Quilting is not an Aerobic Activity

I have my legs back. My feet, too, and — almost — my hands. Two weeks short of switching (some would say stepping down) medications and I am back on a working basis with my body parts. It’s a good thing, too, because this week I began enrollment in a 12 week medical study where functioning body parts are definitely required. Previous research has shown that at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity a week goes a long way to improving statistical odds of breast cancer survival. The study I am in is testing use of various “interventions” to see what gets participants the most reliably up to that level. It starts with wearing a high-tech activity monitor for a week, which I am doing now. Those results, along with extensive survey information, are put together and an “intervention” is assigned.

Here is what I have come to realize: quilting is not an aerobic activity. Also, though I am physically active for great periods of the day, I don’t get my heart rate up, unless you count the adrenaline rush that comes when a gate is mistakenly left opened and the dogs are out. Which is to say, not nearly 150 minutes worth. I used to be better. But surgeries and healing and the whole emotional toll of this last year put me in a different place, not the least of which was brought on by impairments courtesy my last medication.

Well, now there are no excuses. I am going to be the subject of an INTERVENTION, for crying out loud. My performance will be measured! Which means, I don’t care how ridiculous it is to expect such things, I will exceed expectations! My friend, Shannon, has been going to a gym doing a structured program for body strength. She has a lot of reasons not to do that to herself or at least to take it easy on her body, once she’s there. But that’s not the way it works with people like us. No sir. No one will call us old. Or weak. Or out of shape. Even if, in my case, that’s all quite true. We will crush the competition — er, even though there is no competition. I am counting on that vanity or stubbornness or whatever you see it as, that little spit of fire that says “I’ll show you”, to rise up and make this happen. In a great many ways, my life depends on it.

This newfound focus on aerobic activity saddens me in the sense that it makes me now see the act of quilting as a predominantly sedentary experience. But, it cannot always be about the needs of the body. The spirit needs expression as well and, for me, that comes through the healing efforts of working with my hands, the rhythm of creating beauty from scraps of fabric. I surely do wish there were medical studies underway to measure the positive necessity of such things. In truth, I don’t need a study to tell me this. A part of who I am seeks expression in quiet and creative ways, becoming whole as a result. If I make something, I feel better inside myself. If I can make something for you, I draw closer to you because I carry you in my heart while I work; you are woven into what I do. This is close work and in this way, I feel a bit closer to the god part in me because I am expressing what was mine alone to express and that is all my god ever asks of me. There is intimacy in that. And fearlessness.

In that case, I have been quite fearless lately. For starters, I finished quilting the Amish quilt. There is still a long road ahead as it needs piping and binding all around its king-sized girth, but I am mighty proud of its commanding presence.

Amish trimmed0
Freshly trimmed and ready for finishing.

This bad boy spent an intense amount of time on the longarm and I spent an intense amount of time at the computer designing and learning.

Amish frame41
Each block has its own design.

It was sheer bliss watching that machine lay down stitches and bring dimension to the quilt top.

Lovely, lovely borders.
Amish in process0
Part of the centerpiece.
Monroe does not share my enthusiasm.

I also finished a quilt for Reagan.

Because everyone needs a quilt of their own.

It was actually the first quilt on the frame of the new longarm and I challenged myself to do it free-motion — no computer.

blue on frame0
The first one!

Which means the work is waaay less precise, but it’s all of my own doing, so I’m going to be proud of it just the same.

A block of imperfection.
blue back
Well, the back is pretty anyway.

And then there is this:

Ocean sunset. Yes, it is.

The first quilt that I made to give away. It went to Shannon who lives by the ocean and who is and has been the steadiest of friends to me.

One last thought before I close. There is always enough sunshine to go around. There is always enough need for sunshine that sharing it is worthwhile. I know this because someone I have never met, but who reads this blog sent me a “cheer up” card and that was the gist of its message. Cheer up. Share the sunshine. So thank you for that, Kitter. It was a message of lightness just when I needed it. Sunshine comes in many forms and one great big ray of sunshine is coming my way in two months. My sister, Kim, and her husband, Bill, are moving here! No one could be more excited about that than me; except maybe they are, because, it means they are leaving behind fierce northern winters. My sister means the world to me and, get this everybody, she’s a crafter extraordinaire. It feeds my soul just thinking about the joy of having her in proximity. So, my wish for you this week is that you relish a bit of the sunshine in your own life and, if you can, spread a little sunshine to someone. You never know how much such things matter.

A dose of sunshine for Maizey.



Writing about what sings to me from a life made full with animals.

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