Monday, May 11, 2009

Hobbies Heal--and I'm Tired of Apologizing for Them!

Hobbies heal. (Okay, so I'm being redundant. I'm trying to hammer home a point here.)

Yeah, sometimes we crafters get no respect. People tease us, malign us, and make fun of us. But that’s only because they don’t understand the awesome regenerative power of creativity, a power which is self-evident. Without creativity, you’d be dead. Which is why any creative or learning endeavor should be sacred and valued, not laughed at.

In a world where so much of what we do is ethereal and transitory, crafts announce, “I was here.” They provide a sort of ordering calm as we take the chaos of materials and turn them into a new and beautiful design. Crafts give us a sense of mastery over our environment. We feel good because we have turned nothing into something of value, which is for most of us, the sign of a life well-lived. As we stitch or paste or assemble, we know we are engaging in something which we hope will bring joy or discovery or comfort to another person. So each action is imbued with a sort of meditative focus on gratitude.

Years ago, I needed to make a page about my father. The page was to be a part of a book I was writing on scrapbooking. Now, my dad died at age 48 of alcoholism. He was not a happy, friendly drunk. He was an angry, bitter man who was hurtful in so many ways.

To make the page, I needed more background information. I called my mother and asked questions. I called my grandmother and talked with her.

I started work. As I did, something hard and painful broke loose inside of me. I pasted down the photo of my father as a young man in the Navy, and I wept. I cried for his lost potential. I cried because I was forced to see him in a new light—the light of his youth when the world was his for the taking.

Crafts heal. And frankly, I’m a bit sick of being an apologist (my fault! I admit) when folks come up and sneer about how important they are.

NOTE: I will draw the winner of our signed set of Malice books late tonight. If you haven’t entered, go back through the Mondays (April 30, March 6, March 13, March 20, and March 27) and find all the clue words. Then email those clue words to me at Be sure to put Malice in the subject line.


Terri Thayer said...

Never apologize, Joanna. Working with your hands and your heart is a healing art. I've seen it, too.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you and Terri about the healing of hobbies. I had a major disappointment at work last week and working on a baby quilt for my niece was very therapeutic, even if I have to rip out a few stitches once in a while!

This is my niece's third child (she and her husband have two boys). Poor thing, she had two miscarriages in 2008 and a recent scare about her current pregnancy. We all want a girl but we are praying for a healthy baby, no matter what the gender!

So working on the quilt helps me control my worry about her baby's health and makes me realize that a disappointment at work isn't as important as I originally thought it was.

The quilt is looking pretty good, in all colors of blue, pink, yellow, and lavender. And yes, Terri, I am very careful with the rotary cutter!

Shirley in Baltimore

Betty Hechtman said...

Doing crafts is wonderful. It's therputic, creative and I can't imagine why anyone would want you to apologize for.

On another note - it is intereting to think about our parents and their dreams and aspirations. I have a photo next to my computer of my father as a very young man, posed next to his typewriter when his dreams of literary success were fermenting.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

See? You all know it's true. It's just that I got a little tired of the "craft cozy" moniker--and cranky.

Betty, I think that's one of the hardest parts of being a parent--and of being a child--the differing dreams and expectations we have for each other.

Shirley in Baltimore, I'll keep your niece in my prayers.

Terri, I remember that old 4-H slogan about hands and hearts. It's so perfect when our hands manifest the desires of our hearts.

Anonymous said...

You are so right. Crafts have a way of bringing people together too. Generations can learn from each other and share their thoughts while crafting together. It is soothing to the heart and mind for your hands to create something.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Dear Anonymous,
Yes, I didn't mention that, but I believe that when we are working side-by-side with other like-hearts, part of our burden is lifted.

Kathryn Lilley said...

I totally understand about the healing power of hobbies, even though I'm so ham-handed that I can't do any of them. I was at a self-healing program recently (won't mention the name, let's just say that my favorite pantsuit is getting a tad snug in the the hip zone), and there was a group of women in the corner, knitting away. Someone told me they'd actually gone on a knitting cruise, although that may have been stretching the truth. These women have found so much healing in their craft, and I really admire that!