Hey You! Be Gentler With Yourself!

I have to confess, I spend more time chatting with my online friends than I do face-to-face interactions. I think part of it is that I can chat with them any time, yet continue to work. I like that. I really do enjoy being productive. Heck, when I meditate and collect my thoughts, 99% of the time my spinning wheel is involved. When I was going through my Christmas rush, I put in an average of 14-18 hour days. I would unwind and reward myself by working on a project that I wanted to work on (which often meant I just ended up working on more orders LOL)

I do have some issue though, recognizing just how productive I am. I think it goes back to when I was in an abusive relationship. My partner was constantly putting me down, claiming that I did nothing. I mean, working 40+ hours a week at a factory job wasn’t enough. I wasn’t entitled to sit down and stitch to relax. Even when I was “relaxing”, I was doing something productive. But not according to this person. This has been an ongoing struggle for me. I am trying VERY hard to break this cycle of thinking, but when you hear something constantly for a few years, you start to believe it. Apparently I’m not alone here.

It wasn’t until a friend of mine threatened to reach through the phone and smack me upside the head that made me realize just how productive I am. I confessed to her that I didn’t feel I had done anything that week. She told me to take a look at what I had posted on my Facebook profile. There were at least 4 hats in the last couple of days that I had made. Those are just the ones I had posted too. A light came on. She told me I was being too hard on myself. After she had pointed these things out, I realized that she was right.

I was chatting with another online friend that thought she was in a bit of a slump too. The last words of her post was that she was going to go work on an item. Ummmm… If you’re making something, it’s still productive! I think she had an “ah-ha” moment when I pointed that out to her and told her what my friend had said as well. I sometimes wonder if we have it set in our minds that we must be working on orders to consider ourselves productive. Here’s a thought though… What are your plans for the item you’re working on that isn’t an order? If you’re anything like me, you’re probably going to sell it, right? I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.

I think many of us are just too hard on ourselves. It may come from the bar that we have set for ourselves, the image that society has of artists/crafters/work-at-home parents or it may come from the critical asshats that we’ve run across in our lives. Or any combination. What is not taken into consideration is that we never leave our workplace (unless we’re fortunate enough to have a studio). Many of us don’t have set hours. We work around the clock just to make ends meet. And we’re certainly not paid a decent hourly wage for our work. Heck, if I was paid factory wages for the work I put in to get Christmas orders out, nobody would be able to afford my work!

We don’t get overtime. We don’t get benefits. Paid vacations. Promotions. So why do we do this? We all have our own reasons. To stay at home with our children. To prove something to ourselves. To say “bite me” to those who say we do nothing. To have items to barter with rather than use cash. I think many will agree that it’s for the love of what we do.

Sometimes you just need to take a break too. If you’ve been working non-stop, sometimes you just need to back away. If you were working a “regular” job, you would get vacation time and days off, right? So why is it not acceptable to take some time to yourself when you’re following your dreams? That time could include working on items that you’ve been wanting to work on, but just didn’t take the time. A favorite of mine is working with bright, vibrant colours. Whatever speaks to you. And if you feel like just flaking out on the couch, then do it!

The next time you feel that you haven’t been productive, take a look at what’s in your hand. I will bet you anything that you are holding something related to your work! It doesn’t matter if you need to take a break from orders. And guess what? If you’ve made something for yourself, it’s still productive. How many times have you wore something out the door to the store and got a sale from it? I bet it’s happened more than you realize!

Be gentle with yourself. Take a step back and look at all you HAVE done. I bet you will be surprised just as I was. And if you haven’t done much in the last little while, be gentle with yourself. When was the last time you took a vacation?

Yeah,that’s what I thought. Be gentle with yourself!

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