A Little Bit About Me and Happy Places

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

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Since this is my first ever post on my first ever blog, I think I should start by introducing myself and telling you why I'm here.

Hi. I'm Amy. I grew up in a couple of small towns in southern Utah. I come from a big family (nearly everyone who grew up in southern Utah around the same time as me can say that.) After high school, I started a degree in English Lit. at BYU. I spent a year and a half in a church service mission in Japan, came home and graduated, then worked as a temp. and as a secretary. I married my husband, Tim, and was blessed with four boys--boys who now seem to be growing up without giving me enough time to figure what I'm doing.

So, that's the short story of who I am. Let's get to why I'm here.

The "why" behind this new blog and my business, "Dappled Things," has more to do with what I haven't done in my life than what I have done. Its starts, as life stories do, with my childhood.

Little Me loved to draw. I remember lots of drawings of princesses (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty...), even more dresses, flowers, horses, cats--the kinds of drawings you might expect from girl. Unfortunately, none of my early pictures are around anymore. I wish they were but, really, those original pictures are less important to me than my memory of how I felt when I drew them.

Drawing is the second pastime that I can remember loving. The first was daydreaming, but for right now, it's the drawing I want to focus on--the drawing and the way it took me to my happy place.

I hope you all know what I mean when I talk about a "#happyplace." I hope you know from experience, because you have your own happy places, too. If you do, then you know that happy places are more figurative than literal.

We feel and experience happy places in our minds and bodies, and we can get to them from almost any physical space. While we're in them, very little critical thinking or language are needed. When we're there, we get a kind of grounded, peaceful feeling--a sense that we are doing something we were born to do--something that absorbs our attention so fully that the noise in our heads quiets, our bodies relax, and self-consciousness gently fades into the shadowy corners of our minds.

I discovered early that #drawing--all kinds of #art and #creativity, really, could get me there.

In addition to drawing, I recognized early that #sewing was another path to my HP (you know, happy place). I think I started sewing at around nine or ten years old when my mom got dress patterns for my sister and me and helped us sew dresses for my cousin's wedding.

My most memorable summer in the isolated desert town where I lived is one in I spent mainly in the high school Home Ec. room. My 4-H leader got a key to the room and, as I remember it, we very nearly had free reign of the place. I remember lots of microwaved English muffin pizzas and hours of blissful sewing time on the workhorse #Bernina machines. I remember making slippers with pom-poms that my 4-H leader submitted to the county fair. They were returned to me with a ribbon (I can't remember what color ribbon) and two dollars (they were silver).

All this is leading to why I'm writing this now, I promise.

So far, I've told you about quite a few things that I have done and not much about the thing I haven't done. What I haven't done is this: I haven't spent very much time at all nurturing my creativity since, I'd say, around the end of that same memorable summer. I've let cobwebs grow in a place that used to be full of daylight and warmth.

I moved; my situation changed; I started to grow up. TV, school work, summer jobs, and hanging out with friends edged out artistic pursuits. It isn't as if I didn't have any other passions--I loved to read, for example. Reading could (still can) take me to a wonderful place but with reading I'm not as actively part of the creative process.

I try not to have regrets. I have always been learning, growing, and discovering new things about myself and the world. I've had a wonderful life--been incredibly blessed. But I do regret all the years I have let pass without growing that part of myself.

Over the years, that warm little essence of art and creativity that was part of me cooled and faded until a memory like a ghost was all that was left. The ghost hardly seemed like it was me anymore. It took the form of a neglected child in my mind and only I knew it was even there. It was like I could see the poor thing sometimes, tugging on my sleeve and begging to be picked up and loved again. I developed a habit of brushing her off and dismissing her with very little thought. I was too busy, too tired. I didn't have enough time. I didn't want to pick her up and hold her again only to discover that I really couldn't nurture her. I felt weary thinking about all the ways I wasn't enough. I forgot about the joy of being in that space and nurturing that little spark. It felt like getting myself there would be too much effort.

Of course, the little slip of a ghost girl I saw was a part of me. Even the parts of ourselves we love can feel like a burden--too much effort--when we neglect them for too long. All the joy they brought fades into the past. We feel disconnected. Time seems to create a widening gap between our "now" and the parts we left behind and bridging the gap starts to seem to difficult.

As my boys got older, I thought ahead to when my youngest would be in school full time. I thought about all the things I would do--keep the house cleaner, sure, but also just revel in art. That time came and went. I wasn't as busy. The same excuses didn't really hold weight but months passed. Two years passed. I found that I had very little motivation to do all the things I'd put off. The free time I had during the day seemed to fly by and I accomplished very little.

I could see how quickly my life was passing by. Above all else, I didn't want to get to the end of my life knowing I hadn't at least tried to nurture the spark I left in that little girl. I knew I needed to see what could happen if I could just get myself to try.

I decided it was time for me to go back to work. All this and many other things seemed to be pushing me toward taking an action that could shake me awake. I didn't think I wanted to work outside the house but I had little confidence I could stay at home and get myself out of the rut I was in. I found a job at a quilt shop and was surprised to find I enjoyed it.

I liked it. It got me moving and interacting with other people but there wasn't as much direct creativity as I had hoped. Still, it was a fresh environment and a good place for creative inspiration. My mind kept puzzling out a way to carve out creative space.

It was on the sales floor, learning about the all the amazing new machines, that I started to see my next step. I found myself thinking more and more about the longarms and all the possibility for creative growth that there is in longarm quilting.

I would say that the rest is history but the way I see it, I'm still living it. I've been running my longarm quilting business for nearly three years now. It's been the jolt I needed, I think to get me back into that creative space again. It's a good mix of having responsibility to other people (I don't want to let my customers down) and having a responsibility to improve my skills and talents in order to be the best longarm quilter I can be. Over the past few years I've created some things I'm really proud of. I'm even starting to create quilt patterns and starting to think about designing fabric.

What I'm seeing these days is that it takes more work for me to get back to my HP than it did when I was little. I think that might just be a part of growing up. I have to consciously remember to live in the moment, to breathe in gratitude, to be still, and to get in touch with what I know is in there somewhere.

I'm still alive so it follows that I still struggle. Some days I feel like I'm back, other days I feel like I need to take a break because I'm loosing sight of why I'm in this. The biggest difference in my life now is that I feel like I'm living it more intentionally. It seems to take more work to get there, back to that happy place, but I do get there, more and more.

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