Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Maria's Quilt

Thank you for all your kind comments after my post last week, I really do appreciate them all. Everything is very much the same around here this week. My Mum is still in hospital, Maria is still struggling with the concept of death (and ageing generally really), and I'm still struggling with finding the best ways to reassure her. My own personal approach to dealing with the fear of old age and dying is to try not to think about it and to get on with making the most of life. Keep myself busy, try and make every day count, appreciate my life now... Many of the principles of 'mindfulness' resonate strongly with me. I would like my children to grow up with many of these principles too, and I think generally our lives here encourage this. There are a lot of very wise quotes on this subject, I like this one:

"The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present." 

It seems to be most often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but there's a short clip from 'Kung Fu Panda' which uses it - never seen the film, but I like the clip! Another quote I like is:

“Yesterday is a cancelled cheque; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have - so spend it wisely” - Kay Lyons

I've often thought that young children are naturally wonderful at living in a 'mindful' way, and I've always felt this very strongly with Maria. But I'm not really finding any of this very useful when responding to Maria telling me, with a very wobbly lip, that she 'doesn't want to get old' or she 'doesn't want to die' or the countless other statements and questions that are coming from her on this subject at the moment. I feel that it has to be good that she's vocalising her fears and worries, I don't want to try and bury them away in her, and yet it also feels very 'unmindful', if that makes sense. Telling her to stop worrying about growing old or dying, to stop worrying about me growing old or dying, telling her to go and enjoy her life right now  - that really doesn't feel like the right verbal response, but it's what I want her to do. So I'm struggling! I'm still sure that all the living in the present that we're doing at the moment - particularly all the love and cuddles - is more important than the 'talking' about it that we're doing, and hopefully, given time, that will be what helps. So possibly I just need to try and be more mindful myself - by not worrying about the conversations that are constantly cropping up, and just dealing with them as best I can as they happen!

So perhaps I'd better start by no longer going on about it here! I did mean to just be back writing about 'making' again here, but I went off on a tangent! It feels like it could have been a useful tangent for me though, I think maybe blogging can be handy therapy!

Ok, to the making. Not a lot happening, but I have made a little progress with Maria's 'whimsical' quilt which I thought I'd show you. I left it back here, a week or so ago.

I really wasn't sure I'd be able to sew Maria's face in a way I was happy with, and, to be honest, I could have done with some easier, 'no concentration required' kind of sewing recently for those moments I've managed to sit down at my machine. But this was what I felt I really needed to try and crack on with.

It didn't help that the photo I'd used for Maria's body position wasn't one I found very helpful for sewing her face. 

So I tried picking bits out from other photos, as well as the real Maria of course! This one was quite useful.

After quite a bit of machine embroidery I got to this point, and I wasn't sure it was worth carrying on with it. 

It didn't look perfectly like Maria to me, and it's hard to settle for less. But a conversation with Sam convinced me that it was worth using still. The conversation went like this:

Me, holding up the fabric to show him: "Do you think this looks like anyone in particular?"
Sam: "Maria"
Me, very surprised: "So you think it looks like Maria?"
Sam: "I think it looks more like Venetia actually"
Me: "So why did you say it was Maria?"
Sam: "Because she's sitting on a toadstool"
Me: "So you think Maria is someone who's more likely to be sitting on a toadstool?"
Sam: "Yes"

Possibly the significance of this slightly strange and slightly cryptic exchange doesn't translate well into a blog post! But it convinced me that I was on the right lines with the quilt. And I think he's right, there's definitely an element of Venetia about what I've made...

 ... but there's some reassurance from the fact that they are very alike in a lot of ways. Perhaps what I've actually created is a picture of what Maria will look like a few years from now! Time will tell!

Anyway, I carried on putting more detail on to the body and the rest of the picture, and here it is now:

Ready to build into a fun and whimsical quilt that Maria, hopefully, will love. A stage I feel much more confident about. And, although I haven't been getting a lot of sewing done, it was amazing how much better I felt for the time I spent on this, even though I wasn't completely happy with the end result. Sewing is definitely good for my mental health! I think 'creating' generally is something that promotes 'mindfulness' very well. And it feels good to be back writing here again too.



