Long ago (OK, maybe twelve years or thereabouts) I had started grad school. I used to read like I got paid per word, but in grad school I read so much mind-numbingly boring stuff that I didn't feel like reading my fun stuff. So I asked my grandma to teach me to knit. Knitting was the perfect relaxation activity. After studying lots of gibberish on employment law and organizational communication, my hands would eagerly grab for my needles, my face would contort into interesting expressions of concentration, and I would eventually churn out a scarf or a dishcloth. Same thing with crochet. The rhythmic motion of needles and hooks through and around the yarn was calming. The learning of new things was exhilarating, and I wanted to buy every ball of yarn I saw.
Fast forward a few years, and my mother bought me sewing machine for Christmas. It sat in my closet for a while, never even opened. And then I decided I was going to learn to sew, found a place that offered lessons, and that was that. The same thing took hold of me--I couldn't wait to get home from work to cut into whatever cheap fabrics I had bought for practice. My first pair of pajama pants was a triumphant project that required much strutting around the kitchen and grinning at crotch seams (isn't that a terrible word? I hate that word. Crotch. Ugh. Anyway...). This time set aside to indulge in making things was my reward. For what, I don't know, but I had come to physically crave my crafting time, and would rush through everything else to get to it, staying up way too late and hunched over a sewing machine because "I just need to finish this one part, then I'll go to bed."Needless to say, I wanted to buy all of the fabric I saw.
I'm sure you can relate to that on some level. But for me, it goes deeper than that. I don't exactly shout this detail about myself from the rooftops, but I suffer from anxiety. If you've ever had chronic anxiety, you know how the involuntary worrying about things you know that you have zero control over can dominate your psyche, and suck the joy out of a lot your life. I have tried a lot of different things over the years to deal with this, but one of the things I can absolutely attest to being very beneficial is having a creative outlet.
Lately, I haven't felt much like my usual fiber-inspired pursuits are doing it for me--there are only so many bags or quilts I can force people to take, and only so many hats or afghans or sweaters one can conceivably use at one time. But this lack of creative endeavor made me feel fidgety. So I bought some different art pads, and an assortment of markers and pens, and purposely set aside some time to sit and draw (I've shown you some of my practice doodles here). Am I an artist? Not by a long shot. Maybe a long shot squared times infinity, but that's about the closest I get, hahaha. However, I find that taking pen to paper can have the same soothing affect as taking yarn to needles and fabric to presser foot. Especially if you work repetition into the design.
I'm only slightly ashamed to say I made this during a Fuller House binge.
The paper is a plain mixed media book from my local craft store, and the pens are gel pens and some markers I bought at Target. The repetition of drawing those concentric flowers is just as soothing as knit one purl one.
I had an idea to cover a whole page in these flowers, and started off not too bad. But then I had enough and just couldn't anymore, so I added a quote instead.
Both of these pieces are very full and very repetitious, and look quite busy and manic. But the rhythmic lines that emerged from the tip of my wee felt-tip were a tonic to my unsettled psyche.
So what am I trying to say? Make something. Anything. You don't have to be good at it, just start. Encourage someone else to learn with you. Crafting with buddies is much more fun than doing it alone. You don't need fancy materials. You don't need a dedicated area in which to create. You don't need to pay for classes (I'm pretty sure if I google it I could find free instructions on how to perform brain surgery on myself, so I'm quite confident any skill you want to learn is a few keyboard strokes away). Just set aside a few minutes each day to try your hand at something new and fun. Experiment. Be bold. There are no mistakes. There are only learning opportunities.
Make something. It's good for your health.