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.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Leann, so happy to read that you've been able to quilt again. Has the new med helped your eyesight as well as your fatigue? Are you able to read as many books as you would like given your writing schedule? If you are still having vision trouble, would you qualify to get something like talking books? Every state is mandated by the feds to have some kind of a program to provide reading/audio materials to people with vision problems. My friend qualified for the Oregon program long before she was declared legally blind by her eye doctor. Cordella

mary kennedy said...

Leann, this is really fascinating, I didn't realize your interest in quilts dated back from years ago. When they say, "Everything happens for a reason," I really believe it because who would have guessed that your passion for cats and quilts would come together so marvelously in your Cats in Trouble series.!! Be well, my friend.

Anonymous said...

So glad you are seeing improvement, after years of dealing with these issues, Leann. Writing about your conditions gives others, like me, hope when we so often feel isolated. Thank you and enjoy your day to day!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Cordella. I have been listening to audio books for years and was insistent, because of my own issues, that ALL my books be available in audio and large print formats. My agent got tired of hearing me harp on it, but I knew it was like to not be able to read the small print or to get so tired after only reading 3 pages in a book. Mission accomplished! I read (listen) every single day and would be LOST without books.

Leann Sweeney said...

It is isolating. Healthy folks don't quite get it. When I lost almost 40 pounds thanks to all this, I heard " But you look so good" over and over. I would gladly take back those 40 pounds and reclaim my size 12 for the size 4 I am right now. Thanks Pat and hang in there.

Jeannie D. said...

So happy you are able to enjoy your quilting again. I admire anyone that can quilt. I sew but have never had the patience for quilting. Hope you continue to feel better with your new meds.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Oh Leann, you are quite amazing with how you persevere. I did not know that you had all these troubles. I hope the new meds continue to help.

I feel that when issues are not recognized early by the docs, that leads to more manifestations, especially auto-immune.

Take good care of yourself, my lovely friend. You bring a lot of joy to so many people.

Annette Naish said...

Leann, thanks for sharing the blessing with us. Enjoy those quilts - another form of your creative talent to share with others. Take care and God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Leann, thanks for letting me know your books are on CD. I checked with the library catalogue and found all of the Yellow Rose books are available. I put them all on hold for my friend as she loves mysteries as much as I do. Will find out from Talking Books if they have the cat books. By the way, give this feedback to your agent. It is a big deal! Cordella

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Mary!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Jeannie. Actually, quilting TAUGHT me patience. And also taught me that I don't need to be perfect. Every quilt has a mistake, whether you are a master quilter or a hobbyist like I am. Quilter actually take pride in their mistakes and will often highlight them.

Leann Sweeney said...

You are right, MJ. The myasthenia has probably been going on for far longer than I ever knew--maybe as far back as childhood. I really think it led to so many other issues. Of course the Lyme was just the yucky icing on a very bad tasting cake. That came from an evil, tiny insect. :-)

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Annette. I need to be WRITING now, not quilting!! :-)

Linda Rima said...

Any one of those medical conditions or diseases would be tough to cope with but that you've managed to deal with them and still be productive doing what you love speaks of your great strength, character and courage. You definitely serve as an inspiration for me to keep singing my sword at my mounting health issues. Thank you for sharing and writing your wonderful mysteries. And, yes, large print and audio are important to a growing number of readers who have vision problems. I'm very fortunate to work in a large library system that does supply large print and audio to its customers.

Seville at Nerissa's Life said...

If your quilts are anything like your books, Leann, they must be wonderful.

They say that what doens't kill us, makes us stronger. Do you think that in some weird way your illnesses may have made you a stronger and better writer because believe-you-me, your writing is an absolute pleasure to read.

Purrs,
Seville

Seville at Nerissa's Life said...

If your quilts are anything like your books, Leann, they must be wonderful.

They say that what doens't kill us, makes us stronger. Do you think that in some weird way your illnesses may have made you a stronger and better writer because believe-you-me, your writing is an absolute pleasure to read.

Purrs,
Seville