Two weeks ago I posted about being overwhelmed and drawing in a bit and focusing on what we need in order to be healthy and stress free. It was not to say so much “everything should be about me” so much as “I need to get healthy so I can be well”. On the flip side of that, well, maybe not flip, but another side of this issue is giving to others. That is important too. And I think the desire and joy of helping others can be addictive in someways and that’s part of the reason it’s so easy to over commit. We want to help others. It makes us feel good. It’s exhilarating and people appreciate you for it. And who doesn’t like to feel appreciated and like they are contributing to a greater cause? We can’t help ourselves, it’s in our nature.
It’s kind of along the lines of help yourself so you can help others. Seriously, it’s true. And it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. Getting to a good place in your life so you can truly be helpful to others takes time, commitment, and often involves a lot of emotional growing pains. And yep, you guessed it, I’m still growing. I’m hoping at the rate I’m going I’ll be the most calm, centered, helpful person I can be…. at some point before I die. It is important to keep striving for it.
This past month of gone through a purging of sorts and have cut out a lot of extra projects – from swaps to volunteer work to even reducing thrift kitchen to a once a week feature on kro studio instead of it’s own separate blog. But all that has lead to a much higher quality of living – i.e. less stress – and the ability to really focus and devote myself to the things I love – Craft Leftovers and Ames C.art. By not trying to “do it all” I am now able to do what I really love. I feel like I’m using my strengths to help others in the community utilize their strengths. Be it my local central Iowa community or the online crafting community.
At first I did struggle with letting go of volunteer work, until I realiezed that I was volunteering my time to a lot of causes in my own way – hosting free sewing workshops twice a month, free tutorials and how to’s and inspirations for using up leftovers here on Craft Leftovers. And now with ames c.art even more volunteer time is being clocked. Hosting a community arts calendar, coordinating free workshops, reporting on local art and music events, participating and sponsoring local groups. But all that couldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have made the decision to let other things go.
Every time you take on a new project when your plate is full, you have to let a few things fall off. Now the big difference is whether you take those things off by choice or just let them smash to the floor. I’m happy to say that for me, it was a pro-active process where I decided to trade up a few smaller projects and commitments for the larger project of Ames C.art. Nothing smashed to the floor this time and that IS progress. No nervous break down, no fits of tears, no feeling of letting people down. Just straight up realizing that if I want to do D I need to stop doing A, B, and C. And then taking steps to bow out gracefully in a respectful way.
I came across this article on Zen Habits the other night and it really made me think about how getting too self centered can be bad and giving it all away isn’t good either. Finding balance is key and just like everything else in life, moderation is everything. In the article Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind gives a few key ways you can give to others that won’t “cost” much, but reward big. And a lot of them will actually help you to find peace with yourself as well as others.
Anyway, just some thoughts I wanted to share with you. It seems like a lot of us are in the same creative flow that can leave us over-extracted and tapped out if we don’t watch out. What do you do when you are feeling stretched? How do you bring balance back to your life? How do you give to others?
Crafty goodness will be coming at you tomorrow. I have a lot of fun things to show and tell :)
Best wishes and happy crafting!
ps – make sure to check out Craft Leftovers Monthly on ArtFire (no account required) or Etsy, it’s just on sale until 2pm tomorrow. It’s a really fun issue and the kit is wonderful – how to bind your own sketch book with all the supplies to make your own! And then of course the zine is really good too! I mean, it has to be, it’s on drawing and that is my favorite thing.