Joining A Quilt Guild–IBMTD #2

quilt guildThis week, my ongoing quest, to do something I’ve Been Meaning To Do (IBMTD) every week, took me to the meeting of my local quilt guild.

I’ve been meaning to go to a meeting and join the guild since I went to their biennial quilt show in October. Being at that show and having a good look at a lot of beautiful quilts inspired me to finish a quilt I had started years ago.

I made my very first quilt about 40 years ago when I was in college, but got more serious about quilting about 20 years ago. Quilting has this very fundamental appeal to me. When we talk about “hands at home,” it’s the image of quilters, working together around a quilting frame, that pops into my mind first.

I love the idea that quiltmaking has such a deep tradition in American life, but can also be so modern.

I love the idea that quilters take scraps of the old and homely and transform them into something surpassingly lovely.

I love the idea that quilting has given generations of women a social outlet and a place to meet and join hands to create something lasting, practical, and beautiful.

Quilt guilds across America are keeping these traditions alive and thriving in the 21st century. The website of the American Quilter’s Society lists 1250 local quilt guilds. That’s a whole lot of loving hands at home!

Like other guilds, the local one teaches new skills, offers quilting challenges to members, and participates in community life. Members make quilted pieces for many local charities, providing warmth and color to people whose lives can be cold and bleak.

I joined the guild the night I went. Being there has already inspired me to start a new quilting project, another item on my IBMTD list. I suspect you’ll be hearing more about that later!

All of this has gotten me wondering—are there quilt guilds in other countries or is it an American phenomenon? Do other traditional crafts have comparable guilds, where crafters meet regularly and organize around the activity? Knitters? Crocheters? Jewelers? Do you meet with others who share your love for your craft?

I’d love to hear!

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Good Intentions On Ice–IBMTD #1

IMG_0027I have lived near Lake Champlain many years of my life, and right on her shores for the last several years. I played in her waters as a child and boated on her as an adult. In warm weather, we sit next to her, with music and a campfire. I admire her changing moods every day from my kitchen window.

But I had never, ever walked on her waters. Her frozen waters, of course. Right now, there are miles and miles of ice outside my door, as a result of the cold weather you’ve been reading about and, for some of you, experiencing first hand.

This is one of those things I’ve been meaning to do and, yesterday, I finally did it!

It’s not such a big deal, really—people are out there every day in the winter. Ice fishers are out there on days when I wonder if they are sane because the ice is so thin. We’ve seen paragliders sailing along the ice surface and, some years, the ice is so thick that cars and trucks can be driven on it.

If fact, one of the family stories that gets told again and again is of my father and mother, in their young, exceedingly foolish days, driving across the ice. They crossed the lake at its broadest point of 14 miles in a big 1950s land yacht of a car. Why? To go from Plattsburgh, NY, to Burlington, VT, on a lark! I’m lucky not to have grown up an orphan!

So, the lake can be a busy place but I had never set foot on that ice until yesterday.

Yesterday was the perfect day for it! It wasn’t too cold but it has been so there were no worries about the ice giving way. It wasn’t too windy. There weren’t too many ice fishers out there. And my husband was willing to go along and add to the fun!

The ice is beautifully smooth right now, a contrast to many times when it’s frozen solid but very broken up because of wave action and thawing and re-freezing. In many spots, I’m convinced a confident skater could glide along without trouble.

No double axels for us! We strapped on our trusty Yaktrax and walked along with no worries of falling.

IMG_0029If you live where it can get icy and slippery and aren’t familiar with Yaktrax, this is a public service message! They’re made of rubber with coiled steel and they strap on snugly over any shoes or boots. Your weight causes the steel coils to grip the ice and prevent slipping. My husband broke his leg several years ago, slipping on ice, so we keep the Yaktrax handy now.

So, all bundled up, with Yaktrax-ed feet, we took a wonderful walk on the ice. The perspective from lake level is completely different so we took photos of our house and walked down the lake and took pictures along the way.

IMG_00262Truly, there wasn’t a lot to see—a broad, flat, gray expanse of beautiful ice. A few ice-fishing specks in the distance. No sound but us scrunching. Peaceful. Lovely.

