“I finally figured out my magic formula, this funny 3-legged stool … I have to identify my priorities correctly so I can balance my resources right. And I have to get my balance right to maximize my power.” 

So I wrote in an email to a friend two years ago, and so I shared with you in my last post on balance.

Identify my priorities. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Sometimes it is easy to know where to spend my resources. Other times it’s not as clear. Things are muddled right now. I have few ambitions. I have no bucket-list quilts to make. I don’t need to clear my stash. I’m not writing a book or teaching a class. There are no milestone quilts to make for loved ones. I don’t need excuses to buy fabric if I want.

And while I’ve largely recovered from messing up my left knee, my right one has taken a major hit. Physical therapy starts Friday. Doc says I shouldn’t expect to be back in a normal groove until the end of the year. Today? Going downstairs to my studio was possible, but not easy.

I do have some goals, some plans. I have an appliqué project I should spend more time with. I’ve volunteered for my guild’s program committee to schedule speakers, and also to help with next year’s quilt show. I’m almost done organizing my digital images of quilts, from all sources — two laptops, three flash drives, and at least a couple of “cloud” spaces. All of these things can be accomplished with minimal physical capabilities.

Besides these, I have two VA hospital quilts in progress. One is the project you’ve seen. The top is done and the back is ready. I have another in process. It’s a 6 x 8 layout of hourglass blocks. The darks are all blues. I haven’t cut the lights yet, and I won’t for at least several days.

And I volunteered to quilt several donation projects for my guild. We have around 80 tops ready to be quilted. People like to make tops, but finishing is harder. Obviously, right now I can’t do any. Once I get some strength and stability back in BOTH legs, I should be able to do a few.

From a more philosophical view, I do have priorities. I want to continue to make quilts that are rewarding to me. Rewards come from varying sources. Sometimes it is from design, sometimes from color, sometimes from the challenge involved, sometimes from ease. But I don’t have a notion of what my next quilt will be, after the VA quilts.

Right now I don’t feel very powerful. I feel kinda weak, wimpy, slow. So my highest priority right now is to get my physical strength and flexibility back. As I said the other day, sturdy and flexible — that’s the goal. I’ll work on that. The rest will follow.


28 thoughts on “Priorities

  1. drlgeiger

    I love your blog. What I love about it is how thoughtful you are, well paced, and focused. I really appreciate the medallions. I’ve been a fan of medallion quilts for a long time and yet I haven’t done one yet. I did find all your tutorials and so I’m going to work with that.

    You must focus on getting your health back! Good luck in physical therapy.

    Have you done a Chinese coin’s quilt? It’s one of the Amish styles and is easy to do probably not much of a challenge although I would think balancing the lights and darks to make things pop could be interesting challenge. I’d also like to see some discussion on how you pick borders that don’t conflict. I currently have a scrap bag of Moda strips Cut from the selvage edge that I’m going to turn into the Chinese coins. I would be interested in your comments on this style of quilt. I’m Laura in Fresno California.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thank you, Laura in Fresno! A stacked coins or Chinese coins is one of my most recent quilts! It was fun to make and you’re right, didn’t take a lot of brain power to do it.

      Thanks for the comments about my medallion posts. If I can help you find anything or answer questions, be sure to let me know. You’re welcome to email me. Choosing borders can be a challenge, but there is some logic to it, too. I could talk a lot about this, probably already have. 🙂 Again, let me know if you want help.

  2. singingbirdartist

    l’m attending oxygen therapy [breathing oxygen from a mask in a hyperbaric/pressure chamber] at the moment to help with fibromyalgia symptoms and have met a lot of people there who are recovering from wounds/accidents as well as the usual people with MS, cancer, chronic fatigue illnesses. l’m finding it great, some side effects that are connected to clearing brain fog making space for PTSD intrusive thoughts that are rarely mentioned in the literature, but jic you need to cost that risk in. l have been using a rollator to help me walk for 3 years now and this summer l’ve been able to walk with a stick!! The chiropractor l see recommends it to his clients too. So if it’s available/affordable in your area, it might be worth a try? Here the MS charity funds the centre and you get a free trial, then pay membership and per session. Being steady on your feet is kind of the starting place for so much!
    l had a great time today with someone helping me by pinning a refugee quilt together for me [l can’t kneel] but some puckers crept in – if you have any expert tips to help reduce ripples l would love to see them, my quilts are made with love, and will help the refugees trapped in Calais and give them some comfort hopefully, but they are a bit bumpy in places and would definitely fail City and Guilds!! l claim progress, not perfection 😉
    Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I wish you good luck with the oxygen therapy. I don’t think that is something my insurance would cover for knee tissue problems. I’m actually quite healthy aside from this! But thanks for the thought.

      I don’t really have tips for the pin basting. Since I quilt mine on a longarm (except one project I hand-quilted recently,) I don’t have much experience with it. Progress and quilts made with compassion are the only things needed. Don’t worry about other people’s standards.

  3. piecefulwendy

    I’ll be praying for you, Melanie, as you rest and heal your body, and as you give thought to how to work through this while your body is healing.

  4. Alice Samuel's Quilt co.

    You already have the best priority, getting back on your feet…I wish you best of luck with that. When you get back in top shape, every other thing will fall in line for sure. Get well soon and I’ll be praying for you too 🙂

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, I’ll hope doing it once and well will take care of things. I’ll still work with a personal trainer if the therapist okays it, so I can move it all along at once. Thank you.

  5. allisonreidnem

    Hope you make a steady recovery and restore balance. I guess while stitching is not so easy this might be an opportunity to design and let creativity come out that way? We are not so patient with the healing process these days – always looking for instant remedies – you are right to have identified the priorities and concentrate on a nurturing approach to restored health.

  6. shoreacres

    I have two dear friends who’ve had to come back from knee problems this year: one because of trauma (a fall) and one because of degenerative problems. Both are doing well, but both had to really take themselves in hand and learn some patience. They were disciplined enough for the therapy, but oh, my — it does get to be a long process. Best wishes to you! At first, I was chagrined to hear you say “end of the year,” but then I realized: it’s mid-October! The year’s end will be here before we know it, and you’ll be hiking before you know it.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      OH YES! End of year is coming up soon. I can be patient that long. In fact my knee is much better today, which gives me great hope. Even with that, I know it will take a lot of work to get where I want, but I’m committed and will move through that process as needed. Thanks.

  7. KerryCan

    After reading your blog for so long and having a good sense of how active and involved you always are, this must be SO hard! You sound all logical and sensible about it but . . . still, so hard! I have a feeling a meaningful quilt project will present itself when you least expect it and will re-energize you. But, right now, as others say, make your well-being your top priority.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Kerry. I think it’s great timing that my ambition/motivation for quilting are pretty modest right now. That let’s me focus without too great of frustration on doing what’s needed. It will all be better soon.


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