Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pre-birth Goals: Goal #3

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."

- C. S. Lewis

This has been a year of letting myself be inspired, not only by the beautiful natural world in which almost all things seem possible, but also by the achievements and enthusiasm of others. In Toastmasters we practice public speaking, and yet the members of that club have inspired me in ways beyond elocution. Over the year, two members gave memorable speeches about goals and goal-setting. Laura Bruno talked last fall about the importance of writing down our goals, and VP of Education Bob Freel on at least two occasions talked about the goal-setting he has done with his own grand-daughter and also about his personal mantra, "If it's to be, it's up to me." I think when we are open to the messages of people around us, our lives can become deeper and richer in tone. The optimism and achievements of my fellow Toastmasters rekindled in me the desire to set some tangible and more challenging goals for myself this year, and I first wrote them down when I discovered I was pregnant with Eric.

The first two goals were to 1) take three real estate courses, study for, and pass my license exam; and 2) complete ten speeches to earn my Competent Communicator award in Toastmasters. I completed both of those goals in June.

My third goal was to finish my cross stitch sampler and through it, to make my home cozier and more filled with meaning. I started my sampler late last summer, and it is all too easy for me to let projects like that stretch on for awhile. Yet with children now, I am especially interested in creating little heirlooms for them to have someday.

A sampler is a cross stitch consisting of the alphabet and numbers. Some of the oldest surviving samplers are from the 15th and 16th centuries. My understanding is that many young women were taught the art of sampler making from a young age and that samplers were viewed as a sign of industry and a virtuous heart.

Of course samplers were a craft of the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish, and that is a big part of my heritage with which I largely identify. I love the meditative feeling of working with my hands to create something for my home, of centering my heart on what is important. Although I did work parts of this cross stitch with background noise as accompaniment, for the past few weeks I have worked it almost exclusively in the early mornings before Katie and Bill awoke. Sometimes I would sit in Katie's room and watch her sleep, and sometimes I would sit in my room and watch my husband slumber. I'd listen to the birds outside waking up, see the dawn fill the sky, and sip decaffeinated coffee with milk and cinnamon. I discovered how much I loved to work surrounded mostly by silence and soft breathing and birds. It was a time to think about life, my family, and purpose without distraction.

This morning I finished my sampler, which means I also completed my third and final formal pre-birth goal. Yay!

I will always think of this sampler as belonging to Katie as well as to me. She helped with several stitches, though the bulk of the work has been done while she slept. I therefore stitched both of our initials in the corner, as well as the date.

My mom is actually the artist of this sampler. She came up with and drew this pattern out years and years ago and stitched for her own home when my brother and I were small children. So one of the traits I love best about this particular sampler is that only my mom and I have ever made this one (albeit in floss colors to match our own home decor). It is unique to Katie's maternal line. I am saving the pattern for her so that she can make one someday if she wants to. It is not a particularly difficult pattern to stitch, but I love its emphasis on "Home Sweet Home," the farm animals, and the hearts: home, earthiness, and love.

Katie holds the sampler.

I will always love that her little hands took stitches with me this year.

Since Michael's is having a sale on frames right now, I plan to mat and frame it this weekend and hang it in the family room.

So, my formal pre-birth goals are officially done. I am left wondering what to do next. Finishing goals is exciting, but then one also misses them. I do have a couple of projects I am working on and intend to finish before Eric's birth...but his due date is so close that I hesitate to write the goals down to make them formal. I have discovered the power of the written goal, and I only want to write down those goals which I know for sure I will be able to complete.

I am in a nesting and crafting frame of mind these days, though, and I know my hands will not want for industry. There is no such thing as boredom in my world. Boredom is a concept I have never understood, and I often feel profoundly sorry for people who say they are bored. Life is so rich and there is always something to think about, create, and do. This is life's truest promise to all of us. For that promise I am very thankful.

Now...what next?