On Sunday morning at 4 am precisely, I woke with a jolt and realised I was having a serious anxiety attack.
So I got out of bed, turned on the central heating and pottered in my sewing room. I listened to local ABC until 5.30 am when Macca came on (can't stand Macca) and then switched over to Radio National where the spiritual program was on, and they had on these amazing yogic musicians called Edo and Jo.
(I didn't know there was such a thing as a yogic musician until then.)
I was listening to their music and their stories and it was so beautiful and ethereal and I got to thinking about whether quilting is my equivalent of yogic music.
I should add that quilting was the reason for the anxiety, but not for the reasons you might think. Last year's show was extremely hard for me, for a number of reasons completely unrelated to my quilts, but mostly to do the the fact I was president, and therefore a Responsible Person who was Concerned About Other People and How They Felt. I got way more stressed than I should have, to the point where I was actually quite unwell. This was compounded by the fact I was genuinely concerned about losing my job when journalists started calling me at work. So yeah - the 2013 exhibition is one I would much rather forget.
But it all seemed to come back to me at 4.00 am on a Sunday morning the week before the 2014 exhibition started. I don't know why. Perhaps it was because this year we got some really positive media coverage and my subconscious started dredging shit up.
So back to the quilting. Hold on tight. This story meanders.
I was talking to my favourite stroopwafel purveyor the previous morning at the farmers' market (he's Dutch, she's a quilter so of course I adore them both) and we talked about quilting and the quilt show and how expensive fabric is here in Australia. And I said "ah - but a psychologist costs $165 for 45 minutes (because I know this after what happened last year) and you can buy a lot of fabric for $165 even at $25 a metre" and we all nodded and my husband laughed and said it was so true. And then as I walked away I said jokingly "if only the Medicare rebate covered quilting fabric. The mental health system would be in a much better state. You could include quilting in your Mental Health Plan". And it was like a lightbulb went off in my head.
Quilting has been my friend. A sanity saver. I need to quilt. I love to quilt. Quilting is the only time I'm truly happy being alone. I meditate, relax, enjoy.
Take a chill pill.
This week I've been home alone while the other half is visiting family, and I've had extra room on the sofa to spread out. Don't hurry back honey - I'm getting heaps done and besides, there's no room for you to sit. Although I miss your cups of tea, and you cleaning up the kitchen after I've made a mess.
This morning I helped out with the opening of the exhibition. It is a spectacular exhibition and my friends are exhibiting with me, and it makes me super happy that some super fine friends are hanging with my rainbows (that's Jenny Bowker's and Gemma Jackson's spectacular (and award winning!) quilts to the right of the photo). I ran into some old friends and they inspired me with their stories of old quilts and I'm going back every day to see the quilts, catch up with friends and also check out the trade hall. I've already bought some pretty special quilt books which I can't wait to crack open and check out. And my anxiety is mostly gone. I'm back to my happy self and I feel I can sleep for more than 4 hours tonight.
Quilting. It's therapy. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.