You’re probably thinking, “Yep, so do I.” But, believe it or not, what we do isn’t ordinary. It’s a TALENT.
Fifty years ago it was rare to find a woman who didn’t sew, but today, we are less common. One of the things that inhibits our ability to earn our worth is the old fashioned idea that everyone sews, and thus it isn’t special. But it is.
Let me tell you a story:
A couple of weeks ago, I went to camp for a long weekend. Camp like when we were kids. Except when I was a kid in England, so we didn’t do that kind of summer camp. But here I was, 53 year old me, going to camp for the first time! It was up in the Catskills in NY, and it was a delightful gig run by Jonathan and Stephanie Fields of Good Life Project. It was part fun, part entrepreneurial business stuff, and 100% soul, with meaningful twenty-second hugs all day long. In many, many ways, it was a life changing experience.
Coming into this, we were told there would be a Talent Show. My talent is sewing. Really. I sew just about every day, and I’m good at it. But how do you show a talent of sewing in three minutes on stage? Without a machine?
Hold that thought…
About three weeks before camp started, Jonathan sent out a message, challenging the campers to find something to do that would fill three buckets in our lives – ones he proposes are necessary to a Good Life – those of Connection, Vitality, and Contribution.
Many of my camp pals had some amazing ideas… I think one of the best was this challenge offered by my friend Kyle Wood, who heads up Heartmen, to write notes of admiration and love to twenty fellas in your life. (This is on my list for *after* Quilt Market, and probably will include my women pals too, when I can give some serious attention to it!) But while I liked Kyle’s idea, I was still searching for my own.
What brings me Vitality is my art. I need to make art like I need air. And I mostly make art with a sewing machine. So I decided to create a signature quilt for Jonathan and Stephanie. Design was easy… I have a great alphabet at my fingertips! Colors were easy too… Jonathan likes ORANGE (kindred spirit!) and gray was great for the signature area. Jonathan often signs his missives “with gratitude…” so I poached his words for the text. I hustled the quilt together and, in true quilter fashion, squeaked out the binding the night before I departed.
When I arrived at camp, as my friends were discussing their Talent Show plans, I was still thinking “How the heck do I show people my sewing talent?” when the lightbulb went on: give them the quilt at the Talent Show.
So with the help of many campers, we got a lot of signatures done before the show without letting the cat out of the bag (the rest were done at breakfast the next day). I’ve made signature quilts before, but somehow this one was very different. Just about EVERYONE that signed it hugged me and thanked me for making it possible for them to participate in something that expressed our gratitude. The depth of their thanks, and so many powerful hugs, made me weepy to the point of giving up on mascara on the second day.
I just didn’t see that coming… Connection, Vitality, and Contribution – all wrapped up in fabric. Let me tell you… fabric is a magical thing. I thought I was “just” making a quilt. Ha!
And then back to the Talent Show. I sew. It’s my talent. So I showed it:
Sewing IS a special talent. It’s incredibly special to make a beautiful thing, one that creates community, one that begets a couple hundred hugs, one that expresses thanks from so many, one that will last a few years and hug its owners tight with love and gratitude. What ever the reason, and however you do it, you are manifesting your talent.
It’s REALLY important that we are seen using our sewing talents, and it’s really important that we OWN that these talents are, indeed, very special.
So say it with me: “I sew. It’s my talent.”
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