Friday, September 26, 2014

Apprehensive beginnings (Part 1 of 4)

All week I’ve been wrestling with a way to frame and begin a record of my first experience with the Soulcraft Cohort last weekend.  But my computer greets every attempt with it’s nasty white blank stare, provoking my paralysis.  And now, it’s Friday afternoon, my second experience is less than 24 hours away.  If I don’t put my thoughts and questions from last week to paper, then I’ll be behind the eight-ball, impressions and wonderings amassing in my brain…and then fleeting despite my earnest attempts to R.E.M.E.M.B.E.R!! 

So I sat down to just write.  I’m learning through the Anguishing Journey of Despair, aka the disseratation process, that words, any words, are progress.  No.  They are success.  Anne Lamott –one of my current writing/creative/own-yourself-tell-the-truth gurus –in Bird by Bird commiserates with my creative difficulty.

Writing can be a desperate endeavor, because it about some of our deepest needs; our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong.  It is no wonder if we sometimes tend to take ourselves perhaps a bit too seriously.

So, Anne (we’re on a first-name basis in my head due to the soul-baring conversations I’ve had with her while reading her books), recommends

Say to yourself in the kindest possible way, Look, honey, all we’re going to do for now is to write a description of the river at sunrise, or the young child swimming in the pool at the club, or the first time the man sees the woman he will marry.  That is all we are going to do for now.  We are just going to take this bird by bird.  But we are going to finish this one short assignment.

In my case, I’m going to get the notes from our first session off of my phone and into this blog. (Disclaimer: Back after writing it all...turns out my "notes" on day one require several posts...)


I never would have joined this group had it not been organized for educators with the purpose of exploring learning.  My brother, Peter, co-operates Soulcraft Woodshop, the Maker's space we occupy on this journey.  He is an artisan, a breathtaking composition of skill and imagination.  His promise shone in his remarkable portraits at a young age.  My sister, Hannah, is a crafty entrepreneur-mama to six, bursting to try experience new hands-on possibilities.  My older sister, Thawivann, also mother to six, diligently learned arts and crafts and taught them not only to her own children but to her friends’ children.  Compartmentalizing and searching for identity, I decided very young that the visual arts were not for me.  I took music as my domain, if I was going to pick some kind of artistic expression.  So when my brother called to pick my brain about schooling, project-based learning and the Maker’s Movement, I was intrigued by the possible lines of inquiry of such a project, but it never entered my mind to participate!  And I was stunned when Pete called back and asked me if I wanted to join.  My intuition or some primal part of my being pushed past the limits of my “identity” and agreed to participate…with great fear and trembling.

I came on Saturday with few ideas for what I might make.  I wanted just to sit and talk to these bright, like-minded educators.  As Peter introduced us to wood –its grains and cuts-and to joints and materials, I fought with tenacity to understand, but I trembled and my mind froze.  What the hell am I going to make?!

Bird by bird…

I quieted my mind to recall the voices in the room prior to Pete’s talk and listen as they spoke again.  My hesitation was shared by some.  Many partook in my struggle to understand.  We all laughed at ourselves in our discomfort in the “student-learner” position.  Ahh…fellowship in our sufferings.  Inspiration struck and suddenly I had three ideas!  An entryway locker system, a hanging jewelry cabinet, or a hall plant stand.  My fellows suggested Pinterest, generously described some of their first attempts at furniture (some of us had tried this once before), and happily conversed about our journey and feeling about just BEING here. 

That process and conversations with Peter and Jim, his talented outside-the-box-thinking partner, helped me to chuck the potentially cumbersome locker project and I decided on the jewelry cabinet.  Jim knew of some unique scraps of wood that might help me to achieve an interesting aesthetic for the face of the doors.

One, small project…ACCOMPLISHED!  

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