Thursday, June 14, 2012

Somewhere in between this life and a dream

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I have a lot of things to say.
I rarely say them.
But lately it seems that all of the things that I have to say are weighing so heavily on my mind that I'm finding it really difficult to concentrate on anything other than what I want to say.  What do I have to say, exactly?  I'm not sure. 
I'm not sure of what I have to say because it's becoming increasingly difficult with every passing day to organize myself and my thoughts, and the things that I want to say are continuously morphing into other things that I want to say.
But the main theme of what I want to say is:  BE NICE.
Have you ever looked at someone and been envious of them?  Of course you have.  We all have. 
Sometimes, things look so perfect for others that we neglect to remember that they are human, just like we are.  We all have our problems in life.  More than likely, the nicest people that you meet are the ones that have suffered the most tragedy in their lives.  The difference in them is that they take that tragedy and learn from it. 
I was bullied a lot when I was younger.  A lot.  The "funny" thing is that the people that bullied me have no recollection of it.
I was "the skinniest girl in school" (I have a blood disorder that keeps me from absorbing nutrients and fats like a "normal" person), I was (and am) flat chested, I had crooked buck teeth and glasses.  I was downright ugly.  I was never much interested in the fads and what everyone else was doing.  I spent the bulk of my adolescent and teenage years hibernating in the basement so I didn't have to talk to people.  I was suicidally depressed, but of course nobody knew that.  They just thought I was weird, which gave them more reason to tease and make fun of me.  My thoughts were consumed with death, and how much better off the world would be without me in it.  I tried to slit my wrists several times, but was never successful.  Of course that just made me feel like an even bigger failure and made me hurt that much more...
One time when I was younger, I made a friend of someone that was new in town and lived really close to me.  She wasn't well-liked, but she was my friend.  On a weekend we went to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the theater together, but I made her promise not to tell anyone.  I was already made fun of enough without having to worry about it being known I was friends with someone that was also made fun of.  The next week at school she was talking about how much she loved the movie.  People were making fun of her because they thought she went to the movies by herself.  I was a witness to the teasing, and the poor girl gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look.  I found the courage to speak up and tell them that I was the one that went to the movies with her.  I remember every little detail of that day.
In sixth grade, I knew a boy that was bullied even worse than I was.  He was obese, his hair was always greasy and his clothes were always tattered and torn.  Unfortunately, twelve year olds don't think about the WHY, they only see the HOW.  I befriended that boy and he opened up to me.  His parents neglected and abused him and he was later placed with a foster family.  After that, he wore clothes just like everyone else, bathed daily and started to lose weight because he was receiving proper nutrition.  But that didn't matter.  He already had been branded as the weird kid and would never be seen by his peers as anything else.
Also in sixth grade, I met a girl that was really, really over weight.  Of course she was made fun of for her size.  What people didn't know was that she was also living in an abusive home, and eating was the only thing that gave her comfort.
In seventh grade, one of my class mates was pregnant.  Can you imagine the unrelenting comments and bullying she went through?  Of course no one stopped to think about it or even ask her how or why she ended up in that sort of situation.  She was raped by her stepfather.  And she ended up dropping out of school because she couldn't handle facing people judging her every single day.

It really doesn't take a whole lot of effort to be a nice person.  When you're walking down the street and approaching a passerby, don't refuse to make eye contact.  Look right at them and give them a smile.  You never really know how much a simple smile from a stranger can do for a person that's really hurting. 

Being an adult doesn't change who we are.  Adults can be just as bad as children.

All of my friends are also my competitors.  Some of my "friends" are not really friends at all.  If you're reading this and think I might be talking about you, I probably am.  It's not my fault.  It's yours.  I SAID IT!  It's your fault.

The difference between my "friends" and my friends, is that my "friends" use our "friendship" to their advantage, and my friends genuinely care.

 In life, you can never really know peoples' intentions until you give them time to show them to you.  Being a nice person doesn't make you gullible.  It gives you the opportunity to learn.  Some people are just flat-out assholes. 

I'm grateful for the wonderful people that I have met.  My journey through life continues down this road and I don't really know where it's leading.  I meet some real assholes along the way, but that's just a part of life.

