This week I took time back. And this morning, I officially agreed to a part-time job that will pay half my bills, leaving me time to do craftivism work, because freelancing was scattering my thoughts too much. Pitch a story on literacy, the weaving industry, online dating, and etiquette. Watch your mind unspool in a dozen directions as you watch your bank account dwindle, all while seeing the reality of not doing what you want to do. Realizing all that unspooling was not getting you towards anything, not building anything. That there was no direction, just scattered thoughts. And as I’ve been through a series of interviews, there was a period of time where this path seemed like a huge effing failure.
So I took some time. I hung out with friends, I stitched at home, I made gluten-free zucchini chocolate chip bread and my heart gushed when I took it out of the oven and held it in my own hands, I hung out with Bobbin, I drank coffee on my porch, I took time to truly taste it, sat (just sat) on my sofa, I took time to rein in my mind from months of freaking out about money to the point that most of my joy was sucked out of my life for ages. I helped the same bird who got stuck in screened-in porch twice in one day escape, taking the time to let it hop to freedom instead of feeling like I had to hurry his little heart through the process.
And I thought about the affirmations that I had to write each day as part of the 5-Minute Journal, which I heard about via a recommendation from Lisa Congdon on the While She Naps podcast. I thought about how they sustained me as I typed them, all the thoughts I was not letting sink into myself, lest I turn into someone too proud or vain or righteous or greedy. I was scared typing them would make me a different person, which meant change, which meant changing.
And lo, how they did change me! They pushed me to see I was beautiful, capable, worthy, enough, smart, and other permutations. And in homage to the work of the late artist Susan O’Malley, I envisioned a project where I stitched those sentiments I so needed to hear and then left them for others to find.
Because activism is as much about fighting the bad things in this world as it is fighting the bad things we tell ourselves. We can be better activists if we can better stand up for ourselves. We live in a world where we war with what the media tells us what is in, out, cool, passé. Every day we have to remind ourselves we are these good things. And some days we forget. And those days can drag on into weeks and months. Leaving us soul sucked and dry, a husk of what we were as children and knew we were amazing.
So it’s time to do that in the process of stitching. And it’s time to let that act of stitching go by leaving it somewhere for someone to find who needs to hear those words as much as you do, if not more. And that’s what that photo is up at the top, a prototype of the pieces I’m going to make. Craftivism is about healing ourselves as we stitch, and then healing the world with the product, so this project is about taking a microstep to help other people, to let them know that they are so very many wonderful things. And to remind ourselves that we are so many wonderful things.
*You Are So Very Beautiful is what I’m calling this for right now, because I think that we, no matter what our gender orientation, can have a problem seeing this about ourselves, regarding both our inner and outer beauty. And seeing ourselves as beautiful is a radical act.