Life is Short

One of the questions I’m most often asked is . . how do you get so much done? I never know how to respond because I don’t necessarily think I get more done than anyone else.  But, if there’s one thing that keeps me racing against the clock, and really . . sometimes that’s what I do.  I watch the clock and am constantly trying to get a certain amount done within 10 minutes, or 15 minutes or whatever time slot I set for myself.  Or, I’ll put clothes in the dryer and try to vacuum upstairs and unpack the dishwasher and clean the toilets before the dryer goes off.  It’s really a race against time all day for me.  That doesn’t work for everyone, nor am I recommending it — I’m just telling you how my days go.

But two things have happened in the last 24 hours that have left me in tears, and smiles and more determined than ever to make the most of every minute I have and to use my quilting talents to help others — whether it’s to share patterns, to give a quilt to someone — either a stranger or a frind, to keep them warm or just to let them know they are loved.

A couple of years ago I taught in Houma, Louisiana.  Maybe I’m a little biased but the people in Louisiana are the best!  They’re friendly, they’re giving, they know how to work and they know how to party.  Mom went with me on that trip (there was a bridge!) and we stayed in the home of Marylea, another quilter.  Marylea’s friend, Wanda, was there with us a lot.  Marylea is a sweetheart and we have kept in touch, as I did with several of the Houma ladies.  Wanda was hilarious!  Today on Facebook, another Houma lady posted that Wanda was very, very sick and within an hour, she posted that Wanda had lost her battle.  Wanda is about my age, an avid quilter, has a close family and many friends.  She was too young!  No doubt she had many quilts started and many ideas in her head waiting to be done.  It was too soon!  She had almost no warning and I’m sure she had no idea this was coming.  I’m very glad I was able to meet Wanda and I’m so sorry she’s gone so soon.

The other  incident . . while teaching also in Louisiana this past week, I met a very nice older couple.  I’m not so good with judging age but I’m guessing they’re as old as my parents.  The lady has had a stroke and has problems walking but she perseveres and is able to quilt.  Her husband brought her to the guild meeting and later in the week, to the workshop.  He came back to get her and they were telling me how they made the glazed pecans she had brought for a snack.  We began talking and they told me about their chickens, and their fig trees and the wine the man makes.  They invited me to their home, showed me her sewing room, the wine “cellar”, gave me three bottles of homemade wine to bring home to Vince, along with a jar of her homemade orange marmalade from their orange trees.  On her design wall, she had a beautiful batik New York Beauty that she’s been working on.  She talked to me about maybe getting a small quilting machine.

This lady struggles to walk but yet she’s almost completed a New York Beauty.  She makes jelly.  She attends workshops and guild meetings.  She is truly making the most of her days, even though she faces much difficulty with almost every step she takes.

Even though she attended my workshop and loved the quilt she was working on, I learned more from this elderly couple than she learned from me!

Life is short!  We never know how many days we have left, nor the circumstances we’ll face but my plan is to make the best of every day I have left.  Join me and do the same, ok?  Let’s all do it for Wanda!


  1. 1


    You are so right…each day and moment is a gift. I am sorry for the loss of your friend, but glad for the inspiration the older lady gave you…and that you shared it with me.

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    These people have touched your life and left such a wonderful, loving impression on you. You may never know it, but you probably did the same for them.

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    Judy, I have been keeping a journal of my time. I start when I awake and write down the time and note what I’m doing so it helps me evaluate. I also use an egg timer, and determine how much time I want to allot to a job or project. It may be 10 minutes or 1 hour. The egg timer really helps me a lot. I even use it for relaxing.

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    Linda H says

    An inspiring post, Judy! The older I get, the more impressed I am that life is, indeed, short. And of course, it may even be shorter for me than I think it is. One never knows.

    I chuckled at your time games. I do a similar one… when my cuppa tea gets cold and I put it in the micro to reheat for a few seconds, I race to see how much of the dishwasher I can unload before the buzzer sounds. Same way at dinner… how much can I load into the DW before the oven timer goes off, etc. But really, doing that has shown me how much one can get done in a short time, or the inverse… how easily squandered the seconds and minutes of each day are.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    Judy, I loved reading about your visit to the elderly couples home. To me that was a wonderful gift! I could happily spend days traveling and visiting elderly people, they are fascinating and full of wisdom and have so much to offer!

    Ever since I was a little girl I’ve gravitated towards the elderly people, I have always felt more comfortable with them than with people my own age.

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    You are so right. I wish somehow we would learn to appreciate each day when we are younger but I think it takes getting to our 40’s or 50’s and maybe losing a parent to really realize our time is limited.

    Kathie L.

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    Living is all about doing the things that are important to you. I think most people juts don’t take the few minutes required to as “Is THIS important to me?” Great post. I had that epiphany when I was in my 40’s and my friend died at 32. All of my priorities changed at that moment.

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    I hear you…life is short! I went from being a “hit the ground running” gal to an “I can hardly breathe” person. I made a slew of quilts (huge stash as well)and started doll making two years ago. The first year I made and sold 150 dolls. Now I work on them every time I am able but certainly have slowed way down.

    Never saw it coming and now enjoy every minute I am able to create.

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    Judy, you are so right about life being short. About 6 months ago I realized that I was spending more time thinking and planning for what I was going to do “someday” then enjoying the current day. The second I realized that, I completely changed my mindset and have produced more quilts, etc. and gotten more done in general then I ever have before, and thoroughly enjoyed the process to boot!

    Re: time management, I do the same thing as you…try to see how much I can get done in a certain period of time. It’s amazing what you can get done in 15 minutes, or less. I get a lot done during the 1 1/2 minutes that my water heats in the microwave every time I need to heat a cup. I have the luxury of working from home, so I use these challenges to squeeze in chores during my work day and it works great.

    Thanks for your continued inspiration in both quilting and life.

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    Dorothy S says

    Thank you for sharing, we do tend to forget to enjoy life as we are living it.

    But, I have a question for you, did you get your crawfish??

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    Three years ago I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. My life changed immediately. Now there are not enough hours in a day or days in a week. You begin to prioritize everything in your life. You make lists. You don’t know how much time is left. The clock is ticking loudly. Quilting is my passion, but I have a new Grandson that I want to spend time with. Decisions, lots of them. On the bright side, I have been give some time to prepare. Each day is truly a blessing.

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    Sorry about your friend….your post is a wonderful reminder of what’s important in life. Thanks for sharing.

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    We never know how our interactions with strangers, or friends, will impact us later. What a strong impression Wanda made on you and how sad the loss. And the older couple, how wonderful that they are communicating and working together to keep themselves active, engaged, and ALIVE! A lesson well learned. Thanks for the reminder.

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    Darlene S says

    You are 100% correct on this last post. I too have started racing to beat the clock. My DH is not of the same mindset and it hurts me see him waste his precious time just doing nothing. Wish I could inspire him to think the way we do. I am only 1 year younger than him, but he has given up on living life to the fullest. That makes me do more, sleep less and try to pack another few hours into each day. In my life, I am blessed for having met you and hope that I can inspire others the way you inspire me. God Bless you Judy. Have a great week and keep on giving us the tools to make our lives better. 🙂 🙂