Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Taking the Right Road

My mother has a favorite saying, "Old Age isn't for Sissies."  Boy is that the truth!  I think that I can take it up a notch and state as fact that "Life isn't for Sissies."

These days times are tough for many people.  I've been around long enough to remember similar times so I know that "this too, shall pass."  However it doesn't make the going through it any easier.

It doesn't help that it's been very dreary and foggy out here in California.  We can't usually complain about the weather, (frankly, it's one of the few reasons to live out here...the way things are now!), but when it's dreary it's hard to get motivated, or feel excited about anything.

Today there's finally some sun!  It's still cold, but when the sun is shining and it's not dark in the house in the middle of the day, (I hate that!), it's a bit easier to think about the road ahead.

I had to run a few errands this morning and as I was waiting patiently to make a left turn it occurred to me that most of the time people follow the rules well and when they do things go so much more smoothly.  If everyone just went their own way there'd be total chaos, which isn't good for anybody.

But what do you do in uncharted territory?  If the road isn't marked and there aren't any clear cut rules for how things should be done, what do you do?

I've been thinking about this a lot over the last few years while I try to find my place in this world.  In my personal life as wife, mother, daughter, and friend, I get it.  I know what I need to do and what I should do and how I should handle myself.  But in my artistic and business ventures it's very different.  In some ways, I've been here before.  I've worked enough in different types of positions that I know how to do all of the technical stuff.   That's a good thing, to have an engine that can function well.  I also have talents and abilities I can throw in the trunk or the backseat.  I'm not a bad driver.  I have a general sense of direction and have read all the guide books and the maps.

What I'm missing are three important things, and they're the most difficult.  I need a road, I need to know where I'm going.  I also need lots of energy, excitement, and stamina for fuel. But, what I need most is the "balls" to attempt the journey, to go past the barriers set up by myself and others, to boldly go where I've never gone before!

There's an urgency as we get older.  When we're young we keep thinking that there's plenty of time to realize our goals. But, as the years go by the time frame keeps shrinking and shrinking and shrinking and before we know it 5 years flies by then 10 then 15 then 20.  And suddenly you find yourself in middle age with less time before you then behind. 

Quilting has always been laden with metaphors.  When you think about it the fabric is what we're born with, how we choose to cut the pieces sets a pattern, the pieces themselves are all the little things about us; our memories, our hopes, our joys, our fears, all laid out for everyone to see.  Then there's the piecing, the amount of care we take, (or don't take), in the construction.  Even the most skilled quilter has points just slightly off and a stray thread here and there.  As we work we press, and block, and measure again, refining aspects of our lives.  It's easier when we start but we start to get tired as we go.  Weariness sets in as row after row are set in place.  There are times when we have to tear out some stitches and make substitutions, or when we have to abandon one design for another.  Once the top is done, we add the batting and backing.  We begin to stitch our days into every piece, the good ones and the bad ones, the joys and the sorrows, all together in one place.  And, if we're lucky we live long enough to put on the binding, and let our family and friends help us put the last stitches in place.

Life is a beautiful quilt, if we choose to make it that way.  Sometimes, in order to make that happen we have to challenge ourselves and put ourselves out there more than we're comfortable.  Oh, but the joy of being seen and being recognized as the unique human beings we are.  It has to be worth it.

Happy Stitching!


Oh, and don't forget to check out http://www.fraidycatquilters.com/ where I'm having fun with road signs...sounds like I have a theme going!

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