Celebration of Life and Love

“Deep waters cannot quench love, no floods sweep it away.”  — Song of Songs 8:7


Speaking about the process and reading my poem.


Last week, McLean Home Care and Hospice (Simsbury, CT) hosted the Eighth Annual “Lights of Hope” Ceremony.  It was a wonderful celebration of honoring those who had passed on in 2015 while in the hospice care.  Family and friends of the departed were in attendance. The ceremony included beautiful music, healing words, and a reading of all the names being honored.  Near the end of the event, the Hospice Memorial Quilt was unveiled.

This was my fifth year creating the quilt.  Those who wish to participate are welcome to create a fabric square in remembrance of their loved one.  I assemble the squares, add my own touches and create a quilt.  Elizabeth Scheidel,  who is a member of the McLean staff, stitches a poem for the quilt.  Her words establish a theme and inspire the artwork and embellishments.

 As part of my presenting speech, I shared how, while working on these quilts, my own memories of loss are often triggered.  Sometimes those memories bring forth a poem.  When stitching up this quilt, I found myself recalling the last Christmas I spent with my friend, Rena.  We were playing Bingo and my husband was calling the numbers in a particularly silly way.  Rena and I started laughing and couldn’t seem to stop for hours.  While remembering that day, I started to laugh and then thought how happy Rena must be to know I was remembering her in this way.  This poem emerged from those thoughts –

Remember Me With Laughter

Remember me with laughterbutterfly-close-up-1
at times when sadness has taken hold.
Think of the time I made you grin
with that corny joke I told.

Remember me with a smile
when it’s my company you seek.
Think of watching our favorite comedy
when our laughs brought tears down our cheeks.

Remember me with heartfelt joy
when loneliness is heavy on your lap.
Think of how I slipped in the new fallen snow
and the snowman caught my cap!

butterfly-close-up-2Remember me with cheerfulness
when you recall all that death took.
Think of the times I’d crack you up
when I gave you my prankster “look.”

Laughter is not just good medicine.
It’s God’s treasured gift.
He’ll help conjure up a memory
in those moments when you need a lift.

Remember me with laughter
to help ease some of the pain.
Take time to enjoy the goodness of life
until we are laughing together again.

– Dorothy J. Szypulski
Lights of Hope Ceremony
McLean Home Care and Hospice
November 22, 2016


Wishing Well of Love


Stitching by Elizabeth Scheidel


Speaking with guests


Viewing up close


Viewing up close


Late submission became a pail!


Close up work


Close up work


More viewing by guests


Proud of my work!

Posted in God Gave you a Power!, Grieving and loss, Memorial Quilts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is age just a number?

“The beginning of wisdom is:  get wisdom; at the cost of all you have, get understanding.” — Proverbs 4:7

P1070229I’m sixty years and one month today. I wanted to write about turning 60 a month ago, but just trying to wrap my mind around that particularly large number temporarily stifled my creativity.  Also, my family kept me so busy during those bewildering days, I did not really have time to write.  I thought about just letting the occasion pass — “I don’t need to comment or reflect on everything,” I told myself — but being silent is not my way.  Sixty years of friends and family will attest to this fact!

I really had it in my mind I would not actually turn 60.  It’s not that I believed I wouldn’t live to see it, but it was just something I could not envision.  I suppose it’s the descriptive words our society uses to categorize us that I find especially troublesome.  “Middle age” was difficult enough.  Now I’m a “senior.”  I guess I never pictured myself as a senior, but of course, no one does.

I chuckle now when I remember how down in the dumps I was when I turned 30.  I

Work of Art

This is a sampler I made years ago for my father-in-law.


remember thinking how I had already accomplished all the big goals in life.  I had my first job, gotten married, bought a house and had my first child.  What else was there to look forward to?  Such shallow thinking, but as my father-in-law used to say, “Youth is wasted on the young.”

When I turned 40, In many ways I believed it was time to start again.  My youngest was in school.  I thought it was time to have a career.  Time’s a-wasting!  It was when I really began to passionately write and create with an artistic flair.

I found the number “50” to be hard on the ears, too, but I remember feeling very grateful for my health.  My very dear friend, Rena, who was the same age, was not very healthy and she died  just months later.  Perhaps because of Rena or because I was looking at a new decade, I clearly recall thinking, it’s time to make my mark.  I felt my energy waning.


