Walk It Out

posted in: Tips, Travel 14
This is not really a related image. I just like it. Drawing by Fritz von Dardel, c. 1845. Image: Wikipedia.



T H A N K     Y O U
I would like to thank you all on behalf of Hannah and my entire family for your reception of my sister’s TED Talk. Her presentation was a tough act to follow, but you did it in the comments. Your consideration and thoughtfulness proved it once again: We may not all agree, or understand, or know the answers, but around here, we listen to each other.
Thank you. 


I didn’t mean to go dark for a few days after posting the video, but it happened. There were two reasons for it: For one thing, I wanted the most people to see the video before it got buried under more posts. I was also in Lincoln, Nebraska, for the annual advisory board meeting for the International Quilt Study Center & Museum (IQSCM) and y’all, they kept us busy. I was in meetings all day, then at functions that required me to wear certain attire. Then I was in a shuttle back to the hotel! And back! For days! I loved it.

Now I’m on a plane to Portland to make Issue 07 of Quiltfolk. 

And so I’m on this plane. I’m pretty tired. I should answer emails. But I’ve been away from you and I don’t like that. I get hives if I’m away for too long. But I felt a little cashed an hour ago. I didn’t know what to tell you.

I don’t have “writer’s block” because … Well, I just don’t have that. Writing is an extension of my whole self, as automatic as breathing or blinking. If a “block” were to happen, it would be like an air block in my lungs or my blinking motor (?) and we would have bigger problems than missing a few blog posts.

However, I am committed to creating at least marginally meaningful content, so there are times that I scratch my chin and cock my head to the side and go, “hm,” and then I go, “HM!!” and I need to search for what to say that is worth your time, because this blog isn’t about me; it’s about you.

So when that happened just now, and didn’t know where to go with you, I used my trick. And the trick is the tip that perhaps you can use in your life.

A director told me once, “If I don’t know what to do with the play I’m directing, if I’m really in a quandary about how to fix a problem in rehearsal,” I walk to the back of the house.” (The “house” is where the audience sits; the back of the house is the very back seats, the nosebleed seats, if you will.)

“I go to the back of the house,” the director said, “and I say to myself, ‘I am going to walk to the stage, now. And by the time I get there, I will know what to do.’ And every single time, by the time I get there, I know what to do. Even if I walk almost the whole way up, my head just going in all these different directions; even if I panic, it always happens in those last few steps: I always come up with something. Something is all you need.”

What would I write for you tonight?

I didn’t know. So I got up from my seat. I walked to the front of the plane and hung back, waiting for the bathroom. And before I even got there, I knew what to do. I knew I’d write about that director, that I’d share what she told me in hopes it would help you.

Try it, sometime, when you have to solve something. Something small or big. Something awful or trivial or in between.

Set a distance.

Know that you’ll know what to do when you get there.

And marvel at how it works.

14 Responses

  1. Deborah Kimball
    | Reply

    Spot on.

  2. Cindy Marnin-Borcherding
    | Reply

    That is excellent information… thank you for sharing.

  3. Patrice Marie
    | Reply

    Mary, you are one blog I can’t miss. I am becoming a huge fan. I want to be like you when I grow up, or at least be the president of your fan club. You being so close in Portland, (I am outside of Olympia), drafts inspiration to my own work in fiber arts and writing. Did I say I want to be president of your fan club? Keep awritin’, sister!

  4. Maggie
    | Reply

    Love your style. Really enjoyed Hannah’s Ted talk. Your blog always brings me a smile, always right on point. Thank you

  5. Nan R
    | Reply

    Hannah’s TED talk! wow. Your mom–I want to be just like her when I grow up. (I’ve followed you for years; your blog posts are my must-read every morning. Thank you.)

  6. Kathlene
    | Reply

    Mary! You are amazing!

  7. Mary Ann
    | Reply

    It is amazing how just starting off often leads us where we need to be.

  8. Lorel Marquardt Maple
    | Reply

    Oh boy, I am so going to try this.

  9. Sharon VonBoeckmann
    | Reply

    Thank you, Mary Fons!!! We have a 15 year old granddaughter going thru this struggle. Not so much for her, but for the rest of us. She seems to know what her path will be. Our job will be there to love and support her

  10. Bob Collis
    | Reply

    Good vibes coming to you from Beaverton, OR.! Nice weather for your visit.

  11. Jan Bergeron
    | Reply

    Great advice!

  12. Robyn
    | Reply

    It does work, to walk away when you have been staring at a quilt you are supposed to quilt for a customer and nothing comes. I however have to walk away several times and then sleep on it. Magically it comes to me and I know exactly what to do.
    Loved the TED talk, you have an amazing family.

  13. Grammy Judy
    | Reply

    Hi Mary, Well it happened again, today (Sunday June 10th) Mozilla refused to let me read Paper Girl. I got the message that the website was not configured correctly therefore could not be opened. I googled Mary Fons and got to read today’s issue of Paper Girl the round about way. Do you have any idea why Mozilla is denying access to you, this is the second time in two weeks.

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Okay, I got this from several people — Rita, you too! I’m asking my amazing web mistress, Julie, about this right now! Yikes!!! Standby … THE MGMT

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