Using Travel and Quilting to push yourself outside your comfort zone.
I read an article this morning on the difference between a ‘traveler’ and a ‘vacationer’. It got me thinking about which category I, and our fellow quilters, fall into.
In the article the author suggests that a traveler is someone who is looking for travel that pushes their boundaries and brings out different versions of themselves. Someone that might volunteer for Doctors Without Borders or someone that climbs Mt. Everest in the Himalayas or Machu Picchu in Peru. While the vacationer is traveling for pure pleasure such as lounging on the beach in Hawaii or poolside in Las Vegas.
I am the Traveler
I think I would consider myself in both categories. While I definitely enjoy the pleasures of strolling into a new quilt shop and finding that perfect fabric, I also love pushing myself outside my comfort zone in new places and new experiences. There is no better feeling than doing something I never thought I would (or could) ever do.
Just a few short years ago I never would have imagined that I could muster up the courage to stand in front of a group of 30 plus strangers and give a talk about quilting. Let alone placing my own quilts on display for them to judge and critique. You see, just a few short years ago I suffered greatly from anxiety, panic attacks and debilitating depression.
Panic at the Disco
I kid you not. At one point when my husband joined a motorcycle club I was going to have to stand up in front of a group of bikers, many of which were friends, and be presented with a set of patches. That’s it. That’s all I had to do. Stand and take something that was handed to me. No speaking. Nothing. However, I couldn’t even do that.
Before they even called my name, I had snuck out the back door and called my sister to try to calm myself down. Within 10 minutes I was in full panic mode and found myself slumped in my car, as much in the fetal position as you can get in a Hyundai Sonata, sobbing into my chest. My whole body was shaking and I couldn’t get small enough. It was bad.
My poor husband had no idea what was happening and, God bless him, only made matters worse. It was the breaking point. I decided I needed to change.
Change is Coming
After several self-help books and baby step after baby step I finally learned, by accident, all I needed to do was travel. In fact, I still remember the very moment things changed.
In September, 2017 I signed up for a quilting trip to Ireland with Craft Tours. When I arrived at JFK airport in New York for our connecting flight I noticed Mark Sherman standing at the front of the line. Now, I had met him before so I knew it was him and that I was in his travel group. Do you think I managed the courage to talk to him? Of course not. For the 3 hours we had to wait for check in I stayed at the back of the line pretending I was invisible.
Once we made it through check in and security, I decided to grab a bite to eat before boarding. Who sat at the table right next to me? That’s right. Mark and 2 others who were obviously also in our travel group. Once again, I feigned invisibility.
Finally, we’re at the gate. I see Mark again with an even larger group that are obviously the people I’ll be spending the next 9 days. However, there I am again, with my invisibility cloak, hiding at the next gate over… staring.
Now or Never
Feeling a massive panic attack coming on, I called my husband for help. He said to me, “Just go over and say hello. Either you do it now like a normal person. Or you do it in Ireland after spending 6 hours on the plane pretending you’re alone, like an idiot.” Leave it to my better biker half not to mince words.
So, I did it. I walked over and sheepishly introduced myself to Mark. He squinted a little and said, “Oh yes. You’re the quilter that works at JoAnn. I know who you are.”
I was stunned. Literally, I couldn’t move. Master Quilter Mark Sherman actually knew who I was. This man I had only met once prior, and stalked on Facebook, actually KNEW who I was!
No Going Back
Y’all. That moment changed my life. I had spent the entire day hiding from this group, why? What was I actually afraid of? Honestly, I had no answer.
From the time we landed in Ireland to the time we landed back at JFK, I had become a new me. I was flirting with bartenders half my age. Don’t judge. I was running around Dublin on my own. No police involvement that time. It was like I had untapped this hidden spark buried deep inside that was just waiting for something to light the fuse. I had come alive!
If I had l let the fear control me, my trip could have been a disaster. Instead, I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and decided to do what I felt, when I felt it and not be afraid of the results. If I was judged, so what? Who knew if or when I’d see any of these people again so why not make the most of the time we had together?
So, while technically that vacation was first for pleasure. I definitely became a true traveler. Going forward, with each new trip, I’m bound and determined to find every last spark and light those babies up!
Are you a Traveler or a Vacationer? Do you have a grand travel experience that changed you? That left its mark for the better? Share it with us in the comments!
As always my friends, Hoppy Quilting!