on a year of chopping up the ugly

It’s been a year! If you’re like me, you can easily recall the eerie dread as we closed up our offices, sent our teams home to dining table workspaces, and hunkered down in front of a stream of bad public health news.


A year later and I’ve done all the standard lockdown “things:” Nurtured Desmond (my sourdough starter) into bubbly life; incorporated Cookie (a stray dog) into our family, and faithfully logged time with Duolingo lessons (Spanish). I slowly modified my workspace to the point that it actually looks like a home office.  My clients and colleagues saw me on Zoom and Teams instead of in person. And in between nighttime gorging on British crime dramas and baking experiments, I quilted. My daughter sent me the scraps of her mask-making endeavor and I just kept sewing them together.


There is something beautiful and ridiculous and entirely appropriate about commemorating this year by turning shreds of homemade personal protective equipment into something as banal as a blankie. (Or ten of them.) In the quilter’s world, we call this “chopping up the ugly.” When nothing much about the individual scrap is useful or even pretty, put it all together, and something magical happens.

Look back on this complicated year. What surprising bonus or blessing showed up? How has your work life changed for the better? What potentially painful bits have you cobbled together to create something oddly beautiful? Have you innovated in a way that turned the sour into sweet?

I know you have. Congratulations.