The Story behind Choose Joy
Every story has a beginning, and although my story may be unique, it's certainly not special. I'll share the short version. You have a story to tell too and my hope is that you will be brave and share it.
Five years ago I was lost. I had lost myself in motherhood, I was struggling creatively, I didn't really feel like I had a purpose beyond laundry, running after toddlers and school drop offs and pickups. I had a beautiful studio in a farmhouse in rural New England, but spending time in there gave me guilt.
Guilty that I was spinning my wheels. Guilty that I wasn't good enough to share anything I made with the world. Guilty I had talents and was wasting them. Guilty that every time I did anything for me it was taking away from my family which in turn made me a neglectful mother and wife.
My cup was empty and the weather hated me. Well, not really but after years of living in the east, it became apparent that I was struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It's a real thing and it's awful.
Depression is more than sadness. I felt like my brain was between stations on a radio, with static was getting in the way of every aspect of my life. Nothing I was doing seems to make my skies any sunnier.
A chemical imbalance and some subconscious negative behaviors were rearing their ugly heads. The terrible thing about darkness is that the negative voices in my head got really loud and I couldn't hear anything else.
I didn't feel brave, or confident inside. Some days I was barely holding myself together and it was awful. I was trying to fake it, but this was not a fake it till you make it situation. Lots of tears were part of this too. I was empty and my husband was trying to hold me together.
Luckily, I had some great supporters and realized that I needed some outside help. I found a great doctor and therapist who both helped me realize I was not trapped. I could choose to see good and light in my life again and didn't have to live the rest of my life in burnout or darkness. There are several ways to cope with SAD. You can read about them here.
So I started with small things. I immediately took the clock out of the studio. I started to set boundaries in every aspect of my life. I got help with my children, took small day trips by myself, and started drawing again. Even when the weather was really cold I bundled up and headed outside with my camera. I was determined to start seeing beauty in the winter, and I did! I found it in little tiny ice crystals, frozen leaves, and tiny snowflakes. Winter was beautiful I hadn't allowed myself to see it.
That right there. I wasn't seeing the beauty and joy... I had to choose to.
Fast forward 5 years later, that bravery is back and so is my confidence. Not to worry, I still have my moments. But every day that I choose to see the good things, the joyful things, the beautiful things is a day that is better than yesterday. This isn't a story about depression, this is a story about making conscience choices to see what you have to give to the world and start doing it. You are to be celebrated for who you are and what you have to give.
I know that you can do that too. Every day presents challenges, dark moments, and difficulties, but if you choose to look for the light, the laughter, and the hope in every day it will make all the difference in your life.
How does this relate to a book about quilting? Through all this I was sewing and making, but I didn't know how much it mattered.
Often in the quilting world, we make things because they are popular and pretty, and this is good! But how much better if the time and effort put into your creativity has a purpose.
What you make matters and Choose Joy: Quilting with Intention is that reminder to think about your purpose and the people you make things for, because what you make matters. Choose Joy will help you to make this a practice as part of your process. The book is filled with prompts and journaling space to help you create this focus in everything you make. Start living your life out loud and in color, with purpose. Know that you and your talents matter whatever they may be!
Hugs and Happy Making.