I can’t recall how or when the book came to me, but I picked up The Girls with the Grandmother Faces by author Frances Weaver because I thought it would be nice to share it with my aunt. She hits milestone birthdays two years and one month before I do and I’ve made something of a habit of sending her a book about women and aging , the first when she hit 40 and then again at 50. She kindly returns the book to me when I reach that age two years later, adding to my original inscription with one of her own to me.
I then send the same book, with a new inscription, to my next youngest female cousin six years later, who passes it along to her sister, and then to other cousins as they each reach that age. Thinking about it, I realize now that my eldest daughter is due to receive the first book in just four years.
Anyway, this book. Thought I’d send it to my aunt even though she has a few years to go until she turns 60, because the subtitle is, “A Celebration of Life’s Potential for Those Over 55.” Since I am already 54, I figured why wait, send it now, but I was also curious so I read it myself first.
There is a lot of encouragement in Weaver’s book. Sharing insights from her personal life, learned the hard way when she became a widow at 55, and from the lives of women she’s met in her town and in her travels, she wills the reader to be brave, even if just one small step at a time. To explore. To be curious. To discover new things and new ways of being. To make an effort to find out who they are as older women. To figure out what they can still do. On their own or together.
The part that inspired this post, however, was this. She wrote, “Recycle tells my story: There’s more to me than I’ve used yet.”
As a person who has reinvented herself more than a few times, these words resonated with me.
“Recycling ourselves means getting rid of whatever serves no useful purpose, whatever our lives no longer depend on. Recycling also means discovering the unused, still-new interests, options, and opportunities that did not fit the younger version of ourselves.”
No matter our age, there is usefulness in ourselves we’ve yet to discover. We’re not destined for the trash. We just need to scrape off the labels that have heretofore described us, rinse out the gunk, give ourselves a good scrub. We have to be open and look around a little for inspiration. Find ways to recycle, refashion, re-brand, if necessary.
Make time to take a class, whether it’s something you’ve long wanted to know more about, or something you just heard about. Reconnect with old friends and definitely make new ones. Take a trip to the library or across the country. Take stock of your wardrobe and see if there are ways to re-imagine what you have into something that thrills you.
What are ways you can recycle yourself? How might the efforts you put into craft projects inspire a little creative reuse in your whole life?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
RE-VISIONS: CREATE YOUR OWN VISION BOARD – February 27, 2016 (12:30PM – 2:30PM) – The Bee welcomes special guest, Shawn Fink, who you may know from Abundant Mama, as our presenter for this hands-on workshop.
Many people take the opportunity of turning the calendar into a new year to set fresh goals. Then, within a couple of weeks, resolve weakens and it’s back to the comfort of old habits. Sound familiar? Join us to get clear on what you want to bring more of into your life this year by creating a unique-to-you vision board.
Shawn will share a meditative technique to tap into your greatest goals and intentions for 2016, inspiring you to create a clear vision and design your own board to take home. The Bee will provide most of the reuse materials and other supplies you’ll need but you are encouraged to find and bring your own favorite images as well. Magazines are a good source; sometimes the library offers them for free.
Special Note: One or both of Shawn’s daughters will offer a concurrent session for our younger attendees to make Joy Boards. Great for the 8 to 14 age group.
Held at CoWork155, 155 W. Market Street, York
Vision Boards Age: 15 and up; Class size up to 40; Suggested donation: $10
Joy Boards Age: 8-14, Class size about 6; Suggested donation: $5
One could be disheartened after reading the opinion piece in the October 4 New York Times Sunday Review titled, “The Reign of Recycling.” The writer issued forth one statistic after the next leading the reader to believe that recycling in our country is basically nothing more than a feel good attempt to soothe our guilt over our unbridled consumerism.
Clearly not an unbiased opinion, the writer used the majority of his words to let us know just how economically unwise it is to go to the bother of sorting when there is plenty of room in the country to heap more piles of trash and we shouldn’t worry that landfills grow. It costs more money – and often times more resources with negative enivronmental impact – to recycle, according to the piece.
