<------ Don't forget to feed the fishies! They're ALWAYS hungry ;)
(For feeding instructions, see yesterday's post)
Today's post comes with a fair amount of excitement about the stash of sewing, knitting, embroidery, and crafting supplies I have slowly been building for several months now. With it comes a lot of reflection of where I've been in the last two years and the realization that life truly is good for me now.
I'll start with this picture of my little stash of embroidery and sewing stuff.
This is so exciting for me because it's been two years since I've had access to anything like this. I used to have rooms full of this stuff not so long ago from years and years of sewing, quilting, knitting, and crocheting. I've been putting this together little by little over the past few months. It has grown to a nice little wad of stuff to keep me busy in the creating department...aside from the knitting
I've gotten most of this at JoAnn Fabrics (I prefer Hancock Fabrics, but it doesn't exist in New England). I shop A.C. Moore and Michaels too. I used to do the vast majority of my fabric and notion shopping at WalMart, but since the pea brains who now run the company have decided to do away with the fabric department in their stores (Mr AND Mrs Sam Walton are rolling over in their graves), I have been forced to resort to shopping the fabric and hobby stores who use hiway robbery tactics to run their businesses. They don't have Wally World for competition any longer, so they've jacked up prices on EVERYTHING where needle craft of any kind is concerned. But if I look hard enough and long enough in these places, I can find some pretty good deals on a few things here and there. I don't do online shopping for these kinds of things, especially for fabric and yarn because I need to be able to see and feel for myself what I'm getting before I plop any money on anything.
I do like A.C. Moore though. I've shopped them for years in conjunction with WalMart...and they've always been competitively priced with WM, in the areas where they both carried the same items. I can always get better yarns there - as WM has never really sold anything but cheesy acrylics...and still does. A.C. Moore is a lot like the Hobby Lobby's I used to shop in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas years ago. Lot's of stuff for every interest at 'fair to middlin' prices. They don't sell fabric though. But they do carry a pretty good supply of sewing notions and quilting supplies.
My little stash of stuff here represents the rebuilding of my life in the last two years. As these tiny little bits and pieces of crafting materials have been slowly building over time, so have the tiny little buildings blocks of my life.
In the summer two years ago, I made a decision to do away with every material thing I owned...and I do mean EVERYTHING. I was divorced - again. The last one of my kids flew the coop to go to college...and then move back to Tennessee from where we lived in South Carolina a year earlier. I was alone, in a big house, full of nearly thirty years of stuff and memories.
Depression had gotten me down sooooooooooo badly that I literally couldn't function in daily life. I was sitting at home, trying to recover from two colon surgeries that were only three months apart. When I started feeling better from the surgeries, then the depression of where I was in life set in. I spent a whole year doing nothing, but laying in bed, eating, watching TV, and sleeping. And I preferred to sleep more than anything else. It got really, really bad.
Then one day out of the blue, a little light went on in my head about it all, and I forced myself to get up one evening, get dressed up, and go to my favorite karaoke bar. Well, had been my favorite when I was still married and we used to go there together a couple of times a week to sing and throw darts. But it dawned on me that what I loved to do more than anything, or used to love, was singing. I did it for a living for a lot of years. It was time to get out and sing again. That seemed to do the trick and I was up and about and functioning again and participating in daily life.
But a few months later, I was struggling financially. The job I had didn't pay enough to make ends meet and soon I had to move out of the house to take a place that was much smaller and less expensive. I had to give up the dogs and the cats in the process...which I still don't cope with today, because parting with them was literally one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.
When I moved out of my house, I gave away quite a few things, donated a lot to Goodwill, and put the rest in storage for a year and a half. I struggled to pay the monthly storage fee, but did keep it afloat until a time came when I decided it was time to part with it all. I sold every last bit of my belongings out of storage, save for a few carefully selected bits and pieces of memorabilia, like photos, and a very minuscule amount of knitting and crochet stuff...mainly my hooks and needles - and my books. I kept a few keepsakes my kids had given me over the years - and my clothes...well, the clothes that were fairly current. I donated the rest to Goodwill. That's all I kept. The rest was sold off and I haven't really looked back.
