The last month or so has been a stressful time for me. In addition to being very busy at work, I’ve been dealing with a difficult colleague. M got suspended for 3 days for fighting with another child (he didn’t stop when asked and then kicked a teacher). In addition to her on-going health challenges, my mother had an early morning visit to the Emergency Room a couple of weeks ago (she’s ok). I was co-coordinating the school’s annual plant sale, which is lots of fun, but takes of a fair amount of time and energy in the weeks leading up to it. And to top it off, the weather (cold and wet) has kept me off my bike this spring more than I’ve been on it (I’ve been a bit wimpy about riding in the rain).
In short, I was dragging myself through the day and coming home and collapsing. The fact that our home team made it into the second round of the NHL playoffs gave me something to do in the evenings, as well as an excuse not to do other things – M, his dad and I usually watched the games together, so I could at least tell myself it was family time. I wasn’t even keeping up with my personal emails and reading my favourite blogs.
I wasn’t depressed; just tired and feeling a bit overwhelmed. I wasn’t doing much that I really enjoyed. But as I’ve learned over the years, the universe has a way of reminding me to stop spending so much time in my own head (the mental equivalent of looking for belly button lint).
In this instance, my cosmic kick in the butt occurred when I read about the death of Kathreen Ricketson. She wrote Whip Up, a great craft/idea blog. Kathreen and her family were on a trip into the Australian outback – she was writing a book about their experiences, and she and her husband accidentally drowned. They had two children, relatively close in age to M.
I didn’t know Kathreen personally. But Whip Up was one of the first “crafty mom” blogs I followed. For at least a year, “Whip Up” was on my daily list of must-reads. Even though I’d stopped following Whip Up as regularly in recent months, I was always struck by struck by Kathreen’s thoughtfulness and her creativity. To my mind, it takes a lot of gumption and spirit to pack up your family and travel around the country for a year.
When one of my neighbours was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago, I decided to focus on taking action, rather than just thinking about it. I started this blog a few weeks later. I completed a number of jewelry projects, made lots of cards, started knitting again and even took sewing lessons. I still spent time mentally gazing at my belly button (it’s part of my personality), but I felt like I was moving forward, instead of standing still. Doing dishes, folding laundry and grocery shopping require a modicum of energy, but they don’t do much in terms of nourishing my inner self.
I’d gotten lazy. I’ve got several half-finished projects lying around the house. My craft cave (the basement) is a disaster and it’s impossible to find anything. The lack of regular exercise didn’t help my mood. The terrible events surrounding Kathreen and her family reminded me that we just never know what’s going to happen. And pushing myself out of the house everyday and feeling like I hadn’t achieved anything at the end of the week (or weekend) wasn’t a healthy or productive way to live my life.
I’m not likely to chuck my job and move to Paris (a woman can dream), but in the last couple of weeks, I’ve made a concerted effort to do at least one thing a day that bring me pleasure. I’m back riding my bike to work on a regular basis. I’ve been spending time in the garden. I committed to making a piece of jewelry as a gift for one of the staff members at M’s school. I’m working on ideas for my nieces’ graduation cards, as well as a class thank you card for M’s teacher. I’m even contemplating submitting a bracelet design to a magazine (still on the fence about this one). At work, I’m focusing on what I get done, rather than what’s still on my to-do list at the end of the day. M and I went garage-sale shopping last weekend and we may do the same this weekend.
Baby steps. Even though I have a tendency to dwell on the worst-case scenario, I’m not spending my time worrying about the fact that something dreadful could happen. But life is a gift and I’m working hard to treasure it every day.