My daughters, Robin and Laura, at a “Sip and Paint” on my birthday in San Diego. I wish I had concentrated more on the “painting” rather than the “sipping” and then maybe my butterfly would have turned out better, but it was a fun night!

I’ve spent most of my career talking about and preserving memories.  I advise others all the time to take photos, make scrapbooks, document events and journal feelings.  We can never have this moment again so we must do all we can to remember it.  Since the number one recipient of my advice has been me (I sometimes do take my own advice), I’ve run out of storage space for it all.  The closets and attic cannot hold more photos.  There’s no more shelf space for framed pictures.  The drawers are tightly packed with scrapbooks, special cards and other memorabilia.  My memory quilts are piled high on quilt racks and furniture.

As my home is bursting at the seams trying to contain all the tangible keepsakes, so too, is my brain.  At 60 years old, it can no longer hold all the dates, names (oh especially the names!) and places that have taken up residence in the many nooks and crannies of my senior cerebrum.  It’s both a blessing and a curse to have the joy of knowing so many and to have experienced so much, but then the frustration of not to being able to recall it all the moment I need it.  Truthfully,  it’s 99 percent a blessing and only one percent a curse. I would never trade all those memories just due to a shortage of storage space.

Age is not just a number.  If it was, it would be easier to accept and explain.  Sixty is a


Robin, Laura and I went to Disneyland on July 25th. The park also is 60 this year. When we arrived, I thought they decorated the place for me! Yes, my ego is in check. 🙂

relatively small number as numbers go.  A 60-pound child is not very big and 60 inches is less than two yards.  In the year 60 AD, Christianity was really just getting started and we’ve come so far since then.  It’s been more than 60 minutes since I started writing this post and I’ve hardly been aware of the passing time.

Age is more of an attribute.  With wine, it’s an indication of its rich flavor, but with milk, it might mean it’s time to be poured down the sink.  An aged and cracked pavement needs to be replaced while an old, weathered home pleads for preservation.  For people, age is an accomplishment.  At 16, we are trusted with a driver’s license.   At 18, we can vote.  At 30, we are often still innocent of our impact on this earth, while at 60, we understand the broad spectrum of our value.  That is, we all have something to offer, but we shouldn’t let it go to our heads.

Whether we are 21, 60 or 105, each day is a choice.  We can wallow in self-pity or we can thank the Lord for the day ahead of us.  We can let arthritis and poor eyesight consume our energy or we can move forward to do all we can to help others.  We can hide our wrinkles with a frown or we can smile proudly, wearing them like a badge of honor.  On all accounts, I choose the latter.


August 6, 2016 — Pride does not begin to describe how I felt being with my daughters, Laura and Robin, and my handsome husband, Ted, at my 60th birthday celebration!



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Am I crazy? Is the Pope Catholic?

Mission Cross“Be hospitable to one another without complaining.  As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” — 1 Peter 4:9-10

An inordinate number of unusual sewing requests somehow make their way to my studio.  I believe our Lord leads them to me.  Did you think I just made quilts?  Do you believe God has only simple plans for us?

A few years ago, back when I ran a small sewing business, my friend asked me to create a one-of-a-kind pillow for him.  On the pillow, he asked I somehow place a duck with his wing around a pig, both looking at a crab with a bad attitude.  This friend had his reasons, a cute story having to do with the humorous dynamics of his family. That’s all I’ll say about that.

After he relayed his request, I looked at him with a blank stare.  He reminded me of the slogan I had written at the top of my web site — “If you can dream it, I can quilt it.”  As this friend and I enjoy bantering back and forth, I quickly responded, “But I don’t do nightmares!”

Even though, in that moment, I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to create such an unusual pillow, I could not resist the challenge of accepting the job.  In part, I did not want to let my friend down, but the bigger part had to do with the excitement I feel about not knowing how to do something and loving the process of figuring it out.  Even as I was jokingly responding “no way,” the creative wires in my brain started to sputter and fire, igniting a plan of action.P0006403

Over the years even more challenging projects have come my way.  I guess after you have done a few unique projects, you begin to get a reputation for it.  I imagine when my name is brought up in a discussion regarding some unique stitching work, somewhere in the conversation it comes out, “Dottie is just crazy enough to do it!”  Though, I don’t think this was the case a couple of weeks ago when I was called upon to help with a sewing problem.

