I am a dot to dot girl. A colour between the lines girl. A show me the picture girl. NOT an ‘arrange in a pleasing pattern’ girl.
As I leaned over my table with my 72 squares in hand and started to place them ‘in a pleasing pattern’ I began to laugh at myself a bit. Each of the eight fabrics were different. Each did have some gray in them but that was where the similarity ended. Some had polka dots, some had little flowers. Some had abstract lines. I had no idea which one looked best beside which other one. This is just like my life, I mused; a whole bunch of very separate pieces that I, I who love order, am trying to link into a pleasing pattern.
I would say that in my life I have at least eight different ‘fabrics’ that I arrange in varying patterns each week, day, month and year. I have my family who I prioritize, trying to create time to connect with each of them, and often trying to figure out ways for all of us to connect together. I coach individual clients. I create and facilitate workshops for a variety of organizations. I am taking a six month long coaching certification course that requires in-class time as well as reading and writing time. I take two dance classes each week and spend time practicing. I volunteer with my dance group to perform at seniors’ centres and at public events around the city. I work out faithfully and I’m always on the lookout for a running or biking challenge that reminds me to not act my age. I love to create by sewing and knitting and quilting. I am the president of Building Hope Society; a Canadian non-profit registered charity that focuses on education in Kenya. I write this blog. I cook and clean and do other mundane but necessary tasks. I practice yoga.
If I think of assigning a fabric to each of these pieces of my life, and if I cut little squares out of those pieces, and then try to organize them on my dining room table in a manner that might reflect my past week, the pattern might have two or three identical squares right beside each other. This would be indicative of a day when I spent longer at one activity than at another. Some rows would likely be missing some fabrics altogether. Some rows would have one of each of the eight different designs – these are days when I hurry from one event to the next.
As I picture this in my mind, this picture of the quilt of my life, I try to imagine if this makes a pleasing pattern. Is it pleasing to have one day when all of the fabric represents me working at my computer, flanked on each end by a small piece of family fabric? Is it pleasing to have eight different squares in a row, and then another eight arranged in a different order in the next row? These are the days when I am really juggling.
The truth is that I love everything that I do. I also love the variety of what I do. I also love the freedom I have to do things in new orders. But the question remains, does this make a pleasing pattern?
It turns out, that after arranging the pieces of my real quilt over and over again, I have discovered it is not the actual placement of the pieces that will make my quilt most pleasing. Each time I arrange them I can see ways I could have done it differently. And perhaps even better. I could make myself crazy with this arranging in just the right way. So too with my life. It is not the arranging of the activities that creates the good and satisfying life. Rather it is the binding, the piece that goes all around the outside edge of the quilt, that I choose to use to hold all of the pieces together. In the case of the real quilt, the binding is a colour that allows each of the squares to really come to life and to have a place of belonging. In my life, the binding would be the values and the part of myself, that I bring to each piece of my life. If I choose to hold my quilt together with rushing and frustration, then no matter how lovely each little piece is, the final product will not ever reveal its potential beauty. If I bind my quilt with perfection, no one will feel safe in touching it. If I don’t take care in choosing a quality product to finish off my quilt, the pieces will fall apart.
I know that I have beautiful fabrics to arrange for my life quilt. I am trying to bind the pieces together with love, patience, openness, welcoming, acceptance, encouragement, wonder, belonging and gratitude.
As for my dining room table quilt, I am making it for a very special new baby who will arrive into our family early in the new year. As I sew this quilt, I have given up on trying to get it just right. I have given up on arranging the squares in a pleasing pattern. Instead, I am focusing on making sure I start with beautiful pieces of fabric and that I bind them together with love, patience, openness, welcoming, acceptance, encouragement, wonder, belonging and gratitude.
May you bind your own quilts in a way that reflects only the best of what you wish for in your life.
Book a coaching session with Elizabeth to help learn how to choose the perfect binding for your life quilt. Elizabeth provides coaching for individuals and for groups. She also facilitates custom workshops for teams, groups and businesses.