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Lately I feel like my patience has worn thin. I feel judgmental and harsh and quick to take a negative stance. And as a result, I’m angry at myself.

I consider myself an open-hearted person, someone who sees the good in others and tries to give people the benefit of the doubt. I’m someone who chooses to trust before I cast doubt, even at my own expense. But certain things can easily set me over the edge: I don’t have much patience for carelessness, laziness or–perhaps worst of all–bad pet owners (who frequently embody the former two traits).

The other morning, I went to a gas station before work to fill up. My parents always warned me to never let get my car down to E, but I didn’t heed their advice this time–shame on me. Low and behold, I swiped my card to get an error message. So, I got back in my car, drove to a second pump and got the same message.

As I walked inside to ask the attendant what caused the problem, I had to silently tell myself to be kind and compassionate. It wasn’t her fault, after all. She told me there was a technical glitch and all pumps were down. But that didn’t quell the riptide of rage that rolled inside of me. “Why the hell didn’t you put a note on the pumps?! Now I’m going to be late to work!”

If you close your eyes, you can hear the fabric of my patience ripping every so slightly.

And now for the bad pet owner part of this post.

Recently, a good friend found a dog in the park. She and her husband kept the dog for three days and tried to find the owners, posting pictures on every public message board in town and making calls to the local shelters.

When the dog owner eventually turned up, she was rude and ungrateful. Ultimately, she refused to reimburse them for the vet bill my friends had incurred to make sure the dog was healthy. Instead of gratitude for not taking her pet to the shelter, the woman posted hateful comments on her public Facebook feed. That same feed, by the way, was bereft of any “LOST DOG” posts.

Rrrrrippppppp. Another tear, this time much wider.

I’m also not very patient with myself. With every subtle change in my weight, I find myself making self deprecating remarks out loud–at the very least I should censor myself.

I become exasperated when I don’t keep up with housework as I should, instead of accepting the fact that three animals create a junkload of fur that blows around my baseboards like tumbleweeds. I’m not getting rid of my pets, and I’m not shaving them, so fur is inevitable. I might as well deal with it and move on.

Last night, I found myself sitting in my friend Astrid’s living room talking about beauty and creativity. She is an expert quilter, and I had asked her to help me learn the art of quilting. As we sifted through her overflowing scrap bins, I felt a bit calmer.

The serene feeling continued to envelope me as I started sewing; the gentle hum of the machine connecting unmatched segments of fabric became an Om. Yellow to gray to striped to spotted. The monotony of the needle going up and down. The refilling of the bobbin. The cutting and connecting of cloth.

Quilting is tedious and time-consuming and it hurts my back… but it’s a perfect exercise in patience.

The castaways of past sewing projects and torn pillowcases become reborn into a beautiful blanket that will keep you warm for years. What a glorious reminder and a true labor of love.

Hopefully with continued practice, I will gradually stitch up the tears of impatience I’ve created within myself. After all, every soul needs to be wrapped in a patchwork quilt. And I have quite a lot of scraps that need to be mended.