Finding pieces of my old self

It’s kind of ironic that in many ways, I’m returning to some of my interests that I had in Michigan, which have been almost completely buried since I moved down here. That’s actually pretty cool to me because it’s integrating my Michigan-self with my Texas-self, which up until very recently I thought were entirely separate.

I’m finding a renewed interest in sewing and baking and doing crafty stuff and even in knitting. I’m still just as bad as I’ve ever been at knitting in particular and doing so kind of causes the muscles in my arms and hands to spasm a bit and get sore. But I also think it’s good for me, like exercise or physical therapy for my hands and wrists.

We had limited space in the moving truck for what we could bring down with us and there are only a few things I’ve missed. One is the fancy office chair my mother-in-law bought me one year for Christmas. It was really ergonomic and sitting in it all day to work didn’t screw up my neck and back alignment like the setup I have now. I also miss this really pretty table my mother-in-law had given me that was inlaid with some type of rose marble. I don’t even know what the name was for the piece of furniture–I’m sure she told me and I just don’t remember–but it was beautiful, much higher quality than my usual furniture purchases, and most importantly, it was a perfect sewing table.

Which brings me to my third and most profound loss in the move: my extensive collection of fabric, patterns, notions like zippers and elastic, yarn, and bamboo knitting needles. It’s likely a gross understatement to estimate its value at more than $1,000, given that I collected it all over a ten-year period.

We could only fit so much on the moving truck so we cut the things that didn’t seem important. I didn’t think I’d ever be working from home again, so I didn’t see why I needed a fancy office chair. I figured I’d never live in a place again that was big enough for a sewing table so that went too. And I was so focused on wanting to work full-time and become a career woman that I lost my interest in crafty stuff and didn’t see it returning.

Fortunately, I had the foresight to save my sewing machine and my soapmaking supplies. But I have missed the fabric and yarn stash on occasion already and can’t afford to replace what I lost. And now my desire to do crafty stuff has returned in full effect and I wish I had the materials.

I can be kind of a minimalist compared to a lot of people I know and in general I don’t need much “stuff.” Particularly since my MS has gotten worse, having a relatively uncluttered home is a source of peace. But I also sometimes get rid of stuff that I later wish I still had, and nowhere is that more true than in terms of my fabric and craft-supply stash.

I’ll gradually build it back over time, I’m sure. In the meantime, I find it really interesting that I’m getting that desire back to do crafty stuff again.

Even though gardening in Texas is pretty pointless and I don’t really have the stamina or interest in doing all the work of maintaining a garden, I do miss making stuff with fresh produce. My youngest son also misses when I made fresh pickles and wants me to do it again (which also requires more supplies that didn’t make the cut in the move.)

I’m trying to figure out what made these interests come back and the only thing I can think of is that I filed disability. When I did all the crafty stuff before, I also wasn’t focused on trying to work full-time (or find full-time work.) The pursuit of full-time work has been something I’ve really pressured myself to do the whole time I’ve been down here.

When I was working part-time, I was trying to get enough freelance work to supplement it to equal a full-time income. When I was freelancing, I almost never felt like I had enough work, so I was always looking for more.

What I think this means is that knowing that I’m really, for real, pursuing disability and expecting that I’m in the fight to get it for however long it takes has finally freed me to seek balance.

My middle son, who’s a high school senior this year and has always been my special buddy, has been telling me for years that I need to take time to relax. I need to let myself just have fun and do things I enjoy.

From his perspective, I typically only allow myself to work or sleep. That may be a bit of an exaggeration on his part, but he’s right that I have a really hard time relaxing.

Now I’m rediscovering that I do indeed have hobbies. Pursuing those hobbies does make me feel like I’m relaxing — and relaxation is not a bad thing. But interestingly, I had to get sick enough that I was officially backing away from ever working full-time again to be able to let myself have hobbies and to relax.

Maybe having hobbies and relaxing will make me feel like I have found a bit more balance in my life. That might make me a little healthier. Even if it doesn’t make me healthier, it feels right. Like I’m finally going to be okay even if I’m not completely driven by making money. It makes me feel like I have a sense of purpose, like there’s something I’m good at and enjoy doing.

I didn’t expect to suddenly find my desire to do crafty stuff again. If you had asked me a couple weeks ago, I would have said that I didn’t think my life had a purpose if I didn’t work full-time. And now everything looks completely different.

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