IMG_0024Having finally gotten out there, I’m ready to go right back out and walk on that ice again . . . but I’ll have to wait. Today, the temps are rising into the 40s and it’ll be warm for several days so everything will change out there.

However, one thing we can always be sure of in this part of the world is that the day will come, probably sooner than later, when there will be ice on Lake Champlain. And when that happens, I’ll be ready to walk on it!

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I’ve done something, however small, that I’ve been meaning to do. Have you?

More on “I’ve Been Meaning To . . .”

planningDo you have trouble getting around to doing things you really want to do? Do you find yourself saying, “Oh, I’ve been meaning to do that!” when you hear what others are accomplishing (or when you look at your Pinterest boards)?

Since I went public last week, you know I have this problem. As I’ve thought about the things “I’ve been meaning to do” (IBMTD), I’ve remembered a framework for productivity that is helping me think things through. If you’ll bear with me, through this somewhat wordy post, maybe it can help you, too.

Something clicked in my head when another blogger, Sheryl, who writes “A Hundred Years Ago,” commented on my IBMTD challenge for myself, saying, “I think that I do the things that absolutely must be done and the things that I like to do–but I never seem to get around to the things that I ‘want’ to do, but are more difficult for me to do for one reason or another.”

Yes! Exactly! This sparked my memory of a book by Steven Covey and A. Roger and Rebecca R. Merrill, called First Things First. They present a means by which to consider the tasks, goals, and dreams you have before you, and to set priorities.

They use this quadrant to visualize four categories of activities that we spend our time on, in terms of their importance and urgency. Their topics in each quadrant are examples only–we each need to think what we would put in each section:

quadrantsIt’s obvious that we focus a lot of our time in the top-left quadrant, and rightly so. Those things which are urgent AND important need our time and energy.

We can also easily recognize and understand the lower-right quadrant—not important/not urgent. In other words, mindless, though pleasurable, time wasting. Mine is the game Words with Friends.

When we move past these two categories into the other two, things get a little more complicated. Most of us would say we want to move to the things we have deemed most important, even if they aren’t not urgent or pressing. But, really, most of us tend to get caught up in things that feel urgent—things that are making noise or that others are pushing us to do—even when we could see, if we thought about it, that those things are not really very important to us.

This tendency is compounded by the fact that doing those things that seem urgent (even if unimportant) allows us feel productive. We can say, “But I needed shampoo!” and tick it off the list. The things that are truly important may be more difficult to achieve, they may involve hard work or come with baggage of some kind (for example, fear of failure), and those barriers slow us down and focus us back to something that makes us feel productive—the urgent/not important.

Covey and the Merrills say that only by articulating for ourselves just exactly what is really important and committing to it can we make steps toward making time to do those things, whether it’s spending more time with family, finishing a big project, or taking the first steps to begin a new adventure.

I found all of this pretty useful when I was working professionally and balancing that work with a personal life. But when I retired, I just figured I’d have so much time available I could do all the stuff in all the quadrants.

But, it doesn’t work that way! It’s still so easy to find things to do that fill up a lot of time and, only later, do I see that I’ve skipped many of the things that I say are important to me.

So, I’ve gone back to thinking about my goals in terms of the quadrant. It’s more fluid and flexible now that I’m retired—less of the truly urgent—but the approach is still useful.

I’m not telling you all this in preparation for divulging my deepest thoughts about what’s important in my life. Presumably that will come out, to some extent, as I continue you my “IBMTD” challenge. I’m telling you this because it might provide you with a new way of thinking about your goals and how to fit everything in.

What are the most important things in your life that aren’t getting done? What do you always say you want to do, but never get to? Should those things be in that top-right corner?

How do you spend your time when you’ve done everything that’s truly urgent and important, and you still have time left in your day? Are they tasks that, under inspection, belong in those bottom two quadrants? Can you consciously shift the focus to those things you’ve said are really important?

What’s one thing you’ve really been meaning to do?

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The perceptive among you will notice that I still haven’t reported on doing anything I’ve been meaning to do! This is one of my issues . . . I get hung up talking about things, rather than doing them. But I’m working on it!