Ep. 111 Recognizing Our Impact and Finding Joy with Paula Pereira
I’m your host Ashley Yousling. Today I’m sitting down to talk with the most joyful and loving Paula Pereira. Paula is full of life and her delight is infectious as she tells us stories about her creative journey and the discoveries she’s made along the way. If you’ve followed Paula’s work, you’re likely familiar with her designs in various publications, including Making magazine, and the beautiful techniques, unique stitch patterns, and blended yarns she uses to create timeless knitwear pieces. Paula has spent her life exploring ways to grow and expand, stepping out in courage, and considering the impact we have as humans on each other in everything we do. This coming March Paula is one of instructors at Ritual, our first ever virtual retreat for makers. She will be hosting a knitting ritual workshop during this incredible 2+ day event. We’re going to have the most amazing time, so go learn more at makingzine.com and register to join us.
Find your latest project and have a listen…I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. You can find Paula at https://paulapereiraknits.com/ and on Instagram @paulapkl
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You can also listen to our podcast directly on the Making app, Spotify or on Apple Podcasts.
Click to show transcript.
Ashley Yousling 00:06
Welcome to making conversation a podcast where we celebrate making in all its forms from amazing stories of inspiring makers and people to behind the scene peaks of building bright collective, our monthly membership for all things craft and the making app, the first social marketplace for makers we believe that the simple act of making can transform your life and in turn change our world. This is why making exists. I'm your host, Ashley Yousling. Today I'm sitting down to talk with the most joyful and loving Paula Pereira. Paula is full of life and her delight is infectious as she tells us stories about her creative journey and the discoveries she's made along the way. If you followed Paul's work, you're likely familiar with her designs and various publications, including making magazine and the beautiful techniques unique stitch patterns and blended yarns she uses to create timeless knitwear pieces, Paula has spent her life exploring ways to grow and expand, stepping out and courage and considering the impact we have as humans on each other and everything we do this coming March, Paul is one of the instructors at ritual, our first ever virtual retreat for makers, she will be hosting a knitting ritual workshop during this incredible two plus Day event, we're going to have the most amazing time. So go learn more at making zine.com and register to join us find your latest project and have a listen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have, you can find Paula at PaulaPereiraKnits.com. and on Instagram @paulapkl. And with that, here's Paula.
Paula Pereira 01:38
When I go back a lot of back a lot of back in the years, I remember when I was a child, and I love to draw. And I remember my family saying, oh, you know, she'll be a wonderful architecture. And I was, I don't know, I want to draw. So I remember I have this creative, vivid memory that I want to express myself with colors, you know, textures, things like that. But anyway, so I think this was the first part. And I remember that I have my, my grandma, she likes to embroidery too. So my it nobody needs because I'm from Brazil. And you know, it's pretty warm. So they crochet a lot from the Portuguese influence that we have. But I have a memory of textiles of the beauty of textiles. So this is like a very early memory that I have. So in my life, I remember that I was working in a company business and other stuff. And like working, I don't know, 1516 hours a day. I have this memory when I have my daughter she was you know, a kid, and she have a kind of homework. So I remember that she passed from me to fax machine. Do you guys remember fax? So she says to me, you know, I check for her. And I passed back to her anyway. And I remember that. It was in 2009 2000 Yeah, 2009 10. I was exhausted. And I think all of us there's a point that we want to do something different. So in my case, my plan was to become a yoga teacher. Because you know, I always practice yoga since I was a teenager, and I thought this will be a wonderful bath for me. And I was very excited. So I moved for a while to Vancouver, Canada and British Columbia. And I remember that I was so mesmerized by the beauty, the nature but in my way to the class there was this meeting store. You're going on sale and I look to the windows and self regard. Everything is so beautiful how they do this is so wonderful, so marvels. And one day I went there. And I remember that sensation of the colors. Or the beauty of yarns because I think doesn't matter if you need for I don't know, 30 40 years, I don't know. But when you go to a place where do you have lots of yarn and beautiful things embroider other stuff. So I it's difficult for me to describe but I think that most of people listen to us. I believe that, you know, we all have this. Wow. It's so beautiful, how I can do something how I can participate how my hands can, you know be part of it? And I remember that I was so searching probably because I was in this yoga teacher training, so there, there is a lot about emotions and perspect perceptions. So I was aware to my body to the movements of probably I was super open. And I remember that there's this lady when I was leaving, she was from England, and she taught me to knit in Perl. And like, a lot of beginners, I need that scarf that is like, endless rectangle that we go and go and go. And there's a lot of mistakes, but it's so precious. In one day, I took courage to do a course I went to the store and say, You know what, I'm going to do a workshop. And it was one of those things in life that for me, it was a gift. Because I have no idea about difficult easy, nothing. But a sigh scarf in more hair. With beads. I remember this. And I said, You know what, I think I'm going to learn to do this. And look here was the teacher was severe Harding, which is an amazing person, amazing human being. And I remember so many moments when I was super nervous, like, Oh, my God, can you imagine I only meet in parole, and I was meeting with beads, and mohair and all this first. And she was really amazing, calm. And then I started to have classes with her. And she taught me something that I will never forget, she taught me how to undo my knitting. And understand why I make mistakes. So this for me was so precious, understand this structure, how the, the yarn, you know, get, you know, with whether or not how we make like knots, let's put this way with with needles and yarn and understand. And in my experience, I remember that I found mistakes when my mind was flying. So I wasn't concentrated in what I was doing. Anyway, it was like a self a moment of self discover, you know, so I think all those things related with the moment that I was leaving, so I stay there and I have this classes, I was really excited. So when I come back to Brazil, my plan it was being a yoga teacher. With me, it seemed like a hobby, something. And I started to look for people that have the same interests as employees in Brazil, and it was a moment 2010 that we have those groups, Yahoo groups, I think we didn't have Jimmy which was Yeah, whole groups. So I found people from other states. And anyway, so this start to need seeing more than I think it's more like making making something bigger for me than the yoga for this week. And I remember that I have some months, some money saved, and I say you know what I think I'm going to infest in a moment of my life right now, at this point, I didn't know if I was able to survive. Let's put this way. But you know, I want to give it a try. So I remember that, I went to the very first Vogue Knitting live. And I went to a few more. I went to workshops in anywhere. And at this moment, they were you know, people start to have not online classes, but it was like groups. So I remember that I have this urge to learn to learn about construction to learn about the mechanisms, the the structure of meetings, because I think to be in my mind how can I say that in my experience, to be able to create something I want to learn the foundation. So how this works, so the angles more the math, the fabric, so for me, I want to feel more connected, not secure, but to feel more vivid. I like to have this this information. So I remember Carrie's books, so I was like oh my god, she make those videos. The whole thing. So I have this memory so vivid in my life. And I started to teach a little bit in Brazil and, you know, experimenting, self publish, and robbery. So it was about 2015, I felt that I was ready to submit my work. And this is, you know, basically my story with me at. And I don't know how, how many times to have doing this. But as much as I have this excitement, this sensation of beads of being discovering something new and interesting. And so let's, you know, keep doing so let's see. So this part of making I love it. So the part that I have a tremendous difficult is with social media. Because I feel so uncomfortable. With I don't how can i say that i It's my it's me, I think I don't have the tools the knowledge to be interesting or relevant in this? How can I say that? This new way to do things. So this for me is pretty hard. So I still learning as to studying and hopefully this will be more enjoyable for me more. Let's see. And yeah, so basically, I love to work with other people. So how can I say that when I when I'm meeting? I love to, to think so I love a mood board. I love to think what other people maybe are doing so how magical it is, when something that I'm meeting I'm working on is how can I say that makes it sound more matches with other people's work for me, this is magical. So this is, you know, the magical that you guys do. But I think this is so cool. So this is something that I love to do. I love when I see, you know, a magazine, a collection or something that else other people's work and mine too. So how something happens that you know, this flow this energy, so all of us are connected somehow. So I love this. This is something that I really love.
Ashley Yousling 12:55
Where do you think your confidence came from?
