Archives for category: Instruction

Peonies in the darkI was working at my dining room table, re-purposing some old garments. I had a pile of old clothing, rotary cutter, a mat… and an inspiration. I worked in silence, a simple repetitive task, when a thought popped into my head. It flew in and took root. Now I think about it a lot.

I thought about all I do to nurture my physical health. I try to eat well, get enough rest, exercise, visit the doctor to get the stamp of approval, etcetera. You know the drill. Then I thought about the other aspects of my health. My being is more than just a physical body. Am I nurturing my emotional, spiritual and mental health?

It’s never an issue when things are going well but that is not how life works. When difficult times come… and they do, it’s necessary to have developed the inner fortitude to come out the other end with psyche intact.

Lots of questions have burbled up and I’m glad to have plenty of quiet time to explore this. It’s a personal journey but I’m sharing because I suspect others may relate.

I am starting to look at mental health as a precious resource that can be squandered and lost. We must be aware of our inner life and some unnameable essence that has to be minded, topped up.

I’m struck by the number of people who are “broken” for lack of a better word. Some do terrible, desperate things. We all see them on the edge of society, some taking meds, some not and I ask myself could this be prevented? Can we teach people how to cultivate their spiritual and mental health?

If I think of my inner health as a flower in a garden. How should I tend it?

Oriental Poppy, flower

The dazzling, but delicate poppy: Beware of wind and rain!

Every flower has its own nature. A native wild flower needs very little care and before long takes over in the right conditions. Not all of us have that strength built into our constitutions!

Some of us bloom only under specific conditions, requiring lots of care and feeding.

I think I’m a pretty resilient flower in a healthy garden.

So what do I do to cultivate my inner garden? Here are a few things:

  1. Set some time every day for quiet, reflective time.
  2. Find time to be in nature.
  3. Move my body – Go for a walk, a swim, a belly dance class!
  4. Turn off the news – It just causes me stress!
  5. Be social – Quality time with like minded people is a good thing  for me.
  6. Weave, spin, knit, sew, embroider – Creating with fibre is water for my garden. I can’t go very long without or I wilt!
Ecinacea, Coneflower, bee

Echinacea, or Coneflower has medicinal properties.

Here’s a challenge! Ask yourself what you need.

Is there something in your life you are ready to let go of? Gardens have seasons and with seasons come change.

It is my hope that more people take an interest in preserving and improving their mental and spiritual health.


"From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru" courtesy of the Textile Museum of Canada

“From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru” courtesy of the Textile Museum of Canada

The adventure with Helen and Sorlie continues.

My friend Elizabeth was going to visit their studio for tea and I was invited to join them as Helen was going to demonstrate how to wear a kimono. I had never seen anyone go through the long and complicated process of dressing in a kimono. We aren’t talking about whipping on a bathrobe, folks!

First, I learned the difference between yukata and kimono.

Yukata was originally worn as we would wear a bath robe. Now it is fashionable to wear them out in public but only during the summer months! They are made from thin cotton and adjusted to end at the ankle bone.

Kimono are worn year round and can cost more than a luxury car, which can be problematic since you can’t wear the same one year round. There are traditional colours, patterns and motifs for every season. If you wear your cherry blossom kimono in December… well, you just wouldn’t! This would be a good time to have a talk with your bank manager about a loan.

Helen demonstrated how to put a plastic stay through the collar before donning her undergarment. By pulling down an elastic at the back of the collar she can decide how much of the nape of her neck she wants to show.

Geisha, neck

A young maiko, as distinguished by the red collar. She will wear a pink collar when she becomes a geiko.

I was fascinated to see the number of cheats: clips, ties, padding. The goal is to create a flat shape: no bust, no hips, no waist. The kimono is always closed left over right. Right over left is only to dress the dead. I looked down at my kimono styled sweater – it was right over left… big oops!

A lot of care was taken to make sure every seam, every edge was straight and perfect.

Then comes the obi! Helen demonstrated both a formal obi to wear with kimono and a casual one for yukata. She tied the obi in a formal bow shape then jazzed it up with a contrasting colour and fabric: a green gauzy bow draped over top. Fabulous!

obi, yukata

Once Helen finished tying her obi she shifted it to the back.

obi, yukata

She adjusts the front. A younger wearer will wear the green band towards the top, an older wearer towards the bottom and those who are sitting on the fence will leave it in the middle.

The art of dressing was followed by a traditional tea ceremony. We talked for ages about being makers of things, appreciating the craft and skill and appreciating one another. I’m tempted to make a return visit to the studio to make own tea bowl.  A bowl that fits my hand just so…

That thought makes me happy!

Helen Serving Tea