Tag Archives: Mental health

At the intersection of craft and sanity

Who am I? I’m just going to say this here in the beginning. This post won’t be for everyone here. It’s not really about art, craft, or shibori, per se, but it touches on it and really is about balance, mental health, creativity, and life in general.

Maybe it is for everyone, come to think of it. But if you are here just for the shibori, then feel free to click away- I take no offense. Yes, this is already starting out as a weird post don’t you think?

This is a post I’ve often thought about writing over the years and actually it has been touched upon here and there. I might describe it as the intersection of craft and sanity.

Once upon a time there was a little red-headed child. Life was confusing. It was apparent from an early time to this child that she was pretty much on her own in many ways and needed a way to be balanced and stay sane. It was an intuitive thought, not verbally or even mentally articulated, but it was more a feeling of survival. As time passed, the child was more and more stressed due to issues within the family. Stress did not feel good. The child discovered that creating felt good! The child’s intuitive self awakened to this and made creating a way of life, not really knowing all this on an intellectual level, but only in an instinctual sort of way.
Stress=feeling bad, creating=feeling good.
So the child learned to spend more time in that creativity space. This way, life was livable!

Now I am not suggesting that in order to be creative, one must have anxiety, stress, and even PTSD in your life. I would never wish that upon ANY person, and especially not a child. But we do not live perfect lives and many children experience these issues on a regular basis due to many things (even in the most seemingly “normal” life), which is why it completely exhausts me to know that many kids do not get the space they need to counteract these life problems by having time for creativity.
Creativity can be in many forms- making by hand, singing, dancing performing, cooking, playing an instrument, gardening, (even cleaning the house!) and so forth.

This little redheaded child grew up and had her own children. Seeing the dearth of art and making in their school day, the redheaded mom created a space for that. Here’s an old blog for that here. There are only 55 posts published there. I’ve often thought I should delete it, but for some reason I keep putting it off. I just reread much of it and still feel pretty much the same about what I wrote there. It’s interesting to look back and read your thoughts from 15 years ago. Prior to starting that blog as a separate entity, I was writing posts about it here on Shibori Girl. It was fairly short-lived though, as we got the ax a couple of years later. (Most of the sidebar links are dead.) I did enjoy going back and reading the comments there. Special thanks to those commenters who read and participated-many whom are still readers today! (love you guys!)

This is not limited to children by the way. I only give the above example because people often tell me things like, ” you’re so talented!”, or “I could never do that”. My inner child-self knows they are coming from a different perspective and I usually say something like “well, it’s a practice” and ” really, I think you could!” (or just “thank you”). But the inner adult-self knows that for me this came as a result of an anxiety filled life where the child learned that living in that creative space was like medicine. It was also an escape where she could lose herself, feel better, and eventually it became a practice. It became a place where I made a home and just moved in.

I have seen this in many readers here, in people I meet at workshops or at shows. I hear stories from you. I saw it in the kids from the Elementary Art experience.

What is my motivation for writing this post? I wonder myself. I guess I want to remind ourselves that we can alleviate the stress in our lives with creativity. It’s positive! There are so many ways to be creative. It’s low cost! Many public schools have cut and altered art experiences and in doing so, cut off a vehicle for better mental health and well being for kids. Not good. Kids grow into adults. Our society needs every possible tool and material in the artbox to create good mental health in our schools and in our society. I’m also motivated to “pay it forward” as it were, since I personally had a situation which allowed this possibility to exist. Many do not.

Creativity leads to wondering, wondering can identify issues and problems and lead to solutions. Thusly, the algebraic equation is something like:

Creativity + Wonder = Solutions

We can see the results of the loss of factory production in the US. The loss of jobs where people produced things with their hands has left many jobless or in jobs that don’t give this sort of satisfaction and stimulation. Working with your hands stimulates chemicals in your brain (endorphins) that make you feel good. There are many studies about how working and creating with your hands benefits your overall health-both body and mind. You can be young or old for this to work. You don’t have to make it your career, you can practice it to the degree in which you choose. Like medicine, not everyone takes the same prescription or dosage.

These past couple of years have brought us new worries and stresses. We grieve the losses in our lives. There are new divisions. The recent stirrings of war…

It’s the perfect time to create and work with your hands. It can calm the mind, teach new skills, and point in new directions.

I’m going to just leave it at this for now. Isn’t it enough? And yes, I’m celebrating circles having completed another trip around the sun (or 834 moon trips around the planet if you’re keeping track…). So perhaps all this meandering is just part of that….

amazing to think that Paul MaCartney wrote this when he was 15 or 16!

No pictures, just thoughts this time…next post it’s back to “regular programming”, whatever that is!



is it spring yet? それはまだ春です?

apricot blossoms' sweet promise...

apricot blossoms’ sweet promise…

there are days.  then there are THOSE days, yesterday being one of them.  i was reminded of the toll mental illness can take and where it leads to in a society with heels firmly dug in against the costs of creating solutions-or at the very least putting into place a safety net for people who are in no condition to make decisions for their own health, safety, and welfare without going to extremes.  but no, once again we must wait for the bottom to fall out before we can affect some sort of solution.   in that waiting period, we trust;  what else can we do?

on another front, i am reminded that even if you do your best work over many years,   you share that work far and wide,  you teach that work, that this does not assure education managers of trade shows won’t pass over your teaching proposal in favor of someone who signed up for your online class a year ago; someone who has no body of work on the subject at hand to back it up but has an “in” with the right crowd.  just know that to be true.  i am reminded to remember this when choosing shows and teaching venues.  sometimes i am naive and forget these things,  being in the bubble of my studio here.

then, as if that were not the end of a very, very long day, a late email arrives effusively deriding (even threatening!) me for a mistake on an order. crestfallen, i make haste in correcting the error, reshipping the order via express mail and emailing back all pertinent info and an even more effusive apology AND refunding the original order (although, admittedly, in the back of my mind thinking- ya know, i really don’t need this sort of treatment from a customer even if i did make a mistake). 

waking up this morning, i see an email from said customer. the order WAS correctly received.  oops.  sorry.  her mistake.

i had sent a small gift of a silk shibori ribbon scrap bag with the order and for some reason she thought it was all she had received. ahh…nice.  a gift turns into this?  perhaps we should not be so hasty next time…beauty takes time. even the buds on the apricot tree are slowly bringing us their beautiful sweet bounty.   

have a little sympathy for us who make for a living.  we are not robots, amazon.com,  walmart, or even craftsy.  we will make a mistake now and again.  we might get a little behind, trying to balance all the things we must do to keep the ship afloat. but the makers i know will go above and beyond for you, making each item by hand.  and we will often tuck a little something extra into your package just because we like to imagine your surprise when you receive the order.

all i can say is, i’m glad it is a new day… is it spring where you are yet?

maybe it’s just spring fever!

is it spring yet?

in the shop