Can you believe it’s the last Wednesday in February, y’all? To a summer gal like me, the end of February is a welcome sign that we’re kicking through winter. This year the date brings another milestone, too. Today’s the last day of my first blog experiment. This month, I did something that took me weeks to build the nerve to try: Host a linky party, which is a way to start a conversation for blogs.
In this case, I invited bloggers to submit stories centered around mending self and making stuff. After all, these actions have changed my life, so I wanted to surround myself with gutsy women who are out there doing them, too. There are countless ways to interpret the theme, so I was curious to find out which stories would emerge.
This week I’m privileged to feature a story that spans a lifetime of making. It comes to us from poet and teaching artist Ren Powell, a Californian who has settled in Norway. (Can you blame her? Check out that shot of her by the lake.) Her post, “The Making of Objects,” brought up a mixture of emotions for me. In fewer than 700 words she traversed the decades and made me want to shout with frustration and longing and finally, vindication.
Powell’s story begins and ends with making things for people she cares about. On the surface this sounds sweet, and it is. But as Powell well knows, making objects isn’t just about making objects. She calls it an act of love; I call it an act of bravery. No wonder I’m drawn to the topic: Anything that combines these two acts is what matters in this world.
What strikes me about Powell’s story is the ease and regularity with which society dampened her voice. Whether she was 8 or 18 or 28, her call to create was present. However, as is often the case with women who express themselves, there were consequences. Each time someone diminished her work, she responded. More often than not, it seems, her reaction involved holding back.
Powell is hardly alone in this response. (Cough, cough. Ever heard the phrase, “Takes one to know one?”) When people are are told repeatedly over time that their efforts have little value, they hold back as a means for survival. As someone who’s recently learned to overcome past fears and embrace my creative voice, I was particularly struck by this quote: “I studied art in school. In college. I won little, local awards for poetry. But unless it was sanctioned by the gatekeepers who put monetary value on things, it was amateurish in my mind, and amateurish was a bad word.”
And so, I relished the ending of her story with enthusiasm. No longer crippled by the hesitance of youth, she found a way to embrace her creativity. In the end, love gave her the strength to embrace her medium and own her creations. I, too, have become weary of the gatekeepers and hope we can all learn from Powell’s post.
Thanks again to all the writers who joined me on my linky quest. Here’s a recap. Enjoy!
Initial Invite: Join Me in February: Mend, Make, Change
Week 2. Why Women Write: Global Edition
Week 4. Making Stuff: An Act of Love or Bravery?