I grew up watching my mom quilt. And I admired her for it. I still do. Her tenacity, patience, and love for a dying art was something she enjoyed and lost herself in. She quilted a Raggedy Anne Doll for me when I was about eight, she sewed
countless buttons back on, repaired hems, poured hours into wedding quilts for my sister and myself, and made baby blankets for all five of my babies. My favorite however, was her attempt at Skidz pants when I was in eighth grade. The fashionable pants were expensive and though I did own one pair, and wore them tirelessly, she put her motherly talents to work to produce a home-made pair! She even took great care when embroidering the little emblem on the back pocket. I don’t think I ever wore them to middle school, but good job Mom! Even then I saw the intention in the gesture of your hands.
Though quilting produces different outcomes in its ability to create or repair, and though it can take many forms, it does hold one consistent theme and that theme is time. Things of beauty and art need time. They need time to formulate in one’s mind, they need time for the sake of planning, they need time to grow, and they need time for one to admire the final outcome. Without time, the end product is a result of haste and the hours spent clearly do not reflect one’s dedication to the craft. None of my mom’s projects reflected this. Each stitch of my Wedding Ring quilt was done by hand, stitch after stitch. Occasionally stitches were pulled out and re-done in order to keep the integrity in tact and to ensure that the final result was something to be proud of. I continue to admire these tapestries of love and will forever be grateful to my mom’s diligence and time sacrifice as she crafted these treasures for our family.
I’ve been thinking about the idea of quilting and the piecing together of fabrics; the whole concept of bringing together and making new, the blending of art, the development of ideas and how this somehow all relates to the process of discovering new channels of the self. As we know, Yoga is a tool in our back pockets that encourages us to travel the new paths we know we should. The problem is that these are often the ones we don’t want to travel. We walk blissfully along our life journey with no intention of finding trouble, but we do find it sometimes. We constantly face channels of decisions and opportunities for growth, but also potential pit-falls to set us paces back. Still, the possibilities of the world are always there to support the leaps that deep down the self wants to take. A chance to piece another colorful tapestry to our quilt; to stitch it together; to realize step by step that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Just as every stone thrown into a pond ripples differently, so do the choices we make. And the stones stored in the cupboards of our being remind us to ponder the past choices of victory, disappointment, and change.
And though the concept of embracing the forks in the road and exploring ideas is motivating, there is a substantial speed bump that works effectively to delay us, sometimes even stopping us in our tracks. This is attachment. We cling to the same ways of thinking, to our possessions, to the past and present voices in our heads that say “you’re not good enough.” Attachment is an endless battle and ultimately one of the driving forces that keep us from supplying stitches of color and uniqueness to our personal “life quilts.” If we cling to the same-ness of us, we will never understand the beauty that could await us ahead. Attachment is safe and one can certainly float through life in this way, but wouldn’t you rather de-tach and ride the rapids, take the bumps with joy and the turns with anticipation? Start by letting go in simple ways. Change your routine. Let go of that not-so-fulfilling friendship in your life. Turn away from needing that next new thing. Try something entirely new! Take out a few stitches that were loose anyway and see what happens when some previously separate fabrics are blended.
Detachment is not easy. It doesn’t come naturally, and as humans who are often guided by fear and doubt (whether we let anyone see it or not) we must learn not to allow these two evils to take over. It takes courage and strength to learn that it’s okay and necessary to let go of the old ways, particularly when they are unhealthy. Understand that detachment only allows for new growth to take place. It makes room for the self to explore small caverns of opportunity. And just as a quilt is planned ahead with pieces that are cut and prepared, so are the choices we make to move forward in the creative process of us! Be it a small or large brush-stroke, we can step out of the painting and recognize how unfinished it seems. It may not be apparent at first, but over-time as new strokes are added, that one stroke is still needed for the full completion of the project.
You are a unique work of art and not only are you the piece to be admired, but you are the artist with many mediums to choose from. You alone have the ability to undo what’s been done, to re-craft and recycle the old, and most importantly to empower and discover the colors and texture of how amazing the journey ahead can be. Don’t stop working on you. You’re worth it and the world needs every stitch of your beautiful being!