This blog post is part two of a series in which I explain my journey from being overwhelmed by my craft supplies to being a practical, conscientious, and happy crafter and artist. This is the story of how I stopped being a craft hoarder.
Previous to nearly losing our house and being faced with a terrible decision to make about our family's future, I thrived on feedback I got from other people about my home. As a child, I imagined I would have this grand home and fabulous life and awesome husband and everything that everyone else ever dreamed of as being the perfect fairy tale life. I didn't have my own dream – I had everyone else's dream life. I worked hard and was an entreprenuer from a young age. I had the perspective that I could do anything I put my mind to and I took the world head-on, even when I faced opposition. As a young adult, I decorated my barracks room in the Army, and later my apartments and house with fabulous pieces from Pier One and other home decor stores. I thought that if I had just the right stuff, positioned in just the right twee way, that my life would click and happiness would ensue.
My crafting pursuits and motivations in terms of THINGS were equally as shallow. I had to have all of the latest and greatest things and I spent money on them in ridiculous fashion. My natural skepticism at new things helped keep some of my spending at bay (“Cricut? That is stupid, I don't need that, stickers are cheaper”) but I was a good enough, $400-a-pop craft supply customer that local stores kept me on their speed-dial to alert me when new product came in. I would complain that they were taking advantage of me by calling me but I'd totally show up to the store within a couple hours if not reserving and paying for the thing over the phone, sight unseen. I was the ultimate sucker for limited edition anything. The more scarce and more expensive something was, the more I needed to have it. Once I started amassing all of this STUFF, I needed a place to put it. I invested thousands of dollars into storage solutions that never fully worked or that I outgrew quickly. I passed on those storage items to other people and bought new ones. I moved to larger and larger homes … 700 square foot apartment to 900 square feet to 1400 square feet to 2100 square feet and so on. It was never enough. Harder bigger faster stronger.
On top of this need to buy stuff all the time, was this constant turn-over of things in my house and craft room. To make room for the new, I would get rid of SOME of the old. I was more apt to get rid of home decor items and furniture than craft supplies but I got rid of both. I usually gave it away. It would have been smarter to sell it but I did not want the hassle. Out with the old and in with the new, weekly it seemed. I look back at it now as completely and utterly ridiculous. I could part with things easily because I had little attachment to them – they were someone else's dream, something I bought after envisioning how everyone else would say it was “so cute” or “perfect!”. After some remarks made by my family and a visit to my sister's new house in the midst of the chaos of almost losing my own home, I realized I had been supplementing their decorating budgets with my cast-offs. I am in no financial position to do that. My mom always wanted to be the first to look through my yard sale or donations pile so she could “shop” for her house. Yeah, it sounds totally ridiculous now that I am writing that but it's true. In the craft arena, I would do things like buy 20 organizing baskets so things would all look the same and in 6 months decide they weren't working, get rid of them, and buy another new solution. My insanity was fed by praise from others. I loved it! I still do love getting compliments and there is nothing wrong or nefarious about anyone who gave me compliments. This was my own internal battle. I bought things for the wrong reasons. I had no idea of the long-term effects of making the decision to sell things off to raise money to save our house. I had to act quick – every 30 days the reinstatement amount increased so the longer we took to raise the money, the more money we'd need. As I looked at each item in my house I had epiphanies where I relived the bad decision making, chastised myself for the waste, and felt like a failure. This experience was even more intense in my craft room. I couldn't craft during this time. I hated everything. I literally was angry at my stuff and wanted to throw it all away. The only thing that stopped me was that I needed the money from selling it. If it were not for that, we might not even have a Hydrangea Hippo craft blog right now. I might be working some desk job, still miserable, wondering where the heck I went wrong with my life. (hey, desk jobs aren't bad, they're just not for me).
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