I don’t often get very personal in my blog or Instagram account. In this case, I decided why not? So many people go through similar situations and it might be nice to relate to another person, maybe even help with my story. What am I talking about?
In November of last year, my marriage was crumbling. The ugly details don’t matter. But the “D” word was thrown around and we were both seriously considering it. Before pulling the plug, we both decided that we needed to give our marriage, family and love for each other one last real shot. We started counseling, reconnecting (regularly scheduled date-nights), taking care of our bodies and health through exercise and healthier diet. We fought hard for a solid 6 months and I’m happy to say that our marriage is in a better place than it has been in a very long time. Maybe even better than the “newlywed” days, because we know each other and ourselves better.
The side effect of these new efforts to fix my marriage was having to put my creativity on the back burner. I wasn’t sewing much and wasn’t visiting my sewing friends on Instagram for inspiration. Putting those things on hold was absolutely necessary and important to me. These extra efforts did not allow very much free time for anything else. I did sew occasionally during those months, but nothing more than following basic patterns or making quick gifts. I didn’t really do anything to satiate the desire to create something new. Now that my husband and I are on a better path, I’ve been feeling the pull to be creative again. I’m an artist at my core. I always have been. The need to create on a regular basis has always been something that fuels my soul. It makes me happy.
In April, I started a quilt that let me stretch my creative muscles. It was from Shannon Brinkley’s US City Skyline pattern series. It was for a new baby, born to my husband’s co-worker and friend. Naturally being from the Bay Area, they wanted a San Francisco themed quilt. This was perfect! Yes, I was following a pattern. But Shannon uses and teaches a method that allows the maker to add his/her own creative twist.
This particular project was just the spark I needed to wake the inner artist that was sleeping inside. It was freeing, exciting and so much fun!
But not long after I finished this quilt, the spark seemed to dim a little. It felt good to create again and I still wanted to. But for whatever reason, I just didn’t have the energy and drive to foster that spark into a flame again. So I continued to sew a little here and there, finishing old projects, pulling fabrics for possible new projects. But nothing felt very exciting to me anymore. I was starting to fear that maybe my sewjo was gone forever.
Until late June when I attended a sewing retreat at Blueberry Hill Inn in Vermont. This retreat had been planned for a year. It was a chance to spend time with a dear friend that had recently moved away, and a chance to hug a few friends that had become cheerleaders in my creative world through Instagram (but had never had the chance to meet in real life). I was excited for this trip, even if I wasn’t sewing much lately.
What I didn’t expect was to feel so at home with 22 other women, practical strangers to me until that weekend. I’m not going to lie….it was awkward at first, meeting people in real life that you have an image of in your head of what they will be like. Boy was I surprised! In the best possible way. Most often you get an image of someone through social media, one that might depict a “perfect” life. It’s almost intimidating because you know that your own life is imperfect. It should not have surprised me that every single one of these women were so much more than their social media profiles.
When this group of women got together and came alive, it was invigorating to be among them. So much love, creativity, talent and experience in one place! The laughter from all over the room was infectious! Amazing doesn’t describe it. It was beyond that. And it filled my heart in such a way that I feel my creativity come alive again. Not just a spark anymore. But a living, breathing being inside me, waiting to come out.
What I learned through my retreat experience was this….I needed the balance that good friendships can bring to one’s life. I already felt whole in my marriage and family, whole in my body and health. But I needed to foster my friendships in order to feel balanced enough to let my creativity flow. Some of the ladies I met that weekend will be life-long friends. We continue to chat, continue to be each other’s cheerleaders and supporters. But in a much more meaningful way than before. We are all human, all have struggles, all have things we are good at and things we are still learning. We all have different hopes and dreams. Different goals and fears. Sharing these experiences with other women made me feel OK to be the flawed and imperfect person that I am. None of us are the perfect image we show to the public. And that’s totally OK. I have found balance in my life and that’s all I need.