Let me be clear: quarantine, and the reason for it, is not a good thing. I know it has been a terrible burden for so many people. But, I nevertheless have to admit that if I had a choice I’d rather stay in quarantine. My situation in this is lucky. I have no kids and I already work from home, so the disruption to my usual routine is minimal. I have completely uninterrupted creative time and, perhaps more importantly, no expectation that I should be productive.

I waste so much time that could otherwise be productive, trying to figure out what would be the most productive way to use my time. And I can honestly say that without the quarantine, I never would have signed up for an online course in Blackwork Embroidery, as I could not have seen how that might contribute to my overall goals.

But I am so, so glad that I did. And I am so glad for many of the other “non-productive” things I have done during my time at home that I otherwise might have eschewed in my quest to “be more social”, “be more engaged”, or “lean in“.

There is SO MUCH that we are expected to accomplish in a day. You’re supposed to work out – but not just that, it has to be a balanced workout consisting of cardio, strength training, and stretching. You should buy healthy food and cook meals. Spend time with your family. Nurture your friendships and relationships. Have date nights with your spouse. Keep your house clean. Do your actual job for at least 40 hours/week. Maintain your physical appearance with face masks and pedicures and regular hair trims. Don’t forget to stay on top of your taxes and your license renewals and meet with the financial advisor and get regular health checkups and oh right, somewhere in there you’re also supposed to find time for mindfulness and meditation because it’s not like I didn’t have enough to do already!

This isn’t a LIFE. It’s just checking things off of a to-do list until you die.

It has been such a relief to let some of that GO, at least for awhile, and also to realize that it just isn’t possible for any one person to do all of that.

During quarantine, I have had weekly takeout nights with my husband where we sit across the table from each other with no noise and no distractions and we talk for hours. I haven’t sworn at any terrible drivers; I haven’t felt my blood pressure rise when someone almost kills me on the highway because they’re staring at their cell phone. I have started plants from seed and harvested the fruits. I’ve read novels. And I’ve learned things simply because they interest me and I want to learn them – not because I can add it to my resume or use it for my business.

I want to hold on to that. I can feel it slipping as the country “opens up” again, but I am writing this down in part to remind myself that parts of this experience are very much worth holding onto, and I intend to try.

Along those lines, I present to you the results of one of my purely interest-driven forays into creative continuing education.

The serpent in the design is based on an outline from Gimena Romero in her course “Introduction to Blackwork Embroidery” on Domestika.org.

The apple was one of the unique elements I added to the design. I did do a test run of the apple before I committed it to the full piece; I wasn’t quite confident enough in my own design work yet to just jump right in.

I also added the sword as a bit of symbolism to contribute to my overall theme: knowledge. The plumage fill is my nod to a certain saying which I’m sure you’re familiar with 😉

I am not entirely certain what to do with this piece of embroidery now. Most of the space on my walls is already spoken for, but perhaps I could carve out a niche somewhere. I think she would be upset with me if I did not display her! The instructor was careful to impress upon us the magic inherent in all acts of creation but specifically in the art of embroidery, and I hope I imbued with work with a positive sort of magic. Of course, that won’t do anyone much good if it is hidden away!

blackwork embroidered serpent final