I wanted to discount his assertions. To rebut with robust evidence to the contrary, and I know there is likely research to do so. Yet, even the weak bits of his arguement, unfortunately, held some amount of weight.
We really want to think that it’s not so bad – that WE are not so bad – if we recycle. But isn’t it still, for most of us, getting the evidence of our consumption out of our view. We’re still throwing things “away.”
What we could clearly do, instead, is be more mindful of our intial purchasing choices to begin with. We could make smarter decisions based on sustainable production practices. We could buy quality goods that won’t need to be replaced on a whim. We could work more diligently to reuse.
What better day than this, National Reuse Day, to challenge ourselves to do just that?!
The Bee continues to strive to be a creative reuse champion and inspire others to take up the charge, as well. I’m glad you’re in it with us!
When a client and her mother arrived at my door this morning for our first in-person meeting to discuss her wedding dress, I was excited to see the bundle of vintage linens I knew they were bringing with them to be incorporated into her one-of-a-kind, original design.
Soon, sturdy doilies and crisp linen napkins tumbled onto the table, a lace curtain panel was held up to reveal its full beauty, and a stack of soft ladies’ handkerchiefs had me swooning as each was gently pulled from the pile.
It wasn’t long before we were swapping stories about the older or departed women in our lives who carried hankies with them, tucked into their sleeve cuffs, pockets, and handbags.
As our recollections tumbled over one another like seashells caught in the surf, I couldn’t help but think of my own grandmother, and how, when we arrived for her funeral a few years ago, my mom, my brother, my daughters, and I each showed up with one of Nanny’s hankies to dab our tear-stained cheeks.
Of course, I also remember the hankie “trick” Nanny employed to keep us children quietly occupied during church services decades before. (I recognize, now, its similarity to origami, and wonder if my ease of folding peace cranes and paper stars isn’t a direct result of the technique I learned in the pews on Sunday mornings.)
If you happen to have a square cloth handkerchief, here’s a step-by-step illustration to give it a try:
On the eve of our first trunk show, which will reveal the 2015 Spring Collection of little girl dresses made by The Bee, I’m honored to post these lovely thoughts from Sarah who placed our first custom dress order (through Arthur & Daughters) two years ago.
“Averie did a beautiful job creating dresses for my daughters and niece out of two Oxford shirts that belonged to my dad before he passed away. The way she put the dresses together was beyond anything I could have imagined. The color combinations were precious, and she preserved a place where my dad had written his name so that we didn’t lose that precious part. When I saw the dresses, I burst into tears at how lovely they were. I would recommend her entirely for repurposing men’s shirts into beautiful designs for little girls!” – Sarah Rentzel Jones
Sarah and her family, including daughters Irene and Maggie who received two of the three dresses I made, now live in Lanai City, Hawai’i, and the dresses are still in the girls’ wardrobes. As you can see, time has a way of making little girls sprout up and dresses simply can’t keep up, which can be nice for little sisters who welcome hand-me-downs. Enjoy these “then” and “now” photos, which are shared with permission.
Here’s a photo from Mother’s Day 2013 of Sarah’s three children and her neice, who also received a dress. (Pretty sure she’s long outgrown it.) 🙂
Feeling altogether enthusiastic about establishing a routine (for lack of a better word) of bi-weekly blog posts, I penned them into my (Desire Map) day planner for every other Monday, beginning with February 2.
This date felt auspicious for a number of reasons, first, because it’s my mom’s birthday, and also because it’s Candlemas, Imbolc, the mid-Winter mark which, here in Pennsylvania, means something. Punxsutawney Phil prognostications aside, it simply gets people to set their thinking ahead, toward Spring, out of the coldness and darkness.
I expected I might set myself down the Sunday night prior or awake early Monday morning to tap my thoughts into view but February 2 came and went. And the 3rd, 4th, 5th; well, you get the picture. I dont’ think I even changed the cover photo on The Bee’s Facebook page to recognize Valentine’s Day. Before I knew it, the 16th arrived, as it was bound to do, and it was time, according to my calendar, to write “another” post.
