Hope, Beauty and Feeling Good

I “saw” the four pieces on the bottom of my “Hope” quilt when I was meditating.

Three times. Three times I used the claw of the hammer to pull out the big staples and untie the rope.  Three times I  hammered the staples back in and retied the ropes.  Three times I adjusted the heat lamps in Lori and Robin’s stall.

And then one more time to put them right back where they were in the first place.

I woke up worried, worried that Jon’s toe wasn’t healing, worried that Robin was cold, worried about the ongoing dispute over a Health Insurance bill, worried about anything and everything I could think to worry about.

After driving Jon to the doctor’s and celebrating with Sushi when we got the good news that his toe was actually healing wonderfully, and after messing around with the heat lamps for an hour then feeding the animals, I got to my studio.

It was already 4 o’clock, but with spring around the corner and daylight savings, I still had plenty of daylight left.  (Going to my studio at 4pm on a cold dark winter’s evening just isn’t doable for me.)

First thing I did was lay my blanket on the floor, pull my legs under me and meditate. I knew I  couldn’t get to work in the obsessive worried state I was in.

Two things came to me while meditating.  Some vague images of the bird potholders I’ve been thinking about and the next step in my Hope quilt.

When Jon called me an hour later to see how I was doing, I told him I was working.  “Ah,” he said,  “your better obsession.  You sound good.”

I answered that my work keeps me sane.

And it’s true.  Obsessing over heat lamps, makes me more crazy, but obsessing over my work, makes all the loose, jiggling pieces inside of me click into place.

In his book Becoming Wild, Carl Safina says that being around or creating beauty releases dopamine and opioids into our brain and makes us feel good.

He writes about how beauty is learned not only in humans but many other animals too.

“Female guppies like brightly colored males,  but they can learn to like drab males if they observe many females mating with them.”  I saw it myself when I worked in a frame shop.  People didn’t know what kind of art they wanted in their homes, they wanted what they saw hanging on their friend’s walls.

Different cultures (human and animal) have different ideas about what is beautiful and even they are changing all the time.

Maybe this is how I know what “looks right” when I’m making a quilt.  Maybe “looking right” is a hit of beauty to my brain, a release of feel good chemicals.

If that’s true then I’m even more fortunate than I thought, because my work is to find beauty in the things surrounding me.

I guess I could say that that I’m obsessed with beauty.

Which is so much better than worrying.  So much better than obsessing over things that don’t really matter or that I have no control over anyway.

This is how I left my Hope quilt tonight.
I have a few pieces of Scrubs in the quilt already.  This one will be next.

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