Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Just before Valentine’s Day, my mom would cover the kitchen table with a bunch of supplies – sequins, beads, glitter, glue, doilies, markers, crayons, and colored construction paper. She never gave instructions; instead, she’d let me and my brother dive into the pile of goods. To this day, I remember the pleasure of the process, the satisfaction of handling all the different textures. I even remember the great feeling of putting little patches of Elmer’s glue on my hands so that I could peel it off after it had dried.

Looking back at my days as a young person, I realize that the most meaningful and gratifying experiences were those of the “hands-on” sort, the ones where I got to be physically connected to a task. Now, as an adult who lives in an age where speed, efficiency, and convenience rule, I find it challenging but important to stay involved in the world through activities that require use of my physical self, namely the use of my hands.

When I use my hands in a project, I slow down. I connect in a deeper way to the experience, to my other senses, and, if I am working collaboratively, to the people or person I am with. When I prepare a meal with my boyfriend, Mike, I often feel the same way I did when I was making Valentine cards at my childhood kitchen table – totally immersed in the project, relishing the experience of using my hands to implement choices, taking pride in the results of those choices.


Give a massage
Knit a scarf
Bake bread
Chop vegetables
String beads
Sew a costume
Make a pot
Plant seeds
Weed a garden
Play the tambourine
Cut paper dolls
Hand-write a thank you note
Illustrate a card
Crochet a baby blanket
Paint someone’s face
Plaster a wall
Hammer nails
Saw or whittle wood
Hand-wash clothes
Scrub a floor
Arrange flowers
Place photos in an album
Build a fire
Flip pancakes
Braid someone’s hair
Pet a dog
Sandpaper a rough surface
Fry matzoh
Dye eggs
Build a fort or a sand castle
Knead bread dough
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