Monday, July 29, 2013


Several years ago, while chilling in a hotel room on a teaching trip, I tried to find something worth watching on tv. Hotel cable has lots to offer as long as it's sports. Unless it's the Detroit Tigers, I'm totally not interested.

I finally settled on the Food Network,with Emeril Lagasse in all his glory. I don't remember what he was making, something on his stove top. He was emphasizing that this dish should be cooked on medium low. In his silly way, he pulled the knob off the stove and pointed out all the settings between off and scorch. Bam! It nearly knocked me out of my chair.

All of my life I have struggled with a black/white, on/off, right/wrong  kind of thinking. I'm sure that it goes hand in hand with my perfectionistic tendencies.These things do not make for happy camping. I've come pretty far on my journey to recover from perfectionism. At least I can catch myself in the act and give myself a stern talking to. The yes/no, not so much.

I've been in kind of a bad place for the last couple of years. Raising my rambunctious boys had been my sole purpose in life for decades, and now they are well and truly launched. I know that my empty nest is weighing on me. Don't get me wrong, Kent and I are thrilled to have our honeymoon suite back, but some days I kept those boys alive by shear force of will, despite their best efforts to thwart me. That they are thriving, responsible adults, taking the world by storm gives me more joy than any deal ever sealed. And yet...

Travel has also been getting me down. Oh, how I love to teach. I really do believe that it is my strongest skill. But I can only think of bad words when I consider the travel experience. It's never the people on the other end, it's the travel itself. In a word, it hurts.

I've pretty much emptied my bucket list in the quilting universe. I've done almost all of the things that I thought would be pie-in-the-sky achievements: being on Simply Quilts, and other tv shows; designed fabric; designed for magazines; project on cover of magazine; name on covers; teaching at big shows; teaching all over the country (and beyond). What more is there to do but more of the same?

So, I've been thinking about quitting. Everything.Seriously. No more travel, no more teaching, no more designing, no more sewing. Nada. Applewood Farm has served its purpose (to put the boys through college), so what's the point, right? In or out.

This morning, as I was weeding my herb garden it occurred to me that I could weed for just as long as I wanted to. Every gardener knows that, unless you have a one planter on a sea of concrete, a garden is never completely weeded. Sometimes all it takes is to turn your back, and there will be new weeds. And yet, here I was thinking that if only I worked harder, the garden could be somehow done. Duh.

Some. What a concept. If I weed some every now and then, the garden will be better for it. If I clean some, the house will stop looking like a war zone. If I teach some, the travel can be fun instead of arduous. If I quilt some, I can make what I like and work at a pace that comes closer to play.

I know, too soon old, too late smart, but I'm not quite done yet. I'm still a work in progress, as we all are. I'm going to try out this some for a while and see if I like it. I'm off to make some stems for my applique, and maybe cut some flowers for the dining room table, and perhaps bake some cookies. (Some spinning could happen too.)


  1. Anonymous11:34 AM

    oh my goodness--my heart jumped into my throat and then sank to the pit of my stomach when I read the part about quitting quilting. PLEASE just take a break, do a bit now and then. You are the only quilter that I have done each and every quilt.

  2. I often wonder how teachers keep from burning out. Maybe "some" is the answer for you. I like the concept a whole lot. Anyone who has taught (while traveling, yuk) knows that it's not for the faint of heart. I'll be interested to hear what you decide. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

  3. hi Beth, "some". Precisely. I've come to this place through a slightly different door. My question is how much of "some" will give me the balance I want as I reinvent my life. No clear answer yet but we'll get there. What is clear is that travel is not what feels right at this point. But oh, the people on the other end ! Off to do "some" weeding and yard work, then back indoors for "some" of everything else. Waving hello from the mountain west. laura

  4. Anonymous2:41 PM

    Beth, I've admired your spirit since I met you several years ago when I contacted you to do a workshop in Mentor, Ohio. I felt we were soul sisters then. I still feel the same way! You are definitely a wise woman. Recognizing any truth in our life is huge. It's so easy to just keep going on the way we have been without realizing what it takes to make our life better, easier, happier for us. This is your time to figure out what makes you happy and balanced. I'm very happy for you. I know how the empty nest feeling is too. I dream of my girls being children again on a regular basis... bittersweet! Leslie Hoff

  5. I'm having a similar crisis with exercise and running. For years the almighty goal has been to lose weight and get fit. Getting good at running was part of the process: If I run more I'll lose more weight... Well now I'm done losing weight, so my motivation to run has evaporated. Now it's work: yuck.

    So now what? If I want to run for the sake of bieng a better runner I need to run a lot.... Like really a lot. ALL training geared toward running. Sacrices in diet and a very meaningful time commitment. Once you make the connection that your end goal has passed it becomes nearly impossible to have fun doing it.

    But running IS still fun. The mental challenge, the runners high, the chance to clear the mind and just "do work" hasn't changed. I just need to find the drive again, some new way to make it a journey instead of a daily commute. In life, as in running, there's always another hill to climb if you go look for it. Find your hill. I found mine.

  6. thank you for your transparency. that is such a gift that you have given to us. what i have loved about you beth, is your transparency. your love for your family always showed through as the top of the list in importance for you. i for one, applaud you and your approach to "some" Life is very short. it should be lived as peacefully and with as much contentment as possibly could be. when we feel out of balance, there is discord within. i am just so happy that you are willing to listen to what is inside of YOU, instead of worrying about what others will think, or letting "their" voices drown out your own. i am proud of you. would that we could all be as loyal to ourselves, the world would be a much better place......notice i not saying that your loyalty to yourself is a GREAT thing, it is not done in a mean, nasty, selfish devil may care about the rest of the world way. you are a kind and gentle, humble spirit......i am very blessed to have learned from you--not only about quilting, but about life.

  7. Anonymous7:02 PM

    Bless you, Beth. You were one of the best parts of Portland so I'm glad you hadn't quit yet. I'm at the "some" point myself so totally understand, but the quilt world will lose something very special if you hang it up.

  8. Beth I think you aren't alone but your work is beautiful so just take a break. After spending your whole life with a single purpose of raising children it's hard to switch back to the rest of your life. I go for long walks, lots of meditation and trust in friends. A cup of tea and those who know you best will push you forward.

  9. ah, balancing our lives - women are really bad at it - we feel we need to take care of everything or it won't get done ... and we forget that sometimes - so what! As I'm getting older, I'm starting to do that "some" thing myself. If people want more from me, well, they may have to wait. I make sure the truly important things get done and then chip away at the other things - I'm much calmer and happier now!

  10. Beth - hope you find that magic 'some'. Glad to see that you are considering the 'some' as opposed to 'done'. Take a break. You deserve it! and find the magic 'some' !!!
    <3 judi

  11. I have been thinking this for almost a year, now. Perhaps we get to a point in our lives when we realize our hours are limited and the time spent better mean something.

    It sounds as though you could (really) use a sabbatical. One of an undetermined destination and time-frame. Walk away, don't look back and change your POV.

    If and When you return, WE WILL BE HERE and excited to hear about your experience. If you don't return, we will wish you well in your new life.