Self Care for Makers During the Busy Holiday Season

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I hope you won’t hate me when I tell you this…I don’t really like Christmas. The season feels like a pine scented F-5 tornado spewing candy canes and blinking lights all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas decor, holiday food, and candlelight church services. Did I mention cookies? I really really love Christmas cookies! What I don’t like are the expectations, the pressures, and the additional obligations that have become synonymous with this time of the year.

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This is my first holiday season as a maker and I am finding myself more stressed than in previous years, which I didn’t think was humanly possible.  I haven’t met the goals I made for myself (which I wrote about here  Trying not to be a Discouraged Maker this Holiday Season.) But recently the term “self care” has been coming at me from multiple directions and I’ve decided I better listen. In the past I thought that making myself a priority was selfish or something that should be addressed when everything else was done. I can hear Dr. Phil in the background yelling in his Texas drawl,

“How’s that working for ya?”

And to be perfectly honest, it isn’t working for me. The time to include some self care into my routine is vital, not only to my happiness, but to my productivity as well. I have a feeling you are the same way! Once this revelation really sunk in I began thinking about what fills me up, what energizes me and I created a list. Your’s may be completely different but my hope is that by sharing mine you might be inspired to think of ways you can care for yourself in a more mindful and purposeful way! And maybe, just maybe, it will help make this a more meaningful holiday season.

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  1. Getting outside – I find that getting some fresh air by either working in my yard or walking around my neighborhood helps clear my mind. Connecting with the outdoors for even just a half an hour does me a great deal of good.
  2. Cleaning my house – I have found that the dirtier my house is the worse I feel mentally. Even just spending a short time decluttering helps relieve my stressful thoughts.
  3. Staying off social media – Fasting from Facebook and Instagram for short periods of time really improves my outlook! I love social media and I have made so many wonderful connections but there are times that I need a little break.
  4. Spending time with family – playing board games or watching a movie all together gives me such a feeling of togetherness that helps me connect and remember what is really important to me.
  5. Work on a project that isn’t for the Etsy shop – knitting or embroidering something that is just for my enjoyment gives me a spark of creative energy.
  6. Yoga – I practiced yoga every single day in the year 2017 and it helped me get through a very difficult time (which you can read about here: Why I started crocheting and you should too!) I absolutely adore Yoga with Adriene and find that spending some time on the mat brings calmness into my mind and body.
  7. Reading a good book – There are very few things in life as enjoyable as a great book. I am currently reading a biography of Julia Child and listening to the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Gailbraith (aka J.K. Rowling).
  8. Lighting a candle – it is surprising how such a small thing can bring me a little brightness and light, literally and figuratively.
  9. Watching mindless TV – sometimes the very best thing for my mood is a little mindless fluff! Letting my brain turn off for an hour or so recharges my batteries and laughter truly is good medicine.

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Trying not to be a Discouraged Maker this Holiday Season

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I’m trying not to be a discouraged maker this holiday season.

I read this blog post from the amazing Danielle at The Merriweather Council about staying sane as a maker during this hectic time of year. It totally resonated with me and I have a feeling that others will relate. Recently I have been comparing myself to the success I see in others and it can really pull the brakes on the momentum I have going on. Instead of focusing on what I have on my plate, I’ve been busy looking at everyone else’s and feeling quite sorry for myself.

I think I have split personality syndrome. On one side I am very creative, messy, and chill. Let’s call her Diana. Diana is fun and spontaneous. She doesn’t stick to a menu plan. She throws caution to the wind and tells the kids to get in the minivan because we’re heading to Chick-fil-A for dinner! Yeah, baby! My other side is organized, on time, and if I’m honest, a little intense. Let’s call her Karen. Karen never ever deviates from the plan. If Tuesdays are for tacos, then tacos will be had! Diana and Karen must not get along well because only one of them is in control of me at any given moment. If Diana is in control then my house looks like an episode right out of Hoarders but I’m happily crocheting amigurumi and can laugh off the chaos. If Karen is in charge then my house is tidy, we are on time and I get shit done.

Diana has definitely been in charge as of late and I have been in a super creative space. But because of that the holidays have snuck up on me and I’m not as prepared for them as I would like to be as a maker. Once I realized that it was only a few short weeks until Christmas, Karen pushed Diana out of the way and said she was taking over.

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Karen made a schedule so that the Etsy shop will be in full swing for the holidays. She put the Etsy shop on vacation mode and set the date to reopen on December 7th, plenty of time to ship everything before Christmas.

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The problem is that since Diana has been in charge for quite some time now, I’m not as prepared as I wish I could be. I am going to miss out on a big opportunity that presented itself  because I couldn’t be ready in time to take part in it. An awesome local antique mall (the largest in the southeast US) contacted me and offered me a table at their holiday Open House. To be able to stock an entire table I would need to have lots of animals and dolls ready made. Their Open House will welcome thousands of visitors from all over. As of writing this blog post I have a whopping total of two finished. You read that right…two. I can only make one to two animals per week and that’s if my tendonitis doesn’t start acting up (You can read more about that here: Saying Goodbye to my Beloved Cotton Yarn) That was a big huge bummer. A big, huge, fat, hairy, wet bummer. Not a nice visual, huh?

I started to feel super down about my own abilities and limitations. Scrolling through Instagram only made me feel worse when I saw how well planned and organized so many other makers seem to be. They have been preparing for the holiday season for months, while Diana has been over here flitting around in her own head!

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From the Merriweather Council Blog

“If you feel like seemingly everyone else is killing it this weekend – like everyone else has stacks of packages to ship out, orders out their ears, and everything is going just swell for everyone but you – please know that EVERYONE is on their own track. Everyone has to stay in their lane at their pace and experience their own ups and downs whenever they come. And TRUST ME everyone has downs and ups. Everyone.” – Danielle Spurge

This is exactly how I have been feeling. Everyone else is killing it and here I am picking my nose in the corner. But her quote really resonated with me and allowed me to see that I’m on my own track. This is my first holiday season as a maker as an Etsy shopkeeper. I am currently on track to be able to reopen the shop in early December and I am ok with that. Do I wish I had done more? Yes. Do I wish Karen had been in charge instead of Diana for the past few months? Maybe. Diana is definitely way more fun!

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But here I am, the beginning of November, and I’m going to take Danielle’s advice and stay in my lane, quit worrying about how well everyone else seems to be doing, and make some damn cute amigurumi. (Blog post about how you can make amigurumi too: You Can Make Amigurumi: A Tale of Two Walters)

Next season I will be more prepared. I will start focusing on the holiday season beginning in the summer or at the latest September. I would love to do some handmade markets and especially the holiday Open House at the antique mall. That will take planning and I will be depending on Karen to get me there. But I’ll make sure Diana is waiting in the wings with a double margarita and a sombrero in hand when I’ve completed my task.

Are you a Diana, a Karen, or both? Or do you have a completely different persona? I would love to hear about it!