2018 Let's Do This!

Sewing and Camping

That annual moment where we look forward to all that we want to do. I'm realizing that, professionally, I can be like the January gym rat. Full of ideas and ambition, then life and laziness and chocolate take over. 

Last year I had similar thoughts, but it took me a while to put my finger on it exactly. I never set annual goals for 2017. Instead, I sat down on the first of each month and did an aspirational task list. Finish this particular quilt, query a manuscript so many times, catch up on Financials, that sort of thing. To do lists are awesome! Doing this allowed me to keep our family life in greater perspective.

I'll be honest, I don't put much credence into the term work/life balance. I don't like the implication that it is a seesaw. That balance somehow means stasis or that one is higher than the other when not in balance. So setting this monthly aspirational task lists allows me to look at what we have going on as a family (swim meets, dance performances, visiting family) in relation to teaching gigs and deadlines. Then I can see what I can realistically fit in above and beyond them. 

Tiny flowers

This whole thing has been great for gaining perspective and managing expectations. I did not end the year upset that I didn't launch a new video course, for example, because I knew that there was no way I could have made the time to make it happen. No matter how much I wanted to. Oh, how I want to. I could have had my son skip ballet to do it. Or not get involved in the family business as needed to make it happen. But those other things were bigger priorities. Seeing my monthly lists in my planner, along with the family schedule keeps it all in perspective.

Another confession. I am feeling a lot of disdain for the quilt industry of late. Not for quilters or fabric or quilts or the sheer fun of making. But for the behind the scenes industry numbers game and operations, of the constant hustle. Those who play this game know what I am talking about. The regular consumer may even understand it too if you pay attention to launches of books, fabric, and patterns. If you don't need to know, then I recommend keeping it that way. But playing the game is exhausting, Sisyphean on a good day. 

Busy Bee (On Flowers) Sheep River

When you combine my busy real life with this disdain, it only adds to the need for perspective. I won't lie, just a few years ago this probably would have made me angry, real angry. Ambition is strong here. The clarity of the last year is so liberating though. I am okay with things, really. Last year was probably my quietest year professionally. I loved every second of teaching, I pitched articles and met all my deadlines, and that was about it. No major projects, no secrets ready to come out. And no early, early mornings to get it all in. No stress related tantrums. No TV as babysitter so I can get it done. (No gym much either, but we can't win at everything.)

All of this to say, that these monthly ambitious task lists are da bomb! Put 6-10 things on the list. Include things you know you have to do - planned classes, deadlines, entries needed. And include things you want to do. Refer to it often. Very often. 

For example, here is my January 2018 List:

  • Film and post a Shark Quilt Video
  • Finish a baby quilt that has been basted for over a year
  • Re-jig two quilt tops from the Quilts Under Construction pile
  • Finish 2017 Accounting
  • Write notes/outline for a new story I thought of over Christmas
  • Finish Chapter 3 of my novel
  • Send out 5 new Picture Book Queries

Ambitious yes, but totally doable with the time I have in between dance rehearsals, the gym, a synchro competition, a hockey tournament, time spent at 3 pools for the kids, making dinner and snacks, making love, and watching the new season of Workin' Moms. Early mornings, some late nights, stolen moments, and focused action. Let's do this!

Quilts At the Creek

It's Totally Okay. Honest

Hugs and Kisses and Swimming in the Pacific

Looking back on my 2016 goals these days, I see that I failed miserably. 

And I'm totally okay with that. Surprisingly okay with that. 

I am a goal oriented person. I like to tick things off and say that I succeeded. Setting clear goals, as I did last year, gave me something very tangible to work towards. And work, I did. What I did not account for was all the other stuff I wanted or had to do. Nor did I account for new opportunities. So yes, if I look at my list I didn't have a successful year. But if I look at all the things off the list I have absolutely nothing but election results to complain about.

