The Power of Words

Hello everyone, I have been busy and unable to post anything related to sewing. However, just to keep this blog somehow going, here’s a great text I read a while ago. Hope you enjoy!

words page

I have vivid memories of encounters with people whose voices or words have moved me over the years. One which springs to mind happened during a visit to the Guilin region of China, a beautiful land of craggy mountains, mists and rivers.

Walking along, we met two young girls, no older than 15 or 16, selling medicinal herbs near a river. They carried a large basket filled with herbs, inviting passersby to buy their goods with vibrant voices.

“Ni hao!” [Hello] I called to them. “Ni hao!” They smiled back: “We offer every kind of medicine: choose the one you want.”

I smiled at their high spirits and asked, “Do you have anything to make me smarter?” They seemed taken aback, but only for an instant. “I’m sorry,” one of them replied in a clear, firm voice, “We just sold out of that one.”

Our group burst into laughter at this witty reply, and we felt as warm inside as if a gentle spring breeze had touched us. As a Chinese saying puts it, “Even a single word uttered out of goodness can warm the heart in the bitterest winter.”

I fondly recall that my wife and I ended up buying some herbs as souvenirs, and I sometimes wonder how the girls and their families are doing.

I believe that sincere one-to-one conversation can soften and melt even hearts that are completely frozen. By talking with someone face-to-face, you can actually change that person’s life and your own.

Today we live in the midst of a flood of soulless information. And the more we rely on one-way communication, like radio or TV, or static and unmoving words in print, the more I feel the need to stress the value of the sound of the human voice: The simple but precious interaction of voice and voice, person and person; the exchange of life with life.

In a face-to-face conversation, the listener can ask questions or disagree, and this in turn may make the speaker rethink his or her own views. The process is dynamic and multifaceted, creating mutual joy and understanding.

For myself, I love talking with a wide range of people from all over the world. I always learn something new and I find it inspiring to be exposed to different ways of thinking. This is a kind of spiritual nutrition for me.

My experience is that no matter how strong the initial uncertainty, or even hostility another person may feel toward you, if you approach them with complete sincerity and speak the truth, they will invariably respond in kind.

Face-to-face conversation may seem like something very ordinary, but it is in fact the most powerful tool for positive change we possess. We can exchange ideas on a very human, personal level, with a basis of respect and faith in each other’s essential goodness. Everyone involved is equal; there is neither superior or inferior.

The French thinker Montaigne loved discussion, and he always kept an open mind, saying, “No proposition astounds me, no belief offends me, however much opposed it may be to my own. Contradictions of opinion only arouse and exercise my mind.” To him, dialogue was the search for truth, and he claimed that he welcomed and embraced the truth, in whoever’s hands he found it.

As we have two ears and one mouth, maybe we should listen twice as much as we speak. Certainly if we are self-righteous or prejudiced, no one will approach us with an open heart.

Sometimes our attempts to start a discussion or talk things over may be slighted or ignored. Then we should remember that rejection and disappointment are inevitable in life, and just keep on trying. Maintaining dialogue takes great patience and perseverance. We need to develop a strong sense of self, so that although we can clearly see the emotions of the other person, we keep on calmly and steadily “rowing” closer to their heart.

The biggest obstacle to successful dialogue is usually excessive attachment to one’s own point of view. For instance, a rift between a parent and child will not be easily healed as long as the parent only sees things as a parent, and the child only from his or her own viewpoint.

In a genuine discussion, it is best if we can see any confrontations that arise as just another form of our connectedness. If both parent and child can see themselves as sharing common ground—making up a family together—things can take a surprisingly easy turn for the better. The deeper the common feeling that binds us, the more we can embrace those who differ from us and ensure that dialogue will lead to a fruitful outcome.

Whether the problem is that of a single family, or international in scope, if those involved can view things from a higher perspective, with a sense of shared purpose, the gears of dialogue will always start to turn in a positive direction.

If more people were to pursue dialogue in an equally broad-minded and persistent manner, I am sure that the inevitable conflicts of human life would find easier resolution. Prejudice would give way to understanding, and war to peace. Genuine dialogue results in the transformation of opposing viewpoints, changing them from wedges that drive people apart into bridges that link them together.

Daisaku Ikeda

Image credit: Deborah Velásquez or click the image itself on top of this page.

