Improv

In My DNA - Wretched Man That I Am-1Some weeks you just have to improvise. Too many balls in the air. Mostly fun, but a sad one as well. We’ve lost a beloved friend from church who hosted our weekly Bible study at her home. Valerie never met a stranger; she was so graciously welcoming when I first met her at a retreat last October. On hospice care for the last few weeks, the weekly study has migrated to our home and the group is improvising how to do life without this inspiring friend.

And at the same time, life goes on. We remain engaged with all the activities and responsibilities that crowd our calendars. Yet one of my projects, our granddaughter’s wedding quilt came to a screeching halt a couple of weeks ago. A complicated pattern that requires intense attention to a tome of written instructions, I reached a point where I wasn’t sure I was doing it “right.” I didn’t want to continue sewing units together with the very real possibility that they might all have to be taken apart…all 72 of them! The clerk at the quilt shop who specialized in these kinds of patterns had been ill, was still ill, and wasn’t going to be available for consultation for another week. Have I mentioned making this quilt is all about delayed gratification? Now things were delayed more than usual.

So in the interim, an idea from Pinterest inspired some improv digging through my stash. Enough of everything was available except a pattern…which I had to improvise…more or less successfully. The pattern reminded me of DNA strands which invited me to reflect on the pleasure of creativity being in my DNA. But during the process of piecing the quilt front, I made every rookie mistake there is to make in quilting. Let’s just say my seam ripper and I were on a first name basis. Which got me to improvisationally reflect on Roman 7’s “oh wretched (wo)man that I am, I don’t do what I want to do, and do what I don’t want to do…” Yup, that’s in my DNA too.

DNA - Back ArtBut it was the back art for the quilt that brought me the most pleasure…and immediate gratification. I began a quilt backing that would hopefully use up as much of the remaining fabric as possible in a way that used bold colors, large negative spaces, in a graphic composition that was both balanced and irregular ….improvisational… qualities frequently found in contemporary modern quilts. My studio design wall didn’t lend itself to laying out this composition, so our large, round oak dining table became an improv design space. Only small bits of yardage remain of the substantial original pile. While this scrappy quilt was a great stash buster, the immediate gratification of this two-day project was immensely pleasurable. And taught me that the pleasure of improv is also in my DNA. The things we learn about ourselves when we’re, seemingly, looking the other way!

In the midst of delayed gratification, what have you turned to creatively for a wee bit of immediate gratification? What have you learned about yourself in the process? What were the improv pieces that were a part of that learning? How might what you learned about yourself influence your future?

6 comments to Improv

  • Great word Lynne. Yes, in the midst of delayed gratification I’ve often tried to find moments of immediate gratification. How? Definitely prayer. I find time with God brings immediate grace which is really nice when I’m waiting on big picture stuff (friends who have cancer as an example).

    Also, if I can’t find time to surf (which is a huge way I find rest), I try to exercise for 30 minutes. Doesn’t reach deep into my soul but definitely helps in the moment.

    And finally, if time is really full at work, family, home….moments of gratification come when Ginny and I sit at the end of the day (around 10pm) and have a glass of wine and watch Netflix.

  • cynthia thomas

    my most recent improv is increased surface design. after finally recovering from plantar fascitis in my right foot, i have it in my left foot. so i need to stay off my feet as much as possible. i love to dye fabric, but that, too, requires a good amount of standing. so, i’m painting fabric. i can stay seated for this & i’m having a blast. so far, i’m mostly stenciling or stamping the fabric. i have all the supplies i need & i can use a large banquet table in the activity room where i live. improvising has been a frequent activity in my life. first, due to my stroke & having to relearn so many things. now, it’s a result of a tired body that has served me well, but is over-used. it’s okay& i’m okay.

  • Barbara

    Hi Lynn, Enjoyed your words again. I’m always amazed at your talent and creativity in word and deed. Bless you and your family this special season of life and hope.

  • Lynn, Love your thoughts. Truth comes in this type of wisdom no matter if it is quilting or just plain living life in God’s Lights. Would so enjoy receiving more.

  • cynthia Hashbarger

    Lynn.. This is thought provoking. and you are so wise..This does put me in the mind set of what needs to be improvised in my life.. whatever
    it may be.. family,spiritual or just plain old living day to beautiful day. Love, Cynthia

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