7997JC_1Why my goals for 2016 include using my felt making skills as a tool for practicing positive health and wellness care taking. For me the urge to clear and clean occurs in the fall after harvest, when garden produce has been pickled, canned, frozen to become stored food for winter and spring. Clearing up after putting up goes from cleaning and storing canners to tidying closets and rooms, reviewing and repairing or sending off for recycle. The physical leads into the psychological – wants, dreams, desires, life review, achievements, losses, positives, actions to keep doing, actions to change. The human dilemma “where have I been, where am I going.”

While I’m not much for writing down or making “resolutions” for a New Year, it helps me to generate a soft framework describing a path to walk as the New Year unfolds. Ruminations late in 2015 reflected on the amount of pain, anger, unrest and discomfort in the world. What does one small person do? It is easy to become overwhelmed and pull into a hard safe shell. What do I possibly have to offer that would help anyone?

But yet, but yet, look at who have reached out to me, what things have they asked me to do that they consider useful, helpful. In addition, what has gotten me through depression, through times when I wanted to give up? Surprisingly, one answer to both – hand crafting. Making, creating—the “old” “traditional” skills I practice: felt making and sewing.

Boiled down, and looking at the core – it was not so much about “the finished item.” The real gift came from the creative process; the positive effect upon mental health and an increase in the feeling of personal well-being. Today many of us are feeling overwhelmed, busy and stressed. We work so hard, yet so many of the problems we face are deep and it takes so long to see any change or any improvement. The escape into crafting, while not a panacea, perhaps not changing these big issues, can offer a happy “timeout,” a few minutes to hours to focus and be mindful on some solvable problem, allows us to come away with a feeling of accomplishment.

Going back to the question “what can one small person do?” One person can offer up the skills they have. Sharing creative time, space, tools; assisting others to explore ways of making is a small, achievable practice. The mental health benefits of handicraft may occur in classes and in many interest groups that gather to “craft” – I am simply taking keen interest in, and looking at ways, to enhance the mental health benefits that can be gained through handicraft – whether one is alone or in a group.

Thus in 2016 the outside events where I might offer workshop/class presentations as well as the open work time and individualized guidance/classes offered in my home studio will include intentional actions can one take to make the time, space, project flow, to look forward to getting into that time/space. Things we can do by ourselves or share within groups of family and friends.

An approach that fits in with the movements we are seeing these days of self-care, mindfulness, being in the moment, of having less “things and more experiences.” Practicing some form of handicraft can be a fulfilling and wonderful experience. I am excited to share the types of hand skills I know and at the same time offer ways to “get to making” whatever type of handicraft the participant finds most preferable for themselves.