What COLLECTIONAISE means for me.

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This month, we are celebrating our 1 year anniversary. Yes, Collectionaise turns 1! Thank you so much to everyone who came to our workshops the past year, it's been so lovely meeting everyone and sharing our creative energy. I am also grateful to those of you who have purchased my creative work, including my children's book Have You Heard of a Kuku Bird? And I look forward to sharing more creativity with you in our 2nd year!!   

Since we are celebrating our first birthday, I want to take the opportunity to share why I started Collectionaise. It gets a bit personal so please bare with me.  About 3 years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer and went through a rather serious operation. I have not shared this with a lot of people because there are people out there who has or had much tougher battle with cancer. But given how my experience with cancer has so much to do with why I decided to create Collectionaise, I thought I will open up a little and share why I do what I do.

Back in Australia, I found out that I have bowel cancer 2 months after giving birth to my daughter. There were signs while I was pregnant, like the low iron and rectal bleeding. But because pregnancy comes with so many lovely side effects, the word 'cancer' never crossed my mind or my GP's. The alarm bell only rang when it was time to give birth and I didn't have enough blood in my body to go through with the delivery. When I got discharged from the hospital, the doctor in charge gave me a referral to see a colorectal specialist. 2 months later, I was sitting in a recovery room listening to my colonoscopy results, and found out that I have cancer. Initially, the doctor told me the cancer is probably at stage 3 or 4. 

Until the day of my operation, I was crying everyday, thinking about the worst case scenario. I was angry at myself and the world. Apart from my family, I only told 2 friends because I couldn't stand the sympathy. I didn't want people to treat me like someone who has just been given a death sentence and pity me. There was so much anger inside me. I started seeing a therapist but it didn't really work for me. What seemed to work for me was crafting. Imagining the worst, I started making lots of things for my daughter to remember me by when she is older. And oddly enough, while I was in the process of creation, my mind was free of unnecessary thoughts. It really cleared out the negative rubbish in my mind and I felt better. 

A month after my diagnosis, I had an operation to remove the tumor and the biopsy showed that the cancer hasn't spread. Therefore I 'only' had stage I cancer. I was so relieved. But the good news did not improve my mental state immediately. My recovery process and the new parental responsibilities did not gel so well. I hated the massive scars the operation has left on my stomach. My daughter stopped accepting my breastmilk after my operation (I don't know if the two are related) and that made me feel inadequate as a mother. I became anxious and felt guilty about not being able to look after my baby properly. I also felt guilty for passing on the 'bad genes' and worried about the possibility of her developing cancer. All the worries are of course non-sense, but they became so real in my head that it crushed my soul. And as to say this was not enough, 6 months later, we were in a car accident. Which further added to my anxiety and made me believe I was unlucky.

Of course, there is nothing unlucky about me. I have everything I need. I have a roof over my head and I am never hungry. I live in a peaceful country and I am currently healthy. And I have beautiful family and friends who care about me. But being so focused on myself, I forgot to think about the world around me. There are already so much sadness and anger in the world, and so many people suffering from injustice. 

To undrown myself from the sea of negativity, I had to shift my focus on something positive. So I started doing what feels good for me, thus creating things. I feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction every time I complete a creative project. Being absorbed in creativity helps me to stay focused and positive. And I think we could all benefit from the power of creativity. 

As soon as my daughter was old enough, I started introducing her to the world of creative play. Not because I want her to have a career in a creative industry, but because I want creativity to be readily available if she ever needs to escape a negative spiral of emotions. If she has other means of releasing stress, that's great! It is merely an option. 

And this is what Collectionaise is all about. I want Collectionaise to be an engaging space where people can simply enjoy and appreciate creativity. For adults, I want our workshop participants to not only learn something new and make new friends, but enjoy sharing creative energy with others. And leave the workshop, feeling energized and positive. For kids, I want them to find joy in creativity, find a sense of focus and accomplishment when they craft something. I try to organize a craft activity where kids can make something and play with what they have created. I feel it's important for kids to know that they can also make something to play with, they don't always need to buy. 

Thank you for reading through and I hope we can both inspire each other to create and spread the positive energy. To celebrate our birthday, we are offering a free gift "Handmade Kuku Bird Clip & Kuku Bird in Delft Postcard" with any purchase. Offer ends 30 November 2020. 


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