A lovely young woman, Maria, called me.  She had an urgent need of two Zucchettos (skull caps worn by Catholic clergy) to be used in a production soon to be filmed.  Very soon, in fact.  Maria’s call came on a Sunday afternoon and she needed the caps by Thursday evening that same week.  She explained she was in possession of a pattern, but it was all wrong because her friend had already tried, unsuccessfully, to make them.  Adding to the tension of the time constraints, I was going to be out of town Tuesday and Wednesday for family business.

Scanned 2016-04-12  (2)

Laura (gumball machine) and Robin (Bugs Bunny) – 1994

In my sewing career, I have turned children’s paintings, sequined evening dresses and needle-pointed canvases into quilts.  I’ve made signs for store windows, covers for mixers, and decorative cloaks for door stops.  As a mother, I traded sleep for sewing machine time on the last few nights of every October to fulfill my girls’ Halloween wishes to be a princess, a cat, a pea pod, an Indian, a baby duckling still in the shell, Bugs Bunny, and many, many more.  How hard could it be to whip up a couple of Pope beanies?  I said to Maria, “Sure,  come on over.”


I had enough common sense to get to work immediately.  Maria had also requested the Zucchettos be large enough to fit the actor playing Pope John the 23rd, a large man.  I started by making one out of scraps using the supposedly incorrect pattern.  My smug attitude caused me to think the other seamstress had not followed the pattern correctly.  I soon learned she did — the pattern was definitely wrong.  My first attempt came out looking very pointy, like a Chinaman’s conical cap.  After some math adjustments and redrawing the pattern pieces, my second attempt also came out pointy.  Back to the drawing board and my third practice seemed to be right, though needing a few adjustments, so I decided to make one for real using the proper materials.  At this point, it’s Monday afternoon and I’m running out of time.

The first “real” one was all wrong, too!  Using my husband as a model, I asked if he


Attempt No. 3 – “Oui!”

thought the cap looked like a French beret?  His response was, “Oui.”  I spent the rest of Monday searching for a better pattern.  If one exists on the internet, I couldn’t find it, except for the one I already had, which was wrong!  I even drove to the closest Joann’s Fabric store and searched through all the pattern books.  I was sure I had seen patterns for clergy before in the costume sections of the McCall’s and Simplicity’s pattern books.  I guess dressing up like the pope for Halloween isn’t in vogue.  I could find nothing even close.


Late Monday night I was lying in bed (still not packed for my Tuesday trip) questioning myself.  Why do I get myself into these things?  Why was I so arrogant to think this would be a simple project for me?  Why didn’t I just say I was too busy this week?  Why couldn’t God make this a little easier?  What does He expect of me?  I fell asleep somewhat resigned to the idea that I was going to call Maria in the morning and tell her I just can’t do this unless she finds a proper pattern for me, even though I knew if there was one out there, she would have already found it and probably would not have called me in the first place. I really did not want to let her down, but I didn’t know what else to do.

That night I had an amazing dream.  I dreamt Archbishop Mansell, former bishop of the Hartford archdiocese, came by for a visit.  I opened my front door and there he was wearing a baseball cap!  When I woke up, I knew what I  was going to do.  I searched through closets until I found a baseball cap that my husband wasn’t all that attached to.  I called Maria to get approval and then felt immense relief about my plan.



Upon returning from my trip Wednesday evening, I got to work.  I made the two Zucchettos using the cut-up baseball cap as my template.  A little tweaking was needed as a baseball cap covers more of the head than the pope’s skull cap does, but the curvature was perfect and it worked out beautifully.  Maria and the film’s producers were very happy and grateful.

If the real challenges in life are called “bumps in the road,” my Pope beanie challenge was barelyAll Things Journal a grain of sand on the pavement, but it was a wonderful reminder of what I can do if I just close my eyes and let God lead me to answers.  As a quilt maker, I seek out methods and techniques for getting my stitched pieces to lay flat.  Sometimes life throws you a “curve” so you have to forget everything you learned previously and start thinking in a new way.  I am also reminded of the importance of being humble.  No task is too big or too small as long as you always remember, your hands are God’s hands.

