Part of this year’s goal of recognizing the abundance around me includes minimizing distractions. I am hoping to find the activities and things that make me truly happy and put the kibosh on distractions that don’t really bring me joy. To do this, I’ve been trying to narrow down my extra-curricular activities. The hope is that I’ll be able to “accomplish” more by focusing on specific hobbies, rather than feeling like I never finish anything because I spread myself too thin.
In essence, I’m looking for simplicity. I’d like to not hem and haw about what I should do after the boys go to bed at night – I want to jump into my “me” time wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. But when there are SO many choices, that just feels impossible. Which hobby makes the most sense to spend time on? I end up spending the entire evening dithering and never get anything done.
Simplicity, that’s what I need in my life.
Case in point: in January I focused on reading and writing and was very happy with the results. So far this year I’ve finished 17 books and have been more consistent with my blogging – I’m making progress on my major goals! Woohoo!
But I’ve also been yearning to pick up my knitting needles again. I want to see the rustic texture of wool knot itself into a beautiful garment. I love how the light glints off of the needles and they make soft clicking sounds with every stitch. That feeling of keeping my hands busy when my body starts to slow down at night allows me to continue to feel productive. But I made a little pact with myself that I wouldn’t focus my time on crafty activities. Why? Because I worry that they’re distractions!
It sounds silly, I know, but knitting often reminds me of the things that I don’t have – that awesome designer yarn that sells out as soon as the website is updated (and is about $80/skein anyway), for example. Or perhaps it’s seeing all of the beautiful patterns that I want to knit up. Maybe I need to purchase a size of knitting needles that I don’t already have on hand. There’s also time to think about – I just don’t have the time that I used to. I used to be able to knit a pair of socks in 3 days; not anymore. Everything takes so much longer than it used to! Or – and this is the big one – there’s a sale on yarn that’s just too good to pass up. How does all of that fit into my budget? To be honest, it DOESN’T right now.
And of course, there’s the storage situation. Where and how can I store my supplies to ensure that everything is easy to access but not accessible enough for all of the curious little fingers around the house? What supplies do I have that can be purged? All of the stuff is what I’m trying to avoid these days. In fact, just a few weeks ago I thought that I’d made the decision to sell it all!
But here’s the thing: I don’t want a minimalist lifestyle. I want a cozy home, full of things that I adore (just not too full). That includes quilts that I’ve sewn and sweaters and socks that I’ve knitted. I’d like vintage crocheted afghans flung around all of my rooms, along with sheepskin and other amazing furs (sorry PETA). Oversized knit shawls? Yes, please. Candles? Bring them on. Twinkly lights? Hang them high!
Obviously knitting and the aesthetics of yarn are things that make me happy. But how do I honor my budget and other time commitments? How do I ensure that I’m not falling prey to the distractions that can so easily gulp up my life and take it for its own?
Possible time commitment alternatives:
- Audiobooks – especially now that I’ve learned to increase the speed of the audio, I can easily get through most audiobooks in a week or less and make progress with my reading goals while plugging away at a pretty project that makes me happy.
- Weekend crafting! I usually reserve weekends to spend time with my husband because our work schedules are so different during the week. We tend to end up watching movies or lounging on the couch and I hardly read or write at all. That could be the perfect time to do some hand sewing or knitting as long as the patterns aren’t too difficult to follow.
- Most weeks I actually surpass my reading and blogging goals – maybe I don’t have to feel the pressure to do so much every night? Maybe taking a half hour before bed to knit a few rows on a project actually would fit into my schedule without putting me behind. It’s definitely worth an experiment!
- I could use the output from my crafting as content for my blog. If I planned two crafting blog posts a month, then it might not feel like a “waste” to spend my time with a pair of needles.
Possible solutions for keeping a budget:
- Use what I have. Be brutal until every scrap is gone; I like scrap quilts and scrappy afghans anyway. And those are more time consuming, which means I’ll be able to go longer without buying any new material.
- Work something reasonable into the budget. $10 a month can add up. Sweaters can be upwards of $100 in yarn, but if I start stashing away $10/month while working with materials that I already have, I can have a nice little nest egg saved in no time.
- It might not be necessary to buy all of the materials for a project at once. I could try purchasing just what I need in the beginning and hope and pray for matching dye lots as I buy more.
- Only use the debit card when buying something online, not a credit card. Using the debit card means that it’s coming directly out of our bill money, instead of being tacked onto the bill itself with no real expectation (right now) to pay it off immediately. Debit cards and cash only!
My takeaway from this exercise is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I can work slowly on projects and savor the time spent and that’s okay. And I can choose to save up for that expensive hank of yarn that I’ve been eying or choose to be more mindful about the cost of projects when making plans. That’s what most human beings do anyway, right? Not everyone buys things at their every whim without thinking about how it affects their bottom line. I can still indulge and get pretty things, but I have to be thoughtful and careful about it. That’s all.
How about you? Do you find that you’re always spreading yourself too thing amongst your projects? Maybe it’s not knitting, and that’s okay! Tell me in the comments! How do you find the balance? How do you justify spending so much time on so many projects, yet never finishing anything?