Welcome back to Valerie’s Variety Podcast with your host me, Valerie Moss this show is about ReViews, InterViews and my Daily Views. It’s a story podcast about my life in Calgary, WhatEVER | WhenEVER. The show drops every Tuesday.
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Todays show I’m sharing some inspiration that I’ve been going through. It’s been 5 years since I went on a quilting retreat. Yes people I quilt. I used to go every year sometimes twice but lately life’s been busy work has held me back and honestly I hadn’t been quilting or sewing as much since I closed my business. This girl needed a break. Turned the chapter, we had some severe life changes, made some new goals went back to school, moved, cut off my hair and more life changing decisions. So quilting retreats and quilting was tabled.
Recently, I regained my fire for being a quilter and called up a couple of close friends from my sewing/quilting life to see if they wanted to join me on a retreat. Dusted of my sewing machine, took out some kits and I was ready and excited, we set off car loaded with projects, I felt renewed.
When was the last time you felt renewed a bit like your old self, feeling inspired and creative? I love to C*R*E*A*T*E plan, change things up (like my dishes as you know). I found this part of my creativity back and I was excited.
We nestled into this lodge in Coleman at the retreat house, Country Encounters. this place is run by a husband and wife team and family. It’s a huge home over 20 rooms, great facility over 100 years old plus they have a new modern hotel across the street. We stayed heer in a lovely suite with two rooms, fireplace seating area, kitchen gorgeous bathroom with a computerized shower that was hilarious to figure out, claw footed tub etc. Beds were cozy and it’s was a great place to rest after a hard day and night of quilting.
We setup in a great room, boasting a wall of windows, fire place, bar area (that we used well) as well as two lovely washrooms. picture A frame ceilings with exposed beams, tables and sun mixed with women from all over Calgary, Chestermere, Strathmore, Fernie.
One thing about retreats is you get to know people at a different level. People feel comfortable to open up with you, you can have room conversations with everyone or just get to know the lady beside you. People are making gifts for friends, themselves, siblings, people dying of cancer – you just never know what the purpose is of their project.
For me I wanted to have the feeling of a sisterhood back – I got this. I wanted to sew and visit all night with great friends – I got this chance to. I wanted to finished a couple of projects like:
- Every Bunny’s Welcome at The Moss’: a very Easter themed quilt that I designed years ago 2012 and ran it as a mystery block of the month club through my store. I started and stopped so many times throughout the years. I got this quilted and finished – just need the binding to put on now. It’s full of hand stitched Easter eggs and bunnies, chicks, appliquéd on it – it’s a Great Wall hanging for any room during the Easter Season
- Easter Bunny: this small wall hanging I started making I think in 2003, and I’ve always wanted to finish it – finally got the hand stitching completed. Small cute little bunny with big floppy years protecting his Easter egg
- My Tuffet Kit – my friend Alison she bought these kits for us. Do you know what a Tuffet is? It’s a short foot stool with little bun feet. They are put together in a striped assembly of fabric. Quite a stunning focal point in any room. You can sit on them as they are wide enough approx 18″ across and soft enough approx 18″ tall or just use them as a foot stool. My hubby said you could put a hand bashed copper plate on top and set a plant on it – great idea hubby
- Plaid Lap Robe quilt kit: my mum put this together for me, it’s all paper pieced with homespun plaids, some of them are even my step dads shirts. Such a cute kit. I dug this out and got a few blocks put together. I have plans for this quilt I want to make it a summer quilt for my bed. This quilt boasts a log cabin feel and in my ultra modern room – what a focal point this will be.
- Truly Scrumptious: This quilt holds a special place in my heart. Long before I had my beautiful daughter I had suffered a miscarriage – even to write this I can feel tears. This was a block of the month club I ran through my quilting store (Pastimes Online). Fast forward 5 years later of trying we finally with outside intervention conceived, then failed, then conceived..and planted a little girl. So while I made this quilt all these years prior I made this with the hopes one day I’d have a girl to give this to. So I’ve kept the finished quilt top tucked away and recently showed London, my 7 yo daughter – she loved it. She doesn’t know this back story yet but one day she will. I asked her to help pick fabrics for the back of the quilt so, here we are in my quilting storage room going through fabrics what cute sounds from her ‘ oh mom I just love this with the bees’ or ‘mom can you add this it matches see’ and ‘this and this and that and this’ then she says, ‘mom I’m getting carried away’. This beautiful backed pieced with fabrics she loves.
