February 2016 Mandala ~ Branching Fragrantly from my Center

February 2016 Mandala - branching fragrantly from my center

When setting visual intentions for my monthly 2016 Mandalas I knew February would be a month of reaching out and engaging with not just a few close friends but with hundreds of people – including students, blog friends, readers, fans, strangers, and industry movers and shakers! I knew I would be teaching quite a bit, including at Quiltcon which begins in five days.

I’m pretty good at public speaking, because it’s easy for me to talk about what I know and love. However, interacting with lots of people, reaching out while keeping my sense of integrity  —branching fragrantly from my center and sharing my essence authentically is more of a challenge. When I ask myself why this is, I pin it on my highly developed critical mind gone haywire. My judgmental mind, the one that compares my self to others and to unrealistic expectations of myself, keeps me separated, leaves me insecure, and stops my creative flow… It’s my YES BUT mind.

In my work, I easily get stuck in this perpetually dissatisfied judgmental mind because it keeps me safe. In fact my YES BUT’s often arise because I’m on the edge of exploring new territory. Either I chicken out and I’m dissatisfied, or I do something so new and uncomfortable I can’t tell if it’s “right” or “good” so I feel dissatisfied. When stuck in the YES BUTS the only way I’ve found to step outside my judgmental mind is to invoke my sense of curiosity and begin saying YES AND… Affirm and build.

So now when I’m meeting people, and I notice my mind making comparative judgements… I’m thinner than they are… I’m heavier than they are… I wish I had their sense of style… my quilts aren’t as good OR my quilts are better than theirs… and I become stuck in the judgmental spiral,  judging myself for being judgmental, guess my key to escape?

That’s right… CURIOSITY!

When my YES BUT judgmental mind starts to kick in, I immediately switch on my curious mind… I wonder about the hardships of living on the street? I wonder what it would be like to start over in a new country… I wonder why someone is shy? or outgoing?  I wonder about a quilter’s unique memories of color that make her quilt shine? The focus is not about me, I can relax, and all of a sudden I’m in the midst of an interesting world of possibility, opportunity, and new relationships.

When I get nervous meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends, I quiet my judgmental mind, find my curiosity, listen to what they are saying, and do my best to respond with a YES AND….

Let’s get curious together!

I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at Quiltcon next week. I am teaching Thursday, Friday, and Sunday but I will be on the floor all day Saturday, enjoying the quilts, vendors, and the community. Please introduce yourselves and say hi if you see me. I will also be signing copies of The Improv Handbook at the Sew Modern Booth (#215 ) on Saturday from 3-5 pm.

Improv Handbook at Quiltcon

Save travels!

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16 Responses to February 2016 Mandala ~ Branching Fragrantly from my Center

  1. Annemarie says:

    Sherrilynn, thank you for your important post. As a Buddhist meditator, I like to watch my emotional “tone” to open free myself. This creative suggestion to Yes and is wonderful

    • sherrilynn says:

      Thanks Annemarie. I agree keeping Yes And in mind does set an emotional tone almost automatically. It’s so simple in a way. The hard part is remembering and not falling into my more protective emotional tones.

  2. Jodie Matte says:

    I’m really enjoying your blog posts! especially this one – I love your idea of YES AND and curiosity in regards to everyday living and everyday doubts – I am totally on board for this movement! Thank you for your inspiration!

  3. Pam says:

    Your thoughts really resonate with me, and are even helpful….. I find myself right there also…. Looking forward to a better experience at QuiltCon than my worried mind thinks… See you then🌺

  4. Shannon says:

    I like how you think/work/are! Your spiritual approach to all things was the reason I bought your Improve book. Curiosity is a new think for me to ponder. I’ll take it forward with me. Eliminating ‘no’ and replacing it with ‘Yes’ is not a new idea for me, but often I need a reminder and new perspective. Have an excellent time at Quiltcon! I yes, butted my self right out of it :( Another time and place I will do it!

    • sherrilynn says:

      Thank you Shannon! Yes applying curiosity in social situations is kind of new to me as well and I’m surprised by how much it’s making a difference. That’s why I had to write about it. And don’t forget the AND after the yes. It’s important not only to affirm but also to build on the YES.

  5. Linda Fleming says:

    Your article gives me food for thought – yes and I came back to read it again…enjoy Quiltcon.

  6. Susan K says:

    Your blog posts always stay with me for a while. They make me think. I still find myself going back to your blog post about listening. Since I read it I’ve found myself really listening to others in a new way. Now this – I had been thinking lately about how judgmental I had gotten towards others. Now I will work on being more curious and less judgmental.
    I will be missing QuiltCon this year but am so thankful that my sister and I took your class during the first QuiltCon. You have opened my mind in so many ways since then – both in my quilting/piecing and in my life within.

    • sherrilynn says:

      Thank you Susan, It’s so nice to hear that the blogging makes a difference. I like to write about it as a way to reinforce the things I’m learning personally and it always feels great to hear that other people also resonate with some of the same things in their lives.

  7. Maria Shell says:

    Sherri Lynn- Thank you for saying this. I went through a lot of anxiety about this exact thing and then I finally just renamed it in my head. I am no longer networking which sounds kind manipulative. Instead, I am meeting new people, and I LOVE to meet know people. Once I figured that out, it all made perfect sense and became something that I really look forward to doing. See you at QuiltCon!

  8. Carola says:

    I know this critical mind so well, Sherri. Thank you so much for your reminder about the curiosity side of it :-)

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