When this blog is published, it will be sometime around the first week of June. But if you remember my writing habits, you realize I’m writing this in May – as I like to work several weeks in advance. So, if it’s somewhere around the first week of June, and North Carolina is still opening per Governor Cooper’s phase program, we’re now in the second phase. Let me put something out right here:
At this point, I haven’t had it and neither has anyone in my family, although I have a sneaky suspicion I may have had it around the last of January. Remember my family’s trip to Disney World after Christmas? We all came back with a “bad upper respiratory illness.” Did the doctors call it COVID? Nope. But at that time, no one here was using that terminology. We were all sick, it took weeks to get over, and we were all feeling terrible. During the time we were at Disney, social distancing was non-existent. It was crowded, cold, and had visitors from all over the world. According to CDC reports, COVID could have been in this country since late November. So maybe….
Anyway, I really want some normality back in my life. See….this is my life right now.
Summed up in two pictures, this is pretty much my existence. I’m telecommuting for work and making masks. I thoroughly dislike working from home. I can never find where I put things, there’s always something else at the main office I need, and I miss people. I’ve made over 500 masks, and while many of my quilting buddies are getting tons of UFOs finished, I’m not there. I feel driven to fill a need (masks), and don’t have the hours in the day open for sewing. All of this (as well as the sometimes daily hunt for basic needs like toilet paper), is making me feel off-kilter and anxious.
In short, I’m stick-a-fork-in-me done with this.
However, there is one process that gets me through some tough, trying times: A list. I realize this sounds lame, trivial, and on some level, asinine, but it works for me. For those of us who have been lucky enough to see Frozen 2, the running theme throughout the entire, wonderful movie is “When you don’t know exactly what to do about a situation, just do the next right thing.” And that’s what lists have done for me during this season of COVID 19. I don’t have to think. I don’t have to worry. I just do the next right thing on my list. Somedays it’s not real complicated. Empty the dishwasher. Finish the laundry. Take the chicken out of the freezer to thaw for dinner. Make a dozen more masks. Other times it’s more complicated. See if the doctor will do a virtual appointment. Fill out the PPP papers. Get ready for the workers comp audit that will be done via Zoom. Buy a sympathy card for a friend whose father died from COVID (because there is no visitation or viewing or hugging during this time).
I’ve been a list-maker for as long as I can remember. It keeps me focused and on-task. For quilters (or any other artist or crafter), they serve a two-fold purpose. A list can tell me what I need to purchase to complete a project. It also can put subtle pressure on me to finish certain steps so I can complete a quilt in a timely manner. I don’t have to wonder what to do when I step in my studio – I just “do the next right thing.” To me, a list is a gift. It’s a road map. It’s a GPS. I may have to think to make the list out, but at least after, all I have to do is follow it.
List making is also an art. Too much to do on the list can make you feel too much pressure to get it all done. And that can result in not wanting to do anything, because you realize you’ve just set yourself up for failure. There’s only so many hours in a day and not all of them need to be spent marking items off a list. There has to be balance. There has to be grace.
And sometimes there needs to be the grace to throw the list to the wind, because suddenly priorities have shifted. Planners…plodders…people like myself who break down large commitments into smaller chunks of “doable” ideas love to live by a list. But if we lack the ability to know when the list itself becomes the least important thing, then we haven’t grasped the concept of mercy and grace.
So, what does all this have to do with quilting? Arguably, lists are great for quilters. They keep us on task. They help us avoid starting yet another project before finishing the last one (okay…sometimes they do this). They keep us from going off all willy-nilly in fabric stores and websites purchasing things we don’t need (okay…sometimes on this one, too). They help us keep up with guild obligations. They are wonderful quilting companions.
Yet, sometimes, when life and circumstances throw us curveballs we never, ever expected, those lists become lifelines. Do the first thing. Then the second. Get through the day. Get through the week. Get through forty days and then fifty. Then two more weeks. Two months. Time marked by the rising of the sun, a list, and sunsets – that’s what it’s been like at my house.
I’m looking forward to the day I don’t have to look at rising COVID numbers and can find toilet paper and hand sanitizer at the grocery store. I’m waiting in anticipation to the time I can find ¼-inch elastic at Hobby Lobby, Joanne’s, or almost any sewing website. I can’t wait for guild meetings and in-person Sit and Sews. I think I will faint with joy the next time I hear, “Booth or table?”
I know some of you are feeing sort of the same way, and I wanted you to know, I get it. I really do understand because I’m right there with you. So, for perhaps just a little while longer, make your list. Give yourself grace. Social distance. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Make a mask.
And hold on tight to the thought that we will make it through this.
Love and Stitches,
Sherri and Sam