NOTE:  The production, “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” an Arcadia Films production (www.arcadiafilms.com) will air on EWTN on September 21, 2016.


Baseball Cap template



One of the “conical” caps

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2015 — OH SEW NICE!

“Do not neglect the gifts you have . . .” 1 Timothy 4:14

You may find this hard to believe, but I have days when I feel I should be working harder.  Despite those days, last year was very productive.  Besides my usual, annual commitments, I was highly motivated by Trinita’s (www.msbt.org) craft fair in November, which I had signed up for early in the year.  I enjoyed making many fun projects to have for the fair.

And let’s not forget the 100-Day Project (see my Blog Post “100 Creative Ideas on the Wall”), when I worked extra hard each day.  Here’s a gallery of most of my 2015 work.  Some of the projects are captioned “Day” and a number.  Those were a result of the 100-Day Project, which I hope to participate in again this year.

Of course, my family, friends and faithful followers are my best motivators.  Thank you for always supporting me and for being my biggest fans!

Now, onto 2016 . . . .

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Her name is Karen

Karen's booties.

Karen’s booties.

“When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.” — John 16:21

I don’t remember the physical pain.  I remember the words, the sounds and the feelings.  In the days leading up to her birth, we were told there was a problem.  I was transferred to another hospital — one that could better handle the crisis.   Upon arrival there, a doctor said, “She needs to be born now.”

I remember the rushing around and the muffled voices.  It didn’t seem real.  How could this be happening?  It was too soon.  My baby wasn’t due for another five weeks.

I remember the struggled squeak of my baby’s voice as she emerged from me, and

Quilts to comfort.

Quilts to comfort.

then, not a split second passed before she was whisked away by a team of specialists.  There was no time for sweet coos or soft welcoming words.  I didn’t see her face nor did she see mine.  My husband, Ted, was holding my hand.  He was overcome with emotion.

“She’s crying.  That’s a good sign,” the nurse said as she stroked my hair.

“Tell them, her name is ‘Karen,'” I said, and then I cried.

I do not remember the specifics of the next day.  Those twenty-four hours are a blur of waiting, praying and hoping.  Waiting for her to improve, praying for a miracle, and hoping beyond hope that she would live to experience childhood.

Reading my book, God Gave You a Power! to young children.

Reading my book, God Gave You a Power! to young children.

When I was finally able to see Karen, I was surprised at how perfect she looked.  If not for all the tubes attached to her tiny body, you would not know there were countless problems going on beneath her delicate, pink skin.  She had all of her fingers and toes.  Her little nose was familiar, like one I had seen before in an old picture of me.  She turned her head when I spoke.  She was my baby girl.  I was ready to take her home, but it was not to be.

At three days old, Ted held her.  For eight months her heart and mine were neighbors.  Now she was feeling her dad’s heartbeat, as she lay on his chest. This is where she spent her final moments.  I rubbed her back and spoke softly, “I love you.”

I wasn’t strong or positive.  As I was wheeled out of the hospital, I looked down at my arms. They were empty.  I was empty.  That’s not the way it was supposed to be.  Trying to get into the car felt as difficult as getting into a rocket ship, weighed down by a heavy space suit.  Every motion was an effort.  My mind and my body were numb from grief, a grief I had yet to fully experience.

Losing a baby can be an especially lonely grief.  For one thing, few others had shared memories of her.

Quilts to remember our history.

Quilts to remember our history.


I couldn’t easily reminisce with friends about the special things Karen did or the way she knew me when I spoke.  Not many saw her face, and only Ted and I had touched her.  Only I knew her little feet and tiny fists pushing up against my ribs or protruding out on my abdomen.  Only I had the future planted firmly in my mind, one of a new baby to nurse and a little sister for my toddler.  Only I envisioned her in the white wicker bassinette, handed down from her family of the many babies who had come before.  For most everyone else, nothing had really changed in their lives, while I was feeling completely changed.

Friends and family did their best to comfort me, but it was the words of a stranger that helped me turn a corner.  Ted’s boss had talked me into attending the company’s Christmas party.  It felt way too soon to be with people or to celebrate in any way.  Ted thought it would be helpful to be among friends.  I reluctantly conceded, mostly because I didn’t have much fight in me to argue.

