Self-Care


Untitled

A perfect Saturday afternoon

So, I don’t talk about this a lot, but it’s really hard to get out of the house. I have depression which makes it hard to get up and move and I have anxiety which means that when I do get out of the house, I can spend a lot of time feeling out of place and stupid, instead of just being in the moment where I am. Now, I’m an adult who is gainfully employed, so I do manage to get out of the house for things like my job and the essential errands I have to run to be a functional adult. But that often means that I have no energy to go out and do anything else.

One of the many reasons that meeting Ron was one of the best things that happened to me is that he makes it easier for me to go out and have fun. He will come with me to run errands, which makes it easier to do them and makes them less draining. And in more social and fun situations, he acts a buffer between me and that voice in my head that tells me I’m too weird and everyone is staring at my stupid outfit and that thing I said was really dumb and I should just go home where it’s nice and isolated. But, about six months ago, I got an amazing job opportunity in the Bay Area. Because Ron is supportive and wonderful, he encouraged me to take the job, and suddenly I am 400 miles away from my main support. (Ron and I are fine; we didn’t break up; we are doing a weird long distance thing for the moment, which admittedly sucks, but we have plans and shouldn’t be quite so long-distance in the not-too-distant future.)

I think ultimately, this has been a good thing, despite how much I miss him. It has forced me to be more independent and I have to say that my new job was right for my career. But I have been a bit of hermit these past few months. I don’t know many people up here; those I do know are busy people (as am I), and my anxiety makes it hard for me to do too much. I’ve been to a few knit nights, forced myself to go play guitar alone at a few open mics (more on that some other time), and gone to a few movies, but have done very little to explore my new neighborhood.

This Saturday the weather was beautiful and with Ron’s encouragement, I went to my city’s incredibly adorable downtown, where I took a walk and explored some of the shops. There is a great used bookstore, where I found an The Art of Fine Baking, an old baking book from the 1960’s, and The Good Housekeeping New Complete Book of Needlecraft from 1971. I love old cooking and craft books, especially ones with handdrawn illustrations, like in the picture below.

Untitled

I may never make a swiss broyage (or will I?), but tell me that isn’t an absolutely charming illustration?

I then settled at a little outdoor table in a small local coffee shop with my new book (Knitlandia by Clara Parkes), some tea, and my knitting (plus a cookie, because cookies are delicious). I had a wonderful time out and about and nothing terrible happened, in spite of my anxiety assuring me that it would.

Knitlandia is all about Clara Parkes’ ravels as a knitter to places like Iceland and the people she’s met, sometimes because she was unafraid to go talk to them. It’s a wonderful read, but on further reflections I am struck by irony…I’m afraid to go a few miles on my own, let alone to Iceland, even though I paradoxically dream of seeing far flung places and meeting interesting people. And while I wish that I could change how I feel immediately and be completely unafraid to jet off somewhere alone, that’s not how anxiety works. But I think that I’m going to make more of an effort to at least explore my own backyard. Maybe inch by inch I can make it to Iceland some day.

Advertisements

Craftcation Program.So, I had reservations about going to Craftcation this year. I’ve gone to Craftcation for the past two years and I’ve had an amazing and inspiring time every year. But I’ve always come back feeling a little down on myself at the same time.

I always have great intentions. I give myself a pep talk every year. “This year,” I say to myself, “I’m going to meet people and network. I’m not going to let my social anxiety get in the way. I’m going to feel like I belong there, instead of like a complete fraud compared to all of these other absolutely amazing and confident women who have adorable dresses with orange dinosaurs and cute flowers in their hair. I’m going to make goals I can actually stick to. I’m going to learn not to be so hard on myself and not hate everything I do in the creative workshops. I’m going to BE BRAVE.” And every year when I come home I’ve managed to disappoint myself a little bit.

This year was no exception. Kari Chapin told me I had a cute dress and of course I became a stammering, mumbling bull in the conversational china shop. After all this time, I still haven’t learned how to take a compliment. Plus, I have a huge creative-girl-crush on Kari Chapin. I want to be her when I grow up. So I was not so great at talking to her.I chickened out on introducing myself to people and asking hard questions about a hundred times.

In spite of all that, I am still so incredibly glad I went.

For one thing, I was not the only person in Kim Werker’s class about confronting our self-doubt/insecurities/other ugly parts about being a creative person. Which isn’t really surprising; a normal person would assume that any class at a conference like this would have a fair amount of attendees. But there are times that I feel absolutely isolated in self-doubt, that on some deep level of myself I did kind of think I might end up sitting alone in a conference room, just me and Kim.

