Monday, April 14, 2014


I am feeling so very grateful for the beauty of Spring flowers, the sound of early morning bird song, the playful antics of dozens of little squirrels as they perform their high wire acts from limb to limb. I am grateful for the budding of new leaves on trees, the buzzing of bees, and the sweet hum of humming birds as they flit back and forth from our many feeders to fresh blooms in the yard.

Grateful that my youngest sister-in-law, Shelley, with advanced cancer is holding her own, after her 7th chemotherapy treatment. She and my brother fly from Juneau to Seattle every three weeks for another round of treatment, so while it might seem discouraging that they she is now on 'maintenance' levels, that is actually a good thing. She is holding her own and still striving to live until her second grandchild is born in May.

Grateful that my brother in Eagle River who battles one round of pneumonia, and one medically induced coma after another, is now feeling well enough to have some physical therapy to get his strength back. And his wife, with end-stage kidney disease, who crashed and burned with severe high blood pressure and fluid filled lungs, is now back to holding her own against the increasing odds of finally being "sick enough" to make her way up on the kidney transplant list.

Life if filled with so many challenges, but we focus on the good, the daily gratitudes of health, happiness, and the ability to bear whatever pains we might feel that day.

As someone who was told in 1981 to prepare myself for a life in a wheelchair, I know better than anyone that doctors can be proved wrong, time is fluid, and so are all of our choices.  You just take it day by day, week by week, year by year with gratitude for what one has that is good and filled with meaning.  For everything that is taken away or given up, so much more is given that others do not have nor will ever be able to experience.

My little burlap prayer flags were made with remnants from the 14 burlap table runners that I cut and fringed for my youngest daughter's wedding last August. I bought 36 yards of that burlap, and combined with the making of 6 burlap wedding bags, 6 burlap Christmas stockings, and countless prayer flags, I've used that fabric well! Combined with bits of osnaburg from the 90 home made fringed table napkins and lots of bits and pieces from the tiniest of leftover cuttings from fabric used this past year for the making of charitable donation quilts and  pillowcases, nothing and I do mean, nothing!, goes to waste in this house :-)

As the second prayer flag says:  "Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier." ..Mother Theresa

Such simple little flags, but made with love and intention. Light enough to still flutter in the winds of time and spread their message of gratitude and love everywhere.

 It feels so good to be outside and working in the yard, seeing all of the new growth, and delighting in those little blossoms brave enough to face the possibility of late frost. We lost so many rhododendron, hydrangea, and peonies in our suddenly severe winter, but have the blessings of 5 new peonies hand delivered by the grateful owners of  Pookie, the precious little dog who got lost during the fire works of New Years Eve in Brooks, Oregon and somehow found his way over farmland to our home in Salem.

It was a miracle he survived the more than 5 mile journey and a blessing that he found us as we never gave up trying to locate his owners without benefit of a tag or identification of any kind.

Now, we hear that sweet little Pookie has a new collar with tags securely attached, but also a microchip, as well. And his young college age owner was so grateful she made her parents promise to get these peonies to us, before spring for planting! So, her wonderful parents,  who just happened to own Brooks Garden came by with a fabulous gift of five lovely peonies ....and they didn't even know that we had lost ours in the severe winter freeze! Oh, I do so love of my favorite of all, flowers!

So, joys abound. The Universe balances out the challenges with the blessings, bit by bit, day by day. I hang new prayer flags, one by one, and I am grateful

And don't miss this...a wonderful opportunity for a rare event a total lunar eclipse which turns the moon a rusty red. Known as the Blood Moon the sunlight will stream around the Earth and throws the moon into Earth's shadow.

Beginning tonight/early tomorrow, on Tuesday April 15 ( how filled with portents is this? ) at about 1:20a.m. on the East Coast, and lasting for about 78 minutes, we will witness a full lunar eclipse, Blood Moon.   At first this full moon will appear to be a little darker than normal, but eventually it will move across the face of the moon with the distinct reddish-brown or "Blood Moon' color. This is a the first of a rare event of a sequence of four total lunar eclipses expected over the next two years. Wow! I cannot wait. I love astronomical events of all kinds. I head out into the moo light with open arms and hands and sing out to the Universe "fill me up, fill me up" following in the footsteps of a long line of wise woman and their way of asking for blessings and abundance. And my way (tonight) of saying. a tax refund will certainly be nice ;-)

Shown, above #15,000 - And The Greatest Of These Is Love (sold for $105.00) : One of my 75 small format art quilts donated to the  Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative (2007-2013). 

