On Ambivalence

May 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

Some nine years ago, I joined a Rudolf Steiner inspired Playgroup. Each week my son and I would attend the playgroup, and while the children had some free play time I was introduced to crafting, Steiner style.

One of the main precepts of Steiner education is a focus on handcrafts, using high quality, natural materials. The Playgroup Leader was an amazingly inspiring woman – skilled in knitting, sewing, crochet, dyeing and every other craft modality one can think of. I can remember as though it were yesterday, sitting there in her glow, dreaming that one day I would be just like her – a mother to many, an inspiration in this little community, and a skilled craftswoman whose products were sought after.

I attended all her craft workshops and learnt all I could. I listened for little clues on where to find the best fleece, or dyes, or wool felt. After a few years she moved away from the school and Sydney. This was an opportunity for me – to step into the space she left with my fledgling craft skills and products.

And I did – I sold hand dyed t shirts at the school market, and a couple of years later ran my first dyeing and felting workshops. I had a couple more children, but kept creating on the side. A good friend of mine turned ‘professional’ with her original and beautiful hand made clothes and silk baby wraps. I was jealous, and so inspired to do that too: to be a ‘professional’ and make my craft into a proper job.

But, I never took the next steps: from creating business cards, to promoting myself and my products, to even thinking of myself as a ‘professional’. I don’t know if it was low self confidence, or just plain ambivalence that saw me shy away from a full commitment to making my passion into a paying role.

That is, I never took those steps until last year, after another couple of children, and after another friend went professional with her amazing wooden and hand dyed products. Again I felt envious, and I couldn’t escape the now insistent voice within that I should be doing this too! I should add, that Robin’s illness made me really examine my life, and firmed my determination to ‘seize the day’.

With the encouragement of a few amazing friends I began referring to myself as a ‘fibre artist’, selling felt and other products with more regularity and opening an etsy store. I began holding workshops again and this year have pushed myself to begin craft workshops for children in the school holidays, as well as a regular craft group for women.

Since my decision to simply perceive  and refer to myself as a ‘professional’ (maybe that was what I needed to do all along!), a few opportunities have opened up, mostly in the last few months. It is a wonderful affirmation of my work, and all of a sudden a grand vision for the future is opening up in my mind, which is mostly exciting, but sometimes scary, because….the ambivalence has hit again.

Last week I was talking with a friend, who has six children and a small business of her own. We were acknowledging the feeling that as soon as we give time or energy to something like our businesses, it seems like our children suffer – in terms of not having us there at night, or simply the kind of time pressure that means we have to cut corners with their diets, or their weekend activities. Sometimes it feels like a full time job just to do all the washing, tidy the house and make sure they are all eating well at school and at home. Not to mention any problems or issues that need handling…

I strive to remain aware of any beliefs I may have that are limiting or unhelpful, and the thought that I cannot run both a business and a thriving family may be one of them….but I freely admit I am stuck here right now. This conflict is not preventing me from taking these opportunities, but it means I second guess myself more than what I would like. How I wish I was a fearless woman who just went for it, without the fear or hesitations, or worry about whether customers will be satisfied.

I think, well I hope, that gradually I am learning to sit with the ambivalence and act anyway. But my commitment to this journey is deepening, as I am learning so much along the way.

My specialties...hand dyed felt

My specialties…hand dyed felt

hand sewn 'Tree of Life'

hand sewn ‘Tree of Life’

and Flower/Vagina pieces.

and Flower/Vagina pieces.


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