I really enjoyed the conversation last week when we discussed the aesthetics of design. I don’t know if I will have a philosophical or discussion type post every week, but I am inspired this week to open another discussion after recently re-reading the book The Four Agreements by
In this post, I am going to focus a bit on each agreement and how I currently view how it applies or integrates into my blogging and quilting life.
1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
Did you know that one of the definitions of integrity is “the state of being whole and undivided”?
Personally, I think the hardest part of being impeccable with your Word is applying this to myself. I don’t know about you, but my inner critic (whom I have not-so-affectionately named “my mean voice”) can be very hard on me. When something really triggers my inner critic, and the movie starts to play, it is hard to hear anything else over the noise of my own inner flogging. Learning how to pause and step outside of this cycle is an on-going learning process for me.
Because I know just how hard I can be on myself, I do try to be very positive and uplifting. This is one of the big reasons I am such an advocate for leaving comments on blog posts. I will certainly only say something if I mean it, and I will do my best to use the power of my Word to spread truth and love. And since quilts = love, I think we can all agree that we are adding a lot of positive to the world.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
Hello QuiltCon quilt show rejection!
Honestly, though, I think the best I can hope to strive for in my quilting life is to be really clear with myself about why I am doing something. For instance, I made a quilt that I love and think is beautiful. I submitted that quilt to a juried quilt show. The quilt was not accepted to be shown. That should not decrease my love or feelings about my quilt one iota. So, I need to think long and hard about why I am making a quilt before I get myself into such a sticky situation of gummy emotions. If my main purpose in quilt making is to make a quilt to be accepted into QuiltCon, I will more than likely be setting myself up for disappointment. Instead, if I set my purpose to make quilts that I enjoy and love, then I will feel joyous when I am confident enough to submit the quilt for a juried show, and I will still be joyous regardless of any outcome because I loved making the quilt.
This also applies to quilt making when working with customers! What I find aesthetically pleasing and desirable might not match the vision that my customer has. I need to realize that their desires have nothing to do with me (it really isn’t that they dislike my work, they just really have a vision in mind that they want fulfilled!).
This might just be the hardest agreement for me right now; I care a lot and I confuse caring with taking things personally too often.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
The bottom line here is communicate! I love the online quilting community because it allows us to communicate with one another to openly discuss our failures and celebrate our successes and acknowledge our flaws.
One of my husband’s favorite things to say right now is, “no one is an expert/professional.” This has come up in discussions between us a lot recently. For instance, we were talking about what it was like for us as teenagers and young adults as we prepared to become independent. I used to assume that one day I would just, you know, be an adult and magically know what to do. It turns out that I took my best stab at a career and it wasn’t meant to be a life-long endeavor for me. Instead, I gained 15 years of experiences, adventures, friends, and memories, and now I am forging out on a new trail.
4. Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
Yes. My best has certainly fluctuated a bit over the past 3 months. In November, I did not have the energy to sew for several weeks. And when I started sewing again, my best efforts consisted of sewing for 30 minutes at a time. I honored that reality and because I did my best to cultivate the space to allow myself to function as best I could, I think I healed in a healthier and smarter way. And it certainly helps me appreciate my new best efforts and the energy I have to be more productive.
This is a great reason to take photographs of our work, because it is fun to go back and celebrate how our best changes. Not to nit-pick previous work, but to celebrate in our growth.
Are the four agreements new to you? How else could they apply to quilting and a healthy relationship with our craft and industry?