Yesterday I sat outside in the sunshine thinking about what my life has become over the last three years.  Three years I have been quilting.  I have been given this amazing opportunity to find something that I didn't even know I loved until I tried it.  I have met amazing people and been lucky enough to do some kind of amazing things.  All this time, I have worked my ass off.  Through my thinking about all of this quilty goodness, I stumbled upon this one single thought that completely changed my perspective:

I might actually be good at it.

You see, all this time that people have been telling me that they think I'm good at what I do, I've been telling myself that I really have you all fooled.  It never really occurred to me that I might actually be kind of good at this stuff.  Until yesterday.  I suddenly realized that I might even be a bit of an artist.

The important thing to remember is that it never is easy.  I have failed.  A lot.  I have learned every way to NOT do something.  Twice.  I have taught myself the right ways.  I have taught myself what works for me.  I was not always good.  I may still not be "good enough".  But you know what?  I'm good enough for me.  Everyone might not always agree with my opinions or advice, but they're mine.  And I like them.

I am me.  You are you.  You be you and let me be me.  It's that simple.  If I can help you become the you that you want to be, even better.  I'm happy to oblige.  I'm happy to let people into my life if they truly want to be a part of it.  I only ask this one thing:

The next time you think a nasty thought about someone, try to remember how much words can hurt before you speak them.  Words cannot be unsaid.  Sometimes they are forgotten.  But sometimes they are remembered forever.  Try to make sure that the words you leave with people to remember forever are uplifting.
Try to be a positive influence on the world.  Lead by example.  And remember: we're all just trying to find "good enough".


  1. Oh, McLisa Starfish, I think I love you. Will you be my friend? (I was the tall, gangly bookworm with straight As, fiery red hair, freckles, glasses, and ZERO coordination.)

  2. Wow, what an honest post. So many things resonated with me. Bullying SUCKS, mean people SUCK. And YOU ARE AMAZING at quilting, YOU ARE AN ARTIST, inmho!

  3. You are perfect. I was always the "strange" kid but managed to "just" fit in, I always had the strangely-oddish weird differences though. The good thing is WE managed to stay TRUE to who we are! Let nothing change you, better yourself, but never change! I LOVE YOU AND AM PROUD TO BE YOUR FRIEND!!!, really really glad you're mine!

  4. Yay! you're an amazing person, and incredible at what you do! assholes can stick it <3

  5. Yay! you're an amazing person, and incredible at what you do! assholes can stick it <3

  6. I like to think I used to stick up for the few kids being bullied, but, alas, I'm sure there were times when I SHOULD have, but kept quiet and was secretly glad it wasn't me. For this, I am truly sorry. I taught my two kids (now adult), to be kind to everyone and befriend those with no friends. I hope they did better than I. As an adult, I have a huge heart for ANYONE being bullied. xo

  7. I was everybody's fat friend from the age of 13 until I was 19. I let people use me so they wouldn't go off and leave me behind.
    We moved a lot and I was always the new kid who had to fight and punch her way to acceptance. Was I a bully? I never started a fight.
    Lisa, you are absolutely spot on in your post. I'm the one who tries to be funny instead of mean. You are being a lot more honest. Thank you for this.

  8. Bravo. I knew I adored you from the minute I found your blog and lurked on twitter.
    You're my kind of person, the one that knows the pain of childhood but grew up to be a mighty fine person who is freaking amazing at what she does.
    Amazing. Excellent post.
    You nearly brought me to tears and then made me sit straighter as yeah, you're damn right, woman, flew from my mind.

    Be nice. What a simple set of words that yet have so much power.

    Thank you for speaking out. Maybe more of us with find the courage to speak up as well.

  9. Lisa, thank you for saying what you have said. I've praised you a bit in our short time of communicating with each other....I would have said more, but feared sounding like a phony. You are, indeed, a very special person, and NOBODY can take that away from you no matter what they say.

    You have great gifts, and you are making a very beautiful place in the world, with physical things and in just being YOU. Please never change...a lot of people love what you do and what you make, and a lot of people will love the person you are. It doesn't get better than that :o)

  10. I have to add something. I've been longarming for over 11 years and I've seen a lot of inspiring work, but I have to tell you, little lady, you are damn awe inspiring! Why else do you think this 59 yr. old (who could be your mother)bugs you all the time? ;)
    I am so looking forward to taking a class with you next year in Manchester. I don't ever want to stop learning new methods and techniques.

