the father of democracy, defender of the defenceless. In places around the world, we know that America does not hesitate to step in and restore peace and order. Our view of you is idealistic, as small nations we want to be like you.

But increasingly it seems, from the outside looking in; that America is losing the plot. We can't even bear to talk about the sick joke that you are considering Trump for president. There are so many conflicting stories and views. There is so much injustice that seems so wrong coming from the land of the free. Why do you judge so harshly on things that matter so little? Like skin colour, ethnicity and the right to marriage for the gay population. I do not understand why a bigoted clerk is given so much air time? It makes me sick to see her picture everywhere. Why are you paying someone like her so much attention? The message you send to the rest of us here in other parts of the globe, is that while you may have given grudging lip service to equality in marriage, clearly you would rather support a stupid woman who thinks she has a right to judge whether someone can get married or not.

Let me tell you, as someone who was judged and a marriage was arranged a long time ago, to judge someone on such a fundamental level, is to call into question the very essence of the person. It makes you feel like a worthless commodity, powerless to change where you are at. To be forced to accept with gratitude something that everyone else takes for granted is demeaning and soul destroying. 

It is beyond time for you to step up America. To deal with the bigots and the ignorant and to really allow freedom for those who step under a rainbow flag.

And then there is the issue of gun control, an oxymoron if ever I heard one. Seriously America, are you looking at yourself? can you not see that you are allowing your own people to be killed on a weekly basis. What in the world is this right to bear arms you are talking about? it makes no sense. It seems more like, you are fighting for the right to murder each other. Why is this so important to you.

Apart from the fact that your mothers, your fathers, your children are being killed for no good reason, think about how this looks from afar. Here at the bottom of the globe, we have looked up to you like a big brother. But now we see weekly on our television screens lives being torn apart because yet another person has decided to solve their own personal problem with a gun. How can the land of the free, the fighter for democracy be so inept when it comes to dealing with this IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY. 

A wise man once said, take the plank out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of your brothers eye. It is impossible to feel any kind of respect to you when it seems you have no respect for your own. How can we follow in your steps, when it seems you have fallen off the path?

Here in other parts of the world, insignificant and voiceless; how can we help you America? Will you listen to our voices? We are crying for you, our hearts are breaking and yet it seems your own hearts are hardened to the crisis within your own country. What will it take for you to change? Do you even care what the rest of us think about you?

If this was our own country, we would be able to work together to find a solution. But this is your problem, and you need to deal with it. How many more children need to die before you do? The power is in your hands. The rest of the world will support and encourage you, but you need to take the steps to change the culture that will fight harder for the right to bear guns than it will for the right for children to go to school safely.

If you truly see yourself as the greatest country on earth, then you need to make sure that your citizens can live their lives in safety. Otherwise from the outside looking in, America is fast becoming a sick joke. Remember what was important to you in the beginning and fight for that.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
 Author: Emma Lazarus