The other day an illustration of the Japanese version of a Venn Diagram passed through my desktop feed. Tools for organizing and categorizing logical thought are fascinating . . . especially when time is allowed to not only do it but complete it. The Japanese version, Ikigai, aids the discovery of our reason for being. Yes, I ask children what they want to be when they grow up to get new ideas for myself.

The Ikigai process offers eight categories to filter thoughts into a reason for being. The exercise of gathering all possibilities tends to stop the effort before arriving at a destination. Managing the options from three, two, one achieved a quicker result rather than floating out in the space of what else is there. The little space at the center of the diagram then offers the opportunity to sink into one area. Once immersed in the center, reverse engineer what that means.

The tangible result of today’s exercise was minimized to writing and healing. The big view began with creative organization related to the satisfaction of completion. While those ideas settle, let me share how organization and completion showed up this past month.

A pile of remnants left over from years of projects took up more space than necessary. Time and life pass as the pile of fabric seemed to grow on its own. Last year, I deconstructed the pile and arranged the pieces in an orderly fashion, by size and color. Just like organizing thoughts, hold on to what is useable and discard what isn’t.

Once the value of fabric revealed itself, the opportunities and projects sprang forth with great velocity. Time wasn’t limited.  Looking to fill the creative space with something new and different, I chose hands, one needle and thread, and two squares. This was a change from a sewing machine, table, box of pins, and a trail of thread. Previously held captive to a corner, my workspace expanded with flexibility, quaint, and uncomplicated.

Returning to the simpler practice of quilting, the entire project altered. Instead of launching out into a maze of what to do’s, the ideas flowed. Instead of lamenting hues, the colors flowed toward each other. The quickly sketched image flowed into form. What didn’t change was the creative endeavor, of swinging between love and hate of the current state, between this is it and what was I thinking.

And yet the fabric melded together one stitch at a time to create rows and columns of love. The woven cover, the middle layer of batting, and the soft to the touch backing embraced each other like a song that wraps around a memory. The ease of which brought the pieces together was magical, effortless, and joyful. Each stitch a blessing, square to square, front to back, and all around the edge.


To compare working with a personal development tool with a quilting project brings forth an example of how to make the abstract concrete and fantasy real. Simplify the abstract, identify the precise similarities and arrange the leftover pieces to suit your design.  It’s not by chance that a Venn diagram and the Ikigai use circles to organize thoughts. It’s just the way of life.