About Nita

I retired early and moved to a new community. I blog about my adventures as I explore a new lifestyle. I write about quilting, knitting and needlework, about learning to sew my own garments, adventures in the kitchen and in the garden, dancing, hiking, yoga...life is my playground!

Quilting during Covid-19

Dear Vi,

I wear a lot of hats, as you know, but the one I turn to in times of stress is quilting. I think that’s because quilting is something I can do that doesn’t involve sitting still. I’m a knitter, too, but when I’m feeling anxious, I can’t sit in one place for very long, and knitting – while meditative – requires me to sit in a chair for extended periods of time.

Quilting, on the other hand, lets me be creative in a non-static way as I move between the cutting table, ironing board and sewing machine. Sometimes I put my ironing board in the kitchen so I have to traverse my (admittedly small) house to get to it. I can put music on and bop around while arranging blocks on the design wall. Or I can turn the music off and enjoy the hum of the sewing machine if my mind is too full of news and the dire straits of others.

I’m not saying quilting is exercise…it’s more like the full-body equivalent of jiggling my foot if I were sitting in a chair with my knitting needles. Does that make sense?

And then, there’s something indescribably delicious about creating something that fills the need for both beauty and function. If quilting isn’t a creative outlet that has saved my life, it’s certainly one that has saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

Quilting is like gardening…and like knitting… and like writing. You start out with an empty piece of ground, a blank piece of paper, a skein of wool, a stack of colourful fabrics. And then you create.

There’s a certain feeling you get when you straighten your back after pulling weeds, transplanting seedlings, deadheading flowers…when you cast off the last row and put your needles down…when you step away from the keyboard, breathless after writing the final scene…A feeling of wonder as you pause for a minute and admire the beauty you’ve created.

What’s your creative outlet during this stressful time?

Columbia Ice Fields, Jasper National Park
photo by Nita Collins Quilt: Garden Party by Blackbird Designs

Six things Mr. Rogers said that help me cope with Covid-19

Dear Vi,

Do you remember Mr. Rogers and his neighbourhood? In every episode, he wore a sweater that was knit just for him by his very own mother. I just love that.

He once said something very wise that many of us, (especially writers, knitters, and quilters!) know to be true: “Solitude is different from loneliness, and it doesn’t have to be a lonely kind of thing.” He also said: “How many times have you noticed that it’s the little quiet moments in the midst of life that seem to give the rest extra-special meaning?” I try to keep this in mind during the call for social distancing during this Covid-19 crisis.

He also said: “There are times when explanations, no matter how reasonable, just don’t seem to help.” I heaved a great sigh when I read this, because we are in the middle of one of those times right now, eh?

“The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.” I think if Mr. Rogers was here today, he’d tell us that there are a few helpful things we can do during this difficult time. We can keep track of each other; make a few more phone calls; write a few more notes; help our friends and neighbours who are truly alone feel a little less lonely. We can make sure we are doing our part to keep things calm by repeating facts instead of rumour, and by letting kindness rule instead of frustration. “There are three ways to ultimate success: the first way it to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”

 Mr. Rogers also advised that: “All of us, at some time or other, need help.” So please – if you need help, ask someone. And if someone offers to help, say yes. It’s okay. We all need help sometimes. Even me. Even you.

Stay safe. Stay busy. Stay creative. Take this time to make yourself your very own comfort quilt to wrap up in, because boy is it stressful out there right now. Mr. Rogers would be the first person to applaud you for it. And please, if you’re lonely and just want someone to chat with, pick up the phone and give a friend a call.

How are you coping? I hope you’re okay.

If you want to see Mr. Rogers, you can visit him at MisterRogers.org.

I saved the last dance for me.

Dear Vi,

I’ve been feeling kinda blue lately, so to remind myself of what I’m capable of, I thought I’d do a little time travel today. Because, you know, some things are too good to be forgotten.

In 2011 I choreographed and performed in my final show. I wanted to showcase the two things I loved doing the most in the world…playing in The Big Band, and bellydance.

And so Rockin’ the Casbah was born. Saba Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble together with The Big Band, all on stage together in a blend of traditional and very contemporary bellydance. My husband, the love of my life, was the band leader, I was blessed to have vocalist Fawn Fritzen perform in two numbers with my dancers, and my dear friend Doug Rutherford did a marvelous job as MC. And my dancers! Oh, my, the dancers! It was my last show, and it couldn’t have been more perfect.

The clip above is video of the Grand Finale of Rockin’ the Casbah: the very last time I performed…my very last minute, in fact. It makes me feel good to watch this.

My stage may have changed, but I’m still out here!

What stage do you dance on?