Paula Pereira 13:00
I must say something that, you know, a few years before I decided to you know, change my career. I was in so bad moods internally. I was like God life is this. So I have to you know, all of us we have this is not my privilege. I think all of us we have those moments, oh my god where I'm doing. So life is this. I have to wake up, work 10 1214 hours a day, all this stuff in it, but I was in a pretty bad shape. And I remember that. It was a holiday. So I went to a place that I love in Ryu, which is a beach town called boozers. I totally recommend it. I love it. And I was with my mom with my daughter. So we are on the beach relaxing. And there was a small store a small library they have incense, jams, things like that more esoteric or I don't know how to say it. And I remember that I looked for some books about Buddhists man. I thought it was interesting. So my mum bought a book for me I didn't saw the moment it was about Tibetan Buddhists. Very thin book. And I remember that when I read this on the beach I was oh my god something click you know for me this way to see life. How can I describe this? Some people are some Tibet some Buddhist lineages say the path the middle path so not be too emotional, not be too sad not be too bright. So there's something in between how we can be more gentle with ourselves. Everything starts from this point. So I remember that this book open something. And I remember that, I don't know, weeks after this, there was a monk, a Buddhist monk there was in Rio and I went to see the, the lecture, and everybody have a book because my god what this book so I remember this excitement I want to know, I want to know more about this. It's something that I most can describe all my senses, I want to see I want to smell and to hear. So, you know, all my body was. And I remember that I went to the floor to see the name of the book that everybody has in their hands, it was like so this is an excitement that is it's like a child when you know, when have the first something on all of us. So I remember this pretty vivid. And I was excited about it. And there was I found a place super far away from my home that they have some conversations and I went there. And one of my friends said, Paul, are you crazy? Two streets from your home here there's a Tibetan Buddhist center and say what really? So you 1999 I started to study there. And I used to study I still so it's more than 20 years but all this experience was really amazing for me I don't consider myself a Buddhist because I don't have the discipline. But you know, there's something really precious about be more courageous, more honest with myself so look to me, it's like an How can I say it is like internal way to see and to improve so doesn't matter if something happens to me or somebody do something to me this doesn't matter. So I need to know how I'm going to deal with this and how I'm going to impact other people this one is pretty strong. So the way that I act will impact the others you know starting with my family or I don't know what person that you know I bump to on the streets. So for me this is so precious. is difficult to explain with words is something is like an eternal journey. But I must say that this was like a gift for me. So open so many doors and of course there's the fun part I remember that I was in Berkeley have some retreats and when I have a break you know I like crazy I run to the verb for keeping warm so I remember you know meeting was all you know the time connected but anyway this is just a joke but so yeah, and lots of times during this the studies I have some volunteer work with sacred art so with so flags we we do small statues so this part is something that I really love because I can use my hands with different media's let's put this way which is amazing and I don't know I think the it's my excitement I don't like too much this war set but I think this very strong wheel to do something it's like courage. I don't know because when we let's let's try let me see if I can put this in another way so when we are teenagers and we're gonna do like a trip and there's so many odds we don't have money we don't have a car we don't have the but somehow we are we are there we go we just go so I think I can relate this a little bit with this impulse to do this. Like I said of course took me about five years to feel confident to study to understand fi to to understand proper lots of things and to not that i How can I say this not that I was ready so I know everything of course not I need to learn so much more. But I felt that I have the basics. Okay, so now I can start to you know put my workouts in. So people that will buy a pattern from You will not have a bad experience. Let's put this way or feel first trade. Because I think this is our responsibility how we impact other people, right? So probably, how can I say that a person that maybe don't have a nice experience because something that I wasn't clear about it, writing the pattern, or so this affects me. So this is something that is always in my mind. And I learn a lot with lots of people that I have been working with the last seven years. So and I know, you know, I, once I still have this, this, I don't know, I don't know, the word for this flow, excitement, or I can alive. I don't know. It's something I like to do with my hands like, and with my breath, but for me, it's difficult to find a word. So now is this but we don't I don't know how much time or for how long I'll be doing this. I know. So
Ashley Yousling 21:13
almost more than confidence. It's courage. Like, you know, you that's the word that you use courage. And I, I can resonate a lot with that, actually, I think people always say, you know, you have so much confidence, you know, to other people, or, you know, you How come you're so confident or you come off so confident. And I think when we say that to people, perhaps what we're really saying is you have so much courage, because I think there's always a shadow side to confidence, right? Like, as confident as you might be, or come across. There's this whole shadow side of feeling scared, or, you know, as Brene Brown says, like, stepping into the arena. And so really, it's about courage and, and being brave, to do something different.
Paula Pereira 22:18
Exactly. And in this something that I think, for me is really precious is being, you know, gentle, but I accept my mistakes, and make all the efforts that I can do to make better every time because I think we have we live on a culture, that we have to be wonderful we have to be you know, everything that we do must be wonderful, must be surprising, must be exciting. So sometimes just not happen. It's not like this all the time. So I think part of being courageous, or have courage is to receive feedbacks open, maybe we can have, of course, it's human, have a bad reaction to something for a few hours for a day. But then we look inside we transform this and there we go, let's let's see how we can do this. Because this will happen in our life. So many many times on relationships or even with our habits, what we eat what we consume, what so, I think for me courage is more this process to go inside and go back again accept mistakes or something not mistakes, but no setbacks, things that happen life is like this and be more generous with us and mostly be aware of what kind of effects that we are. We are how can I say that is not a reaction but we interact with people. Because I think this is a responsibility in our own what we do and like a human beings so sometimes we react with too much emotions. But there's lots of people around us that are listened to us. I think this is something that makes for me so difficult social media, because I think there's always a fact. There's always impacts you know, everything that we do that we say this is going to impact people and I No, no, I'm trying to think that it's not what I do is not like a nice sweater. But the way that I do, I think there's responsibility. So I'm responsible in those words for, for myself. So I think all those things come together. So it's like Courage have some layers of responsibility have very good, we'll, I don't know, I think all this come together or walks together, let's put it this way, something like that and accept the bad days, the bad acts, they are terrible, but they will come. So I don't know.
Ashley Yousling 25:51
I do believe the same thing, that we have such an impact. And most of us don't maybe recognize the impact that we have on the immediate people around us. Like, you know, when you walk into a room, the energy that you bring with you into an online space, you know, what you bring to your email inboxes to, you know, the impact long term that we have. I'm curious, your thoughts on the mutual responsibility, you know, because I think some of us maybe has a tendency to feel so much responsibility, and there becomes this gray area of how can I do good in the world and put my best out there, even though I make mistakes, and I mess up, and can take that feedback and can alter course or whatever. But there's also this other side of, at what point is there this, like, mutual responsibility of how someone reacts to something? Like, where's that shared impact? And responsibility?
Paula Pereira 27:06
Yeah, I think, I think it's wonderful that surprised us. Because sometimes I'm always afraid to sound like, Oh, my God, life is amazing. No, it's not like this. But, and I remember, I think that we have a tremendous responsibility in some control within ourselves. That's it, we don't have any controls in people with emotions or responses. So we will have lots of conflicts, because it's free and normal. But what I'm interested is, how what I'm going to produce or how I'm going to relate with people will be genuine, be honest. You know, be I will use all the best of my abilities to do this. And I know that will be conflicts, but I think my responsibility is to be like a seed in this world of understanding. So I think, you know, when we start to, you know, look to each other, and see I think I'm Oh my god, it's so difficult for me to try to explain this. So but how can I say that sometimes I feel that the How can I say that? So sometimes I'm receiving an email like oh my god, this pattern is bullshit. I don't understand this or that. So of course, this makes me sad, of course, smear troll, so we're going to receive credits. So how I tried to solve this first of all, I looked at the you know, the practical question why this person I having problems with or doubts so I tried to solve this part. And that's it. So with the best of my respect, I tried to explain so I give all the time that you know, this situate the situation needs but I think I can't you know, start to talk about this with you know, in social media or with my friends, oh, my God, I received this Oh, my God, people are like this, people are like that, because this will be having an effect multiply it so many times. So what is the point this will happen? That's it. This will happen all the time. Sometimes a person made a mistake, sometimes the person didn't read what I was, what I put there, or maybe the person make the math and find the mistakes. So I'm honestly going to check and you know, so doesn't matter. But, you know, I don't see I think this is more responsive. ability to solve the situation? You know, what I what is what? What is my responsibility to and that's it, let's move on, let's go to another situation. Because sometimes I feel that we are so selfish all the time. You know, talking about our frustrations, oh my god. So I'm interested in form like, healthy tissue with my friends with people that I don't know people that I, you know, I'm traveling, then I meet. And I think this is our responsibility. So how we how we act, there's a responsibility, this is what I'm trying to say, of course, that I'd be upset or maybe Oh, my God, this and this, then I'm, you know, I take a breath, I do something else, then I when I come back to this, then of course, what is my responsibility? I will do this, am I the best of my abilities? And that's it? And let's move on. Because if how can I say that? Every time that something happens to us, is terrible for us. But I think our responsibility starts when we make this bigger and bigger and bigger. So of course, I'm not, I'm not talking here about big questions, or big issues from that we have in our society. So when I see the woman in Iran, for instance, fighting like crazy, you know, losing their lives, or people here, where I'm living now in Ladakh, or in my country in Brazil. So I'm not talking about this kind of problems. And I'm talking about, you know, daily daily experiences. So I think our responsibility is, is making our ambience even if it's social media, it's not like brights, like, Oh, look at this, I'm selling this, I'm selling that No, I think it's for real, for real, what we can offer what we can say like we put so much effort sometimes in a photograph. So maybe we can say some words that are more how can I say that searching or, you know, not thinks that we, I think that we put so much care in some things that maybe we can put the same care with people. I don't know if this makes sense. And if this day is not the day so let's do this on the next day, so we don't have to be like super spiritual all the time. But I like to work this on I don't know on my life on my on my work, let's go this way.
