Thursday, September 22, 2011

Little Jewels and Patterns

I'm back from KidlitCon 2011, but I must have left my brain there, because it is still very much engaged in writerly/ readerly thoughts. I attended KidlitCon with Emily Whitman and Nora Coon in order to spend time with them and my newfound kid lit community, but also with the hope that I could pick up ideas for how to use my blog to full effect. What should I write about? What can I share that will benefit others in the kidlitosphere? How much of myself should I reveal?  I've been poring over my notes, going over choice bits, and making discoveries along the way.

Here's a thought that's particularly resonating with me today:

Little jewels.

The lovely and uber-creative Richard Jesse Watson talked about how blogs can offer 'little jewels' to those who read them.  His posts are little jewels to me. Short, concise gifts that spur me on to my own creative thoughts and pursuits. And I know I'm not alone in accepting these gifts, because Mary Bradley branched out and wrote an inspired poem about hope after seeing this painting of Richard's:

Poet Tree by Richard Jesse Watson

Now, I am on my own peculiar length of my creative journey. This stretch of the road seems newer than and perhaps different from Richard's, but here's where it's similar: when my eyes and mind are wide open, I can spot the little jewels. Here is one gem that I noticed today which I will share with you, and it is one word: patterns. 

Here are some patterns my daughter chose to wear to school:

So many flowers!

My grandmother, whom I adored and whose taste was impeccable, would have steered her away from this combination. These colors "clash" and the patterns together would be too "loud" and "dissonant". Social patterns concerned my grandmother, and she wouldn't want my daughter "sticking out". 

We are all entitled to our opinions, so here's mine: I love my daughter's sense of beauty. She loves flowers. She loves patterned fabrics. Why not wear as many as possible together at the same time?

Indonesian batik from Ashitaba
Now, my daughter has never lived in Southeast Asia, but I have, and one thing I know is that the ideas of what matches and what is mismatched are generally learned ones, based on social norms. As a kid, I loved the combinations women would wear on the streets of Singapore. Bright floral shirts with intensely patterned, Escher-like batik sarongs. In my 12 year-old mind, I loved how these women were breaking all the dress code rules I had grown up with. Now, I realize that they were breaking no rules of their own. In fact, they may have been abiding by many of their own strict cultural dress codes- their own social patterns- which had never been imposed upon me. Regardless, I still love the bold combinations of colors, textures and fabrics.

I'm delighted that my daughter sees beauty in these patterns combined, and that she didn't even need to be exposed to styles halfway across the world to decide that this was acceptable. It makes me wonder about all the things she looks at all day. I imagine that she sees beauty in many places where I have steadily trained myself not to look. With that in mind, I've decided to let my daughter dress me and am heading out the door now with eyes wide open to seek more little jewels.

I cannot take credit for this winning combination.
You can't miss me.