You are beautiful

lotus flower - fleur du lotus

lotus flower – fleur du lotus

You are beautiful. You are enough. The world we live in is twisted and broken and for your entire life you will be subjected to all kinds of lies that tell you that you are not enough. You are not thin enough. You are not tanned enough. You are not smooth, soft, shiny, firm, tight, fit, silky, blonde, hairless enough. Your teeth are not white enough. Your legs are not long enough. Your clothes are not stylish enough. You are not educated enough. You don’t have enough experience. You are not creative enough.

There is a beauty industry, a fashion industry, a television industry, (and most unfortunately) a pornography industry: and all of these have unique ways of communicating to bright young women: you are not beautiful, sexy, smart or valuable enough.

You must have the clarity and common sense to know that none of that is true. None of it.

You have innate value. There has never been, and there will never be another you. Therefore, you have unique thoughts to offer the world. They are only yours, and we all lose out if you are too fearful to share them.

You are beautiful. You are valuable. You are enough.

Kate Conner

Kate Conner is a wife to Dan and momma to Madeline, Sam, and Henry. A writer, speaker, and apparently, a blogger. She writes about the funny, serious, good, hard, embarrassing, inspiring stuff.

Please find out more about Kate here: http://kateelizabethconner.com/

lotus flower - fleur du lotus

lotus flower – fleur du lotus

Vous êtes belle. Vous êtes bien telle que vous êtes. Le monde dans lequel nous vivons est tordu et détraqué et pour toute votre vie, vous serez soumise à toutes sortes de mensonges qui vous disent que vous n’êtes pas assez. Vous n’êtes pas assez mince. Vous n’êtes pas assez bronzée. Vous n’êtes pas lisse, douce, brillante, ferme, solide, suave, blonde ou pas assez glabre. Vos dents ne sont pas assez blancs. Vos jambes ne sont pas assez longues. Vos vêtements ne sont pas assez élégants. Vous n’êtes pas assez instruite. Vous n’avez pas assez d’expérience. Vous n’êtes pas assez créative.

Il y a une industrie de la beauté, une industrie de la mode, une industrie de la télévision, (et d’autant plus malheureusement) une industrie de la pornographie, et toutes ces activités ont des façons uniques de communiquer aux jeunes femmes brillantes: vous n’êtes pas assez belle, sexy, intelligente ou vous n’avez pas assez de valeur.

Vous devez avoir la clarté et le bon sens pour savoir que rien de cela n’est vrai. Rien de tout cela.

Vous avez une valeur innée. Il n’y a jamais eu et il n’y aura jamais une autre que vous. Par conséquent, vous avez quelque chose d’unique à offrir au monde. Ces choses-là ne vous appartiennent qu’à vous, et nous sommes tous perdants si vous avez trop peur de les partager.

Vous êtes belle. Vous êtes précieuse. Vous êtes bien telle que vous êtes.

Kate Conner

Kate Conner est l’épouse de Dan et maman de Madeline, Sam et Henry. Ecrivain, conférencier, et apparemment, blogueuse. Elle écrit sur le drôle, le sérieux, le bon, le fort embarrassant, sur des trucs, source d’inspiration.

Si vous voulez en savoir plus sur Kate, cliquez ici: http://kateelizabethconner.com/

A species in which everyone was General Patton would not succeed, any more than would a race in which everyone was Vincent van Gogh. I prefer to think that the planet needs athletes, philosophers, sex symbols, painters, scientists; it needs the warmhearted, the hardhearted, the coldhearted, and the weakhearted. It needs those who can devote their lives to studying how many droplets of water are secreted by the salivary glands of dogs under which circumstances, and it needs those who can capture the passing impression of cherry blossoms in a fourteen-syllable poem or devote twenty-five pages to the dissection of a small boy’s feelings as he lies in bed in the dark waiting for his mother to kiss him goodnight… Indeed the presence of oustanding strengths presupposes that energy needed in other areas has been channeled away from them.”

Allen Shawn

Mount Cook view from Lake Pukaki - New Zealand

Mount Cook view from Lake Pukaki – New Zealand

Une espèce selon laquelle tout le monde fût le général Patton n’aurait pas réussi, pas plus que ne l’aurait fait une course où tout le monde fût Vincent van Gogh. Je préfère penser que la planète a besoin d’athlètes, des philosophes, des sex-symbols, des peintres, des scientifiques ; il en faut : le chaleureux, l’impitoyable, l’insensible et le faible. Elle a besoin de ceux qui peuvent consacrer leur vie à étudier le nombre de gouttelettes d’eau sécrétées par les glandes salivaires des chiens dans certaines circonstances, et elle a besoin de ceux qui peuvent capter l’impression en passant des cerisiers en fleurs dans un poème de quatorze syllabes ou de ceux qui consacrent vingt-cinq pages à la dissection des sentiments d’un petit garçon couché au lit dans l’obscurité à attendre que sa mère vienne lui souhaiter bonne nuit … En effet, la présence des forces prodigieuses suppose que l’énergie nécessaire dans d’autres domaines a été acheminée loin d’eux.”

