My life changed in a lame but spectacular ski accident. I went tumbling after my ski likely hit a rock hidden in fresh powder. Initially, I heard the injuries more than felt them. Although I managed to get up and put my skis back on, one push off and I was back on the ground again. Then down the hill, full of shame and frustration, in the ski patrol sled. The romantic weekend my husband and I planned lost in hospital visits, wheelchairs, and pain medication. The year we thought we would have lost in reduced mobility and independence, physical therapy, and a change in the parenting dynamic.
I wouldn't change a thing about it.
That time sitting around, facing my frustrations about so many things, brought me here. It was during that time that I first spoke to Amanda Jean, that I contemplated a career change seriously. It was during that time that I decided to pursue a long held dream to write a book.
You see, I was a kid who loved to write stories. With my own kids now I think that is an instinct that disappears over time (with criticism and other outside influences). I, however, never wanted to stop. I went to journalism school, but transferred out. I wrote when I could but never with focus or intention. In the few years before my fall I'd been annoyed at work, missing something more meaningful in my professional life. I fought it because I was doing what should have been a dream job for my education. Plus, it felt like I'd only just paid off my student loans from grad school. I thought I owed it to myself to make something of it. But I had started writing on the side again - here on the blog and with a fledgling freelance career - and I wanted to do more.
Those first conversations with Amanda Jean - over email and then on the phone like teenage girls - were the start of something amazing. Not only can I still call her a wonderful, dear friend, they started me on a professional path I never imagined and do not want to get off of.
I wrote the book in bed or in a tiny desk stuffed in a closet or at IKEA while taking advantage of the playroom. I learned to work to the soundtrack of PBS Kids. I did indeed take over the dining room table as I made all my quilts in the book. It was messy, chaotic, stressful, and awesome.
The day I truly started working on the book was also the day I started as a stay at home mom, having quit my policy job because our family could no longer survive with both of us working full-time. It also coincided with my husband leaving for more or less 3 months. While writing the book I had two miscarriages as well. I remember sitting in the hospital, binding one of the book quilts while waiting for a D&C. Let's just say it was a stressful, rocky time for everyone.
At the same time my Dad was dying. We had tears over the phone, stressful trips to see him and help, then there was me trying to meet my deadline as he was moved to Palliative Care. I still remember the day we met the final deadline and he seeing him look proud of me. He wasn't one for sharing love, but I could feel some that day.
The book was finished and there was nothing to do but wait for it to come out. Our family life started to smooth out a little. And I even started working on the next book. I got pregnant and this time it stuck.
Four years ago this month and a little over two years after that fall on the slopes Sunday Morning Quilts was published. Four years ago my son was born. If you are a long time reader here you might remember that we even had a little bet going on which would come first - the baby or the book? For the record, the book arrived at people's doorsteps and shops about a week or so before my little guy did.
As a mother my world blew up with his entrance to the world and our family. He's a delightful, (mostly) boy with more energy than a nuclear bomb. We worried about the age gap between he and the girls (6 and 4 years) but he's shown us that it doesn't matter one lick as he throws himself, full speed ahead into everything. I love him even when his pouting infuriates me or his tantrums last all day. I do wish he would stop talking sometimes, but he is his mother's child...
As a quilter, my world is totally different since Sunday Morning Quilts dropped. I wrote the book for two main reasons. One, I wanted to write a book and both Amanda Jean and I felt we had something to contribute to the market. And two, I wanted to teach and expected the book to be a good springboard to that. I never, ever could have anticipated what my life looks like now.
Recently, I wrote a list of all the places I've travelled to teach or speak about quilting. Outside of local gigs, I've been to nearly twenty communities. In one year I hit all three oceans that Canada touches. In rooms of ten or over 100 I get to talk about my quilts, my approach to making. I've filmed five online classes too. This blows my mind. And I could totally do more, I want to do more.
Have you seen my other two books? A Month of Sundays came to be because the quilt, Sunday Morning, proved so popular and inspiring. You Inspire Me To Quilt is my most recent, less than a year old, and all about the design process and making quilts for loved ones. These books wouldn't exist without Sunday Morning Quilts because I never would called myself a writer and actually sat down to pitch, write, and develop my voice in quilt books.
Then there is the unexpected benefit of writing books and designing patterns - people make quilts! I say unexpected because it isn't what I went into this for, to have people be inspired enough to make. But wow, that is the best part! To know that your work, whether words or technique or designs, get people sewing is fantastic and now the part that feeds me. It's one thing to buy a book because it is pretty or because you like the looks of a project or two, it is another to be so inspired that you actually get your butt in the seat and sew. That my little books can do that for people rocks my world.
In all honesty, it is that last part that keeps me going. I'm not going to lie, I have rough days. Those days are filled with doubt and I question whether I should be doing this - for my sake, for my family's sake, and whether anyone would notice if I stopped. Then someone sends me an email or I get tagged in a photo of a quilt they made inspired by my work. That old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery isn't quite true in this case because I am putting the designs out there for you to make, but it still counts in my book. Kind words and flattery will get you everywhere with me!
So I keep writing, playing with genres. I keep designing, publishing in books and magazines. I definitely keep teaching, always striving to inspire. I certainly wouldn't still be doing it without the support of everyone out there, all you quilters making quilts. I wouldn't be doing any of it without that fateful day on the slopes.
And now, I have a fancy carbon fibre brace for my knee and I'm back on the slopes with the family, all five of us.