In the creative cycles of birth and death and rebirth, there are times when we are empty of ideas, adrift in a sea of ambiguity and nothingness. These times can be labeled the neutral zone, the void, a vacuum. No matter what they are called, they are part of the creative cycle, and wise women accept them and trust that when it's time, their inspirations will percolate again. This void becomes like a doorway to transformation and new beginnings. Yet fear can be a fellow traveler on this path to who knows where. Surviving in the void demands a range of skills; being willing to let go, staying in the dark long enough, nurturing your visions and dreams, following the clues as they present themselves, remaining true to yourself, and having the belief that something will appear. The void often feels like a test. It may be escorted in by job loss, illness, death, betrayal, burnout, disillusionment, or other life crises we didn't sign up for. While we long to restore the old, its time has passed, even if we wish otherwise. Such passages force us to redesign our internal selves and often produce surprising results. But they also involve loss, grief, and despair, as well as communion with our darker side. Change thrusts us into chaos, and it takes time to reorder things and find a new route. Courage is mandatory. - The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin
I shared the quote above with friends on Saturday night when we (a group of girls) gathered to celebrate my 50th birthday. When I'd read it earlier in the week, I was impacted by the awareness that in the past when I've transitioned from one thing to another it has been by choice. I chose to let go of what I no longer wanted and to reach for what was new. With this last transition, change chose me in an unwelcome level of grief that I've never experienced before. I struggled to survive in that void, the vacuum of the unknown, for a long time and am thankful to have now turned a final corner and to be heading toward warmer, brighter days. It's a much better perspective.
Saturday was actually my 50 years plus 251 days "birth" day. It took that long to have the energy and the desire and the time, all at the same time, to host a party. After the year from hell as I so unfondly refer to 2012, it was a gift to have my friends in the same place, together, laughing and having fun.
For party games, I asked each of them to bring a print-out of a Vogue pattern that they thought looked like me and to be prepared to say why along with 3-5 adjectives that described how they saw me. More about the adjectives later. The patterns were equally divided. Of the total of twenty, ten were already in my stash, one is on order, and nine were new and - of course - I'll eventually order them. My friends want to see me sew "their" pattern. Here are the new ones:
Katharine Tilton's Vogue 8863 chosen for the asymmetrical styling, the purple color, the unusual zipper technique, and the all over squiggles on the fabric that is reminiscent of my textile art work.
Vogue 8854 was chosen because it has an architecture of its own - like I do - and to pair with...
... the pants in Vogue 8757, a simple pattern with wonderful darting and great fitting options that would wow in a wild and crazy, Myrna-like material.
Vogue 8848 was chosen for its beautiful flirty skirt and nice neckline that would be the perfect backdrop for my necklaces... and fun to wear... once the fitting was done!
This top - Vogue 8879 - was chosen for its simplicity only - LOL - I fell in love with View B with its dropped back. When I noted that it would be great with a fitted skirt to wear to a wedding this summer, I was assured, quite strongly, that it was definitely NOT a good choice unless I was planning to flash my trashy side. VBG - maybe with jeans then.
This is the pattern that's on order - Vogue 8856. I asked a friend to include it in her latest BMV order so I'm not tempted to buy the other nine allowed - LOL. I'm most drawn to view A however, my friend picked it for View C with its color blocking possibilities and good for fitting seams while noting that I could change the sleeve length to my preferred three quarter length. I think I'll try both views. I have some ideas for piecing the bottom edge of this view with scraps from my zero waste pile.
It's interesting that with all the purses I've made over the years, I personally use a purchased one and am desperately in need of a basic black - go with everything - bag. It was suggested that Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8741 would add that final touch to whatever outfit I'm wearing and I have a fabric that would work fabulous and I'm pretty sure I've said that before and I still don't have a bag but... hmm...
These next three were surprises, patterns I would not have picked for myself but once I looked at them in closer detail, I thought they had great potential. The floral print used for Vogue 1302 obscures the reasons my friend chose it - the design lines and ruching that create a slimming, hourglass, inner shape that she thought would flatter my small waist. Words like that get you the title of bestest friend ever - LOL.
This design of Sandra Betzina's - Vogue 1336 - was at the top of one friend's list for the clean lines that would flatter my figure and because there were so many possibilities built into the pattern to challenge my creativity and design skills. I hadn't given it a second look earlier but... she might be right.
This one - Butterick 5854 - one was the biggest surprise of them all only the more I looked at it, the more I saw that it has attitude, especially view C with the longer back. It reminds me of a poet's blouse. The sleeves are the right length, the princess seams are great for fitting, the center front gathers are prefect for bust enhancement and fit, and there are fun ruffles for raw edge play.
The patterns I already owned were Vogue 8465, Vogue 1263, Vogue 1254, Vogue 1292, Vogue 1277, Vogue 1307, Vogue 1050, and Vogue 1312, my banner dress which I actually wore to the party, and Vogue 1213 which my daughter chose because it looks unique and artsy, because she liked the fabrics used, and because it had that limey color that I like and lots of dark which I like too although she didn't recommend wearing it with a turtleneck. Opinionated. Wonder where she got that?
A critical skill for many creative women is discernment - knowing whose advice is from the heart and really meant to be helpful, and avoiding folks who pull you away from your intentions and may be trying to undermine your achievement. - The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin
I first learned about an exercise called Your Living Legacy in a workshop about fifteen years ago. Between us students, it was more a test of first impressions so - of course - I had to try it with my friends who knew me better. We updated the process again this past weekend. How it works is that you ask friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, enemies if you dare, to list the first five words that come to mind when they hear your name with the idea being that this is how you are remembered when you leave home to go to work, leave work to go home, leave a room, and ultimately leave life. Are you living with intention? Are you leaving the legacy you want to leave? The word are typically positive so you have to read between the lines to find areas for growth because most people are reluctant to give even these words never mind to name weaknesses but - LOL - as I said at the party, after the past year, my ego needed a little stroking!
The adjectives I received were introspective, loyal to the end, determined through barriers, creative beyond measure, attention to detail, opinionated (from my youngest son and so true), helpful, forthright, directed, upfront, Mom, efficient, generous (x2), resourceful, imaginative, persistent (from my daughter who also said unique and artsy although I had to get that out of her pattern description), direct, encourager, faithful, relational, passionate for life, thoughtful (x2), reflective on all sides, creative, honest, thinker, colorful personality, weird (also from my daughter which I chose to interpret as meaning unique as opposed to whose mother actually does this and why me), sensitive, deep, excellent turkey maker (my son-in-law), Dragon Lady (also my son-in-law), loves to share knowledge, to the point, striven (strive + driven), ambitious, loving, organized, loyal, integrity, intelligence, wild, crazy, with an architecture of her (my) own, contrasts, and engaged.
The last time I did this exercise, the adjectives were more about creativity. This time, they are more about character and show a maturity that is perhaps in part due to the years of struggling through the void. I know that as painful as it has been, it has certainly been a journey of growth and I am thankful for each friend and for how they have individually and collectively supported me. I truly believe that relationships are what life is all about.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - 50 years, 251 days, supportive and encouraging friends