Thursday, April 23, 2020

Parenting, Perfection, and Perseverance

Patchwork Pencil Pouch by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

A pair of cardinals has set up housekeeping in the small sago palm tree beside our backyard swimming pool. James spotted three speckled eggs in a tiny nest almost a week ago, and several days later they were replaced by a trio of fluffy chicks that look so much like miniature plucked turkeys to me that I grin every time I see them. Since we've had a sudden run of summer weather, we've been taking a dip in the pool every evening before dinner, careful not to bother the new family while we do it. I was worried that maybe our presence would scare the parents away, but a few nights ago as the girls were taking turns doing handstands in the shallow end, we suddenly saw the father swoop down to check on the babies. He lingered for a few seconds, flew back up into the nearby oak tree, and was immediately replaced by the mama bird who did the same thing. For the next ten minutes or so, I couldn't take my eyes away from watching those two birds take turns looking after their little ones. It reminded me so much of James and I as we shepherd our girls through this strange time together at home. There are moments when he picks up the burdens because I'm feeling weak, and then I turn around a few hours later and do the same for him. Sometimes we tackle frustrations at the same time with grit-your-teeth determination, and other times it's all so ridiculous that we can't stop laughing. But we're facing it together, and I love that. Teamwork: it's a good idea whether you're parenting cardinals or strong young women, and we're getting a little better at it each day.

Nest of Baby Cardinals by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Yesterday I spent almost two hours working on a new pattern I've been wanting to write, and it ended in failure. I walked away from it until later in the evening, started from scratch, and promptly failed again. Sigh . . . it's all part of the creative process, of course, and you can't let it get you down. So I put that new pattern away for another day, and this afternoon I'll be working on something that I know I'll enjoy. Because that's part of the creative process too. You have to know when you're up to a challenge and when you need something pleasantly simple, and today is a day for comfort sewing, I think.

For the past few days, I've been working on cleaning out my guest room/office which has been in desperate need of some purging for some time now. Going through the stuffed drawers of the dresser in there feels something like conducting an archaeological dig of my life, and the various piles that I've been sorting read the same way: here lies Heidi the fabric designer, the artist, the antique collector, the writer, the interior designer, the teacher, the quilter. I look at all the pieces of myself spread out across the guest room bed, and I'm reminded again of one of the character traits that I constantly struggle with in myself: that dreaded perfectionism. I want to try absolutely everything, but I want to do it all really well. And this stubborn streak often paralyzes me so that I can't get past the excitement of the planning and into the actual doing, turning me into a first class procrastinator. Hence the gouache paints that have never been opened and the journals that have only a few pages of writing and the stack of sewing patterns that I've never started. So I'm choosing to see this time at home as a chance to grow, to play with some things that I normally wouldn't have had the guts to try. Step one: some day in the next week I'm going to break out those paints and see what happens.

Patchwork Pencil Pouch by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Part of my cleaning in the office has been going through the book samples and props that have been stored in containers for so long. I always like to spread the quilts and pillows around the house, but a lot of the small things wind up in storage for future trunk shows. Well, no more of that. I'm saving a few items for future gifting, but it's nice to pull more of these happy little pieces out into the open where I can enjoy them. For instance, the pencil cases in the photos above were designed for Carnival of Patchwork, and I love seeing them out on my desk. I wanted a mix of fabrics that was both cheerful and a little bit vintage, and it turned out just the way I hoped it would. Incidentally, that red print is from the Lola Dutch collection by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Fabrics, which my girls adore. My mother bought them all the picture books in that series for Easter this year, and they've been taking online drawing classes with Sarah Jane ever since the quarantine started. I love watching my daughters not only develop their artistic talents but also start to gain a creative fearlessness that I want more of myself. It's so easy to encourage them to just have fun and enjoy it without getting hung up on perfection, (funny how it's always easier to speak those words to others than it is to say them to ourselves), and seeing them do that makes me want to do it too. We may be stuck at home for now, but it doesn't mean we can't still find ways to spread our wings and fly.

15 comments:

  1. I really love reading your blog posts. I may not comment on all of them but I do read them all. We are quite alike in so many ways so I totally context to this post. I’m also trying to look at how I can benefit from this time when it’s over. How will I see life. How will I live life. How will I be with other people when we can finally talk face to face and give those long missed hugs. I hope I will be a better person but only time will tell, right?

    I love your pouches. I love the style of the patchwork and your fabrics. I hope the rest of your week and weekend are wonderful.

    April Lopez.

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  2. So beatiful things!.

    Kisses.