I realized somewhere along the way during that period of "coming back to life", that material possessions weren't what really made me happy, nor were they what mattered in life. I realized that material possessions weighed me down. Seriously weighed me down. I had years, and I do mean YEARS of stuff I had worked so hard to accumulate. Stuff that I thought at the time was giving me joy and fulfillment to the max. It truly was like "he who dies with the most toys wins". But it was all just stuff. That's it. Stuff. And 'stuff' doesn't matter.
I fretted for eighteen months about how to pay my storage bill each month to preserve my 'stuff'. I fretted all those months trying to have a place big enough again to put all my 'stuff'. I worried that I would never be a whole person again without all my 'stuff' around me. I swam in a world of 'stuff' and all it did was make me sick. I felt physically ill from worry about it. The stress of trying to keep up with it all messed with my head. It just flat made me ill and wore me out.
In the time since I relinquished most of my earthly possessions, I've bottomed out in my life in a lot of ways. Financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually. Was literally homeless for a little while. Was without a vehicle for that period of time also. But what I did have was people around me who cared. Total strangers in fact. Strangers who reached out when I had no where else to turn...strangers who found me. I didn't go looking for them. It was a scary time. But also a phenomenal life changing experience.
This time in my life was a time of total stripping my life of the old. Stripping me of the old and making a way for me to start my life anew without years of baggage, materialistically, and emotionally. It was a VERY hard time, but also a VERY good time for me. I met someone who I'm crazy about and we make a life together now. I've moved to a part of the country I've never lived in before, but always wanted to at least visit someday. I was given the opportunity to do some phenomenal, life changing work. I've been given the opportunity to start life again with different kinds of 'stuff', but this time it's with 'stuff' that matters.
My very first post to this blog was mainly about my love for yard sale-ing. I made a big 'to-do' about how I looooooooove this particular activity. I made a big deal about some of my finds at the first sales of the season. And that's all true in this respect: I do love to yard sale and similar activities. I always have. But this time it's different because I'm doing it for the 'need' and not so much for the 'want'. There's a big difference there. The need comes from needing to furnish a new home now. Yard sales, thrift stores, estate sales, and the like, are necessity now more than anything. Don't get me wrong here. I still looooooove the thrill of finding such great deals on great stuff. But the thrill is even bigger now because the need is great and the funds are limited. So it's a challenge trying to get the things we need on the budget we have to do it with. But it's soooooooo much more satisfying now knowing I'm being truly productive with my shopping and creating a home that's both functional and comfortable.
The goal of my shopping these days is not to buy a lot of stuff, but to select what's necessary to life and the extra things that come along once in awhile are so much more of a treat today. I don't aspire to have a house stuffed to the rafters with 'stuff' ever again. I just want what's needed and the few little extras that make life fun - like my little stash of sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet supplies.
For years and years, I had two extra bedrooms and a den filled full with all my crafting stuff. I used to move ALL of that stuff with me all over the country, which was often. And accumulated more each time I lived in a new place. Now I wonder what I thought I ever needed so much of that 'stuff' for. I'm so happy with my little stash...and perfectly content to keep it that way. It all fits in my sewing box, and my knitting basket, and a small box in my bedroom closet. My sewing machine sits in a corner in the dining room. I've no need for anything else. And the projects that come from this little stash of 'stuff' will be that much more rewarding. The rest is gravy.
My need to create is always strong. I've found that I can't completely do without something in that regard. That's why this little stash is so exciting. It gives me the opportunity to do a few of the things I love to do most in life. This little bit of 'stuff' doesn't make me who I am though. My house filled with great finds from thrift and junk stores, yard and garage sales, estate or any other 'sale' of any kind DOES NOT fulfill me, make me truly happy, or make me who I am either. Simply the precious people around me, and my critters, and the opportunities I'm given to do good for others is fulfilling and makes me happy and content. The ability to create in so many different ways is God given and I choose these days to do it to benefit others.
I look at my little stash of stuff here and see how colorful it is and the sacrifices and hard work it represents. The colorfulness and the cheerfulness of it matches my life today. Small things. In small amounts. A little at a time. And how colorful it makes my life today...even on a gray, wet, gloomy day as today. But gray (grey) is a color too. It can't be all that bad then.