new directions

I had big plans to start this “new” blog last week but was hit with a sudden and unexpected kidney stone attack and had to have emergency surgery Tuesday morning. Welcome 2010! So much for starting the year off on a healthy note. But I’m finally home and hoping to never end up in the hospital for that amount of time again or be on that much morphine again for a very very long time. If ever. I’m fortunate to have an amazing at-home nurse/husband, a supportive family and caring friends. I promise if you ever have a kidney stone, I will drive you to the emergency room, hold your hand while you freak out in pain, and nurse you back to health when it’s all over. Promise!

I wrote this first blog post a week ago and I’m still feeling this way, so I decided to add it here. As you can see, I’ve decided to move things around a bit and C gave me a new, clean, simple look. I’m loving it. Hope you do to.

Here’s why:

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to start over. I like to think that life gives us a lot of chances to try again, but I’ve found that too often, we don’t always take those chances when we have them.

I spent the last four weeks thinking a lot about where my life is headed and how I can begin to rebuild my health in all areas of my life, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, academically and creatively. I’ve spend a lot of time talking with close friends and family, envisioning what a break might give me in terms of starting over in different areas of my life and slowing down everything else so I can rebuild. 2009 was not my best year health-wise and the need to slow down and recover is pressing.

Being in a full-time Ph.D. program has left me very little room for creativity, and while I’ve loved most of the experiences I’ve had in my program, I am keenly aware of the creative void that started out small and has turned into a mounting presence over the last year. Maybe it’s because when you’re at your worst, you see the most tender parts of yourself and want to protect them. I’m tried in earnest to protect what little time I have for creativity, but the truth is, I’ve not done a great job of it. The guilt I feel that I’m working on creative projects instead of school projects has made me realize that the time I spend attempting to work creatively is rushed, forced, and full of resentment.

When I look back at the collections I’ve made over the last three years, I’m struck by how distant I feel from the pieces I’ve made and how little I feel they reflect who I am. In a way, I’ve come to think about all of those collections, whether they were recycled tshirts, leather cuffs, or dresses, as means to a end: I enjoyed the process and the ideas, but the end result has never been what it should have been. I’ve learned a lot. If anything, all of those collections helped me work with new material, forced me to learn new methods of sewing, stretched my knowledge of structure and form. But the truth is, I’ve always finished them feeling as though I hardly did my best and I was somewhat bored by the end of the process.

I realize now that a lot of these feelings come from trying to work creatively in very limited spaces (a half-renovated house) and within limited time frames (between semesters and over busy summers). My creative time and space feels forced and unnatural to me. I’m frustrated by it. I don’t know what I want madebyrachel to be anymore. I’m not even sure I know what it should be, but I really want to find out.

A few weeks ago, I deemed 2010 as the year of selfish sewing. I decided that after sewing collections for the last three years and rarely making myself, C, or our house a single thing, that 2010 would be the year to slow down, step back, and figure it out.

I’m not sure I’m going make any collections to sell this year. Perhaps if something comes out of the process, it will lead to a small one. But I’m done with deadlines. I have too many in my daily life with school and too many unmet ones with our house renovations to hold myself to one more deadline. I want to begin to understand my creative process in a different, more fluid way; in a way that doesn’t limit what I do and where I decide to take things.

A very dear friend and I had a long morning talk about this the other day. She asked me what I liked the most about making things. I realized in talking with her that it’s always been about the process for me—the actual making of things: the stitching, the pressing, the textures as they come together on the needles. I want to come to understand my process more. To get closer to what that process means to be and where I’m going with it. I don’t think I know what my full potential is creatively. I don’t think I’ve ever slowed down enough to figure it out. My friend suggested that I consider starting a new blog for 2010, documenting my journey on figuring out where I’m going creatively, what madebyrachel might be about, and ultimately, what I want my creative life to be like. So, I’m starting over here. It’s the same blog, but with a new direction. My goal is to start a new creative journey that is more honest, a little more raw, and hopefully, more inspiring to myself (and you!).


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  1. Posted January 20, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    love you, and all you’ve said here. i am so proud of you, for everything. i am so looking forward to reading your tales of making for yourself, c, and your house – and all that you learn along the way.

  2. Lois Chaffee
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    love you Rachel, and all that you are, more than what you do.

  3. Posted January 20, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Good for you! That’s a great positive change. It’s so hard to step back and reframe things – or even realize that we need to. I really like your new, almost blank slate and I can’t wait to hear more about your journey.

  4. Posted January 24, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    love. thinking of you!

One Trackback

  1. By dear C on December 28, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    [...] the beginning of the health issues I would face in 2010. Who knew that weeks later, I would have kidney stone surgery, a massive bike accident in June, and 8 weeks of chronic stomach pain this winter. I’ve thought a [...]

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