Staying Sane (Painting, Sketching, and Crochet)

If there were any questions regarding my lack of recent blogs, this brief paragraph should sufficiently cover those questions – I seem to be out of the woods where an overactive thyroid is concerned. Over the next several months, I will require strict med monitoring. No sooner did I experience relief from all that than my family was hit with the flu. The mother-f’ing flu. My husband brought it home and was the first to go down, I picked it up, and now it is E’s turn.

On to the subject at hand.

I defied some difficult odds in this life. I cannot imagine having done so without some sort of occupation or hobby that didn’t involve a salary, or college credit, as a motivator. At the height of my work intensity, I was logging as much as 60-70 hours a week, (combination classes, paid work, unpaid internships, volunteer activities, and study/research) I still relied heavily upon my hobbies to get me through.

When life got more predictable post-college, well into my career, I still engaged in hobbies.

Hobbies have always served as a release valve for my anxiety. I require mental occupation in healthy forms in order to counter the unhealthy mental occupations that anxiety invokes.

My first love, my first hobby, was and is reading. No surprise there.

My second was crochet, not knitting. Crochet requires one hook-needle and yarn. I learned a few starter chains when I was a kid from my paternal grandmother. Oddly enough, I never forgot it. I made simple patterns while in high school and I started making blankets in earnest while an undergrad. To date, I believe, I’ve made something like 30 full-size blankets. All but one blanket (pictured below) I have kept but I’ve given the rest away over the years. Some I made specifically for folks I know. Other blankets I made just because I was keeping my anxiety in check as my circumstances in life became more stressful (college).

I took a watercolor painting course in college and while I sucked at it, I quite enjoyed its peaceful process. I rediscovered the process intensely about two years ago. I was heavily into home renovations and it was taking a long time – a long, long, long time. Those renovation projects I had tackled myself and I worked on the house several hours a day, several days a week, and I needed to blow off steam. It sucks to put hours and hours into your house only to turn around and see how much left there is to do. My hands were tired most days so I didn’t want to crochet, which is, by the way, one of the best ways to exercise the minor muscles of the hand. I needed a lighter touch hobby and recalled watercolor. This also led to my trying out sketching.

This is just a small sample. I don’t actually know how many pieces I’ve made, but it’s a lot. I favor ink washes and watercolor. Ink adds a little something. I’ve also deliberately cut shapes into the paintings for textural reasons. Some of my “better” pieces I’ve given to family members but I’ve done no real work with watercolor. Again, it’s more to do with what keeps me happily and healthily occupied during my downtime.

My writing, in the past, I’ve described as a hobby and it was. It surpassed the label of hobby with my novel, Ruth. Which, again, I will resume work on come late August when E begins preschool (yay!).  

If I were to summarize, hobbies epitomize  the investment in, and care of, the self. Those activities that we do because it simply pleases us to do so, means they feed something within ourselves that we aren’t otherwise paid to do. That could only be a good thing.
Austin, Texas