The Diagon Alley Craft Cabinet

the-manic-organizer

Different people do different things to cope with their anxiety. Some people smoke pot. Some people drink. Some people run marathons or join cross-fit or become extreme yoga enthusiasts. Some people watch cooking shows, eat Cheetos all day or go to health food stores obsessing over ingredients. Some people watch cute animal videos on high volume or pimple-popping videos (Ew, David!). Some people watch the NEWS all day and get in heated political discussions. Some people garden or trim bonsai or make tiny houses out of milk cartons. Some people play mindless video games… There are so many things to do to keep yourself from going crazy. I do (and don’t do) a lot of the above but one of my favorite things to do is organize.

I know! It’s a sickness. But it really does make me happy.  Do you know that show: The Home Edit? I loved it. I binge-watched it in a few days and immediately had an unbearable urge to go The Container store or order all the clear plastic bins on Amazon. I talked about the show to a few friends and they looked at me like I like to drink sour milk.  Organizing freaks with high squeaky squealing voices!

Different strokes for different folks I guess.

the-before-craft-cabinet

I am one of those crazy organizers. I don’t have a high squeaky voice, I promise! I have a quiet soft voice like a mouse that nobody can hear. I do sometimes get excited and talk too fast but it doesn’t squeak. At least I don’t think so anyway.

So let’s talk about my pride and joy: my craft cabinet! I call it Diagon Alley. The photo above is the before. It wasn’t that unorganized. But things were getting slightly out of control. Bins were getting too full. I was stuffing things above, beside and around the bins which made it impossible to pull them out without causing a small avalanche.

Why do I have so much stuff? Well, I come from a long line of hoarders (probably brought on by poverty) and I do crafts all the time for my job and just because I love to. Since I hate the craft store I like to keep things and re-use them. I hate having to re-buy things just because I can’t find them.

it-gets-worse-before-it-gets-better-craft-cabinet

You know how organizing goes, it always gets way worse before it gets better. I subscribe to the “A place for everything and everything in its place” method and that doesn’t mean just adding on a second story to your house or renting out a storage unit when you over-flow, though I’ve dreamed of those things many many times.  I say get everything out and then shop from your stuff putting only the things that you really need/want back. It’s a massive purging opportunity.

And it’s work. I have to shake every paint bottle to make sure it’s not dried up and draw with every pen to make sure it still writes. I have to go through old notebooks and pull out the blank pages if they are nearly filled up. I have to throw out whole projects that I really wanted to do but they’ve been on the back burner for way too long… It’s a long arduous series of decisions.

craft-cabinet-crapola

I just put on some headphones and commit to rocking out for a good day. Wittle wittle wittle away at the giant pile of crap, grouping like objects together, consolidating and then, of course, tossing a good percentage because EVERYTHING HAS TO FIT!

craft-cabinet-extraordinaire

When I’m done I am exhausted but it’s peaceful exhaustion where I sink into the couch, completely relaxed and happy. I try to watch television and unwind but I constantly interrupt whatever show we are watching to gloat about how great the organized cabinet is. Payam is used to me. Murder, schmurder, crime show schmimeshow…Did I tell you how great it is to go out into the Diagon Alley and gaze at all the perfectly aligned bins of crafty goods? It’s like angels sing!

craft-cabinet-bin-1-2

As you can see I am not a perfectionist organized freak. I’m somehow missing the OCD part of this mental illness. It suits me because I think often perfectionists get hung up on the details and get overwhelmed by the sheer effort needed to organize all the details perfectly. Not me. I just throw things willy nilly into my sense of order (whatever level of type A I happen to be that day) and then shrug off anything that doesn’t quite fit. My stickers are not even, my fonts change, some pricetag stickers are still slightly stuck… you get the idea.

