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Happy Mail

January 2, 2017

Happy mail is basically anything that isn’t junk mail or bills. It can be a simple card or a parcel. Something that makes you smile, a thoughtful surprise or anything that you look forward to receiving by post really.

I admit “Happy Mail” sounds corny as Hell… but after being annoyed with the term for some time, I decided that actually it’s an accurate description.

So last year, after the birth of our second daughter I was having a really hard time emotionally. I’ll spare you the details, but I was in pretty rough shape and ultimately I decided that I needed to do more to help myself for my own sake, and the sake of my family before I got into a state that required outside intervention because I just couldn’t function normally anymore.

One of the things that was really upsetting me (besides all the crazy baby hormones) was the fact that my social anxiety, coupled with the fact that I am not being forced to socially interact with people in a workplace setting means that since I became a stay at home mom 4+ years ago, people rarely talk to me. (also, I hate the phone) The isolation was becoming suffocating.

I probably should have started off by saying that I have some pretty intense social anxiety and I’ve had it all of my adult life.  Sometimes I hide it well… and sometimes less well. Having social anxiety makes overcoming feelings of isolation extremely challenging because I don’t enjoy doing the social things that most people enjoy. In fact most of these “normal” social things can leave me completely emotionally exhausted or with a tension headache that lasts for days, which is the complete opposite of fun… It doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy spending time with the people I’m with, it’s just not always easy for me to do, and people rarely understand, or I’m too awkward to explain it, so I isolate myself further and it’s a pretty shitty cycle… but I digress…

Another thing that was bothering me was that I  hadn’t been able to make time for myself to do anything crafty and even if I had time, I had no space to do it anymore because all of my space keeps getting absorbed by my children. Since making things is probably my largest passion in life besides raising my children, I really do need to get it out of my system on a regular basis. Without that creative release I turn into a ball of frustration and teary rage.

So those were three big things that I wanted to resolve, 1. Meet people that I share interests with, 2. Make things, 3. Make space to make things.

Making some space to organize my craft things was nearly impossible, and oddly enough it was also the easiest thing to accomplish.

Onward to meeting people!  I started with netmums which is a UK site geared toward parents, and after exactly 2 weeks of trawling their forums I wanted to remove my eyes with a rusted grapefruit spoon… and forum lingo (the stupid, pointless abbreviations) crawls up my ass sideways. This led to me admitting defeat, and I gave up trying to meet people there. Despite my best efforts it just didn’t work out for me.

One positive thing that I did take away from netmums were some links to penpal sites and I figured that I had nothing to lose by signing up to one of them. As a result of that random effort I’ve now got a handful of people, spread all over the globe who I regularly correspond with. Many of them signed up for the same reasons I did, and because they all had profiles outlining their interests up front, I was able to easily find people who I connected with. We have a great deal in common to talk about. This opened up the world of “happy mail” for me. Pen-palling has honestly been a lifeline and I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s not just letter writing either. There is so much room creativity involved in happy mail if you can find people who are on the same wavelength as you are!

I have always been acutely aware of my anxiety, (sort of impossible not to be) and actively test the boundaries of my comfort zone, because they actually do change over time, however by change I don’t mean that they necessarily get “better”… I might get stronger in one situation and weaker in another, my coping mechanisms and annoying hang-ups evolve over time. Testing myself and challenging myself regularly at least stops me from getting into a position where I’m just afraid to do anything.

So after picking up my penfriends I also plucked up the courage to physically go to my local community center and I got myself into one of their baby groups somehow that is perpetually full… This means that I meet once a week with a bunch of local mothers and their babies (under 3) … Honestly, I hate it. I don’t dislike the people there, and the community center is beyond amazing, it’s just really difficult for me to get through personally.  I do it mostly for my daughter at this point. (who is currently oblivious but I know she’ll grow into it)

In addition to that, I put myself out there and set up a local weekly “crochet group” which I do actually really enjoy, immensely but i need to advertise it better. This means that even if I don’t find time during the week outside of the 10 minute craft sessions I manage between doing mommy stuff, I get 2 hours a week that are just for me and my crochet with the added bonus of meeting with people who also love to crochet.

I still have all of my neurosis, and I still usually hate leaving the house for anything that isn’t shopping however, I’m in a much better place now after picking apart the things that were really bothering me and doing something about them instead of wallowing in self loathing.

Whenever I’m feeling unproductive and broken I remind myself of everything I’ve accomplished, besides pushing two humans out of my body and raising them to be good (which is no small feat)… This blog for example has now exceeded 100k hits in just over 3 years… many people are reading my words every single day, and that’s pretty cool. My store makes regular sales which means many people I’ve never met are enjoying the things I’ve crafted, and that’s a great feeling. I’ve taught myself how to do so many random new things over the years including making solid perfume this week (which I’m pretty excited about)… Even though my brain insists on me being a hermit and it tells me often that I have no value, I tell it to shut the fuck up. As a result I am somewhat less of a hermit, and I know that I have value because I see evidence every day that I am valued.

Off the back of what I’ve learned last year, I am tasking myself with some things for 2017 in addition to maintaining what I’ve already started.

  • Love letters – This isn’t a romantic thing. (click the link) It’s a website where people request one time letters for their friends or relatives who are going through a rough spot to boost their morale. After experiencing what a difference receiving Happy Mail has made in my life I’d like to keep my eye on the website and send out a few of these to random strangers, just because.
  • Promoting my crochet group locally to build on what I’ve already started.
  • Teaching crochet (see #2)– I arranged this with the community center in November and will start a SMALL class on a voluntary basis in February which will run in a different time slot than my crochet group. (Wish me luck, I seriously have no idea what sort of teacher I’m going to be)
  • Making time for me, and for crafts …. Mommy needs to maintain her sanity. Sanity is important…
  • Making sure my husband also has time for himself because he’s the awesomest, most understanding, kind and loving life partner I could ever hope for.
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From → Ramblings, Snail Mail

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