Shopping for Hand-made Crafts (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

I traveled far outside of my comfort zone today, to a craft show in a rural area at which my friend was selling her creations. It was held in a conservative Christian church, a space I have a hard time entering after my experiences in like places growing up. Now that I know myself as a trans and nonbinary person, many spots in which a mix of anger and fear used to inexplicably rise up in me are, in a way, simpler to navigate because I know why I feel the way I do. My internal level of stress tends to be higher as well, because I am more visible than I would have been in the past.

I was delighted to find that the show was bigger than I expected for such a sleepy town, and that it presented a sensory kaleidoscope in terms of colors, textures and shapes. I purchased a beautiful hand-made sign from my friend to take to a gift exchange, and found a piece of art for myself that’s very meaningful. It is made from river rocks and depicts a person and a dog walking, with writing at the bottom noting that there is a purpose in every path. I felt that Spirit was affirming the shift in my inner sense of meaning away from “healing must come through relationships” to “healing is here in this moment.”

I was misgendered only once while purchasing some cards, and the person said “she..?…” in a quizzical-enough way that I felt validated more than harmed by it. There was a merchant selling nothing but large crosses which led to fear-rage rising up momentarily, but I felt my freedom of movement come right back and moved on (my town’s Pride this past summer had a person with a life-sized cross screaming about how we were going to hell so let’s just say that symbol isn’t working for me right now). There were also homemade cookies for sale, a purchase I undoubtedly would have made and regretted in past times as a way to cope with my discomfort. In sum, I entered a space that held potential trigger after trigger, but I was present with myself through it and now have a lovely gift to give as well as a perfect, hand-made representation of my inner work. A good day! What was the last experience you had with local and hand-made merchants? How does the space in which events are held affect you?

Exploring a New Art Medium (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

After much deliberation, I’ve finally arrived at the medium I am going to use to create my In an Open Hand intuitive deck: colored pencils! I’d spent time reflecting previously and had thought digital art was the way to go. I’d planned to purchase an expensive computer and use Adobe Illustrator to illustrate the cards.

As I sat with the decision, however, I felt more and more uncertain. Specifically, I kept imagining myself dropping a few thousand and then feeling totally overwhelmed by the process and too lazy, frankly, to move to another part of my house to spend time on my artwork. My dog and I have an evening routine of sitting on my couch and I came to see that whatever I do, at least for now, has to be easy to access as well as portable in case I want to work outdoors or in a cafe.

Because of these realizations, I settled on colored pencils. There is a class I can take next summer locally on working with the medium which excites me even more and which made the choice easier. My lack of self-control led me to purchase both the Prismacolor set (wax-based) as well as the Faber-Castell set (oil-based) and lots of accessories. (Side note: it is easy to justify spending a few hundred when you can tell yourself you are “saving” over a thousand dollars 🙂

The colored pencils are scheduled to arrive soon. I plan to start by creating gradients and practicing my technique before trying to actually draw any of the elements of my cards. Luckily, there are lots of Youtube tutorials that have given me a likely exaggerated sense of self-confidence that I can produce beautiful art with this medium. I will eventually have to at least photograph my artwork (if I make it that far) to have the deck printed, and can explore the digital art format if needed. I believe that years of exploring my spirituality and my creativity have led me to this new chapter, and I cannot wait to write it. Which art medium have you been exploring lately? What has it taught you?

Creating an Essential Oil Blend (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

Certain scents are categorized as being feminine or masculine to many of our brains. I want to reject this social programming. As a trans-masculine non-binary person, I enjoy a wide range of aromas and do not want to be coded as feminine simply because what I’m wearing or what my house smells like reads as floral or bright. I’ve been experimenting with colognes but find, even if I use only one spritz, many of them are overpowering.

Essential oils allow a connection to scents that can be custom-blended in intensity and content. Rather than make a wearable form (as I have done in the past), I kept it simple today and made a soy candle. Well, I started to make one but realized I didn’t have any good way of melting the soy flakes for an individual “serving” of one candle. Therefore, I added the wick to the partially-melted flakes, dumped on some oils and dried flowers, and lit it up. My flower addition proved to be too generous and too loosely compacted, so they promptly caught on fire too. This worked to my advantage as the combination release an toasted incense aroma as well the deeper, lingering smell of a candle.

The specific oils I used included ones which were scented as vanilla, lavender and copaiba. Copaiba is one of several oils that came in a kit I ordered a while back; in researching it further, it appears to originate in the Amazon rainforest. I really enjoyed the way it smelled so I will definitely have to find a sustainable source for it once my current supply runs out. To round out the scent profile, I included dried rose petals and chamomile flowers. The blend I created felt soft, calming and healing to me and it allowed me to sit for a moment in a more vulnerable place than I sometimes go to in order to re-connect with my body and spirit. What is your favorite blend of essential oils? How do you use them?