This month is my 11 year blogging anniversary. To celebrate this blog lasting as long as it has...I thought I'd share some throwback quilt photos and share "11 things I’ve learned in 11 years"!
1. Embrace the creative lulls.
Some weeks I am whipping up quilt patterns, banging out a few quilts, and overflowing with creative ideas. Other weeks I barely move from bed to couch to bed in yoga pants, with a book and a bag of popcorn from Costco. Rest days are just as important as creative days, so let yourself enjoy nothingness without beating yourself up about it. Just roll with it!
2. Create for yourself.
If you always create for yourself you will always like what you create. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made something because I thought it would appeal to a certain audience...and it turned out blah and I regretted it. This was the reason I stopped sewing and designing to promote new collections for fabric manufacturers years ago...it felt forced, and I'm certain it showed in my finished work. When I'm feeling like I can't pinpoint my style or I'm feeling swayed by social media, I take a break from Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, and just enjoy playing with fabric.
3. You can learn how to do it on YouTube.
Want to know how I learned how to use my camera? YouTube. Start and customize my blog? YouTube. Use Photoshop? YouTube. Create patterns for fabric designs in Illustrator? YouTube. Set up an email newsletter for my blog? YouTube. Clean my sewing machine? YouTube. Cut up a potato into french fries? YouTube. There is no excuse to not learn something new! We are so blessed to have amazing resources right at our fingertips if they are used correctly (there is also SO MUCH JUNK so filter and use good judgment!).
(Ryan's Quilt, full tutorial can be found here, and don't worry the garland was only for the photo!)
4. Let it go.
When I received my first mean comment I was crushed. I don’t even remember the comment, but I do remember my complete over reaction to it (drama queen!). Last week I received a super rude email. I sent her back the nicest email like she was my favorite person in the entire world, and then I deleted her email and went on with my day. I learned a long time ago that I cannot succeed if I take everything personally, or let everything become personal. Treat negativity with kindness, and let it go. Don't think about it, and don't dwell on it!
5. My only competition is me.
When I gave up competing with other people in all aspects of my life, my life became so much better. I definitely still feel a twinge of jealously or "I should be doing more!" now and then, but I can quickly remind myself that I am only trying to be better than I was yesterday. Once I stopped feeling competitive towards others I could just be happy and excited for them instead, which is such a better feeling!
6. Mistakes are learning curves.
I hate this one because I really hate making mistakes, but I've also learned to relax and not freak out when I do. Maybe it's a perk of being older and wiser, but my reaction to making mistakes has changed. I no longer freak out, beat myself up, and let it ruin my mood. Instead I can just accept that it happened, figure out how to fix it, and let it go without letting myself dwell on it. Mistakes are how we learn, so if I remember that I can be thankful for the learning experience, even when it's hard!
7. Vulnerability = Growth
I have had so many scary, vulndrable growing experiences over the past 11 years. So many times teaching, speaking, releasing new patterns or books or fabric, exhibiting at Quilt Market, selling at retail shows, doing book signings, figuring out how to have a business and do my dang taxes...and every time I can feel fear and doubt start to creep in. A little bit of scary is good for me, and through it I've grown into a completely different person than I would have been without those experiences!
8. I can do anything, but I can’t do everything.
After dabbling in a lot of different things I’ve learned what I’m good or not good at, and what I really don’t enjoy. For example I get asked all the time when I will write a second book...and honestly? I just don’t enjoy writing books! Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, but for now I stick to what I love with the precious time I have. It's easy to feel like I need to do EVERYTHING and be awesome at EVERYTHING...and it's just not possible. So instead I pick a couple of things and I work on being good at those, and the rest is "good enough," and I keep my sanity.
9. Celebrate creative differences.
Don’t judge others or their creative work. Only celebrate differences and artistic expression, as I hope others will do for me. Creativity in all it’s forms is beautiful even if it’s not “my thing” and I appreciate it all. This isn't really something I learned, because I've always felt this way and believed this, but it's always a good reminder.
10. I will never have time, so stop waiting for it and make it.
A couple of years ago I realized that I was saying "I don't have time!" about a hundred times a day....to my friends/family/husband/ kids/and work people. Just cutting that out of my vocabulary made a ginormous difference in my life! For all 11 years, everything I do is done in 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there, and during blessed nap times (which are becoming rare!). More gets done during those slivers of time because I have to focus and hustle. I also have to be picky about what I choose to fill my time with. When I'm feeling like I have "no time", I can almost always blame it on too much phone/tv/a good book/folding laundry (folding my boys laundry is a total waste of time!).
11. Gratitude is everything.
I go on a walk almost every day, and in my mind while I'm walking, I list things small to big that I'm thankful for. It's helped me feel less overwhelmed, more mindful, and more happy. Learning how to go with the flow, be more mindful, and live in gratitude are probably the greatest things I've learned since I started writing this blog 11 years ago. None of them I necessarily learned from starting this blog, but it was certainly part of the journey! It will always be a work in progress but hopefully in 11 more years I will be even better at it.
Thank you for taking this blogging journey with me for the past 11 years. I still enjoy quilting, sharing, and blogging just as much as I did then, and hopefully I will continue to love it for many years to come!