Friday, November 12, 2010

Creative Abundance at CSLSR

November is my favorite time of year at the Center for Spiritual Living in Santa Rosa, CA; it is the month we celebrate creativity and the arts. Wildly talented, often completely unknown artists display their art forms, including short films. There’s a section for children as well.

There are gasps of recognition as people wander through the free-standing walls displaying oil and pastel paintings, found-object composition and installation art, photography, quilts and fabric art, jewelry, pottery—the list goes on. Overheard snippets of conversation: “Oh, she’s in the choir; I had no idea she quilted;” “He taught my Foundations class this year—who knew he was a photographer;” “I know her from the usher group—I didn’t know she did such beautiful jewelry.” This is creativity in community and it excites my heart to be part of it.

Our One Heart Choir is filled with quietly creative beings such as Cyndi Cunningham, whose first-time entry quilt hung proudly on the wall. From her story, I recognize the time/space distortion of complete immersion in your craft: “I get lost in the process,” she writes. “When I get started I have to set a timer, or the whole day will disappear and I will still be in my jammies in front of the machine.” Here is Cyndi’s story.

“My grandmother was a crafter, and my mother sewed garments. I seem to be somewhere in the middle, quilting—the clothes I make are not really fit to wear.

“I started when I was 28, taking classes at the new quilt shop down the street. I sew mostly because I love to make things, it give me a place to be creative, and the ability to give gifts to those I love is so special. It takes a lot of time which is a precious commodity.

“At this time, I have not sold anything because those I have finished have been gifts. I do have several quilt tops that need the attention of the long arm quilter to finish. They remain unfinished because they do not yet have future homes. The name of the quilt in the picture above is ‘buggy barn hearts.’

“In addition to quilting, I do several different crafts: jewelry, scrap-booking, and Japanese hand bound journals.

“My full-time job, up to 60 hours a week, is as a Unit Supervisor at the Developmental Center in Eldridge. The clients I serve are in many ways my family, and I love my job—most of the time. It is stressful work, and the ability to carve out some time at home to be creative really helps to keep my life in balance. It’s something that I give myself. Quilting is also a social outlet; I tend to be a homebody, and a bit of a loner. Taking classes, shopping for fabric, and going to retreats gets me out of the house and involved with other people.”

Have something you’re good at, or have just discovered you have a talent for? Send me a photo and your story so I can share it here (

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