Quilts for grieving.

Quilts for grieving.

Many of the partiers knew about our loss.  They expressed their sorrow and shared their thoughts for a better tomorrow —  “it’s for the best,” or “you’ll have another,” or “things happen for a reason.”  It’s what people say.

Quietly sitting with a glass of wine and trying to make an effort to be pleasant, someone I didn’t know began talking to me.  For some reason, I shared my story.  After all, the experience was only weeks old, and I hadn’t quite learned how not to talk about it.  Thinking about it now, it must have been a terribly uncomfortable few moments for her.  She probably sat down to make small talk, ready to discuss mundane holiday craziness, and here I dumped this deeply sad saga on her.  She put her arm around me as my tears began to flow for probably the thousandth time.  All these years later, her name and her face elude me, but her words resonated so deeply that I think about them all the time.

“You are now the mother of an angel and that’s quite an honor,” she said.

Karen was born 30 years ago today.  I can’t help but reflect on her short life on earth and how my life’s course was forever altered.  I also cannot help thinking about what it has meant to be the mother of an angel.  It has been, and continues to be, an awesome responsibility.

When we were grieving, strangers offered prayers and dropped off food at our home.

They were parishioners of our church.  They were “strangers” to us because we did not attend church very often.  As parents of an angel, attending mass became a priority, and because of this, we established enduring friendships.  We became involved with parish activities, celebrated joyful events and helped others in times of need.  After a while, I met Sister Ann (see November 1, 2010 Blog Post) and other sisters at Trinita (www.msbt.org),

Quilts to honor.

Quilts to honor.

where our lives became further enriched, enhancing our connection to Jesus.  Being deeply embedded in our faith community helped in all areas of our lives as it brought a broader meaning to everything we did.

For many years I struggled to find my niche in life.  I could type and take shorthand, but I was not happy working in an office.  My gifts are writing, art and quilting.  After becoming the mother of an angel, I offered up my work to God.  For thirty years, I have tried to give comfort to others wherever I could.

Quilts to help others find their way.

Quilts to help others find their way.

My little girl gave me a path to follow for which I am ever so grateful.  Over the years, I have often felt her presence.  At times of self-doubt and wondering if I have the strength for an upcoming task or test, I think of the strength Karen gave me to get through that most heart breaking and devastating time.  I wanted to give up, but I didn’t.  Mothers of angels do not give up!

Blessing of Baby Quilts 11-22-15 (2)

Blessing of Baby Quilts to be donated to Two Hearts

On this special day, in honor of Karen Lynn Szypulski, I offer my prayers to all the mothers and fathers of angels.  May you find peace in your specialness and tremendous love from the good works of the Lord.  To all the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who care for the innocent and helpless, thank you for honoring their  lives with your skills.  Thank you, too, for comforting the grieving parents.  And to all the strangers who have the courage to say the right words at just the right moment, may God bless you for your kindness.  You may never know whose life you have changed for the better!

Most of all, Happy Birthday to my sweet little angel!  Mommy and Daddy will love you forever.


I love stitching Angels!





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100 Creative Ideas on the Wall!

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  — Philippians 4:13

Day One

Day One

“How do you win?” “What is the prize?”

These were just two of the many questions I asked my daughter, Robin, when she told me about The 100-Day Project.  In early April, The Great Discontent, a tri-annual print publication and online magazine focused on creativity, offered a challenge by asking, “What could you do with 100 days of making?”  The magazine described The 100-Day Project this way:

It’s a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making.   The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal . . .  it’s about the process.  Who should participate?  Anyone who is hungry to jump-start their creative practice, who is curious about being part of a community that celebrates process, and those who are busy with work and family commitments, but searching for a bite-sized way to play creativity.

“There’s no prize,” Robin explained.  “It’s a way to challenge yourself.”

