Tag Archives: anxiety

Confessions of sewing fear

Anxiety comes in many different forms. I have spent time speaking with medical professionals over the last week and was asked to describe how each of my children, and I, are similar or different in terms of anxiety. One takes the form of catastrophising everything – natural disasters are a particular favourite that will take hold and be obsessed about. Another worries about situations in the family, but understands reason and logic and can rationalise the fear. The third doesn’t appear to an outsider to worry or fear anything, but in fact has quite extreme reactions if feeling vulnerable or embarrassed. I tend to get a bit overwhelmed by all the noise in my head – my ‘to-do’ lists, my own expectations of myself, etc. I think that we all think of an anxious person as the hand wringing worrier – when in fact anxiety takes so many different forms.

In thinking about all of this I have realised that on a more superficial level, I also have some sewing anxiety. It sounds a bit funny coming from someone who blogs about sewing, sells things she sews and purports to share tips about sewing with other people, but it is true. I am not a confident garment sewer – but that isn’t an anxiety, that is an understanding that I am not good at fitting things for myself (I have short torso) because I don’t know how. One day I will work out the science of it and all will be fine. Which leaves the question -what is my anxiety?

It is quilting.

Not the patchworking of a quilt top. Not the sewing on of binding. The actual process of quilting – putting together the layers of quilt top, batting/wadding, and the backing, and stitching through it to make a quilt. I have never done it. I have read tutorials, tips and hints. I have spoken knowledgably to people about it. But I have always been worried about doing it myself. A friend of mine who is very crafty told me that my machine didn’t have a big enough throat, so it would be too hard. She also told me that I need a walking foot. She recommended outsourcing it to a long arm quilter. I took her advice, not because she was the authority on all things quilting, but because it suited me not to confront that fear of failure!

But – no more. My mother is still with us, keeping the chicks and I feeling loved and supported. She is a long time patchworker and quilter. She has never had someone else quilt her quilts for her. And she doesn’t own a fancy long arm quilting machine. In fact for many years she didn’t have a walking foot. And those quilts from 20+ years ago are still going strong and being used daily by many members of the family. So this afternoon I asked her whether she thought we could quilt the quilt I made for the boy ourselves. (Yes – the quilt top that I so proudly showed you back in (ahem) April is still sitting in a drawer). I rang the long arm quilter this week, as I have also finished (finally) the memory quilt that I started for my housekeeper back in (ahem) August, and she said that she might be able to get one quilt done before Christmas. After talking to Mum (who said ‘yes of course we can – your machine is fine’!!) we have decided to quilt the boy’s quilt ourselves, and take the queen size memory quilt to the quilter. I am going to overcome that fear, and exile it by learning from my mother – just the way it should be!!

In news not related to any fears, the artist-in-residence’s fabric samples are on their way to us for proofing. She is very excited, and creating more designs. I have managed a little sewing, have cleaned out the chook house (so glamorous), caught up with friends for a cup of tea and crafting (I sat and cut out appliques of bicycles!), ferried children around to various social engagements, and have been supported by my mum.  I am excited about seeing my contribution to the Sew Mama Sew Handmade Holiday series in the morning.  (Although it appears on the 10th of November, with time differences being what they are, it won’t be published until about 1am on the 11th November on Australian time!)  And I need to see my accountant, so will be filing, sorting and trying to remember my movements of the last financial year – sure to balance out any excitement!

I hope that your weekend has been lovely, and that you are able to recognise and face any anxiety that may befall you this week – large or small.

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Silver linings

My brain is full to the brim at the moment, teasing out new ideas and strategies to support my boy. I have moments of intense clarity, and then moments when I feel like I am swimming through custard (which sounds tastier than it feels!). Thinking about starting new sewing projects seems a bit overwhelming when there is so much else to think about. Instead I have finished one project (the beautiful pile of capes – more detailed photos will follow after the recipients have tried them on), and played with the camera on my phone to capture some of the colourful and positive things happening in our lives. We have much to be thankful for, despite my feelings of gloom.

The stress of trying to find the right support for my beautiful boy has triggered some fairly intense anxiety moments, so I have decided to use that for good and not evil, and today began the room by room clean up of the house that has been required for so long. Nothing like finding the silver lining in this cloud! The other silver lining? Everything I am doing to support him this week is working. He was so proud to report to the paediatrician today that “I have made good choices for four whole days!”. Yesterday morning I went to wake him up and he wasn’t in his bed. I presumed that he had snuck into my room to use the ipad. Instead I found him sitting on a chair in the lounge, cuddling the dog and having a gentle morning chat to her. Moments like that melt my heart and remind me of why I am fighting for him, and why I can’t give in or give up.  My two girls also need some extra love and support at the moment.  Thank heavens for Miss N the au pair who is proving to be just the beautiful soul that we all needed in our lives.