Ashley Yousling 33:17
We believe that the simple act of making can transform your life, and in turn change our world. This is why Making exists. It all starts with inspiration. We're inspired by people by places by experiences, a beautiful photo, a soft wall, a kind heart. These are the things that motivate us to make. Making is here to disrupt systems, systems of oppression systems that only benefit certain groups of people, and systems that extract. We are here to challenge the narrative of profit over people. We believe a company can be founded for the purpose of good and change the world for better, while also creating opportunity at scale. makers are tired of the monoliths, the few companies that comprise our only choices of how we connect, how we transact and how we learn. makers are ready for a better alternative. And that is what we are building. Becoming a break collective member helps us accomplish this visit makingzine.com to learn more. We have a special 10% discount on bright collective yearly memberships for podcast listeners, Use Discount Code makingconvo10 during checkout
Paula Pereira 34:36
my country for Brazil we have a very particular way to see life. So for me, it's always like it's not like a lesson but it's something that is like a daily reminder how we deal with, you know, strategies and heavy stuff. So we have been living under lots of pressure pressure And for so many years, but I don't know how to explain this, but people make jokes about this word we are leaving all the time, not jokes. You know, putting a person lower, it's not the so we have some quotations like, Oh my God, nothing is so bad that I can be even worse. So it's a way to play with the situation. So I think this is something that I carry, I feel this, it's my, in my body. I'm like this with my family with my cousins. So sometimes we are almost crying about a situation and then one of us make a joke about ourselves. So I think this is cultural, we are like this in Brazil. So this is something that is so precious, I never thought about this until I live outside Brazil, then I start to understand how this is important. Because there's a matter if you are a person that if you're rich or poor, but this way to see life. For me, it's precious, because it's, it's something that make us pause because sometimes we can feel in our bodies, we have a chance, we have like a heaviness here on the stomach, the head, everything is so heavy, right? So when we make a joke, we laugh about something, immediately the body released something I'm so we break this crunchiness contraction, it's physical, is I truly believe that is physical, we have some chemicals inside of us, right? When we are disappointed. So sometimes we do things with within our bodies. So when we have those situations, you know, like a joke or something were released. So I think this is something that my country, you know, give this I think I can say wisdom, because we look like losers, but we are very clever. Because with this, no, it's just a joke. Because we you know, this is a way to to endure, because it's so many decades suffering under a system or under corruption or under so many things that we need to find, we need to find some light to survive. You know, so I think the the light with is, you know, us interacting. So if you go to a supermarket, and something happens, or either one of our politicians do something crazy, probably we are going to have a laugh with the cashier from the supermarket. I don't know, this is how we do how we win things. So this for me, this is very helpful. And truly, actually, I only started to see this when I was living abroad. And I can't feel this here and in the golla to help them. So today I stay like almost four hours on the mail office because I was waiting for some wall where it is what it is. And I was it was super warm. And I was there and suddenly I started to talk with a guy that was there helping somebody and a lady that has a beauty salon so she was waiting for some something to their Messiah to talk and have a good laugh. So probably the last hour that I was there, I didn't realize that I was there for an hour. So I don't know I think this is something precious that you know people that live under a very heavy and tough structure you know, we developed some learning how to how to deal with this because otherwise we're going to kill ourselves is too much suffering for too long, is too much despair for too long. So in my whole life, I don't remember I don't have in my mail I my memory, like a decade that I feel that my country was being prosperous. I don't have this memory. Do you understand? So it was generations after generations, you know, with the same problems. So I think that this is our way to fight. Let's put this way and I think we start to get In mature, so when I see the results when we are voting, so I think this is a way to deal with, with things. And I think this is happening in many parts of the world. So people are fighting, fighting again, the way that you know, things are being stablish. Right? So why do you have to do this, why you have to do that. And each one of us has a way to fight. So I think I have, I don't know, I think when we open our mind to other people are the cultures. This is so amazing. This is so, so incredible. It's something that we can relate with other people on Earth. So we are here on the same ambience we are. And we can learn with others, the movement with others. So I have been twice in South Africa since I moved here. And I still am still processing everything that happens there. So I'm reading books, I'm trying to understand. So here I'm reading books about, you know, the revolution, what happened. So I think, all this does experience the stories. So this This shows a big horizon a big, you know, we can breathe, we can breathe, because we will survive. So I think we only have to manage to be a little bit a little bit more happy in our daily lives. I'm not talking about the head. I'm so happy. I'm talking about being genuinely happy when you look to your kid and see they do something really sweet. So I have to I don't know, for me, I'm talking about the I tried to look for this, select k. So I took a breath. It was wonderful. Let's go to real life. Let's do stuff. So I think we slowly can bring some more lightness, because the heavy stuff is there. We know. We know we know the despair, we know. And I must say that we know how to deal with or we are learning pretty fast how to deal with the best way to deal with it. So maybe how can I say that this like when we are going to to altra mera time. Right like your husband. So what you can do before we you know with Pastor we get nourished, we get strong. So I think those moments are the moments that we are nourishing ourselves that we are ready to, you know, go to, to the fight to the I don't know, to the life. I don't know
Ashley Yousling 43:15
if we all took a little bit better care of ourselves, and tried to recognize the importance of that, and how that reflects how we are able to take care of others or treat others in the impact. This has been an ongoing theme that's come up in the podcast several times this year, of real really speaking kindly to ourselves and loving ourselves. Because that really creates that expansion that we can do that for others. And I think compassion is the thing that comes, you know, first in my mind is if we have compassion on ourselves, then we can have more compassion for others.
Paula Pereira 43:59
I totally agree with you. I totally agree with you. It's not easy. It's not every day all the time. But I think if we have this internal setup up, it's pretty, you know, helpful to navigate to live this way.
Ashley Yousling 44:21
So you just moved. And I know it's all fairly fresh, but share a little bit about your move and where you're living now.