It’s difficult for me to turn away from a good challenge, especially if I get to share my passion for quilting, and there was a project I had been trying to get to for over a year.  However, as my days are usually ruled by pressing commitments and deadlines, I could never seem to get to it.  I often told myself to just set aside a few minutes a day to work on it, but I had trouble applying myself due to the enormity of my goal — to recreate a photo of my home in fabric.  It would be the centerpiece of a memory quilt I had designed.  I kept thinking about the project as a whole, rather than the incremental steps needed to get it done, and, as a result, it overwhelmed me.  The 100-Day Project seemed like a good way to help me get started.

Anyone who knows me well, is aware that I take commitments very seriously.  If I say I will do something, there are few boundaries I would not cross to get it done.  Even if it’s just a commitment I made to myself, I will lose sleep, skip meals and drive myself and my husband crazy until I have fulfilled my promise.  One of my favorite children’s books is Horton Hatched the Egg, by Dr. Seuss.  If you have young children whom you would like to teach about commitment, this is a great book.   To give a mama bird a much-deserved vacation, Horton promised to sit on her nest, keeping watch over her egg.  Though others in the jungle tried to coax him off, he would not leave the nest.  He repeated over and over, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant . . . an elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!”  I’m a little like Horton.

So, when Robin told me about this project, I knew if I committed to it, I would stick with it.  This was just the impetus I needed.  Besides it was just one hundred days.  How hard could it be?

As required by the rules, I gave my project a title — #100DaysOfDesigningAQuiltBlock.  I broke the process down into small steps.  I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, and more importantly, I wanted to stretch it out for 100 days.  Each day I was to post on Instagram a picture of my “making.”  On Day 1 (April 6), I posted a photo of my home.  On Day 2, I posted a scanned copy of the photo of my home, having outlined the parts I wanted to recreate.  Day 3, I redrew my house,  and so it continued.  Day after day I posted one more step in the process.  My daily “making” was posting my work to Instagram.

I began to acquire followers and, as I also shared on Facebook, my friends were showing interest.  Many expressed their excitement about seeing the finished project.  My commitment became broader with fans waiting in the wings.  I was in for the long haul, but I was only on Day 10!

At first, I believed the challenge was just about setting aside the time to create and post, which that in itself was very challenging given the other obligations in my life.  As the days passed, however, I was presented with deeper challenges.  The more I shared, I realized I was exposing my secrets.  Very few people had ever seen the process of my work.  Friends, family and those attending my presentations would “ooh” and “aah” over the finished products, not knowing all the intricacies involved in creating them.  I sometimes felt like a magician who could take bits of fabric and thread, a little paint and a bead or two, and, with nothing up my sleeve (except maybe some smeared paint), turn it all into a beautiful fabric flower.  In the midst of admirers, even I would forget all the work that went into creating a quilted wall hanging.  Now, through this challenge, I was showing it all.  I was exposing the trap door behind the black curtain.  Soon everyone would know — I’m no magician.

Another challenge I faced was whether or not to post my mistakes.  Yes, it’s true.  I make mistakes!  There were a few days when all I did on the project was rip out the previous day’s work.  If I’m not happy with something, it’s got to go, especially if it’s a project I will be looking at for a long time.  As the day was coming to an end and with much trepidation, I bared all.  I posted my mistakes on Instagram and Facebook.  No one seemed to care that much.

Day 64 - One of my sketches.

Day 64 – One of my sketches.

Something else I had to talk myself into was revealing my sketches.  I enjoy planning out my projects on a sketch pad, but up until this challenge, I had never shared my drawings.  Art was always my favorite subject in elementary and high school, but I needed a job so typing and shorthand courses seemed the prudent course.  Even as I approach the beginning of my sixth decade, I still have voices of the past in my head telling me I’m not really an artist.  I am a self-taught sketcher which serves me well for quilting, but could I really show that part of me?  Would the authentic artists out there point out my skewed sense of dimension and scale?  It was a chance I would have to take — I was faithful to this challenge, 100 percent!  I posted my drawings.  The reviews were all positive!

Almost every day, no matter how tired I was or how creatively depleted I felt, I posted.  One hundred days is more than three months (I wish I had thought to do the math early on) so it was impossible to not miss a few days.  We were away for a week, but by planning ahead, I was able to post most of that week.  There were some unexpected circumstances, too, that caused me to miss a day here and there, but I was always able to make up those days by posting multiple times on the following days.

Though I finished this around Day 36, I didn't post it until Day 44.  I kept my fans waiting!

