Stitch the things you want to see in the world.

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Whoever designed this sign is absolutely brilliant

The famous quote ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ -MichalScofieldd slips it to Sarah Tencredi to establish a kind of connection on his first visit to the doctors office as part of this plan to escape Fox River Prison. I don’t know how bad it is that when I saw the quote used for an event on Facebook, I had to think of Sarah and Micheal and had to google who is responsible for the quote, or who it is attributed to (Mahatma Gandhi).

One way or another, the title of this post is a reference to this famous phrase. Seeing the quote embroidered I thought of an alternative ‘Stitch the things you want to see in the world’. These days, in the time of Facebook and Instagram it is very easy to see many talented (embroidery) artists, and I follow quite a lot of them. Seeing a bit of their process and quite ‘flat’ work of embroidery it would be easy to copy their style or re-imagine their work. The truth is, I did this myself, funnily enough, due to the fact that I am never so committed to copying something exactly, and am stuck with my own ideas and work ethics- and so my stitches still produce work that is quite different from the point of inspiration.

The ‘Jacobean’ sampler was inspired by what embroidery fairy godmother Mary Corbet posted years ago., The gray on white stripes are an attempt to embroider a face based on a photograph- not entirely sure where that came from… The little rabbit is an attempt to make something like  Chloe Giordano.

Ever since I started making things it was not that I had truly original ideas that no one ever had before, rather I would see something and think: I should be able to do this, and do it better, or at least my way. Being the change you want to see in the world is quite a big challenge, it suggests that things should change and you have to be the driving force to make it happen. Quite the pressure. I like the idea of stitching the things I want to see- I may not be able to change the world or peoples mind, but I can add something I have not seen before, my vision. Today I went to the movies to see ‘The greatest showman’ while not truly revolutionary the premise of the film intrigued me. one of the first songs that are sung state:

The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make –“A Million Dreams” The greatest showman. 

The words might as well be an impression of my own thoughts mind and heart. Although not new,  the song reminded me again of how wonderful it is to dream and make dreams come true.  And how wonderful it is to touch things in person that were only figments of imagination. To see that they are so similar or different than they started out with just a thought. A stitch or a work of art might not seem as things that have much influence on the world and the state of things on the scale of Gandhi’s work (although weaving was one of the crafts supported by his work), it holds a metaphor for the rest of life. So yeah, I dare you 31 days into the new year to stitch the things you want to see. Because you’ll learn and further develop a (new) skill – because you’ll find your strengths and limitations. But mostly because you will witness the creation and the possibility of creating anything.

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Being square- what a square can do.

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Cranes on the move

 

You’ll be there and I’ll be square– Don’t be there- Switchfoot

Taking a quick look at the urban dictionary shows that ‘being square’ is the same as not being somewhere because else you’d be ‘a-round’. A horrible wordplay but it works :). I must say though, the saying ‘being square’ is not the reason for this post. But since I wanted to use the phrase in the title I thought I should look up its ‘exact’ meaning. The other day my 3-year-old niece was looking for something to play with. She wanted something’ different’ and so she found my box of origami paper and the thing two ‘foldings’ that were in it. ‘What are those?’she asked, and pulled at the paper.

I haven’t taught her how to make origami yet, but it is one of the things I love to teach kids. It is amazing what a square piece of paper can fold into. Since origami paper is not always on hand, or as the children version is blatantly called ‘vouwblaadjes’ (foldingleafs), I also teach them how to make a square piece of paper without a ruler. The thing is, it isn’t too hard to transform a rectangle A4 sheet to a square, but it gets a little trickier when for instance you copy another square sheet to create ‘vouwblaadjes’. It proves quite tricky- read impossible- to fold something perfect from an ‘almost square’ piece of paper. When combined with inexperienced/learning folding the thing you make turn out ‘not quite right. – yet when the paper is square and the folds are good, the origami shape an always be refound.