Paula Pereira 44:31
Yeah. So yeah, I was this year was a pretty one. A very, very heavy one. So many things happen in my personal life, too was pretty scary and frightening. And since the since November from 2021. So my husband received this invitation to work here and was I saw reasons I was really resistance, oh my god, I have I'm going to do so I have to move. So what, you know, how am I going to work? So how things will happen? And, you know, I remember that there's so many people talking to me about their experience. I did the worst thing that is go online and check how is to live in Luanda. And that was my god, I was super frightening. So this year, so many thing happens. And my husband was here, I was there, you know, and I was like, Oh, my God. So I have to move the first of all, I have to, to leave my apartment in Sao Paulo, because I'm from Rio de Janeiro. And I was living in San Paulo for almost 10 years. And I really love San Paulo. We joke that you know, some Polly's our New York. So I don't have the beach like I have in Rio. But you know, everything works so well. So there's so much culture. So I lived in about two blocks from the art museum from some power, which is magnificent. So it was amazing. And I was attached with this idea, say, Oh, my God, I don't want to go, I don't want to go. So I was so crazy. Because I create so much suffering to myself. Because I was attached with this idea. And, you know, life happens. So many thing happens. And I said, You know what? I think I'm, I think I go so we put things in, you know, and my scale and say, you know, I think I go? So the first thing that I check it was about mail, the mail service, how I can keep working. And then I count me and I must say see you ash up. I don't know nothing about Africa so far. So I'm here for two months. So I'm leaving experimenting. But I must say that there's something really special and beautiful here. I don't know, I think I talked with you one of these days about this. I don't know how to describe but for me, everything started here. And there's so much here still. So there's people's knowledge, there's beauty. There's, you know, the way that people connect with others, of course, I'm talking about my experience in Luanda as well. So Africa has so many countries. But I'm here, you know, I'm trying to understand the history, I'm trying to open myself to every experience, being respectful for people who lives here. So we have, you know, son all the time, it's pretty warm. You know, I live in a condo, so it's difficult for me to go out, but I'm trying to how can I say that to not be with, you know, ideas from other people. So I'm trying to go and experience and see how I can you know, I can't solve things. And I'm, I don't know, I think I hope that I can share the best of me here with people that I don't be, you know, only like going through there I am, you know, I like to be respectful, you know, with people that live here and give the best that I can. And at the same time, I'm excited to to know, their, their culture, they you know, the food, the culture, how they leave and you know, I think it's I think I can say that now I'm, I'm ready. You know, I'm open. So I'm here in this you know, in this moment, excited to do my best and you know, there's so many beautiful things here the best Gayatri is amazing the fabrics, you know, the nature the beaches, the food so I'm really happy to be here in this moment. So I mean, now I can see how you know, so much unnecessary suffering a cost to myself to be so resistant, let's put this way but it is what it is. And I think I'm starting to feel some excitement. Some, you know, the fruits have a different flavor for me. You know, I, I'm really happy with this, I think it's a very rich experience, let's put this way. And I don't know how, for how long I'll be here. But, you know, I'm here now, and I'm, you know, trying to connect with people. So we speak the same language, we speak Portuguese, but of course, we speak differently. The accent, the speed are some words, they speak more the Portuguese from Portugal. And it's, it's exciting. So we are, I think that it's COVID is interesting. And when we talk about ritual, I remember that, when we have that conversation, what I feel really excited about this project is that we can share experiences from from a different point of view. So it's not only about a technique, but it's much more about people, how we have our personal rituals, to go through things like knitting or sewing, or embroidery, whatever. And for me, it's like, an invitation to interact with a wonderful group of people. And then we together can, you know, feel how we have this inner life and how we go through the process, how we can, how we can being on how we can acknowledge that we have rituals that can be make us much more alive, much more happy, excited about life or about ourselves. So I'm super excited about it.
Ashley Yousling 52:06
So ritual will be our first virtual retreat online in March, and we centered it around the spring equinox, and then we're thinking we'll do another one later around the solstice. And we have been thinking a long time about doing something in person. And especially with things kind of opening up more and people feeling more comfortable. We wanted to create a experience that was really approachable and different than people are used to say, from like, you know, typical knitting or craft events, or even, you know, retreats. And the thing that kept coming back over and over and over again, was just feedback from people that follow making was that they wanted something virtual. And I was really resistant for a long time. At first, I would say that, you know, we're coming from this time of, you know, so much virtual, it'd be so great to have something in person. And while in person is lovely, what people were sharing was just how for the very first time, during COVID, because of COVID, they were able to be participatory in things that they otherwise had never been able to be a part of, whether because of money or location, and being able to fit that into their schedule, or just weighing the benefits of taking all this time and energy to go do something that they might not be able to get the most out of like not, you know, wondering if they would be able to find value in it. And so we started playing with this idea to have, we don't want this to be an experience where people come just to consume. We really want this to be an experience where you learn and get to explore and find new, you know, crafts and mediums. But maybe it's not even about a physical thing. Maybe it's more about yourself. And I think all makers can resonate over the last three years really feeling the healing benefits of their craft. And I think if there's one thing that we maybe have done, not a great job at is taking care of ourselves. And it's something that as a mom of three and a business owner who gonna be in there 40 Soon, I'm really realizing how important it is to nurture myself, and how there's so much pressure to make, that sometimes I don't even have time to make in these kind of traditional ways, and what's an experience that people can come to, and spend two plus beautiful days together, online and walk away, filled up, because of the people that they get to spend time with the new, you know, mediums that they're exposed to new ideas and techniques, but then each of these little parts of making can be looked at as a ritual. And and what do I mean by ritual? I think, in this context, it's really about how do we recognize these things as part of our practice, that we want to take care of ourselves and to better not just ourselves, but create space for ourselves that maybe we don't do a great job of otherwise. So we have you teaching a beautiful knitting ritual, which we can talk about in a second. We have a line, a cut carving ritual, there's something so amazing about printmaking, how you can make one thing and then duplicate it so many times, through, you know, printing, and then we have a beautiful writing ritual. I'm really excited about that one. We have a nervous system ritual, how to go through this world and take care of our nervous system. We have body care rituals, and stitching rituals, like with young men, she's going to do an amazing stitching. So there's so many, but all very approachable and recorded so people can access. And then the last really fun thing, not the last, there's more about it. But on Friday, technically, it's it is part of the event, but it's going to be in person. And we're going to work with stockists, and people from all over whoever wants to host and in person kind of gathering the night before kind of like a pre party. So that if you if you happen to be close, you can go like hang out with someone the night before and then the next day or on life. They're wonderful. Yeah, so that's ritual.
Paula Pereira 57:39
This is wonderful. I love this word ritual. Because ritual is when I don't know, I think one thing that can say about ritual is when we dedicate ourselves to something for, you know, a certain period of time. So it's like a pause is this reach pause, you know, when we prepare ourselves for something? So how does how wonderful is this, and I think online is amazing, like, you're sad. So there's so many people that for, you know, any reasons can be in person. So I think this would be another wonderful opportunity. So in your place in your, you know, in your home, we can share this experience, you know, to, to go through something, starting with a ritual for I love that. This is so amazing. I'm very excited. For this super excited, I think it will be the opening for a new year.
Ashley Yousling 58:49
And I'm so excited that you're going to be part of it in so many ways, it seems very fitting that you are part of the very first one. You've been such an encouragement to Carrie and I over the years like you. You know, there definitely was like these huge places of growth on our path over the last few years in particular, and you've always had such grace and love and reached out and in some of the most tender Times said some of the most like profound and loving things with us. And we have felt just so supported by you. And I'm just so grateful for that. So I'm so glad that you're part of this.
Paula Pereira 59:35
Oh, you know, I feel exactly the same thing because when we are talking at the beginning talking about courage about so many things, but there's another aspect of it is that people are open to you to listen to you to hear you to see your work. All right, so you guys open in a very unique path for me. So I was able to work, to live, to eat, to have, you know, to work, and everything that work brings to us. I, I don't feel that I give something I receive so much. And, you know, all this beauty and this excitement to, to be part of something, I'm grateful and very excited.
Ashley Yousling 1:00:45
So the essence of your kind of ritual that you'll be teaching is really about how we take inspiration and create ritual around us when we're both designing something for ourselves or for others, and that type of thing.
Paula Pereira 1:01:07
Yeah, and with what we have, because sometimes can be really frustrating when we look and see, oh, my God, how beautiful the this person lives in this place, or in that place. So sometimes it's everything is so unreachable. So we don't need, we don't need to be on a very beautiful place to have, you know, a flow to have a ritual so we can start with what we have where wherever we are. So I think this is something that I like to you know, exchange and share with people I don't know, I like to have this experience in ritual. Let's look to each other. Let's look to people that is having other experience pretty far away from us. Okay. I think and of course, understanding compassion, all those things, because I think this is wonderful to all of us.
Ashley Yousling 1:02:13
If you had a message for the world. What would it be?
Paula Pereira 1:02:18
I think it'll be look around, look around, wide open. Look around. Let's look to each other. Let's look to people that is having other experience pretty far away from us. Okay, understanding compassion, all those things because I think this is a wonderful to all of us, to all of them.
Ashley Yousling 1:02:50
The biggest of thanks to everyone involved in this week's episode. I hope you'll join me each week as we talk and learn for more fascinating makers for podcast notes and transcriptions, visit our blog at makingzine.com Have a wonderful week.
Ashley [00:00:06] Welcome to Making Conversation, a podcast where we celebrate making in all its forms from amazing stories of inspiring makers and people to behind the scene peeks of building Bright Collective, our monthly membership for all things craft and the making App, the first social marketplace for makers. We believe that the simple act of making can transform your life and in turn change our world. This is why making exists.
