Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to. That’s when I feature them on the blog. This is one of those days.
When I was doing my live video last week, I had a viewer ask if I was still submitting quilts for publication anymore. It was a spur-of-the-moment answer that I said just off the cuff without really thinking about it. A little more time has passed and the question has really stuck in my brain. I want to really thank the viewer who asked the question because I think it pointed me on a path and I now have more of a focus. Let me explain…
I love domestic life. I love cooking…I don’t hate household chores…I love raising kids. Crafting and sewing are at the top of my list. I enjoy gardening. I like caring for animals. Domestic life is the life for me. I’ve never had big career ambitions. I’ve been pretty content to be the mom and wife…and now a grandma. Whatever work I’ve done has been a sideline job with my focus always on raising the kids. If the job has taken me too far from my domestic life, I’ve always left that job.
Back in 2015 when… Kelli and I had our quilt book Country Girl Modern published, we thought it was so cool…but then, things changed. They wanted us to travel and promote the book. They wanted us to get out and hit guild meetings and go to Houston to the quilt show and do a schoolhouse session. Oops. We didn’t sign up for that. We had no desire to do that. I’m an Iowa girl that is perfectly content staying in Iowa…more than that, I’m perfectly content staying in NE Iowa…really, I’m perfectly content to stay in my house. It wasn’t a good fit for either my daughter Kelli or me. Travel isn’t our thing. It’s one of the many reasons we left book writing behind.
During that time I was teaching evening classes for childcare providers so they could keep up with their continuing education requirements. It was going okay in fact, I very much enjoyed teaching the classes. But things changed. Requirements to teach changed. My two-year degree was okay but I started to be pressured to get my four-year degree and move up the ladder. I was asked to comply with changing requirements that I didn’t agree with…I quickly realized that wasn’t for me. I didn’t want a career. I didn’t want to move up the ladder. I really just wanted to be the mom and wife. Domestic life was a bigger call to me.
Several times in my life I’ve been at the spot where I either need to get some wings and fly or throw out my anchor. The anchor wins every time. My house and family are always the louder calling for me. I’m not settling. I’m not giving up. I’m not afraid of trying. I just know that the job, the project, or the idea no longer fits with my goal and need to be here, doing what I love best…being here for my family, living a domestic life.
This is why blogging is the best fit for me that I’ve ever-ever had. I can do my domestic life stint and share it all with you. I truly love it. I can cook and write a blog post about it. I can help foster dogs and write about it. I can do all of the things and write about them. I can have my domestic life and pay the bills too.
Recently Kalissa and I went to a Reset Conference for business people. I don’t know that I’m a business person with the blog but Kalissa, my daughter, talked me into going. I actually got a lot out of it. The main thing…I refound my focus and found that I could be excited about it all over again.
I learned that I can “just be me” and be more comfortable in that skin…
I no longer had to hide that I love thrifting. I no longer had to embrace the industry and feel like I had to make quilts from fabric lines. I found I could admit that I don’t always follow the quilting “rules”…such as using sheets for the backing of quilts. I found it’s okay that I admit that I rarely buy fabric at quilt shops…I rarely even go to them.
I felt I could really embrace what I love like… scrap quilting. I love using what I have. I love finishing other people’s UFOs. I love the old make-do attitude of our ancestors. I’m totally not a buyer when it comes to quilting…and I can say that right out loud…now that I’ve thrown out my anchor and embraced my true need to live a domestic life with zero career ambitions I am so much happier.
Just think about this…what person who has their quilts published in national magazines, uses sheets on the back of their quilt. What person in national magazines rarely presses their pieces? Who doesn’t have a fancy sewing studio? Who cuts out their quilts on their kitchen island? I’ve just started to wonder if I am the best fit for magazines. I feel like I have to be something different to fit in with that crowd.
The place that this realization has led me to isn’t magazines…it isn’t writing quilt books…It’s blogging and now Youtube videos and more than ever. It’s made me realize that I am happiest being the authentic me. On the blog and on Youtube, I don’t have to worry if I fit the mold. I can just be me because there is no real mold a blogger or Youtube video maker really needs to try to fit in. Both are open-ended places where a person can be themselves and where people either like what the blogger/Youtuber is doing or they move on.
Somehow, with some pushing from my daughter Kalissa, Youtube is more and more feeling like a better fit for me than other paths I have been down. You all have been very responsive to videos. I feel like I’m helping people when I made them. I can’t tell you how many people have commented or messaged me saying, “I had that companion angle ruler and never knew what to do with it”. Well, I want to teach you how to use it. What good is it doing lying in a drawer…and those scraps you have…what good are they if you don’t dive in and use them? I’d love to be your cheerleader and help you along and use them.
I’m so excited to share a more authentic me. I’m so excited to not have to try to fit into a mold. I feel like this is Jo 2.0.
Sure I might do a quilt for a magazine now and then but they have changed too. They don’t really want me to show you what I’m working on. They don’t really want me to say anything about the pattern before it’s published. I just don’t know that I fit with magazine publications as I previously did.
I like to show you how I designed something on EQ. I like to talk to you about the hows and why of the decisions I made in making the quilt. I want to ask for your input because you all have great ideas and you have inspired me to make better decisions with my quilts. Being open and sharing the process with you is really such a better fit for me. I hate keeping secrets and I don’t want to keep them from you.
I’m having so much fun showing you what I’m making and what I’m doing. I’m having fun making a video and letting you sew along with me if you want to. It all feels so much more like a community. It feels like more of a place that I want to be. I don’t want to be elite. I want to be right with you.
The other thing I love about the blog and Youtube, there are no big deadlines hanging over my head. You all know I really will get to things as time allows but you aren’t pushing and limiting me on juggling all of the other things I need to do. I love that!
So…as to submitting quilts to magazines, we do have a quilt coming out in American Patchwork and Quilting in the 30th anniversary coming out this spring. Other than that, nothing else is in the making.
There are blog posts and Youtube ideas in the working. I’m such a better fit there and MANY thanks to the viewer who helped me realize I’m right where I need and want to be!