2016 Goals and The Results:


  1. Secure contract and write 4th quilting book - Nope. The reality of a family schedule and knowing what it takes for me to finish a book made this an impossibility. Honestly, I am a bit bummed about it, but that doesn't mean the idea is gone...
  2. Finish and launch new website and blog - Done!! I'm so happy that I sat down and did the work on this. I hope you are too!
  3. Teach at least one 3-day workshop - Actually, I taught a few. This was a goal because I find these immensely rewarding for the students. They get so much done and they get a lot of me. And I get inspiration in return.
  4. Sell more local classes, potentially self hosted - Nope. I had some, but no more than usual. Again, that family schedule made it hard to plan this out. But it remains a 2017 priority. 


  1. Try climbing and Crossfit and maybe Muay Thai again - None of these things happened. But I tried ballet (which I love) and got back to skiing. I joined a gym in the fall and have been going fairly consistently. So, in my head, physical gains made regardless.
  2. Leash train our dog, Roo - The damn black dog remains a challenge. He is getting better. And after many different leashes and harnesses we've settled on a system that works for us (very short leash for a walk then some off leash time). But he stills escapes and barks like the world is ended. Sigh.
  3. Remember and celebrate friends' birthdays - At the beginning of the year I made a big birthday calendar. I can't say I wrote on every FB wall or at least sent a text on each birthday, but I was infinitely better than I'd been in the past. Still room for improvement.
  4. Relearn bread making - I've been working hard at this one. I can do a yeasted bread fairly well. Sourdough? Not so much. It is a new skill for me and I haven't given up yet. The cold of winter seems like a good time to keep experimenting. At least the kitchen is warm.


  1. Learn to English Paper Piece - Yes! I played and figured it out. I'm rather excited to get going on my big project, hopefully later this winter.
  2. Finish 10 quilts from the Quilts Under Construction List - Hmm, I just counted, and I finished 7 from that list. Not too bad, actually. A few moved around the list. And I finished 19 quilts in total last year so there is nothing to complain about there!
  3. Keep a weekly writing date - Well, it wasn't every week, but creative writing did make a fairly regular appearance in my schedule. Enough so that I am expanding on that for this year.
  4. Label all the quilts - Does it count if I made a lot of labels? I have a stack of them in a drawer in the sewing room ready to attach. But I did stay fairly on top of things as I went. Sort of. 
Bike Riding
Hopscotch Quilt

The good thing about a goals list is that it did keep me focused. If I found myself straying or struggling to focus the goals list gave me the direction. But I did find it restrictive a bit and totally ignored it. I ignored it because I had other work come up, because my family's needs were more than I anticipated, because other opportunities shone brighter. And all of those are good reasons and why I don't care that I didn't meet my goals. I don't have shareholders or a board of directors to answer to, only myself. Plus, if I look at what I did accomplish on top of this list, I'm pretty happy.

  • Finished 19 quilts. There is a lot of secret sewing in there (soon, I promise!) and some things I still haven't blogged about.
  • I played, explored, and committed to a Morning Make and my life is not the same
  • My first fabric line comes out any day now.
  • Published about 20 articles in magazines and blogs, not counting my own.
  • Judged QuiltCon and lived to tell the tale.
  • Travelled to Australia, Red, Deer, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, and Leduc to teach. Oh boy, memorable trips, all of them! Bonus: a sunrise swim in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Participated in the Mighty Lucky Quilt Club and The Splendid Sampler.
  • Filmed The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Timms and brought my daughter along with me to make it extra special.
  • Made it through the heavy family schedule of school and competitive sports with the kids without snapping. Possibly even thrived through it, I think. Bonus: watching my kids become fiercely competitive and proud of themselves.
  • Finally figured out how to take out and put back my slider windows so I can wash them myself.
  • Made new friends and built stronger relationships with the dear people in my community. 
  • Committed to and planned out one of the 4 novel ideas I've sat on for a few years.
  • Every week sent out a handle of queries to try to publish at least one of my children's picture book stories. A lot of rejection there, but I won't stop trying, refining, and writing more.
  • Did not sit on the sidelines with my kids. With the exception of trampolines, I go out and do the things with them now. Bought a fancy brace for my knee and that has me back on skis. Not to mention hiking and biking more. Plus nightly frisbee in the park in the summer and bringing them into my Morning Make.
Sentinel Pass
Picnic in Fish Creek

So yeah, 2016 was a pretty good year. It wasn't perfect, I was far from perfect. There were ugly moments, sleepless nights, arguments, and a stress too. A lot of it. But I do believe life is the sum of all our moments. You can add and subtract along the way, but as long as the overall equation results in a positive you are doing okay. 

