In today's modern world, we have to make a concerted effort to prioritize what is most important. We must simplify our lives so that we can be present in order to enjoy each moment.
I am a firm believer in the mantra "do more with less." In fact, I hope to demonstrate this every time I do a deep purge of things we no longer need or use. Or when I opt for experiences over things.
Recycling, upcycling - you name it - and I'm on board. I try to be as conscientious as possible of the impact my choices make on my family, my community, and the world at large.
My love of making things, however, is often in direct conflict with all of this. Since I never know what I'll need to make a project exactly how I envisioned it, it's easy to own a little bit of everything, or get that extra yard of fabric, "just in case." I have also owned a couple of different types of handmade businesses over the years. I, therefore, have all of the yet-to-be-used supplies that were purchased for each of those.
Add it all up and I have quite the stash of stuff that includes but is not limited to, various types of fabric, beads, chains, findings, felt, batting, stuffing, and blank t-shirts in random sizes. Plus, don't forget all of the containers needed to organize and, well, contain all of those items.
Some days, I find it overwhelming because I really do want to do more with less; to remove the things whose purpose is no longer clear. Still, it's that little voice in my head asking, "why get rid of raw supplies that may be exactly what I need next month?"
Mindful Maker's Evolution:
Deciding what should stay and what should go is an ongoing internal conflict that has been difficult to reconcile. I knew I had to figure out some type of system, however, so that I could get back to enjoying my crafty endeavors instead of constantly feeling frustrated.
So I came up with three mindful ways to approach my love of crafting. Like anything, they are a work in progress, but I feel they are a great place to start.
1. Stop waiting for THE BEST idea:
As I mentioned, I have a variety of materials and supplies. Some are very high-quality, while others, not so much. They range from exotic textiles to high-quality natural stones, cheap chains to plastic beads.
For the bulk of them, I smile when I imagine of all the things I could make with them. But that's all I do - imagine - because I have felt that, to do them justice, I need that creative lightning strike to hit me.
As a mindful maker, I decided to live in the present moment; there is no future BEST idea. So now I look at my materials and supplies and start making the first thing that comes to mind. Even if it's just a simple pair of earrings, I make it.
2. Do a self-imposed "de-stash" challenge at least twice a year:
The Minimalists challenge their readers to a "minimalism game" where friends challenge each other to get rid of one item for the number of the day of the month for a whole month. That first day is easy, but by day 27 getting rid of 27 things becomes more difficult.
I decided to take this concept and apply it to my craft materials and supplies. And, truth be told, approach #1 came out of this challenge. Knowing that I had to use a set number of items each day meant that I had little time to overthink. Of the time I had to craft each day, most of it had to be spent doing, not thinking.
When someone does a "destash," they are removing materials or supplies from their collection. So a destash challenge is the perfect way to get start using the supplies that no longer call to you, but you keep around anyway. And if you're unable to craft every day that month then you can take materials or supplies you no longer enjoy working with and donate them to your local senior center. As long as materials are being used by someone and no longer a part of your stash, it counts.
3. Create to donate:
While each of these approaches can be done separately, they are also interconnected. When you destash by doing and not overthinking, you're left with a bunch of finished products. So the next question most people have is, "What do I do with the finished products?" Because let's face it, if you're comparing raw materials to finished goods the only difference is the amount of space each takes up wherever you store them. Nothing has left the house at that point.
If you review your stash and decide what to make with the sole intent of creating something you can donate to a nonprofit in need, that's the pinnacle of being a mindful maker. The materials are doing double time at that point. Not only have they afforded someone a creative outlet, but the finished product will give back to the community. It's the truest form of a win-win situation.
A mindful maker is a work in progress.
Although I still have days when I wish the answer were more straightforward, reminding myself of these three mindful approaches has helped me enjoy my crafting again while also finding ways to connect with new friends and community organizations who need handmade goods.
I am a work in progress, and I’m excited to see how this new, mindful take on crafting – which I am also applying to my existing handmade business - will continue to grow and shape over time.
How do you reconcile the call to create things while also living a minimalist lifestyle?