This is one of those days…weeks actually…and I truly should be working on something else, but when a little life lesson hits me in the face, I just have to stop and take time to reflect, and yes, share my thoughts.
Warning – this is long, and I do mean LONG. But it’s wintertime and perhaps you have time to just sit and ponder along with me as I ramble along. Hot chocolate anyone?
Can’t See the Forest for the Trees
I just realized that I haven’t blogged at all this new year…. but I bet, like me, you are so over all the Happy New Year stuff so I will just move past that. Grin.
I guess you could say I’ve been so busy that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees…oddly enough this is the time of year that for some reason I really like looking at trees. Especially on grey sky days like today. A tree’s core structure is generally more apparent this time of year, except the evergreens…yep – naked trees are very transparent in both their beauty and their flaws.
I tend to be pretty transparent myself – sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not. Of course, there are times I want to hide behind those evergreen leaves and let the world think I have it all together! In reality I find myself wondering why I am different than the other trees next to me in the forest, wondering how I can feel lonely/depressed when indeed I am surrounded. The “no man’s an island” thinking, but wait…we are talking about trees…Why do we want to judge ourselves or compare ourselves to the other trees in the forest?
Lesson One from Trees – don’t be afraid to be transparent, we all have flaws and need to own our own beauty – after all, God did create a variety of trees so why is it so hard to believe He wanted to create all sorts of people with unique personalities and gifts.
Just like moss growing on a tree branch or vines trying to choke out the life of a tree, sometimes I get entangled in things that really need to be pruned. I tend to get choked (defeated) by things that need to be done but don’t ever seem to rise high enough on the to do list to actually get done. Wonder if a weeping willow is droopy because it feels like it’s a failure? hum…
Take for example how long it took me to get around to fixing the weird wording that hovered over the top of my website for so long, or update the class schedule? I still have things that need to be done along those lines and I have no answer to that one…still wondering why I get entangled and distracted. It happens…
Lesson Two from Trees – Don’t give up, continue growing and doing your best despite the heavy burden of carrying that moss or choking vine, or even the pruning you didn’t ask for.
Broken Branches and New Growth
We have a huge oak tree and pecan tree in our backyard. Seems every time the wind blows there are limbs on the ground – sometimes they are really huge! In fact, the trees are diseased and do need to come down before they strike the house, but that’s a disaster to worry about another time…right now I want to focus on those broken branches…actually branches in general.
This was actually a topic of discussion on a Facebook group – how as members striving to thrive in the quilt industry we tend to look for that path to success we think we see in others or we are trying to find the pinnacle of a pyramid that we need to set as our end game goal. Many find that they wear multiple hats to conduct their business – which is true in life, not just with designers… instead I’d like to think there are several off shoots in life….
Ever notice that there’s always off shoots of new growth but that doesn’t keep the larger stronger branches from growing! In fact, many of these larger, mature branches are supporting (and encouraging) the growth of those off shoots. In reality it makes for an interesting looking tree – with no two trees being shaped the same.
I often notice that some branches are more predominate than others? For example – bent branches or even a bent trunk? What causes this – wind? hard knocks? what obstacle blocked or rerouted its upward growth to the sun?
Okay – this is a bad pun, I know…but I do want to branch off with just one of the many off shoots from my month so far….my broken branch so to speak…
Or more correctly my broken computer (sorta broken, at least it shattered my world for a few days) …I am repeating myself (if you follow me on Facebook) but here’s a summary of the first part of the story.
For whatever reason I found myself with blank non-responsive computer screen…. fast forward to assistance in getting to the next screen giving me scary options – I mean, how’s a gal supposed to make smart decisions with choices like repair or erase?!??!!. It’s been 40 years since I made straight A’s in my computer science class – yep I could write code in Fortran but that was also when we used punch cards to talk to a computer housed in a room bigger than my studio! Nope, not current in today’s programing.
