Sunday, August 30, 2015

Reclaiming the Quilts

by Leann

At the time I was learning to write fiction--and believe me, it was a steep learning curve--I also took on something else--quilting. Who knew that years later those two important aspects of my life would merge in The Cats in Trouble Mysteries?

I probably took more quilting classes than I did writing classes. Problem was, I didn't even know how to turn on a sewing machine when I decided I wanted to create quilts. I'd been a reader all my life, so writing, though far more difficult than I imagined, came a little easier. Like with my first stories, my first quilts were pretty awful. But I found the two crafts similarly complex and immensely satisfying.

Writing a novel and making a king-size quilt probably take about the same amount of time. I jumped into both with enthusiasm because,well, they offered me the freedom to be myself. A troubled childhood never quite allowed that before. Then the illnesses came. The Lyme, the fibromyalgia, the multiple chemical sensitivities, the asthma, the Epstein-Barr, the hypothyroidism. They all have one thing in common: tremendous fatigue. I couldn't focus, my vision was affected, my stamina was gone. I only had room in my brain for writing the books. I mourned the loss of me. I had to take early retirement from my nursing job because I feared I might harm someone inadvertently. See, at 3 PM each afternoon at work, I more often than not found myself unable to do more than rest my head on my desk. Thank goodness I left when I did because it only got worse. It was the right decision.

It has been a long journey to accept these invisible thieves. The medication for the newest diagnosis, myasthenia gravis, has brought some relief. For the first time in at least three years, I picked up my hand quilting and stitched. Did I get tired? Yes. Did it feel wonderful? Yes. I doubt I will ever finish all the projects I had planned. Like writing, I can only take joy in the process. And that is what life should be, anyway--joy in the day to day. Nothing is promised.