Allen Shawn

Burda musings

 

Burda patterns then

Burda patterns then

Katui_kiwi from The Curious Kiwi started an interesting discussion about Burda patterns here.

I left a comment on her blog but realized I needed a whole post to develop my views on the matter – so here it goes:

the first Burda magazine I ever bought (date unknown)

the first Burda magazine I ever bought (date unknown)

Perhaps a little bit of history, though. First of all, I am very thankful to Burda. As I said in a previous post I have no training in sewing whatsoever and I learnt to sew by using Burda and Knipmode patterns. I bought the magazine, without skipping an edition, for years. Till Burda changed its pattern policy and crammed 52 or so patterns into four pages. I was disappointed. The magazine which used to provide good service and helped people develop their skills in sewing was doing less. Why? I asked myself.

Burda patterns then

Burda patterns then

I do not share the secrets of power that be but I do not think that Burda’s main concern is to save printing costs. We are in a transition time from the printed matter to digital age and I believe Burda is preparing us for that. Patterns are already available for download but, if my line of reasoning is right, a break in printing patterns would be too abrupt. Not everyone in the world has an Internet connection to be able to download a pattern, and not everyone would be willing to start doing so all of a sudden. Above all it is perhaps cannier to instill the new method slowly. First make it difficult for people to draw patterns so that they will eventually look for another solution and will think of downloading patterns. Do the maths and you realize the profits: pay €6 for a magazine offering 52 patterns and soon one will have to pay €4 per pattern.

April '96

April ’96

Again this is one interpretation. Just one way of looking at things.

But Katui_kiwi and Burda made me think about a couple of things. According to the economic system we live in, what is the supreme, the main goal of a company nowadays? Is that to provide good service? Is that to produce something of value that will benefit a large majority of people? Some companies may cherish this goal but I am not sure the majority of them are primarily concerned with this line of thinking.

February and March '97

February and March ’97

What do we hear overall? Companies and governments, be they of left or right wing, they all share the same goal in one word: growth. A company’s main goal is: growth. How do you translate growth? Benefits. Earnings. Profit. Money. Money is on their worship altar. Service? That’s something we can make do with marketing.

April '97 and August '98

April ’97 and August ’98

Some years ago I was talking to a manager in a company I worked for and wanted to share ideas in how to improve a particular service to our customers. That improvement meant we had to do something extra to the customer. My manager cut me off immediately saying: “if customers are not prepared to pay more for a service we are not going to give them extras.” Plain. Period.

October and November '98

October and November ’98

Take the example of Google, for instance . They earned, in the UK alone, £3.2bn on sales worth whilst they paid only £6m in corporation tax. We need to be in crisis (crisis caused by whom?) for European governments to wake up to the fact that it is not only the middle man who has to pay his fair share of taxes, the big corporations – which make billions of profit – too.

Couture facile pour débutants (date unknown)

Couture facile pour débutants (date unknown)

Google is going to stop Google Reader. Did they ask their users about their advice? Very naïvely I wrote to Burda asking about their change of pattern policy. Did I get an answer back? Only an automatic e-mail reply saying they had received my request. But I never got an answer. It was naïve of me to think they bother about us, faithful readers and buyers of their magazine.

June and November 2004

June and November 2004

Take the example of RTW (“ready to wear”) companies. What is their aim? To produce poor quality clothes in the least expensive way. These clothes are not meant to last long so that people can keep buying clothes. As it is no longer possible to produce clothes cheaply in the developed countries, companies get rid of their original local industries leaving local people unemployed, go offshore where workers are paid unfair wages, work in difficult and dangerous conditions, so that companies can maximize their profits. What are the results of this greedy attitude? Dhaka, Bangladesh is but one example.

March and May 2005

March and May 2005

Sadly enough, Burda is not alone to blame. Burda is but one company in a system of fierce competition where all companies worldwide do the same: compete to see which one makes more profits, embellished into the more academic word ‘growth’. We never think about it but wouldn’t it be a good idea to work together instead of working – almost – against each other? We must outdo our neighbour. Service? People’s well-being? Sustainability? None of our concern.

