Engagement is on my mind. My son recently announced his engagement to his sweetheart. Jim and I are thrilled for them, and excited for their future. (Thank you, thank you. I will pass on your congratulations.)

But engagement is not only the formal agreement to marry. It can refer to any emotional involvement or commitment. It can be a commitment to employment, or to defense, or even to meet someone for dinner.

Emotional involvement can vary over time, whether to our romantic partner or our career or a hobby. When you feel a lull in your quilting, for example, you may not feel very engaged in it. Other things might capture your interest, or you might feel distracted or simply bored. In hobbies that may be okay. In your marriage or career, it may be wise to find ways to re-engage.

For myself, I’ve found that if I want to feel more engaged, I need to be more engaged, make more effort. Maybe it’s a “fake it ’til you make it” strategy.

This is my eleventh year as a member of my guild. In seven of the eleven years, I’ve held one position or another, with varying requirements on my time. Recently I took a couple of years off. It was GREAT. Honestly. I didn’t have to get to meetings early, nor stay late, nor work on committee efforts at home. I didn’t even need to go to meetings if I didn’t want to. And a lot of the time, I didn’t. Did I mention, it was GREAT not being involved?

The problem is, some things are worth doing and having even when we don’t want to do them all the time. For example, there is a small-town festival near here that Jim and I go to occasionally. It’s fun and interesting, but honestly, it’s not a big deal. And there’s an entrance fee. But when we go, we agree it’s good to go even when we’re not excited about it, because it is a thing that should continue to exist. And it will only continue if people go, and if they pay their entrance fee.

Someone has to do it, or it will cease to exist.

Well, guild can sometimes feel like that. (Okay you local guild members, don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. And if you really don’t, I’ll look for you on the volunteer list next spring!) I think it is valuable, even when I don’t want to participate in it.

So after the couple of years I realized that there was only one way I could fix my lack of engagement, of personal commitment. And that was to recommit. I volunteered for a committee, one of the most active ones, at that, and held that position for more than a year. And then we had “elections” for officers and no one was running for president. A friend asked me to run as co-president with her. So I did. This year I’m co-president AND on that committee, and pretty soon I’ll run an ad hoc committee to review and revise our bylaws.

Now I am fully engaged, both nominally and emotionally. Guild is important to me. It is a thing that should continue to exist, even when I don’t feel particularly like being the one to participate. Someone has to, and sometimes that has to be me.

Another area for disengagement for me is blogging. Blogging has slipped in importance in my life, partly because I’m busy elsewhere. And partly because I feel like I’ve already told you most of what I know about medallion quilts, one of my main goals when I started this site.

I’m not engaged in writing, and I don’t even read a lot anymore. (Yes, my blog friends. If you’ve sensed my absence, it’s been real.)

But I think my blog has value, at least to me, if not to you. And I want it to continue. As I shared with a friend recently

what I REALLY REALLY want, in my heart of hearts, is for other quilters to feel powerful in how they work. And whether they make medallion quilts or art quilts or old fashioned block quilts or modern quilts or whatever they make, I want them to make them from their souls. I want them to express their real selves in their making, to exercise the little power any of us really have, and make what they WANT to make, not what someone else tells them to make. I want them to make what they WANT to make, without fear or concern about what someone else thinks. And they can do it best when they fill their tool box with useful stuff, like how to think. Technique is hugely important, the HOW to do stuff, but if you don’t know how, it is great to have some mental skills to figure stuff out. Right now Austin Kleon has been doing some art with tape and magazines, and he says NO, I’m not going to demonstrate how to do this. I already told you it’s tape and magazines. Now go play!! He is asking people to grab their OWN power to create art, not make his art. That’s what I want. I want to help people make their own quilts, not my quilt.

I can’t help you do that if I’m not here. And the only way I can feel more engaged is to be more engaged. I need to write more. Or at least more often.

