Activities

What Am I Waiting For?

The creative action this week was to make something new from something old. My big goal was to make something crafty with my son. I was going to use old water bottles to make discovery jars, or empty milk cartons to make containers for crayons and markers. Or I was going to make little creatures with him out of things we found, and today while I was walking the dogs, I gathered some pine cones and eucalyptus nuggets (I’m sure that’s the scientific term for those pod things they drop) and moss and all kinds of cool things nature had discarded. And then I remembered my son is 13 months old. He is not “crafty”. Destruction is his thing, not construction. I can’t even build a tower with his blocks without him toddling over and smacking it down. He is happiest when he is hitting things with sticks, smooshing squishy food in his hands, or tearing pop-ups out of books.

I keep wanting to buy him art supplies and then I don’t because he just eats whatever he’s holding. I look at the fingerpaints longingly, and then put them down, sighing and saying, “Someday soon”. It just occurred to me that I have been projecting my wishes onto him. I have been dreaming of making art with him, and he might want to someday and he might not. It is my passion, but it may not ever be his. I need to let him be who he is, and give myself permission to play and make stuff without waiting for him to join in. Maybe it’s less scary to be silly and not produce great results if you’re playing with paint with a child. If I painted for myself, I might be disappointed if it wasn’t “good”. Oh, the burden of consciousness. If I could only be as free from that results-oriented thinking as he is. He’s sleeping now, and there are so many other things to check off my to-do list, but instead I am going to pull out the fun things I gathered and make something. Just for the fun of it. Just for me.

What are you waiting for? Go work on something you’ve been putting off. Something that will feed your soul and create wonder in your life. Go.

Activities

Action #5: Create Something New from Something Old

Once a week, I will post a suggested activity for creating wonder in your life (mostly to get myself to do it, but I hope you’ll join me). I will include three different participation levels, so lack of time or money will be no excuse. Please share your experiences here to inspire others. Go forth and create wonder!

Reinvent something that has worn out. Give new life to something on its last legs. Not only is it “green” to reuse, but it gets some creative juices flowing to come up with a new purpose for an old object instead of just tossing it.

Ample Time and Money: Do a spinoff of last week’s sensory field trip and go somewhere you can buy things to repurpose. There are amazing places where you can sift through someone else’s old stuff to make it new for you. You can find treasures at garage sales and flea markets, but you can also search for places in your area that take in people’s junk and sell it for super cheap. I can think of two off the top of my head in the Bay Area: Urban Ore and SCRAP. These are two enormous spaces filled with fantastic collections of things waiting to be reused, diamonds in the rough waiting to be polished off and reborn into something glorious. Comb through with an open mind, and be inspired. My friend just went to an Urban Ore-esque place in the Sacramento area and came home with three old frames (or were they cabinet doors?) she painted over with chalkboard paint and hung on the wall for her daughter to draw on.

Limited Resources: Maybe you own something already that would take just a little sprucing up to make new. Sometimes it doesn’t take much time or money to revive an old favorite. I have had an Ikea bench seat for about seven years that they don’t even make anymore. It had this red wool upholstery with seven years worth of stains and dog hair and rather than throw it away, I reupholstered it myself. It didn’t take long at all. I ran into Discount Fabrics one day while I had an hour to spare, drooled over all the possibilities, reveled in colors and patterns and textures, and finally picked a red and white houndstooth check. I had scissors and a staple gun and within another hour, I had what looked like a brand new bench. I had fabric left over, so I replaced some old Ikea pillow covers. I don’t own a sewing machine so I made them by hand while watching TV. They aren’t as snug as the old ones, but I was pretty proud of myself considering my serious lack of domestic skills. Look around your own house. What could you make new with something simple like a fresh coat of paint or new fabric?

Busy and Broke: You really don’t have to buy anything at all to create something new. Make art out of found objects or the contents of your own trash or recycling bin. Challenge yourself to only use what you already have and see what you can come up with. This is especially fun to do with kids, but don’t think you can’t make something cool for yourself, too. There are tons of craft sites that show you how to reuse anything from newspapers to water bottles. Check this out if you need some ideas. Or Ready Made. Or Photojojo. There is no end to great DIY sites, but if you’re busy, don’t get lost searching for ideas. Just go make stuff. And come back and share it here.

Places, Uncategorized

Stimulated yet?

Supposedly this summer is one of the coldest on record in San Francisco for the last hundred years. I am not surprised. It is dreary and gray and so foggy I had to use my windshield wipers driving around the city yesterday. Summer is never our best season, but it has been particularly gloomy this year. I don’t do well when the weather is like this, and it’s even harder when other things aren’t going so well.

I was going to self-publish my book, Animal Mashups, on a small, handmade scale, but have found the process so incredibly frustrating, I decided instead to seek a publisher or agent representation. Which most likely means heading down a long path of rejection, which I’m also not so good at.  That said,  I’m trying extra hard to keep focused on doing things that bring hope and light into my days, keeping my senses stimulated until the blessed sunshine returns (I know much of the country can’t fathom this, as it’s hot as balls everywhere else, but the grass is always greener, right?).

This week I stopped by Casa Bonampak in the Mission to get a gift for a friend, and to brighten a blah day. Everything in here is made by hand in Mexico. There are papel picados in every color for any occasion, paper flowers, Day of the Dead ephemera, Virgen de Guadalupe onesies, Spanish greeting cards, Mexican wrestler action figures and on and on. It makes me happy just walking in. If you need to brighten up a party (or your day just because), you can buy fun decor directly from their website.

Have any of you done anything to wake up those senses this week? Do tell!