Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Jan 7, 2010

Haramaki, Creativity, Art, Healing


This is my attempt to try out the theory that wearing a haramaki (belly band) keeps you warmer. There's a whole host of reasons to try haramaki and you can read about them here.

I had never heard of haramaki until Terri Bibby mentioned them in a Facebook comment to me.  I googled about and became intrigued with the concept - and hopeful.  One little extra layer to achieve more warmth! I'm all for that.

But alas, I cannot afford to order any of the haramaki I saw online and I didn't feel like waiting to get one or make one.  So I picked up this Noro Kureyon felted piece (too felted, it was originally intended to be one of my Short-Row Wedge Wraps), wrapped it around my waist and wore it about the house for several hours.
I felt warmer.

And the other night, when I had to venture forth in bitter cold to facilitate Lit Night for ArtReach, I decided to further test my makeshift haramaki.

And I felt warmer.  And cosier.

I might try to come up with a better haramaki than felted Kureyon! Though I like the symmetry of using my favorite Japanese yarn for this Japanese concept, and love the asymmetry of the points peeking out from beneath my shirt,

I'm afraid even my devotion to Noro does not make Kureyon bearable for long on bare tummy skin. 

Tutorial for making your own haramaki.
Creativity, Art, Healing
I get an email newsletter called Healthy Aging (not sure just where I signed up for it!) The other day, it featured a link to an article entitled “Creativity Can Keep You Healthy.”  If you know me or have read my blog for awhile, you know that connections between art, creativity, and healing are of huge interest to me.

 I immediately went to read the article, but wound up being very disappointed with it.  Not just because it’s a sound-bite type piece -  sometimes brief and cogent bits of information are very useful.  I was disappointed  because it left out something that I believe is fundamental and promoted a notion that I think is harmful. 

About a third of the 500 or so words reinforced a dichotomy between work and play, under the guise of recommending ‘balance.’  The piece equated work with productivity and creativity with leisure.  It aligned creativity with “fun” and, therefore, work with, well, not fun.   It seemed to limit the definition of creativity to artistic hobbies and endeavors, making creative activities into things to ‘add to your schedule’, activities for which you need to ‘take time,’ to ‘block off some time.’  Now that’s not fun.

It reminded me of the dichotomy I ran into all the time as an unschooling homeschooler, the notion that education and fun are separate. That if you’re having fun, you can’t be learning the Important Stuff.  It’s an idea that’s so ingrained in our culture, that my son Shaun asked to do a standardized test when he was 14 and had been homeschooling for two years, after six years of schoolschooling. 

His reason, “I’m having so much fun, I’m afraid I’m not learning what I’m supposed to learn.”*

My point is that just as we’re learning much of the time, and not only through ‘not fun’ activities, so we can be creative much of the time, even with not-fun tasks - even if it’s just in figuring out how to do the not-fun things with a modicum of cheer and grace. Bringing creativity into more spheres of our lives does mean taking time. But it is taking time within the activities we’re already doing, taking time to bring a bit of creative thought and action into the task. 

And that’s the fundamental I found missing in the article - that creativity (and its health benefits) can be integrated into daily life and doesn’t have to be scheduled like a dentist appointment!

*We went ahead and let him take such a test. And, yes, he did quite well. No surprise to me, reassuring enough to him that he never took another until the college admissions SAT.

As if to make up for my disappointment with the above-mentioned article, yesterday I got word that the new issue of Arts Illiana Spectrum, the quarterly publication of our local arts organization, is out.  In it, there is a nice long feature on Art and Healing.

In addition to a good general overview of the subject, it includes some thoughts from me, as well as others I work with on The Maple Center programs.

And, a bonus for me, one of my poems is published in this issue - I’d forgotten I’d submitted a few for consideration.
It’s published in hard copy, but they also have a link on their site to download it in pdf form:


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At 1/14/10, 3:03 PM, Blogger Linda Sue said...

PUBLISHED! Yay- about time! Love the warmth of the thing around your middle - love the colours! another way to keep warm are wool cuffs- Heats the pulse , circulation warm blood throughout. another way to keep warm is go to Maui, I hear...


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