    Olga

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  3. I enjoyed this post, I completely understand you deciding to use some more of your things that were put away. I have decided while home to use my 'good things' that were often saved for 'best'. I need to enjoy life more so I am lighting the good candles, wearing my favourite clothes and generally trying to be a little happier and more appreciative of what I have. x

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  4. Heidi — this is just a beautiful piece of writing. Thank you for sharing some of your quarantine experience with us.

    Fun fact: it was a friend of mine here in Paris who took Sarah Jane on the walking tour where she found THE pink apartment building that you see in Lola Dutch!

    Cheers from Paris. Blessings to you and your family as you navigate this strange time.

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  5. Oh goodness, I can relate to the perfectionism and the various things I take up (or mean to). It's difficult to lay aside the perfectionism and just let the fun begin. Often when I'm trying to get one thing done and it isn't working (like your pattern writing), the solution will come while I'm working on something else. Hope that happens for you! Enjoy your day!

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  6. I love the Lola Dutch fabrics. I made my grand daughter a skirt and a pillow case for Christmas out of some of them. I bought her the books too, so she would get the connection. She is 4. I love your pencil pouches. So cute. Do get out the paints and play. I bought some a year or so ago. I found that a whole large sheet of paper intimidated me, so I cut a sheet into 4 postcard size pieces and found that I could fill those up easier. Have fun with it.

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  7. Beautiful pencil cases!
    I think that I was fearless when I was younger, and perfectionism has reared its ugly head as I've aged. Maybe it's because I subconsciously think i don't have the time to 'fail'? Double darn! I'm working on it...
    Stay safe with your little birds...

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  8. My dear you are not alone! I have so many patterns I want to make, Acrylic paints ready to be mixed for acrylic pour art, Yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, weaving looms, on and on. And...I want to do it all perfectly from the get go! I think my daughter (32 y/o) has finally learned that all of these things I surround myself with are actually a really good thing in these days of isolation. I AM NEVER BORED. She is struggling with it all. She had to stop working a month ago, because her pregnancy has advanced to that point and with no real hobbies to speak of; well, she spends a lot of time cleaning, recleaning and looking at her phone. Keep on with all you are doing. Your children will benefit from it!

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  9. Gosh, you have to have the best fabric stash in the country!! You always make such sweet, sweet treasures with fabrics that I have never seen and wish I had. Your girls are very lucky to have such a talented mom! I am also one of those people that want to try everything and want immediate perfection...not the real world for sure, lol! My mother was not creative in the crafty sense at all but always encouraged me and supplied me with materials and craft kits starting when I was just a little girl. I am thankful for that and have always been able to entertain myself for hours at a time. Just wish I had the time now to let my mind be free to create. It is wonderful that you are doing the same with your girls, they will someday realize what a wonderful thing you did. Thanks for another touching post and real-life post!

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  10. How fun to find that nest! And interesting that you have found a similarity between the parent birds and your and your husband. Yep, parenting takes alot of work, and so nice to have a wonderful companion to share it with! Since we don't have Cardinals here, if you happened to catch a picture of them and want to share it, that would be lovely. :-)I love your pouch: you sent me down a rabbit-hole looking for the Sarah Jane fabric, and then I discovered that I had seen her Sommer fabric line and loved it! And I hope you can ease up on yourself and your feelings that you need perfection. My younger daughter was that way and it led to enough anxiety that she had to go on medication in Junior High school. I think God loves you as you are and is so pleased with your efforts to do good and I don't think he is expecting perfection of us. He just loves us perfectly as we are. Have a wonderful weekend!! Hugs, H

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  11. Those little pouches are adorable and I'm glad you are able to spend this time working out what is really important to you for the future. I've been doing a lot of thinking on that myself these days.

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  12. Love the little pouches and the fabrics used.
    I think of folks are taking this time to do things that they've put off.
    Good luck on the pattern writing

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  13. You’re really good at writing, Heidi. Lovely conversational style that’s easy to read but with thought-provoking content. I can relate to the perfection paralysis. I think for me it comes from never feeling good enough at school or at home. Rather than risk another failure, I’ll just procrastinate until it goes away. Hope you’re having a great summer with your family. Missing your posts on IG but glad for you that you’re taking a break. It can be such a time drain!! Ugh.

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  14. Hello Heidi,
    Hope you are enjoying your summer break. I feel as though I am intruding but don't know how else to get in touch with you. Thank you for all your tutorials, I love them all but am having a really hard time understanding step 5 of making the envelope in the Stationery Kit Tutorial. I cannot make head nor tail of it. I would be really grateful if you could possibly explain it clearly for me. Sorry and thank you.

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Aren't you the sweetest!! Thanks for making my day by leaving a comment!

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