Well, the fun coincidence (although Bee friend, Janel , says “You know, there really is no such thing as coincidence.”) in allowing time to pass is that I was fortunate enough to have time to spend with my mother on the 16th. And I didn’t have to burrow into the recesses of my memory to find a story idea of how she influenced me in regard to sewing or creative repurpose or The Bee, because we were busily making new memories together revolving around all of that.
Hallelujah for holiday time from the day job and a momma who is now retired! I can’t tell you how absolutely rewarding it felt to share an afternoon together, tucked away in my toasty little sewing room; she trying her hand at the serger for the very first time (with a bit of role-reversal that had me being the “teacher”), and me demonstrating my process of converting a pair of pants, a batik blouse, and a belt into an awesome yoga mat bag. (Stay tuned for some BIG news about that, coming up!)
As I was snapping a couple photos and uploading them to Dropbox, I mentioned to Mom that I thought Nanny would really enjoy seeing what we were up to. Seemed as if I ought to be able to simply share the pix through the phone or post them on her Facebook page. Well, if they had Facebook in heaven, which I can’t imagine, as there must be a ton more interesting things to do.
So I’ll leave it to embracing what is present. And embracing the creative process. And embracing my momma. And giving a big fat virtual hug to you all, with encouragement to get crafty, inspire yourselves, and stay connected. (Which reminds me, we have a Buzz In scheduled for tomorrow night. If you’re nearby, come on out.)
-Averie (aka Shug)
Catching up with Averie Clark, founder of The Bee:
What inspired you to start a creative reuse business?
The seed of the idea for a business like this was germinating for a while. I tried my hand at the whole upcycled wearable art thing about 20 years ago, and even though it had a little momentum, the climate wasn’t quite right at the time for it to fully blossom. (Interestingly, I’m incorporating some of that into a product line we’re working on right now.) When I moved to York in 2005, however, the idea pushed through the surface and started to grow.
Part of the inspiration to do this at this time really came about as I observed a few things in my new hometown. First, the city was surrounded with a countryside, rich in tradition, populated by generations of self-sufficient, make-do-or-do-without, folk not unlike the central Pennsylvania area where I grew up a few hours north. And, like in many rural areas, an array of traditional home arts are beginning to be lost as older generations pass and younger folk don’t pick up the skills.
Secondly, I noticed a population of urban dwellers who appeared to be even more woefully distant from simple skills of self-sufficiency, like sewing, for instance, than their country counterparts. Whether they are professionals with enough income to simply buy new items rather than repair old, or they are living in poverty struggling to make ends meet, there seems to be a considerable tendency to devalue these skills and waste usable goods.
While there is a certain subset of the population, an inkling says middle-class suburbanites, who spend many a waking hour on Pinterest and are, for the first time in their lives, excitedly taking up needle and thread to create something with their own two hands, there are still many people who are far removed from this.
I felt a strong urge to inspire people to empower themselves – economically and creatively – through an introduction or reintroduction to craft. At this point in our collective history, it is ecologically important. In our individual lives, it is culturally important.
My goal is to offer opportunities for people to discover the joy of making things with their own hands. To learn how to be resourceful with what is around them. To use what they learn to express themselves, to change their economic station, to connect with one another for the common good.
Why “The Bee?”
Well, the full name of the business is Collective Courage LLC, DBA (doing business as) The Bee. There was something about the idea of finding strength and self-empowerment in people working together that appeals to me, hence the Collective Courage part. (And it allows for expansion of what we do/offer in the future!)
The “Bee” component is a total throwback to the quilting bees of days gone by like the ones I attended with my grandma. Those gatherings left an imprint on me. All these women stepping away from their daily work, coming together in fellowship – both for the social aspects and the service aspects. They laughed and talked (and talked!) and worked together on communal projects to help others.
Our “gathering with a purpose” tagline speaks to that. It’s about collecting materials and finding ways for creative reuse, and bringing people together, too.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I don’t know that I ever decided I wanted to be this thing or that as a kid – I liked too many things to decide on just one – which makes being an entrepreneur a perfect fit for me.