But this time I decided to step up the organization a notch and I made a spreadsheet! I kid you not. I have a google spreadsheet of every single craft supply I have and a corresponding bin number. It’s goooooood.

craft-cabinet-bin-3-4

The great thing about the internet is that I’m sure there is somebody out there who is looking at these photos and saying, “me too!” In fact, I fantasise that someone will even zoom in and take notes of all my supplies. They are great supplies. You can make so many things with these odds and ends.

craft-cabinet-bin-5-10

Sharpies, fabric paint, craft paint, feathers and shells, raffia, ribbon, tissue paper…. so many things!

craft-cabinet-bin-11-16

Glue, tape, foam, all those containers and odd collections. Looking for a cassette tape? It’s in bin 15 of course with all the other tape. Makes perfect sense to me!

craft-cabinet-bin-14-19

So anyway, you get the picture. Ooops, I repeated a picture. Oh well, I’m not fixing it because I have two pies to make today and a needy client. I think all three readers of this post can acknowledge the imperfect in me.

craft-cabinet-bin-20-22

At the end of the day, I am a happy crafter. I love to take anyone and everyone out into my garage to show them Diagon Alley and brag about it. Need to borrow some craft supplies? I’ve got you covered!

I know I’m super lucky to have so much space but on the flip side, I can’t park my car in my garage because we have a man-cave/woodworking shop on one side and an awesome Diagon Alley/laundry room on the other. To each their own, right?

Kindness Goeth Before Pride

Today and the last few days I’ve been trying to be especially nice to myself. This is a little tricky for me because I was raised to be unselfish. That is not a brag. It’s the best way I can describe my puritanistic Quakerish upbringing. The rules for being a god-fearing meeting girl were that Pride goeth before a fall and those rules still really ring loud in my head. I was taught it and real life experiences reinforced it. It’s been sort of a self-inflicted commandment for as long as I can remember. Every time I was proud I got slapped in the face with some kind of humiliating life experience that sucked. So keep your head down and let good things pleasantly surprise you. That was my motto for most of my life. I don’t believe that anymore but it still kind of haunts me. I walk around waiting for bad things to happen if too many good things happen in a row. Does that make sense?

When I was a kid my parents were always broke. My clothes were handmade or birthday presents from relatives. Sometimes my parents would come across extra money and we’d splurge.Those were the best days. I’m sure my parents were just like me and most people who have experienced poverty. When you finally get money you usually spend it twice over on the things you’ve wished you could have for so long and then you end up worse off. It’s taken me a long time to reprogram that way of living out of my head. But that’s not the story I want to tell.

I was always one of those girls who always cared about how I looked. I was shallow that way. Or you could say I was creative and I liked to express myself visually. It depends on how you look at it. Anyway, I loved fashion and being forced to wear clothes that I thought were “dorky” was incredibly painful. One day, when my parents were going through a stage of letting me wear pants (they went through stages where I could only wear dresses) they bought me some Guess Jeans at PriceClub. Remember PriceClub? We would go on these amazing shopping sprees and my parents would fill up a cart with $400 worth of merchandise. Most of it was for their business but sometimes fun things for me would jump into the cart.

I dreamt about having Guess Jeans for so long. Getting them affordably at PriceClub was life-changing! I could finally be like the other cool kids. And they looked so good on me too! Those little zippers at the ankles?!!! I loved those jeans like I have never loved anything before. I wore them as often as I could. I was proud of them. I was proud of how I looked in them. It was the BEST.

Then one day I forgot to lock my locker during P.E. and they were stolen. I had to wear my baggy sweatpants to the rest of my classes that day. Green baggy sweatpants with my regular shirt. I was crushed. I cried. I loved those jeans so much and they were just ripped away from me by some other poor kid who wanted expensive jeans too. I had to get over it. It just was the way it was. So I moped and learned not to get too attached to any material object because you never know when it’s going to be taken from you.

A few years later my parents bought me another pair of Guess Jeans. My parents were so nice. They really wanted to make me happy even though these kinds of clothes were frowned upon by the elders of our religious gathering. These jeans were white and they had zippers up the back. I loved them sooooo much. Not as much as the original blue ones but they were much more appreciated because I knew they could be taken from me at any moment.

They weren’t taken from me but they did end up being a painful memory.

