Another year is coming to an end and all the December expectations are piling up: cookies to bake, gifts to buy or make, wrap and send, decorations to haul out, holiday meals to plan, complicated family calendars to coordinate. And one more bill to pay: my NACQJ dues.
Honestly, whenever I write this check, one of the things I think about is how to close to not-there the CJs were; as an entity, an organization and a joined voice. Any of you who were not part of the CJ world a few years ago may not realize that just a small handful of people took on the job of converting us from a fraction of a disappearing organization to a little independent colony with a chance to salvage the best, ditch the rest and build a solid organization dedicated to providing professional quilt judging services and seeing that skill passed on to new judges.
I’ve said it before and here it is again: Ladies, I salute you.
And of course, as it often does, looking back leads to looking ahead and wondering what will happen with us.
Which leads to my Christmas wishes for us all.
I wish for longevity for NACQJ. Each year, when we look back, I hope we will always be able say that December 30th finds NACQJ as strong as, or stronger than, it was at the beginning of the year. This will not happen without effort. I am not so silly as to think that somehow, someone else will make this happen for me. I hope enough other people feel the same way and are able to act on that feeling that we will always be able to make it so.
I wish for candidates. Lots and lots of candidates. I wish that the group welcomes them and supports them and invests in their success. I wish that each one of us who comes into contact with a candidate finds a way to guide and encourage them. I wish that we will treat them with the same professionalism, approachability and quality of interaction that we would want to show to any other individual we would come into contact with as a CJ. I wish that each of is aware that how we interact with our candidates has a whole lot to say about us, as individuals, as judges and as an organization.
I wish for courage, flexibility and perseverance for our candidates. I wish that each candidate is able to use difficulty as an opportunity to reassess what is needed and replot their course. I wish each one will be able to take the initiative and take advantage of the resources available to them and to persevere when the road seems longer than they would like it to be.
I wish that every candidate gets a mentor. I wish that enough CJs consider becoming mentors that the previous wish is no longer a wish.
I wish for continued dedicated leadership. I wish that new CJs are willing to step up and serve. Seriously, it’s doable; a lot of families are bigger than the entire NACQJ. And you’re not alone; we all help one another. It’s kind of detail oriented, but hey, you’re all CJs. Detail is your middle name!
I wish for continued new opportunities, the insight to recognize them when they show up and the will and energy to take advantage of them.
I wish for the continued willingness to build bridges between ourselves and other entities in the quilt world. Good will is a powerful thing.
I wish for well-being, health and peace for all of us. Face it, most people who decide to walk down the CJ road are not spring chickens. Many of us have challenges to deal with of our own, or with a loved one, that makes doing the job we love difficult, or that may limit what we can actively do to support the group. For myself, I have found that the camaraderie within this group is among the most rewarding of the relationships I have. By the time you become a CJ, you are well on the way to having a restraining-order-level passion for quilts and I think when you run into others similarly afflicted, you latch on to one another, even if the actual time you spend together isn’t all that great. My wish for all of us, especially for those who are dealing with challenges, is that we don’t forget that bond. We’re still here and you’re still part of the little colony that we’ve all built with the commitment to what we do.
I wish that everyone of you who has ever lifted a finger for this organization knows how very grateful I am that you’ve done it. And I’m sure I’m not alone.
Whatever your tradition, however you celebrate it, I wish it nourishes you and brings you comfort and peace.
Stacy Koehler, Secretary, NACQJ
NQA Certified Judge
Qualified to Evaluate Master Piece Quilts
Stacy Koehler became an NQA Certified Judge in 2005. She is a current member of the National Association of Certified Quilt Judges and has served as the new organization's Secretary. She loves quilts and quilters and believes that a well-judged quilt can be a positive influence in its maker's individual development and contribute to the continued growth of the art of quiltmaking.