This look back on the year has me rethinking my goal setting process for 2017. Some people do the Word of the Year thing too. There is also a more business minded approach that gets me thinking about mission and vision statements. I usually get that thinking done over the holidays but we did not have much downtime there. So look for more in my newsletter (are you subscribed?) and here. There is a lot to look forward to this year, again, election results aside.

Champagne Rose
I am Love

2016 Goals

This year I've worked really hard on goal setting. It's taken a lot of reflection, letting go, focus, and reality checks. I went from hard core enthusiasm to awful pessimism in one day. Then back again. Not fun.

It's not a fine line between optimism and reality, it's a thick black one.

When I realized that it depressed me. I spent some days being awfully grumpy, ready to give up my professional work. Family first. But we all know I'm better, the family is better when I work, I was really struggling to see how I could be happy in both my business and my family life. But then MY reality showed through.

First, I spent some time talking with other professional quilty friends. They calmed me down, reminded me that I'm not the only one struggling with this, and encouraged me to still set high goals. They all agreed that the goals should be very specific. I've done that in the past, but I drilled down even more this year.

Second, I delivered a trunk show. Now, I give about 10-15 trunk shows a year. I absolutely love trunk shows. Not because I get to share my quilts and stories, but because I see audience reactions and talk to people about inspiration. It's amazing to know you inspire people to try new things.

To get to this trunk show last week I worked with my husband to get the kids to school. I turned to a friend with a day home to watch my boy. And no one got upset or cranky about it. We worked together to make it happen. Totally doable. A good reminder.

Third, I read this post from Anne Weil. And boom, it made me see that what I was doing was focusing on the hard stuff, the things I didn't do. Nowhere in there was I paying attention to the things I did accomplish and can do quite well. Talk about a glass half empty approach.

So I took my dog for a walk on a sunny winter day and found some clarity. With a bit more work I have 2016 goals. This year I broke them into categories and made them pretty specific.


1 Secure contract and write 4th quilting book.
2 Finish and launch new website and blog.
3 Teach at least one 3-day workshop.
4 Sell more local classes, potentially self hosted.


1 Try climbing and Crossfit and maybe Muay Thai again.
2 Leash train our dog, Roo.
3 Remember and celebrate friends' birthdays.
4 Relearn bread making.


1 Learn to English Paper Piece.
2 Finish 10 quilts from the Quilts Under Construction List.
3 Keep a weekly writing date.
4 Label all the quilts.

To get all this done I'm taking the advice from a few people about creating monthly breakdowns of the tasks that will get me to these goals. This Master List will keep me more accountable to myself and help me stay on track.

And in all of this I need to keep room for new adventures and possibilities!

2015 Goals - A Review

The last day of the year. I can safely say that this year hasn't gone like I expected. Then again, I'm not sure what I expected? Setting goals are a good way to find some focus and keep on track. But when the world does not cooperate with you it is also important to be flexible.

I did not meet all my goals. A part of me is certainly sad about that, no doubt. But being able to respond to changes in family conditions is important too. And no matter what, my family does come first. So, for example, if I have to back away from something I don't see it as a failure because I didn't meet my goal. It can be frustrating, but it isn't a failure.

Here goes. How did I do?

1. Start, and possibly complete, the next two quilts in my Alberta series.

This one is never far from my brain. I would really like to get on this. My Mountain Meadows quilt is one of my favourites and it is received so well when I show it. These quilts would be the closest I get to Art Quilts too. That, in and of itself, is a personal challenge I like. It is always good to get out of my comfort zone.

Working with a local shop, My Sewing Room, I designed the background for their Row by Row Experience. We went with a Prairie sky/landscape. This is one I definitely want to expand upon. And a recent winter drive had me thinking about snow on the Prairies a lot too.

It is quite likely that this goal will carry forward, with some more focus.

2. Record at least 1 new online class or set of classes.

Finished this in the first quarter.

