Friday, September 15, 2006

# 182 'SAMPLER' OCCUPATIONS

A few months ago I introduced my six-year-old granddaughter to canvas stitching. I thought she was probably too young to get the hang of it but after only one session she was able to thread that thick yarn into the slender eye of a needle (something I thought would be too difficult for her). But watching her made me laugh. In no time, she was doing it like an old pro. Squeezing the yarn in a tight fold over the needle tip and then plunging it through the eye of the needle as slick as you please.

And now she knows how to make the stitches, count the squares, and even how to pull out the yarn if she makes a mistake. She has already stitched a picture of a little duck. And she is busy as a little bee stitching her second and more complex picture. I expect when that is done, which it soon will be, she will be ready to move to the finer detail of counted cross-stitch.

Granddaughter is a little girl that has always been a bouncy, bounding, ball of energy. Always in a state of restlessness. Always fretting about what is happening now and what is going to happen next. But now MD (Middle Daughter) tells me that with the stitching has come unexpected calm. A changed child, quietly content and happily stitching.

Now, for just a brief moment, I want to redirect this discussion to the Community Calender of winter activities for this area. As far back as I can remember the offerings have been a variation of artful things like pottery, painting, quilting, basket weaving, willow-art, or cabinet making. But, no more. This year there is none of that. This year from cover to cover, there is a seemingly endless list of classes in self-transformation through various means of internal meditation – i.e. self-hypnosis, forward thinking, positive thinking, self-healing, relaxation, something called Chatras and Reiki, and weight-management.

I was surprised and taken aback at the new themes. Where is the artful stuff? And then I thought of stitching – Granddaughter’s stitching, and my own as well. And you know what I realized? The same thing MD realized about Granddaughter. When I am stitching, I move by default into a world of self-hypnosis, positive redirection of energy, forward thinking, emotional healing, relaxation, self-meditation and transformation. And with such busy hands, even weight management. It pretty much covers everything in this year’s calendar, and all it takes is a needle, and a scrap of yarn.


P.S. Somehow I think there is a correlation between young people that do artful things and others who lose their way for lack of the calmness and contentment that comes from what I call ‘sampler occupations’. (That being any occupation that parallels the decorative stitching that young girls were obliged to do as part of Life-Skills training in the 18th and 19th century.) Do you think there could be?

6 Comments:

Anonymous naomi dagen bloom said...

intriguing idea, first time i've heard the value of craft expressed this way. i'm curious why the activities on the community calendar have changed so radically. are these activities for people of all ages?

thanks for your comment on my blog about public signs. i responded to you there and have enjoyed visiting you here. -naomi

2:40 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi naomi, nice to see you come for a visit. As to your question about the calendar, it is intended to provide winter activities for adults. I really don't understand the change of theme either but I suspect that in a virtual society (which we are rapidly becoming), social relationships are endangered to the point of extinction, and because of that self-therapy stuff is in high demand.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Ptelea said...

I used to get the same inner peace from hiking and now I believe I have transferred it to photography and writing. I think you are on to something though about the benefits of hand crafts. I believe part of it is just slowing down and not relying on external entertainment to dull your senses. I used to read some of those 'self-help' books but then I just listened to myself and now I find them incredibly boring - give me a cross stitch anyday! (things do go through cycles - hopefully the crafts will come back - who wants to hand down a self-help book to their grandchild?)

I am enjoying your blog - it is very thought provoking. I am a big fan of thinking!!!

What a great gift you have given your granddaughter.

7:45 PM  
Blogger the old bag said...

Very thought-provoking...perhaps crafting extends to that occupying the head as well: writing? and the physical: walking, hiking? Have you heard of the concept of flow? Poorly explained, it engenders the idea that we lose ourselves into the moment and the actions of that activity with which we're involved -- we lose awareness of time and space.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

ptelea, thanks for those favorable comments. Keep in mind that I'm not always thinking lucidly. Some days I write total crap. With regard to this particular post, I certainly hope this is cyclical rather than the flat side of a damaged wheel. I like the fact that I am more popular with my grandchildren than any others in this big old world but you're right. A self-help book could end all that in a NY second.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

OB, I found your comment so intriguing. I have never heard of flow, but I have to say sounds like the same wonderful place that I so often go while others around me accuse me of ignoring them or not paying attention. I do like it there. Very much. I think that's where I was the other day when you 'skipped out on your ride'. ;)

11:09 PM  

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