September and November 2005

September and November 2005

The other day I read an article where the IMF (Institute of Monetary Fund) which is known for its austerity programs and calls to cut government spending, is concerned about the growing inequality between rich and poor: “0,5% of the population owns more than 35% of the wealth. (…) Movements like Occupy Wall Street, the Indignados or the Arab Spring were motivated by this tendency.”

February and March 2006

February and March 2006

Where are we heading to?

I am currently reading an interesting book (Geluk & wijsheid voor beginners: inleiding in de kunst van het filosoferen by Jos Kessels). The author comments about analyses made by the American philosopher Marcuse (1898-1979). These analyses were made some time ago but still apply to our society today. Marcuse says that our society is the richest and the most technically advanced in the whole of history.

September 2006

September 2006

These technical advances give us the opportunity to accomplish and lead a free and satisfactory human existence. For everyone. An existence without coercion, an existence where you are free to pursue, to give meaning and to develop your life. Live yourself your happiness in your own way. An existence without stultifying or unhealthy labour, without exploitation or oppression, without poverty or shortages. (…) That’s all technically possible. (…)

January, June and September 2007

January, June and September 2007

But what do we see? Instead of an enlargement of individual freedom it seems our prosperity results in a reduction of individual freedom. This is evident from the simple example that nobody has time nowadays. Everyone is in a hurry, most eagerly working under tension. Why is that? In the end people strive not to have time to themselves to do what they like. They seek primarily to have money. People find it so important that they have almost no other time. And that means hurry, stress and above all production, the compulsion to perform. There is work to be done, there must be results. And there money should come from.”

March and June 2008

March and June 2008

And I might add… we must keep busy to make sure the 0.5% of the population stay on the top and accumulate more wealth.

May and July 2009

May and July 2009

Of course things are not so simple. But to examine the question thoroughly you would need to write a book and this is only meant to be a post.

August and October 2009

August and October 2009

One last thing, I said above we can look at things through different perspectives. Many of us believe it has become more difficult to draw a pattern out of the 4-page-printed patterns Burda releases. But we can see this change in a positive way as well: printing less pattern pages means less environmental nuisances as less trees are cut down. In the long run when patterns will only be available through download and there may be no more magazines printed, the environmental impact will be even less.

Burda patterns then

Burda patterns then

And there Katui-Kiwi’s advice on how to deal with Burda’s patterns comes in very handy. If it is to save on printing costs and to be sustainable, I’ll be there to support it.

Burda patterns now

Burda patterns now

A positive side as well: do we need to have 52 patterns at our disposal every month? Is it not greedy of us to want to buy 52 patterns? How much patterns do we really use out of one magazine?

Burda patterns now

Burda patterns now

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I no longer buy Burda magazines. Meanwhile, I prefer to support sustainable and independent designers like Deer & Doe for example and to develop my sewing skills by drafting my own patterns.

What about you? What are your views on the subject?

Me Made May and Paradise Lost

 
The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”

― John Milton, Paradise Lost

It may sound intriguing. What does Me Made May has to do with Milton and the above quote from Paradise Lost?

Actually, a couple of things.

self-made jacket and trousers

self-made jacket and trousers

I was asked to give some details on the cream jacket. Errr, a little embarrassing, though. This vest has not one but lots of faults. Faults or mortal sins, as CarmencitaB refers to them here.

self-made jacket and trousers

self-made jacket and trousers

On top of being a sewist who is usually in a hurry, I have no formal training whatsoever in sewing. When I started sewing there were no blogs with fitting information to help you adjust a garment. I only used either Burda or Knipmode and the instructions did not make a lot of sense to me. So like a brave stuntwoman I just delved into sewing. With eyes closed, I’m afraid.

self-made blouse and trousers

self-made blouse and trousers

With the cocktail hurry + no knowledge + a good dose of impatience to finish what I was sewing, the result could be none other than poor. That’s where the hell above comes on stage. That’s why my sewlution for this year was to take things easy, to learn as much as possible and most important, to enjoy the process.

That’s what I am trying to do. Even now, as I write this post.

self-made blouse, jacket and trousers

self-made blouse, jacket and trousers

Back to the cream jacket. It is an old September 2005 Knipmode pattern, no.25. It was my first jacket and I dare not enumerate all of the mistakes and flaws it has. Too many. And yet, as Spring comes, I usually find it to be the perfect garment to put on on chilly mornings. I love the neutral cream colour, the soft and smooth linen fabric and the silky Venezia lining. It is really comfy to wear. So I just overlook the capital sins and dub them into dainty and darling sins. I come to terms with myself and there’s my Paradise Lost back 😉

jacket lining

jacket lining

“L’esprit est à soi-même sa propre demeure ; il peut faire en soi un Ciel de l’Enfer, un Enfer du Ciel.”
– John Milton, Paradise Lost, traduit par Chateaubriand, 1861.

