A Crafting Series
By: Jill Stockburger
Crafting our Days
A few weeks ago, I was talking via Zoom to a young client, her older sister, and their mother. Theirs is a multicultural family coupled with a delightful range of personality. I listened to discoveries they were making on their similarities, differences, and preferred ways of quality time, a few of their mishaps like we are all having, and finally the new habits turned rhythms they hope remain when we ever so slowly emerge from this cocoon state.
Their favorite was “Adventure Baking.” The older sister is precise, detail-oriented, reflective with a respite-form of hospitality; the younger sister is a risk-taker, exuberant, boisterous, and warm. The entire family understands that creativity lies within us all, and its inherent gift for individual expression with connection. This time it started with donuts and has moved to dumplings and on and on. They have returned to a craft with new twists that builds on each of their individual strengths within a structure of shared voice; the older sister’s attention to detail and organization + the younger sister’s adventurous culinary suggestions + their mother’s holding = the intimacy of delicious, sometimes messy, edible goodness and the practice of craft, tangibly and metaphorically.
And, if you can believe it, their craft combines foundational components of speech, occupational, and clinical therapies.
Craftsmanship requires focus, is rewarding and sometimes challenging, and activates the brain and the body at the same time. Craft and handiwork diffuse chemical build-up in the brain maintaining cognitive ability. The repetitive activities involved increases mindfulness further supporting focus, self-regulation with self-soothing, and stimulate the neurological system. It eases the intensity of fearful thoughts and anxiety making craft good for the heart, the head, and the home.
Nobel laureate and neural scientist Gerald Edelman created a theory that further supports the principles of craft in conjunction with our days. Edelman describes how new information is integrated into our brain through perceptual experiences coded in scattered “maps” of complex networks or interconnected neurons. For example, we see one kind of tree and when we see other kinds of trees we recognize their “tree-ness” and so on and so on. These generalizations are not static. They can flex, change and have emotional connotations. These interconnecting and dynamic maps can be enriched and shaped by play, craft and connection setting life-giving rhythms, soul-full road “maps.”
Now more than ever, we have returned to craft, maybe a somewhat sequestered return, but a return nonetheless. As we slowly emerge, I hope it is a question we reflect on as families, groups, and communities. Days and weeks can be messy, full, fast and slow seemingly at the same time, tension-laden, but we can make room for a small space of sustained craft that helps bring an intention to our days. Hindsight is 2020 ; )
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Theresa
What would you like to fall away and what would you like to remain?
As you begin to think about the new (big or small) tangible ways of being that have emerged during this unprecedented period, write or draw them on a smooth stone or create a time capsule to revisit, to remember, and to reset for those days in the future when the re-emergence has left us feeling a bit submerged.
- Sewing has made a comeback with all of this mask making. One family created an assembly line within the family members. Keep the sewing going.
- Recycled materials tinkering. One family allows their younger children to create little worlds out of the recycled materials (a different form of exploration when you are staying at home) while parents catch-up nearby.
- Chore Day: A family gets the music going for an hour or so, sweeping and dancing all at the same time.
- Switcheroo family walks: one family has set 10-minute timers on family walks. Pairs of family members get 10 minutes of one on one time with one another and then they intentionally switch-up.
- Family line-up rotation massages
- Home Repair or fix-it projects have seen an uptick!
- Tea time: One mother-daughter have been exploring teas from different cultures.
- Weekly Family Photo Challenge/ Share (Teenagers!!)
About the author: Jill Stockburger is a counseling intern with Memphis Family Connection Center as she obtains her Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling and Expressive Arts Therapy through Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.
Jill loves to see all the arts modalities of visual art, music, drama, dance, and creative writing integrated with TBRI principles.