I’m a Material Girl…

…uh, as in Fabric!

I admit it. I am a material girl. Not like Madonna, but literally. I am obsessed with fabrics and textiles. Walking through a fabric store, for me, is heavenly. And much to the annoyance of all the sales people, I have to run my hand over every single bolt. The touch, the feel and even the smell make me euphoric. It’s hard for me to decide which I love more: a fabric store or a used book store. Considering that my collegiate field of study was actually fashion and textile design, my love of fabric is hovering a slight lead. As a younger woman I used to sew dresses for anyone who’d wear them! Formal wear, wedding gowns and fancy-schmancy clothes were my specialty. Looking through stack of photos of my family and friends it’s hard to find one without someone in the photo wearing something I made.

My love for sewing and textiles shifted from clothing to quilting about 20 years ago. My bestie, Launi, aka “The Most Wild, Wacky Wonderful Woman I Know” was a real quilt nut, and so we decided to take a road trip through Amish quilt country. It was wonderful. We had a blast checking out every single quilt and fabric store in state of Pennsylvania. Seriously, I don’t think we missed one. We visited museums, galleries and trunk shows and soaked it all in. Then about half way through our road trip, as we drove through the picturesque countryside, I said, “I wish I could show you all the gorgeous, antique Hawaiian Quilts that hang in Iolani Palace on O’ahu, and how as a child I remember the old tutu’s (Grandma’s) sitting on the grand balcony of the Moana Surfrider Hotel demonstrating their handiwork to the tourist.”

The Moana balconyWell, I should have known what was about to happen next. Launi, who is a retired airline employee, is the most spontaneous person I know. Three hours later, with our car in long term parking, she’d managed to get us two seats on a flight using her free airline benefits. Less than twelve hours from my initial comment about wanting her to see the Hawaiian Quilts, we were standing in the Honolulu airport. I almost thought I was dreaming when the next morning we walked through the beautiful palace of the last reigning King and Queen of Hawai’i, and I introduced her the antique quilts displayed there. Afterwards we made our way to the Hilton Hawaiian Village where we took a free Hawaiian Quilting class learning the basics on a simple, quilted pillow. With projects and supplies in hand, we were off to the Historic Moana Hotel where I was determined we were going to sit on that same grand balcony and work on our quilted pillow projects until security either threw us out or charge us rent! Luckily, neither happened. Instead, as we sat on the balcony, both of us sewing away on our projects, we drew the attention of many onlookers who asked us about what we were doing. Like the old tutu’s of my childhood, we explained the unique art of Hawaiian Quilting to anyone who asked. The hotel manager took notice of us and proved that the Spirit of Aloha was alive and well! He was so kind to us, told us that as a child, he too remembered the old tutus quilting on the very same balcony and then he offered to give us a private tour of the Moana. Built in 1901, it had recently gone through an amazing restoration. He invited us to come back and sit on the balcony and sew as much as we wanted throughout our visit to the island even though we were not actual guests at the hotel.

Now, so many years since our spur of the moment trip to Hawai’i, I remember with such fondness those days we spent immersed in the art of quilting. From the simplicity of the Amish quilts in Pennsylvania to the soothing ripples of the Hawaiian quilts on Waikiki, we learned and came to appreciate so much about this timeless art. The fact that I got to do it with one of my favorite people in the world was just icing on the cake.

I just called Launi and we talked about what that trip meant to us and what we learn. You might think I’m going to get all artsy on you now and tell you all sorts of things about quilting that pertain to life. Well I’m not. Because the lessons were too important to confuse them with sewing synonyms and metaphors. Instead I’m just gonna just tell them to you straight up.

  1. Whatever your passion is, don’t stop exploring it. And if your old passion now bores you, get a new one. Figure out what sets your heart on fire and have the courage to structure your life around it. Because to live a life without passion is just… meh!
  2.  Find someone who shares your passion or interests. Whether you’re introducing an old friend to a new side of you or a new friend to an old side of you, reach out, grab someone and share your world. Life is just better with a friend.
  3.  Don’t over think opportunities to expand your horizon. Be ready and willing to hop on a plane when given the chance with just a minute’s notice. But it doesn’t have to be as big a deal as getting on a plane. If there is a free lecture at your local library, just go. If there is an exhibit or training coming to town, sign up. When they ask for volunteers, raise your hand. Don’t overthink, overwork and overplan something to the point of literally sucking the life right out it. Embrace spontaneity.

When the embers of passion take flight, they change everything about you…. the way you think, the way you feel and the way you view the world around you. Your knowledge base expands exponentially and you will see you too are creating a life worth loving.