Ashley [00:00:31] I'm your host, Ashley Yousling, and this week I'm talking with the most amazing maker with the sweetest voice ever, Yarrow Magdalena. Yarrow is an incredible artist with a deep devotion to helping others find creative and personal well-being through art, reflection, community, and the love of our own bodies and souls. We traverse many stories and topics from personal, creative practice, grief, the impact social media and technology has on our lives, and, most important, feeding our imaginations. This month, Yarrow is hosting a beautiful, creative winter retreat. Join them and others for a five day creative retreat you can do from your home like an artist's residency, but without the travel and time away from your favorite mug, bed and art supplies meet from December 29th to January 2nd every day to close out the year, create together and set meaningful intentions for 2023. Expect journaling prompts, tarot spreads, guided meditations and other resources to sweeten your time together. You can come in your pajamas, have kids or pets in the background, and stay off video if you'd like. For more information and to register, visit themakingapp.com or download the Making app and find Creative Winter Retreat under classes. You can connect with Yarrow on the Making app @yarrowmagdalena on their website yarrowmagdalena.com and their podcast Creative Devotion can be found wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. And with that, here's Yarrow.
Yarrow [00:01:55] My earliest creative memory is being four years old and living in this really small German village. So it would be 1989 and my parents are just about to get divorced and I'm making a lot of sense by kind of putting things in order, and it's something I really love doing as a kid. So I would collect rocks and make these little altars in my bedroom. And I also like Swarovski crystals and purple and pink. And I just felt such a sense of kind of connection and grounding and just sitting down with my works and looking at them. And I think that was like really the first time I felt like my practice, you know, is something I can turn to even though I was so little and I had no idea what I was doing. But I was also allowed to paint naked as a kid. So I had this little tattoo bedroom with the white walls and I had the lot of finger paints and I was really given a lot of freedom as a kid. I remember that my parents would get the pens out and kind of like impulsively I would also get naked. That was kind of my thing. So it was hot, naked painting and I loved it. And that's really like what I kept enjoying through school. But I think there was always a desire to make that a bigger part of my life, but also not really a tangible kind of role model or the confidence to actually see myself doing it. I have quite a working class background and so I didn't know or see anyone in my environment that really had creative ambitions. I thought that was possible and I remember as a teenager I really wanted to go to art school, but I instead dated someone who went to art school. And I think that's that's probably quite common for for people. I hear that a lot. It's called like the shadow artist thing and kind of drawing people in the area that you feel are doing what you secretly want to do but aren't quite ready to own yet. I want to admit also as a teenager I watched Sex and the City and my justification is that I really wanted to learn English. And so I think that made me for the first time see that, oh, you can have a creative job, you can be paid to write. So that was kind of my first introduction to creativity in the adult world. And when, when it was time to graduate from high school, I kind of did the most sensible thing I could think of, even though it really wasn't aligned with who I was or what I wanted from life. But I did a two year bank training and then Germany, that was kind of its pay. So instead of getting into student debt, you would have this container of going to business college, working for a bank and having this really small salary that they pay you and crushing my soul. And it was kind of like really a way to rebel against my parents because. They were so like, oh, you can do anything, you know, to see what you want. And I was like, No, no, no. I'm really going to do the same thing and do the same training and. After that, after I graduated, I was offered a job and started working in e-commerce. I know something you've done as well, and that's kind of how I spent the first, I think seven or eight years of being an adult. I was working in Berlin and London and these really fast paced environments. I was doing management assistance and then age management, and there's a lot around it that I really loved. I loved being so young and being given all this responsibility and really seeing like the fast growth that was possible at that time. But I think looking back, I knew so little about myself. I didn't know that I'm really not suited to work in like a big open plan office to work on 20 different tasks a day and to never really have the chance to really deeply sink into something. So while I was doing that work, I started studying for a distance degree with the Open University, took courses in creative writing and social science psychology like lots of different things that really interested me. I also took food photography classes and kind of got my wealth in community work. And yeah, I think that was kind of like a slowing down and that didn't come overnight. It was like a process. And eventually I came to my final year of that distance degree and I was kind of working full time, but also studying full time and really hitting a wall against how unsustainable that was. So I quit my job and I moved to a farm near Brighton in the UK to be in a path for a family of five kids and to write my dissertation and to kind of figure out what I want to do next. And that was a really beautiful, kind of like expensive and slow time. I think I recognized that I was. Approaching my mid-twenties. I really had no idea what I was doing and I really needed more time and I just didn't want to tie myself down. Kind of getting used to a salary. Building a household, a mate. Mind you, I was like in London. I was living in a in a tiny, super overpriced room that was so small you could only open either the wardrobe or the door. And so it wasn't like I was, you know, building this big life for myself. But I was hoping for those things. And the other time on the farm was really connecting to nature. I adopted my dog Orlando, and took more creative classes, and when I left two and a half years later, I decided to do a master's in Creative Medium. And as part of that, I researched collaborative photography and I wrote my dissertation on community media for Social Change, which was, Oh God, I just wish I could do that master's again, to be honest, that, yeah, it passed so quickly. You're kind of in and, you know, soaked all of this up and then it was almost time to write my dissertation. But yeah, that was kind of yeah, that was a big milestone for me. That was in my late twenties, and after that I founded my web design studio, which I have been running for the past almost eight years. And that brings us to present day.
Ashley [00:08:46] Kind of taking a step back and looking at the different phases of your life. You know, being a young child and growing up going through the different phases of schooling, could you reflect back on what your creative practice was in kind of each of those phases? Obviously painting make it was your early childhood experience, but what was your creative practice kind of through then and how did it shift and when did new mediums come into play?
Yarrow [00:09:22] Mm hmm. Yeah, sure. I think for me, in any practice, the Explorer, there's always been this yearning of expression where maybe language wasn't the most intuitive or natural thing for me. And I'd say that, yeah, like definitely naked painting was my first big love. In some ways it still is. And as a teenager, writing and photography became really big for me. I had a MySpace account, I loved Tumblr in my early twenties and just this way of really immediately sharing, like making something, uploading it and sending it out then to the world. I really loved that and it was a really beautiful way to build community. And this really niche area is, you know, like finding these super specific hashtags that people were using and diving really deeply into them, comparing notes and being in a dialog with people that I would have otherwise never met. And yeah, in my twenties I still carried that thread of photography and poetry and essay writing, but I also really got into printmaking and I loved the slowness, the being off screen and using my hands in that way. I think having my business head on and being someone who wasn't always able to spend lots of money on art. I also loved about printmaking and still do that. You can make so many copies of one thing basically, but you're still making something handmade that's been touched by you. That's very intentional, but you can go ahead and make quite a few copies, and sometimes I'm feeling a little bit sad that I'm so pragmatic about these things. But then I think there's actually also something really beautiful about that. You can share it with more people. It can make one big quilt or it can make 100 prints, basically. But I would say that in my late twenties, textiles really came in and that gateway for me was embroidery. I really loved simplifying images and symbolism that was meaningful to me and just sitting down and stitching, you know, really to my heart's content. They were he is where I almost always had. Something in my hand when I wasn't working, stitching on linen. I'm a really sensory interested person and so just means a lot to me to feel and to feel velvet and linen and beautifully boiled wool is something I really love working with as well. I and the last few years also really came to love quilting and within that really love and improve quilting and thinking a lot about improv as a way of life. And just like how much I sometimes can be a control freak who always wants to think three steps ahead and really map out the process and and know exactly how I get from A to Z. And so for me, improv has been this huge invitation to trust my intuition to play, to kind of be open to things, not going the way I expected them to go and. Yeah. I think that's yeah, it's really important to me and I learned so much from improv commenting really for every area of my life. I think it's really changed my relationships, the way I work, the way I see my home environment, the way I think about materials. I love the practice of recycling and making beauty with things I already have. I kind of stepping out of that consumption. Psycho and focus. That feels good to me. Yeah. And I still love doing and still writing a lot. And I'm still taking pictures. Kind of having a phase of really getting back into that. And I also like to paint with watercolors. I love my practice to be quite like easy and portable. So when it comes to painting, I get watercolors out and have really big sheets and and often work with water that I have either from the sea or from a river to kind of bring some of that magic in. Yeah.
Ashley [00:14:01] We believe that the simple act of making can transform your life and in turn change our world. This is why making exists. It all starts with inspiration. We are inspired by people, by places, by experiences. A beautiful photo, a soft wall, a kind heart. These are the things that motivate us to make. Making us here to disrupt systems. Systems of oppression. Systems that only benefit certain groups of people. And systems that extract. We are here to challenge the narrative of profit over people. We believe a company can be found in for the purpose of good and change the world for better, while also creating opportunity at scale. Makers are tired of the monolith. The few companies that comprise our only choices of how we connect, how we transact, and how we learn. Makers are ready for a better alternative, and that is what we are building. Becoming a Bright Collective member helps us accomplish this. Visit makingzine.com. To learn more, we have a special 10% discount on Bright Collective yearly memberships for podcast listeners. Use discount code makingconvo10 during checkout.
