Cross Stitcher


Julian Odessa gives words of wisdom on how to flourish when stitching or in life, encouragin­g us to strengthen our social connection­s this year


Hullo! Where I live is a lot warmer than the UK winter, which means I’ve had the joy of watching bees move around my garden, pollinatin­g my produce plants and generally keeping busy. Watching how they work together in their great communitie­s got me thinking about how good it feels to be connected to other people. There’s something magical about coming together with other people, whether it’s your local stitching group, a volunteer position, or making a new friend.

This month, I’ve been challengin­g myself to do something that connects me with people outside of my normal spheres of interactio­n. Life is busy, so I didn’t want it to be too demanding, but I sometimes get the feeling that unless I’m purposeful­ly maintainin­g the borders of my social sphere, my world can start to collapse in and feel smaller. But, like any skill, connection gets be er with practice.

I started by, if I had a drive of at least half an hour ahead of me, calling (handset-free!) someone I hadn’t spoken to in a long time. This started when a friend I hadn’t spoken to in almost a decade called me out of the blue just to say hullo – I was so delighted that I thought I’d try it too. Even if we only briefly speak, it’s wonderful to hear about their lives. Another experiment has been to speak to someone at work who I don’t know very well at least once a week. I’ve made quite a few new work friends in the tearoom this way, which has been enriching.

But what I’ve enjoyed most is ge ing or making small but thoughtful gifts for people on their birthdays (or just because!). A friend of mine has a birthday coming up and not only does she love bees but she’s always very busy, energetic, and a wonderful team player, so I’ll be stitching this bee for her special day.

Social connection is like a muscle – it only works best when we practice with it often. And as much as it makes others happy, it makes us happy too!

So, if you feel like you could push on your social boundaries a bit, perhaps try and find out something new about a coworker or perhaps grab a quick coffee with an old friend – I guarantee you’ll both feel all the sweeter for the experience.

Stitch boldly!


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