Too Thrifty Chicks


Food for Thought Friday: The Joy of Creating


“I discovered bit by bit not the pleasure of eating good meals (I am seldom drawn to solitary delights), but that of manipulating raw material, of organizing, combining, modifying, and inventing. I learned the tranquil joy of anticipated hospitality, when one prepares a meal to share with friends in the same way in which one composes a party tune or draws: with moving hands, careful fingers, the whole body inhabited with the rhythm of working” (The Practice of Everyday Life, vol. 2,  p. 153)

In my real life, I’m a PhD student studying anthropology. I spend most of my time reading about food justice, health disparities, and black social and political thought. When I’m not reading about these things, I’m reflecting on them, trying to figure out reasons why so many disparities exists; why so many people don’t have what they need.

During one of those reflections, my good friend and colleague Naya made a great observation: we’re getting further and further away from the production of food, which has done a great disservice to most people in this country, but particularly those who suffer most from health disparities. After the conversation, I thought about how we’ve moved away from the production of many other things as well, because we often want things quickly….and sometimes creating things with our hands isn’t a quick process.

Preping a DIY coming soon :)

Prepping a DIY project that took a couple days to complete.

Last year I realized that some days would come and go and I wouldn’t remember hardly anything that happened. I decided I didn’t want to live like that. I thought about things I wanted to experience and I envisioned how I wanted to feel on a daily basis. That helped me see that I needed to stop moving so fast and spend more time creating. When I deliberately slowed down my life, I began to pay more attention to what’s happening around me. My creativity expanded. Now, I get a great deal of joy from making things with my hands for myself and others. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way I planned, I try not to be too disappointed, because most times, the process was enjoyable despite the outcome. When it does come out right, I feel like I love it ten times more than anything I could have purchased “as is” in the store.

I spend a lot of time creating, because there is something beautiful about knowing the process that something went through to become what it is. Whether it be an outfit, a DIY project,  a meal you’ve prepared or a story you’ve written, the process of creating it makes you an active participant in your present day. And hopefully, taking the time to make things with your own hands will deepen your appreciation for others who do so as well.

Make something this weekend. Doesn’t matter if you make it for yourself or someone else. Just do it with your whole self present.


Author: A. Reese

UMBC Assistant Professor. Black Feminist. Food justice advocate and researcher. Lover of color, ruffles, stripes, and pockets. Your kids' flyest professor.

6 thoughts on “Food for Thought Friday: The Joy of Creating

  1. Refreshing read! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the pleasure of creating something with your hands even if it does not turn out like you thought. I am a homeschooling mom of 5 (well 4, one has graduated 2nd one will this year) and I have watched my children create: jewelry, crocheted items, clothing, recipes from scratch, gardening, etc etc. Sometimes things turn out and sometimes not, but the look of satisfaction on their faces (and mine as well) is worth the time that goes in it. Not to mention, the pure joy it is to give a gift that “you” made with loving care is truly priceless!!


    • You’re so right. A gift you made is priceless, and probably one of a kind. I taught middle school for a while, and I could always tell which kids had people at home who stimulated their imaginations/creative spirits with hands on projects at home. Kudos to you for doing all those things with your children. It makes a world of difference!


  2. This is probably why I journalism so much. The sense of accomplishment of finishing a story brings a sense of satisfaction.


  3. What a lovely post. Standing in front of the stove, picking up a needle, and aiming a spray can have all been wonderful sources of healing for me.


  4. A very thoughtful post – I have found that the slowing down aspect of crafting/DIY is a large part of what drew me to such activities. As I have grown “older” I have come to believe that my mind and body very early on craved that pacing in a world that felt like it was rushing around me and trying to drag me along with it. It brought balance when I was stressed and while the product of my efforts might not fit a modern aesthetic or a mass produced mold it had more benefits than the final product. For example, when I found myself needing wool fabric and thread for a current project, I went looking for skirts and knit sweaters at thrift stores and found some pieces that I could deconstruct and repurpose, instead of going online to buy new material. It takes me a lot longer to extract the fabric and thread (although removing seams is far easier than unwinding knitted wool!) than simply purchasing it, but it is more cost effective on a budget. More importantly, the act of ‘acquiring’ the raw materials from goods that have been cast off not only connects me to habits that were once common place in our society but requires me to slow down. This extra investment in the project connects me more strongly to what I am producing and makes it more meaningful to me when it is completed.


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