Everyone else at Craftcation has always seemed so amazingly confident and put-together and like a grown up. I was sure I was the only person there who ever felt less than sure of herself or doubted her skills and talents. So when Kim asked us to name aspects of our business that we doubted or felt insecure and everyone in that very full conference room was raising their hand and voicing the same concerns I have felt for years…let’s just say it was a little eye-opening. I tend to compare my insides to everyone else’s outsides and assume that that is an accurate picture of the world. Newflash: It is not. The stark reminder that, oh yeah, everyone else feels that way too, was a relief. (By the way, you can read Kim’s blog post about Craftcation and her class here.)

And really, that’s why I go to Craftcation–the community. Yes, the parties and the food and the beachfront accommodations and the classes are all straight-up amazing, but it’s the great community of supportive and inspiring artists and makers that really makes Craftcation so special and keeps me coming back year after year.

I’m back. I’ve been not writing, because I’ve been in such a funk.

There are times in my life when I exist in a very bleak place. I get very hard on myself. I struggle. And I become convinced that I have nothing of value to give anyone. I make myself get up and go to work, convinced that I will be fired at any minute because I can’t possibly have anything of value to give as an employee. I find myself wanting to skip social engagements because I’m convinced no one wants me there anyway.

And I don’t write, because I’m certain that I have nothing of value to say to anyone. On top of that, getting up to do the bare minimum (that is, work and the minimum of grownup stuff necessary to keep oneself fed, clothed, and moderately clean) is so very much energy that at the end of the day, I don’t have any left to say anything. Even if anyone wanted to hear it, which (in that mood at any rate), I’m convinced that no one does.

I’m grateful every day for the supportive partner I have, who helps me get by in these hard times.

It hasn’t all been lounging around being sad. I have knit. I performed in two concerts. I took an acting class. I started a podcast. I just only did a lot of that stuff at the time because I had committed to other people to do it. I had committed to the singing gigs. I had committed to the class with Ron. I have a podcast partner I didn’t want to let down.

And none of that is a bad thing, because I ultimately want to do these things. It’s just that knowing that someone else is counting on me is what helps me find the energy to keep going. And I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful that there are people in my life who help me remember what I want and hang in there until I feel like I can do things again.

To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m there yet. I’ve been working on so much and I have so much I want to share with you all. I’ll do my best.

Madroña Shawl

What I can do when I feel like myself.

So I’ve been feeling kind of blah the past few weeks. Some of it was because I was sad because of Danny. Some of it was post-Craftcation/post-Stitches let-down. Some of it was just a general bad feeling. I don’t know why, but I was just feeling blah.

I wasn’t running. I was eating lots more ice cream and junk food than normal (I try to be pretty sparing with it). I wasn’t knitting.

When I’m not knitting, I know that it’s gotten really bad.

I’m usually knitting constantly. When I watch TV, on my breaks at work, waiting for my food in a restaurant, at the movies. And I just didn’t feel like it.

This wasn’t a question of none of my projects exciting me. I just didn’t feel like knitting anything.

I thought that going to knit night last week would help, because usually being with my Stitch and Beach group is really inspiring. I see what other people are doing, I touch pretty yarn, and I fall back in love with knitting. But it didn’t help. I picked up my project. I set down my project. I picked it up again, I knit a few stitches, I set it down. I got home and it sat in my bag, unloved, while Ron and I watched Star Trek.

When I get into moods like these, there is only one thing I can do to pull myself out of them. I have to commit to a bunch more stuff. It seems counter-intuitive. I’m already feeling blah and overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t done. But somehow, by saying yes to a ton of commitments, I manage to jumpstart my dead emotional battery and then I’m energized again.

So, I signed up for a 5k and started a bootcamp class to get myself really motivated to run. I signed up for an acting class. I committed to a couple of singing gigs. And then I waited for it all to start working.

It took some time. I started to get scared and overwhelmed, but also a little excited at all the new projects I had in my life. And then last night, it finally happened. I went to knit night, and I knit, and I loved it. I was a focused knitting machine.

I got a lot of knitting done on my Madroña Shawl, and I enjoyed it. It was a good feeling. And then I came home and went for a run. And knit some more.

