Like so many folks that have chronic illness I have hobbies. Hobbies to keep me focused. To make me feel important, and mostly to distract me from my pain. It is nice to see something from start to finish. To be able to say I DID THAT!! To be able to say to yourself, and to others “I made that” is one of the most rewarding feelings ever!! It helps my confidence to know I CAN still be productive. With Brain Fog, pain, low energy, and my lack of spoons some days, that I can still be productive! That parts of the old me do still exist. It reminds me that I am not just my illness. I am a person with an illness, but my illnesses are not my only form of existence. I can still accomplish things. I can make others happy with my many talents.
I am still me after all! Sure I’ve changed! Sure I have limitations. Yes I have several incurable illnesses. Yes I’m no spring chicken anymore. Sure I’m slightly different, but deep down to the core I’m still me. I still have hopes, and dreams. Likes, and dislikes. I still posses many of the same talents I always did. I still have a creative mind, and a giving spirit. Most importantly I am still valuable! I am still capable of being productive, and accomplishing things! I can make others happy with my talents. I can use my talents to benefit charity. I can use my talents to make the very little cash flow I have go further. I can use my skills to make special things. Things that will be enjoyed by others.
Who doesn’t love a homemade gift? I can take a few dollars, and turn it into something worth so much more. Maybe not a ton of money dollar wise but lots on the sentimental scale. Everything I make is full of love! I am sure it’s similar for many ill folks that craft. I can use my tiny budget, and turn that into a charitable contribution that will help others in need. That will make others feel special. Little girls feel pretty. I can help a grieving parent in one of the most saddest times of their life. I can make them feel loved. I can provide my own family with heirlooms to last generations to come. I can provide my children, and grandchildren the comfort of a soft blanket.
A few weeks ago I decided I needed to focus on my low-key hobbies. Hobbies that I can sit down while doing. At least until this dizziness gets all worked out. My symptoms are at the worst standing up. I will never not love photography, or hiking but at times my legs don’t cooperate, or my heart doesn’t feel standing is important.
Soooooo that led me back to my love of sewing. My love of sewing led me to my love of quilt making. Quilting has made me test my limits, and at times forced me out of my comfort zone. It also reminded me how much folks love quilts! They love homemade things in general, and I am creating heirlooms for years to come. I’m creating memories, and sharing my love with others.
As I have been working on a quilt for one of my sons I had an epiphany. That epiphany led me to thinking about life. Thinking about life led me to thinking about love. About doing the things I loved, and how having self-confidence is so necessary for everyone. Especially so for people with chronic illness that can no longer work full-time. It made me realize once again how not being able to work has damaged my self-confidence. It’s made me feel less valuable, and feel rotten for not being able to provide financially for my family like I used to. I miss making others happy, and getting paid to do so. I miss being complimented on my skills, and talents. I miss feeling productive, and efficient. I just miss it!!
The quilt top is done! All my life I have had an (both eyes) astigmatism. That can make straight lines difficult!! I don’t see them as others do, and it’s almost impossible to follow them straightly. My eyes are getting worse as I’m aging. BUT they’re getting worse at a much much faster rate due to Intracranial Hypertension. IH can cause blindness. That’s one major reason folks are shunted. To try to save their vision. It’s defiantly effecting my vision! Then add in my numbness in my extremities from Neuropathy, pain, brain fog, and the fact I sew mostly with the hand controls, it’s surprising I still keep at it. Then there is Brain Fog. Then my lack of confidence in my skills given restrictions brought upon me. I also forgotten what it was like to feel accomplished. I just didn’t feel good for a long while. But I didn’t let all that stop me.
As I was working on the quilt top I was disappointed my rows didn’t match up perfect. I was bummed that I kept making mistakes. Then I “gave up”, and decided I would just make the rest of the rows not line up on purpose. I would cover up my “mistakes”. That this was just how it was going to be. Crooked, and not perfect. Flawed, and not correct. It wasn’t how I wanted it to be. It wasn’t going to look like how all the quilt books said it should. It was what all the quilt video tutorials said it shouldn’t be like, and NOT to do it like. It would be less desirable, and well not correct. It would be a sad sight, or so I thought. I thought others would scratch their heads, and ask why?
Then I had an epiphany. You can plan, and plan some more but often things happen in life that are not so desirable. We just gotta roll with it, and persevere. We can keep trying to fix, and repair everything with the end result is still going to be flawed. Life isn’t always perfect, and sometimes we need to things differently. That we must find a way to work within our limitations. Limitations doesn’t mean not at all. Limitations doesn’t mean don’t do it at all. It means find a way that works for you! Being disabled doesn’t mean not at all. Or that you get a free pass to not try at all. It mean find what you’re able to do, and make it fabulous!!
We can embrace our flaws, own the mistakes! Flaws, and mistakes mean we’re human!! Life isn’t always perfect! Never stop learning!! All while moving forward, and not giving up!!
It’s okay to feel discouraged, maybe even disappointed. But it’s not okay to give up!! We can own the flaws, and realize they’re part of who we are as individuals. We should not do something because we’re not perfect at it. Because we are scared to make a mistake. Because we have a disability that brings certain limitations upon us. One shouldn’t stop what they enjoy just because unplanned things happened along the way, or because they made mistakes. Or that things didn’t turn out exactly how we envisioned. Some of the best creations are a result of mistakes made.
I mean how many quilters do you know that make quilts with so many mistakes on purpose? That make a quilt so full of flaws, and errors but didn’t mind? Me! You know one wacky quilter. You now know one that doesn’t always have crisp perfectly straight lines, and perfection all wrapped up in a cozy blanket. Instead you have upon you a sick women that kept going. That was determined to not quit. I acknowledged not everyday would be easy. Not everyday would go as planned. I wouldn’t always be okay. I wouldn’t always accomplish what I thought I should. But I kept going, even when it wad hard as hell. You can too!! I’m right there with you!!
I quickly then came to realize that another person’s happiness mattered more than being textbook perfect. That making one happy makes me happy. That giving to charity makes me happy. Giving alone makes me happy. I like to help others. I am one that isn’t scared to be different, and not always abide by the rules. Yet after years of being told those are bad qualities to have I have realized that is the furthest from the truth!! It’s okay to be different, and some rules are made to be broken. Some rules are merely just suggestions. Suggestions you don’t have to take to heart. Follow your own heart, and craft your own way!! Be unique!!
Besides I like the quilt better this way. Next time I’ll embrace my disABILITIES and roll with them. Life isn’t about perfection!! It’s about joy, and making memories!! This quilt is full of memories! It’s made from shirts from my boys. The backing will be an old flat sheet. I don’t have the fitted sheet cuz my son painted it when he was a toddler. Then tried to cut then stain out. 🙀😬😜 💚 The batting an old blanket used many times camping together as a family. It’s totally a memory quilt!! And many good memories also contain mistakes. Cuz well life happens!!
NEVER GIVE UP!! You are important!! You have meaning!! You are loved!! 💜💜💜💜