Pre-S: Good lord, my hair really does look fabulous in this photo. Holy crap. Thank you, DNA gods!
But that’s not why you called.
My main squeeze took his daughter for a week to an amusement park, and I got the house to myself. We aren’t the kind of couple who have to be inseparable. There is no insecurity in our relationship. I can enjoy it that he goes and does stuff that doesn’t involve me, and he can enjoy it that I do stuff that doesn’t involve him. We have more to talk about when we get back together.
Since the house would be empty but for me, I decided to set up the ironing board and sewing machine and make stuff. I come from a long line, on both sides of the family tree, of women who make stuff. There were aunts on both sides that made their living as professional seamstresses. My mother sewed and quilted like mad. My dad was a weaver and photographer.
The creative force is strong with me, and I can’t actually imagine any other way to live my life.
To have an entire week to make an insane mess, take over huge parts of the house with fabric and end up with something wonderful is far more rewarding than going to a theme park and putting up with, you know, people.
I haven’t had a jean jacket since I can remember. I think I was 13, and I had it for years and wore it to death. For some reason, perhaps because I became a mom and gained a lot of weight and didn’t feel good about how most jean jackets fit me, I never got another one. But it has come to my attention lately that jean jackets are bad-ass and fabulous and go with damn near anything and everything. You simply cannot screw up by adding a jean jacket to a look. So I went on the hunt, and very quickly decided to just make one. I found a very cool pattern from Alina Designs, bought some denim and some hammer-on buttons, and let it all sit until I was damn good and ready. I mean, it was 97 degrees in the shade here a couple weeks ago, nobody needed any kind of jacket.
I took it slow, measured twice, read the instructions many times before and during the process. I wanted to get it right.
And it turned out incredibly well. I found the patch through Pinterest, and ordered it all the way from Australia. It’s perfect. I mean, have you met me? Yesterday I visited with my soul sister Laura about creating some beaded runes to spell out “Born To Rune” on the back yoke, as a nod to the late great Sir Terry Pratchett.
So how do I feel after spending a week making something? I feel great. Satisfied, accomplished, proud, recharged. I feel like my creativity has been switched on. I feel alert, engaged and ready. I wish it was cool enough to have to wear a jacket . . .
The lesson here is one of both self-care and creativity.
When I was going through a major life-transition, or series of transitions, I got seriously stuck. I left my marriage and both my mother and mother-in-law passed away within a month, and my step-dad a short time later. The company I was working for had a business deal go extremely sour and had to close down, so suddenly I was out of work. I fell walking a dog and busted my ankle and couldn’t drive because my right leg was in a damn boot. I ended up on the couch in my tiny apartment lacking the capacity to move or function. One morning, I realized enough was enough, and scheduled a check-in with my counselor.
First of all, he explained that what I was experiencing exactly what I should have been in that situation. “In fact,” he said, “if you weren’t a dysfunctional wreck I’d be worried about you. You have lost everything that was normal to you, even if you didn’t like all of it, and you are feeling completely untethered.” I was in a new living situation, and because my mom was gone I was feeling very alone in the world. I was also understandably worried about how I was going to survive and make a living, and man, you can’t really do much of anything when you’re stuck in a big stupid boot. But, according to him, what I was feeling was actually good and, yes, normal.
“What makes you feel normal?” he asked.
I had to think about it a minute. “Sewing, because it connects me to my roots and allows me to create something just for me with no pressure for it to be a product.”
He nodded, and told me to get to a fabric store, and spend one entire week sewing whatever I wanted. “Don’t think about the future, don’t fret over the past, just be in the moment with what you are creating and enjoy the process. At the end of the week, send me an email and let me know how you’re feeling.”
I was a little dumbfounded, but after a minute, I realized it made perfect sense. Find a thing that makes you feel whole and do it with your entire focus for seven days, kind of like a course of antibiotics. I left his office feeling excited. I got home and dug through my fabric stash. I looked at patterns. I put together a plan, got a ride to the fabric store, and picked up some supplies. For a whole week, I just made stuff, and it was, as predicted, healing, soothing, and intensely grounding. After the week, I was able to face my future in a creative state of mind, instead of a reactive state of mind.
And that’s exactly where we want to be — creating the life we want, not reacting to whatever happens.
Do you need help shifting your mindset to “Creativity ON?” I can help.