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Origami returned to its shape

The squareness, more than the skills of the ‘folder’ determines whether or not a project will succeed, especially when it is made up of several sheets all folded in the required shape. This beautiful mystery of how only something very boring and solid will be able to turn into the most intricate designs without frustration. It also comes with the possibility to open and close the folds without damage, something I believe tells us something about the laws of this world. Perhaps, we as people from different shapes and sizes also need to find this square shape so we can turn into the beautiful origami that we were meant to be. And just as important, when we unfold ourselves or we are unfolded by circumstances or others we will always be able to return to our shape. And perhaps, for both the introverts as the non-introverts among us it will be good to sometimes ‘be square’ not be around to simply be alone, retreat, and return to ourselves. To ponder upon what a square can do. And what not.

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Folding towards a whole

Open(ed) heart

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Things I made growing up

Today one of our pastors preached about growing up. And she started with telling that she is an aunt. My brother first thought she said she was an ant. He was a little sad when she meant something else- not to because he cannot relate to having nephews and nieces (he is a great uncle) but because he enjoys it when people compare themselves to animals. Today I felt a bit like those little piglets who just plunge themselves between layers of their brothers and sisters. Surrounded by complete and utter love. And of course, the love that pushes and pulls. So why do I feel like a little piglet in a pile of piglets? What does it take for a reasonably grown-up woman to feel like that?

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Holding a baby. Embroidered. In progress.

Yesterday and today I celebrated my birthday, (I was actually born the 29th, but weekends make for good party days). That brings me back to the ‘aunt’ thing. Yesterday my two nieces were here. One 3 years, the other 8 months old. Becoming an aunt does something strange to you, or at least it did to me. There is this gigantic space in my heart, or rather, it feels like my heart is enlarged, burst in a way. Yesterday I wrote about it:

“how can a heart, burst, break, heal and be perfectly calm at the same time?”

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Open Heart. 6 times.

Having family over, having loved ones connect, it’s a special kind of vulnerable. It’s a special kind of warm… For as long as I remember, I am happiest on my birthday… So incredibly thankful for what I am given, what I am a part of, what I get to share, what people give to me :). Now, after a long day of trying to be right in time, serve, connect, cross-table conversations, people I love, I am content, like a fed piglet- perhaps eager to grow, but for now, I know that basking in the light of all this love it is enough to just lie. snuggle up. sleep. knowing I am perfectly loved.

Snippits.

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Simplicity is the best thing.

Every once in a while I get on a writers’ flow, and man does that feel good :). This happens mostly when I am in an inspiring and busy place where there is so much to see that I find I have so much to tell. So I shut myself off of a part of the environment and get into my notebook. And I write.

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Yesterday was one of those nights when I was at the Mezrab at an open storytelling night. I had heard of the place before, but I had never been. Because although it is in one of my favorite parts of the city- along the river IJ, it is also quite far away. Yet yesterday facebooks algorithms reminded me that this place existed and that there was an open storytelling night. And so I decided and went like I do: on my own, taking a notebook (great for hiding and for getting attention without looking desperate), and staying longer than 90 percent of the crowd. And after 3 times 3 stories, I wrote. And if I’ll develop the powers of being able to perform the writing by heart as if it were a story, I will do so. So today I won’t share the whole thing, but just some part that I truly love.

 

Being where I love it, the mess of the middle, taking it in and writing it down. I hear ‘I’m actually very tired’ ‘Do you want to leave?’ and I know’ll stay here a while. People go out out to a place with more oxygen and I wonder what it feels like, to not just write but to read out loud. To tell other than talk.

Just do something. Anything?

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The obscurity of a blurry photo in black and white

Write often, write honestly. That’s what I just heard Jon Foreman say in a video on youtube. Just before that, I saw some random person (random to me) with a video that says ‘what will happen when you do 1 push-up a day’ (in dutch). I was looking for some actual fitness video- my goal for this year is to be able to do a push-up, might as well set the bar at a low point. Anyways, even though the video showed some guy doing a push-up- he was mainly explaining how if you set low goals for ‘once a day’ it is easy to do more. one of the examples ‘if you decide to write at least 1 sentence for your blog a day, – you’ll think that is only a very little amount and before you know it you have written 7 blogs. like falling down a rabbit hole.

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What I’ve been stitching the last few days

Speaking of rabbit holes, I do fall in them sometimes- videos on youtube- interviews with people about movies I just saw. knitting for the sake of doing something while watching movies again and again. This week is the last of my free weeks, and yet, I feel little urge to do ‘everything I could’ mostly because I am not sure what that is or how I can get myself to do it. That brings me back to the first two ideas- simply starting somewhere and then making it a practice. And practice perhaps yields results. Even if they are not your absolute best or most satisfying.