Yarrow [00:15:20] As he left Instagram in 2020 after taking a big break of six months in 2019. And to contextualize that, first, I started my business in 2015 and obviously that was a totally different landscape. There was a chronological feed that was not necessarily like a super coherent esthetic. I wasn't initially having the feeling so much, so I was invited into producing the same kind of image over and over again the way that had in the end. And I think initially it was inspiring and was exciting to connect with people to see, like you said, things that maybe I wouldn't have otherwise seen. I am a very visual person, so it did feel exciting to be part of that new visual culture in a way. And I first, I think, started questioning things in kind of 1718. I just began to notice like how much pressure there was to post every day to stay relevant and kind of top of the feed and to share so much of my life as well. I think there are really important questions around intimacy and boundaries. I love that oversharing has become a thing in so many ways. I've learned a lot about myself, I unashamed a lot, seeing other people having similar struggles, and that's really important and meaningful to me. But I'm also aware that there is a you know, there's a lot of pressure on small businesses and brands and their quotes to really share everything about their lives. And I never wanted that quite either. And I think in those years, kind of 17 to 19, I also often had this sense that there were definitely things I wanted to do in my business, but there was also this feeling like, Oh my God, there's so much on my plate already. I can't possibly take X-Y-Z Z on, even though I really actually want to, or I want to be able to be more present with people. I want to have more interviews and that I'm giving and receiving. But there was just no space. And then at the same time, I was clearly, you know, spending so much time on Instagram, I got an app that tracked my usage and that was absolutely mind blowing. So in the summer of 2019, I found out that on average I was spending 10 hours per week on the app, and that number now feels truly shocking to me. And at the same time, I know that's really normal for a lot of people. And I will also say that maybe not you know, not all of those 10 hours were really big quality time. Some of that will be just waiting in a queue somewhere, being on public transport. It wasn't necessarily time that I could redirect into like writing or something, but definitely it was a huge chunk of my time. I was also thinking about like, how is a kid before the Internet? I was exposed to maybe like 20 to 30 pictures a day, like maybe the packaging of my, you know, like morning cereals. Then something that I would see at the bus tab and then maybe like some images and like a picture book I had. But at that point I was flooded with like hundreds, if not thousands of images every day. And it was really affecting and. How I visually experience the world. What I saw as. Beautiful or acceptable and. Also how I saw myself in my work and you know what I paid attention to. And so, yeah, those 10 hours were really an eye opener. And I sat down and I looked at what? Where am I spending my time and my business at the moment? What is the actual work, flip design, teaching, being with people, mentoring, whatever, and what is admin, what is podcasting, and what is actually bringing Instagram into my business? You know, does it really justify those 10 hours or 40 hours per month? And I think conversion rates are a tricky thing. I talk about that in my podcast. I'll just say really quickly that I think they can become really heady. It can feel a little bit transactional to think about them too much, but they are actually a very important metric when we're thinking about what is effective in the work that we're trying to do. And that can be really meaningful because our time is sacred and our energy and our attention is sacred too. So I was seeing that I was for those 40 hours per month I was spending on that. I was getting about 100 clicks on my profile every month. And I just felt like this, you know, there's no way you can justify a hundred clicks with 40 hours of work. And I was then thinking about other things I got from Instagram. Obviously it's not just about clicks is also stories and connection and inspiration, but I really made this sheet and sat down and said, okay, you know, if I wanna let this go, where can I find these things from other sources that might be offering me that kind of inspiration and connection. And I really found ways and initially took, like I said, a six month break. I was so happy to see that like nothing collapsed. I was still having a business. People still reached out to me. I wasn't forgotten. And I came back at the beginning of 2020 for obvious reasons. I think I really wanted to shout into the void with my friends. I needed to see what snacks everyone was having and I needed to see people's pads and just talk. But at the end of the of that year, I just felt really I had come to the end of that journey. I was having enough. I felt really burnt out and I felt saturated with that shouting into the void together so and deleted my profile completely, which was a big deal. I had built an app to thousands of followers I had posted every day for years and I just, you know, again, work my Excel sheet and just held on to a lot of contacts that were meaningful to me. And then it was over and it was a really great relief. I've never looked back as you know, I love the making app. When I talked earlier about being so oversaturated with images, I felt self-conscious for a moment because I think that's not all that I really love an intentional or grounded, inspiring use of media. And I think that's what I found in the making app and and in podcasting as well. But I'm really trying to consume much, much less so that have more left for my own work and my own thoughts and my own inner world, basically. Yeah.
Ashley [00:22:12] We have a somewhat similar kind of experience story in that 2020, I think it was 2020 to 2020. I also deleted my Instagram that I had built for. Ten years, you know, and had amassed a very large following and. You know, we had them making Instagram as well. And I was managing both and. I remember reaching this point. It might have actually been the end of 2019. I had just had my third child and I remember feeling like. Number one, it's just too much to manage. Like, I can't do both. And that's kind of the breaking point. There is two things. Was the boundaries issue? I found that because I was so accessible to people that people had no sense of boundaries with me. And so they would think, I mean, I don't really know what they thought, but my assumption is that they would think that they knew me or that they you know, you kind of put yourself out there where you're accessible. And I remember getting to this point and feeling like. I can't manage all of these. Thousands and thousands of people's expectations. I just can't. And whether they're good or hard or expectations or whatever it is, especially on two accounts. And the other part of it, too, was that I had documented my story. And part of my story is the fact that I have three little boys and.
Ashley [00:24:04] My motherhood journey is. So much of who I am and I feel like. When I started realizing that those boundaries were. Kind of being trespass in maybe an unconscious way from others having to do with my children. I really. It just kind of shook me. And I remember being. So surprised that I. That why it was so difficult for me to make that decision to shut it down because I wasn't even really posting that much and it didn't feel I wasn't like an influencer, like in a typical way. Like even though I had a really big following, it really had to do with the fact that I had the podcast and all that and. But my career is working in tech and like, I know exactly how these apps are designed and I know the teams that the scientists that develop these algorithms and just how the UI is designed and these addictive parts of technology. And it's so intentional. There's a really interesting podcast. I think I shared about it in another episode. It's on the Rich Roll podcast and. It's Max something. I can't remember his name now. I'll have to share it with you. I'll put a link in the show notes, but. He really goes in to actually. Why these addictive components of tech are so important and how it all leads back to being venture funded and having to meet these metrics and conversion rates and meet expectations of x, y, z. And you can only do that by having users spend more time on the app. And a lot of people know this, but a lot of people don't realize this. And it's something that we've been really very conscious about as we build making. But, you know, that was, what, two years ago? And I permanently deleted mine. I remember. Sitting there on my couch if I and I had a newborn and I was like, if I don't delete this permanently right now, it's going to come back. Like, I just know it. And so I deleted it. And I remember telling a few people and they were like, Will you just like temporarily paused it, right? Like you didn't actually delete it? I was like, no, I actually deleted it. There was almost I wouldn't say regret. There was almost like a mourning or like a grief that I had to go through. And I realize this thing's been ten years part of my life, my stories on here, all these people. I didn't save any contacts I probably should have, but. Anyways, I share all that because I think I'm going to guess there's probably a lot of people that have done something like this, but there's like deeper meaning, deeper parts of this. And I very much struggle. With. Especially after building making up, which were just in the process of doing. I really, really, really struggle with how people just do not. Quite grasp. The severity of opting in to programs like that and and how much it affects, you know I think the documentary. What's that documentary that came out like a couple of years ago? It's on.
Yarrow [00:28:05] On Netflix.
Ashley [00:28:05] It's basically all about Facebook and Instagram.
Yarrow [00:28:08] The social dilemma.
Ashley [00:28:11] Yes, yes, that's it. But anyways, it's something that I like have to like actually calm down about because I can feel myself starting to get a little fired up.
