Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Just Hammer the Nail

     I have to go back an entire year in order to begin this post properly. Some of you may remember that I attended Sewing Summit in 2012. It was awesome and wonderful and loads of fun. The best part for me was sitting in on the sessions where designers discussed their creative journeys. My favorite of these talks by a mile was Amanda Herring's. She is the brains and the braun behind The Quilted Fish and one of Riley Blake's top (more like tippy top) designers. She is also one of the warmest, kindest, most generous spirits I have ever encountered. She's blushing right now, but it's true and everybody knows it.
Amanda at her most Amanda-y (photo and street cred to @dougsterdesign)
     Amanda talked a lot about her design process that day and her use and love of the Adobe design program, Illustrator. We were all asking tons of questions and she mentioned that maybe, at some point in the future, she would host an Illustrator workshop. I remember thinking at the time that it would be cool to learn that program, but really, if this girl is talking, I want to be there, no matter what the subject.  And just like that, I became a "Fishie."
     Flash forward a few months. I'm sitting on the couch with Mr. Wonderful catching up on my blog reading when I see that Amanda has announced the Find Your Lula retreat with this video.
   You watched it, right? You guys, you have to watch this video!
So, I knew I was in. I showed the video to Mr. Wonderful, gave him my best puppy dog eyes, mentioned that my big fat 50th birthday was right around Lula time, and got the green light to sign up! Hey, they don't call him Mr. Wonderful for nothing, you know.

Ok, flash forward again eight long months and off to Lula (Park City, Utah) I go. So excited. Not a care in the world. As a matter of fact, I was so excited to get there that I took a flight that got me into Salt Lake around 10:00am. We weren't even going to head up to Park City until 5:00pm. I figured I'd just hang out at the airport, or maybe take a cab into Salt Lake and go exploring. But the night before I left, one of the other Lula-ites, Amy of Ameroonie Designs texted me and said, "Let's hang out!" Now, Amy and I had never met. We knew each other a little bit from the Lula Facebook group, but that was it. So, at first, my shy, introverted self launched the standard flare warning of awkward roads ahead, alerting me to available detours. But I've been to the Awkward Rodeo plenty of times (I mean, I'm 50, right?), so I ignored the flare and headed off with Amy for an epic shop hop, picking up Gwen (GwennyPenny) along the way. We had a blast! PS. I heart you, Pine Needles and Material Girls. I heart you so hard!
I heart you too, Amy! Even more than I heart fabric shopping!

So, one by one we all gathered in Salt Lake, 12 of us in all, plus a few of Amanda's helpers (more about them in a minute), and were escorted by Amanda's wonderful husband, Scott up to the most beautiful house in Park City. No exaggeration. This place was beyond bananas! I had my own bedroom AND my own bathroom. It was heaven! And this was on my door:
I knew right away this was not any run in the mill retreat.
    We all settled in and sat down to dinner, which was cooked by Amanda and her amazing team. All the food was planned and cooked by Amanda and her team, and while it couldn't have been easy to make 12 women with varying tastes and dietary requirements happy, they sure made it look easy! Everything was beautiful, plentiful and so very delicious!
     After dinner Amanda had us go around the circle and tell a little bit about ourselves. This is where things headed South for me, and fast. One by one each woman talked about all of their accomplishments. These weren't people like me, just looking to learn a new skill and have some fun. They were established, serious business women. They were fabric designers with multiple lines under their belts. They were magazine editors. They were everything. I. Am. Not. I was terrified, and by the time it was my turn to tell who I was, I was nearly in tears. I mumbled something incoherent about wanting to design my own fabric so I could make a quilt with my fabric, that I designed, pieced and quilted all myself. Which is true, but seemed so entirely lame at that moment that I just wanted to crawl under a rock. And of course, You Know Who was there, sitting on my shoulder having a marvelous laugh at my expense.
Richard Nixon. My arch nemesis.
     Yup. That Dick was back, smugly perched atop my shoulder, whispering insidious nothings in my ear, reminding me of who he knew me to be; inept, afraid, blocked, lacking, a fraud. "Who do you think you are?" he said. "You don't belong here,"he said. "You have taken the space of somebody who truly deserves to be here." (You might remember him from this post) but this time Marlo Thomas was no where in sight.  I was able to shake Nixon off that night. I told myself I was exhausted, which I was, and to start fresh in the morning, so I said goodnight and put my sorry self to bed.

     The next day, I woke up completely refreshed and, after my breakfast of perfectly poached eggs, made just for me,

I was ready to rule my first Illustrator class. Boo Ya!

     Our Illustrator classes were led by Amanda's friend and Graphic Designer Extraordinaire, Douglas Allen. In my little brain I call him Doug Funny. Not because he wears his Tidy Whities on the outside, and goes by the name "Quail Man"(although who knows what he does in the privacy of his own home?), but because he is just really, really funny.

Can I just tell you? Dude has chops! He's about 17 years old #prettysure, Ok, #lolololol he's a grown man #fatherof2 #onebunintheoven but he is way young for the resume he's built up. Chops for days, this guy. #chopsfordaze . So, the hashtags are a Lula joke, and nobody but us will get it, and I know it is egregiously rude of me for injecting an inside joke into this post, but I had to, just this once. #meaculpa #itwonthappenagain.

     So Doug gets started, and so far so good. I am getting it, and I'm getting pumped and I'm doing that happy dance in my chair that I used to do when I was doing my algebra homework and I made my equations balance. I was almost gleeful.  But then, he said something that I didn't quite get, and while I was trying to figure it out, the class moved on and I realized I was a couple steps behind. Then Nixon showed up. This time he just laughed and laughed and laughed, and I couldn't hear what Doug was saying anymore, and I didn't want to ask too many questions because I was going to hold up everybody else who were totally keeping up and doing the happy dance in their chairs. And then I cried. I don't think anybody saw me, but I was a snifflin' for sure. Nixon is such a Dick!

     Luckily, we broke for lunch and I had a moment to catch my breath. After lunch, Kristen McMullin Pack arrived for our photography class.
Photo Assignment from Kristen's Class
She talked a little bit about her creative journey and told a story about a time when she was at a crossroads in her life, living in a dreary basement apartment that she was trying to fix up and make into a space where she could be happy. She stood in front of a wall, hammer and nail in hand and was paralyzed by her fears. Was she doing the right thing? Could she be successful and follow her dream. What if? Then she told herself to "just hammer the nail."

     Just. Hammer. The. Nail. That phrase became my rally cry. It became the rally cry for the whole group. You see, I didn't allow myself to hear the night before when everybody was giving their bios  that we all have fears of inadequacy. I didn't let myself hear that they often feel the same way that I do, even though they've accomplished so much more. When we get right down to it, we are all just women trying to make our way in the world one step at a time, and sometimes we get scared, and sometimes we are awesome and don't even know it. But, if we don't try, if we don't just hammer the darn nail and see what happens, well, that's sort of criminal, isn't it? I think that ticks God right off when that happens. I really do.

     So, do you know what I did? I flicked my Dick. That's right. I flicked that Dick right off my shoulder. Now, I can't say he won't ever be back, but he's gone for now, and I continue to work on Illustrator on my own, and I'm getting better. I have even done that happy dance once or twice. You can flick your Dick, too. Just hammer the nail, baby, just hammer the nail.

     Tomorrow I am going to post about Lula one more time. There was somebody else there that I haven't mentioned yet. She gets her very own post.


  1. love what you wrote....cant wait for the next one...You are amazing!
    this is from Gina not Truman... not sure why the comment is going to post as his....help Doug, help!