So please bear with me while I have a break from regular crafty blogs and instead provide the occasional photo of something that is making me happy. You never know – I might even finish cleaning the house and start sewing furiously! It has happened before……..

Juggling act

My house is unusually quiet tonight. I think it is just the stark contrast with the noisy, busy weekend that makes it seem so peaceful, but I am sitting here enjoying it nonetheless. The three chicks are in bed and hopefully some are asleep. The cupcakes for school lunchboxes are made, half the washing is folded, and, more importantly, I have been able to sew! Which is important as I have been fending off an anxiety attack for a few days.

By the end of last week I was feeling overwhelmed. The list of things that I thought I had to do seemed all consuming, and seemed to grow daily, and the future seemed full of obligations to other people that threatened to remove the last vestiges of time for me. (Luckily my paid work wasn’t adding to my sense of drowning in a sea of tasks – it was just all the other aspects of my life.) On Thursday night while on the phone to the MIML (the winning suggestion from my friend Fliss to describe ‘the man in my life’) I explained that I had to start on making fudge to take to work for morning tea the next day, after finishing making the curry for the annual lunch event at work, and still had to make a bag to donate to the raffle the next day. He asked if I had to make the fudge, and I heard myself saying ‘ of course I have to make it’…… and realised that I had hit my superwoman delusion again. You know – the one where you think that you can do everything, really well, without shortcuts, and keep all the balls in the air while also juggling knives, fire breathing dragons and unpinned live grenades? Hmmmmm…… so I stopped, put the fudge ingredients away, took a bag out of the stash of bags I have already made, and went and lay on my bed. Which was just what is required when you realise that you are vulnerable to more than kryptonite.

In order to avoid having to go and buy this shirt that I found on Pinterest (which I cannot find the credits for so can’t properly attribute), I am taking tomorrow off work to get a bit organised at home, do some sewing, do some planning and just breathe out a little bit. I am getting better at saying ‘no’ to extra things, but am still not great. This week might be time to get a bit of practice in……..
Anxiety

The great thing about now being able to recognise when the walls of my mind are closing in is that I have strategies that I know can work. And thus, sewing has occurred! I had an order for two more superhero capes, but the request this time was for them to be suitable for smaller toddlers. So I adapted the pattern and went to work. And, voila! Two capes, so I now have three little bags ready for delivery this week!

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I also had time to sit down and applique a t-shirt. I bought some blank t-shirts a while ago, with the intention of appliquing them…… and they have sat in a box ever since. Actually getting one out and making a start on it removes that from my list of things that must be done! The t-shirts are made from bamboo fibre so are just lovely to work with and will be lovely to wear – delightfully soft to the touch!

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I was also able to give the change mat that I shared in the last post, to my staff member who is going on maternity leave.  She was impressed with it, and I have a couple of orders for more already!  Which may have necessitated a small bit of shopping to buy more laminated cotton………oops!

Another great achievement of the week was heading out to do some market research – literally of markets! Here in Canberra we have markets that are held every Sunday morning called the Bus Depot Markets – held in an old warehouse that was…..a bus depot. When I lived in Canberra about 13 years ago I used to go there regularly, but for the last few years, with three children (one of whom is very lively), and less disposable income, I have stayed away from them in order to avoid temptation. This morning, however, we went for a visit, under the guise of a reconnaissance mission. Part of the information gathering I tasked the children with was to identify which stalls caught their attention, and to think about why. (They loved the idea of this being an undercover mission!) I was also interested in looking at what people used to display their goods on. We went in with strict instructions from me that they were not to ask me to buy anything as we were only there to look……and within 5 minutes I had (without them asking) bought some beautiful soft homemade marshmallows, and gluten free cupcakes! Ah yes – sugar gets me every time! We did have a great look around though. At one stall we had a lovely chat to the stall holders who generously explained that their shelves were in fact folding shelves and very lightweight, where they had bought their trolley from, etc. I love the way that craft people are so willing to share their knowledge! Now I am researching folding shelves……as you do!

