Finishing 2016

2016 was my Year of Finishing. I completed projects I started, by the book, by ecourse and online challenges. I learned to follow through on commitments yes, but possibly compromising a sense of autonomy ? I like to think of it as training in life skills that up to now have eluded me.
Here’s what I have done and what I’ve learned.
January I completed a commission for my number one collector.


February I completed Cynthia Morris’ Free Write Fling*, an online writing class, Free writing everyday for 28 days. My coveted reward for everyday writing was a copy of ‘Cross the Finish Line’ : Overcoming The Hurdles to Completion’ Cynthia ‘s excellent e-book.


I simultaneously worked through ‘The Lotus and The Lily’ by Janet Connor, a spiritual guide book to help define your year ahead using journaling and the exercises provided. This is a thirty day process which is drawn from both Christianity and Buddhism . For me it was an introduction into prayer also . I did ‘The Lotus and The Lily’ in 2015 but didn’t complete with the final flourish, to create an personal mandala. I created a beautiful mandala for 2016.
In March I worked from Marie Kondo book **** ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ I finished the clothes part of the process, edited my book collection and worked half way through the ‘papers’ section. I can testify to her methods because since then, I only wear clothes that I love and the drawers are always neat and tidily folded. I can find everything!

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Then I moved onto the studio and on a whim, I decided to make a sewing table with drawers. I cut a table top in half lengthways , lined up both sides together sandwiching wood batons between them along three sides. With some random pieces of wood that I found in the studio, and some Left over peg board, I made the drawers. Then added legs with swivel wheels and brakes. The process was organic, intuitive, I worked it out as I went along. I love this way of working. I can’t help but think this spontaneity might have to be reined in, if I am to create some big work next year. My reward for finishing the table was a trip away to see my son and his beautiful family.

Next up was the #100 Day Project*** in April which I was wary of starting because I stopped at 80 days in 2015. I was wracked with shame since I failed to complete 2015. Beginning to think about doing the project activated the inner critic big time. So I Free wrote the objections ( see the knock on benefits of the Free writing class ? ) I countered each one and came up with a plan.

My solution was to keep my project simple, do-able and within the same format, every day. I even took my pieces of cloth away to Corfu in July. My strategy worked and I completed all 100 pieces, on time.

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Another class I had started and failed in 2015, The Focus Course**  resumed in July. I joined in with this and bingo! Another success. This forty day class has daily actions to learn the elements of focus as to be applied to any area of your life. Shawn Blanc takes the best from self help books and presents a daily program to help you discern and activate your priorities.

In June I completed my Grandson Zac’s quilt,  which was lovely experience to use saturated colour and lively pattern, keeping his personality in mind as I worked.


This bring us up to October and I joined Ms Morris*and friends for another Free Write Fling. This time I concentrated my Free Writes on my #State of Mind Map project, exploring topics that I want to share. Octobers’ class morphed into an add on program, ‘Write On !’ During November and beginning December. It is set up to take your writing practice to another level. Write On! is writing with a single focused project in mind. It is the perfect place to begin to learn your own writing process , ( if you don’t already have one). Who knew it could be so dramatic ? Life participated in the program also, uniquely showing up for each of us. It was encouraging to see how every one rose up and rode out challenges. The level of  accountability intensified ( for me) the challenges and made me face them – which I would not otherwise have done.

And the good news, I stuck with it and learned so much. So much. The level of accountability and support from the participants and Cynthias presence and attention, really does help to keep your project in mind. As I hinted above so many diversions raised their ugly heads, and in times past I would have succumbed and abandoned every thing.
What have I learned?

That to complete a project brings the lasting reward of quiet confidence. Lasting, because it does make your heart stronger and give you courage to commit to progress in the things that matter.

When you repeat an experience, it deepens your learning to the point where your find own way of doing things. You find your process. That these teachings can be revisited time after time and you can fine tune your learning.

Online classes have a greater level of sustainability than learning from a book. Probably because you receive the benefit of the presence and participation of the course leader. I’m sure Marie Kondo’s clients keep on top of their tidy spaces because they have benefitted from her direct help. Although it’s fair to say that what I did complete from ‘The Magic of Tidying’ has remained with me. This just needs to be revisited, is all and will in the new year. And isn’t it that decluttering is a perennial challenge anyway ? At any rate, learning is best from experts and the internet brings access to these.

You meet some amazing class mates, who support, help and encourage you along the way.

And most of all the investment in your time and effort is well worth it. Having the level of accountability from the group, coupled with your financial investment, makes you want to do well. It debunks my laissez faire attitude of not needing accountability, that actually given all that I completed this year, accountability can work.

I learned that I can focus, but only on one thing at a time. 2017’s activity is to rinse and repeat and to merge all of the above,  to blend my activities into a shorter time frame, instead of spanning the year.

It sounds like a routine is approaching…..big booming footsteps on the horizon with a giant clipboard in hand ….with ‘TIDY’ heading the list.

*Writing my year review was inspired by Cynthia Morris, you can read about her jammed packed year and her courses – here.

** Shawn Blanc and the Focus Course starts again soon,

*** The Hundred Day Project was set up by Elle Luna, I expect it will resume in April, look out for it on Instagram.

**** And finally If you’re planning to start a new year Tidy Up you can get Marie Kondos book,  come back to check my clear up progress to prepare for my #State of Mind Map project and let me know how you’re getting along also.

Ps. Last but not least ‘The Lotus and The Lily’ by Janet Connor. And it strikes me that all these topics, books, courses,  present the same message in different packaging. To keep on keeping on.

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Getting Things Done- COMPLETION!

studio samples © maggie winnall 2011
studio samples © maggie winnall 2011


I want to progress my art but I am stuck right now.

Earlier this year I collected together some of my beginnings , some samples of ideas.I pinned them up on the design wall in the studio. I stood back and was surprised at how much was there. There is more stashed away in drawers, on shelves and at home are portfolios of paintings, drawings, collages. There are sketchbooks and journals too. Then there was all the stuff I discarded.

Because I have only finished a number of quilts, I didn’t consider myself to be productive. Yet I have been busy making, making lots of starts, lots of studies, lots of samples and ideas. There is potential  waiting to be developed, tidied up and perfected to meet the ‘standard’.(the ‘standard’  being another topic altogether)

I choose to use ‘waste’ cloth and materials in my work. I like to use up what is readily available. I like the challenge of making something out of nothing, as it were,  I like ready made colour and texture.

As a logical next step, I decided to use up the samples I had made and put them into larger pieces .  I didn’t follow through to the end, to back and quilt them. I allowed myself to be distracted. I worked on commissions ( sound and valid )….I started new ideas….I began to assemble my website….I floated in cyberspace…I took online classes… I read…focus flew out of the window and headed south, whilst my willpower hibernated in a creative chill.

Then I read the Studio 24-7 where Terry Jarrard-Dimond itemises her book list . The all time favourite is Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy, from which she highlighted the importance of completion(August 10th) I didn’t need another book to clutter my shelves,….so… I read the reviews anyway and now Maximum Achievement is mine! Well, the book anyway! It is an inspiring and motivating read, not least because Brian Tracy’s own story is so compelling.

So here’s where I am :ditching the pretentious (or maybe aspirational) ‘ABOUT’ statement for something real and meaningful. I am shaping up my blog to focus on finish, completion and getting things done. I am committing to the process….to discover what works to get my work complete. I am going public in a bid to own my reality, to be accountable, to develop and complete my art! Your presence is invaluable to this process and you comments are most welcome.