As with most things, the idea for this blog came about as part of a larger journey. My thinking at this point in time has been profoundly influenced by my recent explorations, and in particular by a stress management class I took last summer at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. One of the basic concepts behind mind-body medicine and cognitive-behavioral psychology is that your perception has an enormous impact on your mood, your relationships, and the body itself. Changing that perception, of course, is easier said than done. This blog is about not only changing perceptions, but creating them.
But it started earlier than that. There’s more to it than that. I think it may have started back in the early ’80s when I first picked up our clunky beige rotary phone and called my grandmother for the recipe for Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies. Or maybe it was with the crooked scarf I cobbled together with great love over an eight-year period for my best friend. (A prolific crafter, I am not). Or, more likely, it started before I was even born, when my great-grandmother and Marion, her cousin and best friend, first began taking crewel classes from Betty Sweet in Jaffrey, NH. Whatever the genesis, my love for all things creative — sewing, needlepoint, singing, playing guitar, writing music, baking, cooking, and of course eating — is an integral part of who I am, passed down through the generations of my family. (Don’t think eating can be creative? I beg to differ…)
Fast forward to this past weekend when a dear friend and I took a jaunt up the Maine seacoast to Alewives Fabrics, a small store in Damariscotta Mills. Both of us being of the crafty ilk, we know our way around a fabric store…and a credit card. Several hours later, we left, high on good intentions, bundles of joy tucked under our arms. For those who don’t know me, you will quickly learn that any time I refer to a “bundle of joy,” chances are that I am talking about a passel of fabric or a warm dish out of the oven, and not a small child. While we couldn’t put a finger on why or how, we were sure that somehow these packages would help move us one step closer towards living the lives we’d always dreamed of.
We spent the next day cozied up in a bookstore surrounded by piles of craft books and warm mugs of chocolately coffee, happily sifting through potential projects and occasionally exchanging eye rolls as we ran across items involving use of the unfortunate word “cozy” (as in “tape-measure cozy”) or worse, “dickey.” For the most part, though, we were taken as always by the beautiful styling of the books, filled with photos of big farmsteads and little bundles of joy, of the tactile, edible and human variety. “Why not us?” we asked.
Why NOT us? If perception is everything, then perhaps all I need to obtain an idyllic life is a new perspective. I dream of being able to dedicate myself full time to creative endeavors, to live in a rural area in my old farmhouse. You know, the one with the barn converted into a studio. Maybe some livestock will be on hand, which my doting husband will take full responsibility for, and I will simply visit them to deliver a good long scratch on the head and a couple carrots to munch on. Money will be no problem, and I will never feel stressed, or worry about deadlines, or bills, or health…
But that’s just fantasy, right? I think the answer is yes and no. Those beautiful craft books weren’t created in a day, or by a single superhuman — one look through the acknowledgements should clear up that misperception. And yet there’s a multi-million dollar industry that launches superstars who perpetuate the belief that we should be able to do it all, all by ourselves, all at the same time. But this is all image, and it takes an enormous team of people to create that image.
So why do we buy the fantasy? For me, the pull towards the domestic arts is about a deeper, instinctual urge to surround myself with things that are wholesome and good, that were crafted with care and attention to detail. I believe that the proliferation of craft books and magazines, blogs and online shops, workshops and retreats all reflect this common urge; that ultimately, we are yearning for lives that are wholesome and good — lives that are crafted with care and loving attention to detail.
I’m tired of waiting for the fantasy. How much of my dream can I find in the here and now? With this blog, my camera, and a bag of good intentions, I hope to find out. My lofty goal here, then, is to show the power of perception, and how the careful editing of our lives, our actions, and our memories can bring the fantasy to life. I will edit my life through a positive lens and shift my focus to all the beauty in my world, and the beauty I can bring to it. My not-so-lofty goal is to push myself to continue to produce art, crafts, and food so that I have something to share here on my blog. The happiest outcome I can imagine would be to show you that a picture-book life is not so out of reach after all.