I don’t remember all the details but I was wearing them on a camping trip with extended family. Why was I wearing white jeans on a camping trip!? That’s pretty weird in itself. I have no idea. Probably because I wore them all the time and I wanted to look cute ALL the time. Just ask my parents about how they bought me a butane curling iron so I could have curled hair when we went camping. I’ve always been a vain one even though they tried desperately to teach me not to be. Anyway, I digress.

So I’m wearing my cute jeans and my uncle mistakes me for his wife. They were recently married and my Aunt and I do look similar from the back. She’s a bit taller than me but we both had the same brown hair and we both were thin. AND I wore her old jacket that she gave me. So I can see why he might mistake me for her. Don’t worry, nothing bad like him accidentally pinching my butt or anything happened.

But what did happen is that my mom took me aside in our tent and told me I couldn’t wear my white jeans anymore. I was shocked. Why???!!! Why couldn’t I wear my favorite jeans? They were like a security blanket for me at this point. How could someone take them away from me after I had lost my last pair and these new ones meant so much to me? Were jeans not allowed anymore, I asked? Do we have to go back to only wearing dresses? No, she said. It’s not that. It just that you look too good in them. What?!

That took a while to sink in. I look too good in my jeans? To who? To your uncle. What?!!! My uncle that I looked up to as a godly man was lusting after me? He was old in my eyes (like 30-something to my young 16) and really cool. He was smart and intellectual and I loved listening to him talk at meeting (church) because he made the hard concepts more understandable. He was humble too. I really looked up to him. How could he possibly have evil lustful thoughts? It was so confusing. And scary.

My Uncle never did anything that made me uncomfortable. But I definitely gave him a wide berth after that. I always walked around afraid of men—which might have been good protection for me. I never was abused. I was never raped. The worst me-too moment I ever had was a boss harassing me over the phone. So I’m lucky. Lucky and scared. Or scared lucky.

Wow. This is not where I was going when I started this post. I was talking about being nice to myself when it feels counter-intuitive but somehow it turned into a post about having material things taken from me and sexism.  While losing material things is a valuable lesson (one I learned again when my brother’s bicycle was stolen right off the porch while I practiced the piano a mere feet away, and then again when I was in college when his bike was stolen right out of my garage and then when my laptop, camera and new $200 backpack were stolen in Italy…) these things happen and I’ve come to expect them. I’ve come to be okay with it and to look for the bigger lesson.

What I wanted to share is that we need to be kinder to ourselves if we are going through hard stuff. This rings so wrong to me because I was always raised to be against self-love. It was the very opposite of what I was taught. I was taught that self-love is hedonism and you might as well be partying with the devil. I was taught that we are born with wickedness in our hearts that only Jesus can take away. I don’t know that I believe that anymore. I know this could be controversial and I don’t really want to argue. I just want to be kinder to myself so I can heal and get better.

The practical way I am applying this is not trying to be so perfect when I’m going through something hard. Quitting drinking is hard. Being mentally fragile is hard. Quitting and being mentally fragile during a pandemic and a civil rights movement is exponentially hard.  Maybe the last time when I tried to quit and I got grumpy and then super sad it was a side effect of how hard it is to quit something your brain has used to cope for a very long time. I didn’t even know I was using alcohol for that. Maybe I wasn’t. I have no idea. I don’t feel like I was but I can be kinder to myself if it’s going to help me get through this.

Going forward I am going to quiet my inner lectures and let myself chill with my thoughts. I can stop beating myself up for failing on so many fronts. I don’t have to be perky and happy. I don’t have to be the perfect mother or a touchy-feeling partner (I’m not a cuddler) or domestic goddess when I’m quitting something that is addictive. Maybe it’s okay to eat a little more or have a little sugar or just be a bit stand-offish. I can put ice cream in my coffee because we ran out of milk. I can take an Advil for that arthritis that’s flaring up. It’s okay. I’ve stopped watching the news. I’ve stopped reading Facebook. I’m writing my thoughts to my beloved lurkers again. I’m doing some self care. Not hedonism. Just quiet self care.

And I’m trying to be nice to other people too. Everyone seems a little down these days. Even my kids.

How are YOU?