September has always seemed to me a better place than January for marking the start of the new year. Seriously, who decided that a random day in the middle of winter was a good date to start a new year? There is, on the other hand, a certain logic to marking a new beginning in September. Summer ends, and harvest time arrives. Time pauses, balanced on the equinox, and then tilts towards autumn and on into winter. A new school year starts—and even long past graduation, it’s hard to shake the influence of all those new school years that shaped our childhoods. For those of us who were crazy enough to go back to school in middle age, the pattern runs even deeper. I suspect I will never be able to rid myself of the almost Pavlovian urge to rush out and buy spiral-bound notebooks at this time of year.
(I was pleased when I learned that I’m not alone in this conviction—the Jewish calendar, unlike the Gregorian one, does celebrate the new year in September. By the time you read this, Rosh Hashanah will have ushered in the year 5779. So, Shana tova—happy new year, everyone!)
Regardless of when the new year starts, I’ve never been a fan of making resolutions. They tend to focus on big changes, and big changes are hard to maintain. I really don’t need the guilt that comes along when I fail to live up to my resolutions, so I generally avoid making them in the first place. On the other hand, I have no objection to using the start of a new year to take stock and perhaps shape some intentions for the months ahead. (Intentions are less binding than resolutions and don’t carry the same sense of obligation, so there’s less guilt if I maybe don’t quite carry them out as fully as I had intended.)
One of my primary intentions for the new year is to finish more projects. I am great for coming up with ideas and starting things, but less good at carrying through. That leaves me with both lots of UFOs, and plenty of ideas banging around in my head that have never even gotten underway. The guild’s UFO challenge would have been one good way to deal with some of these, but I knew I’d be too busy to meet all those deadlines, so I didn’t sign up (guilt, remember?). But having an intention to finish more projects will be my way of focusing on the goal without setting stringent deadlines and adding stress to my quilting time—which, after all, is supposed to be fun, right?
My second intention is to expand my skill set and get better at machine work. I’m really pretty good at hand work, but unfortunately working by hand takes forever (maybe part of why I never get anything finished…) and despite years as a quilter, my relationship with my machine is still one of wary mistrust. “Precision” is not the word that comes to mind when you look at my machine piecing and applique, and let’s not even talk about machine quilting, thank you. But a couple of recent deadlines have made clear just how useful it would be to be better at machine work, and so I’ve decided I really need to put in enough practice to build a better working relationship with my machine and to move me into the “at least competent” category. (Striving for “good at this” will probably have to wait—another intention for another year, maybe.)
These are modest intentions, but I hesitate to be overly ambitious—there is so much going on in other parts of my life (school, work) that I don’t want to overreach, because that way lies failure and frustration, and like I said, quilting is supposed to be fun! But I hope that having some intentions for the coming year—and having put them out here in public for all to see!—will help me stay on track and make some progress. After all, more finished projects will mean more space on my fabric shelf, and with our upcoming Mystery Shop Hop, I just might be needing that!
See you at the meeting.