The Living Quilt

QuiltI’ve always been fascinated with the patterns, colors and designs in quilts.  Quilt making is one of the things on my to-do-list and it’s inching its way closer to the top of the list.  I’ve taken the first step already and enrolled in a quilting class starting in a few weeks!

The intricate patterns of a skillfully woven quilt depict stories of struggles, joys, celebrations, messages, challenges and endings very similar to the days of our lives.  We weave in and out of connections daily, giving little thought to the impressions we make on others, or how others affect us.  If we take the time to be honest with ourselves, our interactions with others would certainly take us on a different journey.

African history tells us of oral traditions being passed down generation after generation using colors, embedded messages, symbols and elaborate designs to send coded messages to those attempting to escape slavery through the Underground Railroad; oftentimes, at the risk of death or at least serious injury.  Just as the Africans used quilting to endure the hardship of slavery as a means of escape and survival, we, too send embedded messages and pass them along to others and our descendants.  Although, we no longer need to design elaborate coded messages to ensure our communication is received; nevertheless, coded emotional messages are being proliferated among us on a daily basis.

How interesting to note the similarity of this ancient art form of quilting to our present day lives.  Our lives are full of daily pressures, challenges, beginnings, endings, joyfulness and sorrow.  Everyday, we send and receive a multitude of messages based on our experiences and thoughts – some explicitly sent, others sent underhandedly but messages just the same.  Do we consider the explicit and underground messages we send to our children, friends, love ones, and casual acquaintances?   We design elaborate coded message into the quilt of our lives every day.

When we recognize that it takes a variety of stitches and patterns to form the fabric of our lives, we will embrace the diversity of ourselves and do the same for others. And, by doing so, we present and receive a more authentic interaction.

Our underground code of silence, our reluctance to disclose our authentic thoughts and feelings, outright denial, and codified messages deceives others and us alike. To be our authentic selves, we must take risks  — a risk that someone will judge us severely, dislike us or our comments, or ask questions we are disinclined to answer.  Being authentic involves taking a major risk but taking that risk and breaking the pattern of duplicity is also welcome relief.  It opens the way for us to tell our story in an honorable and genuine way and in the process gives others the opportunity to tell theirs.

It takes a variety of well thought out stitches to complete each section of a quilt as was done in quilting bees of yesterday. Oftentimes it took many hands working together to form a unified design.  One piece of fabric alone cannot become a quilt.  We cannot afford to be disjointed, isolated, unreachable, and unapproachable to those who make up our living quilt. All of us are all interconnected and the sooner we begin to authentically acknowledge each others’ triumphs as well as struggles, it is then and only then, will we be able to unite and pass the intricately diverse quilt of life onto our family, friends and descendants.

I encourage you to get your free 7 daily self care tips when you join our Self Care Circle where you will gain more insight, tools and resources to help you stitch your living quilt.

Gladys Anderson | Self-Care Genie
Gladys M. Anderson is a certified life coach, licensed marriage & family therapist, consultant, workshop facilitator and author of the soon to be published book, “Master the Genie    Within”. She coaches women in the art of saying no and how to protect their precious time and energy by setting strong boundaries to create a uniquely crystal clear vision for the satisfying careers and relationships they truly want.

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