This weekend I spent a couple of hours with my friends Crafts Without Borders - an initiative to bring migrant and local women together to meet each other and share crafts. This time we made lovely felt bowls. Mine is top right - blue with yellow inside. When you put them altogether, they look lovely - a representation of shared time and what can be achieved as a collective. It’s a lovely example of how repetition creates beauty. Repetition also creates patterns - for better or worse.
My teenage sons laughed when I proudly shared my bowl. “Are you going to put your soup in it?” they mocked. “What can you use a felt bowl for, Mum?” Well, I found a great use for it this morning. I’m going to put my self-doubt in the bowl while I get on with my work. I’ll have a listen to what it needs to say later in the day, for maybe 15 mins. But for now, it’s safe and warm in my felt bowl.
My self-doubt is a repeated pattern since early childhood. And I am lucky enough to have had a lovely childhood in many ways. But still self-doubt travels with me. All those times it has repeated its message of ‘not good enough’ have worn a path in my brain - a strong neural network trying its best to protect me but holding me back instead.
To counter such strong patterns of thinking/feeling/doing/being, I have tried many things. Meditation helps. Therapy has been helpful, when I can afford it. But the best thing is to look after my own mind/body which means nourishing my nervous system. If I don’t get enough sleep, exercise and nourishment in my daily life, then I become frazzled. And when I’m frazzled, I have no reserves to manage my self-doubt and as a result I am less able to be creative, or to do anything that requires courage and calm determination.
So I try to create patterns out of processes that nourish my nervous system. And that is essentially what the Feathers Project is about. Pattern creation. Supercharging the creation of new neural networks through repetition. And making that reptition more enjoyable and durable by creating an artwork in the process.
So what would you do if your self-doubt was put in a felt bowl for the day?