Thursday, May 12, 2011

No Knots

Three years ago this week I opened my Etsy shop.  

Jewelry making started on a whim; I was searching for some creative outlet, a way to channel all the restless energy I felt in new sobriety.

I trolled arts & crafts stores, looking for something- anything - to do with my hands, to occupy my racing mind.  I tried needlepoint, drawing and toyed with the idea of knitting.   Around here somewhere are the lumpy, misshapen and laughable results of these endeavors.

One day my eyes settled on a simple beading kit, and I thought ah-ha!   I took it home and started playing around, learning basic techniques through trial and error.  Mostly error.  One afternoon I was talking with a friend of mine, showing her the early results of my fledgling hobby, and she came up with the idea of creating twelve step prayer beads.   My idea was to give these as anniversary gifts to people in recovery; I never dreamed I would be able to successfully sell my jewelry one day.

A few weeks later my brother told me about Etsy, and I impulsively opened a shop, mostly for kicks.   Within a few months I was making a sale here and there, and I was hooked.

I could never have imagined a day when jewelry making would be a viable business, one that paid for my son's school and gave me a little extra money on the side.   Every time I sold an item I would think, really?  You really want to buy this?   I felt like a kid playing grown-up, but it was helping me stay sober, so I stuck with it.

The blog came about about a year later as a way to promote my shop; my idea was to talk about creativity and post about new items.   Almost immediately it turned into something else; I didn't think anyone would ever read the words I wrote, so I started opening up about recovery, alcoholism and parenting.    Every time someone would leave a comment, the same feelings of excitement and doubt would appear:  really?  You really want to read this? 

May is a milestone month for me, with the anniversaries of the birth of my Etsy shop and my blog coming within two weeks of each other.   

Lately I have been feeling flat, uninspired, on autopilot.   I get up every day and go through the motions - business is still plugging along and I dutifully make orders and toy with new designs, but the spark feels dim.   Since January I have released two new product lines:  hand-stamped jewelry and leather woven wraparound bracelets.   Now it's only May and I'm itching to figure out what is next

I'm starting to realize this is a pattern for me, this impulsive jumping into things and getting completely wrapped up in them, only to grow restless a few short weeks later.    Instead of sitting back and appreciating where jewelry making and blogging have taken me, I'm feeling itchy, bored and kind of meh about it all.    I spend hours daydreaming, trying to cook up the next big thing.   Lately I've been fantasizing about opening up a store, a kind of co-op for handmade artists to sell their pieces and teach classes.   I can't shake the idea from my brain, even though I know it's far-fetched and there is no way I can pursue this dream at this moment in my life.

The same thing is true with blogging, lately.  I sit down to write and stare at the blank white screen feeling totally uninspired.  I doubt myself, why I'm here, what I could possibly have to say that would interest anyone.    Like with the jewelry, if you had told me three years ago that my blog would lead to incredible friendships, an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show and blogging conferences all over the country I would have laughed, and now I'm sitting here thinking:  what's the point?

Why?  Why do I struggle so mightily with the concept of enough?    What I have built here, on Crying Out Now and with my jewelry has far exceeded my wildest expectations, but somehow all I want is more

I know part of it is a lack of gratitude.  Even as I type these words I see how whiny, petulant and self-indulgent I sound.   I am grateful, truly, despite how it may seem.   I've noticed how these dichotomies live in me - grateful, but wanting more.   Content, but restless.   Happy, but bored.    Confident, but worried about not measuring up.

Perhaps it is the addict in me - give me a taste of something and I want it all.   Perhaps it is the perfectionist in me, who can't embrace successes for what they are and constantly seeks to improve, enhance, build.   It is probably a healthy dose of both.

I have to resist the urge to rip it all down, these things I have built, because some days it all seems so silly.    I know, though, that this urge comes from that self-destructive addict that lives inside me.  I am a chaos junkie; I love tying my life into knots and then seeing if I can wiggle my way out.   It's been a long time since I've created any knots in my life, and lately I kind of miss it.  

Recovery is about stability, serenity, gratitude and self-love for a reason, because these things are the antidote for that self-destructive, ungrateful addict who always wants more.   

So I'm writing about it, trying to wrench myself back into a place of gratitude, satisfaction and peace.  I won't stop dreaming - I don't think I could even if I really wanted to, which I don't - but I can't let dreams eclipse all that I have today.  

I don't want to be one of those people who has to have something bad happen to appreciate all that I have here, now.   I don't want to be that petulant never-satisfied person who has more than her share of good things in life and still isn't content.   I believe in my heart I'm not that person, but sometimes?   Sometimes, it's hard to see her.

Four short years ago I longed for stability, creativity and peace of mind.  Four years ago I would have done anything to have a fraction of what I have now.

I need to remember that, carry it in my heart in a way that is meaningful right here, right now.


