I've been engaging in handiwork the past two months. I've been wishing the winter days long and the cloudy skies full - heavy with snow - so I can curl away from the world and work. Handiwork seems like an old notion that's having a revival of sorts these days. The idea of making things, of making it your own, DIY, use what you have, feels ever present in the collective unconscious and the conversations happening around making art and running a small business.
The word was whispered to me by some muse when I thought about writing this post, my first blog post after a two-month hiatus from blogging and being open to the world - being the opposite of curl. It's my nature to take time every now and then to turn off and tap into silence as a way to see and feel again. See and feel.
I didn't completely curl away, mind you. I took part in Susannah Conway's Unravelling e-course. It was my first dip into e-courses and my first encounter with Susannah and her work. And I'm so glad I did dip into Susannah's work and way of seeing and feeling.
Why? Because I was witness to the ways of seeing and feeling of some 100+ other women from around the world. I was witness to Susannah's story and her approach to photography, how it becomes an extension of yourself and your questions in this world. And in being witness to all of this, I was able to see and feel how a woman's story is of her and of the world, in the same breath. We share so many of the same stories, so many more than we realize. The common handiwork of women endeavoring their way through the world is magnanimous and breathtaking. Truly.
And Susannah is just so darn delightful and inspiring to have beside you each week, nudging you along and sending you e-kisses as you dip into your own handiwork. We all need a good nudge now and then, I find, to either curl into ourselves or open out into the world for a moment, to both see and feel ourselves and others.
This movement of curl and reach, contract and release... well, it speaks of the nature of healing and creativity - how both making and healing is a spiral, not a straight line, and how maybe the two need each other to do the right kind of work on you. And in that spiraling I see why handiwork is so vital and essential. I see why it is important to endeavor and act. In the action comes the knowing. In the clumsy journey out into the world one afternoon with my camera in hand, and my desire to take good photos ever present, arrives the perfect photo, just by virtue of me taking that clumsy journey with the camera.
Sometimes it was embarrassing to take photos of myself in the park - "Who does she think she is taking photos of herself?" - I imagined people saying. But in that simple act of stepping out and playing with the camera, I was doing some brave work, I was. And then to come home and share those photos with other women and write about my thoughts... well, it was really, really rich work.
There are 20 more days until springtime. Winter still has a grip on me. As I knit, photograph, cook and read, I'm slowly unraveling my way out of winter, opening the curl that is me into some new season they call spring.