A week before Christmas I decided to make an angel for my tree. I bought hot-pink cardboard. I couldn’t resist. I played and messed around with paint and glue. In the end, her head had to be held up with an old paintbrush. The technical aspects weren’t perfect but I felt a lot of satisfaction all the same.

My angel has a hot pink face and hair sticking straight up in streaks of gold and silver. Hair like a halo or a wild thing. She has big wide arms that could be wings. But with hair like that, who needs wings.

When I made her, I had no clear plan. I messed around and she grew into what she became. She is kind of pretty, very feminine but wild and powerful too. She has power and joy.

My little art project would win no awards but there was such a sense of rightness in making it. I slipped out of stress, consumerism and the violence happening in my city that week. I slipped into flow and the joy of expression. I made something from the heart. And in making it I saw my own vision of angels – beautiful, powerful, wild, imperfect. I like that.

There’s an old old story called “the red shoes” that I love. An orphan girl finds scraps of red fabric, and piece by piece and she fashions for herself a pair of shoes. She creates beauty, right there amidst her daily struggle. She makes something to show who she is.

The little girl is then adopted by a wealthy woman who discards her handmade shoes and buys her a shiny new pair of shoes. They are perfect and gleaming. The girl goes dancing in them. At first this is wonderful; new red shoes and a shiny new life. She dances and dances and dances. But the shoes are dancing her. She can’t stop. In the old version of the story, the shoes dance her to death.

I love this story. It’s a warning of the seduction of consumerism, of keeping up, of never missing out. It’s a reminder to look beneath the surface. It also speaks to me of the deep satisfaction of making something from the heart. However imperfect it is, when you create, what you make has a piece of you in it. The making of it is beautiful.

In my 20’s I read something about sewing by hand as a meditation. And so, I sewed a laundry bag. It was a bit of an odd thing to do. Very plain, very simple. It took awhile. But I still have it fifteen years later. It’s still holding just fine. Probably it’s time to replace it with something generic but I still enjoy the simple fact that I made it stitch by stitch.

I am not saying make everything by hand but make some things. Be yourself. Make something imperfect. Let it express the human who made it. Play and see what comes out. It will calm down the impulse to go shopping or eat potato chips.

Make something to remember who you really are and what is really important.