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What did I learn in 2017?

It’s always interesting to look back on the previous year’s creative journey. This was a really busy, exciting and even challenging year, creatively.

Here’s more on each of these photos: (left to right, top to bottom)

  1. Baby Lattice Quilt tutorial
  2. A (rare!) clean sewing room prepping for Pattern Drop videos
  3. New Quilt Patterns for 2017
  4. Scrappy Nine-patch by the sea
  5. Patchwork Quilt Along free quilt blocks
  6. A Scrappy Quilt Top in the Wind
  7. Sunnyside Ave apple pincushions
  8. Giant Susannah block quilt
  9. Halloween Bunting quilt

To see more of what happened this past year check-out the Quilts I’ve Made pinboard.

I don’t think 2017 was my most prolific, but it was productive. It was especially exciting watching my first fabric collection, Gingham Girls come to life. I’m still completely away by the response. Thank you again for your support in that new endeavor. (And a big thanks to Riley Blake Designs for taking a chance on me!)

Vintage inspired Sunnyside Ave fabric collection by Amy Smart

I’m really excited to see the next fabric collection, Sunnyside Ave come to life in 2018. (Watch for it in March! And, just between you and me, there may be another line in the pipes later this year… ) None of which would be possible without the support of all of you. Thank you. So much. Seriously.

Also in 2017, I wrote about 8 new tutorials, including:

Tutorials are always A LOT of work, but it’s so fun and rewarding to see people create with them. This year’s most popular was the Baby Lattice Quilt. I’ve seen so many cute quilts made with that tutorial. Thanks so much for sharing your creations with me!

As I thought about doing a quick 2017 year-in-review perspective I decided to go back and to see if I wrote a similar post last year. Turns out I did – and much more extensively than I had intended this year. And it had some really great thoughts!

So since even I didn’t remember a year-in-review perspective from last year, I figured I’d share a few of those same thoughts again and see how I felt I did in measuring up. Also, because I think there are some great reminders to be shared. (If I do say so myself. 😉 ) Here’s a bit from that post. (You can read the full post here.)

I’ve had multiple people ask me how I get so much done and expressing frustration that they’re not able to be as productive. In answering that, I have to point out the fact that I treat this sewing stuff as my job – it’s become so much more than a hobby. When my kids are in school, I treat it as work. I feel beyond lucky that my job is something that I really LOVE to do, but I don’t want anyone to feel discouraged that they don’t get as much time to sew, or feel as productive. It’s a choice I’ve made, and it’s a lot of real work, plus a lot of sacrifice of other things that I don’t have time for. In the past I’ve often looked at what other people are doing and have accomplished, and I know what it’s like to feel slightly jealous or like I’m coming up short. Over the past few years I’ve learned a few things in regards to this business of mine that I’ll share for ‘what it’s worth’ to someone out there:

  • Let go of perfection. One of my favorite mantras is “Done is better that Perfect.”
  • Save your best efforts for that which has greatest value. Say No more that you say Yes, and then only say Yes to the things that matter most. I’m still learning this one – part of accomplishing what you really want to do means saying No to a lot of superficial stuff that can distract you.
  • You can’t do it all. Especially not all at once. Trust me on this one – it’s a sure-fire recipe for burn-out.
  • Stick with your goals, but constantly re-evaluate them and make sure you’re not letting short-term clutter (i.e. Facebook, Netflix, etc. 😉 ) get in the way of the most important priorities. (I totally recommend the book Essentialism if you want more thoughts on this topic.)
  • Everyone’s journey is different, but everyone’s journey is exciting. DON’T COMPARE your journey to anyone else’s. Stay on your path and enjoy the people and opportunities that come your way. Focus on what is in your control, not on what’s out of your control.
  • Cheer other people on. Be happy for other people’s achievements and successes. I’m a big believer in Abundance – if your perspective is to see the world as a place where there is enough success and happiness for everyone, you’re going to find a lot more of it in your own life.
  • Finally – don’t fear adversity or struggling for something you want – sometimes that will change the direction of our lives in remarkable ways.

So how do I think I’m doing on that list from a year ago? I think I made good progress on a lot of those recommendations.

–  I’ve cut back on a lot of commitments. I still had times this past year when I felt overwhelmed and regretful that I’d over-committed myself. Each time I do that though, I have a serious talk with myself and remind myself how much I hate feeling that way (not just because it’s uncomfortable, but it seems to suck the creativity right out of me). That’s always good motivation to really evaluate my time and how much I’m capable of as well as the projects I actually want to do and to make tough decision about where to best use my time.  I can confidently say, it’s worth it!

