Every once in a while, it is great to pause and read the writing on the wall. I try to do that every few months to see if I am still moving in the direction I want to go. When I did that in January, the writing on the wall said, “Over Committed”. Wow.. yeah. How did they know? I stitch for 4 charity groups and love it. I get to try my hand at custom designs and I get a great excuse to shop for more stash. But.. Over Committed. It rang in my ears. Then it hit home.
My husband’s beloved aunt and godmother turned 70 in December. Between school and all of my charity promises, I failed to stitch anything for this very important birthday. I was so very crushed. She is always so very interested in everything I am stitching and here I could not make time to do anything for her.
Fortunately, my husband and I had picked out the pattern last year but I just hadn’t had a chance to stitch it. I quickly kitted it up and stitched like a fool for 2 weeks. My in-laws rushed it to the framer who did this gorgeous work (and it is perfectly stretched!). I had it done just in time because they were going to go visit her the following week. (Find the Beauty, Butterfly Wings, Stoney Creek. Stitched on white 28 count linen from DMC). The worst part for me was I was feeling guilty over not working on my charity stitching during this time. What? Yeah. I had a full drawer of pieces that I had promised to stitch. I felt rotten and evil for pausing to do this once-in-a-lifetime piece for a beloved aunt. That writing on the wall was screaming at me now.
I went through the same guilt feelings when I worked on this small piece for my mother for Christmas last year. I could hear that voice in my ear the entire time, “How dare you! You ungrateful thing you!” It was my mother’s 89th Christmas. We needed to not only have it stitched, but framed and then shipped back to the US, all before Christmas and I did not get a chance to start it until NOVEMBER. (Feathered Friend, Laurel Burch by Mill Hill). Why? Because between school and the other charity stitching I was working on, I didn’t have time. How can you not have time for your own mother?
She didn’t have it for Christmas, but it wasn’t terribly late, and she knew something was coming. We also had a postal strike about the time we should have shipped it, so there was some delay.
I also had to rush to do these small ornaments. The round ones were given to my teachers at language school as a small Christmas gift and a thank you. They constantly admired my stitching and enjoyed seeing the progress. I did not have these done for the last day of school, but I did get to deliver them the following week.
My husband has a new family member and it was important to do a First Christmas ornament for her, too. These really did not take me that much time to do and finish. Still, that voice nagged me. I had pieces I had to stitch and I dared to take time out to do ones I needed to do. Mind you, none of the ones in my queue had a time deadline, either. They were just all “Get them done so we can see how many more we need to make” kind of things. When did it happen that I let charity pieces become more important than my own family and friends?
One piece I started well in advance was this one for my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday. These are huge events here in Finland. We do celebrate each birthday as well as name-day but, the decade birthdays are extra special. My husband and my father-in-law helped me pick this design nearly a year in advance. We had it done plenty early to get it framed.
Still, I knew something had to change. When I made my New Years’ Resolutions I said I was going to do 1 piece a month for my charities. I am already well past that point for this year. Who really keeps their Resolutions anyway? In the past 18 months or so, I have done well over 50 pieces for charities, but only 3 pieces and 6 ornaments for my family. I used to do a collection of ornaments for family and friends every year but those spare hours I had for stitching were now spent learning Finnish. It means that I have had no time to do anything for the shop in over a year.
There is also the matter of the cost of materials. In January, when I finished kitting up the pieces I had promised to do I realized I was short on fabric. Fabric is very expensive here compared to the US. We could not afford to buy more until this past week. A yard of this special Aida cloth we use runs about $25 US here. I get 9 squares from each yard. I was also out of some colors of thread. Sigh…
Half-way into April and I already have 15 charity pieces completed for the year and 6 more in progress. I need to stop and read the writing on the wall… “Over Committed” and stop making promises. That doesn’t mean I will ever stop doing charity pieces. It means I will have to be a lot more selective about who and what I stitch for. I need to step away from the world for a while and just focus on what I have promised to do….
I will update my progress on the pieces in progress over the weekend. Right now, I just need to go stitch… and read the writing on the wall again.