Marie Digby, Unfold
Most of you out there that read this blog know that I lost my job last October. I’ve made no secret out of the amount of stress the job caused in my life, particularly trying to maintain it while struggling with a plethora of health problems. What I might not have adequately conveyed, however, is that there were very few times when I was actually performing my job where I was unhappy. Sure I hated the politics of my department; the bitchy coworker who wouldn’t say hello back to me in the morning; the fact that the longer I struggled with my health the more I was held personally responsible for my condition. Yeah, I loooved having cancer, it got me out of sooo much work. Riiight… Insert picture of me rolling my eyes here. But if I divorce all of that stuff from the actual work I was doing, it was very rewarding. It certainly kept me busy and I felt that what I did was meaningful; that I had a purpose. I know that there are kids out there that I have effectively changed their outcomes for the better.
There were times, however, when I was terribly depressed. Looking back on it, I don’t think a lot of that had to do with the job, my health, or my life’s circumstances. Sure, those things didn’t help, but I think the real problem (at least emotionally) was the result of a byproduct: I had stopped being creative. My job left me emotionally and physically exhausted. I had no energy to create at the end of the day. My health issues can be all-consuming, leaving me hospitalized or in bed for weeks at a time. For me stagnation breeds despair. And so, for the last five years, without even realizing it, I’ve been mourning the loss of my creative self.
Today I was driving around completing my to-do-list and was reflecting on my more positive frame of mind. I find that I handle a lot of things better now that I’m not working. I’m not sick any less, but when I’m in pain or unable to complete daily tasks, I am more accepting of it. I just handle it better. I was thinking of why that is. I definitely feel less stress, but I’m not sure there is actually less stress in my life. As I said before, my health hasn’t really changed. And instead of worrying about work, I worry about making ends meet, whether or not the insurance is going to cover my health costs, whether we’re going to be able to pay the mortgage on time, if my “bro-son” Zach is safe and eating well. There’s still plenty to stress about.
What has changed for me is that I feel productive in a way that I didn’t feel even when I was working. Social work can be like walking on a treadmill that is set on a steep incline and is steadily getting faster. Eventually it’s all you can do to stay on the track. There is no progress, at least none that you can see in the moment. The more you understand the job, the longer your lists become. If you aren’t overwhelmed then you aren’t doing it right. Now my days consist of almost purely creative endeavors. Projects I can start and finish.
One of the many purposes of this blog is to have a place where I can share my processes and creations. I have several things in the works right now. As I finish each of them, I’ll be posting pictures, how-to directions, and any incidental craziness that might have ensued during the creative process. Thanks to a friend from high school, I’m converting an old claw-foot tub into a sofa for our living room. Pinterest has me playing around with watercolors again. My stained glass projects are always ongoing. And Ben and I are making a tea cabinet together. Such collaborative efforts lead to hilarious exchanges that end with me throwing my hands into the air and yelling, “Ben, your mechanics are ruining my aesthetic!” Then we laugh and come up with a hundred new ideas that will also cause us to lovingly bicker about design and functionality. Oh, and I’m knitting and cross-stitching again. I have curtains to hem and a great idea for a full-length mirror mosaic for our bedroom. Just thinking about these things makes me happy. Combine this new sense of purpose with a loving family, a supportive husband, and my two little dogez and I’ve got to say: life’s pretty good right now.