Monday, September 12, 2005

Plans Were Made to Change - Right?

After all my fuss last week about discipline and having a plan, I have to say that this weekend, I concluded that the plan wasn't working.

You know how when you put too much food on your plate at a buffet, and you can't eat it all, people say your "eyes were too big for your stomach"? I find myself wondering if there's any way to say the same thing about having ideas too big for your ability to see them through.

I made a good run at the plan to blog daily and focus intensively on given subjects each day. But this weekend, I have been so very, very tired and irritable. I finally sat down with Gryphon to talk about it, and I think I came to at least some inkling of what's wrong.

Ever since we closed the bead store at Easter, we've talked about my "job" being to find a way to make money with my crafting. Since then, I've been going whichever way my crafting urges took me, while keeping my eyes open for opportunity to earn something at it.

In the meantime, though, our financial situation got difficult. Money has at times been tight enough we didn't know if we'd have any for groceries or gasoline. (Things are getting better rapidly, and we've had some help from friends and family, so don't worry - it's going to work out. I'm just touching wood and hoping that we don't get any more surprises to throw things off again.)

Every now and then, we've been able to slide a little money towards crafting supplies. Usually, it's been either money that I actually did earn by selling something - either finished objects, or supplies still remaining from the bead store. On rare occasion, it's been money that came in somehow from outside our budget. Like our tax refund, which we decided to put partly towards household, but which each of us got a small portion of to spend as we wish.

Mind you, we have never put money to such non-essentials at a time when we were strapped for grocery and gas money. The help we've received from family and friends was honestly needed, much appreciated, and made a serious difference in our reality. It's a wonderment to me that so many have come forward to help us, completely unasked. Thank you.

Here's the deal, though, the thing that's given me troublesome thoughts. Even when the money can honestly be said to be available and okay for me to spend on craft supplies, I've been feeling guilty about it. Theoretically, I had a goal - an obligation, even - to make the crafting pay for itself, and not be a burden on the household budget.

What we never did was establish failure/success criteria for that obligation. Every time I asked for a little for crafting supplies, I was starting to feel like I was probably one step closer to a decision that we'd have to say "no". Every day that went by without finding a way to sell something else, I was a little more afraid that crafting was going to have to be cut off for not supporting itself.

Typically, I didn't realize that was the source of my angst, upset, and sleeplessness until I began talking with Gryphon about what was going on with me. But it had that "aha!" factor to it when it came out - that sense that you've hit the right thing.

I've been upset because I was afraid I wasn't making good enough progress, fast enough, with making my crafting a paying concern. Never mind that we never established that certain conditions meant "failure". That just meant that, instead of knowing that I was this far from the cliff's edge for certain, I was actually walking towards the cliff in a fog and having to panic that any step might be the one to send me plunging over the edge.

The strenous plan I came up with last week was an attempt to discipline myself towards working consistent, regular, work-a-day hours towards the "crafting as paying job" goal. And already, it was starting to kill me. I've been tossing and turning at night. My hands have been hurting from such long hours of knitting and beading. I've had to struggle some days to find something to say on some of the blogs that I said I'd update daily, while others that I promised daily have been suffering because I didn't have the time to do justice to the longer posts I wanted to make.

Gryphon was concerned about what I've been going through, and agreed that we needed to modify my expectations - as well as spell them out better. So, we've lifted the concern that I have to make the crafting pay for itself by any given date. It's still a desirable goal, and I'll be watching for opportunity where it happens, but it's no longer meant to feel like a requirement - or, if it doesn't happen, a failure.

My crafting is still considered a valuable contribution to our household. I can make a certain amount of garments for us to use, and household items such as dishcloths and rugs (which we actually need). And I can make better quality, more personal gifts for family and friends than we could ever afford otherwise. As we improve the budget, we'll try to create a consistent, predictable allowance for me to use for these purposes.

As to my blogging - I may eventually re-consider the full list of blogs I'm maintaining, but not right now. I will be lifting the obligation to update any blog daily. Fiber Crafts still stands a good chance of daily updates, since knitting is the dominant craft at the moment. But others among my blogs, I probably can't promise more than once a week. With an understanding, of course, that that's a minimum - not a limit.

I hope that this will help me to be more relaxed and able to focus on what I do. I sincerely hope that it helps me to write better, more interesting to read blogs.

I do know that I feel relieved to have taken the pressure off.

Thanks, as always, for being here to listen.


At Mon Sep 12, 11:17:33 PM, leesepea said...

One of my favorite movies is an independent film called "Kicking and Screaming." In it, Eric Stoltz, who I've always felt is quite dreamy, plays a bartender who has been in college for something like eight years (changing his major several times and not once earnind a degree), and he tells a recent graduate the following joke:

Q: How do you make God laugh?
A: Make a plan.

Now, I'm saying I'm of a religious mind, but it did make me laugh.

My point? Just breathe.

If you're not enjoying your crafting, it's time to work on something else. If it's causing you stress and physical pain, divert your attention for awhile.

Things will work out for themselves.

They usually do.


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