Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Task Management

Growing up and learning to drive in an area of the country that has severe winters, I learned to keep the fuel levels in my car at least a quarter of a tank full. It’s better for the engine in winter. And if you get stuck needing heat, you’re covered for as long as the tank lasts!

Just simply keeping the tank from running empty was a habit that continued until I started working from home. Then it seemed I was always running to town and a deadline was involved. The habit of always having a quarter of a tank began to slip away.

Just the other day I was leaving home to go into town and realized that my gas tank was almost empty. I had to get gas. It could not wait! As I pumped gas I contacted my appointment and communicated that I would be a few minutes late.

The urgency of gas caught up to me. I stopped managing gas on my timeline and my car inserted itself into my schedule. Now that I have noticed, I can return to getting gas before it is needed.

In life there are a lot of little things like getting gas that manage us instead of us managing them, aren’t there? If we put off going to the grocery store, cleaning up, paying the bills… before long we’ve procrastinated our whole to-do list and now we are run by our tasks, leaving no room for the things we WANT to do, like create. Spend a little time managing all these small things well on the front end, so they don’t overrun you eventually.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Life as a Lesson in Mastery

When I go to write my name, I write my name – Nysha, N Y S H A. I no longer think about how each letter is constructed. I don't think about the up stroke, down stroke, and upstroke to make the N. I make the curve stroke and up then the stem stroke down of the Y without considering I'm making specific strokes. I have written my name so many times that I don't think about writing my name. I just write my name.

As an adult, writing is like that for everyone. Once we master something we can perform the task mindlessly. And our thoughts focus on other things. Most of the time I'm usually focused on how the heck do you spell this particular word. I have made the 26 letters of the alphabet so many times that I don't think about it anymore. I just make them.

Have you ever watched a child who is just newly learning to walk and there is a hesitance about their steps? Their arms reach out to balance themselves. Their feet are planted firmly before they take the next step. And yet they always start running with glee on their faces. As an adult I don't think about my balance, my feet, or the mechanics of walking. I just walk. Because I have done it so much.

So what I want you to consider about free-motion machine quilting is that when you start it feels awkward. It's new! If you focus on practice, focus on making marks, gain the muscle memory with each mark, and at some point you won't have to think about making the marks… you can think about quilting.

This is how you're going to learn to quilt. We're going to learn one mark at a time. We're going to practice making it over and over again. Once we get a handle on that one, we're going to move on to an adjacent mark and keep working until we have learned all of the basic marks. Then we will start putting the marks together and making forms from which we can quilt anything.