After an unprecedented three days off of blogging, I am back. I say "unprecedented" because in the four plus years since I began writing, I don't think that I ever skipped three days in a row while I was still home here and not on the road or away. Writing has become a morning ritual for me – as many of you know – and while it felt rather 'strange' not communicating with you all each morning, I believe it was a much needed break from my regular routine and something I felt necessary – at least for a couple of days.
I don't pretend to completely understand the need for this (short) sabbatical. I only know that I was finding it difficult to express my thoughts, as the state of the world was beginning to get to me. I think I needed some time away to take a breath and regroup and take any and all pressure off myself that I could. I think it did some good.
I always try to come here in the morning and plan my day on a good note. I like to focus on the positive things that are in my life and hopefully share that positive outlook with you, my readers. Many of you write me and tell me that you look forward to my posts each day, and they help to lift you up on the days when you may not be feeling so optimistic. I like hearing that, and I feel that if I can make even one person smile or feel inspired through my writing here, it is worth it. I think that probably the biggest part of being a creative person is hoping that we bring some joy and happiness to others through our creations. And to ourselves as well. I often find myself engrossed in my own world, filled with beauty, art and other positive and creative people. No wonder I am so happy most of the time.
But no matter how comfortable and happy we make our own world seem, it is sometimes difficult to filter out the real world and it's issues. Our compassion and concern for those around us doesn't allow the hardships of others to be ignored and the feelings of empathy and sadness for our friends, family and fellow beings take hold on our souls. It can be positively debilitating.
I think the worst part is seeing those around us suffer and feel completely helpless. It doesn't have to be someone we even know. With the wide reach of information and media that floods our senses each day, it is sometimes difficult to avoid hearing story after story of hardship and despair. As a result, even the most optimistic among us can get 'down' from time to time. I am no different. I was feeling very overwhelmed by the world in general and as if life itself was beginning to spin out of control. I needed to stop, take a breath and regroup so that I would be able to better cope with the things around me. Whether I would be able to control them or not was inconsequential. I needed to take a step back and figure out what was in my power to change and what could not, and I needed to let go of the latter. This didn't mean that I no longer cared, but it meant that my own energies would be spent in a better way. Hopefully to improve the things that I did have the power to change, instead of worrying about things which I had no control.
So instead of coming here and writing about the sad or negative feelings that I was experiencing, I decided to take a break. After all – I am from the school of thought where "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" was taught, and I may not always be perfect in that regard, but I do try my best to keep my words and outlook positive. For I truly do believe that we follow where we focus, and by just thinking positively and focusing on positive things, we make our own lives happier and bring happiness to others.
My time away was not spent idle. Besides thinking about things and sorting through the thoughts in my mind, I actually accomplished a great deal. I sorted through all of my clothing and completed the transition from winter clothes to summer clothes. I continued to organize and re-organize some of my drawers, closets and supplies, and I began moving things down to the new storage area granted to me by my landlord. That alone empowered me, as I always feel so much better when things are neat and tidy. I was changing the things that I could, and making myself happier and a bit more comfortable, and that was the first step to healing.
I worked on my embroidery as well. The other day, I finished my ninth panel from my "A Perfect World" embroidery sampler. This was the mid-point of the project, so in my own mind it was quite a milestone for me. I had initially given myself until the New Year to complete the sampler (January, 2015) but at the rate I am going, I may be done by early autumn. I am thoroughly enjoying this process, and while I do make mistakes from time to time, I am learning so much from it and I am planning on the ways I will apply my knowledge in future projects. I already have ideas for designing my own. But that will come in time.
For now, I will show you my finished panel. It consists of the Leucadendron Xanthoconus, with it's beautiful clusters of French knots for the centers:
Then the Leucadendron Sheilae (a flower that shares my name!) I love the beautiful and flowing petals of this one. I am learning to leave my stitches loose enough and 'coax' them into position:
And finally, the beautiful centerpiece of this panel – the Leucadendron Eucalyptifolium – with its lovely conal center:
I think this is my favorite panel yet. (Yes! I say that with every panel I complete!)
The overall look of the three Leucadendron species is pretty impressive:
I think it makes a wonderful centerpiece for this sampler. I have already began the next panel, but I will save the pictures of that until it is completed. Panel 9 was very complex and took a long while to complete, and Panel 10 seems as if it will be done much quicker. Little by little the sampler is coming together. I wasn't sure how much I would like it, but I am pretty encouraged with it so far. And I can't deny that I am learning a great deal. It is like taking a master's course in embroidery. I will continue to post the panels as I complete them.
Throughout the weekend, I also finished up my writing for my three projects that will be in the holiday issue of Creative Woodworks and Crafts magazine. Getting that behind me really took a load off of my mind, and it allowed me to take a breath and move on to the next project. I decided to work on a painting project for the "Painting With Friends" group, as I always find the Terrye French drawings to be fun and uplifting. The design I am assigned is called "Summertime Tea" and I decided to make it into a welcome banner. Here is where I am at with it so far:
It is fun and relaxing and I have some cute little 'surprises' to add to it. It is just the kind of project that I need to get back into a good place. Following this, I will be working on some new scroll saw projects as well. Again I feel the creative juices flowing.
I missed 'talking' to all of you these past days, but I felt that the time I spent away was both functional and necessary. Many times I am asked how I keep from burning out, as I always seem to be moving full steam ahead in many creative directions. I feel that it is important to remember to take time for yourself on a regular basis and just do what YOU want to do for a day or so. Or do nothing at all. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish by doing seemingly nothing. Resting your soul and mind will pay off many times over.
It's Monday again, and summer is almost here. I hope you are all in the swing of things and enjoying the beauty around you – whatever it is.
I wish you a peaceful, creative and happy day.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"