Yarrow [00:28:23] Yeah, I totally agree. And I think, yeah, you're right. It takes so much away from us, not just the time, but also self-esteem, often mental well-being, a sense of connection. And I don't want to sound really judgmental. I really understand why people stay. And I understand why some people feel they have no choice at this point because their livelihood depends on being there. But and you know, and I'm not saying, you know, people need to leave overnight, but I think these kinds of conversations that we're having now are so important. And like you, I'm really excited about building other spaces for people to connect and share their work and do it in a sustainable and kind and honest way. And I think we have so much to regain that. And I'm thinking a lot about that process of even healing. You know, having been like that for me has been seven or eight years. For you, it's been ten and I felt the same. I think there was a sense of grief and this continuously picking up my phone, wanting that hit and initially that just being nothing. And I don't do that anymore now, but it really took me a while and I think deep down is this feeling of like. If I am not seen in that way, do I even exist? You know, does it matter what I make? And does it have a context or a belonging in the world? And that's wired because the Internet really is still a baby. You know, it's such a young part of human culture and. Yeah. We're going too fast. I think we need to slow down and think about how this is affecting us and how it can be done, right? Yeah.
Ashley [00:30:14] There's this. This expectation that everything should be at your fingertips, which I kind of thought of this when you first brought up, like, how you were only exposed to like, you know, how many images in a day. Because of the Internet, which is such a beautiful thing. Like, I'm I love technology. I live in technology. But we have just become accustomed to not having to, like, search for anything like we do on the Internet. Right. But like on platforms, these monoliths that exist, we they're building them so we don't even have to like. Go down a path of discovery. And there's delight in researching. There's delight and discovery. And I think. When we talk about. You know, so many times I have conversations and they're like, Oh, they're so they're blah blah blah on insta or blah blah blah. And so it's like that is, you know, Google and stuff like that is the just. Automatic belief that everyone exists and everything exists there. And I. It's not really the world that I want to live in. I don't want to live in a world where every single thing. That I. Should be paying attention to exist on one platform. I want to live in a world where there's maybe several different, you know, places where, depending on what I'm looking for, I can go to those places and, like, go down a path of discovery bookstores and physical things. Markets, art galleries, museums, exhibitions like those things still matter. And. You know, I'm not trying to come off as archaic or that, you know, we need to be Luddites by any means. But I think. Our human nature is we get excited about discovering things and. I have found so many things on Instagram, but I also come to question what is it that I'm not seeing? Because I'm only seeing the things that are on there. Like, what else am I? What are all those things that I'm missing? And I feel like we don't have this figured out and making. But we're just a year in, like. But that is one of my hopes of the making app, is that it's a very conscious mix of like helping you find the things that you're looking for easier. So you're not having to wade through.
Yarrow [00:33:04] All.
Ashley [00:33:04] The things that aren't even relevant, but also. That delight of like seeing things that you've never seen before and discovering people and it not being influenced by a dollar for a popularity contest. There's no better alternative that exists. And I mean that is why we're building making in the hopes that. Not that everyone will come to making, but that given a choice, you do have a one. You don't have to choose the one and only.
Yarrow [00:33:46] Yeah. Thank you. I'm really excited for that. And yeah, just love the spirit. I really resonate with what you're sharing and I think just adding on to what you said about visual culture and how that's changing what we're seeing and not seeing, I think it also for me is a big part of identity construction. When I did my M.A. for the dissertation, I think that was 2014. And in academia, which is like always obviously a few years behind, that was a time where the selfie was really big and people became interested in that and were like, you know, like what's happening with the use that everyone is taking reaches of themselves. And when you see that it has so much complexity and in some ways, yes, it's like an obsession. It can feel like a waste of time. There's so much pressure to you know, it has changed so much since then as well. Right. I think there were much kind of like scruffy in the beginning. It just took a picture of yourself. But there was also this other side where in Tumblr people were exploring queer identities and their gender and all kinds of aspects of their identity that maybe they haven't been able to connect with so deeply. And that was really meaningful. And so I was curious about that and looking at that now of like how there's the expectation, for example, to have these really beautiful professional headshots as a maker. Otherwise, you know, like you're not seen as someone who's really doing the thing. And I think, yeah, we can absolutely step out of that and we can slow down and become more intentional about what we consume. One of my favorite photographers is Francesca Woodman, who has mainly worked with Self-portrait as well. Her work is incredible. I discovered her in an actual library in a paper book and she sadly died in the early eighties. So her work was mainly, I think in like the seventies and early eighties. And I just look at her work now, which essentially it's those Allyssa selfies, right? And they just have so much meaning to me and they really move me and make such a difference to my life. And I'm yeah, I'm just thinking a lot about, you know, what does it take to protect your practice and your spirit and your creativity in such a way that you can make something that has such deep meaning for you and that doesn't have to be as meaningful for everyone else. You know, like that's normal, but there's some kind of sacredness. And maybe I'm romanticizing also that she was around before the Internet and made this beautiful body of work before she was, you know, influenced by all these other images. But anyway, to to bring it this back to the present day, I think sometimes connecting with those kinds of other life times can be really illuminating and makes me feel much more intentional in how I use technology now. Yeah.
Ashley [00:36:55] It's hard to know where there's separateness from, where or what we're influenced by. Versus what kind of comes from within us, which I think. Even if you had no phone, no Internet, you would still be influenced by nature, by all these things around us. But. There's this. Kind of thought that there's no original idea like that exists anymore. Basically, you hear that in one way or another, and you see this by like. Someone will come out with something or someone will do something. And then this other person does the same thing at the same time and you're like, Did they copy? Or like, did we just both have this idea at the same time? When I see stuff like that, when I experience things like that, I go, Oh my God. Like we're all plugged into the same thing right now. And maybe it's not just Instagram, maybe it's Pinterest or whatever it is, but there is an echo chamber, if you will, of these ideas. And when you were talking earlier about tracking, like how much time? And just being like cognizant and realizing like how much time you were spending on different apps. I started looking at my creative practice. Really? Holding loosely to expectations. And I'm bringing this up because I took one of your early classes on the app and forgive me, I can't remember exactly what it was called, but it was something about creative ritual. It's hard for me not to look at my life and judge it pretty harshly. I think we're all in that right now. Like, no matter what your ages, we're figuring out who we are at every phase of our life. Right? And because we go through all these different evolutions, you know, especially if you have a business or you have a significant shift in your life, there's a lot that impacts your creative your creative space. And when I took that workshop from you, I remember. Feeling like. One of the things that I have struggled with my whole life is setting expectations around my creativity. That. I'm projecting based on what I see other people doing because like like I think that that's what I'm supposed to do. And my journey this year has been actually ash. Like, there's so much you're doing right now that it's so unique to you. Just like everyone else's journey and. There's going to be a give and take, but you also need to be nice to yourself and go much easier on yourself and decide at the end of the day what's working and what's not. But. But not constantly overanalyzing. If. How you're doing. It is okay. Or should I be doing it better? Like we're always micromanaging ourselves, and, like, sometimes we just need to stop it.
Yarrow [00:40:18] Yes. I was nodding so hard with my whole body as you were speaking. I really relate to that. I remember the workshop. It was the first I taught on the making up. I'd love to do that again. And yeah, I think you touched on so many things that are really important to me as well, really staying grounded in what feels right and possible for our own practice in our lives at any given point in time. And I feel the same. There's always yeah, always the question of like, am I doing enough? Is this looking good enough? If I'm picking up a new thing, why isn't it perfect right away? Like, that's still seems to be confusing to my brain sometimes, even though there's no reason whatsoever why I should pick up a new thing and immediately master it. That's just not how it works, but the feeling is definitely them. I had an accident a year and a half ago. That sounds more dramatic. I fell down the stairs and the first few months it was very uncertain if I could walk again. And if so, how? And I'm still using a walking frame most of the time. But that stillness like this suddenly kind of really being frozen in time and not even being able to sit or stand very long. It meant that I couldn't do any carving. I couldn't sit at my desk and carve. I couldn't even really get up, get up and walk around my house very much to gather material. So suddenly things became so small and so simple, I would like sit in bed and crochet and it would be like propped up. And I was teaching a lot of classes from that in that first year after the accident, and it was so incredibly humbling and in many ways really was what I needed. I'm not saying that in like a self deprecating, it's all meant to be kind of way, but more like I can see the gift because I was still that was at the end of 2020 and through 2020 I was talking a good tog about slowing down and really having self-compassion, understanding that we're in a pandemic, dropping expectations, lowering the bar all the way into the ground. I wrote my first book in three months in spring of 2020. I mean, that's just wild to me. Now that I stood up, going up every day and wrote 2000 words before breakfast, basically that was my expectation of myself. And so anyways, so clearly like, you know, I had still so much to learn about actually slowing down and being realistic with my expectations. And I think. My world is still really small. Like the radius I can navigate in my external world is really not big. I can occasionally go and see friends in the city, but I live in a small town and there's a lot of grief definitely in that level of isolation that maybe I haven't shifted out of the way. I hope post-lockdown because I physically can't. But I think what's what it's given me is like this really deep sense of intimacy with myself and my most immediate environment and my tiny garden. And I think now that I just, you know, there's just no question that I can do or produce at the rate that I used to. And that means that I can I can just drop it. You know, there's just no point. I can't I can't do that anymore. So I'm measuring kind of whether I'm doing enough or whether I'm happy with my creative practice more by, you know, do I feel that I'm living in creative devotion, which sounds really cheesy, but I think to me that's about openness and enchantment and being resourced enough to really see beauty in the world. Like going to the river in the morning with my dog and just appreciating how the woodland changed in the last few weeks as autumn came around or discovering that from my kitchen window, the moon now moves in such a way that I can see it, even though there's also this big staircase in front of my kitchen window. So kind of really small things. But I think. That feels really true for me and I just can't find words for it, the less cheesy, but it is kind of like a sense of creative devotion and enchantment and feeling that ideas can still move through me because I'm relaxed enough, I have enough capacity, and then it doesn't matter so much anymore whether I finish that piece I started weeks ago or whether I started a new piece that, you know, I can actually justify because I have three other projects and to go that unfinished. But that's just what I feel like doing and. That's all there is for me at the moment. Yeah.
