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Mindful Stitching Part 1

How it Started... Last fall I found myself where many of us do from time to time, especially if you’re a parent: I felt overwhelmed completely out of control. Every day was bouncing from one thing to the next. I was go-go-go and didn’t see how it was possible to take time to do all the things I needed to do, much less the things I wanted to do. My tipping point came when we were getting ready to head to my brother-in-law's house for my nephew’s birthday party. I wanted to say “Go without me. Let me stay here.” Let’s be honest here, I wanted to scream it. But I didn’t say or scream anything. I love my in-laws and wanted to celebrate my nephew so I pressed on and sucked it up and added it to my plate and went. I’m pretty sure I was completely anti-social and sat in the corner and knit an entire sock that party. That didn’t benefit anyone and I was still feeling crazed. A week or so later I woke up early. I sat on my back porch and drank my coffee. I sat there. I couldn’t bring myself to do work (the reason I woke up early). Instead I sat. And drank. I looked outside. I drank more coffee. I sat there for about 30 minutes and felt something ease in me. Like a constriction around my chest and my heart, that I vaguely knew was there but couldn’t pin point, started to release. So I did it again the next day. And the next day. I was pretty sure I had discovered the most amazing answer to being over stimulated, over scheduled and over worked— the answer was to just sit there! I was gushing about this to a friend of mine, a therapist, and she looked at me and said “That’s mindfulness”. Okay, so I didn’t invent the most amazing thing on earth but I definitely discovered it for me.

Enter Stitching… A few more days of my mindful coffee drinking and I was feeling a sense of equilibrium again, but I was getting a little restless. I’m not used to keeping my hands still. I’m used to creating in my spare time (hence the sock at the party). So one day I picked up a piece of fabric and batting that I had assembled as a slow stitching project for a car ride. And I stitched. I stitched without purpose— this wasn’t going to be anything and it didn’t need to look like anything. I didn’t care if my stitches were even or loopy or knotted. I relaxed even more. As I did this for a few more days (and also during minutes set aside before and after classes) I found myself really connecting with my handsewing and myself in a way I hadn’t before. Releasing the ideas of “I have to finish this by…” and “Does this look right…” and “What will I do with this…” was very freeing. More importantly, I found myself actually connecting with what I was doing instead of just “getting it done”. The touch, the sounds, and even my breath. All felt connected to this stitching practice and the time I took to do it. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on Mindfulness practices since then and the word connecting comes up a lot. This is something that was missing from my crazed, overwhelmed state back in the fall. I was going going going and getting all sorts of stuff done but not taking the time to connect with the moment, or myself, or the craft I love so much. Want to try it yourself? My post next week will give you some ideas to start! If you practice some sort of Mindful Creating I would love to hear about it!

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