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STUCK IN SURVIVAL MODE
I called my husband once again, this time laying down in the middle of the hallway. “I need you to come home.”
He raced home and tucked me into bed with some Advil and a heating pad. Sitting down and looking straight into my tear-filled eyes, he said, “I know you think you can, but you can’t do this anymore. We have to get some help.” I knew he was right. I just was having a hard time admitting I was no longer in control.
Getting a nanny/care-taker was the best decision we made up to that point with my illness. The more I pushed through the disease and ignored it instead of taking care of my body, the worse I became. Over the course of the next two years we hired two 19 year old girls excited for the possibilities ahead of them, and each head over heels in love with their boyfriends.
They reminded me of my younger self: full of joy and life and creativity. One girl was ahead on her college credits and working on big life goals, living out her future exactly as she planned it. The other was more of a fly-by-the-seat of her pants adventure type, jumping from one creative endeavor to the next.
I was inspired both by the girl who knew exactly what she wanted out of life and the spontaneity of the other. They didn’t just let life happen to them, they lived it. If they wanted to travel, they traveled. If they wanted to double major, or do hair for a living or get a tattoo, they went for it.
I hadn’t done much besides obsess about pill schedules and plan doctor appointments for the past four years, so I had no plan–my plan was to survive.
REMEMBERING THE PAST
One day my nanny was working on a school project and asked if I had some glue. “What kind do you need?” I asked, and opened the guest room door. I pulled out a big box filled with tacky glue, glue guns, Elmer’s glue, glue dots, fabric glue and glue strips. Her eyes lit up as she peered into the closet, bulging with rows of fabric, paintbrushes, ribbon, glass jars, wooden signs, buttons and sewing machines.
“I didn’t know you had all this in here!” she said. I pointed to the other side of the room, where stacks of bins were labeled with more arts and crafts supplies. There were stacks of books on how to knit, sew and start your own craft business. Another shelf had embroidery thread, rings, yarn balls, hooks and looms.
“Do you know how to do all this?” she asked. I hadn’t thought about these hobbies and treasures since I’d been sick. Over the next few days, I showed her how to create her own custom embroidery by hand and gave her a few paint tubes and instructions on how to make her own coffee table tray.
Later when she was taking the kids to their swim and gymnastics lessons, she said to me, “Hey you are doing so much better, why don’t you go out and take some of your own classes?”
These words lit a fire under me. I hadn’t considered doing something fun for myself in a long time. I was just trying to make sure the kids were living a normal-ish life while I got better.
It had been over 12 years since I switched majors, leaving behind my dreams of becoming an art teacher after one of my college professors discouraged me during his figure drawing class.
EMBRACING A NEW FUTURE
Having survived the misery of the past few years, I was blessed with a new outlook on life and signed up for a weekly adult art class. I stocked up on fresh paints and new brushes and a cloth roll to store them in. Over the next few weeks, I explored different drawing materials and papers and tested out new techniques.
Later, I discovered online art courses I worked on with my son. After dinner, both of us got ready to go with paper on clipboards, a set of drawing pencils and erasers.
I was working on art every night.
Eventually, I had trouble keeping up with my assignments because there were so many projects I wanted to do! Each night, I would lay everything out on the dining room table, start the videos, and do my best not to rinse my paintbrush in my coffee cup.
And suddenly, I realized I was no longer “sick Amy”, I was once again “Amy the artist”. I learned how much I missed drawing and creating on a daily basis.
In that moment, I didn’t need a professor telling me I was terrible at figure drawing. What I needed was the encouragement of a young girl reminding me how to find my joy and in turn, my life again.
WHERE TO DISCOVER YOUR HOBBY
Years ago I took a writing course and it led me to this website, CreativeLive, where you are transported into a college-style classroom experience and learn from the greats in your field.
CreativeLive offers online video courses for anything creative:
- Music & Audio
- Craft & Maker
- Art & Design
- Photo & Video
- Money & Life
I’ve taken drawing and painting courses, writing courses and even self-help courses! These classes are continually going on sale and stream live throughout the month. Schedules are even available ahead of time so you can plan.
I highly recommend getting started with their free courses to discover your own hobby!
LOCAL PLACES FOR HOBBIES
Prefer an in-person experience? Try these venues in your city to discover your hobby:
- Local Art Classes
- Recreation Centers
- Library Classes
- Arts & Craft Stores
- Craft Fairs
- Writer’s Conferences
- Group Painting Venues
- Community College Courses
- Church Classes
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If you prioritize time for the things that make you come alive, I promise you will discover joy in your day to day. Let me know what hobby you want to pursue in the comments. Then check out the rest of my posts in my Hardship Series or stop by my Art 101 Series for some free art lessons!
You’ve got this!