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September 30, 2016

Looking for inspiration

Living in New Jersey, this summer's heat and humidity nearly did me in and ragweed season is now trying to finish the job. Honestly, I'm rarely content – at some point I find fault with every season. As a depressed introvert and delicate flower, I'm in a constant struggle with my surroundings and my own mind (which is often unkind and overly critical). When I spoke to my friend recently (in spite of my Eeyore demeanor, I do have one) I was encouraged to write longer posts, in part to make Google like me, but also, hopefully, to awaken my languishing inner Pooh. I thought to write about needlework or textile artists whose work I admire, but catching hold of ephemeral "inspiration" and going on to create something of my own is what I really need right now. Many creative people seem to have one passion, one art form, craft, or activity that meets all of their needs for self-expression. My problem is that I'm a dabbler – a jack of all trades, master of none. I've learned that there are endeavors which, in theory, appeal to me very much, but the actual process is tedious and not enjoyable. For example, weaving, tatting, and lace-making are skills I have no desire to learn. The products may be amazing, but the painstaking processes seem more likely to frustrate me than bring satisfaction. I've tried my hand at, and achieved some pleasure from, paper-pieced quilting, crazy quilting, wool appliqué, needle felting, crocheting and knitting, doll-making, embroidery, drawing and painting, collage and printmaking, sculpting with clay and papier mache, and furniture refinishing. At nearly fifty-one, it's very unlikely that I'll ever make a hand-quilted bed cover and I know I will never, ever crochet a delicate dining room tablecloth. While I may have the time, I lack the inclination or the delusion. I'd rather buy a finished quilt from someone who enjoyed the journey but allows me to enjoy the destination.

Over the years I've found that my mood can switch from inspired to discouraged so quickly that maintaining my creative outlets is often challenging – starting a project then losing interest or feeling overwhelmed and putting it away for later. Instead of actually doing something, I'll peruse Pinterest, thumb through my many books of art and needlework, or pasting pictures in scrapbooks for future reference, activities that are often more distraction than inspiration. My current creative quandary is the result of our living arrangement. My husband always wanted a farm. I've always wanted a place that felt secluded, but near the grocery store. After years of searching, he found a beautiful property that met our requirements and that we could afford (because it was tragically neglected). Now, on top of working full time in Manhattan, he's single-handedly renovating our small 19th century farmhouse, while he and I (and three cats) live in a trailer on the property.

Most of our belongings are stored in the barn, and the limited living space means that I have to squirrel away my art supplies – to the point that I don't remember where I buried them. If you live in a space that requires you to constantly put away a project before a cat claims it or you need a place to eat dinner, you know how frustrating it can be to start and finish a project.

But I've let the fact of my surroundings enable me to make excuses to not fully engage in my own life for too long. All I have is now, and I think now is a good time to take an active part in creating my own sense of self and satisfaction. To that end, I hope to do more and share more here. Hopefully visitors to my site will enjoy the process and encourage me with their successes. After all, communities are where you make them.
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