And....I am still grateful to have sold all 75 of these tiny little 9"x12" or smaller art quilts and have earned  $4,516.88 for Alzheimer's Disease Research Funding. The little moon is as close to a 'blood moon' as I could find among my art work and I did so love this little quilt. It makes me happy just looking at this photo and knowing it must have gone to a very good home :-) 

And last, but never, ever least....I am so very and truthfully, grateful for all of you. Nearing almost 6 million views now, I wonder "how in the world did my love of writing and sharing lead to me being a blogger? But again, the Universe had a different plan in store for me, and I just do my best to oblige in any way that I can. So, thank you, those who comment and those who do not..I am still grateful!

Join Us in Visual Prayer

 The Prayer Flag Project 
Such a lovely way to remember to be grateful, to create blessings, and share with others.

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Color of Love


I have spent the past week in a bit of a daze. A daze of emotions, of colors, of lights and sounds, and feelings.  So very, very much has been happening in the world. Both the outside world where people I love have been once again hospitalized and others released to go home once again. An outside world where, horrible things happen to good people.

A world where people can build their dream homes whether they are rustic cabins along the edge of a river, or beautiful mansions sitting up on mountain tops and suddenly, where beauty and hope once lived, a gigantic mudslide comes crashing down, bringing the entire hillside, all of the homes, and all of its hope filled people with it.

A world where people can get on an airplane anxiously returning to loved ones, on a lovely vacation, or simply flying back and forth between places as a part of their work. And suddenly, that airplane disappears from all awareness...just like that.

If you haven't heard of that mudlside in Oso, Washington or the nearby little community of Darrington, in Washington State, this has been in the news, and all over social media. It touched my heart to its depths when I read that one of our own, a quilter named Nichole Webb Rivera, lost her beautiful 20 year old daughter, Delaney, that daughter's wonderful young fiance', and both of Nichole's parents.

One moment in time  and the color of love and one's whole world can change. Just like that.

Praying for a Miracle

Last week, I was busy hoping and praying that my own brother would revitalize after a third, no wait, fourth visit via paramedics to his home in Eagle River, Alaska as he was once again rushed to the E.R. in Anchorage with pneumonia. The same brother that I followed through 4 hospitals in 3 states in 2011 until he was finally well enough to return home in May of 2012.

My brother got stronger after this now 5th attack of viral/bacterial pneumonia and was allowed to return to home. Then, the next day, his wife, who desperately needs a kidney transplant, who I also have written a great deal about, was at one of her tri-weekly dialysis treatments, when she "crashed and burned".  Her blood pressure became so exceedingly hypertensive that she passed out and her lungs filled with fluid. Again, with both viral, and bacterial pneumonia. Now, after many days, she is home, as well.

My other sister-in-law with advanced stage 4 and metastasized lung cancer has been placed on a maintenance level of chemo, meaning they have done their best, and now let's pray for a holding pattern for as long as that is possible.

And my dear friend of 40 years, whose son was hit in a flashing pedestrian crosswalk, by an elderly man who two years later at age 91, still has never had his driver's license revoked, visits her brain damaged son, on a feeding tube, in a care home for the rest of his life. A wonderful young man, who is now 33, whose life and the lives' of all he has touched by his story, is now forever changed.

Life is filled with loss, filled with challenges. Life is filled with the color, the sounds, the feelings of love.

As I continue to make and share my prayer flags with as many as I can. I reach as high and as far, as I possibly can and the color of love in my world is sent along the winds of the volumes of love in my heart to everyone, everywhere.

My love comes to me suddenly when sad and terrible things happen to good people. My love comes to me when wonderful and happy things come to all people. One day, I am sad and using all of my gifts  and all of my love to create happiness in my life and the lives of all that I love.

And then another day, when I realize that someone higher up has plans for me as I suddenly realize that my name, my textile art, my dreams and hopes, have suddenly appeared in a lot of other peoples lives..all over the world.

5211 - Mama's Brain Got Tangles...but Mama's Still Inside ($70.00)

My name and my work was used as a reference in an international publication (Working Preacher) used by ministers for creating sermons!  The connection was the parable of the "Blind Man" and how, my quilt symbolized the ability to see through the layers of Alzheimer's Disease (called it the Johannine gift of double illumination) and all of its ragged and jagged edges, to the golden layer of my 'true' and 'real' mother, within.

