When I was quite young (spoiler alert) my Grandmother used to sew. Each summer I would be excited to receive my “pop top” with matching short set, exciting to me because I was wearing something new and my darling Grandmother had made it with her own hands. She used a pattern, probably Butterick or McCall, and though it was not a unique pattern, each set was made with her choice of fabric and thread, which made it one-of. I felt like a princess in my new summer handmade homespun outfit!
In autumn, I remember collecting leaves and saving them between two sheets of waxed paper, ironed carefully using my mother’s iron and an old pillow case. Or, pressing leaves between the pages of heavy books, which was even more successful at maintaining the vibrancy of colours, albeit leaves were very fragile afterwards. We did this with flowers too.
At Christmas, we often baked using hand written recipes from family members or close friends, meticulous explanations of how to craft welsh cakes and shortbread and empire cookies, and we anticipated then enjoyed every morsel of our traditional treats.
Often, at family gatherings, we congregated in the living room and laughed ourselves silly over black and white home movies, hazy images of mom and her cousins riding a calf or sledding or standing proudly in front of a new family sedan. The clicking sound of the film as it was pulled through the projector and the click clack faster and faster at the very end of the reel.
We led fairly simple lives, I guess, a middle income family with strong connections to our cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents, country roots, and an earthiness that translated into deep pleasure for me in enjoyment of simple things like riding a hay wagon during harvest, or feeding the barn cats a plate of warm milk, or feeling the rough tongue of a calf on the palm of my hand, or watching sheet lightening over the fields on warm August nights. I don’t recall any feeling of competition, or any need to prove what I was doing compared to anyone else. My experiences were just that…mine. There was a lovely innocence to the time, sure I was innocent then, but when I look at my life now I wish for more of that simple way of being, unto myself.
Today there is an insidiousness about social media that has me wondering what we are doing, and why? Even as I type this blog post it feels like more of the same thing…writing, which I do love, but then I will cast my thoughts upon the internet waters in hope of…what…that you will click “like” or follow my blog, or like me? Rather than living unto myself I often live unto others.
My access to these ways of sharing myself, my pursuit of connection, wide connection, (I do enjoy the contact with those who live far away, family members whom I seldom see) encourages me to craft my life into something a little larger than it is were you sitting beside me on the couch right now, sharing a tea and a story. I post photos to Facebook, share my joy, but I wonder is my joy better served by turning back to those who have created it within me. And I wonder does social media serve me, or does it master me, subtly, yet clearly, and to what greater good?
I am beginning to pay more attention to how I present myself, and how my online virtuality spills over into my reality, affected by every single friend that rolls through my news feed. I see trends, new norms, creating expectations which are both unrealistic and burdensome at times, because truth is everyone else is tweaking their image a little bit too.
If I were to spend too much time on Pinterest, for example, I admit my homemade cookies would beg for a better design, my Christmas decor would never match up, my photos would be carefully edited prior to posting, and photo shoots would be required for a myriad of occasions I never thought necessary before. I love design, so research on Pinterest can be really fun, but it can also be overwhelming to see the finesse and extreme excellence of every craft and upcycle and undertaking. I am exhausted with the thought of meeting this pimped out status quo before I begin my own DIY. The stakes are too high!
I think we (sometimes/often) need to leap off the virtual bandwagon and rediscover the power of simple homespun imagination…unplugged. Which is very hard to do…maybe impossible? No, it is possible. Yes, it is!
Because sometimes I get a taste of it, and it is good. Like last night I watched a very sweet unpolished video of a bunch of kids dressed up in homemade costumes, telling a story in the form of a play. It was that tickle trunk dress-up my kids used to do when they were little. The lady who made the video said, sorry about the audio…but it was fine…it was more than fine…it was extraordinary. It allowed me to…breathe…to laugh…to enjoy the silly wonderful way of mistakes and imperfection and sweet innocence of those kids doing their play oblivious to any need to be…better…or slicker…or more excellent. It was pure. It was perfect.
And so I wonder, in this virtual world, with everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, available to me at a few clicks of my keyboard…can I find a way of being without all that, or with just a little bit, or sometimes? I really don’t need to know everything. I don’t need to do and post photo shoots of my Christmas crafts or cookies. I just need to know a few things, and give myself over to the pleasure of each new experience, in the moment. I need to trust who I am, with quirky imperfections, uniqueness, imagination, my way of being and doing, is…one of…and good enough. I can be the homespun version of me and create an authentic life. And maybe I won’t blog about it either.
Slow down, log off, focus, breathe…