Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Power of Craft - a personal share (and THANK YOU)

I've gone back and forth in my mind many a time as to whether or not this is a story I want to share. Ahead is a very very personal story, brought to you in a very public setting... and it's a little scary to send it out into internet land...

But, I am currently sitting in my room, in the house where I grew up, packing up a good part of my life, preparing to embark on a new adventure. I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity and all the support I have gotten from those who read this blog and the crafting community in general. I find myself continually telling those who buy my patterns or the things that I have made that "I can't tell you how much I appreciate it." But I can tell you... and so now I am going to... here is my story.

The background ... I started to crochet when I was in the 4th grade- but it's not something I've kept up with through the years. I often was too side-tracked with dance rehearsals, homework, or a night out with friends to show my crochet hook any love... but it has always been there for me when I needed it most.

I moved away to college and didn't bring a single skein with me. Starting my sophomore year, after having my heart broken, scuffles with roommates, and feeling terribly alone, I found myself with yarn and a hook once again. And the very next summer I started Sans Limites Crochet. I kept up with it here and there as a way to make some extra cash while I was in school. It was also a great way to relax and regain my sanity after a very very long demanding day of dancing (my college degree is in modern dance...).

Fast forward a couple years and I found myself done with my dance degree, and not dancing for the first time in 18 years. I was back in school, not really fitting in with my classmates and feeling totally uncertain in the path I had chosen. My dear dance friends (and soul mates) were moving away one by one and leaving me behind to follow their dreams (YAY) - and I found I had lost track of my dreams. I didn't even know what I wanted from life anymore. I was feeling about as lost as a person could be.

Then I spent a month in Uganda. It was the most amazing high to find myself amongst people who were struggling but finding ways to overcome it and to feel like I could maybe, in the slightest way, make a difference in their life. I loved the learning experience and man, did I learn a lot (visit 101 Things I Learned in Africa). On the trip, I felt like I had found my calling. My goal in life was, and still is, to make a difference in the lives of people who live in poverty and have been dealt a life so much harder than mine.

And then I came home. I was blasted away by culture shock. My friends complained about the lack of air-conditioning, and my parents complained of work. I felt so lost coming home to a world where those are valid complaints (and they are) after seeing children with no food, or parents, or shoes... and the culture shock collided with the lost feeling I already had and I fell victim to something so many people suffer from- D-E-P-R-E-S-S-I-O-N.

I was so miserable and confused about what to do with my life, and now completely torn apart by guilt that I was letting such relatively minor problems in my life get me down. People in Africa have REAL problems (was what I kept telling myself). It was bad. I could hardly make it to class. I didn't feel like myself enough to see my friends. I couldn't sleep at night. I lost 15 pounds. I found myself sobbing to the point of exhaustion. I never wanted to leave my apartment. I was embarrassed I was getting so worked up over such little things. I was always on the verge of tears.

I was in baaaaad shape. And as I found myself sitting alone and unhappy... I picked up my yarn, started making patterns, and actually wrote them down... and people bought them. I still to this day, do not know how I could have made it through the darkest times in my life had I not been a stitcher. It gave me the opportunity to feel like I was being productive when I could barely face the world. And the love and support I got from you - the crafting world - (although you didn't know it) gave me confidence and a belief in myself when I had none.

This is an amazing community we are a part of. The creativity, love, support, and friendship that comes from a fellow stitcher still blows my mind each and every day. And when I say, "I can't tell you how much it means to me," I mean it. I can't tell you how much your support, no matter how small, has meant to me and how much it has helped me.

So what came from a place of despair has turned into something awesome and I'm filled with a reassuring faith that everything happens for a reason. I'm getting ready to head to California for a few months and stitch my heart out for Krochet Kids International. A company that uses CROCHET of all things to help women rise above poverty. Even a brief chance to work there is, in every sense of the word, a dream come true, and I couldn't have done it without you.

Not only does crochet give women in Uganda jobs and a way to change their futures... the power of craft will give them so much more than that. They are now a part of this awesome community where they will find so much more than a way to sustain their families... they may even find themselves -as I did. Coming together in a group, the pride in using your hands to make something, working with those that support you, feeling like you belong - THAT is the power of craft.

Thank you for every word of encouragement, comment, purchase, piece of feedback, idea, reference, or collaboration you have ever given me! It has meant so very much.


1 comment:

Jill said...

Hi, I'm de-lurking cause that's such a heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing!
I think so many people can relate to your story-I know I can (though not the Africa part :)
I find just by simply making something, the process, is very healing for me.

Oh, and I actually live in Long Beach if you need any must do lists while you're out in California!