How Knitting and Sewing Have Helped My Mental Health <3

A couple years ago I stumbled upon a beginner’s knitting kit at a Barnes & Noble around the holidays. It was on sale and looked like a fun project to start while I had some time off from work.

Learning a new skill is daunting, and it takes some dedication and patience to really get started. So, not surprisingly, it was a few weeks before I even opened the kit. Much to my dismay, it didn’t include any instructions for actually learning how to knit. Instead, it came with a booklet of some patterns. I had no idea what any of it meant!

So I decided to refer to Youtube for video tutorials for casting on and learning the basic stitches. And I was hooked! I was giddy with excitement for learning something new, and was proud of completing even the most simple tasks. I carried my needles and orange practice yarn with me wherever I went, making nothing in particular but simply enjoying the movements of knitting.

But soon eager to make something super cool, I was dead set on learning how to knit the waffle stitch. Unfortunately it was too much too soon, and I just couldn’t get it. Frustrated, I eventually lost interest in knitting for several months.

Last fall though, I came back to knitting with renewed energy and more patience. I took things step by step and gradually built my skills by working on projects with increasing difficulty, but careful not to get too far ahead of myself. And I was hooked yet again! This time, I think it will last 🙂

I was very crafty as a child, but I somehow got away from it as I got older. I used to be chock full of DIY projects: hand sewing pillows, making pencil holders, making magazine holders. I even made a doll house, complete with handmade furniture, out of cardboard!

Once I started knitting again last fall, I feel like I tapped into my childhood energy and enthusiasm/obsession for creativity. The more I knitted, the more I wanted to knit. And I was itching to learn even more! Last winter I bought a sewing machine and took a couple sewing classes, and now I’m sewing clothes for myself too.

I’ve never really thought of myself as artsy or creative, but there’s a real art to creating patterns, combining colors,  selecting yarn and fabric, and naming/describing my Etsy products. The possibilities are endless and the world is a blank canvas waiting to be painted in whatever strokes and colors I choose.

And this creativity instills a new confidence in me. I’ve struggled with depression in the past, and anxiety remains a daily battle for me. I’ve had periods of deep depression for as long as a year at a time. The kind of depression when your whole body aches and it takes so much strength just to get out of bed in the morning. When you can’t bring yourself to eat, and when you find yourself alone every single day, alone with your irrational worries, and relieved when the day is finally over.

But it’s been almost 8 years now since I’ve been hit with a depression like that. I slowly started taking more control of my life: I got into the graduate program I wanted and moved to beautiful Madison; met the love of my life; spent a year living in the incomparable Turkey; moved to beautiful San Francisco where adventures are always awaiting; got a job that is deeply fulfilling and is so connected to the core of who I am; started seeing a therapist; surrounded myself with friends who always have my back. And now I have my crafting to keep my mind occupied and that above all, helps me feel like I have a talent.

Crafting has become my latest building block of resiliency, adding to a wall that is getting increasingly higher as time goes on. As Brené Brown mentions in “The Gifts of Imperfection,” we have the tendency to become anxious and fearful when we feel happy about something, for fear of losing it. But the trick is actually to relish the good times, because holding on to that is what will get us through the inevitable tough times that are to come. <3

So many reasons to love Modcloth!

To everyone around me, it’s no secret at all that I adore Modcloth. It’s been about 3 years since I’ve started shopping at Modcloth, and I’m still going strong. Not only do they have adorable, quirky, unique clothes for reasonable prices, but they also are committed to celebrating women of all body shapes, sizes, and races. Above all, they really aim to empower their customers to be true to themselves.

img_7688img_7706

The Modcloth Style Gallery  allows users to submit their own outfit photos, showcasing a number of different personal styles, body sizes, races, and lifestyles. Every so often, a frequent Style Gallery poster will be highlighted in an interview for the blog, like this recent travel post of Sumeyye, and this #Fashiontruth post of Rye. What I love about the Style Gallery and the blog series is that they celebrate people being authentic to themselves, and how their personal style is a part of that.

Another really cool, empowering feature of Modcloth is their Hot Tub Round Table series, which features Modcloth founder Susan Koger having personal conversations with other women on topics such as body image and empowering young women. How cool is that?? Especially coming from a clothing company. What an important role model!

I spent 2 years volunteering for a San Francisco-based non-profit called About-Face, which does media literacy workshops to help young women and girls understand and resist harmful media messages that so often affect their self-esteem. Each year About-Face holds a fundraising event called the Embody Awards, which honors individuals or companies that are a positive role model for young women and girls in the media. This year, Susan Koger of Modcloth was an Embody Award recipient! How appropriate 🙂

I literally have dozens of items from Modcloth by now, so I’ll be posting more outfits soon 🙂

#AerieREAL Campaign

As a feminist and as someone who has a background in Women’s Studies, I’m always conscious of how women and girls are portrayed in the media–in advertisements, on TV, in magazines, etc. Recently I started volunteering with a non-profit in San Francisco called About-Face, which deals with these very issues. Thus, I’m even more conscious lately! Continue reading #AerieREAL Campaign

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: 6 Things I Would Tell My 17-year-old Self

February is Teen Dating Violence (TDV) Awareness Month. It’s important to learn about healthy relationships early on to help prevent abuse, so throughout February I will be posting on issues related to TDV.

To start, here are 6 things I would tell my 17-year-old self: Continue reading Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: 6 Things I Would Tell My 17-year-old Self