Dear You: Taking it “Bird by Bird”

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 August letter. P.S. – If you’re interested in getting our newsletter, click here.

How to combat overwhelm and recharge your inspiration and creativity from Dear Handmade LIfe

Dear Friends,

“Were dogs chasing you?” my husband asked me. He’d spied me out our front window sprinting up the sidewalk. This was the first (and I’m pretty sure only) explanation he could think of upon seeing me run. He’s used to my usual fitness regimen which involves stretches to relieve my hip bursitis and walking our dog. Yes, I consider physical therapy and chores actual exercise. So, (obviously) no, I’m not a runner. I was just as surprised to find myself speeding up the sidewalk to our little red house. It had started innocently enough as a walk around the block to clear my head after a week of my monkey mind on full blast.

A lengthy to-do list for my business and personal life had me feeling like I needed to find one of those places where you can pay to smash plates to relieve stress (yes, they do exist) OR crawl into bed and binge watch all seven seasons of The Golden Girls. I actually contemplated how long exactly I would need to stay in bed with Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia & Rose until my husband realized I couldn’t handle my stuff anymore and took over. Maybe he’d be able to figure out how to give my website a facelift and create my master timeline for the rest of 2018??

But, I decided to stop whining (and plotting to make a cocktail) and get outside instead. I’ve never been one to wait around to be rescued, my husband (and friends) were there to support – but I had to do the heavy lifting. I told myself all I had to do was walk to the end of the block. That’s how small the commitment had to be for me to agree to it.

Funny thing is, by the time I got to the end of my block (and super into an embarrassing 90s get-down-on-it playlist), I didn’t want to turn around. In fact, by the time I’d reached block #2, I surprised myself and broke into a straight-up run. Running may be a totally normal thing for many adults — but for my plus-size-41-year-old-sweating-makes-my-makeup-run-and-my-glasses-slide-down-my-face self — running is foreign and uncomfortable.

I silently asked myself as I panted down the sidewalk… Is this how you’re supposed to do it? Do I move my hands up and down like runners in commercials – or keep them at my side to conserve energy? Is my stride too long or too short? And what about my heart? Is it beating too fast?

But, after awhile I started not to care. None of the drivers that passed me were pointing or laughing. The monkey in my mind had FINALLY decided to put down the cymbals he’d been non-stop banging for days. And that felt really good.

I could breathe easier and hear a little voice reminding of me of what one of my favorite writers (Anne Lamott) does when she feels overwhelmed. She takes it one thing at a time or “bird by bird”. This was the advice her father gave her brother when he felt overwhelmed about a report that involved cataloguing a massive number of birds.

I realized that didn’t have to do ALL THE THINGS right this second —  I just had to start with one little “bird” to get the ball rolling. Sure, when I got home from my “walk” I’d still have my seemingly never ending to-do list — but it didn’t seem as daunting.

Maybe you’re facing your own mile-long to-do list this fall. If you’re a creative business owner, chances are you’re already starting holiday prep and the holiday season seems to bring out the overwhelm in many of us. And although I know this isn’t my most earth-shattering piece of advice (or even my own, thanks Anne!) – really consider taking it one bird at a time. Sometimes all you need is the slightest shift in perception to pull yourself up and out. My hope is that your monkey will be joining mine for a nice little nap in the corner.

xo, Nicole

P.S. – Are you watching our friend and Craftcation Conference presenter alum Robert Mahar on NBC’s Making It! Add it to your watchlist!

P.P.S – If you’re a maker, creative business owner or want to spend four unforgettable days at the beach in California making, meeting and learning… save the date for our Craftcation: Business & Makers Conference April 3-7, 2019 at the Ventura Marriott. Registration opens October 5, 2018.

P.P.S – Applications for our fall Patchwork Show (including our Junior section for makers under age 18) close in a few weeks & mark your calendars for our fall shows!

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