The Happiest Mail on Earth and an Update

  • It’s always hard to jump back in after a long blog hiatus…not that I’ve had a blog for that long in the first place. Bullets seem nice and non-threatening. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to share all the sewing I’ve done in the last six months. It’s just that the bee block blog post that I had planned to write in April is still churning around in my head. Not to mention all the posts that were to follow, including several big finishes. At some point though, you just have to clear the slate and jump in. This is that.

I’ve been typing for a really long time now, so decided to jump back and add a picture for those who want to cut to the chase and move on with their day…

DSC_0117For those of you with a little lot of time on your hands, read on for the story of how this bit of loveliness found it’s way to me…

  • Part of my hesitancy to post has been not being able to find a neutral voice during a not so great time in my family’s life. I’ve noticed that lots of niche blogs struggle with how much to share when their lives are not going as well as they’d like. I’m going to share a little, because it illustrates why my most recent, unexpected mail package has filled me with such hope.
  • The short version: husband hospitalized for a week… no work for almost four months… four months of ups and downs stabilizing health… financial impact of all that on a family of eight, you can imagine…  children’s medical challenges, including a hospitalization…  prepping six kids to head off to school… heart breaking death of friend… surreal sending of kids off to school, both the start of a Senior year (oh how can it be?) and two off to Kindergarten… husbands transition back to work (though still not full-time)… child’s out-patient surgery… more scheduling snafus than seems imaginable… medical bills, oy!… fall illnesses and the inevitable let-down that happens after months of needing to be “on”… needing to face the pre diabetes diagnosis that I’d ignored for nine months…

DSC_0059low-volume HST’s, paper-pieced flower, jaw-dropping paper pieced rainbow refraction

  • There has been a huge amount of good too. During the most stressful time in our lives as a family, the foster care years, we were fairly isolated and kept most of the stress we experienced to ourselves. There are still aspects of our lives that I find difficult to share…not included in the above list is the time and emotional energy spent raising a child with severe trauma and attachment issues…but I really reached outside my comfort zone this time and made a point of opening up with friends. During a particularly hard day in July, when I was trapped in negative thoughts, I sat down and wrote out a list of all the acts of kindness and support we received since my husband’s hospitalization. I’ve kept up the list and it has grown to 32 items. This doesn’t include countless conversations and words of encouragement, prayers and positive thoughts. This is a list of things that people went out of their way to do to help us as a family. These are big life-saving, keep us afloat type things. We are incredibly blessed.
  • I also found time to garden and am happily canning produce this fall. And of course, I found some time for sewing. I even kept up with my bee block commitments through July, completed an 18th birthday quilt for my daughter (with a huge act of kindness on the part of a new friends) and wrapped up several long-term works in progress. Recently I sold my first commissioned quilt!

DSC_0060rainbow sunrise over a hill that I’m calling HOPE!, stained glass butterfly,
white pinwheel on a perfect rainbow background

  • After July, the bee blocks didn’t go so well. I’m sure others have experienced the dread of opening up Flickr and facing how far behind you are. I’m there. In fact, my big goal for these last few days of Sept is to gather up the courage to check it out and jump back in. Fortunately, as you all know, quilters are amazing people and the amount of understanding I’ve received has been incredible. Which brings me to the day I received the most amazing mail from the ladies of Empower @ do.Good Stitches.

DSC_0063rainbow geese pinwheel, saturated rainbow pinwheel, HEXIES!

  • Let’s set the scene… As I mentioned before, I sent all six of my kiddos off to school full-time this year. Given our stressful summer, I have to say it wasn’t an unwelcome transition. Oh the number of times friends and acquaintances asked if I was dreading it or worried or sad. Not. At. All. Really, ten years without free time. They were ready, I was ready, bring it on. You know where this is going right? The first week, such a relief. The second week, not so much. By the third week, I was in a full-blown funk. It seems that as much as I’ve been driven crazy by the constant din of noise in the last ten years, I have forgotten how to function without it. I also realized the need to focus on my kids had kept me somewhat detached from feeling all that we had gone through. Coupled with the natural let-down and a true need for rest, I found myself skirting the line between exhaustion and depression. That line where you’re taking a nap because your tired or because you just can’t get up. In the midst of it all, my kids that don’t do a good job with transition had their share of struggles and we did our best to muddle our way through it together.
  • Then we hit the stretch where a few additions to the load threatened to topple us… the transition from short-term to long-term disability meant a break in income that pushed us into food insecurity in the same week that our child with anxiety disorder had surgery. For those of you that parent special needs kids, that particular afternoon was one of those days that our therapist jokes you end up needing trauma therapy to recover from the trauma therapy, which is really quite funny in a curl up in the corner of the room and cry kind of way. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. In particular, I felt very alone in my sadness. To say that it was into this moment that this wonderful package of scrappy rainbow goodness fell into my hands, seems almost too good to be true. But that is exactly what happened. Ironically, I have been told that there it was intended to arrive much sooner, but due to a move their was a delay in shipping. Perfect timing!

DSC_0062rainbow pinwheel, woven rainbow heart, color block improv rainbow

  • Can you believe it? Scrappy, rainbow, hexies, low-volume, symbols of hope, paper-piecing, incredible super tiny paper-piecing, pinwheels… All on my very favorite Madrona Road text print! I have hung it in the most prominent place in the room I spend the most time in. I look at it countless times a day and it’s reminder that I’m not alone, that I’m blessed with an amazing community of friends that cares about my family, always brings a smile to my face.
  • Thank you to all my dear friends of Empower @do.Good Stitches who made this gorgeous wall hanging for me… Carrie, Shannon, Meesh, Heather, Kelli, Kim, Raechel, Heather and Shelley. It may take me a day or so, but I hope to link each of you to the block you made. In the meantime, I do believe this wall hanging needs a name. Thoughts?
  • I had to sneak back in to add a picture of my youngest kiddos on their first day of school!

1004532_10201020642090477_1780417182_nCate – 2nd, Elena – 4th, Ava – 1st
Josie – K and Leo – K

Linking to Really Random Thursday at Live a Colorful Life

5 thoughts on “The Happiest Mail on Earth and an Update

  1. Kim

    An incredibly touching story, and one that outlines the extraordinary generosity of our little quilting community, but also the fact that we are all part of a wider world in which we are challenged both mentally and physically on a (far too) regular basis. As for naming your wall hanging, how about ‘live life and love’.

  2. Anna G.

    I’m happy to see you blogging again. I know what you mean about getting back into it after a long hiatus. I also never know how much to blog about and how much to leave out about my personal life. I generally end up posting that stuff on Facebook to get it out instead of putting it on my blog, but the outlet doesn’t really matter. It’s just good to talk about it and realize that you have a support system, even if it’s nameless and faceless quilters you only know over the interwebs. Sending you many warm thoughts and well wishes. 🙂

  3. Kelli

    Once you’re in our rad circle, you’re in. 🙂 It was all we could do for you since we’re so spread out, but we wanted you to know we were thinking of you and love you. Heather did such a good job putting it altogether. Much love Caryn!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s