Thus begins my journey back, hopefully back to excitement about sharing new ideas, funny thoughts, successes and failures. Hopefully back to helping you make your own quilt, your expression of self from your soul, with power, not fear.



28 thoughts on “Engagement

  1. Cindy Anderson

    Melanie, Congratulations to your son and to you! Thank you for being frank about your commitment or lack there of. I think we all feel an ebb and flow in our lives. I know there are times when blogging is the last thing I want to spend time on. There were many months this year that just seemed too busy otherwise to expend the energy on my blog. Thankfully I am back up and running. I totally agree that the art we engage ourselves in should come from the heart. If we are simply going through the motions then it’s a waste of time. Who needs another ho hum wall hanging or worse yet quilt. Quality should be the goal, not quantity! πŸ™‚

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Cindy. I couldn’t agree more. The things I want to write take more time and inspiration than I’ve been putting into it most of the year. But as I said, it is important to me, so at least for now, I’ll choose to work harder at it. Thanks again.

  2. KerryCan

    It seems we are in similar places, with relationship to our guilds and our blogs! I’m struggling with my engagement with both, too. I know I won’t put my energy toward my guild–I am just so happy not to be a board member any more and am really not even inclined to go to meetings, sad to admit. But I have loved blogging and have simply gotten waylaid . . . and this I want to find my way back to. I hope we both manage to be more engaged here! I will take my inspiration from you!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’ve missed you, Kerry, and have struggled with whether to send a note or let you move through on your own, lest you feel pressured to “show up.” (When in doubt, send the note…) I’ve seen a lot of people’s blogs disappear over the years. That’s fine, as everyone needs to do what’s best for themselves. If you *want* to get back in the groove, it might be like anything else. First making a commitment, and then allowing it to become a habit. (And as to being a board member on the guild, I am “happy” to be involved now, and already looking forward to a year and a half from now when I can step back again.) Hugs…

  3. snarkyquilter

    I hope you realize that your half commitment to blog writing is more than most bloggers do with full commitment. Good luck with all your guild duties. I’ve declared myself a member emeritus of mine.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks. And yes, I know like for everything, what we put into blogging varies widely. For me it’s a matter of fixing how I feel about it. Some days it’s easy to imagine walking away. πŸ™‚

  4. tierneycreates

    Congratulations on your son’s engagement and I love that you used the concept of engaged/engagement as a stepping stone for your post – good writing Melanie, love it! I struggle with staying engaged at time and blogging definitely helps me feel more engaged. I am a former extrovert who has evolved into some sort of major introvert since moving from Seattle to Central Oregon – I will never fully return to my social butterfly Seattle life ways but I am working on a balance between the desire to just stay in my house and craft vs. meeting new people and staying engaged outside my home πŸ™‚

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I do love to just stay in my house! OTOH, RPT (real people time) is really important for mental health for most people, so I try to balance that, too. Thanks as always.

  5. Tonya Reichard

    Happy for the engagement!!! Totally understand over commitment and then lack of commitment. Was that way with me also….but haven’t gotten back into getting my feet wet.

  6. Chela's Colchas y Mas

    Congratulations to your son.
    Thank you for your post.
    It has me thinking.
    I’m at a point where I’m looking for a path.
    A new avenue for expression and commitment.
    Blogging with people like you keeps me going.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Chela. When you have many opportunities, choosing one path can be very hard. And maybe not even necessary. But I find, for me, it works best for me to limit the number of thing for my attention at one time. Keep thinking, let us know what you come up with. πŸ™‚

  7. Jim R

    Engagement…it’s a good word with so many examples. First, and most important, is that of our son and his dear. May they feel deep and nourishing love. They deserve it. Both are committed to work that values the dreams of others.

    People feel the changes in engagement to lots of things. You explained it well above. The responses by your readers are important. Engagement is a two-way street. When we work to compose a blog post, work on a committee, invest energy into some endeavor, feedback is important. You’ve received some great feedback in the comments above. They help motivate you to keep moving ahead.