I’ve always found it funny that my method of overloading myself with commitments so I have no choice but to rise to the occasion is what always make me feel better. Now I just have to get through the next couple of weeks without collapsing! But it’s better (for me) to be too busy, rather than not have enough to do.

What about you? What do you do to chase away the blahs and feel like yourself again?

Craftcation Goal Board

I have more than one goal on this board.

I just returned from the absolutely amazing Craftcation Conference, a conference geared towards owners of small craft businesses. It’s really amazing and inspiring. I went last year and it was fantastic, and this year was even better. The conference is full of the most inspiring, genuine, and generous people who are so willing to share their expertise. The teachers are fantastic, but I also learned so much just from getting to talk to other attendees.

I sometimes get really shy about networking and talking about what I do and what I want to do. Last year, I think I had a lot of trouble networking. I came out of Craftcation feeling really energized, but not really focused, and without anyone to reach out to for help. This year, however, I really pushed myself, and consequently, I got so much more out of it! I learned so much, both about running a craft business and crafting in general.

1. I learned how to make a needle-felted sheep. I remembered that I really like needle-felting, and I should do it more.

A needle-felted sheep from Craftcation

Cuteness abounded in the needle-felting class with Angharad Jones.

2. I learned how to sew a polka dot clutch bag, with a lining and a zipper!

Polka Dot Clutch Bag from Craftcation

I love this aesthetic. Thanks, Mimi G!

3. I learned that I can’t sew jersey. Yet. (That was a challenging class for me. I’m now determined to work on it.)

This was supposed to be a shirt

Despite the best efforts of Nicole Blum and helpers from Bernina, I could not get the hang of this.

4. In that same disastrous sewing class, I learned that rotary cutters are sharp! (No picture here, because you don’t really want to see my cut, right? But don’t worry, there’s no permanent damage.)

5. I learned that thyme is actually an excellent flavoring in ice cream.

Eggs and Thyme really do make good ice cream!  I promise.  Craftcation taught me so!

Ingredients from my ice cream class with Nicole Stevenson and Seth Stanton.

6. I learned so much about SEO, wordpress, branding, pattern-writing, next business steps to take, and publishing, you would not believe it. I attended several classes about running a craft business, and they were great. I feel much more focused and less stupid than last year.

Notes from Craftcation

I took these notes in one of Sé Reed’s classes. I also got lots more great information in classes and panels with Tiffany Han, Steph Calvert, Melanie Falick, Kari Chapin, Kayte Terry, Lisa Tauber, Megan Anderson (Radmegan), Rosalie Gale, Cathy Callahan, Anne Kuo Likito, and Sarah James.

7. I learned that a run on the beach is a really awesome end to the day.

The view at Craftcation is amazing!

This was my view like all the time!

8. I learned that embracing my weird is the best way to be happy. People think I’m funny and smart and that I have good ideas, just the way I am. Right now. This is really hard for me, because I have spent so much time around toxic, toxic people who delighted in being awful to me. In fact part of the reason I started this blog was to help me remember what I love and what makes me happy.

I’m so very, very excited about the coming year. Things are afoot. I know what makes me happy and now I just need to pursue it with all of my heart. But I’m going to set aside a portion of time every day to work on my craft, my business, and what makes me happy.

And, to be honest, you should to. What makes you happy? What do you wish you had more time for? Will you commit to spending some time being happy, doing what you love, every day? Tell me in the comments!

This is a catch-all post, wherein I will (finally!) tie up all the Liebster Award loose ends and share some good news.

So it took a couple of weeks, but I finally have my Liebster nominees! They are just a sampling of the small blogs I read, but all three of them are bloggers I appreciate and enjoy immensely. Go check them out!

In no particular order, I nominate

1. Jasmin of Better Than Yarn
2. Meg of Knit+Frills+Food=Love
3. Caitlin of All She Wants to Do Is Knit

Each blogger must post 11 random facts about themselves, nominate three to five other non-mainstream blogs that they appreciate, and they must respond to the following eleven questions (I use must here loosely. They must if they want to play and keep the recognition chain going):

1. What is your absolute favorite thing you’ve ever created?
2. Chocolate or vanilla?
3. Describe your ideal day.
4. What inspires you most?
5. How do you de-stress?
6. If you could give advice to yourself ten years ago, what would you say?
7. Which weight of yarn is your favorite?
8. What do you wish you could do that you currently can’t do?
9. What are your top five favorite movies?
10. What is your favorite kind of cake?
11. If you had to commit to one knitwear designer and could only knit his or her patterns for the rest of your life (no patterns designed by anyone else, EVER), which one would you pick?