Though I finished this around Day 36, I didn’t post it until Day 44. I kept my fans waiting!

Though I thought I had planned carefully, something unexpected happened.  I finished my house block in less than 40 days.  I smiled as I recalled how long I had put the project off when it turned out it only took me about a month to complete it.  I was grateful for the incentive The 100-Day Project gave me, but I wasn’t sure what to do next.  I asked Robin, “Can I drop out?”  She said, “Mom!  You’re not a quitter!”  She was right so I pushed on.  I had another photo, one taken in 2000, that I had always wanted to make into a wall hanging.  There would be no more putting things off.

I turned my 100-day obligation into my personal, serious responsibility.  I was like Hurley

Day 38 -- a photo taken  in 2000 in Hershey, PA

Day 38 — a photo taken in 2000 in Hershey, PA

on “Lost” (ABC Television Series, 2004-2010) who had to enter a special 10-digit number into the computer each day to avoid assured disaster.  “Post Day  __” was on my daily to-do list between “clean the cat litter” and “do a load of wash.”  It was my job.  Some days I was Hurley and other days I was Horton, but mostly I was just tired me, lifted by the Holy Spirit, feeling good about my accomplishments.  I had a purpose and I was not going to let myself down.

In my presentations, I speak about the importance of doing something creative each day.  There have been numerous studies on how valuable this practice is for your overall health.  The best way to snap out of a bad mood or distract yourself from aches and pains is to pick up a pen, a paint brush, a crochet hook or even a crayon.  It works!  Of course, I practice this advice daily and I can attest to it’s value.  I did not need The 100-Day Project to help me to be more creative.  I needed it to help me move beyond my personal barriers.  I wanted to climb over the wall that was keeping me trapped in a world of shouting “shoulda’s, woulda’s, and coulda’s.”

Not to be too mellow dramatic, but the last year has been challenging.  I, unexpectedly, found myself in a place where I had to “let go” and be accepting of things I had no control over.  I had many moments of self-pity, asking myself, “what do I do now?”  I was still following through on my sewing commitments and keeping up on my home.  However, I was pretty much just going through the motions of life, as is repetitively recommended in every self-help article out there.  I have a quote pasted up on the wall of my studio, “I can’t be happy everyday, but I can choose to be cheerful.”  Most days, I did choose to be cheerful, but I wasn’t happy about it.  I was lacking my usual excitement about my work.

On Day 68, I was at church listening to Psalm 92 — “Proclaim your kindness at dawn and

On Day 68, I posted the sketch.  On Day 98, I posted this picture.

On Day 68, I posted the sketch. On Day 98, I posted this picture.

your faithfulness throughout the night!” My mind drifted and conjured up an idea.  Darn, no sketching during mass. Once home, I quickly sketched out my idea.  It was a rough drawing, but I proudly posted it to Facebook, confessing, “I should have been paying attention at mass, but I was thinking about my work!”  My daughter, Laura, chimed in, “Um yeah, I think God will let this one pass.”  It suddenly dawned on me.  I had a renewed excitement about my work.

My friends continued to motivate me to keep going.  Their comments were often touching, which inspired my creative spirit.  I had no idea how some friends had thought about my quilting until they commented under one of my posts.  I treasure their words.  Even the many “likes” spurred on my resolve to go another day.

Early on, along with my other fears, I was afraid of being boring.  I wondered, who would want to see this stuff?  As often as possible, I pushed myself to try new techniques and choose elaborate embellishments.  If I had a day when all I could do was show the fabric I was using, I arranged it in a fun way.  Once I made a “cake” out of my materials, and another time, I made a tree.  I considered my followers every day.  I rarely posted just to get it done.  Rather, I carefully thought about the viewers.

Yesterday was Day 100.   I posted the completed wall hanging inspired by the 2000 photo.  It’s

Day 100

Day 100

embellished with beads, buttons, glitter, and my own crocheted trim, things I would not have done 15 years ago.  Under my post I added this from Hans Christian Anderson:  “Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly.  “One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”  So true.

There’s no prize, my daughter said?  I beg to differ.  I’ve just been given a whole new Day 1!  I can’t wait to start making . . .

