Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Craft Therapy: Paper Cutting and Metamorphosis

As I said before, I need to get back to myself. I need to feel like I am creating things even though I am unable to create life. I would say I am certainly needing some kind of metamorphosis. As I face my 37th birthday this Saturday, I need to rejuvenate and reinvent. I've been cocooning myself since my ectopic to self-preserve, but it's lonely in here. When I was in Pingyao, we met a master paper cutter who's the Edward Scissor Hands of my dreams. If only I could cut paper like this and create these magical forms! Wen Tao learned paper cutting at the age of 7 and studied decorating design. She now designs and creates paper-cut works and keeps this art alive. She made these amazing butterflies for me for free and I think the video says it all. 

I chose to actually buy from her a beautiful paper cut work with a pattern of peonies and pomegranates. A pomegranate is suppose to symbolize fertility because of its many seeds. I found that there is so much hope and wishful thinking embedded into all these symbols in China. Good fortune, health, long life, and fertility seem to come up in so many images. A lot of it comes from the way Chinese language is structured. For instance, the word "carp" in Chinese is similar sounding to the word "profit" so it therefore becomes a symbol of good fortune. English really lacks that kind of relationship. The word "luck" can sound like fuck, stuck, muck, suck, yuck, which is pretty accurate to my own special relationship to luck, but certainly doesn't resonate its true intended meaning.

So since being home, the culture of signs, symbols, and superstitions have made me look around for signals of change. Most of my life remains the same as when I left for China so it's been hard to not feel stagnant. Even my two single girl friends who've been struggling to find someone for years are both suddenly happily dating people right now. It's like I am waiting for something, anything, to change in my life for the better instead of for the worse and I'm feeling left out in that department.

In the solitude of my infertility cocoon, I've been trying to understand how to better myself in ways that have nothing to do with my uterus. I've taken up violin again. I'm digging out an old book proposal I never actually sent out to publishers. I'm emailing old friends to reconnect. I'm looking at job listings. Summer is pretty much here and it's strange to have no IVF to plan since I've been going at this non-stop. I realize my entire life structure has been so reliant on IVF that I'm not sure what to do with myself. So I am trying hard to find a sense of change and progress besides menstruation, drug doses, ultrasounds, and egg retrievals so that maybe, just maybe, my "inner butterfly" can be set a flight.

Besides looking for a better a career direction, I've made a pledge to start "Craft Therapy" to hopefully satisfy this need for progress. This means I will be getting back into all my crafting - knitting, embroidery, sewing, silk-screening, and yes I'll even try some paper cutting. I think there is a very deep-seeded therapeutic benefit from making things with your hands and having that object have function, beauty, or symbolism. I think it has a lot to do with setting a goal and making it happen - something that baby making has failed to live up to and causes nothing but utter frustration. I think having projects that I can actually finish will give me, on a smaller scale, that emotional satisfaction that infertility seems to be draining from me. I welcome you all to join in!

Assignment #1: (For myself and any other infertile crafters out there) Create a craft project that either expresses something about this infertility journey or creates a symbol of hope (Remember Little Miss Positive? She misses all of you and hopes to reemerge soon).


apronstringsemily said...

Wow. And I mean wow. That video is incredible and both the creations you got are absolutely breath-taking. What I would do if I had such talent.

I especially like what you wrote about all the different symbolisms in the Chinese culture. I would love to go there one day and experience what you have experienced.

I'm glad you made it home safely, by the way. And I certainly hope that your trip to China has renewed your energy and spirit in life.

Wishing you the best in the next direction you take this summer.

Hmmm ... maybe I should take out them knitting needles again and join you in your craft endeavor...

luna said...

this is a wonderful post, tabi. you're right the chinese people hold so much symbolism for wealth, fertility, long life, etc. so interesting.

the video is incredible. but even more inspiring is your motivation to delve back into your creative self. here's hoping your inner butterfly reemerges in all her beauty.

Ms Heathen said...

Welcome home, Tabi!

I really identified with this post - we spend so much time focussing on the next injection, the next scan, the next cycle etc, etc that it doesn't leave us with much energy for anything else. But after a second crappy cycle, I'm starting to feel the need to find something else more positive and creative to focus on. I'm just learning to knit, which I'm finding wonderfully relaxing.

Looking forward to seeing the results of your renewed burst of creativity soon!

alicia said...

Ok, I think you have become my favortie blogger. I always feel inspired and enlightened after reading your posts and I love that feeling.

I am SOO thrilled for you that you are getting back into craft therapy. I agree with you 100%, it is such therapy.

I will join you in your craft assignments! I have art studio time schdeuled tonight, so I will be creating a project that sybolizies my infertility.

Thank you for this post. And wow what an amazing video.

pamela.ilovemcdreamy said...

WOW! very inspiring indeed!

Love the video!

Ok, let's see what craft I shall start and join you in your craft projects! sounds exciting!

Shinejil said...

I'm no crafter, so I can't wait to see what you come up with (I loved Ms. P). I think it's so wonderful that you're opening yourself up to all sorts of things you love, stuff that gets left by the wayside during IF...

Melanie said...

Happiest of birthdays Tabi! I loved your post and so identified with it. I'm not a crafter, but there are several creative outlets I've been ignoring since IVF. I too need to dial back in it.

peesticksandstones said...

What an awesome and inspiring post! Was I the only one, by the way, who thought Edward Scissorhands was really hot?

In my younger years, I was a pretty creative gal -- but strange how I've drifted away from that part of myself. I've tried to reconnect with it through my treatment by learning new crafty things like knitting/sewing, but abandoned my projects in tears, feeling like a failure in yet another way, too :(

Any ideas for easy, easy crafty stuff that doesn't take a lot of skill, patience to "perform"? I'm lucky I can even tie my shoes these days.

Duck said...

I miss lil' miss positive too, but, it's hard to have that kind of positive strength.
I'm glad that china had a renewal impact on you. I too feel like infertility has placed me in this little cave, where I get a computer to relate to other people, but, actually people with limbs and arms to hug with don't exist.

J. Nelson said...

Wow, I'm so with you. Just give me something else to think and do. I've been wanting to learn how to play the guitar my hushand gave 2yrs ago. I love to be creative, it's something I need to get back!

What shall I make?