By now, you may be wondering what I mean when I say, “a patchwork life.”
Like much else in my life, this concept is inspired by a beautiful old-fashioned art—the patchwork quilt—that continues to inspire me in this post-tangible, digital age.
The genius of patchwork is that it is not one thing, but many. The warmth, strength, flexibility and beauty of the resulting quilt arise not from a single bolt of cloth, but from the leftovers of many bolts.
In bygone eras these quilts were sometimes called “story quilts.” Each fabric was a remnant of some prior project. When family members ran their fingers from square to colorful square, they could recite various shared stories triggered by each pattern.
As it goes in quilting, so it goes in the life of a generalist.
For those of us whose personal identities and vocations defy categorization, the patchwork quilt is a beautiful picture of what makes us strong. We are not one thing, but many. Our lives sew together our many-colored experiences into a stunning design that is as unique as it is beautiful. In turn, we have the opportunity to share that beauty with the world.
For many years, I resisted the patchwork life. First as a writer, then as a marketer, I tried to squeeze myself into a ten-second pitch and a streamlined personal brand that all the gurus told me I needed.
But every time, I was wrong. And I was miserable.
It wasn’t until I understood that I was a generalist, and a maker, and a steampunk, and a woman with high-functioning autism, and a writer, and a marketer, and a myriad of other things (and not necessarily in that order!), that I began to understand my real value lay squarely inside the multiplicity I had fought against so long.
This blog, and much of my current life, is now devoted to exploring and exploiting the riches of the patchwork life.
Here, there are no labels. There are no definitions. There are no impossibilities.
On this quilt, there’s always room for one more square.