It’s been a minute since I posted anything about my life in this space. And yes, that is on purpose. More or less.
A funny thing happened on the way to middle age. I felt less of a need to put it all out there. I felt a bit more closed off from a public standpoint. I spent more time (and continue to spend more time) looking inward… talking less… observing more.
Not that my blog was ever a tell-all story in the life of a public-memory-keeper-turned-mostly-card-maker. I have always known when to reel it in while also maintaining the semblance of someone who strives to be mostly authentic in the online crafty sphere.
But my children became adults. Their stories are their own. And while I realize my story doesn’t stop there, many, many years of therapy is teaching me the value in working to understand myself, my life and those around me. It takes more effort that I initially had budgeted for it. Imagine that! And that is a good thing.
So here on my blog I haven’t talked much about my personal life but I wanted to update you on the fall of 2020, which is now moving firmly into the winter of the same so-called dumpster fire of a year.
Back in early October I started having wrist issues. This is nothing new for me. When you’ve worked for 30 years pointing and clicking for many hours every day of the week, it’s a thing. But then some new things cropped up. Numbness and tingling all over my body. A sense of full-on panic and dread. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve been a worrier most of my life—but thanks to said years of therapy, I can usually separate what is real from what is neurotic. (Spoiler alert: most of it is neurotic.)
But this was different.
Because of the numbness and tingling, I ended up at urgent care because they don’t mess around with that shit. That visit found me scheduling appointments with neurologist, sports medicine folks and my regular primary care physician.
I was pretty sure this was how I was going to go out.
I blew through our insurance deductible like it was made of air. And when the dust settled, they diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety. As in, the kind that isn’t neurotic. As in, the kind that interferes with daily life.
For me, this was new.
All the other tests came back as normal. But I realize that how I’d been dealing with 2020 (read: work seven days a week), probably wasn’t doing me any favors beyond ensuring that I could still earn an income.
So I had to slow down a little.
I had to get into bed and do nothing.
I had to rest.
And for me, that was really, really weird.
I’m not sure why I haven’t talked about the anxiety on my Instagram Story, but if you follow along there, you have seen a change. Less joy, I’ve heard from folks. You seem different, from others.
I think it’s the stigma that still crops up with mental health. I think there was a part of me that didn’t want to admit I was human and limited.
I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was struggling.
I had one episode of post-partum depression after my son was born. That was in 1999. It was both illuminating and difficult. Since then, it’s been smooth mental sailing. Until now.
If I look at 2020 as a whole, I’m shook by it all. The pandemic for starters. I lost one of my dearest friends suddenly in February. And when George Floyd was killed in the city next to the one I live in… when I opened my eyes to the injustice of what Black people have lived with and continue to live with every single day… I felt no joy knowing that I had lived my life mostly oblivious, living in my little bubble of white privilege.
There is no joy in that. There is a need to understand and learn. And change.
Social media didn’t feel like a place to be frivolous.
Maybe that is too political for folks who have come here to read this update, but if you have followed me for any inkling of time and think that I only care about crafting, you may have missed something along the way.
Then in the fall, my friend and ass-kicking life warrior Collin Kartchner passed away. This man who dedicated his life to first and foremost his family, his faith and then to helping young people across the country get off their phones and connect to real life, was suddenly not here. I was shook. And badly.
I was lucky enough to spend one night with Collin, hosting him for dinner here at my house a few years ago. That man was a force of nature. A force for good. I was struggling with understanding how life is so incredibly far out of our control. I was reminded no one is guaranteed more time here on this planet, though we often live like we do.
Again, social media was the last place I wanted to be beyond the perfunctory sharing of my creations, which do keep my business moving forward.
I also have dear friends who are really struggling right now. I have a family who is working hard to make their own lives as meaningful as possible. There are many balls to juggle and so I have found ways to dial some areas back.
For example, I am not leading a Fit class for 2021. That was a hard decision on some level and an easy one on others. Hard, because of the income loss. Easy, because I needed to pick a few areas to just hit that pause button.
Part of it, too, is when you feel something has run its course. I am nothing if not genuine with class content. I cannot phone things in to save my life. Well, maybe if my life actually depended on it, but I think you know what I mean.
I’m focusing on the joy of the current work I do, as well.
I know there are folks who are bummed that I’m not the scrapbooker that I was. That now, I only seem to make cards. I’m sorry to those who feel let down. But I didn’t expect to find such creative joy in making little canvases and filming the process to share with others.
It literally gave my business a second act and for that I am so grateful.
It gave me a second creative act. And joy.
Again, I can’t phone things in. I think when you make your living in any form of creative expression, people can see through that so quickly. If I’m not feeling the joy of scrapbooking, I can’t fake that I am. It will come around. Or not. But either way, I’m taking it one day at a time.
I’m not sure what 2021 will look like. None of us do, mind you, and I’m fully aware that a flip of the calendar is just that. It’s not some magical page-turn that wipes a slate clean.
But I hope to find new ways to tell my story. I hope to flex a writing muscle every now and then.
Middle age life is rich. It’s hard. It’s mundane. It’s scary. It’s beautiful.
In other words, it’s just life, and I’m grateful for it. Even in a year that most of us would agree has not been the best by a long shot.
Every breath of air in those lungs is a gift. I am going to connect to that, and see what shakes out.
I actually chose the word “connect” for a word to guide my 2021. It isn’t meant to relate to technology per se. And yet, here I am, sharing my story online.
And feeling incredibly vulnerable, but hitting Publish anyway.
Thanks for reading.
*I am deeply appreciative and somewhat overwhelmed at all of the comments. Thank you so much. I will likely not reply to all because typing/wrists. But please know how grateful I am.
Also a few folks have been asking about the sweatshirt. I made it. You can get one here.