By Shannon Grissom, author and artist of the Sock Monkey Oracle
My art studio is filled with all manner of sock monkeys.
Yup, sock monkeys.
Hey, they make me smile!
While writing the Sock Monkey Oracle, I marveled at how hanging out with these whimsical creatures has been inspiring and uplifting. Personally, they have been joyful muses for paintings, books, original music, videos, and now oracle cards.
Along the way, I discovered that sock monkeys have inspired others too. Hospitals gift them to patients to lift their spirits. Festivals and museums are dedicated to their history and preservation. And, I have met folks of all ages with heartwarming sock monkey stories to share.
If you have never met a sock monkey, they may seem to be an unlikely muse, but if you just spend a little time with them, you’ll soon echo their big red grin.
Here are 5 ways sock monkeys inspire and help us feel joyful:
They radiate joy.
The first thing I noticed is that sock monkeys are always smiling.
Look at the wide grin on their face. Now, turn the monkey around and look at its backside.
Go ahead; I’ll wait while you do.
You’ll notice sock monkeys smile whether they are coming or going. No matter what is going on, they always look on the bright side of life and radiate joy.
They are creativity catalysts.
Store-bought or handmade, sock monkeys coax your inner child out from hiding and encourage creative play. The possibilities are endless. Engaging with sock monkeys will get your creative juices going.
One of my favorite pastimes with sock monkeys is storytelling. Every sock monkey has a unique personality and many tales to tell. (No pun intended, but I’ll take it.) And, they are more than willing to share their stories—all you must do is ask!
Go ahead, try it. Interview your sock monkey. That’s what your inner child would do. Put your reporter visor on, grab a pen and paper, and begin the dialogue.
Are you feeling a little silly? Good. That’s precisely the state of being from which to conduct the session.
*Huge grin* Here’s a tip: Interview like no one is watching.
Not sure what questions to ask? Observe the sock monkey’s appearance for clues. For example, sample questions from my own interview session included:
What’s the story behind that missing pom-pom?
Is that a merlot or pinot stain on your ear? Was it worth it? Oh, do tell!
Aren’t you afraid your tail will fall off soon? Why haven’t you had it stitched back into place?
Do you really prefer the dishwasher to the sauna?
Spend just a few minutes asking questions and recording their responses, and you’ll have great fun and discover they have a lot to say.
They embrace diversity.
Sock monkeys are unabashedly themselves. They don’t suck in their tummies to make themselves appear thinner. They don’t fret about age spots, and they certainly don’t shoot selfies from above.
Arriving in all shapes and sizes and every color imaginable, sock monkeys embrace their own uniqueness and that of one another. I love that they love and accept themselves just as they are.
They go with the flow.
Sock monkeys don’t swim upstream. Actually, I’m not sure they can swim at all, but I have seen them float for a short period of time. The point is that they are incredibly flexible. They always find a way to go with the flow, rather than against it. Even when they become tied up in knots, which happens to the best of them, they are easily liberated and returned to a pliable form. They are such a reminder to stay fluid.
They recognize that being silly is seriously good stuff.
Sock monkeys regularly engage in frivolous behavior, and they helped me realize that contrary to popular belief, silly is not impractical. On the contrary, playfulness is quite necessary for well-being.
Creating paintings of sock monkeys really helped me in that respect. When I first started painting, I strove to be taken seriously as an artist. As a result, I made valiant efforts to create serious still-life paintings, formal portraits, and consummate landscapes.
Even my first sock monkey portraits were a bit stiff. But, it didn’t take long for the whimsical sock monkey energy to kick in, and my work became much more lighthearted. Now, no matter what subject I’m painting, you can feel the fun in all that I create.
May the Sock Monkey Muse Be with You
Bottom line, if you are looking for ways to add joyful inspiration to your life, spend time with a sock monkey. You’ll be glad you did. Hey, and when you do, please, drop me a line. I’d love to hear how sock monkeys have inspired you!
Shannon Grissom didn’t discover painting until she was 33, but once she discovered this hidden passion, she was hooked and driven. By 1999, Shannon was able to leave her day job and began to create art as a full-time business. At 46, Shannon self-published her children’s book Monkey Made of Sockies, along with a line of licensed merchandise, including a coloring book and the popular Monkey Made of Sockies golf club headcovers that have been carried on tour by several LPGA pros.
Shannon is an award-winning artist, television producer/host, author, and songwriter, and she just launched an online creativity school called Painterly. Learn more about her work with sock monkeys at: sockmonkeyoracle.com.