(This post was orginally published on Leah's blog in January. She graciously allowed us to repost it here)
This is a post I've been wanting to write for awhile. I realized about 3 weeks ago while working on Sinkhole just how much some rippling issues were bothering me about that quilt top.
Rippling happens when a quilt wasn't pieced quite perfectly. It usually happens when a piece of fabric is cut fine, but either from being in a hurry or not paying attention, it's not pieced just right into the quilt. The result is a rippling effect where the fabric of the quilt top is baggy in certain areas and it only gets exacerbated when you start adding dense free motion quilting over it.
I fully admit to rushing through the construction process of Sinkhole, and it caught up with me when I reached the quilting and found huge amounts of rippling and bagginess over the outer rings.
This actually started to bother me more than the negative words did! The rippling was a huge imperfection and kind of like the quilt was saying "You're not as good as you thought, are you???"
While working through that quilt, I laid in bed one night thinking about these issues and how huge these flaws appear on the quilt. Then I started thinking about all the flaws on my other quilts and how enormous they appear to me. Why is it impossible to create a perfect quilt?
As I lay there thinking about this, I remembered the numerous quilters who write every day worried they will ruin a quilt by trying free motion quilting. I remember the number of times I've seen a gorgeous quilt, only to have the creator point out every flaw and issue with the quilt top and quilting.
So I know I'm definitely not alone in obsessing about flaws and imperfections, and I know this tendency stretched beyond our quilts too.
How many times have I complimented a woman on her outfit or her hair, only to hear her cut herself down for her weight, her complexion, or some other perceived flaw?
We look for flaws constantly in ourselves, we know our greatest limitations, our weaknesses, and visible imperfections so well, it's hard to see beyond them, and this bucket full of negative, flaw searching really makes it that much easier to hate ourselves.
In my quest through Sinkhole, I've really sought one thing: to overcome my own self hatred. By writing the dark words on my quilt, I finally faced the underlying causes - every negative, cutting, harsh word that I believed wholeheartedly and that had caused my eyes to focus solely on my flaws, never on my perfection.
Yes, I said the word perfection.
I'm not being stuck up or conceited. In every quilt I've ever seen, there are flaws, but the perfection always far exceeds the small areas with issues. Usually if the flaws hadn't been pointed out, I would never, ever have found them.
Which means that in every quilt, and in every person, there is overwhelming perfection just waiting to be seen and acknowledged.
For years I've been given many compliments "You are so creative. I love your work. Wow, this is so impressive." and those compliments never seemed to stick. As soon as that person was done talking, I was off again pointing out the flaws, nit picking every issue, and with each one found, reminding myself again and again "You're not good enough, you are not smart enough, you are not pretty enough."
And I realized laying in bed that night that these words are kind of like a mantra, chanted over and over until they become true, when in fact, they are the very reverse of true. They are a mantra of self hate, a focus on all things negative, shameful, and lacking.
I've said many times to my friends and family this month "Self hate is a habit."
It is a habit to say these things to ourselves. It is a habit to focus only on the negative, to ignore the perfection and beauty and possibility that lie in every person. I have to remind myself of this daily, so that as I dig myself out of this sinkhole, I don't fall back into my old habits of self hate.
You might think that something as small as finding flaws on your quilt doesn't amount to something as awful sounding as "self hate," but I beg to differ. If you are a quilter, making quilts brings you pride and happiness. To search for and point out the flaws in your quilts is to crush your pride and happiness a bit each time you do it.
Recently I picked up a magazine on crafty blogging only because three words were written on the cover: I AM ENOUGH.
The magazine article went on to describe an artist initiative created by Tracy Clark. It is a self-kindness collaboration of artists and women who share their stories. You can read many of them right here.
But those words stuck with me like nothing else. I Am Enough.
I had to ask myself: why is this so huge? What about these words moves me tears, to laughter, to change?
And then I realized, these words are the very reverse of that negative mantra and there is awesome power in their simplicity: I am enough. I am pretty enough. I am powerful enough. I am perfect enough. I lack nothing.
So this was the last line I wrote on Sinkhole:
I am enough. My love for myself is enough to move mountains. I do not need your approval to be happy or free.
I had to stop writing words at that point, to take some time off to make those words true. To get some practice saying these words, living them, and applying them to every part of my life.
At the same time the idea for Hot Cast popped into my head. A goddess that symbolizes this learning curve. Of learning how to allow love to flow from your heart freely, regardless of flaws or imperfections.
I am enough.
Say it with me because You Are Enough too.
About Leah Day
Leah Day is a wife, mother, and online quilting teacher. For the last year, Leah has been on a journey to overcome a past of abuse, alcoholism, and a crippling inner negative voice. Her personal journey is shared through a series of goddess quilts, which you can find at Day Style Designs.