Yep, that is exactly why I put that metallic gold ..can you see it there, within the cracks of the illusion of all of those tangles and plaques of Alzheimer' Disease??? And yes, how lovely, that lovely man, this gifted sermon-maker, truly 'got' my little art quilt, and really my purpose for blogging about my mother, about the disease process, and about how my mother was 'still there'. Because when you go within the stillness, that is where truth really is. Between the cracks, between the layers, it just is. That is where you find it all. And sometimes, it takes a lot of pain, a lot of challenges, to crack you open wide enough for the light to come in and see it all. You feel it all. But as they say, that truth also sets us free. Free to love, to see the colors of love, and not the illusion that people wear.

And suddenly, in one week, Lutheran (all over the U.S. including Hawai'i) pastors are writing me and asking me for more information and permission to use my name and one of my small format art quilts in their Sunday sermons.

And then, suddenly...other pastors, in other churches, United Methodist Church (UMC) and Mennonite, and other, yet...suddenly used my "Mama's Brain..." on the covers of their church bulletins (and no, they did not ask me first ;-) and mentioned me, and my quilt, and what and how I wrote about it, and my mothers 'disease' and how I still saw her for who she truly was, and not what she appeared to have more and more church sermons, and downloadable pdf's and on the front of handouts, and newsletters online..and it just keeps growing.

The message, that I feel so blessed to be a conduit for, just grows.  And then I understand why. Yes, it's because of my blog, and my message of giving on my blog, and of sharing, and of how I was never afraid of my mother, of her illness, of being and doing for her, even when it was so very, very challenging. But it was because, deep down inside as well as on the outside, I never, ever, ever saw my mother as her disease.

This was not my mother with Alzheimer's Disease, this was simply my mother wearing an illusion of something that so many fear, walk away from, can't bear to go and visit at care homes everywhere.

This was my mother. And because I never stopped simply seeing the real truth of who she was, I was never afraid of her, or the illness that others saw and always connected with her. And I still do. I still do. And it is a blessing.

6399 - The Alzheimer's Prayer  ($105.00)
My hopes and dreams that the making and donating of my small format art quilts for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) would somehow make a difference in how people saw the disease and those of us whose lives have been touched by it.

But most of all, that the work of my hands and of my heart, the giving and sharing of love for my mother, for my father, for my sister-in-laws, and brothers, for all people everywhere, would and could make a difference. And it does. It just plain does.

Love makes a difference.

So, yes, what we do and how we do it and all whose lives we touch..the seen and the unseen..we make a difference with our practice of love.

My love is all colors, all shapes, all sizes, all different kinds of love in all different kinds of ways. And I show that love by making and giving away small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for people I love as well as for a variety of charitable programs.
What color is the color of love in your world?

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What Does Your Love of Color Say About You?

Shapes, images and colors convey feelings and emotions, but they also have their own personality.
Some of them may seem sweet and gentle, others conjure images of aggressive, happy, or sad feelings.

Some of these emotions are universal, independent of place and time.  For example, the sea and a distant horizon invoke a sense of journey in all of us, a journey to another place or to an inner world. They ultimately give us a sense of encountering our self.

Because they are active from the moment we encounter them, these images are an integral and active part of our psychological identity.And because they are universal and we all share them, they constitute a frame of reference.  They are part of what Jung called the Collective Unconscious.

They are called archetypes, i.e. universal psychological references. When you choose a color, it’s not an expression of your analysis of chromatic values, but an unconscious expression of your attraction to or rejection of the emotions born by this color.

You thus indicate your preferences on a universal reference scale. You show what emotions carry you, and what emotions bother you. You reveal who you are.

Now, if you were to give me a color pie chart, this is not what I would pick as my favorite colors (in order of size) nor what I would see as my necessarily strongest personality traits in this order. But obviously, when I am asked to work backwards by a process of eliminating colors and how I see or don't see colors in almost the same range as also close choices, then creates a different way of looking how my brain worked and not just how I thought I was choosing.I found that alone, quite interesting!

These emotions are the essence of your personality, and our symbolic personality tests are able
to decode its inner workings to lay it bare. There are an endless number of colors in the world, and an endless number of personalities.

There is a fun site named "Testcolor" which unveils 5 personalities that are part of the infinite emotions, of our universal color palette. You can take the test as I did, it only took a few minutes, and then you get your own individualized results. But there area also lots of other links for favorite colors etc. that I enjoyed just as much!

Have fun and let me know if your results felt the same to you, as mine did to me or how yours varied. Let's face it, any test that lets us go a bit deeper into how we think, how we choose, how we make decisions, or how quickly we make the choices that we all combines into something different in the end..and that's fun to discover!  Take the quickly moving little color test and learn.....

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!