Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Progress... as promised... and proof

I have recently taken up the art of quilting. I deem it more than a craft, because it's really so much
more. My paternal Grandma quilted. My Mom quilts. My brother (!!!) is a quilter as of the past year or so. His wife and oldest daughter have also been piecing quilt tops. So, I guess it runs in our blood. Over the past 20 years or so, I have put together a quilt top here and there, but never had I given it the devotion to learn how to quilt and the tricks and tips you need for success.

You may be wondering what that has to do with anything related to Girl Scouts or youth activities. Oh, believe me... it does. 

One of the horrible habits we fall victim to when starting anything new is self-criticism. We look at our own work and compare it to others. We feel we are failing and will never succeed. How many times have you told a young person to "keep trying" and "you can do this"? How many times have I heard myself say "You are doing a great job!" and genuinely mean it for the recipient. But when it comes to myself, I'm so very critical. I demand perfection.

Perfection is not your friend in quilting (or anything else, really!), I have found. There are most definitely people out there that quilt that would love to critique you work, if you want them to (and sometimes when you don't). But, is that really what you need? I can critique well enough on my own. What I need is words of wisdom, encouragement,  and advice on how to get that scant 1/4" seam consistent (and don't even get me started on flying geese...ugh)!

The answer, for me, came in a stack of quilt blocks pieced by my Grandma. I had decided to sew them all together into a quilt for my guest room bed. There are very few that are the same design. I learned so much during the process of putting them together. For instance, Grandma's piecing wasn't perfect. She used the fabrics she had on hand, whether it be left over from clothes making, a worn out apron, or a feed sack. Some were sewn together by hand with the thickest thread I have ever seen in my life... seriously, it resembled twine. Others were sewn by machine. All of them were put together with love. I could feel it radiating from them as I worked on placement and sizing.

This quilt was a turning point for me. I decided to work on a few things that I do want to get better at.
But, I also want to keep it in perspective. I'm making progress on piecing. But, just as I never noticed any mistakes in Grandma's quilts... I'm betting no one will see the mistakes in mine... unless I point them out. And, if you are fortunate enough to receive a quilt from a friend or loved one.. take the time to say "thank you" and know you are pretty darn special to them for them to put in the time and energy it takes to assemble such an amazing work of art.

So, what does any of that have to do with leadership? Oh, sister! Heed my words.

  • We all start out as beginners. 
  • We all start out with a few basic tools that help us along. 
  • We all need to resist the temptation of comparison. 
  • You need to get up, dust yourself off, and smile when someone finds pleasure in your mishap.
  • Accept mishaps are going to happen. Don't let them define you.
  • You are going to run out of things to do with your group. Pack a songbook or a deck of Uno cards.
  • You are going to want to scream when you have to find one more guest speaker for the bazillionth time. 
  • You are going to want to just give up and say forget it. Just don't. Don't give up. 
  • Keep your focus. Pick one or two things that you want to get better at and work on it. 
  • Ask for help. 
  • Ask for advice. 
  • Pick the RIGHT people to ask. We all know there are those with experience that are happy to help.. and those that are happy to point out how they would have done it while making you feel like you are an idiot for trying it a different way (those are the WRONG people!)

I promise you. Just as I can now almost piece a block without losing any points in the process... you will improve, too.

There is no such thing as standing still. We are always in movement. Move forward, not backward.

And if no one else tells you this today...
You've got this. You can do it. You are doing great. I believe in you.

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