I felt like a branch that got pruned, minus the ugly scar, unless you count the stains from tears messing up my makeup. Time to be rescued…. loaded up the Mac and headed to a friend’s house! Several hours later after enjoying visiting with the family my machine had been erased with a new operating system installed. Things appeared to back to normal…
…or so I thought until another windstorm shook this ole tree… I’ll pick up the ramble with the quote from my Facebook (long winded) post late Friday night…
“I have spent most of the day reinstalling programs on my recently renewed Mac – in case you missed the memo, it crashed earlier this week and a friend worked diligently to erase/repair the hard drive to then reinstall the operating system for me. Well, the beauty of Apple products is “the cloud” – in addition I have DropBox….it was actually kinda fun having a clean slate and reinstalling Office and all my Adobe products. (Thankfully I use QuickBooks Online, so I don’t have to recreate the financials for 2019!!)
Finally, it was time to reinstall my EQ8 [Electric Quilt 8] … all was going well until I tried to open a file… sigh… only a few were actually in Dropbox, none of them were on my desktop (which would have put them in the cloud). I didn’t realize that they have their own location on the hard drive by default, and yep, when the hard drive goes so goes the files. All my quilt designs, my doodles, my future dream projects…vanished.
I have to admit, it’s disheartening – oh I do have PDF photos of my creations that were used for my past pattern writings, so I do have something to go by to recreate…I’m trying not to be in despair thinking of the hours to redo the ones I’m currently sewing, the next one that was to soon to be written for Spring Market 2020 release, not to mention the ones I’ve designed for Fall Market 2020 that were to be on the cutting table this next week as I begin my season of secret sewing…hum. I think that’s going to be delayed a bit, ya’ think?
Sigh. As I am rambling on, I actually paused a moment to listen…
I have the most encouraging play list on my iPad that plays in the background while I work in the studio – currently there’s a song on called Impossible by Sidewalk Prophets and right before that Do it Again by Michael W Smith….even in my disappointments God is reaching to me as I’m reminded to reach up to Him. That’s why I chose this photo of the famous 1900 Storm in Galveston – symbolic of reaching heavenward. My situation is nothing compared to that, it’s just quilts, not life or death – but I’m human and it still hurts. Mainly thinking about all the work that is now added to my already full to do list.
I certainly don’t understand, nor do I like having to learn things the hard way (makes me kinda feel dumb) and I have learned there are no why’s – things just happen. Life isn’t fair, I’ve said that to my kids all their lives – but somehow I know there’s a silver lining to all this, if nothing else, to humble me and remind me that I’m not as strong as I think I am, and that I can’t do it all. Yep. I need friends and most importantly I need Jesus. Everything is possible with Him…including the strength mentally and emotionally to redraw quilts in a computer design program! Who knows! I might be inspired to tweak the new designs just a tad and they will turn out better than I had originally imagined!
If nothing else, I’ve learned to back up EVERYTHING to DropBox! Yep…I will survive. This too shall pass …. but I think I need a good night’s sleep to restore some of those creative juices I’m going to need tomorrow to tackle this new project …. if I’m quiet for a while, well, now ya’ know!”
As I’m writing this I haven’t even attempted to work on a solution – I’ve got a few ideas…but my thoughts went to trees…specifically that tree in the back yard – can you see in the photo? It has a “bridge” – it’s a natural growth from one branch to the other – seems to me like it’s a support bridge for one to help hold the other up…have absolutely no idea how this could happen, our house is 50+ years old and we’ve only been here 15 years which means we didn’t observe this growth…maybe it’s a God-thing to make me reflect on the paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Two are better than one, when one falls the other lifts him up.
Lesson Three from trees – sometimes things get you bent out of shape; other times things get pruned when you least expect it. Don’t give up, reach out for support -build a bridge, grow a different direction.
Tall Trees, Deep Roots
Ever notice how all the branches, no matter how thick or thin, are connected to the trunk? Yep. Profound, I know.
But think about it, it’s the deep roots that give a tree the stability to grow and reach for the sky.