That said, my mom tells the story that when I enthusiastically marched off to kindergarten at the ripe old age of four, the first thing I did when I got home was set up a desk and begin “teaching” my brother everything I’d learned. I think that’s something I never stopped doing or enjoying.
I get excited to learn new things and turning right around and sharing that excitement by showing someone else how to do it. Some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had so far with The Bee have been about teaching.
In regard to your life and livelihood, how do you want to feel?
I typically get some eye rolling when I say this, but in whatever I’m doing to earn a living, I want to feel like I’m playing.
I fully admit I am, by nature, an improvisationalist (did I make up that word?) more than a master. I enjoy the process of coming up with things based on what’s in front of me, experimenting with whatever experience or technique I’ve picked up along the way rather than relying on strict methodology.
Whatever I may lack in diligent stick-to-it-iveness, however, I make up for in making things up. It translates in how I cook, my interpretations as a vocal stylist, and how I approach crafting/sewing.
As a 50-something woman (affectionately known as Shug to my grandchildren), I relish occasions to skip or turn cartwheels in the park on a sunny day, get on the floor for a game of jacks or block building, and figuring out just how many cool things can possibly be done with toilet paper rolls.
What inspires you? I’m inspired by something new every day. My environment plays a big part, with Nature being the most inspiring. The colors and textures I relate to a lot when it comes choosing textiles or materials for my projects. I’m also very inspired by mid-century culture and designs, I love classic silhouettes but also putting a spin on something old to make it new and unique.
Who were/are your influences, role models, s/heroes? My mom. She has been sewing for 55 years and tried to get me into the sewing game at a very young age. I went through periods of time where I had no interest in sewing because I was so discouraged when I couldn’t pick things up right away. She was and still is my biggest supporter and pushes me to keep going outside my comfort zone.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? From a very young age, I always wanted to be a fashion designer . I remember drawing all the time; started out on fashion plates and then had sketchbooks full of (very 80’s inspired at the time) designs. There were times when I followed different paths but I eventually fell back into my passion for textiles and designing.
What is your favorite thing about being in the creative process? I love just letting my mind go, sometimes it’s hard to execute exactly what you are creating in your mind, but once you do, the ideas just don’t stop. Also finding inspiration by the unusual and unexpected. I also love bouncing ideas off of other creative minds and collaborating with others.
What are your outlets for creative expression? Put any sort of medium in front of me and I’m a happy girl. I love messing with paints, beads, paper and most of all my sewing/embroidery machine. I absolutely love making gifts for people and it’s one of the things I enjoy doing the most. I feel that some of my best work comes from no pre-planning and just letting my hands take over. Throw in some unconventional materials and it’s like exploring a whole new world.
What drew you to The Bee? I became familiar with The Bee and its purpose through social media. It was always intriguing to me and I loved all the ideas of creative re-use. Through some networking, I met Averie and her passion for sewing and creating was so contagious. I was so excited to meet yet another person who shared this love for art! I’m a strong supporter of the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ movement so this organization fit in perfectly with what I strive for, I love being a part of something that also takes the time to give back to the community.
What do you see as the thing you bring to The Bee? I feel as if I bring open-mindedness for creating something different and maybe not so ordinary, I love to think outside the box. I have been sewing off and on for over 20 years but I feel like there is always room to learn more, and I think The Bee will help me discover things in myself that I was never able to unleash before.
In regard to your life and livelihood, how do you want to feel? I strive for balance. I’m a full-time stay at home mom so working time in to get out my creative expressions can be challenging at most, but I make sure to make time for it. I incorporate creativity in all aspects of my life; in the kitchen, in my parenting approach and even when I’m making my daily to-do lists at 5 am. My mind is constantly going; sometimes it’s like a traffic jam of ideas. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by too much of one thing, so it’s a constant process to work on balancing everything when your head is going 100 mph. I will get there one day, and I will enjoy every bit of the process along the way!