  11. Dear Friend I've never met,
    You're right - we can't really tell a person's story by their 'cover". I had you pegged as the popular girl in school. I'm sorry that you had to endure such crap. I was bullied, too. I was the fat one. It's been 34 years since those days, and I still remember. I get it.

    You are an artist.


  12. I know exactly what you mean. I have spent a lot of my life trying to make myself good enough by working harder or trying harder or putting more time into things --to justify my existence, I guess. I put in more time and more effort than anyone and never felt good enough.

    I remember the first time I realized that I was actually good at something and that people outside my current life recognized it. It kind of takes your breath away, doesn't it?

    I've gone through some things in the past couple years that have made me stop and take stock and I am no longer doing things to please others I try to know whether what I am doing is good or not and I try not to compare what I do to what others do.

    And I try especially to let myself do things because they just make me happy. Not to prove things or to satisfy anything but to enjoy the process--not the product.

    Best wishes....good post.

  13. Sometimes I think you might be a mind reader as well. Along with all your other amazing talents!! :-) You said it all. Be ARE amazing. Believe it. My girls think you look just like one of their Bratz dolls. :-) They love the pics of you with my quilts at market. That's a great compliment!!!

  14. Hallelujah Sista...very well said. I say it all the it really that hard to just be nice? Evidently for a lot of people it is. You are awesome!

  15. I first started noticing you for your artistry. Then you & you FB buddies kinda intimidated me with your coarse discussions which as the fat kid would scare me away being afraid of becoming the center of them & my weapon of choice was humor. But it's hard for the joke to be heard when you're being bullied. But because I'm a true lover of the irreverent & I was hidden by FB, I could soon be free to laugh along. But you then started writing these incredibly insightful essays & you changed my opinion again of who you might be. I hope we meet someday & call each other friends. I'm more of a lurker now & incredibly impressed with your skill & generosity of spirit. Your essay about how you feel about your customer may become my business plan when I have something to offer. & when you told me it was good to be scared in your quilting, it has been a source of introspection & also understanding how it drives me. Because I too hope to keep striving for excellence & appreciation for the privilege of hopefully delighting the folks that might want to trust me with their treasured art. But without a doubt, you have the "it" factor in your artistry! Thank you so much!

  16. Another amazing, insightful post. I'm so happy you're beginning to realise your talent. You really are an artist - and seriously you've only been quilting for 3 years? Wow.

    Ps I was the chubby, painfully shy square at school.

  17. I'm so with you girlfriend!! We could totally write a memoir. You know we've both been through hell and back several times and it just makes us stronger women in the end. Whether people want to see that or not that's there choice but all I know is that my choice is to live each day as if it was my last. You know how many people have told me that they were afraid to come up to me because I intimidated them? But the truth is, I get jealous easily because whats mine is mine. I'm stubborn as hell and I say sorry too much. I sometimes act like I don't give a fuck because I care too much. I over analyze the smallest of things & probably come off as a bitch to SIMPLY GUARD MYSELF!!
    I love you my friend and I'm so glad I finally got to meet you last month.

  18. WoW! What an amazing post! I'm following the Life is Beautiful Hop and arrived at your site so of course I read the first post. Once I finished wiping my tears I became a follower. I was also made fun of, I was overweight. I am glad you found your voice and are speaking out. I am a mom of two grown children but when they were young I made an effort to teach them about other's feelings and the power of words. (along with all the other right from wrong lessons!) I'm looking forward to having more of a look around your blog and seeing what I've been missing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  19. You ARE actually good at it! Thanks for sharing your goodness with us.

  20. I've said it before & I'll say it again YOU ROCK. Thank you for the wonderful post-you hit the nail on the head yet again. And you are sooo talented, I find all of your quilts awe inspiring. Enjoy the fruits!

  21. Well said. Keep enjoying your quilting journey.

  22. I want to be your friend! you just said everything I have ever wanted to say! In high school I was picked on because of my weight, I wore a size 10 but being pear shaped I was called bubble butt and thunder thighs.

