something real in hand.

This past year while we were taking a sabbatical from social media, I noticed a new sensation. When the social networking apps were no longer on my phone or available to me on the computer, I had much less reason to grab these machines. The first few weeks were reflexive. My muscles had spent a number of years memorizing the way I grabbed my phone out of my back pocket, unlocked it, and pushed on the apps. But then they were gone, and my brain had to make new pathways to send the message of “nothing to see here..”

Sitting on the other side of the year I realize how varied the textures have been that I’ve touched. Metal and glass were replaced (a good majority of the time) with paper, water, wood, and pigment. It’s almost as if my skin was craving the sensation of touching something more real and raw than an iPhone and my body and brain responded. I took up the art of painting watercolors this year. I had fiddled around with it in the past a little, and I am still definitely at “fiddler” status but this year brought more hours where my hands were free and my brain no longer preoccupied, so I painted.

The paintings are very humble, but I loved making something with no expectations of myself but to be present and aware. I painted the botanical chamomile you see in the header of this blog. I painted many other botanicals, including one used in the logo design I created for a blog I was commissioned to build. I painted alone with wine and jazz, or in the afternoon with my kids. With no agenda or judgments, I let my hands hold something raw and messy.

I came across a video of textile artist Renate Hiller, who spins wool with a stone spindle, a tool she mentions has been used for more than thirty thousand years. This woman is mystical and beautiful to me. The way she encounters her artistry, the deep connection to creation and the divine, and to making with one’s hands is beyond moving and inspiring to me. I share it with you here in hopes that it will challenge and awaken the same places in you that were challenged and awoken in me this year.

I hope it encourages you to practice awareness of the things your hands touch today, and to draw nearer to the things that are real and away from the things that are synthetic or mechanic.

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