Monday, October 29, 2018

Quilting teaches me.... Courage

Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the strength to move forward in the face of fear. Courage is perhaps the most vital virtue to develop. When we feel the fear and do it anyway we develop courage.
from Stepping Stones by Lubhna Dongre 

My parents' 50th anniversary quilt.It's occurred to me that if I continue this series, beginning each post with the words, "I am not (insert virtue) by nature," you'll begin to believe that I have absolutely no virtues. Well, the truth is that I'm pretty human. If I do possess any virtues, it's that I have them on an on-again, off-again basis. I may be courageous but it's mostly defending from a distance. You know, defending human rights, where no one is being oppressed. It's really easy to argue for change, when someone else is setting policy. 

I wish I could be a whistle-blower, but the sad truth is that it would scare me half-to-death and then the worry would kill me. And I'm extremely grateful that I live in a tiny hamlet of a town where people don't really need me to be courageous. Or at least not often. And not to a very big degree. 

Nope, the most I can claim courage to is, well, facing my fear with a bit of humor and lots of color. Yes, you read right. Color. You see, my mom was an Alzheimer's patient and had cancer. As one of her caregivers my fear was that I simply would not be able to help her. I worried that I'd become depressed and not be able to bring myself to the next visit or appointment or overnight stay. I was fearful that I'd just quit and let someone else do the disheartening work of care-giving.   

One day I realized that I could find the courage to face both my mom's terminal illnesses and my own fear. I began using quilting as a means of keeping occupied during those long days of doctors and hospitals and tests. I was able to improve my moods by adding color to projects. Taking care of some of the mental exhaustion helped me to stay the course. I used it to begin conversations with strangers, fending off some of the loneliness of being away from home. And late at night I curled under an in-progress quilt knowing that in the morning there would be something familiar, something to help me move forward, despite the fear.

Quilting teaches me...

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