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Not even a fraction of how beautiful the view really is. Even when writing honestly, photo’s can lie.

That being said, it feels good to simply sit down and write al little entry while I look out of the window and see the black shapes of the barren trees in front of the golden, orange, taupe and blue skies. The sun has gone down and I have yet to go outside today. But in these short days and long nights, I might as well not morn the day when it is lacking sunshine. I might as well check if tonight the ice skate rink that I have 5 more admissions for at the other side of town is open, to go there tonight from 2100. It might be just one time. But I’ll be doing something.

– Turns out it is open from 20.30-23.00. Yet another reason to just do it :).

Wobbly Words

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When words fail I’ll try something else. Drawings. Numbers. Art.

The words come out wobbly

I try many different ones

different sentences, and half

way through

I stop

and start

another

it is incredible

how inadequate, my mumblings

are to capture the thoughts

and memories I tried to share.

and you- blank there on the spot

from many different faces -ask

‘What on earth are you getting at?

Your words make no sense.’

And-

I see myself -as a miswritten letter

crumbling together, and just as well

the sigh of a small child, thinking

never will I get it right, and at the same

time, brave enough to say:

why are you scolding me,

I only have words.

And shy enough, and loved enough

to hide for a little while but then

Try again.

As that shy, brave, thinking, crumbeling

loved child I need another, let me sit

together for sometime, and then being

taught, about what I thought, in other words

‘That is what you meant right?’

Silent Night Amsterdam (Video)

Every once in a while I take little 35 second videos from a steady viewpoint. Criteria are that the scene I am capturing has some kind of subtle movement to it. The idea is that in theory these kind of video’s could be played on a loop, however, often something happens, like in this video where people pass by. Random snippits of text that now seem to have no meaning greet us. As well as the sound of the silence in the area. This video shows how beautifully quiet the city can be at night.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/249880251″>Amsterdam at Night</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user25248571″>Annelenalj</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

One hundred published drafts

Matching curtains

Collage of curtains

Since I woke up from the rain and the wind, and haven’t been able to get back to sleep for 3 hours I thought I might as well turn my computer on. It is strange how you can feel at least half wide awake at night, yet knowing that you’ll feel really tired and will sleep before the day can start. lying awake at night I always make big plans for the new day or dream about everything that could be in my life. And of course, i slowly dissect what I just dreamt and what actually happened before I went to sleep- like my first episode of shameless. Not sure what to think of it yet. 🙂 Speaking of sleeping, one of my good friends just had a baby, and that is a constant routine of sleeping, feeding and repeating. I remember my grandmother saying that newborns sometimes sleep 20 hours a day, crazy things. I wonder if when they are awake it feels to them as being awake in the middle of the night feels to me.

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VOEL-FEEL (& more curtains)

While I ponder the life questions of the night: shall I get out for a glass of water or ice cream (the answer is yes: ice-cream tastes magical in the middle of the night), I roam the back side of WordPress. Apparently, over the course of a few years, I published 99 posts on the blog, making this the 100th. Looking through all I’ve written I can hardly believe they are really so many, but apparently, I underestimate myself ;). In a way, all the post, like the photos or combination of the photos in this post are not perfect, hardly well curated. Yet they for me represent life and how there can be many un-matching beauties side by side.

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The posts I wrote contain traces of the life that happened in between. Although I am hardly ever spesific on the blog about things happening in my life, what I write always brings me back a little bit to the time I wrote it. The end of the year and the beginning of a new one always is a time to reflect. I must say it always seems hard to truly remember specifics or rather feelings felt throughout the year, but the blog helps. I am thankful that I have been able to put some of my writing out there in the universe of creative minds and random thoughts. To top it all off, I performed some of my poems for the first time on New Year’s Eve. In the comfort of my own home but with a mic, a sound system and an audience of partly strangers. Who would have known? They even laughed at my musings when appropriate. What I shared that night hasn’t made it to the blog yet, and that leaves promises for the next 100 posts. There will most definitely be more to come to Lieverleesje.