MENDING

Mending is not something we – as a culture – spend a lot of time doing these days.  Fast fashion and mass consumerism has taught us to simply throw older or imperfect items away and replace them with newer versions. I am all for the “Sewing Schoolyard” – let’s teach ourselves and our kids to mend – a satisfying task.

My favorite, 10-year old tea towels have seen better days; but, I just can’t find the perfect replacement.  I use our Alabama Chanin Tea Towels for most kitchen tasks but these have just given me so much kitchen love that I can’t bear to part with them.

In perfect wabi-sabi style, Olivia – our Studio Assistant (and budding pattern maker) – mended my old tea towels using scraps of our organic cotton jersey and Button Craft thread.  Using applique in combination with seed, whip and eyelet stitches, she repaired the holes and covered the stains.  Perfect.

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ON BEAUTY

From page 51 of Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers:

“Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness,

Wabi-sabi is ambivalent about separating beauty from non-beauty or ugliness.  The beauty of wabi-sabi is, in one respect, the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly.  Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else.  Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view.  Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.”

DIY ROSE TANK DRESS

Our newest DIY Kit:

Reverse Applique Rose Tank Dress

Perfect for every occasion, this 100% organic cotton jersey tank dress from Alabama Studio Style uses a Rose Placement Stencil from Alabama Stitch Book patterned all-over the garment front and back.  Choose your own fabric and thread colors .

Shown here in black with black thread.

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ON THE UNIVERSE

I have immersed myself in Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers over the last weeks and these three, short sentences on the nature of the universe (see pages 46-47) make me so happy:

1. All things are impermanent.

2. All things are imperfect.

3. All things are incomplete.

To me, this seems the essence of wabi-sabi.  When I read these, it is like I have been given the okay to just be me today, and every day.  Sigh, what a relief.

50 ANS

I made it!  50 years old and going strong.

On my daughter Maggie’s birthday each year, I send (or do my best to send) an invitation to celebrate that includes the following text. Today, the invitation is for me:

“Join us in celebrating 50 years of life.

No presents please, plant a flower or a tree for me.”

Thank you for all your support for Alabama Chanin… and me.

As my father reminded me: “This is going to be the best decade of your life!”
xoNatalie

P.S: For those of you who have been asking, my cleanse was a success – or should I say a beautiful and permanent change of lifestyle:  25 pounds lighter and I feel 10+ years younger.

Now, on to cleansing my life, home and studio! It is going to be a wabi-sabi life – starting today…

PEACEBUILDERS PLEDGE IN ACTION

In honor of 9/11, print out the PeaceBuilder Pledge below and post it in your place of business, community, kitchen, office, local bar, post office, coffee shop, hair salon, and place of worship.  Print it as a post card, send it out, and make it your social media status.

Send us pictures from your actions and we will add them to our Facebook page:

The PeaceBuilder Pledge:

I am a peace builder.

I pledge to praise people, to give up put downs, to seek wise people, to notice and speak up about hurts I have caused, to right wrongs and to help others.

I will build peace at home, at school, (my work place), and in my community each day.

PEACEBUILDERS PLEDGE IN ACTION

If you are interested in adding PeaceBuilder’s to your child’s school curriculum, you can contact them here.

(And thank you to Olivia for these lovely actions!)

 

9/11/2001

We left the Hotel Chelsea in New York City that morning on my 1970’s era Schwinn “Stardust” bike – white with the beautiful banana seat. Our plan was to head down to Pastis in the Meat Packing District to meet a dear friend for his birthday breakfast.  Another dear friend from Vienna was visiting, without her daughter for the first time in 6 years (and after surviving both breast cancer and her daughter’s Leukemia). This day was meant to be a celebration of life.  I was doubling her on my bike.  We were happy.  It was New York Fashion Week. We felt beautiful. We were living the dream.

We arrived at Pastis and had just received our coffee when the first plane struck the first tower.

By the time we rode my small bike back up to The Hotel Chelsea, the second tower had been hit.

It happened as we were riding my bicycle back up 8th Avenue.  I was navigating morning traffic and our backs were turned as the world changed. The first tower fell moments after we arrived back to the hotel and turned on the TV.  Our day of joy became a nightmare.

It was strange, but the morning went on – business as usual; we just didn’t know what else to do.  A bike messenger arrived to pick up samples for Vogue magazine. Should have been exciting right?  It just felt wrong. He collapsed into a chair at our table and sighed.  Friends of his, other bike messengers, had been delivering packages in the tower.  There was no word from them.  He stared at his cell phone. Silence.My girlfriend visited the towers the previous morning at 9:00 . You can see her photos above from the observation deck of the South Tower – looking down – on 9/10.  The photos below are taken from the Meat Packing District looking up on 9/11.  You can see the smoke rising just above the white truck on the left.  We all know the rest of the horror.

A decade has now passed and our country continues to struggle with the aftermath from that fateful day. I am still wondering what has changed for our country since September 11, 2001. I am still coming to terms with my feelings about that day and everything that has happened in its wake.

When Osama Bin Laden fell, I felt nothing. College students marred by 9/11 cheered his death, but I felt no healing.  Shouldn’t I be happy?  Why shouldn’t this act of vengeance make something better?  It hasn’t erased the images of human beings leaping to their deaths. It hasn’t stopped the civilians – many of them children – being killed in the name of something today and every day. I felt no healing. I only felt sadness.

So, what to do this weekend as we look back in memorial to a decade ago? I have only one answer: In a situation where I know that there is nothing I can do to make a difference, I know that I have to change myself.

From page 15 of An Open Heart by the Dalai Lama – edited by Nicholas Vreeland:

“In India there exists a caste system; members of the lowest caste are sometimes referred to as untouchables…. Economically, they are extremely poor. I often tell them, ‘You yourselves must make effort; you must take the initiative, with self-confidence, to bring about changes.  You cannot simply blame the members of higher castes for your situation.’”

What can I do to make a difference?

There is just so much in the world to change and do that it overwhelms me.  So, I choose to do what I can in a personal way. I have made my own “grassroots” 9/11 project.  I commit over the next month (perhaps the rest of my life) to this manifesto:

1) I will not complain.  (In this big beautiful life, I should have so little to complain about. And yet…) When I find myself in a situation where I have the urge to complain, I will, instead, react positively – however small my actions, I will do something to improve each situation.

2) I pledge to be a PeaceBuilder. My daughter’s kindergarten class (and entire school) says the PeaceBuilder’s Pledge each morning directly after the Pledge of Allegiance. This seems like a pretty good place to start as we begin to reflect on the last decade:

The PeaceBuilders Pledge:

I am a peace builder.

I pledge to praise people, to give up put downs, to seek wise people, to notice and speak up about hurts I have caused, to right wrongs and to help others.

I will build peace at home, at school, (my work place), and in my community each day.

Who’s with me?  If you are, print out the PeaceBuilder Pledge and post it in your place of business, community, kitchen, office, local bar, post office, coffee shop, hair salon, and place of worship.  Print it as a post card, send it out, and make it your social media status for the upcoming weekend.

For me, I commit a month – 4 short weeks – of practicing non-complaining and peace-building in my life as a way to honor and acknowledge the anniversary of 9/11 and other atrocities of war that are still taking place each and every day.

I am excited to discover where this will take me.

I will be a PeaceBuilder. Indeed.

(If you are interested in adding PeaceBuilder’s to your child’s school curriculum, you can contact them here.)