For example – one of those decisions I’ve made for this stage of my life is to not travel to teach. My kids are getting bigger, but watching my oldest graduate from High School and head off to college this year has reminded me how fast this time of our lives is going to fly by and I’ll never get this time back! I really enjoy where my kids are at in life right now and I want to soak them up as much as I can. I still have to travel a bit here and there, (and in someways that’s good for them to all learn a little independence and self-reliance) but I want to miss as little as possible, while I can.

Things to do for 2018 –

Make more time to just be creative. Cut back on doing things that I’m ‘assigned’ by external commitments and do more sewing just for fun.

Focus on what I can control. I’m going to be honest – 2017 was pretty externally stressful and exhausting. So many problems and issues in the world- not to mention SO much negativity. It’s so easy to be dragged down by all of that drama. This year I’m learning to focus on what I can do in my sphere to be a force for good and kindness. To not get sucked into distraction, but to stay on track doing and putting good into the world. It’s hard to change the world single-handedly, but I do believe that the more people who are focused on seeing and doing good in the world, the better we’ll all be. I’m excited about our new plans for making time for good works in 2018!!

Make more time to just be still. That might mean less sewing and I’m okay with that. After some annoying (and exhausting) health issues in 2017 (most of which were triggered by stress) I’m more determined than ever to take care of my health – get a good night’s sleep, make more time to meditate, journal, be present with my family, go outside, and just be still.

In spite of some real stresses and challenges, 2017 exceeded my expectations! I have high hopes for 2018! Thanks to all of you for your friendship and encouragement. It wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without all of you.

Happy 2018!

 

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Amy
    January 2, 2018 at 7:08 am

    I LOVE the book “Essentialism”. One of the only audiobooks I’ve listened to more than once. Wonderful, rich content – so much to learn! Thanks for recommending it to others. Happy New Year!

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 2, 2018 at 8:12 am

      Me too! I think it merits an annual read (and by ‘read’ I mean listen) – I always find new ways to look at how I’m doing things. And since I can’t apply everything all at once, I pick a couple of new things each time and practice getting better at those.

      Thanks Amy! Happy New Year to you!

  • Reply
    Betsy
    January 2, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Of all the blogs I follow & read I find yours to be the one of the most “on point” with my creative life, which flows into my personal life as well. There are a total of 5 blogs that I read & follow that I feel really in sync with, with yours leading the pack. Thank you for the time & energy you spend to connect with we fellow makers…..you inspire me & help me be a better person. I previously visited your area annually for a ski week @ Deer Valley but alas those trips have come to an end. However, visiting your blog helps me feel connected to your area on a regular basis, which I think is beautiful. You are blessed to live where you do. Thanks again Amy. Here’s heart felt wishes for a successful 2018!

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 2, 2018 at 8:15 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Betsy! It makes me happy to hear that something I put out there is being received in the way that I’d hoped.

      Wishing you the very best for 2018 – and hopeful for a return trip to Utah one day. 🙂

      xo

  • Reply
    Carolyn S
    January 2, 2018 at 10:53 am

    I am grateful for your perspective. Hobby/work/creativity/family/spiritually true to ourselves and God – all need to be in balance for me to be happy as well. It takes me regular evaluation to prevent getting sick or over-stressed too. It actually made me happy that you said 2017 was not your most productive year because I think numbers and producing aren’t the most important things either but I also feel the pull to “do more.” Following what our heart tells us is a surer way to joyful living. Thanks for your inspiring words as always.

  • Reply
    Myra @ Busy Hands Quilts
    January 2, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Your post is very refreshing. Love reading about keeping the most important things on the top of the list. And I do love your Stitch in Time quilt!

  • Reply
    Sarah B
    January 2, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Your willingness to share your beautiful work *and* your humanity and work-life balance have meant a lot to me and influenced me as a quilter. 2017 was a bumpy year personally for me in many respects, and yet I still quilted. A lot. It matters to be joyful and creative and happy, and quilting does that for me. Thank you.

  • Reply
    trina
    January 2, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Your focus on what you can control for good, and trying to not get sucked into all the political negativity – that is SO me as well! At church on Sunday, the main speaker focused on the word EDIFY. That’s my word for 2018 – to uplift and build people up, and focus on service. I’ve begun doing a monthly family service project with my kids – we did hurricane relief projects twice that were sent to Puerto Rico, and in December we bought toys for a donation drive and we caroled at a senior center on Christmas Eve. Waiting for the idea lightning to strike for January … The little things matter! Good luck with your 2018 good works!