I think the analogy is evident here if you know much about me at all…my roots go deeper than my family and friends who support me (need y’all more than you know!!), the strength and depth that keeps my tree from toppling over completely is faith, faith in knowing I’m forgiven. Never good enough, yet never too far gone that He can’t lift me up and support me when the winds try to knock me down.
Lesson Four from trees – you need deep roots to stand tall and weather the storms of life. Don’t forget to look to the One who created you!
Lest you think I’m done with the tree thoughts – I wanted to share some of the recent growth in my “off shoot branches.”
First, an update on my first Onboard Quilting Excursion! ™ As of this writing we have a few staterooms left as well as classroom spots for “Quilting with The Rambler & The Redneck”. In case you missed it, I added to my video series concerning the November 2020 Quilting Cruise on my YouTube channel. Interesting side note – my computer had just had its “issues” when Patti arrived on the scene to film. After sharing my woes, wiping my tears then getting a great big hug we were able to complete our task at hand! Laughter truly is good medicine. As it relates to trees did you know there’s a Bible verse for that – concerning praise “The trees shall clap their hands” Look it up!
What’s in Your Box?
Second behind the scene story also from this past week….it came on a big truck! Two boxes from Island Batik, weighing in at 116 pounds!!!
I’m starting a season of “secret sewing” for Fall Market 2020 – with an added twist – this time I have a design team working with me and we will be bringing you several new and fresh quilt patterns to showcase this upcoming line of fabric…and ya’know what else? It’s a “signature line” that will have my name on it!!!
Yep! A true out of the blue blessing! This collection of 20 (count them twenty) beautiful fabrics were designed by Kathy Engle of Island Batik and entrusted to me to support the line with my/our designs!! Don’t worry, there will be more on this as time goes on, but the only negative right now is that the big reveal has to be kept secret until fall….
Well, there was one other little negative, a bent branch on this new offshoot…. Seems it’s the week of technical difficulties… even though I can’t release it until fall I decided to do an unboxing video and I was rambling in true gleeful style – only to discover that my iPhone (camera) decided to stop recording before I had rambled on through all 20 bolts! Shocker. Not to be defeated I packed everything back up in the box for take two only to have the same problem. I think I spent 2 hours trying to get a good video before giving up and going out to dinner! Not sure what was wrong, but I think it was the low battery and the phone trying to conserve battery power…who knows…never fear! The next morning, I did a few more takes before getting a complete ramble. You should see the bloopers on this one! But, oops, sorry, can’t share until fall. Maybe by then I will have learned the problem to avoid it in the future as well as how to edit…Time will tell.
Lesson Five from trees – Branch out, new growth is both exciting and risky – remember to reach for the sky!
Stand Tall and Bear Fruit
If my neighbors were looking, I’m sure they wondered why I was walking around the neighborhood taking photos of trees this morning. I wish I had time to edit and share all of them, but I hope I’ve given you pause to go outside and find your own trees and form your own thoughts. But before I leave you to that, consider this…
Not all trees are created equal, some drop their leaves in the fall, some are evergreen, some bear flowers while others bear fruit. What is important – we need trees, they give us oxygen, give birds a place to nest, shade during the heat of summer…
Summary of my thoughts today – be a tree – stand tall; keep reaching for the sky even if you are bent from the elements; prune when needed; always stay close to the roots; never be afraid of new growth; defy the logic and build a bridge to support others; don’t forget that you are a part of a forest, uniquely providing something to the bigger picture – you were created to be you; bloom – either with new spring growth, flowers or fruit – whatever is yours to share make it fragrant!
I don’t know if trees smile but I know I sure do when I see my granddaughter – this has absolutely nothing to do with trees – but let this be a reminder to reach out and offer love to others. Here’s to future tea parties under the shade of the old oak tree.
Thanks for listening! I think I’m going to act like a tree and leaf! (remember that line from Back to the Future – sorry, couldn’t resist!)
This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler – Be a Tree! Smile! Go create something wonderful!