2014 Review ~ Acceptance

2014 was my year of acceptance. It began with this classic book by Tara Brach Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha.

Turning fifty in March was an act of acceptance that couldn’t be denied. I celebrated with a pizza party at Adobe Books in San Francisco. Surrounded by friends from all over the Bay Area I felt for the first time that I belonged here.

Finishing twelve quilts for The Improv Handbook photo shoot in April required acceptance. Sometimes I wanted to do them over because I felt they could be better, but instead I had no choice but to accept all outcomes and move forward.

In July my book went to the printer to be born. Mostly I loved it but even after four revisions, the perfectionist in me still yearned to make improvements. Instead I came to terms with any “mistakes” and celebrated it’s completion.

My trip to France in August was nothing like I expected. As my original plans began to fall apart my vacation became dire until an elegant french woman befriended me on the beach in Brittany, took me to all the local sites, and invited me for lunches of fresh mussels, and lamb cutlets. The last minute solo trip through Paris yielded an unexpected innocent romance that sprouted in the Jardin du Luxembourg and flowered for three nights under the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower!

[slickr-flickr¬† type=”slideshow” tag=”frb” size=”m640″ direction=”ascending” captions=”off” sort=”title” align=”center” delay=”3″]

Relationships in my quilts and in life often didn’t turn out the way I imagined or hoped. A couple of romantic relationships this year, turned out to be disasters of sorts, but in the end it was all okay. I have no regrets.

Three days after my return from Europe and an hour after one of these romantic relationships ended, I found out my brother-in-law killed himself. It was so hard and painful to accept this, but his death –this loss to my sister, nieces and nephews and to our whole family– was inescapable. At first I was angry at him and subsequently down on my own life quite a bit. BUT as I thought more about how much he suffered something shifted internally. His death became a sacrifice compelling me, even demanding me to accept everything in my life as it is now, otherwise I might as well end it all. What is the point if we can’t accept the blessing of all that life is, including the good as well as the bad, the triumphs and the failures. (And let me add – I did have plenty of amazing triumphs this year. I’m especially thrilled by all the opportunities I’ve had to teach, speak and share my knowledge and process with other quilt makers across the country.)

silverliningHis death liberated me from the burden of self-pity, regret and non-acceptance. For that I am eternally grateful – for the gift of his precious life and his death. This doesn’t erase my deep sorrow, only that with tragic loss there comes a blessing… the silver lining of vulnerability — of compassion, tenderness, patience, kindness, and love.

All in all it was a great year for me. Filled with accomplishments and maturity. I’m excited to see where this new found embrace of everything in my life will take me – and how it will manifest in my patchwork!

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25 Responses to 2014 Review ~ Acceptance

  1. Dear Sherri, what a touching and endearing post. I like many of us struggle from time to time with crippling anxiety/depression as do many of my family members. This pushed me to create a kinder, gentler, more compassionate and nurturing family when my turn came to be a parent, and given the gene pool, a place where mental illness could be addressed openly and with all hands on deck. We are not a perfect family but this has worked well for us. The silver lining of a life challenge, as you say. We tried to make lemonade when we hit our lemon moments! I think the ability to stay present and quiet that is essential to being a listener has in my heart grown out of the hard lessons of suffering. I used to be a terrible listener…now I am at least a bit better. Loss tempers us in unwelcome but effective ways. I have become more grateful for and appreciative of the life I have been given, even when it is not going so well, after weathering loss. Blessings on you for your post, it gave me strength and comfort.

  2. Beth says:

    Sherri, I’ve been following you since the tattooed baby dolls, watched your highs, worried about you through your lows. But you seem to always emerge on top. You have strength & a good spirit.
    I’m sorry for your familiy’s loss, especially for your nieces & nephews, such a hard thing for them to learn to live with. I hope peace comes to all of you.

  3. Judy Higgins says:

    In the middle of my feeling very low today, I decided to read blogs to cheer myself up and find something to lift my problems. Your words, dear Sherrilynn….self pity, regret and non-acceptance resonated with me and I thank you. I feel relief that I can grab those words and move on.

  4. Cinzia says:

    This is just what i needed right now. Thanks Sherry. I look forward to meeting your this summer at QBL!