    And I love your quilts. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jamie
    January 2, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    I love reading your blog and seeing what you’re up to…congrats on the third fabric line! I used to feel jealous of others’ productivity and sometimes disappointed in myself for not finishing more, but I let go of that a while ago and am just embracing stay at home motherhood now. I don’t need another job and thank you for reminding me of that! Baby #5 is due in a few months and I’m just trying to soak up time with my 2 year old before she’s not the baby anymore. Best wishes to you and AMEN to 2018 being a kinder year.

  • Reply
    Karen Seitz
    January 2, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Happy New Year, Amy! I am so grateful for you taking the time and energy to keep blogging. I enjoy every single post and look forward to hearing about all of your adventures, whether near or far from home.

  • Reply
    Martha Cook
    January 3, 2018 at 4:54 am

    Thank you Amy for sharing. It was heartfelt and honest. Your answer to your followers on how you can get so much done showed how kind and gracious you are. i asked that question to another blogger and their response left me embarrassed (another blogger left her two cents worth). But your response was perfect. It answers to the core of why we ask, our frustration of wanting to get more done but can’t.great article 🙂

  • Reply
    Cathy Melancon
    January 3, 2018 at 7:30 am

    Happy New Year, Amy!! Thank you for such a great post! The time and effort you put into all your posts is so appreciated! I truly enjoy following you and am so happy for you and your new fabric collections! Thank you for putting everything into perspective about how you treat quilting as your job. Here’s to a great 2018!!!

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    January 3, 2018 at 7:44 am

    Thoughtful post. At age 60 I’ve had time to review, you are correct about your kids, it’s over way too fast! As I was putting my 3 year old granddaughter in her car seat (I have a car seat in my car for her), her older sister said ‘I can’t believe Pyper is going to be 4 and I’m going to be double digits’. Completely freaked me out!

  • Reply
    lauren
    January 3, 2018 at 8:20 am

    Thanks Amy – loved reading your perspective and thoughts. Finding time to be still and meditate is something that really resonates with me. If I’m not careful, I can use quilting as a way to always be busy – always moving – filling in every extra minute with it instead of letting it be a fun hobby. Being still can feel hard for me, but I know I need it. Thanks again for sharing!

  • Reply
    Cathy Bremer
    January 3, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    Doesn’t it feel good to look at all you’ve finished in 2017! You should also list your almost, kinda, hope to get to quilts! 🙂

  • Reply
    quiltytherapy
    January 3, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Great post and insights. Especially on how you get so much done and the sacrifices you have made to do that. You noted that if more people focused on putting good into the world, how much better it would be. Couldn’t agree more. I’ve tried to tune out the negativity and focus my efforts on 1-2 things that I can make a difference with. Excited to see your year ahead and course more fabric lines.

  • Reply
    Anna Graham
    January 3, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Love this post Amy! And I love how you evaluated what makes you happy in both business and life. I’m right there with ya, it’s hard, but making sure you’re on the right track for YOU makes all the difference. Hope I get to see you again soon! 🙂

  • Reply
    Glenis Ebbett
    January 3, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    Lovely to read all your well thought out comments on the past year…it is quite a skill to know when to say no and when to push on. Enjoyed reading this.
    Glenis

  • Reply
    Jocelyn
    January 4, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    Loved your post. Keep on stitching 🙂

  • Reply
    Rosemaryflower
    January 4, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    You have accomplished so much, and inspired so many friends.
    I will never stop following you…. I might “be still” right along with you as well.
    The new fabric looks delightful. All of your thoughts and advice is so well thought out and I enjoy reading them. Thank you for the help all the time

  • Reply
    Suzanne
    January 6, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    I want to save this post so that I can remind myself that being “still” is just as important as accomplishing many tasks. As a working mother/grandmother/wife, life is full of business. Thank you for your inspirational thoughts AND your beautiful quilt projects that I save to Pinterest every chance I get for all of my future projects 😉

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 7, 2018 at 9:40 pm

      Aww, thank you Suzanne. xo

  • Reply
    Carla Bataran
    January 9, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Wow, what amazing posts from all! So honest, true, and thought provoking. What a great community.

  • Reply
    Tessa Walker
    January 18, 2018 at 9:38 am

    A little late, but I just read this post and loved it! I can totally relate to your reflections on the year (though I am not nearly as busy or productive as you!) I’ve always admired your creative talent and your spirit and wish you good health and peace in the coming year!!

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 18, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      Thank you Tessa! xo

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