  1. It is amazing what can pour out of us when we sit down to write a post. It can definitely be very therapeutic. I wish I had some words of wisdom to share in how to handle these questions from little ones, I can appreciate how difficult it is. With our littlest ones I think words can be too much for them to comprehend, at least the concept of what the words mean, and so you are right about the doing of living in the moment. The actions will speak louder than the words, eventually. I wonder if a little gratitude practice would help her. My little man went through a phase when every night as we snuggled in bed he would share with me how sad he was that the day was over. I understood his sadness came from the day ending and all the fun of the day coming to an end, but it made me sad that he was ending the day that way, so we started journaling before falling asleep. I write: "my favourite things about today are" at the top of the page and he shares the favourite parts of his day and I write them down. It can be quite funny the things he remembers and shares from his day, and has come to be a wonderful way for us to end our day. Instead of the sadness of the day being over, he is now focused on the happiness the day gave him. Not a big thing, but changed his perspective. Hugs to you as you move through this with Maria.

    Now on to the quilt....it is gorgeous, and beautifully captured. You are so very talented, and I am sure Maria will love it. Can't wait to hear what she thinks about it.

    Hope I didn't ramble on too much. xo

  2. Hugs for you. Love love the quilt. It does look like Maria, and Venetia too - but to my eyes M looks like a younger version of V - if that makes any sense?
    I have no ideas for dealing with death, I failed miserably a few weeks ago to explained to my little lady that her g'ma bumble (my mum) was in heaven or as I chose to put it "up in the stars". Now every time we see a star madam shrieks 'hi g'ma bumble' and asks to go not a plane to see her. And wants to know why she can't visit *sigh*

  3. Wow, it turned out beautifully! You certainly have talent to faces - amazing..! It looks like a book character, from some funny and a little bit mysterious story, by Astrid Lingren maybe?

  4. I love this quilt, Sally! It is so difficult to answer questions that take a lifetime in the answering. It is the constancy and reassurance of your love that will see Maria through! Sending prayers and hugs!

  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbcyGrt3ZCM. Sal, this book is called Waterbugs and Dragonflies. Its a beautiful story and quite appropriate for Maria. You can order it online easilyxxxxxxx

  6. Faces are very difficult and I think that you did wonderfully on this one!

  7. You and I are right on the same path in that we find it much better to focus on now. And that is mainly what i was planning to share until I read your last few sentences.And then i thought - you have pretty much answered your own question for how to best support and comfort Maria at this time. Because, like you, I believe that creating and making are incredibly powerful tools for healing and for working through. Engage her in art, craft, some form of making - help her make a doll or a small quilt for her doll, ............I don't know her inclinations but surely the act of making will be a positive influence on her at this difficult time. And while working together, quiet opportunities to share feelings and thoughts may present themselves.

  8. Sounds like you are a really great mom, taking the time to listen and giving a lot of thought to how to navigate a heavy topic. Good on you. I love seeing what you do with embroidery and applique, can't wait to see it develop.

  9. It's wonderful that Maria wants to talk to your about her feelings and fears. It shows the depth of your relationship. I know you have what it takes to help guide your family, through this. I will continue to keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. Maria's quilt is adorable. I find that the times I'm too tired and stressed to create, are the times I should be taking the time to do, so. Creating keeps me centered, healthy and happy. You need to take that time for yourself, it will help keep you strong and better able to help your mom and your family.

  10. It's so hard to know what to tell isn't it, what will be reassuring, what's too much, and that fine line between being honest and protecting their childhood. It sounds like you're doing an amazing job and I strongly suspect that it's all the cuddles and the non verbal reassurance that will do just as much good as the words x

  11. It sounds like you are doing an amazing job taking care of the emotional needs of your little one. Little Maria is dealing with a very difficult subject, but I know with such a wonderful mama, she will .take it though. Hugs to you all.

    The quilt is beautiful..I am amazed at how well you do with faces.


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