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Why I Craft: A DIY approach to getting through the hard stuff

Creativity is in my blood. My mother was a seamstress who made the majority of my clothes, and I have fond memories of my grandmother knitting whenever she came to visit. I was enchanted by their abilities and would often mimic their imaginativeness when playing dress up, decoupaging journals, and turning pressed flowers into bookmarks. Creativity was not just tolerated but encouraged in my family, and it carried me throughout my life.

When a lot of my friends were leaving their childhood toys behind, my creativity was beginning to blossom. I was the artsy kid in high school and in my free time I dabbled in craft projects of all kinds. Once I entered college, I became a scrapbooking queen. When my friends starting having babies, I started knitting. Though it was always in the background, something I did for fun, I never expected how important crafting would become for me.

A few years ago, at what I thought was the jumping-off point of my career, I was unexpectedly laid off from my job. It was the beginning of the recession. Although I had watched layoffs happen to colleagues and friends before me, I never dreamed it could happen to me. All of a sudden, the young woman who had always excelled was without a job. I felt completely helpless. In the grand scheme of things, I realize now that losing my job was not, as I had thought, the worst-case scenario – at the time, however, it was devastating.

After the initial shock wore off, I decided to “take advantage” of the situation (no more 9-to-5 schedule) and go back to school full time to get my master’s degree. I enjoyed it just fine and did well in my classes but I was left with a lot of empty time to fill during the day while my husband and friends were at work. We only had one car at the time so I was literally stuck in the house, and I found myself feeling pretty blue. I needed a distraction, and my creativity came to the forefront once again. Inspired by magazines and websites, I decided to begin my own craft blog, Ready, Set, Craft.

I figured my family and friends would charitably read it. If anything, I told myself, sharing my crafts online would fill the void that would usually have been taken up by work. I blogged several times a week and at some points daily. Almost immediately, I started connecting with other craft bloggers. I read their daily posts and commented on their projects, and they responded with warmth and kindness. I made friends with moms, daughters, grandmothers, new moms, retirees, entrepreneurs, and even a few guys (hey, it’s totally cool for men to get in touch with their crafty selves – check out DUDECRAFT for proof). I became part of a community and I felt encouraged. It wasn’t just about the crafting anymore: it was about the relationships. These “strangers” taught me to value creativity even more than I did before. As I focused all my extra attention on the beauty of handmade objects and the people who made them, my funk began to lift, and eventually, so did my luck.

While nearing the end of school, I was offered a job seemingly out of the blue. I quickly got onto an accelerated management path and was flourishing in a career that I loved far more than any other job I’d ever had. And as fate would have it, blogging fell by the wayside. There were new responsibilities, new priorities, and new relationships to focus on.

Though it hasn’t been updated in over a year, Ready, Set, Craft is still live. It’s a reminder that what we think is the worst-case scenario often isn’t, and that hope can be found in unexpected places. When I needed it the most, I tapped into the creativity that was instilled in me as a child, and it helped me get through a tough time in my life to get to where I am today. I like to think I’ll go back to my blog someday, but for now I take comfort just knowing that it’s there.

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