Guest series 2012:Â I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creatorsÂ to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…
1950′s style dress, pattern made from a deconstructed vintage garment.
My first big DIY project was a pair of sandals. I was probably seven or eight, sweating out the long days of summer in smalltown Ohio, when I was inexplicably possessed by the urge to make my own footwear. I remember tracing and cutting a sole out of cardboard, and with a hole punch and kitchen twine, devising an elaborate lacing system. In what I was certain was a stroke of pure genius, I harvested patches of moss from behind the garage and glued them onto the soles (beautyÂ andÂ comfort people, these were the whole package!). I laced on my new sandals, pressed my toes into that green moss, and prepared to show them off to everyone in a two-block radius.
I donâ€™t think I walked five steps before they fell apart. Complete and total engineering disaster. As I held the busted pieces, I started planning Moss Sandal Prototype #2.
Why would I tell this story? Wellâ€¦first of all, I really am kind of proud of that moss idea (Iâ€™ve never felt a softer insole). But more importantly, itâ€™s illustrative of the fact that, for me, creating and making is the realm where I am the bravest, the most curious, and the least afraid of failing. Itâ€™s the place where I get to exercise my resilience to setbacks. Where I allow myself to experiment without any assurance that it will work out. Where I am reminded that before you can be good at something, youâ€™ll almost certainly be bad to mediocre at it.
My very first attempt at spinning fiber. The woman who taught me said, â€œI know you think itâ€™s ugly and bad, but hang onto it. Someday youâ€™ll want to look back and see how far youâ€™ve come.â€
Shawl knit from handspun.
I am a knitter. When I have the needles out in public itâ€™s not unusual for a stranger to strike up a conversation. One of the most common things I hear is, â€œOh I tried knitting but I was just soÂ badÂ at it.â€ Yeah butâ€¦ itâ€™s a complicated string of awkward fine motor movements with at least three moving parts and a million ways to screw it up. Of course youâ€™ll be bad at it. Everyone is. Now if you tried knitting, were bad at itÂ andÂ had no interestÂ in it, thatâ€™s another matter (that was my experience with any sport involving a ball, so I understand). But sometimes I think we just donâ€™t have the patience for learning curves. We live in an on-demand world and want to excel at things immediately.
I witness this firsthand in my day job, where I advise and counsel college students. Like me, many of them got through high school without experiencing many setbacks â€“ the good grades and the high praise came easy. Now theyâ€™re in my office in tears, holding an essay and the first â€œCâ€ of their life. I try to help them separate their self-worth from the grade a little bit. A â€œCâ€ means that thereâ€™s room for growth, that you havenâ€™t mastered writing at the college level yetâ€¦and thatâ€™s okayâ€¦after all, you just started college.
Naturally, I am only so-so at taking my own advice. There are a host of things I avoid doing for fear of failure, from the trivial (karaoke), to the life-changing (starting my own business). There are also components of my job that I can’t afford to mess up, such as composing emails to upper administrators or counseling a student through a crisis. So creating is both my refuge from pressure and perfectionism, and my inspiration for boldly approaching the unknown in all areas of my life. It’s where I continue to cultivate an appreciation for slow mastery of a craft, and where I recharge my emotional batteries.
How does creating and making factor into your own self-care? How has it influenced your outlook on life?