And now, to finish up my Liebster experience, here are eleven random facts about me:

1. I love the ocean. If given my choice, I will never live more than an hour away from the ocean.
2. I always thought I hated running until I learned how to breathe properly. I learned to use my singer training to breathe when I run, and I’m a little ashamed that it took me nearly thirty years of life to figure it out.
3. Speaking of thirty, I am alternately kind of freaking out about and completely apathetic about my upcoming thirtieth birthday.
4. I really, really, really miss being in school. I particularly miss literature classes; I love reading books and discussing them.
5. I don’t wear jewelry or makeup, except my teeny nose stud. (I do wear makeup on stage).
6. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
7. I want to dye my hair pink or black and cherry red. Alas, my job precludes me having cool hair.
8. When I was eleven, I first read the book Contact and it had an inordinate influence on me. I still dream about going back to school to study astronomy. I have a biochemistry degree, so it’s not like it’s a huge career change. I had a subscription to Odyssey Magazine and an itty bitty telescope, that’s how much I loved space back then.
9. Sometimes I really miss the 90’s. I relive them by wearing skirts with Doc Martens.
10. I make awesome polenta. (Also, apparently Firefox spell check does not recognize “polenta” as a word).
11. I love good world building in a video game or science fiction/fantasy series. I will forgive a lot of issues with gameplay, plotting, or characterization if things are taking place in a world that I find fascinating. (I’m a geek and I won’t apologize.)

And finally, a quick tidbit of good news. My Celestarium was chosen to be featured in the Twist Collective March 2013 Newsletter. (Mine is number one in the collage of pictures). It makes me feel really good to be appreciated.

I started this blog in the beginning of 2012 because I wanted to spend more time doing the things I love. I wanted to spend more time focusing on the things that made me happy.

I think I was largely successful in the endeavor. It’s not that 2012 didn’t have it’s challenges, because it really did. The last half of the year was particularly sad and challenging. I lost some people, and that was really hard. I have some ongoing health problems and I had some ups and downs with those.

But 2012 also brought a lot of joy. My beautiful nephew was born. My closest and dearest friendships continue to grow in wonderful ways. I grew so much as an artist and a knitter and an actress. I kept reminding myself that 2012 was going to be about doing what I love, thinking about what I love, and spending time on what I love. It helped, a lot, when life got hard. And I think it worked so well becuase I didn’t really make “resolutions” about changing my behavior. I decided to change my outlook and my attitude, and that worked for me.

I started looking at things I wanted to do or wanted to have and instead of saying “I wish I could,” I did it. Which is how I ended up taking acting classes, doing the shows I did, going to Craftcation, discovering knitting podcasts, learning all kinds of new knitting techniques, and…ummm….acquiring a lot of stash. I’m not super proud of that last one, but I’m not super ashamed of it either. I had never really let myself buy amazing yarn before, and it really does make me feel more inspired to have beautiful yarn to knit with. And I didn’t do anything like go into debt over yarn.

But I’m a little overwhelmed lately. I have a lot of commitments. I spent a lot of time dashing off from one thing to another, with very little space to breathe. I found myself getting impatient when I had to wait, because I felt like “I have things to do, let’s go!” Even if it was waiting for Ron to take pictures of the fall leaves. I think that’s all okay, but the manic pace wore me out.

In 2013, I want to focus on less being more. In 2012, I gave myself permission to do things that I loved. It was great, but it was unfocused. I did a lot of everything. I got a lot of everything. In 2013, I want to give myself permission to be a little more focused. I’m only going to do something or buy something if it’s absolutely impossible to live without. I’m going to focus on using what I do have. I’m going to knit out of my stash, spend more time at home with Ron, work on practicing the things I’ve learned over the year. I spent 2012 sort of filling up the well if you were–getting a lot of the tools and inspiration and skills I need for the future. 2013 is less about that and more about using what I have to the fullest.

That’s not to say I won’t take a class or buy a skein of yarn that makes my heart sing. But I’m being more focused on my long-term goals right now. By doing less, I can do more with what I have. And I can focus on what’s around me, all the people and the beauty that I am so lucky to have in my life. I can let that inspire me in a different way than the manic pace of 2012 did. 2013 is slowing down, and I’m pretty happy about that.

Next Page »