    2 years ago, I lost my job and with health issues I had no idea what I was going to do. Then I received and email from a quilt shop owner asking to meet me. She had seen my web page with pictures of my work. The email said "we need to talk". when I met her she showered me with praise asking me to teach in her shop and stated that she would have me teaching across the country within a year. I began crying it was the news I need to hear. Well as it turns out I was just her "flavor of the month" and now I'm not teaching in her shop. All she saw in me was something different and a way to bring income into her shop. I must thank her though, she brought me out of my quilting closet and I am beginning my career doing what I love.

    I've decided I'm not going to let people like that keep me down, nor am I going to lower myself to be like them.

    Keep smiling

  23. Very well said. I can relate to a lot of what you had the courage to say here.

  24. you are one amazing women Miss Lisa!!!!

  25. I now feel sorry for some of the people that bullied me in school. They just didn't know any better, and still don't. Sad people. On being a failure, Edison found 200 ways NOT to make a light bulb, he didn't think he ever failed. We are usually our own worst critics. We point out our mistakes that others would never even spot. It is all a learning experience, and is what we make of it. Some of my failures have turned out to be some of my best work in the end.

  26. Thank you. "Be nicer than you need to be" rings in my head often, because we only see the surface, and most people are struggling with something...and some people are carrying some heavy burdens indeed.

  27. Good enough? Good never enters my mind when I try to describe your 'Artwork'. Words like stunning, breath-taking, impossible, and even 'holy crap that's amazing!' Those are the kind of words that run through my mind when I look at all your work. And the more I read your blog, it appears your spirit is much like your artwork. :) Beautiful. April @ Little Mama Hen

  28. Well said! And I hope I'm a friend not a "friend". :)

  29. Your work is amazing. Your past is what made you who you are today, scars and all. My so called friends, in school, dropped me like a hot potato when I broke up with a two timing "popular" boy and then made fun of me. My son was teased in school for being different, blue hair and piercings. He is now more sucessfully than the ones making fun of him and I bet you are too. Your work is that of a srtist, you give inspiration to many people including me.

  30. You are amazing. I am going to keep telling you every chance I get. I am in awe of your talent and I have been making quilts for 20 years. You tell 'em girl! You can make this a happy little quilty world - and you should - because it is yours!

  31. Love this post.
    I wish all mothers would get their daughters to read it and talk it through. The bullies and the bullied both have problems. The bullies try and raise their own self esteem by putting others down, the bullied take it inwards into their heads. Both need help, both need confidence and assertion.
    As for your talent right now? You are amazing, I am shocked to hear you have only been at it for 3 years, judging by your work, I thought at the very minimum it would be tens years. Well done that woman!

  32. Thank you for sharing this post with all of us. It is a lesson that all of us need to learn. There are so many of us that have had similar experiences, and most (like myself) don't have the courage to share them, today you are a hero, for saying what needs to be said. Perhaps if more of us behaved like this we might just be better off as a human race. Thank you.

  33. Oh Lisa, I think you are my twin. I was always the tall weird one who got bullied throughout school and then at work too. I turned 48 last week and 18 months ago I finally got a diagnosis of my weirdness - Borderline Personality Disorder. It wasn't a choice of mine to be weird - it was faulty wiring in my brain, aggravated by a dirt poor upbringing and family issues. Shame on the bullies for not caring about others and there ended up being an oddballs group at school where we all congregated miserably in a corner for support.

    You are not alone in the self doubt - I never think any of my work is good enough and everyone will see the flaws and mistakes. I love doing what I do which is why I continue both to stitch and quilt. I want to sell bit I don't think I'm good enough.

    You are amazing - live your life by your rules and be happy. You truly deserve it.

  34. I like this post. Just be nice everyone! No matter what. It's a great motto to live by, one that makes an awesome place to live. Thanks for sayin it out loud.

  35. Yeah . . . I still wanna be you when I grow up! Mwah!

  36. I've just met you but I've known you forever. I was the tall slim attractive girl that everyone thought was a snob because I was so painfully shy. I thought I was fat and ugly because no-one ever told me otherwise, not even my first husband. My small circle of "friends" in high school were other outcasts that I had nothing in common with except loneliness.I'm 56 and have been quilting for over 20 years, and it took until about a month ago for me to realize that some of my guild acquaintances actually lie me and respect my work. Thank you for your brilliant post.

