Anna Sui Goth/Folk SS13 & The Make It Yourself Challenge

Anna Sui Goth/Folk SS13 & The Make It Yourself Challenge

I woke up with a jolt this morning.

The idea I’ve been trying on for size lately hit me like a challenge I’ve wanted to always conquer, but never fully realized.  When I was young, I was surrounded by amazing women who did things the traditional, old fashioned way.  My grandmother, aunt and mom would knit me blankets and slippers, make me clothing, cook everything majorly from scratch, and live by a very healthy attitude of simple pleasures and homemade fares.  It was indulgent to sink my teeth into the hot banana chocolate chip muffins, wear my slippers with pride, and snuggle under my quilt every night.  These little love gestures and personally infused items became important everyday items that have happily stained my memory, and become a part of who I am.  I remember learning how to sew on the machines at my dads shop.  I remember the ladies who worked there teaching me to peice the scraps together in straight lines.  So much craftiness for the essentials.  Now it seems we reserve much of those talents or creativity for the workload we honour.  My energy goes into writing, taking pictures, drawing… but does that mean that crocheting a blanket means any less?  There is something so beautiful about making a home feel cozy and comfortable.  Dropping memories you’ve made and are proud of, as well as incorporating the ones you love into the surroundings you keep.  My most prize possessions at home are not only my books from my own collection as well as my grandparents, but also the artwork they made that hangs on my walls.

I’ve been diving into cooking and baking more.  I’ve mastered (all gluten and refined sugar free) blueberry jam, banana walnut chocolate chip muffins, oatmeal raisin cookies, bread (cinnamon raisin included), pumpkin pie (hey, if I can’t brag here, where can I?)… but there are so many additional touches I’d like to learn and contribute to my family and home.  I would love to crochet.  I want to get back into painting.  I wish I was a better plant nurturer (my attempt to grow my own indoor tomato farm has been taking a turn for the worse).  As challenging as it can be to add small forms of self sustainability to your life, it can prove very satisfying.  I don’t quite know what this giant shift has been for me, but I’m taking a turn for the “hard” way (as we know it), sans shortcuts.  Our culture looks on cooking cleaning, and housework as things that hold us back from our lives.  While I totally understand not letting laundry hold you back when there is something to attend that truly excites you, I think it’s misfortunate that we look on these tasks so negatively.  There is something to be proud of when you come home to a beautifully kept place, with fresh food and clean clothes.  You are not maintaining something that doesn’t benefit you, you are creating an atmosphere perfectly suited to you (and whoever may share your space).  What’s wrong with putting on some music, and making it enjoyable though?  Why can’t we shut off everything else going on in our lives, and simply focus on the acts we are performing (the rhythmic and routine can actually be quite calming and therapeutic).

 While we’ve gotten so used to “simplifying” our lives by running out for our quick fixes, we’ve stripped many experiences of their enjoyability.  Sometimes it’s worth it to take the time to learn and do something the harder way.  We have this “rip off the bandaid as fast as you can” mentale that only seems to leave us feeling weak and drained in the end (not to mention, does it really save us anything at the end of it all?).  It’s the same feeling that propels us to eat out (we’ve essentially stopped even realizing that we too can make these dishes ourselves), and buy a multitude of “things” merely because they are cheap or convenient.  Realize that if a machine made it, you most probably can too… be it a book, a piece of art, a cup, a coffee table, shelf, dress, tea blend, soap, cream, face mask, stationery set…  In so many ways, although I do understand time being the ultimate hold back, we are robbing ourselves of the small accomplishments that could be all around us.  The empowerment learning and applying something new brings.

I recently discovered iTunes University, an incredible resource containing a plethora of informative course material, lectures, and assignments for almost anything and everything you could sink your teeth into offered by international universities.  The most amazing part of it all?  It’s free on your iPhone and iPad.  Study at Harvard University, Stanford, you name it – without tuition fees.  While you don’t necessarily get credits from completing the courses (although there have been exceptions), an entire world of information is completely open to you, and easily at your disposal for the skills of your desires/needs.  As if that all wasn’t enough, there are course teachers and their according email addresses should you wish to discuss class-related topics/concerns further in private.  Revolutionary if you ask me, and yet we still choose to use our time to indulge reality television, drinking ourselves into oblivion on the weekend, and settling for less in varying aspects of our lives because of these choices.  Playing homemaker not your thing?  You’d be stupid not to take advantage of indulging your intellectual interests.

I don’t want to go too much out on a limb here, but I recently watched a documentary on birthing options (no, I’m not pregnant).  It explored the care women receive at the hospital, while also exploring the largely misunderstood option of midwifery and doulas.  While some women with high risk pregnancies were better suited to giving birth in the hospitals with full equipment in case of emergency, many preferred the option of natural births at home.  We live in a society that has glamorized c sections and epidurals.  Both procedures/medication that serves very wonderful purposes when used appropriately.  The issue is the fear and stigma that has become intwined with giving birth (to men and women).  More times than not, I think women think of the hospital as their only option – as taking the pain relieving (which can even be debated) drugs as their only option.  That they wouldn’t be able to do it naturally.  The truth is, for many women, their bodies are equipped to handle it.  The mental and physical support is what’s missing.  The expectation that the experience shouldn’t hurt is what’s misconstrued (and even if that’s accepted, theres the mentality of why should it hurt when I can control it?).  We approach childbirth like something that needs to be ticked off our to-do list (and if you don’t personally, doctors on time schedules do).  It’s a monumental time in a young families life – a magical event!  When the day does come, should the resources be available, and the pregnancy right, I want to be doing it at home, in an environment that is comfortable and secure to me.  I want to feel the highs and the lows my way.  I want to make it as personal as I possibly can.  We are all mammals, I don’t think a natural act as primal as giving birth should always necessarily be so humanized.

The homemade always directly translates to folk to me… love  Anna Sui patchwork city chic

 So the challenge?  It may be a lifelong work in progress, but I am vowing to spend more time creating (from every spectrum of my lifestyle), and more time enjoying the process.  I will begin a string of self-teachings that will allow me to comfortably know how to do it myself (I’m sure those Pinterest DIY’s will finally apply to me).  Who knows, I may even start making clothes again… nothing wrong with doing hillbilly things in the midst of city living, I actually consider it quite modern.


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