Tag Archives | creativity

Small Victories.

Small victories. We all have them. Small triumphs over small things can personally feel just as good as big victories over big things. But do we always take note of those small victories?

I think we do, actually. Especially these days with apps like Instagram, where we can take visual note of our every day goodnesses and kindnesses and small victories.

When I look over my Instagram feed, I see small victories that I would have otherwise not noticed. A quote that makes my day stronger, a handmade sock (made by my hands!) that fits my foot well and doesn’t fall off, and a photo that simultaneously makes me happy with myself in the mirror and makes me further appreciate art (in this case, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam).

When was the last time you noted a small victory? Really truly felt that little (or big!) leap of accomplishment deep down? Did you capture it on camera? Take a mental snapshot in your mind? Kiss the memory with your soul?

I think as makers, we need to dive into these moments and let them truly wash over us in order to keep our creative well full. Do you agree? If so, how do you do it?

virgil

sock

yayoi kusama

Craft and Privilege, Part 2: Redefining What Crafty and Creative Mean

So to follow up to last week’s 5 Ways Crafters are Privileged… And What To Do About It post… Earlier today this lovely post by Pip Lincolne came up on my radar about prioritizing creativity. And truth be told, I was actually disheartened by the comments.

Because I started wondering, “How many people commenting are the sole breadwinners for their families?” And I felt like a jackass. And an effin’ giant pit grew in my stomach that literally made me nauseous. Because I do believe in creativity and beautiful things and that they’re important.

I also started wondering how many of the commenters have worked minimum-wage jobs. Then I checked out this survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which put things in perspective and made that argument kind of moot, for the most part.

And talking about this sort of thing is so difficult in the creative (especially the craft) world because it is heavily divisive. Or maybe we just don’t want to check the weight of our own safety nets. Because many (I won’t go as far as saying “most”) of us have options. And like I said last week, we will never have to choose between the electricity bill and food.

Part of ingesting this means understanding that this is not about feeling (or being made to feel) guilty. We were all born into our unique circumstances with our own unique struggles. It’s not as if we orchestrated our own births, so there’s nothing to feel guilty over if we utilize what we have. If we give back. If we understand that not everyone has time to prioritize creativity. They might want to do so, but may not have the same resources or support network that we have.

We need to realize that that reality exists and then we need to give back where we can. Donate handmade (and bought, yet no longer worn) clothes of good quality to shelters and organizations so that others can wear something and shine and feel special. Donate your time to volunteering so that others (two-legged and four-legged alike) can benefit. Yarnbomb that abandoned lot so that it turns into less of an eyesore for neighbors. Make a basketball net for those empty hoops and hang it up. Speak up where others are afraid to. Share stories of how to help others within your networks.

The point here is to not demonize the craft community for having access to resources, but to realize that not everyone is in the same position. That through your/our enthusiasm to handmade things, you can show others how they can be more easily attainable by teaching them, donating supplies, and showing how being creative doesn’t necessarily meaning taking hours out of your day, but can take minutes.

Because many crafters and creatives have access to resources, those terms have become ones that some people believe they can’t otherwise embody. And as some people think, “being creative” doesn’t equal “wasting time,” because it is invaluable. We just need to help reframe it. You don’t have to have a degree or a 401k or a Twitter account or whatever to be creative.

We are creative when we take a different walk home from work each day or make tidying up a fun game or heck, find a new way to lace up our shoes. We are “creative” when we bring ourselves into what we are doing, which can cost nothing and take up no extra time. We are “crafty” when we do something fun with the empty toilet paper roll or weave pine needles into something or make a daisy chain out of flowers.

Therefore, it’s time to make “creative” and “crafty” more accessible again by remembering their roots. And in doing so, we can remind people that it’s not about having your own craft room or website, it’s about taking the time to make your day more enjoyable. But first, we need to realize our own circumstances, own that not everyone’s may be the same, and come up with ways to lessen that gap.

P.S. And, ha! Be sure that when typing in frustration/bewilderment, you ALWAYS check your titles! There was some rearranging, hemming, and hawing on this, but alas, “means” even though edited to be the correct “mean” in the title, remains forevs in the actual link!

P.P.S. I decided to write a third (and final) post about craft and privilege, which you can read here.

Therapeutic Craft, Creativity and Healing

So, astute observers may have noticed a change in the description of “what I do/talk about, etc.” either over on my About page or on my Twitter profile. It’s a little tweak, a change, reflecting a more recent diagnosis for me. I’m not going to lie, those 4-effin-words-put-together-in-a-row are some scary shit. They’ve been going around my head for 3 weeks now, like a horse riding a ring, wondering what this means, if things will change, if people will think I’m totally effin’ insane.

