Dear You: Permission Slips, Pandemics and What’s Next

Editor’s Note: Every month we send out a newsletter with info on upcoming events, giveaways, links to stuff we love and a letter to our readers. Below is our March letter which includes some of my favorite Coronavirus resources for makers.
P.S. – If you’re interested in getting our newsletter, click here.

dear handmade life

This week I was supposed to be shoulder deep in boxes, surrounded by our team as we sorted and organized all the supplies for over 200 workshops at our 9th annual Craftcation: Business & Makers Conference. I was supposed to be juggling one of the busiest months of the year for my business and being a first-time mom to my newborn baby boy. I was supposed to be getting ready to walk through the doors of the Craftcation hotel in Ventura and see the fruition of a year of planning… 500+ creatives together in one place for a life-changing weekend of workshops, creativity and community.

It’s not just me though. We were all supposed to be someplace else. None of us planned on being sequestered at home during a global pandemic. It’s all so  unbelievable. Even if you’re glued to the never-ending news stream, it can be hard to truly wrap your head around what’s happening.

So, now what?

Well, as an event planner, the very heart of what I do (gather large numbers of people together in close proximity, aka the complete opposite of social distancing) is not possible, at least not the way we’ve done it over the past decade. I’ll be honest, after we sent the email telling our attendees that we had to postpone Craftcation 2020, I spent the next few (ok, several) days alternating between sobbing and wishing there was a magical place free of COVID-19 that I could run away to. I was already sleep-deprived (like all new mamas), overworked and struggling with postpartum depression. Losing a year of work and more income than I can imagine recovering from, coupled with the grief for those who were sick or who’d passed from this awful illness and topped off with the terror of what was to come and how unstoppable and out of control this all is was enough to lead me down some dark paths in my mind.

I pretty much stopped working for that next week and took that time for the maternity leave that I never got to take. Amidst all the crying (the baby’s and mine 😊), devouring news, so. many. feelings., constantly washing and sterilizing bottles and trying to find a few minutes to inhale a ham and cheese sandwich that I slapped together…. I actually felt guilty for snuggling with my baby on the couch and going on afternoon walks.

The fellow business owners around me were pivoting from in-person to online offerings faster than I could process what was happening. They were sharing long and meaningful pep talks and resources on social media and rallying the community together and I was crying in my maternity jeans, chewing Tums (to tame my new Coronavirus ulcer) and feeling powerless and guilty.

Then I saw something on Instagram from fellow craft show producer Phoebe of Girl Gang Craft. Basically she said that if you want (or need) to hustle right now, do it. But to remember that the same rule also applies to pausing. GAME. CHANGER. I had been in pause mode but hadn’t given myself permission to be there. I took Phoebe’s post as my very own permission slip (Thanks, Phoebe!) and I let the leaders around me lead our community (thank you to those powerhouses) while I took a breath to take care of myself and my baby. It’s easy to talk about self-care, but truly taking care of yourself can be tough, especially when it means slowing way down for someone like me who is used to going full speed. But, I can step back for a moment. And, so can you.

So here is YOUR permission slip:  It’s okay to rest. It’s okay to work. It’s okay to play. It’s okay to help.

In a world where so much no longer feels “okay” and answering the question “how are you?” feels impossible, the best thing we can do for ourselves and others is simply whatever feels right. As we progress and grow and heal, what feels right will likely change. And that’s ok, too. Last week I was barely functional and this week, I’m getting into gear to save my business and find ways to help others.

Amidst all the horrifying statistics about what’s here and the forecasts about what’s coming, I have found comfort in the beautiful examples of people finding their “okay” and their “right”.  (See a list of some of my favorites at the bottom of this post.)

I’ve watched our creative community gather virtually to create a crafty movement to sew masks for our healthcare workers (thanks to our Craftcation alum Sheri who heads the Facebook Group and sewing initiative, Team Corona Busters).

People offering FREE live classes sharing their passions for everything from watercolor painting to making pasta.

Locally owned restaurants doing everything they can to keep their doors open and avoid layoffs by quickly pivoting into a drive-thru format with prepared meals or even grocery pick-ups of newly allocated food from their own kitchens.

Parents sharing how this time away from work is a gift that they didn’t know they desperately needed.

Families (including mine) are making time for almost daily neighborhood walks (on mine I cheered for the two gloved women outside my local elementary school handing out free lunches for kids).

I wasn’t surprised to see that other people were also doing virtual happy hours like I was with friends and family. I even got “invited” (along with the rest of the world!) to Club Quarantine where DJ D-nice played music for over 150,000 people over Instagram Live and broke the wall between celebrities and fans (how cool is it to know you’re at the same “party” as Michelle Obama and Lionel Richie!).

And, of course the balcony concerts and the standing ovations for healthcare workers from open windows.

The people who brave going to work to make sure everyone has groceries, medicine, their garbage taken out, clean public spaces, etc.

And, OH yes, the first responders and healthcare workers – heroes, each and every one.

All of us together trying to make sense of the chaos, trying to find meaning in the fear. These days, my heart breaks and is mended dozens of times daily.

And, I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a lot to be grateful for. I have food in my fridge, a dozen rolls of toilet paper, a partner by my side, a team working with me to figure out how to keep the “doors open” here at Dear Handmade Life. Now that I’ve had a few days to rest and catch my breath, I’m working with our team on ways to bring Dear Handmade Life’s learning and community to you, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’ll be home cuddling my baby, sewing some masks, working on our events and rationing my Tums.

Stay home & Stay safe,

Nicole & The Dear Handmade Life Team

Some of Nicole’s favorite resources for makers & helpers during COVID-19:

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