Skill Building & Life Lessons – We’re Never Too Old

It’s not just about crochet…

…the second half of my crochet post from last week will get written later today on my new crochet blog, Sheryl’s Crochet Life. Here’s the link but it is also in the menu at the top of the page. I decided that I could blabber on and on about crochet, but not everyone is as interested in that subject matter as I. Finished items and how I use hand made in my life and home will still get shared from time to time; however, I will reign in my crochet geek tendencies for the rest of the non-crochet world.

New Generation

I have shared my love for words, typography, calligraphy and all things that bring them together. Traditional calligraphy is a fairly rigid skill. The perfection of the strokes, spacing, and angle are all crucial to recreate the work of old world scribes. No matter how hard I worked, I always fell short of perfection. Being self taught, I was my only critic, and a harsh task master.

At that time I didn’t understand about the brain and muscle memory. Had I known practicing just those pieces builds the brain’s ability to do a task automatically I probably would have approached many things differently, including sports like tennis. Maybe I would have not been so anxious to jump into writing words and quotations…walking before I could even crawl.

I put up my pen and ink many years ago and moved on to something new, or returned to the familiarity of the crochet hook and yarn. I re-learned to knit by taking the necessary small steps and practicing to the point of comfort before moving forward. But still I didn’t make the life connection.

Then Pinterest and Instagram came into my realm. People all over the world posting their wonderfully new and modern ways of using calligraphy in their everyday life…and making a business out of their skill. This is one of my ultimate fantasies…make something amazing and get discovered and become rich and famous. The down side is that then I’d have to keep making that same thing over and over again. I think I need to rethink that fantasy!

I really wanted to do the cool, modern lettering like all these talented young folks were doing. I looked at You Tube videos, Instagram videos, IGTV, and nothing ever clicked. Then I found a class. Not just any class, as I didn’t have to drive to the other side of the fourth largest city in the country just to learn lettering. No! I just had to drive across the river, 3.5 miles, to The Guild in Richmond, Texas. My “home” town.

I have lived in Richmond for thirty years. I actually live in a subdivision east of the Brazos River which, according to the old families in the area, means I’m an outsider. I don’t know how prevalent that notion is anymore, but I suspect that it is alive and well within certain circles. A mindset that is quite typical for many small communities. Change is uncomfortable. But, Richmond is changing and it is because of a younger generation of people coming in with a vision to bring life back into this historic little town. I’ll share more about Richmond a traveling post some Tuesday.

Baby Steps

Emily always has everything set up and looking beautiful for her guests.

No surprise, I chose the pretty pink floral folder that was carefully filled with all the supplies we would need to relax and practice the small strokes that would later become letters.

Some strokes came easier than others…

And then we got to try putting things together to make letters, then words, and before I knew it I was able to do it!

It was a wonderful day of meeting people, learning something new and doing it all in an absolutely gorgeous environment. If you live in the greater Houston area or certainly anywhere in Fort Bend County, Texas, you owe it to your self and maybe a friend, to come here for a class, a dinner, or any of the other events hosted at The Guild. Blockhouse Coffee & Kitchen is just a few steps down the sidewalk. Nothing like delicious coffee, food, fun and creativity all in one place. More about Blockhouse in the future.

Emily works with an amazing artist at The Guild, in fact she is the Artist in Residence there and the creative energy of these two women is breathtaking. Phaedra Taylor is, among other things, an encaustic artist who shares her skills in that as well as block making, water color, acrylic pour painting and as a creative business partner with Emily. Next on my class list will be the linoleum block printing class. Another item on my 2019 creative bucket list.

Life Lessons Learned

Crawl before you walk, much less run. Focusing on how to make the individual strokes allowed me to make beautiful letters. In life, if we learn to cherish the small and mundane, we are training ourselves to understand the whole. There is a joy found in a clean, tidy house, but who loves scrubbing a toilet? No one. It is not the doing it is the attitude. I need to get better about this where my home is concerned. I don’t often have a good attitude about housekeeping. But what a gift my home is and I need to work on finding joy in caring for it. Take care of the small things and the big things fall into place.

