Sunday, November 29, 2009

How Creative People Survive the Holidays

While Christmas is looming around the corner, I would urge you to do one thing that will make your holiday season better all the way around. Don't sew anything for anyone that you don't truly in your heart want to do. We are all pretty guilty of this and are oft well known for burning the midnight oil to finish up those projects in time for gifts. I look back on family photos from Christmases past and see the kids in nice hand sewn clothes, and I have bags under my eyes from trying to get them sewn in time to get the cards out in the mail before Christmas. Crazy. For sure! However, over the weekend, Therese was going through the trunk of little dresses and suits that I'd made over the years for our children. Listening to her delight over her favorites and tell me how much she loved this one and that and how she remembered family events and how special she felt wearing her new clothes...well, I think it probably wasn't so crazy after all. That the kids loved the feel of new clothes that were handmade gave me a lot of joy. I clearly remember being happy the whole time I was sewing for them. They would check on the progress of their things.

I now think it wasn't the sewing for the kids that sent me over the edge but rather all the things I tried to sew for everyone else. A family friend often had me making curtains for her home. After the third bedroom, I tried to let her know that it was really hard for me to do this with my young children and asked if she could just order the curtains from the Penney's catalog that she had me working from to redesign her curtains. She was indignant and told me that she would think I would have wanted to earn the money being I have a big family. Little did she know, I charged just a pittance because I was doing more of a favor for her since she wanted to save money from buying them in the catalog. I was charging her less than she could order them. Boy, that was a lesson quickly learned. (On top of that, I never remember telling her I needed the money because I had a big family, her assumption was in error.) What I "lost" in earnings was gained in wisdom that has served me well for a long time.

I clearly remember when I stopped trying to sew for everyone and do everything at Christmas time. It really hasn't anything to do with age or ability but is the stuff that I pass on to our children and anyone who will hear. The holidays are no longer stressful to me because I reduced my stress level by making a conscious choice to better care for myself. I love the holidays because I do what I want, create what I want and ignore the rest.

Following are the key elements to surviving the holidays with less stress:
1. Before starting any creative projects, put away all the distractions from your creating space.
2. Set out all the things you would LIKE to get done for the holidays.
3. Be fair to yourself in time evaluation for sewing.
4. Prioritize what would most make YOU HAPPY to get done.
5. As you sew, think about the person you are sewing for. This is the gift to YOU.
6. Savor every moment of sewing.
7. Change up your routine of when you "allow" yourself to sew. Let yourself sew at unconventional times to reduce stress.
8. Plan to wrap up some of the patterns and fabrics without finishing them
9. Plan to not finish things you aren't inspired to finish.
10. Be kind to yourself.
11. The moment you get anxious about getting it all done, set it aside. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and look at Christmas lights.
12. Don't hinge your happiness on finishing EVERYTHING.
13. Listen to Christmas music if you want or listen to the Stillness if you need.

If you forget these lessons, keep coming back the next couple of weeks. I will be your sewing cheerleader and remind you of what you are trying to accomplish.

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