  1. You're not whining,'re just being honest. Human. They ebb and flow, these feelings, and learning to not shame ourselves over them is one of the trickiest parts. For me anyway.

    I totally understand what you're saying. Totally.
    "grateful, but wanting more. Content, but restless. Happy, but bored. Confident, but worried about not measuring up"

    There's no way we can be constantly wrapped up in inspiration, feeling motivated and committed and...content...

    we just can't stay in that place all the time, and yet we want to stay there so badly. You helped me (again) today because it's much of this is about being grateful and how that changes my heart and my attitude.

    So, even when it feels flat, your words here are doing something, many many somethings.

    Love you.

  2. aww! What an honest and great post! I totally understand the feelings you share. I have a perpetual problem with my lack of contentment. I do try to appreciate what I have, because it is great, but I am always thinking about what I want to do next, sometimes at the detriment of what I am doing now.

    This is the first I am reading from you, but it sounds like you have over come a LOT! It is a good thing to try new things, so don't feel bad about wanting/doing that!
    Best of luck to you, and know, you are not alone :)

  3. I think balance is hard for a lot of people - a lot of moms, especially - but alcoholics are supremely bad at it. Everything to the extreme. The pendulum swings with wild abandon. For me, this is where having a sponsor has been the most beneficial. It's so much easier for someone from the outside to see things realistically. Hearing their words of encouragement and experience helps to bring me back to center.

  4. I must read fifty different blogs, professional and personal, about all kinds of things, and I have to say... if I had to rank them on how "silly" or useless or unimportant what they had to say was, I'm pretty sure that Crying Out Now would be the very last one on that list.

    I think it's when you don't think that what you're doing matters that you make the biggest difference in life, because then you're truly being yourself, and that has the most impact on people. You just don't usually know what you've done till long after.

    If it helps to know that people want you to keep doing what you do: I do!!

  5. It's a beautiful, honest post, El. I think it is okay to be the kind of person who always looks for the next thing. What on earth is wrong with that? Who is it hurting to feel that way? It doesn't mean you have to drink or that you are ungrateful. You're just the person who's always looking over the next hill and wondering what's beyond it.

  6. I have to say, I really don't know what the problem have done great things because you have a fire in your belly. That isn't lack of gratitude, it's a plethora of inspiration. Yes sometimes we have to pace ourselves, and learning to do it is a difficult thing to do, but I really am dissapointed to see that you are trying to shame yourself into complacency.

  7. Sometimes I feel as if you and I-- despite our differences-- are on the exact same page. Two years ago, I was desperate for normalcy, stability, calm. Now, I have all that I want, and I am happy, but I keep looking around myself, wondering what is next. This is something I have been thinking about for the past few months. What do I want? How would I go about obtaining it? What would happen then? What am I avoiding by focusing on this?

    I did realize one thing, however. There are positive things that come from striving. Acceptance is not the same as complacency. To want to continue to improve oneself is not the same as ungrateful. Don't get me wrong; there is a line there that need not be crossed, but striving to be better, to improve oneself, to perhaps not be the best, but the best one can be-- these are powerful and important and can be accomplished, as long as we are mindful.

  8. Anonymous - I'm not trying to shame myself into complacency; I'm trying to shame myself into gratitude.

    Inspiration is a beautiful thing, until it interferes with my ability to appreciate what I have, is what I'm trying to say.

    As for pacing myself - or the lack of pacing myself, as the case is here - as an addict in recovery is a behavior that can be laced with pitfalls. Learning to pace myself is a life saving behavior for someone like me.

    Complacency has a negative connotation, but its more attractive counterpart is Acceptance - like Sarah said in her comment. Someone like me can easily confuse the two, when gratitude isn't there to balance them out.

  9. i am sort of the same way. my life has found stability, finally and i'm always waiting for something else around the bend.
    i often think about what i want out of my life. i still have so much i want to do and to see. obtaining it is the goal and i have to keep striving for it.

  10. I don't see you shaming yourself into anything in this post... I totally understand it and get it.
    I'm glad you're here through your ebbs and flows, and that you show all of it.

  11. We're constantly growing, constantly changing. Hubby and I coined an expression a few years back, as we tried to describe our growing relationship with our higher power. "Discontented satisfaction." (Or was it "Dissatisfied contentment"?) Grateful for what has already happened, how far we've come. Yet unwilling to rest on our laurels, always pressing in closer toward more love, more surrender. There's a fine line between contentment and complacency. We prefer to be edging toward the line between contentment and vigilance - one book calls it 'labouring to enter into rest'. I like that.

    Thank you so much for being so real, so transparent. It makes recovery not seem so unachievable, allows a person to understand that we don't have to be perfect, we just need to progress.

  12. I love how honest your posts are. I feel like this sometimes today (like right now!) and love the reminder that it happens to many of us, it's a normal part of life.