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Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus

 “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” — Luke 11:28

Nuff Said As an avid history enthusiast, I have often found myself mentally transported back in time as a means to better understand what it may have been like in previous eras.  This exercise is not so much about facts, logistics or inventions as it is about feelings.  I want appreciate what it must have felt like to live in another time.

I do not believe I was the only teen to have screamed at my mother, “You don’t understand!  Things were different when you were my age!”  As a typical, self-centered youth, I did not think previous generations of the past felt about things as we did in the present.  But, of course, they did.  Since Adam and Eve, humans have felt pain, joy, fear, excitement, grief and every other emotion we know.

What must it have felt like to wear a corset?  How time-consuming and annoying that must have been.  As it is, I struggle with pantyhose.    How scary it must have been to face childbirth before the time of modern medicines.  What pain there was, too, before aspirin, ether, and Novocain.  What must it have felt like to watch bloody battles taking place just beyond a kitchen window or from a back porch as many did during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars?

For as much as there was pain and suffering, I believe simple joys were relished so muchDSCN0018 more.  Sharing a meal, reading a book, holding hands, smelling flowers and visiting a friend were all likely held in very high regard when life was difficult and fleeting.  New inventions such as the telephone and the washing machine must have seemed like golden treasures when those things entered history’s stage.

My mom and aunts have shared how they enjoyed the Saturday afternoon “picture show” when they were young.  Today we have thousands of movies at our fingertips, ready to be viewed at our convenience.  We could plan to watch a movie at 8:00 this evening with friends or sit down alone, on the spur of the moment, at 10:12 in the morning and choose one off the internet, if we so desire.  Can you transport yourself to 1944 and feel what it was like to be in school, trying to concentrate on your studies, when your mind keeps drifting in excitement toward seeing the latest “flick” with your friends on the weekend?

Reading Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, has greatly aided in my time travel fantasies.  The authors have helped me understand what it must have felt like to live in the time of Jesus.  Thanks to this book I can imagine sitting at Jesus’ feet taking in and savoring all he had to say.

First Communion Center“Most of the people living in the land of Judea and Galilee are descendants of pious Jews who returned to Israel after their exile in Babylon.  Since then, life for the chosen people has been anything but idyllic.  Their Roman occupiers are universally hated for their brutality and pagan ways, to say nothing of the oppressively high taxes they levy.  Little wonder that everyone is longing for a Messiah to come and deliver them by throwing out their harsh oppressors.” (Page 20)

“Though anticipation is high, opinions vary about just how or when the Messiah will finally arrive.  Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes, and Pharisees — each has a different take on what has happened and why, and on how the future will unfold.  Political tension and spiritual fervor are both on the rise.  It is into this time of intense spiritual searching that another rabbi comes striding onto the scene.  He hails from Nazareth.  Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  (Page 20)

“Because of their continuing oppression by the Romans the Jewish people cried out to God daily, begging for a Messiah to deliver them.  It was into this hotbed of social ferment and religious longing that the greatest of all rabbis appeared on the scene.  No wonder he attracted a crowd wherever he went.”  (Page 24)

Personally, I know how excited I get when there’s a break in my mundane, daily routine.  It’s wonderful when we are planning a vacation, expecting company or just going out to dinner.  I am also very excited when I hear someone with a large audience speaking a message I deeply believe myself.  When I see injustices, global or local, it gives me hope to see and hear someone speaking loudly about making changes.  It makes me want to hear more.

I can imagine the frustration of the poor in Israel, working hard to feed their children, onlyDSCN0003 to have a good deal of their earnings collected for the royalty, who swanked their lavish attire and exploited their extravagant ways.  Jesus’ kind and caring demeanor along with his vast knowledge of scriptures must have offered incredible hope for change.

Can you envision that time?  Perhaps children are playing in the field near the road heading into Bethany.  They see Jesus and His disciples heading their way.  The children become excited and run ahead to their homes.  “Jesus is coming!  Jesus is coming!” they shout.  Martha and Mary run to the door to see for themselves and then begin to prepare a meal.  Their neighbors, too, prepare food to offer at Lazarus’ home.  All are welcome.

If I were there, what would I do?  What would I say?  Is He cold and tired?  Would He like a quilt?  I hope I would sit at His feet and listen, as I am trying to do this week.

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