- Charm Candy Bag: this is a cute little lunch bag that I needed as my current bag is falling apart. I should clarify I’m not much of a lunch eater since switching to the OmAd (one meal a day) eating regime..anyway I made this bag with beautiful fabrics, silks and some machine quilting, cording for the straps, a small pocket inside – voila I love it! It’s approx. 10″h x 6 x 6 just enough to fit a water bottle or two, a snack or two
Those are my projects so just a touch of finishing for some and get into the finished piecing for others. I’m already using my bag and I’m still working on the plaid quilt top.
One thing about retreats is the stories about these people I love. As you might know by now I’m a pretty connected person, I like to get to know people on an intimate level, I’m curious and respectful.
Brown Eyed Suzy
One of the ladies at this retreat I’ve known for a while I’m going to refer to her as Brown Eyed Suzy. There’s something calming about her, I love how she talks, her voice is solid to me. She’s a reassuring person. I really like her. She worked as a porter at the hospital for years (like 30 years) and recently retired. She’s confident and sure of her thoughts.
She was working on some quilts talking about her kids, I knew she had kids and was married or as least I thought she was. Her and her Beau have been together for 42 years but never married legally. Her mom, was so embarrassed by this that she made up a married date for Brown Eyed Suzy in the family album – crazy hey.
Once I got talking to her she was telling me about her son. He’s not in a very good place has some addiction issues and has been in and out of jail most of his life. Brown Eyed become emotional as did I, she loves her son deeply and is so scared for him and his choices. He tells his mom that he loves the high of drugs and the thrill of the steal. She says to me he tells me too much and she doesn’t want to know these things. She’s had to set boundaries but yet be his mom – wow what a hard decision to make.
Southern Bell I met years ago at another retreat, she’s got blond hair, bang and red rimmed glasses, she has a huge small and a very contagious laugh. Her purpose in life is her grandkids and her sons. She has a big Bermese mountain Dog that she adores and has had I think she said 7 of these dogs through her life. She’s travel with her army husband all over the world and talks about these amazing places she’s been. Germany, France, England, Croatia and more. She has a son that suffers with severe schizophrenia who’s disappeared for weeks and months at a time. BUT she told me a story at the lunch table that will blow your socks off…listen to this. She has a daughter that was shot by her boyfriend and then shot himself in front of her.
Southern Bell at the time was living in the Meritimes and this daughter was living in Ontario. The daughter was struggling with a controlling boyfriend and had finally separated from him. The story goes something like this, she was out one night and on her way home, it was dark, she always circled the blocks around her house row by row looking for his vehicle in a radius of 6 blocks one block circle at a time…she had done this routine faithfully. She opening her front door and he was inside already – waiting. He grabbed her at gun point, made her strip down and he proceeded to shoot her through the neck and out the shoulder, two bullet shots. She then still alive witnessed him shoot himself in her apartment.
When the police showed up at Southern Bell’s home in the middle of the night – she thought they were there to deliver news about her son with skitzophrenia that had been lost for many months but no, they were there to share this news about her daughter. Southern Bell was days away with a husband shipped off in the war somewhere…
How do you live through things like this? This story as I’m sitting at the lunch table brought me to tears. Her very daughter was shot – and lived – and witnessed this indescribable trauma. They both Southern Bell and the daughter still suffer from ptsd it’s only been about 10 years. This boyfriend has made a mark a scar truly on this young women body and her family that will never be forgotten.
This lady is a dear friend of mine, she’s funny and serious like me. I’ve known her and quilted with her for many years like 15 years. We’ve shared stories about life and work and kids. She was there for me when Jeff had his surgery. She has one son, been married for 30 some years. She’s a friend that you can just let go and be yourself with, she slightly older than me so I lean on her for advice, she’s genuine, thoughtful and caring. She’s struggling with parenting her mid-twenty year old son. he’s lost in life, not really any goals or direction, maybe no motivation. He’s feisty and his mom can be feisty back. She helps where she can, he takes what he wants from her. She wants the world for him, she wants him to be happy, healthy and find his way.
This is weighing on my friend the planter, she, like most of us compares her parenting skills to other people that influence her life like her siblings, her friends, and in-laws. In the end, it has to be your life that you are in control of not someone else’s. Her son, is in his mid-twenties going though pre-adulthood – is this the right word?. He needs to find his way, on his own. Get a job, get a place, get a goal, ambitions and maybe have a passion. My green thumb friend, wants the world for him, it crushes her that he can’t settle, find his groove, be responsible, have his own life. It’s heavy and makes her upset, angry at times. As parents we can only do so much…I adore her for her strength and her undying commitment to her son with boundaries.
This plant lady was working on the tuffet project with me together, she was also working on the beginnings of a t-shirt quilt for her friend that has cancer, such a purposeful project.
