A Reminder to Slow Down

I just read a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Andi…and it truly resonated with me. In her post, Andi talks about the need to just sit and contemplate, slow down, and find the peace away from the buzz of the Internet. It reminded me of a guest post I wrote for author Ru Freeman. I decided to reprint that post here today to remind myself to slow down and take time to enjoy the simple things in life.

Another Kind Of Connection

by Wendy Robards

First published as a guest post on September 30, 2009

The world spins faster these days with social networking, cell phones which can snap instant photos and connect to the Internet even in the middle of nowhere, and digital readers that can store more books than I have room for on my bookcase shelves. We are never unconnected – from friends, family, work. Everything that needs to be done can be done instantly. We pay our bills on line, shoot off emails which arrive at their destination in seconds, and download photos we took only moments before.

And so it occurred to me the other day as I carefully pressed and cut fabric for a new quilt and felt my heart rate slow and a sense of calm steal over me, that one of the reasons my life has felt out of kilter and speeding out of control these days might just be related to how I choose to spend my time. Somehow, in the fast and furious world of instant connection and electronic stimulation we have slipped away from the things that ground us, slow us down, and connect us to simplicity and beauty.

The art of quilt making requires many steps to get to the end result. It starts with selecting fabric, finding pleasing colors that coordinate, and envisioning how they will come together to form a block which then forms a row, which then forms a quilt. At this stage many quilters may sit quietly with a calculator and a piece of graph paper, sketching geometric shapes and planning. Then comes pressing, inhaling the steam from the iron and the warmth of the fabric, smoothing out the wrinkles, setting the fabric on the cutting mat and carefully cutting the pieces which will form the whole.

Pinning, stitching quarter inch seam allowances, more pressing, the whir of the sewing machine, the fabric sliding beneath one’s fingertips, the joy at watching the colors combine in a unique and simple design…the process unfolds slowly, engaging the visual, auditory and tactile senses.

But you are not done yet. The backing, batting and top must be pinned together with care and then there is more contemplation. How will you quilt this beautiful creation? Straight lines? Flowery whirls? What color thread would be the best? And as the quilting progresses, the piece transforms itself and becomes a multi-dimensional work of art. The binding is hand stitched – tiny, perfect stitches -with the quilt draped over one’s lap.

When it is all done – washed and air dried in the sunlight – the quilt has become part of the quilter with its wrinkles and soft folds, art that warms and comforts and is pleasing to the eye and to the hand. It is this process and final result that stirs within us a sense of peace and beauty, a sense that we are creating something lasting that took time and care, a piece of ourselves that has the power to touch others. Who has not curled beneath a handmade quilt and felt comforted?

Quilt making reminds us of our roots and history. Perhaps it is in our genetic memory, passed on from our ancestors.There are other activities that also ground us, connect us to our environment and senses, and remind us that beauty is sometimes found in the most simple of things: baking bread (combining, kneading, waiting, baking…inhaling the smell of yeast in a warm kitchen), planting a garden (fingers pushing into dirt, the smell of the sun on the earth), and walking in nature (the sound of the wind through the trees, the scurry of animals in the bushes, the song of birds). Sometimes just sitting on a porch after a rainstorm, with the clean smell of damp earth and the occasional drip of water from a tree branch, can bring us to that place of quiet and contemplation.

Technology has carried us in its wake with its cold, fast, instant gratification. The world spins faster these days and we may be forgetting how to slow down. Feeding our souls and finding a place of calm is only a quilt or a loaf of bread or a homegrown tomato away. It is taking our time and enjoying the journey, engaging our senses and remembering our roots.

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5 comments

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  1. Beautiful post! We can never have too many reminders to slow it down a bit. For me, sitting at the beach watching the waves roll in does this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Great reminder… I know I run to much…. I love to experience everything and then inevitably crash into a day or two where I don’t want to even leave my home I am so tired…. then I do it all again.

    I need to work on a more even pace.

    • Molly on July 19, 2011 at 16:17

    As a newbie to the world of quilting – I loved this post. I do believe you have captured what I hope to experience for myself.

    I followed the links to Andi’s and then Shawn’s posts and I think this is what I have been mulling over for the past few months. I love the online connection with like minded people – and yet I find that is quite easy to spend hours connecting when I originally plan to spend only minutes. And then I wonder why I don’t have time to pursue interests? There must be a happy medium and I am desperate to find it.

    • Alyce on July 19, 2011 at 18:53

    That was lovely! I don’t quilt, but playing music fills a similar role in my life. Sadly I haven’t been able to play my flute for two months because of tendinitis (which seems to be slowly getting better). I’ve missed it greatly though.

    • Wendy on July 24, 2011 at 07:50
      Author

    Julie: Ah, I love the ocean. For many years I lived close to the ocean (first the Atlantic, then the Pacific)…it is a very calming force. When I moved up to the mountains, I found myself missing the proximity to the sea…but, I have found that the mountains have a peacefulness too.

    Sheila: You and me both! I think it is a constant battle to find the balance…

    Molly: I do think a balance is possible – but it takes just walking away from the computer and getting started on something (I find that the hardest step is the first one!! But, once I am immersed in a project or book, it is easy to stay away). I am eager to see your quilting develop. For me it is such a wonderful, creative escape.

    Alyce: I’m so sorry to hear about your tendinitis…I hope you recover soon so you can enjoy your music again. There are so many wonderful outlets to bring us peace, aren’t there? I worry sometimes that this generation of kids is growing up without some of that…everything is so connected to technology that it seems fewer and fewer people are seeking time away from technology.

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