My CreativeLive classes are available and so much fun. 
Improv Quilting Basics
Quilting With Low-Volume Fabrics
Translating Inspiration in Quilting
Playing With Pinwheels in Quilting

Online classes are a great way for me to reach more students with teaching. I cannot teach in the US right now, as much as I would love to, so this way more people can have access to me.

And coming up is an entirely new experience. The Mighty Lucky Club is a monthly challenge and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. The first month is about to come out. I've seen a sneak peak and it is awesome!

3. Launch 2 more print patterns.

The Sewing Machine Quilt will launch next week!

I will fully admit to this being a tough one for me. Not designing patterns. That, I can do. It is the step  to printing that I seem to procrastinate on. I'm still deciding whether this is something I will pursue further. But I committed to this pattern and the work is done. Look for the launch.

4. Attend 1-2 quilting retreats as a guest and not a teacher.

Nope. And I'm pretty sad about it. I can't even squeeze out the time for a guild sew day. 

Thankfully, I am finding time to retreat into myself for some creative inspiration. I've been stealing mornings and taking advantage of the inconsistent naps my son takes. A few days or whole days would be awesome, but I will take every moment I get. It is amazing who one can recharge in only 15 minutes when sewing is involved.

5. Pick up 3 new freelance clients.

This was one of the ones that had to change. I love freelancing - the constant creative challenge of new articles, the editors I work with, the ability to inspire and educate. It does, however, take time. And my time to work was drastically reduced this year. I had to pick and choose and this is one thing that had to scale back significantly.

I am going to be writing for another publication in 2016 so it is good to add another magazine to my portfolio. It should be a great experience. 

6. Celebrate the launch of You Inspire Me to Quilt, because I never did that for A Month of Sundays and I missed that.

Well, there was never a big party and that's okay (You only turn 40 once). I am, however, still totally celebrating You Inspire Me to Quilt.

Right now I have a promotional giveaway going on. 

Share a photo of the person or people in your life who bring you to the sewing table to create. Tell us why too. It  may be your partner, your kid, your grandmother. It might also be someone famous who inspired you or another quilter. Share it all. Tell us, who inspires you to quilt?

Post your photo on Instagram or Twitter, using the hashtag #youinspiremetoquilt. All posts will be entered to win one of these amazing prizes.

7. Explore print and pattern making through regular sketching, play, and learning design programs.

Oh my goodness! So much fun. I haven't shared much of anything about this on the blog, but this creative play is amazing. And there are some fun things coming on this front in 2016. And still so much more I want to do.

8. Lose 20 pounds. Actually, closer to 25 if we count the holiday weight. I lost 20 pounds last year and want to continue on the road to health.

Not. Even. Close. In fact, I am nothing if not consistent in my weight.

I will say that I think I've mostly succeeded in adding exercise to a regular schedule for me. It isn't as much as I would like, but I have to realistic with the demands on my time. There is just too much to do in the time I have. But I do carve out 20-45 minutes most days now. 

So the weight isn't changing. If I got real serious about my eating I'm sure it will come. But seriously? I love cookies so much.

9. Find an agent/publisher for the children's books I wrote.

It's probably too early to report, but there is definite movement on this particular goal. And I am ridiculously excited by that. Not only that, it has inspired new possibilities and ideas in this genre. Too. Much. Fun.

10, Spend at least 1-2 hours a week working on one, any one, of the outstanding Quilts Under Construction. Focused, steady progress should move some of those through the list, even when I'm starting new quilts all the time.

Okay, so it didn't happen every week, but I definitely moved some of these quilts through the piles. Then others stayed exactly where they were with nothing more than a sideways glance of guilt. Oh well.

Yes, oh well. I am not going to get hung up on the number of quilts in the pile. every single one represents creativity and the pursuit of joy at different times and in different ways. 

Overall, I am pleased with 2015. It was a good year for me personally and professionally. I responded to challenges instead of cowering. New things are always tough, but I truly believe it is worth facing new stuff to keep ourselves going forward. Like an ever changing river, not a stagnant pond. Sure, the pond can look pretty (but probably won't smell great) but it doesn't have the power and energy of the river.

Having defined goals kept me on track professionally and I will definitely be gathering my imagination for the year ahead. Watch for the 2016 post.