The Truth Behind Morning Make

morning make Lilla Quilt Improv Quilting

My alarm went off this morning precisely 7 hours and 1 minute after I got in to bed. I did not jump out of bed. I lingered, staring into the mostly dark, listening to my husband breathe. For at least two minutes I debated rolling over and going back to sleep. For another two minutes I wondered if I should go to the gym instead of sewing. And for two minutes more I stretched out my arm with the tennis elbow. Then I got out of bed.

In my PJs I shuffled to the sewing room. My dog is sick so I hugged the wall in case he'd pooped in the basement again overnight. (He didn't, but if he did I needed some sewing before I dealt with that.) I clicked on the machine and turned on both the design wall lights and the overhead lights. Normally I don't make it so bright because, damn, it's first thing in the morning, but I am machine quilting so it helps. I settled on my pillows and set to finishing the stitches on this particular quilt. 

I've been thinking about my Morning Make practice lately and how much it is saving lives. Mine and those of the people around me. Okay, so that's melodramatic. Morning Make is definitely changing lives though. I first wrote about it in May of last year. I'm amazed at what it has done for me since then.

Life came at us hard once September hit. Like any other family it is the daily barrage of school lunches, playdates, sports, homework, drama, driving here and there, work, and moments of glory, beauty, and snuggles. It's exhausting and most days I feel like the only time I sit down is in the car and then the kids are all talking and nothing is silent or calming about traffic. Add to that family drama,  a bountiful harvest, and financial stress and life is like the peach tree done for the year - all the promise and the lingering sweetness, but ready for a good long rest. 

Despite all that, or maybe to spite it, I am committed to my Morning Make. Some days it is 10 minutes of random piecing of scraps, others it is machine quilting. Some times I take an hour to write. If the kids get up early I sketch and colour with them. The phone, as always, stays on the nightstand. The computer does not get opened. I use my hands, my feet, my heart, my brain to do, to be. I create before I consume.

Morning Make Values Quilts Cheryl Arkison

The reason Morning Make is saving lives is two fold. One, most days that is the only time I get to actually be consciously creative. The whole day is a juggle and even making your bed or dinner can be considered creative acts. Yes, even those. You have choices to make and hopefully the end result is somewhere between passable and beautiful. That counts as creativity. If I've started the day with a creative act, a dedicated moment where I did the thing that gives me so much joy and peace, then I've set up my mood for the whole day. And when Mama is calmer we all have a better day. Not to mention I won't be cranky or frustrated quite so much when I elect to watch the Daily Show when my day is finally done instead of heading in to the sewing room.

Two, Morning Make has turned in to a daily practice. From what I understand what I do is very similar in practice and impacts as a meditation practice. It is about being present, with no outside influences. I focus on the task in front of me and that is all. Just rather than that focus being on breathing, a mantra, or a particular thought, it is on the creative act I am doing right then. It is focused concentration. The more you do that, the more the benefits extend to the rest of your life. That's why meditation is so strongly recommended for anxiety and even problem behavours in children.

Beyond these two amazing benefits, Morning Make has made me far more productive. In terms of sewing I am getting things done. A little each day goes a long way! That ability to be more present in what I am doing also means I waste less time when I am doing things. I can stay off social media, avoid click bait, and process the news in smaller chunks. So the little time I have for all the things means it is getting used well.

In no particular order, these are quilts or quilt tops I've finished via Morning Make:

Improvisational Picing Small Piecing Cheryl Arkison

The icing on the cake is quite literally, the creative energy. Not just the making of things, but the fuelling up I get from this daily practice. This is my time to play, explore, improvise. Zero expectation for what I do, only some time to try. Creativity begets creativity. I get a million more ideas, I see things differently, I want to try more, do more. 

So today I finished quilting that quilt. Then I went about my day of momming, part time work, cake baking, driving, and all the rest. And not once did I have a temper tantrum or even say something snarky. I totally give credit to Morning Make for that!

Tonight I will put out some fabric. I will set my alarm for 7 hours and 1 minute after I get into bed. When I wake up in the morning I will breathe and stretch and make. 

For practical tips and more about Morning Make check out this piece on the Craft Industry Alliance blog