  5. John Wiercioch says:

    Thank you Sherri Lynn. For this candid and touching post, and your continued striving to glean insights through your compassionate heart amid this journey of life we all share. Thanks too for your honesty, creativity, and courage as an artist and person. It was very generous of you to make time within your intense and crazy “must finish the quilts by the publisher’s deadline” schedule to allow us to once again meet up, and an extra honor to be invited to celebrate your half-century mark with a wonderful group of sincere and hearty people. Your willingness to be vulnerable reveals your great inner strength, and your risk-taking and desire to always grow inspires many of us. Abundance, Peace, Joy, Light, and hugs to you in the coming year. And love, much love.

  6. Susan K says:

    Acceptance – a great word. So many aspects, so many things in life that require acceptance. Thanks for sharing your words and pictures. May many good things happen in 2015 for you.

  7. What a beautiful post! Acceptance seems to be the key to much of life. Surely this new year will bring rewards and peace from accepting all that happened in 2014.

  8. Sue Kelly says:

    2014 for me was a year that brought a series of medical challenges beginning with major surgery in the spring, followed by a long recovery, and then a few lesser adventures with the doctors. This interspersed with a challenging and stressful 25th year in my job, and a 90th birthday party for my mother, both a daunting task and a milestone that is bittersweet. However, my solace and strength and joy during most of this past year was my growing interest in and practice of collecting (antique and vintage sewing machines) and needlework, quilting especially, and finally, my decision to retire next July, which I announced in December. When people ask “but what will you do?” I just smile. I have an unending string of ideas and urges, mostly involving my stash and my machines, and in which improvisational quilting figures prominently.

    Sherri Lynn, while you were learning to endure and accept your own life, did you know how you were enriching some of ours? That is another thing you should be proud for. I wish you a much better 2015, and with your attitude, it can’t help but be, I think.

    Thank you for lighting a bright spot on my personal horizon with a shove into improv quilting, and thank you for making a place where we can all share in your enthusiasm and warmth.

    Happy New Year! Sue

    • sherrilynn says:

      Sue – I can’t wait to see what you make in 2015! How exciting to be retiring and having the time to explore your expressive side. Being able to share my experience and knowledge with others is one of the greatest blessings of my life. Thank you!

  9. Tubularsock says:

    A wonderful post Sherri. Great little film and fantastic photos ……. Tubularsock loves France! After all they gave us Freedom Fries!

    2014 … damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead … 2015
    Have a wonderful AND keep it real.

  10. patsy says:

    Such an open heart and so much grace!

  11. Diana says:

    nothing to say,but you are a very special person,thanks for sharing your private life,i will learn the lesson,acceptance.i wish you to walk on your own way in your life,i wish the same to me and to all the other people.

  12. Ann says:

    How insightful: “to accept the blessing of all that life is, the good as well as the bad…” The older I become the more I realize that the most contented, productive people have internalized this attitude.
    Best wishes for the new year.

    • sherrilynn says:

      Oh my Ann, it’s a hard one but I think you are right. Even the bad, most difficult things we face are opportunities not to be wasted. Life, every minute of it is so precious. Wishing you abundance in 2015.

  13. cauchy09 says:

    Resilience and resonance. It’s amazing that we survive sometimes and even more incredible also to continue to achieve. Seems like a year of balance: lovely highs and awful lows. I hope 2015 tips the balance to more positives for a while. xo

    • sherrilynn says:

      Yes Chawne, I know it IS amazing that we survive, especially for those who dare not to be numb but really want to experience it all. You are such a model for that truth. Thanks for your good work my dear.

  14. Sandy says:

    It’s a joy watching you grow over the past couple of years. Not only in your personal life, but, in your quilting as well. I love watching your quilt evolve, and, come reality. This posting really touched home for me, and, you talking about your brother-in-law. I lost my Dad last year, and, he too, killed himself. I wish I could say I was at the acceptance phase, but, I’m still working on that. My entire last year has been spent getting his estate taken care of, so, working through the emotions had to be put on hold. After reading your post today, I am sure this new year will bring peace, and, acceptance to me too. One thing I am looking forward to is, getting my fabric out, and, getting my curve on. Thanks so much for sharing parts of your life with us.

    • sherrilynn says:

      Dear Sandy, I’m so sorry to hear about your father. The impact of suicide is extensive. I wasn’t even that close to my brother-in-law, but he was a part of my family system and I loved him and mostly I think about my nieces, nephew and my sister. It will be a life process of reckoning for all of them. It never goes away. BUT that said I am looking forward to seeing you manifest all that love through your curves. Keep me posted!

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