When I first started this blog I ran a series of posts about Hope – I knew it was a theme I wanted to use in my work but had no idea how. I was also totally oblivious to the fact that some of the work I was already doing was giving people a sense of hope in their lives. I knew that working creatively had had a positive impact on me at a time when the future was very uncertain but was really unsure about sharing my story too….
In the past few months a series of conversations with people and some business mentoring sessions with Terry at Mums and Business has helped me start to firm up where Hope, both as a concept and a tangible thing fits into the whole ethos of Bits and Bobs Crafts and of course myself as the person behind the business. And as a result I’ve been thinking about how I share the journey to that point and also the onward journey from here as I explore more actively the links between hope and creativity and also for me faith.
The faith concept is also something I’ve struggled with knowing how to share. Many people in the creative world come from a pagan perspective of seeing Nature as a Mother Godess type figure, whereas I see the natural world as God’s paintbox, favourite colour green! One of my personal flaws is that I have a strong bent towards people pleasing and so not wanting to offend often means I hide my beliefs away. But its finally clicked that my beliefs are as valid as anyone elses and that I am as entitled to express myself creatively and celebrate the God I put my Hope and Faith in through my work…. I can actually visualise Him sat up in Heaven hanging the flags out and shouting “At Last” in a sort of exasperated joy at this point!
For me that means Hope isn’t a sort of nebulous wish, its a certainty. I can put my hope in God though faith and know that He will deliver on what He has promised, in His time… another thing I struggle with, as I often think my time is a much better idea, but tend to discover that waiting was better! I’m not intending this series on Hope to be preachy, but to share how being creative can change situations and perspectives and bring about change in people’s lives. But because my faith is an important part of the journey, I want to feel able to express it where it feels right to do so.
If it wasn’t for God talking to me when I was at a very low ebb. I was in my late 30’s, had gone from being a Nurse and NHS trainer / project manager to being wheelchair dependent and signed off sick indefinitely due to a condition that causes chronic pain and muscle spasms within 6 months. I’d lived with the pain part for years and it had actually got me the job I had at the time, working for the NHS Expert Patient’s Programme – something that also gave people who felt pretty desperate hope and a future. I worked across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and occasionally ventured into Dorset and Berkshire, managed a team of 30 volunteer tutors, plus a part time project assistant and a part time admin assistant and organised and ran courses that helped people with long term illness regain some control over their lives. And when I had this massive deterioration there were many times when without the things I’d learned from the groups, I would have probably totally given up. My brain was willing but my body wasn’t, at the time I could cope with sitting for about 2 hours a day so spent ages laid on the sofa or in a reclining chair, just so I didn’t have to be in bed.
At around the same time I became a Christian and once the condition was under some degree of control had a full immersion baptism…….which was interesting to say the least with the logistics of getting me in and out of the baptistry! The phrase that kept repeating in my head whenever I asked God what I was going to do with my life – I had not been raised to be idle, to say the least! – was “Its in your hands”… with much emphasis on the word hands! I could knit, crochet and cross stitch so felt it meant be creative but had no idea what to do. I started off designing cross stitch patterns but found that they took far too long to make up – I still have the designs though and could dust them off as knitting or crochet patterns thinking about it – and didn’t feel drawn to the idea of producing kits. So I started playing with scrap yarn and testing out various knitting and crochet skills, often using the internet for inspiration. It was something I could do lying down – which was the advice I got from the back to work people I was begging to help me find a job! – and after a while set up a Folksy shop to try to sell my creations.
I was also being asked to teach people as I improved and got out a bit more and started making new friends. I found I could do that and enjoyed it. However I didn’t want to teach craft and got the idea of teaching adults to adapt to changes in their lives, did alot of research and a year on, enrolled on a teaching course. But once I’d completed it I realised that what I wanted to do wasn’t physically possible, so a friend suggested putting an ad in Gumtree to offer to teach knitting and crochet on a one to one basis. This worked as it meant I could in the early days charge very little, work at my own pace and start developing my teaching materials…. and I started to realise I had a purpose after all and I wasn’t going to be useless forever…..
I’m going to leave it there for this week…..more to come next Thursday!