And with that change, comes the deletion to talking about “war” and the addition of talking about IT instead, because while personally (thankfully) I have never been in a war, I have known those affected by war my entire life. My issues stem from a different root, but show up and present themselves in much the same ways. Truth be told, those definitions in the last link are being changed in the next version of the DSM, changes you can read about here. What happened to me is not something I feel like I need to share, but I do want to clearly and seriously state that what happened happened almost 30 years ago and no one from my family hurt me (again, thankfully). Not thankfully, there was something else that happened by someone else that made it all worse about 20 years ago. (YES!) And I’m writing this because I think it’s important to note how important craft and creativity was for me in my life.

Over the past 6 months, while this has all been a work in progress, I’ve learned a lot about its various causes; the criticisms of it; the arguments about who has it and who doesn’t; the stereotypes… some good, some bad. Ultimately, what it runs down to is: child + incident + brain/emotional development = weird problems (hypervigilance, freezing, panic attacks, avoidance) that no one knew what the heck to do about. Because this happened SO LONG AGO and no one knew what it was, I’ve dealt with all of the symptoms above because I had no choice. And today, I’m the same person I was 3 weeks ago, and for the past 10 years.

What made the difference in reducing many of my symptoms was craft. While I thought it just alleviated my depression and anxiety, it relieved something much more than that. It helped me re-syncopate and live, really. It helped me find a rhythm in the stitches that brought solace and understanding of myself that no one could ever bring. And it’s not just knitting, not just craft, but creativity. Giving myself permission to create was what opened up the doors to let bad things rush in and wreak havoc and do their worse. In short, the stitches, the freedom to create them, the freedom to mess them up, the freedom to see how time passed as my scarf/hat/sweater grew longer, gave me a safe space. They provided a safety that I never would have guessed if I had never picked up the needles. They provided the kindest type of safety I have ever known.

I’m not saying that this is the case for everyone, because it’s not. However, I’m writing this because I wonder what would happen if we took creativity’s power more seriously. If we let those whom are sick and unsure and scared and alone create more, give them the permission to make a mess, try something new, be imperfect. If we let them dive into the imperfection that illness can bring through creativity; allowing them to unleash in a number of mediums until one makes more sense than the others. I say this, not as a therapist, or a doctor, but as someone who never takes it for granted when I find myself walking down the street without constantly looking over my shoulder for a possible threat, as someone who can be brought to tears of joy that they can feel the wind down to their bones, and as someone who is ever grateful to have found craft as an outlet in which to help keep me here, alive, well, and most of all, happy.

Who could we make happy, too, if we took the powers of creativity more seriously?

Here are a few links related to therapeutic knitting, as it was knitting that I first found as an outlet:

Lovely cartoon (!!!) called “Therapy Knitting.”

Stitchlinks: a whole dang website about therapeutic craft.

Knitting as Healing Therapy

More on therapeutic knitting by Betsan Corkhill, the founder of Stitchlinks

A Quilt of Many Panties

How could I not post this on a Friday?

Text from here, click through for whole story:

Video from here:

Louisiana, MO. He’s a hard-core biker with a sensitive soft side. Truly, how many Harley owners do you know who stitch quilts on the side? And have you ever met a HOG lover who makes his quilts out of women’s panties? And let’s not forget this character has his nickname “Shovelhead” tattooed just below the bridge of his cap. Yep, right there on his forehead so you won’t forget his name—as if anyone could forget ol’ Shovelhead.

But back to the panty quilt…

Louis “Shovelhead” Garrett rents out the basement of his mother’s house in Louisiana, Mo. That’s where he crafts his one-of-a-kind quilts. He’s kind of picky with his panties. He’ll accept silk, acetate, nylon, even rayon. But polyester panties need not apply.

“I don’t want them cheap, dollar store, not-sexy-farm-girl panties. I want classy.”

How can you not love a story who’s headline reads “Biker stitches panty quilt? Or a video that dares to ask, “From where do you get all the panties?”


Yet another example of how craftiness has nothing to do with gender or appearance… And how it runs through the lives of many in so very many ways!



Projects and Poems.

Okay, just one poem. A poem that was mentioned an another project, The Creative Life, which I started with Kim Werker, to explore, well, the creative life. It came via a recommended link* posted in a comment by Carol Browne. Carol’s comment was in response to my post about how the creative life, to me, means more than worrying about if others post more than me or comment more than me or what have you. Living a creative life means reminding yourself that life is meant to be lived and that if you don’t live it, how can you write about it? Quality will forever mean more to me than quantity, even though current technology begs to differ. Stopping to really see the sunset is always more beautiful than constantly moving around to get the best shot. Thanks for reminding me of that, Carol.

The poem below is “Desiderata” written by Max Ehrmann in 1927.



Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.


*Clicking this link will take you to a very lovely photo of a very lovely tattoo someone had done of the first line of this poem. It’s copyrighted. So, you have to click on through… it’s worth it.

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