  37. Hi, this post meant so much, so many of the things you spoke about touch my heart. Earlier this year I decided to purchase a long arm and told a "friend" whose long arm I had been using and whose house was where a group of friends met one day a week that is what I was doing, and her response was that I was no longer welcome on a Monday to come to her house and meet with my "friends". Only 2 of the some 15 ladies in the group still keep in touch. Human Nature can be cruel and destructive.
    My life's motto "is to do unto others as you would wish to be done to you."

  38. Awesome post! Thanks for sharing :)

  39. sister, i love you, like a sister....take care of you....hugs, peg in ks

  40. Beautiful story - sad and inspiring.

    All anyone wants is to be accepted and loved. That's all everyone on this planet is craving.

    I teach my 10 year old son to be kind to everyone. He is. It makes me proud. He's nice to the "weird" and "Fat" kids that get teased.

    He even takes up for them. It makes him angry to see someone picked on.

    Sometimes I worry that he'll get his ass kicked one day for jumping in... but it will be worth it if he's doing good.

    I love how you have found what you're good at.

    And, one last thing - we all feel like we're faking it. Everyone single one of us - even Brad Pitt and the President!

  41. Wow...what a wonderful post. I'm so glad you didn't follow through with the depression and rose above it to find what an amazing quilter you are! You are very good at what you do and mean people suck! I teach my kids that all the time to help someone instead of make fun of them. Kindness goes a long way! Thanks so much for this very inspirational post.

  42. We live in a cruel world and bullying continues. My daughter went through it too because she was a big girl. I remember being hit in a bathroom in jr. high and made fun of because of my glasses. My sister was treated horrible by our Mother and we've both been suicidal for many years. I have spent thousands on fabric just to see it stored in a room and hope I sew or quilt before I'm gone. For me Jesus has saved me. I l know It may sound silly to some but He is my rock. How I wish others could
    know Him too. Thank you for this post.

  43. Oh sweetie, thank you for your post. Bullying can come at any time. I have a ex husband who is/was a many times I just wanted to drive in front of a semi truck to just get rid of the pain....I didn't because I didn't want the truck driver to have to live with that! I finally got the courage to leave and am now married to a most amazing man. Thank you for your honesty, your sharing and your blog.....many many hugs and prayers!

  44. What a wonderful, honest post ... I just arrived at your blog somehow, on my lunch hour. So glad I did! Yes, what a better world this would be if we all smiled more and tried being nicer!
    I was a tall, nerdy Band girl in Jr High who needed braces too but didn't get them until HS. I loved math & science & chess & woodshop when it was uncool for girls.
    I learned to sew so I could make clothes that fit me, sewed home decor and started quilting when my kids were little. 20 yrs later, quilting and design is still my passion!

  45. Beautiful essay. I was always unpopular & often still feel like the butt of folks disdain. Sad to see so many others felt this pain also. And even now, my fav LQS has staff that is very cliquey - I had hoped this hobby would bring me into a community of acceptance. I just don't fit in. Deb

  46. Hello!

    I think your quilting is amazing! I was wondering where I can contact you regarding your quilting rates? I work at home with a writing job and have to have Outlook disabled for my job because it isn't compatible with the software of the company for which I write so I can't contact you through your blog. I have several "really special tops" I would love to have you quilt but don't know how long I will have to "save up". My email is: My blog is: I hope to hear from you! Thanks and cheery wave from Bev

  47. Lisa, I met my soul mate. It is amazing how an experience like going to school can either make you or break you. I am still struggling with my self esteem. I never think I'm quite good enough even though people say how talented I am I don't see it. I could go on and on but a BIG THANK YOU AND HUGS for being you and giving so many of us a voice. God Bless you....Ellen

  48. Love you, sweetie -- I was tired, hungry and cranky the other day and snapped at somebody who, in all fairness, was rude to me first -- but still, no excuse! Still need to think before I open my big mouth....

  49. WOW!!! i just found your blog and i was blown away by this post. it really spoke to so many things that alot of us are feeling. your honesty and openness was very courageous and so refreshing. so thankful you found quilting because you are super talented. can't wait to see what else is on your horizon cause you are going places girl.