I have a secret.
When I get really stressed—when the chaos in my world gets too big or too close, I iron.
Please don’t call me Martha Stewart! It’s not about impressing the neighbors. Nor do I believe it’s impossible for normal humans to feel loved if their pillowcases are not perfectly pressed, monogram and all.
I iron because it is a kinesthetic, olfactory, visual experience of making order out of chaos. Vintage linens are the best. If there aren’t any around waiting to be ironed, which is a rare circumstance in my home, I’ll even wash some just so I can iron them!
What I’ve noticed, though, is that my ironing is not simply about the comfort of warm linen under my fingertips, or that peculiar, clean scent of steam, or even the gratifying sight of stacks of scraps redeemed from the laundry basket and made beautiful again but, rather, it’s about distracting my either/or conscious mind so that my more creative both/and unconscious can work.
It’s a good thing I already knew about ironing before this week! You see, I’ve been stuck with either/or and both/and having a real tug-of-war over which gets the most attention.
On the one hand, there are all the book publishing details I’m trying to learn. This doc and that format and tons of forms. Trust me. The writing is a lot easier!
On the other hand, there’s the quilt I’m trying to finish. As quilts go, this one has been pretty opinionated. In fact, I finally had to put my foot down and explain that, while I’d been thinking about this for three years and working on it for about nine months, there was a deadline looming and the time for changing our minds had been and gone. It doesn’t seem to have helped!
While I planned a landscape hanging perspective, my quilt decided on portrait. The dark and light borders I designed so artistically have somehow traded places. And then there’s the whole assembly thing, of parts and techniques I’ve never done before.
I’m not much of an expert at applique yet, somehow, I wound up with a large round, beaded “ocean” that needs attaching by hand to the patchwork background. It’s not going well. The fabric layers keep shifting and I have to stop and re-pin and start again. Because of the beads, modern science techniques like fusible web are not an option. Nothing worse than trying to keep your world from wandering around!
Ironically, the theme of the quilt is creating order out of chaos!
I’m not at all sure how but I do have a sense that it will be enough. Not the Garden of Eden, for sure, but enough. I just hope it happens soon!
No wonder God needed a day off!