I’m distracted this week.
Okay, so I’m always distracted (Kirk would be happy to verify that, I’m sure). In fact, by the time I’ve finished this post, I will probably have stopped and come back to it no fewer than a dozen times. It’s kind of how I work.
A friend asked me to do a project class for an amazing local organization (Phoenix Sisters if you’re curious). I used to be a consultant with a craft-related company, and she and I had done a project party together a little over a year ago… She’s a consultant for a coffee company, so we did a coffee and crafts afternoon-- it was a blast!
But this organization has an amazing space downtown. They’ve got space for vendors (artists, crafters and direct sales folks alike), quiet corners for nursing/pumping (and hopefully for future use by massage therapists, talk therapists and other wellness specialty practitioners), and space for classes and other events.
So Sunday, we’re making wall art. It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to do much of anything crafty. But I’ve been pulling out my supplies and thinking through options… and I’m excited! In looking for ideas of things to have on hand to give folks options, I’m finding more inspiration and getting ideas for more projects. It feels good.
This is one of those things that has always been enjoyable for me… It gives me an outlet for the creative part of my brain (which doesn’t really get much exercise in my day job), and helps me recharge my batteries. I just wish I was more consistent in letting myself take the time to do more crafts. Admittedly, I’m a girl without a super long attention span, so I start a lot of things that I lose interest in. But over time, I’ve learned to choose projects based on what I realistically can do.
I feel like having an outlet is important-- especially for parents. We get so used to putting our families first that we don’t always take the time to give ourselves what we need. Hobbies and interests are one way that we can distract ourselves from the day to day operations that so often consume us. They give us a chance to turn off the overworked parts of our brains and relax with something we enjoy. They’re good for our stress levels (and our health as a result), and they give us an excuse to take a well-deserved break.
Now, obviously not everyone is a maker… Kirk, for example, is a collector. I would tell you all about the cool things he collects but a) He’d do a better job of that himself, b) I’m not really a collector, so I’m sure I wouldn’t do the collections justice, and c) I’ll probably get something wrong and then have to write some kind of correction that I may or may not understand the finer points of… But as he collects, he scours flea markets, estate sales, antique stores, Facebook, Craig’s List and even curbs (go ahead and ask him about his Pepsi sign…) I’m fairly sure the thrill of the hunt is what he’s in it for.
He enjoys collecting. And I love to see how excited and happy it makes him. But there are times where he’s been planning to go to a flea market out of town and he starts questioning whether or not he should take the time away to go (we’re not talking days or weeks away-- we’re talking hours). His to do list seems large (and maybe overwhelming), and the thought of not working towards crossing things off of it can feel irresponsible and lead to guilt. Sometimes I practically have to lock him out with an, “Okay, Dad! Bye! Have fun!”
We get so focused on the things we need to be responsible for in life that we forget we’re also responsible for our own enjoyment of life. Let’s face it-- no one is going to force me to do something I enjoy. We live in a culture that tells us work is mandatory and play is optional. But I would make the argument that play is also required.
Without play, we wouldn’t learn new skills or acquire new information or grow our imaginations (which is where innovation comes from-- this isn’t just kids’ stuff). Plus, let’s not forget the stress relief I already mentioned (Hello lower blood pressure!!). And like I said, play (interests, hobbies and all the other fun stuff) doesn’t look the same for everyone. Maybe you prefer crafting or collecting… Or maybe sports, movies, time with friends, or reading are more your speed. Heck, I would argue that taking a nice drive or visiting every clearance end cap in your local Target store can fall into this category.
I guess it really comes down to self-care. It doesn’t have to be bubble baths and face masks to be good for your mind and body. Though honestly I feel like seeing Kirk in a face mask would definitely bring a smile to my face (it’ll never happen, but if it ever does you’d better believe I’ll share photos with you guys…)
If true crime and hot cocoa are what make you feel a little closer to whole again, do it. If sifting through records at a local thrift store is your jam, indulge in it. Or if you do prefer a bubble bath, soak it in! (See what I did there? Of course you did.)
I’m not saying that you should shirk your responsibilities in favor of the frivolous, but I am reminding you not to forget your responsibility to yourself. If you want to give your family what they need, sometimes you need to give yourself what you need. For most families, when one person is hurting everyone is affected.
And yes, I’m a huge hypocrite for even writing this, but I’m learning to try harder. I’m trying to make an effort to do more of what I love-- even if it’s just watching an extra episode of Bob’s Burgers when I’m too tired to do anything else or dancing in the kitchen while I cook. Or maybe I just needed to write this as a reminder to myself that it matters.
If you need me, I’ll be the one burning my fingers on the hot glue gun, trying to clean dried paint out of my brushes and swearing at my die cutter when I forget to switch the machine to the right blade setting. Or maybe I’ll just be weirding out the neighbors with my kitchen dancing--I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time.