Ashley [00:45:20] When you reflect back on kind of this period of isolation the last few years through the pandemic and through your injury. How did you come to love yourself in a new way through that? Like, I'm sure there was definitely a lot of shadow work that happened, but I want to go deep here for a second if you're open to it.
Yarrow [00:45:46] Yeah, yeah. No shit. That's a big question. And I think. I think grief has been a very big catalyst in. Going deeper into my practice and questioning in a more meaningful way, kind of what it means rather than what it looks like or what it produces. And I think I was forced to start loving myself more because there was no other way to go. You know, there's just no there's just no distraction. If you're in bed and you can't physically walk around you, you can be on your phone. But there's there's a limit to how much that will give you. And I think I became just really comfortable with my own shadows and my own darkness. I know that in 2020, it's been true for many people that we had dreams or nightmares that were kind of like going quite deep back into the past. I know that if that's true for you, but I was just dreaming my whole life again and knockdowns. And I think that's that was even more so true in 2021 when I didn't leave the house very much for the first half, especially. And so I think I really needed to confront some shame and think about whether I really regret any choices that I made, how I feel about them now, how I would feel about someone close to me. I really love making those choices. And so slowly over time, really untangling that and just building self-acceptance and self-compassion, maybe before the love came in. And I think tying that back to our earlier conversation, I think that does actually also have a lot to do with being intentional, with what was coming in, both in terms of images and stories and ideas around identity and what a good life is. Because if I if my photo was this wide open and I would really take in what the cultural consensus is at the moment of what a good life is about. You really should about myself, because it just doesn't look like that. So I need to constantly kind of come back to myself, to my own body, to what gives me pleasure and really small ways and be realistic. Like I remember when I first came back from hospital, my daily challenge to my was to get up and open the window once a day so we could have some fresh air. And yeah, you know, I really celebrated. Time was great. I was reaching over my desk, opening the window, just being there for a moment, and then going back to bed and trying to trust that ability will come back and energy will come back in its own way. AM What else is giving me self-love? I think something that I really appreciate about the pandemic is how much it has normalize conversations about mental health. And I think that in turn has really allowed me to build more meaningful friendships and intimacy with people because there's just no I mean, or much less reason to to wear a mask or to pretend that you're better than you actually are doing right now. And I think that is just really that means the world to me. I think the conversations I've had through lockdowns with people, the things I've shared of myself, have just been much more authentic, for lack of a better word. I lost a friend to suicide ten months ago, and that was truly the saddest thing that's ever happened to me. And I think, again, that was I'm not trying to romanticize that in any way. It's not something that I wish on anyone or that I would ever want to experience again. But that, too, has really questioned, you know, have me question my relationship to myself and other people the way I show up, the way I am honest about where I'm at. And I think that's been true for our whole friendship circle, that experience. And, and. Yeah. I've been in a in a workshop last week with someone called Melissa. Word is called three threads. We made tiny clothes together for meaningful fabrics and talked about our grief. And I was like, Wow. Like, that's that, too, is something we do on the Internet now. We meet up with a bunch of strangers. We look away from the screen and we look at what's around us, what fabrics we have. And then we make something with our hands and we share stories that I think my grandparents would be horrified to know that I'm sharing them with strangers. You know, and and that's that's that's one beautiful way in which that culture has changed. And that makes me feel excited. Yeah.
Ashley [00:50:54] Seeing this transformation. Both personally but surely affecting not only your creative practice, but your business. Tell me a bit about your business now and what it looks like and what your mission is.
Yarrow [00:51:14] I think the first few months of 2021 after the accident were quite anxious. Obviously, I was really uncertain about how in what capacity I could come back to my work. I had a lot of projects booked for web design and I answered them the best way I could. And then a few months later, I took a whole month of clean work, which felt like a really big luxury at the time for me, because web design really was my bread and butter, and I felt it was quite outrageous to step away from that in a way. But I took some time off to rerecord all the online system I had and then really kind of shifted the big part of my attention to, you know, producing them and you really updating them. I have six now covering things like how to build a newsletter, questioning social media, web design, branding, that kind of thing. And I then kind of made a map off with drawing a little bit from the one on one web design work and running these programs with small groups of people, leading them through those prerecorded courses so that always there. But then each of them I run life once per year for people who want that group accountability. And I mean that's been a really big game changer for me because firstly it feels really rewarding to work in small groups and meet people through that process because I know it can make a difference for them to not feel they have to figure it out themselves. It can drain a lot of energy from people who are just not interested in tech, which is super fan enough. But also financially it meant that I just didn't need to worry so much about the the next big web design project. I could experiment a little bit more. I'm also facilitating a business community, so I was really giving more love and attention to that. And I think. With Penguin Studio. My vision really is to continue to help other small business owners work in ways that feel sustainable and regenerative to them. And I say regenerative and make a really kind and expensive way. Like, you know, this is something I feel in my body and I know it can become this hashtag, but I see the difference it can make for someone to look at their own practice and really build the confidence and believing that this is something that can do for a living, that they're good enough that they are, you know, sharing something that's meaningful and that they don't have to overstretch themselves. And violate their own boundaries to make it happen. That's really important to me. And then in my other business, which is kind of more the creative side where I teach creative classes and run a podcast, what I want is just for myself to be in a bit of a cocoon. I've been running that podcast for over six years and I love it and I've been teaching a ton of classes this past year. But I'm also back at uni now just for myself for like no particular strategic reason. I'm studying culture, heritage and literature, and I'm learning about folklore and tradition and ritual and mythology and all these beautiful things. And I honestly don't know. And I think that feels like really special to me to not have to know right now. I updated my website and totally stripped it back. It's super minimal and it just says. I want to deepen my practice. I would like to do more printmaking, more quilting. I want to weave and I'm trusting the process. But I don't know where this is going. But yeah, maybe I'll know more next year. And I just this last thing I was saying that I think I really trust that this is a good investment of my time and energy. I think it can feel really scary for a creative person to draw, to pull back and be like, I don't know right now. And I give myself that privacy and that space. I know that this is emotionally meaningful to me, but with my business head on, I actually also know that that makes strategic sense because the next step just cannot be forced. And whenever I've slowed down in my work and allow myself to not know, I've come out on the other side with so much more clarity that I could have never forced.
Ashley [00:55:46] If you had a message for the world, what would it be?
Yarrow [00:55:51] I think what feels most important to me to say in this moment is that. Feeding your imagination is really the most important thing you can do right now, I think because everything else that we might be doing from climate activism to our livelihoods to the way that we relate to each other, hinges on us imagining another way of being together. And I think that's very counterculture of cuisine that we're, you know, invited to be productive and taking time to dream and reimagine is different. But it's everything at the same time.
Ashley [00:56:42] The biggest of thanks to everyone involved in this week's episode. I hope you'll join me each week as we talk and learn from more fascinating makers. For podcast notes and transcriptions. Visit our blog at makingzine.com. Have a wonderful week.