The Soul*Full Tribe is a weekly series with inspiring life leaders

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Rules Are For People Who Need Them


                               My first story quilt © Amy Cavaness

There’s kind of an inside joke in our family, that being my phrase “Rules are for people who need them.”  I know. Radical. But honestly, the best times I have ever had, the most creative I’ve ever been, the most fulfilled I’ve felt is when I’ve ignored “the rules.”  (If it sounds like I’ve done it a lot, it’s because I have!)

I took up line dancing in the mid-1990’s as a much-needed act of joy. The generally accepted formula is you take lessons for a couple of months and then try going to “real” dances. Well, I didn’t. I just started going to dances (not bars, but dances held by groups at community halls). And you know what? Those line dancers are a nice bunch of people. If they see you out there trying to do a line dance, someone nearby will start signalling or telling you what’s coming up so you can keep up (and out of their way! LOL!) I wasn’t there to impress people, I was there to have fun. And I did. And I learned A LOT of dances!

Story quilt in progress ©Amy Cavaness

When I got inspired to make my first “story quilt” (a fabric wallhanging that tells a story) there weren’t any instructions or books out there. (Again, this was in the mid-1990’s. Hmmm….I’m noticing a pattern here!) I was trying to make figures about 4-6″ tall out of fabric. I tried lots of techniques with materials I had on hand. It was challenging, and it was fun. I didn’t know what I was doing so I got creative. I’m pretty happy with the resulting wall hanging, and what I love is not only the memories of the story it tells, but the memory of the explorer I was while making it.


Dean as a toddler ©Amy Cavaness

When my son with Down Syndrome was born in 1988 it was a shock to say the least. And society had come a long way in respecting and supporting individuals with the disorder. There was early intervention and support groups and books (“My Son the Mongoloid” was still on the shelves at my local library!!!)  My son (my second) was a perfectly healthy boy with that extra chromosome. From the very first day I had to ignore the status quo. “Babies with Down Syndrome can’t nurse.” Well, he WAS nursing and did so for 18 months, thank you very much. “Babies with Down Syndrome can’t ________” or “won’t ________.”  Well, my son was lucky enough to have an independently minded woman as a mother. I wasn’t going to be in denial, but I wasn’t going to let someone else define my (or my son’s) reality, either. He did, and he could, and still does!

Dean today ©Amy Cavaness

There is nothing wrong with rules or instructions or advice. We all need them sometimes. And we all probably get more than we need at times. What I believe, and have taught my 4 sons, is that it’s OK to question. And it’s important to take stock of your reality, your abilities, and think for yourself. There might be a different way of doing things that suits you better. It might not be in the rule book, but it doesn’t make it wrong. Sometimes following instructions makes things easier, but it doesn’t stretch you as a creative, spiritual being. When we break the rules we create something new, something different. It may not always be the best, or perfect, but it’s ours. It’s how we find our authentic selves.


Married mother of 4 sons, friend to multiple house pets and a couple of horses. Besides sewing, I love country/western dancing and trail riding with my husband. We have what seems to be an ever-expanding household full of family and friends, so cooking large quantities of food and laughing a lot are daily activities.  I have been using a sewing machine since I was about 11 years old, making clothes for myself for about 30 years, then I began exploring other types of fabric art and embellishment. I love vintage textiles and design and create or embellish accessories and clothing with them. I have a nice collection of barkcloth, which was used as curtains in the 1940’s and 1950’s and has some really fun and funky patterns and colors. Now I am beginning to focus my business on creating memory quilts from clothing and story quilts, which can include imagery    from photos, symbolism, memories, and fabrics from clothing.
My website:

My FB page:

**After I read Amy’s Post I wanted to see MORE. Here are examples of her recent Story Quilts.


                                                                                                                                           ©Amy Cavaness

                                                                                                                                   ©Amy Cavaness

                                                                                                               ©Amy Cavaness