Practice does not make perfect. Perfection is not the goal. Get over yourself, you are not perfect. What practice does is it teaches perseverance; and perseverance develops skills that add flavor to life. No matter what the hobby, past time, artistic endeavor, or sport brings you fulfillment, practice is key.

You won’t know if you don’t try. Just like we were told and most of us told our children, you won’t know if you like a food unless you try it. The same holds true for leisure activities. There are lots of things I think I would love, but I’ll never know if I let self doubt or insecurity get in my way. I think this is why I don’t take more classes; I am afraid of failing publicly. And by failing I mean making a mistake or looking stupid.

My personality wants to do things the perfectly the first time or I give up and move on. If you ever get the chance, just ask my mom about learning to sew. There were many tears shed over the frustration of not being able to do it as well as she did. I transferred out of a high school drawing class after two weeks because I couldn’t sketch as quickly or as well as my friend. I went back to the ceramics class where I knew I could excel. I had already proven myself there.

This mistake was to be repeated throughout my life. I’m just now figuring it out. That’s the thing about life. We may only get one shot at this life on earth, but we are in a constant state of change while we are here. I always thought that “old” people – anyone at least twenty years older than me – had life all figured out. I thought, I’m the weirdo who is nearly sixty one and still learning things that I thought I should have conquered a decade or two ago. I’ve come to know that God allows us to learn at our own pace. He doesn’t force us to change. No, He just allows us to stay in a certain place until we’ve learned and then we move on to the next item. We are moving towards perfection but while here, we will never fully achieve the goal. He showed us what perfection looks like when He sent us His Son, Jesus Christ as our role model.

So see, it’s really never too late to learn and grow. I hope you find a new skill to learn, or tackle something that has always made you uncomfortable because in that you will learn so much more and your life will be richer for doing it.

I may have jury duty tomorrow (I have to call this evening to see if I will be needed) so I’m not sure what time a post will be live. In the meantime, keep looking up, embrace today, and go have some fun!

Road Trip

We are leaving tomorrow for a seven day road trip to Sparta, North Carolina. I said yes to an opportunity to teach at a fiber festival in Sparta so that we would make this trip which has been on our radar for about five years. Thus the life of two procrastinators living together for thirty years.

Other than teaching, the purpose of the trip is to go through some of the towns where my in-laws grew up and to gather a bit of family history for my husband. One of those towns is Laurel, Mississippi which is also home to the HGTV show “Home Town” which I believe will have begun filming again. We will be there in the middle of the week so hopefully we might catch a glimpse of some of the action.

Normally I spend hours trying to figure out what project to take with me. Not this time. Simplicity and Focus are my guiding words which will be evident in my packing and my projects. Hubby is kind of nervous because he knows how I would get in the past if the project wasn’t right. I’m not that person anymore.

I want to be fully present on the trip and aware of everything around me. I want to really see the countryside, the people, the buildings, everything there is to see. My plan is to keep a travel journal. I will take pictures, sketch, write, and observe. I’m taking my iPad Pro because I am learning how to sketch and letter using it, but I really want to go old school: paper, pencils – sketching and color – as well as a mini watercolor set. I want to use my other creative abilities to record our adventure.

I will take fibery stuff for the class, and I am going to a fiber festival, so this trip is not going to be void of all woolly loveliness. It will just be in perspective with the excursion.

You see, when I work on knitting, crochet or especially spinning, I loose myself in the process. If we were traveling on a well known path and the destination alone was the focus, this would not even be up for discussion. But, we’re not traveling that way. Everything on this trip will be new to my eyes. I’ve been to parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee before, but not these parts; and I’ve never step foot in North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Mountains just create a certain visual for me, I don’t want to miss anything. The beauty of my fiber arts is that if I capture the trip using these other methods, then when I come home I can translate those memories into fiber art. It really is a win-win situation. Hubby will have to experience it to believe it. He’s a perpetual skeptic.

Blue Ridge Fiber Festival here I come.

It’s going to be a grand adventure!