Do you have any Gingers in your life. My friend with her red hair has been through things in life. First she was married, moved and had her first baby right away, her and her hubby lived in quite a large home 4 or 6 bedrooms, then she had her second baby. We’re quilting friends. She’s always been one of my hugest fans and supporters – thank you as I know you’re listening.
Her husband had a daughter years prior who was now back in his life and Ginger’s by proxy. this daughter was about 16 at the time and threw these two parents into teenager hood long before their in due time natural course. My friend, was having some challenges with this – this teen ended up moving out several months later…
Ginger’s husband came up to her one day and shared that he was gay. She as his wife, wondered why he liked the movie “broke back mountain” so much and now she had her answers. You know, this friend of mine, accepted her hubby’s ways with respect. Obviously, life is taking a crazy turn for her, selling their home, finding her new home and accepting this change, single mother hood and all.
She’s been on her own now with both kids, dad has been around here and there but not really a staple in their lives. The kids are incredible, smart and established and grounded. One moving off to pursue education dreams which my friend is sad and excited – the other still finishing high school – which my friend is grateful she still has one at home.
This red-headed friend of mine also just lost 50 pounds on the keyto diet and she couldn’t be more proud of herself. I wish the world for her, she’s such a neat grounded person. She too has a great laugh and the loudest hiccups. Her ginger hair the same as when I met her 15 years ago, her love for the Beatles has never died. She is true to herself and empowered from what she’s been through. This lady travels by herself, like I mean goes on cruises, enjoys bands and does and goes where she wants. We shared a room – she’d leave the light on for me every night as she to bed early. Thank you.
She was working on stitching projects that she discovered she needed glasses now to see – as the project was from several years back – lol she could see better with glasses – don’t we know how this feels.
This lady is upbeat, she’s looking for purpose, most of the gals here know her story. Been a quilter for so many years but shelved it for quite a few. Likes to gab and connect with people. One lady asked her about her husbands heart surgery, Green Eyes explained what had happened and the sadness and anger she went through. How he was just 47 years old and their daughter was not even 2.
Brown Eyed Suzy asked about his health now and they got to chatting about changing their eating and lifestyle No meat cooked in there house – she was aghast at this – saying her hubby would like die if he never ate meat lol. Such a funny reaction. She was so curious about their pescatarian diet and eating raw veggies and only 1 meal a day (OMaD). Most of the ladies new green eyes mom as she would bring her to these retreats.
This pair of green eyes would laugh and have a great time. But then the older set of green eyes wouldn’t respond to requests or text or invitations. This mom would disappear and not be involved – suffering from her own personal traumas. Not be available for her daughter for a while. It’s been a few years since this daughter and mother have been together at a retreat laughing and enjoying. These women knew this feeling, everyone had a story.
This is me and a shortened version of my story.
As we were leaving the lunch table I noticed on one of the ladies arms that she had this amazing scar covering the entire inside of her forearm. This scar looked like years had passed over it. I said to her sort of secretly as we were walking back to the great room – the room where our projects came to fruition – what happened?
She said when she was 8 she dumped a pot of coffee onto her arm and burnt the skin right off. Remembering the pain to this day likely 50 years or so later how it felt when they were picking the gauze out of the infection. Then she healed. Her parents took her to see a plastic surgeon at 13 to have this scar repaired. They described the surgery as cutting skin from the insides of her thighs and grafting it onto of her arm…nope she didn’t want to go through with this pain again or anymore. Sienna accepted her scar. It doesn’t bother her – it’s just part of her.
What would you do, would you have this scar fixed?
There was many other ladies at this retreat but these are the stories that have sort of stuck with me. This gathering of women who have this hobby in common, drives us to be together and share what we are working on and the cathartic nature of what we do – it’s our sort of therapy. When you are open to a room, receiving the room, they will receive you back, no judgements. Empower each other and build them up, it’s so important in life to value the moment, and be in the moment. These ladies impact me and change me, they teach me and make me reflect on my parenting style or my choices. The plant lady she said to me one of these nights that I am the best mother she knew…brought me to tears.
Do you have a group of people that you cherish, think of them whether family friends or colleagues. These people make you feel real, grounded and slightly open to sharing your life, good and bad with them. These are true people that you need in your life.
Tell me about your story of friendships that impact you deeply or a story that someone told you once that you think about every once in a while. These are the stories that build up our characters, we can reflect, use, take home to the bank!
The loops for this show is provided through GarageBand, thanks to Jason Schnell for my theme music. Tascam 40 – my very own music made just for me. Thanks to Kim, Alison, Pat, Colleen, Kathy and all the ladies that have inspired my story and taught me, shared with me and involved into their personal feeling.
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Thanks for listening.