As I head into the week, with plans to lighten my load, focus on things that make me happy, and, of course to sew, I hope that your week goes well and that you have achievements to celebrate along the way.

Piecing it together

Half way through the week already?  I need time to slow down a bit!  I am fully recovered from the virus I had on the weekend – it seemed to be a 24 hour thing, thank goodness, but it did make a dent in my plans!

To make up the lost time I baked for the children’s morning tea for the week at 6am on Monday, managed to get the grocery shopping done with two children in tow that afternoon after work, while the eldest chick had a playdate (what did we call these when we were young – I am sure they weren’t ‘playdates’ then!), and then picked her up and shopped for the few bits we needed before she left on camp.  Phew!  So the chores of Sunday were recovered, but the crafting time was lost.

I have managed to make a library bag that my sister-in-law requested for my niece, and was quite delighted to use a scrap of fabric from the boy’s cot quilt (made by his Nana) and that I am incorporating into his ‘big’ quilt, into the ladybugs’ heads and bottoms – the family connection for his cousin will probably be lost on a 5 year old, but it gave me a nice sense of symmetry.  I also found this lovely piece of fairytale fabric in the stash that my mother sent me recently, which I used for the monogram – I think it adds a magical touch to the bag!

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ImageThe eldest chick has gone on her school camp for two nights.  She has been so excited.  She has memorised the packing list and, it turns out, has been grilling all the teachers while they have been on playground duty, to get all the details she possibly can about the venue, the activities, the food, and the rules.  She decided not to take her new birthday Dr Who bag as it is ‘too special’ and I must say I was relieved with her decision when we woke this morning to rain and the associated mud.  I did make her a toothbrush roll (that I forgot to photograph for posterity) from a face washer and a scrap of the fabric from her pyjamas and pillow case, so she will be the most coordinated child at night!

Her persistent gathering of information, coupled with some recent incidents with the other two children, and my own history, have had me thinking about anxiety and the different forms that it takes.  My artist-in-residence middle chick has high levels of anxiety that manifest themselves in different ways.  Working with a counsellor when some specific manifestations were affecting her quality of life saw that situation improve and her overall anxiety improved dramatically after her diagnosis of coeliac disease.  (And on this, and the association of depression with coeliac I commend the post by Shauna Ahern on her blog Gluten Free Girl to you – it is raw but so, so, important to read.)  However I always knew that I had to manage her emotional needs slightly differently to the other two, and was very clear that this was something that had been evident since birth.

The boy was and is a sunny and very energetic child most of the time.  He is confident in most social situations – sometimes too confident, but when he is angry and frustrated or feels vulnerable we can have some significant behavioural problems.  I have always thought of these issues as related to anger or frustration.  Recently I was told that the diagnosis is actually anxiety.  Huh.  That made me stop and think.

Today, after school, I had the middle chick curled up in a ball, terrified and shaking and in complete meltdown because she had done something wrong at school, and by her putting her own black lens over the incident had magnified the consequences and the incident completely out of proportion.  An emotional phone call from her mother to the teacher shed light on where the message had been misinterpreted and she has calmed down and is happy to accept the consequences (which are mild compared to what she had interpreted them to be) and has written a note of apology to the teacher un-prompted.

Where is this all leading you ask?  Well, it got me to thinking that perhaps my eldest chick, who I rely on to be sunny, transparent and reasonable, is also experiencing her own anxiety, but that she manages it by collecting as much information as possible, so that there are no surprises, and she can cope with new situations.  And then it occurred to me that she is well and truly her mother’s daughter.  Because that is exactly what I do.   I know understand that I ‘suffer’ from anxiety sometimes, and that I manage it the rest of the time, blithely unaware that it is still affecting many of my decisions and actions.

The thought processes then lead me to wonder about the old ‘nature vs nurture’ argument and wonder how much of my eldest chick’s methods of coping are genetic and how much are environmental (i.e. ‘caught’ from her mother), and, more importantly, what skills can I give her so that she doesn’t have to wait until she is in her 40’s to recognise what she is doing and to learn to manage her own levels of anxiety so that they don’t affect her quality of life.

Food for thought for this little bird, trying to manage a nest of little chicks and keep them safe and on the right path for a healthy and happy life.   I don’t have any answers but in identifying what is going on in my nest I am hopeful that I can support them to be strong and confident when they need to be. (A bit heavier than my usual posts, but hey – that is what blogs are for – to keep you on your toes!!  Or something like that!!)