Finding the thing
I’ve always wanted to find my thing.
Everyone has a thing. I wanted a thing. I wanted to be in that club.
When I was young, I didn’t have much of an imagination. I didn’t have any imaginary friends. I enjoyed reading, yeah. But never in the way that I would get lost inside the elaborate worlds the author portrayed in the pages of the book they had written. And I didn’t play with my Barbies so much as dress them up, arrange them perfectly on bed and take photos of them with a disposable film camera (lol).
I couldn’t draw, so instead of doodling on my binders in school, I’d cut out pictures and typography from Seventeen magazine and arrange them into a collage by glueing them onto the cover. It was the best I could do.
I couldn't play an instrument. I couldn’t write my own lyrics, stories or poems. Rather than take notes in class, I’d write out my favourite Death Cab For Cutie lyrics in the lined pages of my notebook.
I have never considered myself to be a creative person. Ever.
As an adult, I took an online sewing course and tried my hand at a few sewing projects. I still have the apron that I made out of the vintage patterned fabric that I thrifted, but sewing for fun? No thanks. Definitely not my thing.
I started a blog to document my pregnancy. I enjoyed writing but shortly after sharing my birth story, maintaining my blog began to feel like a chore. I felt like the blog had served its intended purpose. So I moved on. Not my thing.
I made myself a small weaving. I even made my own loom out of an old wooden picture frame and finishing nails for the project. It turned out alright, but I didn’t particularly enjoy making it. Still trying; still not my thing.
I kept trying, and then tried again, and then became somewhat of a notorious trier of all things. I mean that exactly in the way that it sounds. I’d give something a try, whether that be a hobby or an activity, decide if it was the thing for me and when I discovered that it wasn’t, I’d happily be on my way and move along.
Hi, I'm Nicole. Notorious Trier.
After my son left his "baby stage" and became a full-blown toddler, I found myself longing for something to care for. To nurture. To help grow. Of course my son still needed me, but thanks to his new found independence, he was beginning to need me less and in different ways. I kept trying cool new projects, trying to fill this sudden void.
After a trip to the conservatory in the dead of a cold, Manitoba winter, I found myself surrounded by greenery in an attempt for a little pick-me-up. I instantly felt an extraordinary boost. A natural high. I purchased my first tropical plant shortly after that trip; a small Boston fern in a four-inch pot. A year and a half later, it’s six times the size and sits on the top level of a bookshelf in my living room. It's on display like a trophy or university degree that you would want to be set out for the world to see.
Nope, just a giant Boston Fern.
I began filling my home with plants and learning as much about them as I possibly could. As the plants began to fill every room in my home, I started to look into alternate ways to display them. I searched for “plant hangers” on Pinterest and one of the first few images that I saw was a macramé plant hanger made out of paracord.
Now, paracord most certainly was not my thing, but creatively speaking, this was the moment that I realized I had found my thing. Plants were the key.
All of these ideas, hobbies and interests that I wasn’t necessarily in love with from the start were actually imperative to finding my place - my thing. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was challenging myself creatively. I had no idea that all of this learning, trying and making, would set me up to successfully take on the thing when I finally found it.
Macramé. I made myself a few macramé plant hangers out of a cheap synthetic fiber that I ordered off of Amazon. I wasn’t crazy about the materials I had used, but not only did I love the way it looked, I loved making it. I felt relaxed, challenged and inspired all at the same time. I found myself playing with knots and dreaming up designs. I could nurture designs. Sketching patterns and studying up on the history of the art. Who was this person?
I moved from using synthetic fibers for the first few pieces I created for myself, to using all natural, 100% cotton rope in all of my pieces. I solidified a few actual, real, macramé plant hangers, and continued to follow my creativity. And I felt better about the items I was making, because I felt better about the materials I was using. I continued researching, and I continued trying different designs in order to satiate this new found inspiration I had unlocked.
I started my own creative business and brand, Cree Ryan, and continue to fuel it with my creative passion for macramé, love for greenery and the organic high that they both give me. Creating custom work, sharing my artwork and talking to my customers about which plants look best in our Woodpecker, two-tiered macramé plant hanger excites me in exactly the crazy plant lady way that it sounds like it would. (It’s an ivy or pothos by the way, and you should see it in @ladynoel's IG because it looks so so good.)
Though this was an art form that had been around for a long time, I wanted to put my own spin on it in order to strike a cord with my heritage - something that I am simultaneously trying to explore and connect with this year. So, I worked traditional elements from my Aboriginal background into my macramé wall hanging designs. All of the wall hangings that I create are hung on birch - something we're excited about at RW - and the majority of those pieces incorporate a traditional braid to pay homage to my ancestors.
And! Having pieces that include mindful elements, such as cruelty-free feathers, are also in the works. I'm so excited to release them.
Elizabeth Gilbert said in her book Big Magic, “If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.” That struck a cord in me as someone who never identified with being creative. But you know what? Creating pieces that reflect the artist is what truly brings art to life. That can be a thing. No one else out there can bring exactly what you bring to the table.
And it feels so damn good to have finally found my thing.
Nicole Ryan is an indigenous woman, wife and mother who owns small creative business, Cree Ryan. She enjoys curling up in bed with a good book, cooking plant-based meals and visiting greenhouses. When she's not chasing after her toddler, Van, she can be found watering her plants, rearranging her furniture or sneaking out on dates with her husband, Josh.