Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Too Much of a Good Thing

Sorry for the long absence.  Part of the reason was because of a bunch of doctors appointments.  A few weeks ago, I had a medical procedure and was under doctor's orders to spend 24 hours recovering at home.  No work, no responsibilities, nothing.  The post-care instructions warned that I shouldn't even "make important decisions or sign anything."  Naturally, I was overjoyed that I had 24 hours in which nothing could separate me from knitting and embroidery except some drowsiness in the beginning.  The next day, I spent several hours crafting to my heart's content.  I made so much progress on my "in-between" project, which I have been working on in between releases of the Once Upon a Time squares and Mysterious Halloween Town clues.  I ended the day happy that I made so much progress.

The day after, I got on the bus to work and brought my knitting bag.  I've been dabbling with knitting on the bus so that I have more time at home to embroider.  I took out the scarf I am making for the public library's craft bazaar and started knitting a row.

OH CRAP.

Pain shot through my back, neck, and upper arm.  I was having a muscle spasm again, one that made it painful for me to ride the bus.  I ended up not getting any work done that day because the pain was so debilitating.  The pain lasted for several days.  So much for progress.

It was entirely my fault.  That's what happens when I sit and craft for long periods of time without breaks to stretch or stand.  I haven't found a way to fix the ergonomics of how I sit to avoid it, but I should still remember to take a break about every 20 minutes.

During this time, I had to fight the urge to pick up a project.  My annoyance and anger at not being able to do my hobbies was almost as bad as the muscle pain itself.  I just want to knit a scarf--is that too much to ask?  This was one of those times when I feel like working on craft projects crossed over from pleasant hobby to obsession.  I threw myself into it so thoroughly that it actually resulted in bad physical consequences (other than the occasional pricked finger.)

I had an epiphany related to this over the summer.  While I have a lot to be thankful for, there are also areas of my life that are disappointing.  My progress has stalled.  There are times when I put in so much work, only to receive no positive results.

When I learned embroidery, it felt like a beacon of hope in the midst of all that disappointment.  I realized that it is the only area of my life where I have complete control.  I decide the materials that go into it, and what the final outcome will be.  The progression of my skills is obvious, and gives me pride in my improvement.  When I complete a project, I feel a sense of satisfaction that is not reliant on having other people approve my work.  And yet, people love my work!  Through this new interest, I have tapped into a wonderful community of friends that accept me as I am while encouraging me to set new goals.

With so many positives, it is easy to see why I have thrown myself into crafting--why I now consider it to be a part of my identity instead of one hobby among many.  And yet, I also realize that there can be too much of a good thing.  During a frustrating meeting, it's easy for my mind to wander into "I'd rather be stitching" territory, but I can't give in to the urge to withdraw to my craft corner.

I can embroider to relax after a busy day, but not to retreat from a challenging day.
I can embroider for enjoyment, but not to avoid trying new endeavors--even if those endeavors end up not turning out the way I want.
I can embroider to sooth my anxiety, but not to distract myself when I genuinely need to see a therapist.

I need to maintain a sense of balance.  One area that I can start work on is in my crafting supplies.  I realized that part of the reason I feel so much pressure to craft long hours is because I have amassed a large number of patterns.  I felt guilty about the number of patterns I have in my "craft queue" and thought that I needed to work as much as I could in order to get through them all.

Next week, I will talk about my plan to eliminate this source of pressure--by going on a "supply diet."

2 comments:

  1. I can identify with this post- I have many of the same balance issues with writing. Regardless, it is so much better to have the creative outlet than to not.

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  2. It's really hard to figure out when something 'virtuous' has become a vice. Especially because virtue, self-care, selflessness, pride, et cetera all tangle up. I do this some in video games, which is at least not selfless, and for much the same reasons.

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