{strength}

I don’t mean to offend what is perhaps my last male reader by saying this, but here goes.  As women, mothers, wives we are so often seen as strong, capable and competent.  In my own life I’m able to keep up with three growing children; driving this one to practice after running through math questions with that one and before getting on the phone with another asking him about his day.  Even with helping hands, the bulk of the laundry, tending to hungry animals, and managing our overall “situation”  around here gets done on days when I’m either not at work or running errands.  My puritan heritage tells me nothing else but to push forward and endure despite not always feeling up to these tasks.  To be clear, I’ve had a hand in every part of designing this lifestyle, complicated as it is I’m not sure I would (or could) have it any other way.  This is not to say that sometimes I struggle.  My drive for perfection and subsequent failure to reach it, has brought me to prayer.  My prayers lately has been for strength… to find the energy to keep on moving, to keep up.  It’s fitting then that on a recent dyeing round my fabrics weren’t perfect as well, they looked pale, washed out… weak.

Dissapointed and deflated I went outside, again for inspiration.  Here I’m trusting the answer will come or at least I’ll have something nice to look at while I contemplate my failed attempt at dyeing.

The moment I was looking for came during that fifteen-minute window which I refer to as my favorite time of day. It’s a time of pure love for me, when my mind pauses and my heart expands.  The time when all is still and the sun’s bright light casts a golden glow across the landscape contrasting the warmest of yellows and oranges with luminous purples and cool greys.  Someday, as a painter, I hope to capture this beauty and the feeling of utter serenity it gives me in paint… for now tho, I’ll stick to fabric and dyes, eager convey this beauty like a restless child with a secret to tell.

The result?  Mixed.  Because the weather has been fierce lately, I’ve been relegated to doing my dyeing inside.  Here the combination of cramped quarters and cooler temperatures results in fabric that appear mottled, not solid.  My ideal of having perfectly solid colors, saturated and strong was not achieved.  The ever capable daughter of a puritan in me wants to react by throwing up my hands in defeat, yet that approach hasn’t served me well.  Instead I choose to draw from a quote from the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient sanskrit text which goes like this: “It is better to die doing your life’s work imperfectly, than to live forever doing someone else’s perfectly.”  

My work this week in fabric serves as a metaphor to how things are going in general for me.  The strength I was praying for comes not as being capable or perfect, instead it comes as a willingness to live my life authentically, flaws and all.

Perhaps someday I’ll have a quilt here which reminds me of these themes… that it takes light to see color…   that it takes courage to keep moving…  or that being perfect isn’t what it’s all about.

Whatever the case I’ll at least have the opportunity to wrap myself in it, close my eyes…

…and return to that abundant feeling I get when the setting sun casts a golden glow across a sleepy landscape.

Daphne HarwoodMarch 1, 2013 - 6:33 am

I love your ‘washed out’ colors.
I bet they’ll be useful someday.

My rule of colors is: We need them all.
Carry on.
You do have a lot on your plate!

Daphne HarwoodMarch 1, 2013 - 6:31 am

… but I love those first ‘weak’ colors!

My policy is: Colors are colors. We need them all.

Blotchy problems I get more, also with Puritan blood running strong in my veins.
But the Lesson you arrive at is sublime, I think.

Gayle KushMarch 1, 2013 - 6:18 am

I used to be upset when I got lighter or mottled colors because they weren’t what I was going for. Now however, I see the “value” in them literally because I would NEVER dye the lighter stuff but I do need it as contrast in my work so I’ve resigned myself to the fact that everything does happen for some reason. Even in something as banal as fabric dyeing.

Nancy GasparottiMarch 1, 2013 - 6:01 am

Thank you, Robin, for sharing this. Our circumstances and details are different, but I struggle with the feelings you describe. I appreciate the quote from the Bhagavad Gita. Stay mindful . . . and I agree that working in fabric serves as a metaphor for working out our lives.

NatalyaMarch 1, 2013 - 2:13 am

your strength is already within you…but I will pray along with you for you and all of us…
by the way – the mottled fabric is gorgeous!

Kay SorensenFebruary 28, 2013 - 7:34 pm

Just remember, every quilt needs an ugly…and to you those fabrics could be YOUR uglies!

Gail BaarFebruary 28, 2013 - 4:42 pm

This is an inspiring post, thank you. I know what you mean about not getting colors you were hoping for, but really, when you look at them, they are beautiful.

Tammy WelshonFebruary 28, 2013 - 12:50 pm

Like you, I like my colors bold and strong. However, these colors will find their way into your work. I really like working with mottled fabric. On another day, I think they will make their way to your heart. Perhaps as a group, or perhaps scooting across the floor like a tiny animal, it will find a way to be included in something bigger. This post was inspiring to me. Thanks!

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