Tuesday, June 26, 2012


“You never know where life will take you”. I’ve heard that phrase many times. But does life really take us like we’re riding along on a rollercoaster’s track or do we forge our own way, one of many possible paths?  My made-up symbol represents a collection of choices and influences, big and small, seen over a lifetime, spilling over from one generation to the next. I’m calling it a Turas, the Gaelic word for journey.

The shape is inspired by two things: first, a Celtic spiral representing the cycle of life. But instead of the line beginning at one point and circling outward, the line continues in both directions, connecting one spiral to another.  The second inspiration was a Mobius strip with time folding over itself, representing infinity.
I used positive/negative versions of the same print fabric because life never offers the perfectly clear black & white choice. There’s always a mixture of pros and cons, and we might lean one way or another at different points in our lives.  We’re constantly adjusting priorities trying to find the right balance. 
Using red thread, I stitched phrases onto the fabric strip to represent every day choices. Not huge world-changing decisions, but the small ones that add up over years like “Do one thing today that supports a larger goal” or “Don’t save money by buying cheap food”.  I purposely made the text hard to read.  It’s not meant to preach to other people.  They’re daily reminders to myself.
The strip was then twisted and arranged into a rough spiral and attached to the background using more stitched text, which anchor the strip and provide the shape.  Those phrases are more big-picture, long term reminders like “You don’t have forever” and “You will leave a mark on your kids”.  A few other phrases exist around but not touching the strip, to represent those passive, non-decisions that still have influence in our lives. “Things I never said” and “I might have…”
Finally I added some text in black, things that exist beyond one person’s control. We might’ve played some role in creating it or we may have been born into a situation.  But each individual has the power to choose how to react, whether to accept or work against their circumstances.  Some are painful challenges like poverty, illness or war. Others are distinct advantages like wealth, education, talent, luck.
It was interesting to step back and think about my everyday decisions, what I want from life and what I’d like to pass onto the next generation.  No, I never did discover the secret formula for success in life. Guess I’ll just have to figure it out as I go.  I only hope I’m going in the right direction.


  1. I really like it Kate! Your symbol is rich with movement and meaning.

  2. WoW, I'm overwhelmed by the energy represented in Turas. Once again a personal yet very universal symbol Kate. I like the linkage to the past and future generations.

  3. It's simple (as a symbol should be) and terribly meaningful. Well, done, Kate!

  4. A very interesting piece. The infinite cycle of life, the things we did, the things we talked about, the things we thought about. I love the layers of your symbol.

  5. Thanks everyone!
    Here's a bit more background on Turas: My friend decided to enter her first marathon the same week she was diagnosed with cancer. She went on to run TWO marathons in the 2 weeks before she started treatment. Her husband told her a marathon is approx 50,000 steps, and they would get through each one together.
    I love that idea, especially when dealing with (what seems to be) an overwhelming challenge. One step is manageable. Then one more... Before you know it, 50,000 steps are behind you. (shout out -> Thanks, Kim!)

  6. Great universal symbol! And interpreting it in black and white speaks to me as an individual. Love the possibilities it represents.