Tag Archives: authentic self

Creative Play Newsletter Vol. 2:Issue 4 – Play For Your Authentic Self

I started reading a book called “Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul” by Stuart Brown, M.D., founder of the National Institute for Play, (Who knew there was such a thing?) and Christopher Vaughan.  I am completely riveted.  I’m learning about all of the benefits of play for kids to develop problem solving and social skills, and for adults in preventing brain degeneration. I’m finding the topic fascinating, but of course my main interest is in the benefits of creative play. Interestingly, it was in a chapter about kids and play where I found the phrase that stopped me in my tracks.

Brown and Vaughan write, “. . . the self that emerges through play is the core, authentic self” (emphasis in the original, pg.107).  “That’s it exactly!” I thought.  As an adult engaged in creative play, it may not be that the authentic self is emerging, but rather re-emerging, but that’s exactly how I felt as I began to play more and get back in tune with my creativity. I finally felt right again, like I was back in my own body rather than looking at myself from the outside wondering who I had become. As I got more comfortable with my authentic self (whom I had not known in a VERY long time), the most amazing things happened. I was finding inspiration on an almost daily basis and creating art that for the first time, really spoke to me. I also began feeling joy, an unexpected but incredible benefit.

Authentic Self – An Update

Fifteen months ago on my 40th birthday, I wrote that my gift to myself was going to be to finally live my authentic life.  Though I wasn’t bold enough to call it that then, that day was really an announcement of the journey that I was going to take to figure out what my authentic life really was. Today, I am trying to think of a way to celebrate because I think that I am here. I certainly don’t think the journey is over, but I realized that the road seems to be a lot flatter and the journey a little easier and that I am truly happy. (How did that happen?!)

Probably six months ago, maybe more, I reached a point where I was really stuck. As I envisioned it, I came walking out of the deep woods, carrying a heavy pack, sweaty and dirty and tired. I walked out into a clearing and. . . looked straight up at this enormous mountain rising out of the trees, its summit obscured by mists.  In that moment, I dropped the pack and sat in the dirt, starting at that God damned mountain, feeling utterly defeated because I’d already been walking for a long time and was ready for my journey to end, only to be confronted with an insurmountable obstacle. I kicked at the dirt, cursed a string of words that would have shocked my grandmother, and growled in anger at the unfairness of it all.  I sat there, staring at that %&^%*% mountain for days or weeks, knowing what it was and trying to figure out a way around it or over it, but I could not find a solution. Finally one day, I said, “To Hell with you!” I shouldered my pack and went back the way I came, into the deep woods.

I haven’t been thinking about my mountain all of these last months, but I realized today that I must have been walking around it. Today, I envisioned again walking out of the woods, brushing aside a few last branches and walking out into the sunlight, looking ahead at a clear road with nothing on either side.  I turned back to look behind me and I saw that mountain, no longer shrouded in mist, and BEHIND ME. In this moment, I’m still staring at it in disbelief because I’m astounded that it’s behind me. I never climbed it. I never saw it in all of these months of walking, but there it is, behind me. I don’t really know how it happened either, but sometime during all of those months of walking around that mountain, I became happy. I’ve been happy for a while and actually telling people, “Yes, this is what happy looks like on me. You’ve not seen it in a long time.” But, somehow it still didn’t dawn on me until today. As I stared at that mountain behind me, I thought, “Wait a minute! I’m happy. I’m actually happy!” That’s why I feel like celebrating. It sneaked up on me, but I’m living my authentic life and I’m looking forward to the road ahead. (Oh, and that heavy pack?  I’m leaving that %^& thing at the mountain.)

Quilt Show

Quilters are such nice people.  I can’t even tell you how many people stopped me at the show over the weekend and told me how much they liked my “Authentic Self” quilt.  It was a quilt that I made just for myself with no thoughts about winning any ribbons and having people go out of their way to say positive things about the quilt was so much more meaningful to me than any ribbon could have been.

I also want to thank the people who came up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed the special exhibit that I put together with several of my guild colleagues.  The exhibit was entitled “History of Quilting in America” and it described the state of quilting during several historical periods from the colonial era to the modern age with quilt samples from each period.   In case you missed the show, I’ll post some of it here over the next few weeks.

My Authentic Self is Complete

Well, the quilt anyway.  I expect that my authentic self is going to be a WIP for quite a long time.  For the quilting on this quilt, I let each different fabric “speak” to me and chose a quilting design that reflected the fabric itself.  Each quilting design is different, but I was surprised by how quickly the quilting happened. Once I had a plan in place for each piece of fabric, the actual quilting of it took just a few minutes.

Authentic Self, 2015

Authentic Self, 2015

This quilt too will be in the Rising Star Quilters Guild show this weekend (Friday and Saturday) at St. Brigid’s Church in Lexington, MA.

Finished sewing my Authentic Self

I have finally finished the top for my “Authentic Self” quilt. Since I was working off the design wall and piecing improvisationally, it ended up taking way longer to piece than I expected. I discovered that (at least for me) improvisational piecing means lots of set-in seams and also lots of seam ripping. There are even a few seams that didn’t have to be set-in but I only figured out after the fact that if I had sewn in a different order I would have made it easier on myself. Oh well!  I’m still pleased with the result (though there’s going to have to be some blocking after quilting because it’s not even close to square.

Authentic Self Top

Authentic Self

Over the past few weeks, I have been working on my “Authentic Self” quilt. In addition to photos of me from points in my life from infancy to my 40th birthday, I have included photos of travel, hobbies, etc. and other things that represent who I am.  I am also making use of my extensive purple batik collection for the quilt.

For the photos of my hobbies and travel, I am thread painting a portion of the photo, which I printed in black and white, using shades of purple.  A few more shades of purple thread would be nice and I could also use a better stabilizer, but I am generally pleased with the results:

Gondola Thread PaintingThe one thing that I am not too happy about with the quilt is how off my seam allowances are. I don’t have a 1/4 inch piecing foot yet for my new machine and I am not great at eyeballing it. However, I am trying to remind myself that my authentic self probably doesn’t need to be so much of a perfectionist.