Cela peut sembler intrigant. Qu’est-ce que Me Made May a à voir avec Milton et la citation ci-dessus de Paradise Lost ?

En fait, un certain nombre de choses.

self-made jacket and trousers

self-made jacket and trousers

On m’a demandé de donner des détails sur la veste couleur crème. Euh, un peu gênant, à vrai dire. Cette veste n’en a pas un, mais plusieurs défauts. Trop même. Des défauts ou des «péchés capitaux», pour citer l’expression utilisée par CarmencitaB ici .

self-made jacket and trousers

self-made jacket and trousers

Au-delà d’être une couturière trop souvent à la hâte, je n’ai eu aucune formation en couture. Quand j’ai commencé à coudre, il n’y avait pas de blogs avec des informations de montage pour aider à ajuster un vêtement. Je décalquais les patrons Burda ou Knipmode et les cousais à la machine. En gros c’était ça. Les instructions n’avaient pas beaucoup de sens pour moi, donc tel un cascadeur courageux je plongeais les yeux fermés dans la couture.

self-made blouse and trousers

self-made blouse and trousers

Le cocktail hâte de finir + aucune connaissance + une bonne dose d’impatience pour terminer ce que je faisais ne pouvait donner que des résultats médiocres. C’est là que l’enfer de Milton prend tout son sens. C’est pourquoi ma sewlution pour cette année était de prendre les choses en main, essayer d’apprendre autant que possible et le plus important, prendre plaisir durant tout le processus.

C’est ce que j’essaie de faire. Même maintenant, alors que j’écris ce post.

self-made blouse, jacket and trousers

self-made blouse, jacket and trousers

Retour à la veste crème. C’est un vieux modèle de septembre 2005 de Knipmode , le no.25. C’était ma première veste et je n’ose pas énumérer toutes les erreurs et défauts qu’elle présente. Trop, tout simplement. Et pourtant, dès que le printemps arrive, je la trouve souvent idéale à porter lors des matins frisquets. J’aime la couleur crème neutre, le tissu en lin souple et lisse et la doublure Venezia, si soyeuse. Elle est ainsi très confortable à porter. Je néglige les péchés capitaux et les surnomme péché mignons. Je me réconcilie avec moi-même et retrouve enfin mon paradis perdu. 😉

jacket lining

jacket lining

Me Made May and Happiness

Happiness is not a matter of form, nor does it have anything to do with appearances. Outward appearance, status or wealth does not determine whether one is happy. The essence of happiness, rather, lies in what one feels in the inner recesses of one’s heart, in what lives and reigns in the depth of one’s being.

Daisaku Ikeda

self made jeans trousers and jacket

self made jeans trousers and jacket

Le bonheur n’est pas une question de forme, ni n’a rien à avoir avec les apparences. L’apparence extérieure, le statut ou la richesse ne détermine pas si l’on est heureux. L’essence du bonheur réside plutôt dans ce que l’on ressent dans les recoins profonds de son cœur, dans ce qui vit et règne dans les profondeurs de son être.

Daisaku Ikeda

self made jeans trousers and jacket

self made jeans trousers and jacket

self made jeans trousers and jacket

self made jeans trousers and jacket

So far I am not having trouble standing up for my pledge of wearing at least 1 self-made item for 5 days. I have actually been wearing 1 self-made item every day, thus 7 days a week but… I’m afraid it is not quite manageable to make an outfit photo everyday!

going for a bike ride with self made jeans trousers

going for a bike ride with self made jeans trousers

Jusqu’à présent, je n’ai pas eu de difficulté à tenir mon engagement de porter au moins 1 vêtement réalisé par moi-même pendant 5 jours. En fait, j’ai porté 1 vêtement fait-maison chaque jour, c’est-à-dire, les 7 jours de la semaine. En revanche… ce n’est pas tout à fait gérable de prendre une photo de tenue chaque jour !

going for a bike ride with self made jeans trousers

going for a bike ride with self made jeans trousers

going for a bike ride with self made jeans trousers

going for a bike ride with self made jeans trousers

Every single …

Every single thing in existence is worthy of supreme reverence. Nature is not something for human beings to exploit as they see fit, solely for their own interests. Both nature and humanity are part—and at the same time complete expressions—of the life of the universe. To destroy the natural world is to destroy human life.”

Daisaku Ikeda

trees and light