Thursday, September 2, 2010


"...one ought not dare, nor presume to call oneself artist, poet or knower. One ought agree to agree, to subdue sparkle, bow to others, pretend to not sense the fiery meaning inside meaning, the extra-sensing within all the senses." - Clarissa Pinkola Estes

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What do you feel when you read that?

Nope...not what did you THINK....what did you FEEL?

Did you feel a burning or a warmth in your tummy or your chest?

Did you feel emotion rise up into your throat?

What is it that you "shouldn't do," according to the voices around you that tell you that you can't be an artist, you can't be a writer, you can't love your someone deeper than you presently do?

How would you sparkle, if you were allowed?

What firey thing would burn bright inside of you?

What is that voice that tells you that you shouldn't, can't?

What if that voice belonged to a body and that person sat your own child down and told her she can't, shouldn't be the "her" that you know she really is, deep down inside? Would you show it the door? Ask it to leave?

What is blocking you from asking that voice to leave?

What "work" would you do if that voice were to leave and you were left to do what you wanted to do?

What would you create?

What would you sing? dance? write? say? do? Where would you go? Who would you call? What would you do?

Now go do it...

7 comments:

Melissa said...

What is said directly in that quote is so often implied by our culture.

I was gifted/cursed with a high IQ and the ability to do well in school. As a result, people saw only one potential direction for me to go. The expectations of everyone was that I would be an academic over-achiever and artistic and creative pursuits did not fit into that picture.

Writing poetry was the first step I took into creativity but it wasn't until I had the girls that I explored photography, followed by decoupage, mache, sewing, embroidery...the list goes on.

Sometimes I look back and I resent that the richest part of who I am was stifled for so long.

Sometimes I think I am simply a late bloomer.

I do believe that the most important part of culture is creativity nothing else makes as deep a difference in the right direction.

Cheryl Ensom said...

Melissa, I could have written what you wrote above, myself. I was the same way...straight A's, full-ride scholarship to college, etc. I did some sewing as a child but I always thought being "artistic" meant you were good at drawing/painting and I was miserable at both. I knew I was a good writer and enjoyed writing, but I didn't see that as artistic until later in my life.

While I was pregnant with my eldest child, I borrowed my mom's sewing machine and started making a couple baby quilts. After Emily was born, I loved boutique baby clothing but couldn't afford it so I started embroidering on blank knits from Wal Mart. And it all went from there! I started sewing, embroidering, found blogs, discovered altered art (it was already in my heart, but I didn't know it was an "art form")and so on.

I also wonder, Melissa, what might have been different if I'd gone the "artistic route" all along. If I could go back, I'd major in design, rather than English! I know that for sure! :)

What did you do in college/after college/before kids?

Melissa said...

Cheryl,

It sounds like our learning curve to creativity was similar. I learned to sew and embroider from my Mom and was proficient but never saw it as a creative pursuit. I wrote poetry in Jr High and High School as a vent. I also loved to take my Dad's manual camera and take pictures of my siblings but no one ever suggested photography in HS.

I was an English and History Major in college so I took a poetry writing class but wasn't particularly good. I also took two courses of photography from the art teacher because I wanted to.

Several years before the girls were born, I started to write poetry again and found on-line forums. Poetry became my sanity while my husband and I struggled to get pregnant and went our separate ways.

After my oldest was born, I started shooting again and found photography forums. Photography became my sanity as our marriage fell apart and I was at home (by choice) alone with my daughter.

I self-taught myself everything about photography when I got a digital slr and the price of film and developing wasn't a problem.

I talked my in-laws into giving me a sewing machine for Christmas and started sewing again. Then I found Crafster and decoupage and it has grown from there. I remember when I got the bug to start embroidering again - I did the same thing as you bought cheap clothes from Walmart and embellished them.

It took me nearly 35 years to be willing to call myself an artist and now when I turn 39 I am even willing to say I might be a designer.

Cheryl Ensom said...

Again, lots of similarities in our stories!

My mom also taught me to sew pretty young. I had a plastic cabbage patch sewing machine and I made little doll clothes, rough bedding for a doll house and tiny quilt blocks. I remember lying in bed, unable to sleep, because I was picturing this yellow dress I wanted to sew for my cabbage patch doll that was row upon row of yellow lace, sewed on top of the dress so it looked like a lace dress. I didn't have enough lace and I think I was maybe embarrassed to ask my mother for it (not sure why...probably just insecurity about my sewing skills?).

I also drew picture after picture of rows of women in "hoop-skirt dresses," cork screw curls and even extravagant hats. I wasn't good at drawing but I loved attempting to draw all sorts of variations on the puff sleeve/full skirt/lace bodice dress. I was mesmerized by books about the 1800's, especially. I can remember, at a very young age, feeling I had been born into the wrong era!

So in retrospect, I see that I always had a kind of attraction to/affinity for design. I had no idea that I did and my mother would tell you that you would never have known it the year I was in 4th grade and would wear nothing but long, over-sized tshirts and this horrible pair of yellow pedal-pushers! :)

I love that you were embellishing Wal Mart blanks, too!!!! :) I was delighted to find www.dharmatrading.com and learned to tub-dye in my washing machine...tons of option became possible after that! I learned to embroider from my neighbor at age four and then my mother taught me to cross-stitch not much later than that. I cross-stitched quite a few hand-towels and mini-framed cross-stitch gifts for relatives and friends!

My great-grandmother worked for Singer and gifted my sisters and I with handmade dolls, complete with perfectly-embroidered faces, yarn braids (to match each of our hair color!) and beautiful "prairie girl" outfits. My mother recalls her making dozens of Barbie doll clothes for her when she was small. My mother herself made a lot of her own clothes in high school, including exquisite prom dresses. I am the eldest of five girls and my mother made many sets of matching clothes for us when we were young, something I find charming now, but didn't at the time! :)

Cheryl Ensom said...

I hit "post" too soon! Wasn't done!

So the point of the above is that sewing/creativity was very much a part of my life. I just never thought of it as a vocation until recently. Like you, I only recently claimed the designation "artist" as my own. And "designer"...I might be close! ;)

I think we need to chat more, Melissa! :)

Cheryl Ensom said...

Oh also...pick up a copy of "Women Who Run with the Wolves," by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I think you'll like it.

Melissa said...

"I also drew picture after picture of rows of women in "hoop-skirt dresses," cork screw curls and even extravagant hats. I wasn't good at drawing but I loved attempting to draw all sorts of variations on the puff sleeve/full skirt/lace bodice dress."

Me too - and bustles!! :)

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