I understand that this is not objectively scandalous, but I have never felt more rebellious than when I recently turned off my phone for approximately 10 hours and said no to noise and distraction. It feels important to note that I was not flying in an airplane but just hanging out.
Of course, I made sure to let certain important parties know that I would be unavailable so they didn’t assume the worst. Once these precautions were taken, I felt liberated…and a little uncomfortable. That moment when I see something I want to remember? Oh well, Instagram is inaccessible. The moment where I think of something I should Google? Not possible. Suddenly, the world was quieter and my mind was clearer. And though I was hyper-aware that my phone was off, I did not want to turn it back on at the end of the day.
Strangely, I feel a similar sense of quiet liberation as I’ve attempted sewing. Around the time that I started this blog two years ago, I started my first quilt – machine sewn patchwork but with the intention of hand quilting. I’m not a maker or an artist or a professional crafter, so this unfamiliar experience surprised me with an awareness of a more peaceful mind and a feeling of doing something almost counter-cultural, i.e. sitting still. I’ve recently started the hand quilting process (the project collected a little dust I’ll admit), and it’s been so incredibly enjoyable.
The craft of quilting itself encourages this type of peace. Through quilting, I’ve been able to engage in an extraordinary craft passed down through generations that both encourages thoughtful quiet moments when alone and connects and builds community when shared together. I didn’t know when I started that the added benefits would be an almost meditative state as I move the needle in and out of the fabric and the sudden empowerment that comes with knowing that I can make something out of seemingly nothing.
These two examples – turning off my cell phone and making things with my hands – might seem unrelated. But they both take me to a quieter world where it isn’t so hard to fight off distraction. And believe it or not, it’s not unrelated to our style either.
Once I became interested in quilting, I discovered that there are some amazing young people continuing the tradition too. One of my favorite people to follow is Maura Ambrose of Folk Fibers. Maura is a full-time quilter based in Austin. She uses natural dyes on all of her fabrics and then creates beautiful traditional quilts by hand. (Her recent feature on design*sponge made me all the more interested in her work.)
Her personal style too is as inspiring as her craft. Few people wear denim as well, and what I love about her style is that it seems so effortless and simple. She’s not trying too hard. Like her quilts, her style has no distracting details but lets herself shine through.
Maura is a great example of simplicity and quiet through her style and her work, and I admire her so much because the idea of quiet and focus in our daily lives, in the things we do for fun (or imagine, what we do for work), and in our style still feels revolutionary. It feels rebellious and empowering. It also feels joyful, as if the quiet leaves more space for happiness to flow in.
I’m thinking more and more about how to treat myself to the luxury of focus and distraction-free time in every aspect of my life, and I’m seeing it reflected in the things I want to spend my time doing and the people whose style I admire. I’m curious if you’re looking for this too, and even more curious if you’ve found quiet and its many benefits in an unexpected part of your life. What are you doing to remove distractions in your life?