There are occasional days where I find myself curled up in a ball on the floor of my studio hoping things will be different when I finally prop myself back up emotionally enough to continue. This doesn't happen often, but yesterday was one of those days. I stepped backwards and tripped over my spinning wheel, landing in a pile of yarn and fleece (thank goodness for small mercies and the soft nature of my medium) and I lay there and cried. I wasn't hurt, just frustrated by how far behind I felt and by the mound of items on my to-do list that never get done.
I don't always know what causes these days where things feel so hard, but I'm noticing lately that many people are feeling the same way. This makes me feel like less of a loser for the struggle and it reminds me that we need to support each other when times feel tough.
All day yesterday I heard the voice of one of my first tapestry teachers, Karen Martinez, ringing in my ears. She used to say, her voice echoing through the large adobe-walled room in El Rito, N.M. we wove in, "Have some self-confidence!" And hearing Karen's masterful voice in my head as I lay on the floor surrounded by spinning fleece, I started to laugh and I looked up at the loom warped and waiting for me to finish a woven sample for a monstrously large commission, and I got up. And I started. The muddy emotional mess of the prior hours evaporated and I knew I needed to dye more samples and I did it right then and there (photo below) and as of this morning, I'm ready to finish that woven sample to send to the client and then dye the huge batches of yarn needed to start the actual tapestry.
It is hard to find the courage to take a step forward into a world that seems very uncertain of late and to do it every day. So if you feel like I do sometimes, let's support each other to take the next step. Maybe together we can let art transform our worlds and lend a little bit of courage to each other. Let's show up for each other and encourage all the creativity and passion that exists in this fiber community.
How do we do that? I don't know all the answers, but a few would be to engage with other people who do the same sorts of things you do. There is a great Tapestry Weaving group on Ravelry, several on Facebook, and the American Tapestry Alliance has a listserv you can join if you're a member. Go to shows, talk to people at openings, ask to see their work, show them yours. Ask for feedback, offer constructive criticism (if asked), join a local group or fiber guild. Take an online class with a group (like THIS!). And let's remind each other not to be so hard on ourselves.
And as Karen, my Chimayo weaving teacher, would remind you, have some self-confidence! You are the only person who can make your particular contribution to the world and the world needs you. This sounds like a cliche, but it is true: Together we can make the world a better place.
If you need to hear Karen's voice yourself, you can in the following short clip. (remember if you get the blog via email you need to visit the post on the internet to view the video. Click HERE.)
My emotional mess of yesterday didn't come just from the large scale of the commission. I am absolutely sure I can complete this piece and it will be gorgeous. But now I have to add 6-8 hours of weaving time per day to an already full plate and that is what left me a mushy mess on the floor.
I am horrible at being realistic about how much time something is going to take me. Combine perfectionism with this warped time sense and you have someone who has difficulty projecting realistic timelines and thus ends up working twice the hours every week she would really like to. I also really believe that busyness is sometimes just the way we make ourselves feel like we are needed. If we're busy, people like us and need us to do things, right? This limiting belief is another thing I'm looking hard at these days.
I've been trying a system that I learned from Tien Chiu where tasks are awarded points depending on how difficult they are and how much time they'll take. I can total the points on my to-do list for the week and see if what I've projected is reasonable. So far in this first week I've learned that I definitely think I can do more than I can! This sort of point system is dicey for me and I haven't historically been very good at keeping up such systems, but I'm going to give this one a go for awhile. It might well be illuminating.
I'm off to find some more self-confidence in a big rug loom and the start of a new piece. I'll let you know how it goes.
What are your ideas about how we can find courage in community? Do you have any tips for the busyness problem? Let me know in the comments.