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And Strength. My Ode to Motherhood.

My almost five-year-old has become fascinated with boobs lately.  “What are those? Mine are small. When will mine get big like yours? Mommies use these to feed their babies.  How do they do that?  How does milk get in them?”.  I’m trying to be the cool mom and take all these questions in stride, answering the questions like an intelligent, educated, forward-thinking woman because I want him to see this as biology. But, I admit, sometimes it makes me laugh and sometimes I get squirmy, a little uncomfortable with talking so bluntly about things we never discussed when I was a child. These recent conversations, and the fact that it’s Mother’s Day weekend has me, as I’m sure much of the world, contemplating what it means to be a mom.  And if you aren’t a mom, you’re probably thinking about your own mother and what she has meant in your life. I mean, it’s not just about milk-producing boobs. Thankfully.  As an adoptive mom, mine never did that, so I’m glad it’s not the criteria. So, what is it about?

“You are the best mom”. And I love how my favorite store is Vons….I won’t correct him. 😉

Nothing influences my work more than relationships, and the strongest relationships I have are with my mother and as a mother myself.  It is the greatest source of joy, pain, comfort, loss, self-doubt and self-confidence. It is everything.  Everyone has a mom story.  It might be more full of pain than joy, but everyone has a mom or is a mom or was a mom or is desperate to be a mom or maybe has no desire to be a mom. There is something so deep and tangible and transformative about motherhood, no matter how you experience it.

My boys own my soul. They came at great cost and yet a price I would have paid ten times over.  Years of fertility treatments, tears, physical and emotional sacrifices in attempts to get pregnant and have a child changed me.  It steeled me up and gave me perspective and empathy and strength.  And then there was the choice to adopt.  And that led to over a hundred hours of classes and lots of paperwork and home visits and background checks and so much scrutiny.  Lots of waiting.  And that gave me patience and perseverance and determination. And more strength. And that led to my sweet baby Isaac, our first adoption.  But, five months into motherhood I had to hand that baby back to his father and watch him drive away forever.  That broke me in a way I had never experienced.  And it gave me humility and compassion and oh so many tears.  And strength.  And eventually, all of that led to my sweet Dylan.  And four years later, another miracle came in my 12 lb baby Seth.  Now, as they celebrate their 9thand 5thbirthdays this month, respectively, I find it has led to so very much more.  Understanding, gratitude, so much love and acceptance. And strength.  Always strength.  Forever getting stronger.

This is why I am inspired by strong women.  I love them and am inspired by them and I want to be one.

“It is the custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtinesses and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.”
― J. M. Barrie, The Adventures of Peter Pan

 

 

 

 

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Strong Women “Keep Going”

My phoenix rising from the ashes. She is unwavering in her determination to fly again. Read the blog post about this one.

I’ve been obsessed with Harriet Tubman lately.  I love tough girls, and she had to have been one of the toughest. I love Susan B. Anthony, Joan of Arc, Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth I and Sacajawea.  I listen to Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Miranda Lambert and Pink. And of course my mother…my biggest influence, and my sister and other amazing women in my family.  I saw a girl on a motorcycle today waiting at a stop light in her sleek leather pants. Red helmet, sweet black ride. I wanted to be her. Badly. Learning to ride a motorcycle has always been on my bucket list. I think it’s because the last few years have had me questioning what it means to be a strong woman.  A feminist. Which is a word I haven’t always related to because where I grew up, it often had a negative connotation.  A femi-nazi.  As if all women really wanted to just be men and/or wanted to live in a world without men.  And being a feminist must mean you don’t want be with a man or have one hold a door open for you and your days were spent bashing them.  As a mom of two young boys, it worries me that they will be seen as the bad guys for just being men. I don’t think turning the tide the opposite direction is equality. I have come to understand that the true definition of feminism is that I have the right to think and feel and pursue whatever I want. And if that means I want to cook pastries and raise babies, I can do that.  And if I want to be a CEO or play hockey, I can do that, too.