  8. katechiconi

    I’m so glad you’ll be a bit more present in the blogging community again. We need exactly the kind of sound technical advice you so clearly and beautifully present. And I’m delighted to hear the lovely news about your son and future daughter in law πŸ™‚ Congratulations!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thank you, Kate. I think they’ll be very happy together. I know my son is. πŸ™‚ Also thanks for your continuing support and encouragement. It means a lot to me.

  9. Victo Dolore

    Congratulations to your son for finding love and to you for liking her! I do enjoy your posts even though I only dabble in quilting so it will be nice to see you posting more. πŸ™‚

  10. Kerry

    Firstly many congratulations to the happy couple.

    Secondly as a newbie to your blog (via the tutorial with Lorna – if it weren’t for that I wouldn’t have found you) I am grateful you are continuing to write. I understand blogging is so time consuming in itself. I have lots to read – books piling up that I haven’t touched for ages, I’ve joined a quilting group this year which has been mind blowing for me, a relative newbie to quilting. Sure, I’ve dabbled over many years – the best bit was stash building because I love the many fabrics out there – but I’ve only made 7 quilts to date! Since my family have grown and moved out I have time to get stuck into quilting and there are so many I want to do, create my own, join in with other tutorials and mysteries – ooh and a block of the month thing with my nearest quilt shop! I guess it’s a matter of balancing it all. I really enjoy your blog and seeing your quilts (trying to catch up in the archives – more reading!) because the medallions are different. My first quilt (still being added to) started off with a medallion. Just my design – I drew the templates and cut out the bits with scissors. I had no tutor and was just winging it and sewing by hand. It was for my daughter – who was about 6 years old at the time – she’s almost 26 now and I still haven’t completed it, although it would fit a twin/single – I just need the final borders and struggling. So you have given me the inspiration to carry on and keep drawing the outside designs so that I can complete it. Thank you so much.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Honestly I love this comment! Because that’s so great that you’re keeping at it. I feel really fortunate that I didn’t take any classes or start with a guild, didn’t know any other quilters. That made everything so much harder in some ways, but having to figure stuff out on my own, boy howdy, I really learned it. I’ll bet you’ve found the same thing — it’s great to be in your tribe, but there’s so much you learned just by gutting it out. Good for you! Thanks for reading and commenting. And good luck with your “little girl’s” quilt.

      1. Kerry

        LOL! My not so little girl had a machine pieced quilt this year – but she had chosen the fabrics many moons ago. I had to stop her nagging me somehow! I have a breathing space! I think my first book was Jinny Beyer – and then with the medallion border going so badly wrong – Quilting for Dummies was the next one! I also didn’t know anyone else quilting in those days – a few years later a colleague at work took an interest (best buddies first and best quilting buddies now) and we found a quilt shop and had a couple of lessons – and since then found all that I learnt from that lady was definitely not the right method either! I don’t think the lady liked us – we giggled at our mistakes and chatted a lot.

        Now I’ve just started learning machine quilting and after Patsy Thompson tutorials I’ve almost cracked feathers! Need more practice! Nooo – why time is going so fast!

        Just recently my friend wanted me to teach her to machine quilt – eek – I’m not proficient! But she went home happy and I hope she’s been inspired enough to carry on. She has made many, many tops but none quilted – yet! She doesn’t use a computer much either! And that’s where I’ve probably learnt more – until I joined the group and then oh life is a dream! I’ve been invited to go on a retreat next year – so excited!

        Thank you for your very kind comment too. Kindest regards, Kerry xx

  11. Kathleen

    I look forward to reading more from you…I enjoy your posts very much. I do a lot of applique but also some patchwork. Even tho I make liberated medallion quilts in the Gwen Marston stye I always learn something from you, and your commitment to quilting and to good technique inspire me. Thanks for writing!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Mary. I’m feeling a bit overcommitted these days, too. But I don’t know how else to do this but say it out loud and then follow through. Ya know? πŸ™‚


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