Updated: Aug 20, 2021
When was the last time you celebrated something? I don’t mean going out to dinner on your birthday. I mean doing something special just because you finished a project or a friend achieved a milestone or your child came home from school with a smile.
Giving support to others can motivate them
Last Saturday, we had a party for Barbara Bitondo (Instagram @barbarabitondo) who had just finished making a quilt. For all of you who have made a quilt, you know that to do one by hand involves a great deal of work, patience, creativity, and persistence. I was excited for her and wanted to simply celebrate with her and some friends to show my support of her effort. As it turns out, it also served as an encouragement for her to finish the final lap. She said in an email to me afterward, “Your support to complete the “Final 8th” by offering to meet me at the finish line (with a party!) – This was very energizing and necessary after 11 months of stitching! I am reminded that in your book you talk about celebration.”
Chapter 7 of my book, Unlocked, is called Celebrate: Reap the Bounty. It lists several amazing moments in history that were or are being celebrated. I wrote, “Celebrations take on many forms, from champagne to silence to special places to a familiar phrase. But in all of these, there is a recognition that [the celebration] is shared.”
Conversation is the key
As I thought about how to celebrate her milestone, I wanted to honor the artist, but I wanted others there who would really appreciate her work. I decided to invite only people who created pieces of art themselves – for themselves. Each person I invited was a professional in some area unrelated to their art and were gainfully employed or recently retired. I told them that we were celebrating the completion of an art project and asked if they would bring a piece of their own art (or a picture if the project was too large). In the end, there were only five ‘artists’ in attendance (plus my wonderfully supportive husband).
Our format was for Barbara, the quilt’s creator, to begin by talking about her quilt – the
inspiration, method of construction, and the process of how she achieved it. When she finished, each of the others, in turn, talked about their art showing examples or pictures of their work and describing the motivation and construction details. The stories that artists tell about their work is always surprising and enriches appreciation of the piece. Across the five artists there were no less than seven different styles and media involved, and the appreciation of each was enhanced by its uniqueness against the other pieces.
We sat in a circle most of the time. It took over 3 hours to complete the sharing, and as I looked around the room, every person wanted to know even more about whatever anyone showed. ‘Bubbly’ was enjoyed but often sat unfinished, because the conversation was so engaging. Food became an afterthought as well. All of us felt filled up with the conversation alone.
The bounty can be more than expected
Although I have done many things that had to be created from scratch, this one was magical. There is left nothing for me to change if I decide to do it again. It was the group I assembled, offering a place to be together, a purpose, and a way of sharing. They did all the rest. Thanks to each of you, Barbara, Ralph, Alison, and Gil.
As guests left, each expressed how much they valued the time spent meeting others who shared a love of creating pieces of art. I felt a deep sense of appreciation for the openness of every person to share things they love. It validated every one of the pieces shown. The confluence of five creative minds made the celebration meaningful and deeply felt. What an amazing gift and so much more than we could ever have imagined.
If you haven’t celebrated recently, pick something from your life or from someone else’s and create a celebration that can be shared – and reap the bounty!
 Quilting, paint and ink, computer manipulation of photos, fashion design, copper face mask, installation art, jewelry.