Thursday, March 16, 2006

The company of women

I belong to two guilds here in Portland and I've blown off the last meeting of each one. No particular reason. I planned to go and then when the day arrived I just wasn't in the mood. I'm not mad and I'm not finished, but I think I am tired.

I have friends who never join women's groups and seem to take pride in saying "I'm not a joiner." I guess I am a joiner of women's organizations. Started with the Brownies and from there on I just kept joining—Job's Daughters, Pep Club, sorority, YWCA, PEO, and a whole variety of quilting and stitchery guilds. For the most part I have really enjoyed all these associations and I have made some really good friends along the way. It has always seemed to me that you can accomplish so much as a group that one person alone seldom can.

One of the things about quilt guilds that is discouraging to me is how rapidly things become "the way we've always done it" and then making a change is just really hard. One of the guilds I belong to is one I helped to start about 6 years ago. Already there is a lot of stuff that is "the way we've always done it" and it's hard to move beyond. Last year I was on the Quilt Show committee and I must say we had a great, renegade committee and a really good, and pretty darn classy, show, but we fought for every little bit of originality that made it so. (you can see pictures here.) And I'm convinced there were one or two members who were gleefully hoping the whole thing would be a disaster just to prove that you don't need to "fix what ain't broke" or "reinvent the wheel". (Thought I'd gag if I heard those two cliches one more time.)

Sadly, it is also the case that sometimes one nasty or negative or overbearing person can sour a whole group, and just dealing with that negativity is immensely tiring. (You all know someone like that, don't you?) So I think I feel tired. And maybe too busy with other things. And maybe I'd rather hang out at home with my husband than venture out in the cold and wet and dark. And maybe I'd rather make my own quilts in what little spare time I have, than go look at other people's quilts.

I'll probably feel completely different in a month. I'll probably want to see everyone and find out what's new and what they've been stitching on. I'm pretty sure I will.


  1. Jazz, wine, and quilts! If I had attended, I would have been most impressed! A fabulous job!

  2. I think joining a group (especially creative ones) is really only to your benefit if you feel you can actually learn and be inspired by the others in your group as well. The reason I broke down and joined a guild is that I felt that by surrounding myself with others who knew what they doing, lol, maybe it'd rub off on me, LOL.

  3. Anonymous4:41 PM

    I love your picture of the unchanging woman--I think I've met and tried to work with her. Hmmm, (hate to admit it) but I may even have been her on an occasion or two. Groups are that way. They have to find a stable middle ground to support the elements that we all have in common--they keep us human. But that middle area doesn't support creativity--was never meant to. So, we pull away every once in a while to rediscover our creative "edges." I think its a healthy thing to pull an "El Lobo" and go reinvigorate yourself outside the group for even a short while. You'll find a new vitality to your creativity and you'll bring a part of that back to the group when you return. If no one did this, I really feel the group would simply die. You'll love coming back to see what's been going on and they're going love seeing what's been happening with you, too.