This year my word has been “EXPERIMENT!” Yes, in all caps and with an exclamation point! The emphasis is not angry or scolding, but cheering. To me it is encouragement to try things I haven’t tried before, without expectation of a particular outcome.
Why is that important? If I expect a particular outcome or product, and then my actions don’t produce that, there can be a sense of failure attached. Instead, my hope was to be more open to possibilities. I can try something for several iterations, varying aspects until I figure out what really works, or until I’ve learned all I need to from the process. The goal of an experiment is to learn, and success is in the learning, not in the product or outcome.
This word worked well for me, for both my quilting/creative life and the rest of my personal life. I am bolder now and more persistent in some creative areas. I worked in series in my quilts and continue to find new means of expression in the same form.
I began the year completing medallions started for my Medallion Sew-Along. Last year I started nine quilts for the series of posts. So far I have finished eight of them. Six of those nine all began with the same template, or sizes for the center block and borders. Though the template was the same, the variation between the compositions was remarkable. In essence, the whole Sew-Along was an experiment for me. Here are two of my favorite finishes from it.
In the spring I began teaching a class on my medallion Design-As-You-Go methods. The five students were all talented, experienced quilters. Their creativity, enthusiasm, and generosity made the class a tremendous success. I hope to teach it again. Though I will do some things differently, the first go-round was a worthy experiment.
Besides my quilting, writing is an important creative endeavor for me. In July my experiment was to submit a short story for publication to a magazine. The editor-in-chief replied to me that very day! She said she loved the story, but the magazine was about to cease publication. She encouraged me to submit it elsewhere. So far I have not, but mostly because I haven’t identified another potential publisher yet. The quilting magazines with which I’m familiar don’t publish short stories, and I’ll need to look for another venue.
In addition, I submitted another work for publication. In this case I sent in a proposal for a book. The publisher declined, but again encouraged me to submit elsewhere. I’m still mulling my options here.
Besides quilting and writing, I’ve been experimenting in my personal life. I tried out a new attitude for winter in January and February (though it rather fell apart in March…) I’ll try it again this year. And Jim and I tried snowshoeing for the first time. We enjoyed it enough to buy ‘shoes, hoping to spend more time outside even in winter.
In September we went to northern New Mexico to vacation. We hike when we can here in Iowa, but we enjoy a challenge and were eager to try the higher elevations. Taos, NM is at about 7,000 feet above sea level. Just walking around in town is some 6,000 feet above our local elevation! But we also hiked in the mountains, including a wonderful outing above 11,000 feet. That’s more than two miles above sea level! That hike was a triumph especially because an earlier one at a lower elevation had led to significant pain in my knees. Persistence paid off.
Using “EXPERIMENT!” as a focus word helped encourage me to try things, and to try again.
I’ve thought a lot about my word for 2015. I expected I’d change it, probably to “explore.” However, I’ve gained so much by experimenting that I will continue with this year’s word.
Did you have a focus word for 2014? Was it helpful to you? Will you choose one for 2015? I’d love to hear about it.