I stood in line patiently on one of my errands last week. There were lots of people with complicated requests, and the workers were doing their level best to help while keeping the line moving. I smiled at the clerk who helped me and acknowledged her difficulties when she apologized for the wait. I hope it helped her get through the rest of her shift, but really it wasn’t so much a noble spirit on my part as promising myself a reward if I would behave until it was my turn at the counter.
I learned about the Bribery School of Parenting from a friend, who learned about it from one of her aunts. For every three errands I had to run with kids in tow, I would do one thing for them. I reminded them of the deal when we set out, and mostly it worked. That’s when I started using the technique on myself, to get through the unpleasant errands we all face.
The reward I chose for being a good girl in line was a half-yard of fabric for which I have no project in mind (and a few bright, shiny objects on the clearance table). I admitted this to the clerk who cut my fabric. She thought it was the best idea since sliced bread, and reminded me that not only was it cheaper than a half-pound of chocolate there were also fewer calories.
There’s nothing better than a day with a good giggle.
The paths in my studio are wide enough now that I no longer have to do the Sewing Room Shuffle to get from the door to the sewing machine. This is great news, because it means I’ve consolidated enough of my piles to get some swinging room. The less great news is I can see the only way I will make more progress clearing up is by finishing projects.
Most often I finish projects based on deadlines. If the quilt is a gift, there’s a deadline. If I’m entering a contest, there’s a deadline. If I’m entering a quilt show, there’s a deadline. The hard part is finishing the art quilts. I usually have no deadline for them, because I’m trying to create a body of work that I can use for contests and shows and thus avoid the panic of meeting the cutoff date.
Now, the disciplined artist would just get herself settled into the studio and do the work. Me, I need a bribe. Currently, that bribe is my log book. I note every quilt I finish, and at the end of the year compare the number of projects completed to previous years.
The clever part of my discipline bribe is that I’ve defined finished as quilted, bound, labeled and sleeved. Until all of those things are done, the quilt isn’t finished. When they are done, the quilt goes in the log book, and is available for contests and shows. My output has been low, but now that I can actually get to all those unquilted tops there is always the log book bribe to keep me going.
My second favorite holiday is this Saturday. It’s the Pi Day of the Century – 3/14/15. Yes, it’s a made-up math day, and it only works in countries that put the month first, but that’s part of the charm. We will have pie, and because I am a life-long practitioner of the Bribery School of Living, I don’t even have to make it.
When the kids were little, I discovered that bringing pizza home after spending all day at the Amador Valley Quilters monthly meeting made everyone so much happier. Even when I don’t go to the meeting, the second Saturday of the month is pizza day. Even when we are out of town, the second Saturday of the month is pizza day. So, we will have pizza pie on Pi Day, and all will be very well.
Here’s how the Bribery School works – when you have to make yourself or someone else do a hard thing, make sure there is a reward for completing the job. The kids would behave when I ran errands all morning because they could count on doing something fun in the afternoon. Sometimes the difference between finishing an unpleasant task and not is knowing there’s a treat waiting. Also, when you can’t face the job regardless of the bribe, you know it is time to get some help.
The beading project that has been part of my bribe for the bathroom remodel is going well. I may not be able to lift it before long, but it’s shiny and pretty and I like it.
The remodel is almost done. Everything but the shower is in place. For now, I’m counting this as a victory.