Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Recognizing Who I Am

I was once told I was not creative. At that moment I realized I'd failed to show the person who I was, who I am: a maker. I didn't know then, but people write their stories of you based on the data they see or don't see.

Find Your Voice: Week 2, Who Are You?


Deciding I was creative and taking proactive steps to show I was creative was foreign to me. Until that moment I'd always answered who I am by listing what I wasn't. (I finally realized I was approaching my answer from the wrong direction at Alt Winter this past January. My big A-HA moment was "Don't define yourself by what you're not.") I wasn't conscious that I could choose how I wanted to be defined until yesterday when I worked through Lesson 2 of the Find Your Voice Workshop.

When did you realize
and appreciate who you are?

First an admission. Before I'd even seen Lesson 2, I'd already started thinking about Who I Am thanks to Sandra Harris of Raincoast Creative Salon (she asked in May Who Do You Think You Are). I'd staged an I AM moment, and already written a post about how great it felt to take center stage, leading a Girls Night In Thai cooking.

Who I Am: A Maker. A Thai Cook.


This lesson could have been easy; all I had to do was just regurgitate that story (it fit nicely with the writing-based prompt). Instead I selected the crafting-based prompt again. Crafting forces me outside my comfort zone. I primarily work with digital objects and words, so handling and manipulating physical objects requires more thought, demands me to be present.

Materials You Need for Your Mood Board

  • A vintage skirt hanger
  • Mementos you've collected from events you've attended
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Photographs
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone: Working On

The Process: How to Create a Mood Board from a Vintage Hanger

For this project, I started with an empty vintage skirt hanger. I chose the hanger as I wanted to a frame for items and photographs that represent who I am today and that could be changed out as I continue to grow.

Because Alt Summit earlier in the year made such an impact on me, I began by going through my box of Alt Summit business cards, notebooks, and mementos. When I unrolled the poster Sandra and Jennifer Cooper of Classic Play had created and Melanie Biehle of Inward Facing Girl had designed for their roundtable, Makers Got to Make, I knew the poster would form the foundation for my project. It had (and still does) so clearly articulated what I had learned about myself at Alt Summit and how I wanted to live my life that it was key to who I saw myself as.

I then flipped through over a year of digital photographs on my laptop and on external disks. The images I selected are from a New Year's Eve party we hosted, a first birthday party for Gates that we threw, and the Thai cooking class I just taught. There's a recent family portrait and a moment shared with Gates on a hot day. There are also silly details: my overly organized kitchen, my addiction to TV, and my obsession with party printables.

What I Learned

As I relieved highlights of my Good Life (I don't photograph the lows) I was overwhelmed to discover Who I Am.

I am accomplished.
I am a friend.
I am a hostess.
I am a cook.
I am a wife.
I am a mother.


Two things really struck me as I looked at the finished mood board. First and most important:

I have nothing I need to apologize for.
Discover Your Beauty


Second: my favorite photo is one a dear friend, Mooflyfoof, took. For me that photo says it all:
I am beautiful.

And then I cried. I cried for all the times I said I'm sorry for who I am. For all the times I believed I wasn't good enough because I was trying to be something someone else wanted. And then I cried harder when I realized I was the person friends and family had seen when I couldn't, the person they'd knew was there all along. And I cried because I realized I've accomplished a lot in the past six months, more than I imagined I could when I quit my job last December. I cried because while my path is different today than I imagined in December, it's a good path. It's where I'd hoped I'd be.

genuinely eden

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.