Featured Artist: Lindsey Woodward

Written by Lindsey Woodward

Hi! I’m Lindsey. While writing poetry is my default when it comes to creative expression, it sometimes manifests through other forms. It happens organically, on impulse, which often shifts to (healthy) compulsion and hyperfixation and is often linked to the status of my mercurial mood. My most recent means of creative exploration is through the craft of hand embroidery. 

I found embroidery mid November 2019 during an episode of hypomania which is a recurrent symptom of bipolar disorder, a diagnosis I’ve been navigating for 20 years now. A major component of my experiences with hypomania is a sense of vibrating with a surplus of frenzied energy and a subsequent inability to remain still. Imagine a hive of angry wasps in your skull who spill out to reverberate through every cell in your body if you don’t keep moving. That’s not even close to explaining it, but I’ve been writer’s blocked for months now and that’s the best I can do to assign words to an experience beyond language. 

Anyway!  I’d always meant to pick up embroidery since my late Grams gifted me her needles & threads a decade prior (and I desperately needed a way to busy my hands ‘cause they are at times prone to becoming a proverbial devil’s playground if left unoccupied). 

My 3rd project was an xmas gift for Grams & she passed suddenly less than a week after I hung it on her wall. So I continued stitching, partly as a way to honour her memory because she was the absolute shit.

So since then, whenever words evade me (which is often), I channel the bulk of my creative energy into this art form. Mind you, it started as more of a hobby than art, but somewhere along the way there was a shift and it became something more for me, it’s been a neat process.

Over the past few months, my leftist politics have seamlessly merged with the craft and this is where I’m currently at with it, although I expect that too to shift at a moment’s notice and I’m totally down for that. 

For me, embroidery is both meditative and grounding (save for those moments I’m overcome with frustration and hack the piece to shreds, but that in itself is cathartic and sometimes you just need to destroy something so you can start over). 

Creative expression has always been integral to my personal healing and is one of my greatest assets when it comes to caring for my mental health. I definitely lose touch with it at times, especially when I’m going through a depressive episode, but I constantly return to it. It’s always there, even if it feels like I’m punching through a brick wall to reach it. I’m super grateful for the ability to channel much of my energy and emotions in constructive ways, as long as I’m willing to allow them to take different forms and not confine myself by labeling myself a writer or an embroidery artist or what have you. I just make things.

I’ve included images of a few of my favourite embroidery pieces as well as a pic of Grams and her kitty Bella whom I inherited and has since been caring for me.

I’d like to thank Jenni for the kind opportunity to be featured on her blog!

You can follow me on Instagram if you’d like: @thethreadmenace 

For writerly stuff email me at lindseynwoodward@gmail.com

As for writing…I’ve been poetically bankrupt for a while now, but below is a poem that was published earlier this year in The Fiddlehead. Its ostensible themes are poverty and addiction and it necessitates a content warning: eviction, poverty, addiction, overdose, death.

Eviction Notice

the notice taped to the door beaten bloody with the guts of flies& angry  wasps confused by their  

stunted flight paths/ they pound to get inside as reminders as omens as  remainders of the many passed  

days& youve still found nothing/your pockets&wallets&bank accounts  barren as menopausal  

wombs&the cheque in the mail cant afford the fear youve been  delivered the uncertainty and who can  

deliver you from this poverty you never asked for you tried you tried 4  different jobs in 3 months& you  

couldnt slog through 8 hours without crying in the back or dipping out  for cigarettes on unpaid  

breaks& you smoke instead of eat unless you sneak abandoned  sandwiches left melting on the heater or  

you dive dumpsters after work when the stores have forgotten to lock  them to keep out your hungry  

hands when the stores have tossed out tomatoes unfit to sell yet barely  bruised you sift through without  

gloves so putrid after broiling in late july’s boil but you dont notice  until later when you fall onto  

your mattress fully clothed& the smell reminds you of your  grandmother baking cabbage rolls& 

ghoulash before she died alone in her armchair//you skipped out on the  funeral you were afraid youd  

yell at your family for grieving when their grief was undeserved/ unwarranted because where the fuck  

were they when she forgot who she was? She helped you get by bought  your meds to keep you alive  

you have no insurance nobody else would have//she left& you had to  forget so you could walk 3 km to  

the job you hate in the pouring rain at 5 am in the pissing rain sopping  in your only uniform when you  

got there because the wind flipped your umbrella inside out&you  needed a loaf of bread to  

eat slopped with peanut butter scrapings salvaged with a  tablespoon&you dont have time to search for a  

new home not a home but a place you can stay thats safer than than the  streets cause youve kept the  

needles away for 8 months but youre weaker now& thinner shakier// the classifieds: $1450+ monthly for  

a 1 bedroom. You make $1307.54 after tax on a great month/save the  paper use it for asswipe/go to  

library where internet is free&scour kijiji&facebook&random google  searches etc etc scour bluelit 

screen like the counters at work where you spray disinfectant but the  rag is days old&they wont give  

you a new one/theres nothing you can afford you have less than a  month to find somewhere/you read  

somewhere that the previously incarcerated are 10 times more likely to  be homeless&living rough makes the needles choiceless no contest(it  didnt say that last part wasnt part of the study)the only way to forget the  only way to feel alright feel nothing&sleep more soundly than you ever  have&you dont tell anyone but you wouldnt mind if you cooked up a  grain too much&banged too hard&your breathing stopped in a Narcan less alley but you dont say nothing because everyone feels thesame 

you dont say nothing cause everyone feels the same.

Published by JenniferAnneBurke

Yogini since I was 17. Certified yoga instructor since I was 24. Totaling over 20 years of experience. Thousands of hours of practice, teaching, learning, sharing, loving, growing. I believe yoga needs to be made accessible to all people, even if that means simply practicing breath work. My business is named "The Gentle Way of Hatha" because from my personal experience it is the gentle practice that has been the most liberating, and what I wish to share with others. The essence of yoga: inner peace. Finding your calm in the chaos of life. Artist my whole life. Failed OCAD (well I didn't really give it a chance, I dropped out after one semester). Continue to create regardless. Check out JenniferAnneBurke.com to view my work. I love to travel, and hope to make it to Iceland in 2020 for an art adventure.

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