We all have those pivotal moments in our lives that we can look back on and see exactly where our path changed. I had a moment like that back in the fall of 1993, as clear as the ringing of a bell. I was working on a quilt, using a crappy sewing machine that fought me on every stitch. Quilting was my haven from the hectic life of raising four rambunctious boys, it was the only thing I did that stayed done. I loved everything about quilting, especially the math-yness, the puzzling out the numbers of yardage, pieces to cut, the order of construction. Kent found me sobbing in frustration as I ripped out again, a seam that my machine couldn't manage. Somehow, in that moment, I knew that quilting was "my thing", it was going to be "my thing". Because he believes in me more than I can ever understand, we figured out how to get me the machine I needed (a used Bernina 1530), and, well, here I am today.
For twenty years I knew who I was and where I was going, and I was making good time. The boys were growing up into fine young men (much to my relief) and my career in quilting was successful beyond my wildest dreams. Opportunities weren't just knocking on my door, they were pounding and I said yes, come in, have a seat, make yourself at home. It was exciting, fulfilling, challenging and meaningful.
And then the wheels came off in a slow motion crash and burn. There wasn't any bright moment of enlightenment, but a slow dawning that I was tired and unhappy. I felt pigeon-holed, trapped by my own success, and that I had used up all of my smart words. So I stopped saying yes to everything, and finally stopped saying yes to anything. This was supposed to make me happy.
Instead, I found myself in this weird sort of limbo. Having this luxury of time, but without focus, feels rather self-indulgent and wasteful. Don't get me wrong, I've been having all sorts of fun being off task. There are knitting groups, embroidery guilds, fiber artisan groups, spinning groups, and quilting guilds galore. I've joined them all, met some really terrific people and learned some wonderful stuff.
At the same time I've come to see that this life of going with the flow doesn't really suit me. I'm just too young to be this old. I've realized that I have a few words left that someone might yet like to hear. I've remembered that I get to be in charge of who I am and where I go, and I have mad skills!
When I look back on this time, twenty years from now, I want to see this as the day I came back to my life. I'll see all of the growth that came in my time off, even the time that felt wasted because it taught me what feels restful. I'll see that the path wasn't straight, that I often didn't even know where it was going, but I still went, and darned if I didn't make good time.
Maybe it's silly to think I can look back from the future, but I'm going to go with it. How else do we find purpose and direction for our lives? All I know is that I've flunked retirement. Watch out world, I have no idea what comes next, any more than I did in ninety-three, but I just know it's going to be awesome.