When I started making quilts as a business, it was really important to me that my more feminine quilts be just as bold and strong as the more masculine ones.  It also became important to me to bridge that gap and use such interesting combinations of colors and prints that both men and women would be drawn to just about any of my pieces. Since I started out making surf-themed crib quilts, I made a point of keeping the surfboard themes in both my girls’ and boys’ quilts, just making minor changes in the fabric choices…mainly adding more fuchsia to the girls’ quilts. I looked at what was already available out there and the boy decor was surfboards and vintage cars, strong prints and bold colors and the girl decor was inevitably flowers and bikinis. No, thank you. I love flowers, don’t get me wrong, but I felt it was time to portray those cool surfer and skater girls that I had seen ripping up the waves and tearing up the skate park.  Despite me not being great surfer and a worse skateboarder, as a more athletic person, those are the girls I could relate to more.  Nothing against Disney princesses, but there was plenty of that.  I wanted to bring a different powerful dynamic to my work.

She is her own woman, looking out over her limitless domain on a cloudy day, at peace with herself. The manager of her own destiny. The decision-maker in her own life and the chaser of her own dreams.  Maybe she’s a mermaid, but she’s a badass mermaid.

I sketched a lot and worked hard to create feminine designs the rivaled they boy stuff in the cool factor. Yes, I still use mermaids and flowers and feminine things.  But, I try to create powerful designs with those images.  As women, we are both feminine and strong.  Soft and tough.  Bold yet compassionate.  That’s what I want you to see when you see my work. I want you to see life and movement and passion and struggles and darkness and despair and triumph.  That’s what I see in myself.  All those things rolled into one person.  And many many people.

 

I started out with the surf quilts, and that led to creating other ocean-inspired designs. I’ve since branched out into desert landscapes and mountains and wildlife and so many other things.  Even when I’m designing a basic flower, I want that flower to embody how I feel about other women and about being a woman myself. So, even down to the simplest notecard, my designs are full of strength.  You may never know the thought behind each of my pieces or who may have inspired them, even in some small way, but know this…behind each work of art that I create, there is ALWAYS the influence of some badass woman who kept going.

“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.” –Harriet Tubman

 

More of my strong feminine designs:

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
My surfer girl sunset.
This was for another amazing tough woman I know who is a business woman and also conquers the lake on her paddle board regularly.
Fearless flowers.
One of my surfboard notecards. Strong colors but feminine touches in the print.
This little octopus has stories to tell!
Mermaids are often girly, but the vibrant colors and her independent nature definitely make her a tough girl.
I love these wildflowers. Strong shapes and colors and design with a sun full of feminine sparkly Swarovski crystals.
It may be a simple heart, but the strong diamond print background gives it a little extra power. Hard geometric lines against the soft curves of the heart. Very symbolic.
There’s a blog post about this amazing she-wolf.
Touches of fuchsia bring a fun feminine element into this abstract surfboard.
her face…so determined. Wild mane flowing in the water. She knows where she’s going.
Even my jewelry is more rocker chick than quilt diva. So is my hair.
I freehanded the outline of the girl looking out at the wave there on the right. I love that image–of the surfer preparing to go out, reading the break. I also put her in a summer wetsuit because I get tired of the girls always being in a string bikini when most of the surfer girls I see aren’t.
I did a whole blog post about this girl and this design. Check it out under “The Calling”.
Now, this is one of the few I’ve done with more pastel colors. It’s also also more traditional style, which is unusual for me. But this collection of prints had the texture of denim…a little worn looking but still bold and colorful. I really loved them all and put them together in one quilt. I love the very simple design of the single surfboard and the sun on top of the squares and rectangles.
The poppies! I also did a blog post about this one, but I still love how bold and strong this design is. It’s flowers, but they’re powerful with their red color and proportion to the sky and grasses.

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