Words from the wise - with Shannon Reed of Mockingbird Makes

In amongst the yucky bits, 2020 has given me some surprising gifts as well. One of those gifts, has been the time to reassess the people and chat that I surround myself with. Whether that's in real-life or online. This has included a social media cull of the various accounts that I found personally triggering or unhelpful to me, as well as the discovery of businesses, brands and individuals that stimulate my mind, make my face smile and my heart sing.

One of these 2020 discoveries is Mockingbird Makes, the brainchild of the marvellous Shannon Reed. Champion of creativity for wellness and producer of beautiful bespoke crocheted, knitted and embroidered handcrafts - all mindfully made - Mockingbird Makes is a multi-faceted brand, with intentions that match its products - honest, playful and from the heart. I caught up with Shannon and I'm delighted to share her wisdom with you here...

Shannon specifically asked me to credit the photographer of this shot - Millie Turner, see Photography by Mildred so I thought I'd check her out too. You must have a look at her page as well, she is incredibly talented.

Picture-This Books: Can you begin by briefly telling us what you do and when and how this journey started for you?

Shannon Reed: I’m Shannon, a mum of two boys and the founder of Mockingbird Makes. It started as a way to let me keep Making beautiful things (and still is!) and it has evolved into a platform that is all about using creativity to support our wellness, creating safe connecting places and bringing community together. Reconnecting with my creativity highlighted how often we outsource it and in the process we abandon or disconnect with our true selves. For me, in part, this resulted in depression and anxiety.

Picture-This Books: So many people believe that they simply aren’t creative, that creativity is just not for them. What do you think about that? Is it that simple?

Shannon Reed: It’s very simple. There is not a single person on this planet who is not creative. We are born with it. It is one of our deepest yearnings. And if it is not directed in healthy pursuits is can be destructive. The issue, I think, is the narrow definition of creativity that we may have.

Picture-This Books: I noticed you are partial to a spot of forest bathing. Talk to me about how you incorporate nature into your work and why you think it makes such a powerful tool for inspiration?

Shannon Reed: I do love a bit of forest bathing! It’s something I have been known to do before a big event so I am fully resourced and available to my attendees. As an introvert this is very important. I’m inspired by nature in so many ways as far as understanding how to be in this world especially around not having to shine bright every moment, working with the seasons and cycles and being who we are. As for literally, you’ll have to check out my cactus and other unkillable plant range!

Picture-This Books: You’ve spoken a lot about intentional connecting. How do we get better at this ourselves, and how can we encourage and develop this in our children?

Shannon Reed: Connection is one of our most important and essential needs. And we go about treating it as if its a “nice to have” or something to be ashamed of. When we do that we can find unwanted behaviours (control, manipulation, self-sabotage, self-abandonment) popping up. I created a womxn's gathering called Creative Conversations as an anti-dote to “stitch’n’bitches” that asks attendees to come as they are, with an honest agenda to authentically connect with others. We get to experience how powerful is it to witness and be witnessed as our wholeselves. The other invitation (but not essential) is to bring along a piece of hand work that you may have abandoned either recently or long long ago (metaphor for abandoned self here!). It can be as simple as colouring in. This is to show our nervous system that we are in no danger and can come out of flight or fight mode and into rest and digest - so important for what we have experienced in 2020. I hold incredibly safe and nurturing spaces to allow this to to happen. For our children, the best way to teach them is to model it.

Picture-This Books: What are your thoughts on screen-time for children? This is a biggie for me personally, and I know it is something lots of parents battle with. My son loves using his tablet to watch his favourite wrestlers or superheroes on YouTube, play games, etc. but I certainly notice a difference in his behaviour if he is on there for too long. How do we strike a balance? Should we strike a balance?

Shannon Reed: I have many thoughts and ideals around screen time for children. And then there is the reality of life! Children want to be the adults they see and the peers they interact with. Screens are a reality of our life, the tools their parents use and the experiences they can share with their peers. We try to fill our children's lives with as much real life connection outside of screens as possible. They also have to develop their own boundaries and need practice at that. I point out the behaviour changes that occur for them to be mindful about it or tell them off and restrict access! Then decide I've been too tough and relent and so the cycle goes on. This is when self compassion is a must!

Picture-This Books: What were you like as a child? Have you always been a creative cat?

Shannon Reed: I did enjoy creating as a child but never let myself do it that much and it didn’t feel productive. And I have never thought of myself as creative in that narrow definition of the concept. But now I know better and can recognise that yearning that I used to channel into self loathing. I realise that not once in the 4 years of having this business have I not wanted to get out of bed to do it. That feels like living in alignment! So yes it seems I’ve always been a creative cat!

Picture-This Books: Do you have any tips for fostering creativity in our children?

Shannon Reed: Let them see it. Name it in every way you can. “Wow that was really creative of you solving that problem!” Let go of any resistance to and pre-conceived ideas of what creativity is. Educate yourself as necessary on the importance it, and practice it as a process without the need for a productive output.

Picture-This Books: I’ve invented a time travelling postal service (don’t tell anyone), and I’m inviting you to send a short message to your 8-year old self. What do you want to tell her?

Shannon Reed: I would say ‘oh my love, you are perfect in every way, have everything you need inside of you and can just relax and enjoy!"

Picture-This Books: What sort of services do you offer and how can people access more of your words of wisdom?

Shannon Reed: At the most transactional level you can buy my ready made creations on my Etsy store. This makes up a very small proportion of my work as I mostly work bespoke - get some inspiration here at www.instagram.com/mockingbird_makes - this is the best place to find and interact with me. This link will take you to the following: Small Business Huddles - weekly free online gatherings to connect, share and support other indie businesses; Creative Conversations - safe and nurturing womxn’s gathering to create with your hands and connect with your heart; The free Facebook group that continues the conversation from these gatherings; Subscribe to my newsletter - a hug in your inbox; Watch my Creativity for Wellness Instagram lives on my IGTV channel - my initiative to share the mic with wonderful Black women in business; Podcasts that I have guested on; Blogs that I have written; Radio interviews that I have given.

I know right, isn't she brilliant!? What a force! Go check her out HERE!

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