Thursday, March 20, 2008

Taking a long hard look in the mirror.

A couple friends I have did some very kind things for me several months ago. They gave me some beautiful handmade gifts. I still feel so special every time I look at these gifts. Receiving these gifts has made me change who I am. I love to give things but I never really took the time to make things that took any amount of time. I am trying to force myself to make more time consuming things. I feel that by doing this I am getting so much more out of giving. I am trying to use my painting, sewing, knitting, or spinning time I enjoy so much as time praying for, thinking of, and just appreciating the friendships I have with the person I am making something for. In the past I would only make things that I could do quick. When things got hard or didn't turn out like I wanted I would get frustrated and toss it in my need to finish gift giving box. My boxes of unfinished gifts grew into 2 boxes. I even told myself (justified it) with some not so nice thoughts. I have said to myself many times things like...Well, this person can spin, knit, paint, craft, or sew better than I can so I am wasting my time making this junky thing. I also say things like this person should have something nicer than what I can make so I won't make this. I know this is childish! I know this is wrong but that didn't stop me from doing it over and over again.
I am starting to think different about giving now. I am not putting focus on the "gift" part of giving. I know that doesn't make sense. What I am trying to do is 1. Be thankful that I have hobbies I enjoy. 2. Be thankful for friends that I can think about, pray for, and enjoy knowing when I am doing my crafting. 3. Get a happy feeling of finishing something and not tossing it in a box to forget about it. 4. Enjoy the good feeling i get when I get to give the gift. I use to get upset when a person didn't like my gift. I no longer feel that way! I now look at it that I got to have fun making something. When I was making that object I was able to pray for and treasure a good friendship. I then feel good about finishing something that took time to do. Last I am excited and get to enjoy handing something to someone! WOW! Now that I look at gift giving this way I am able to not feel bad if it isn't something a person likes! I would be OK if they tossed it in the trash in front of me. That is a HUGE life change for me! I now view it as I already got so much out of the making the object the way a person responds to the gift when they receive it doesn't matter so much. I am making things because I like to make things. I am doing it for someone because they matter to me. I am not making something because I want them to do this or that with the gift. I made it because I like them and was thinking about them. So they can toss it and that would be OK. I think they will know someone was thinking about them and to me that is the point of giving to friends.
I still feel sick over all the times I have said to myself that someone can make something so much nicer than this and because of that I won't waste my time finishing this project. I now think that sure that is often true that many of my crafty friends and family can make nicer things than I can but why should that give me an excuse to quit? I think they should still get a gift just so they know someone was thinking about them and know I treasure the friendship I have with them. Often as moms we all spend so much time doing for our husbands, caring for children, teaching children, cleaning the house, cooking, doing laundry, changing diapers, and wearing ourselves out with no thanks or pay for our hard work. I know when someone gives me a gift I feel special. I often feel like a dirty old dishrag doing all the yuck work I have to do in my day. When I receive a gift or a call from someone I loose that dirty dish rag feeling. I want all my friends and family to be able to have days not feeling like a dirty dish rag and feel more like someone who is a treasured friend. I am making a lot of progress with my new way of looking at things. I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me. I hope writing this all down I will look back and not go back to my ugly ways.
This has changed some of my relationships already. A person I know told me at Christmas how happy she was that she received sock yarn from someone as a gift. I decided that spinning her sock yarn would be a good gift for her. Once I started the project she told me that she doesn't like sock yarn. It is to thin, hard for her to see, and difficult for her to work with. She didn't know I was making her yarn she was just saying how she felt about something. I once again went back to my old way of thinking and started getting frustrated that she wasn't going to like what I was making for her. This time that feeling didn't last long. The next day I got the thought that I could knit her up the socks with the sock yarn I was making AND make her a thicker yarn she can enjoy. I now feel good having a reason to do more crafting!
Once I started thinking this way our relationship changed a lot for the better. This person is someone who I haven't had the best relationship with. I suppose everyone has that one difficult relationship they struggle with. You know that family member, in law, neighbor, or friend that you don't see eye to eye with. In the past it has always been easy for me to say she did this or that to me and it hurts! My hubby and friends are always on my side and able to see how this or that hurts me. I always felt that if others agree with me I must be right. Funny thing about this is I have always said that right and wrong doesn't apply to relationships. I am always trying to tell my husband and children how misunderstandings (wrongs) in our house go both ways that 2 people BOTH played a part in it. I have always had an easy time seeing the other side and explaining it to the other person. It hurts for me to now look in the mirror and see that it took 2 people to have that strained relationship I have struggled with! I should have been doing more and trying harder to support, pray, and love this person. I was NOT doing that. SHAME ON ME!!! I am happy to say that wounds are healing and we are working on a relationship now. I am happy to take the call when she calls and I look forward to seeing her soon. I am planning several get togethers with her next month. We have a lot in common I am going to focus on that and enjoy being with her. I hope to keep looking at my own ugly side (my wrongs) when the next problem pops up between us and find ways to keep a good relationship with her. .
This thinking has made me take a look at ALL my relationships. I am now thinking that I must have upset, hurt, or made mad everyone I know. Every time I toss something in a box and don't finish it I am not being a good person. Whenever I don't take the time to think about how lucky I am to know someone I am not being a good friend. When I fall behind on email, don't call, am cranky from not enough sleep, not trying to help someone, not asking friends what they need, not asking what they need me to pray for, and so on I am not being a good friend. The list of how I am not nice to people, not being a good friend, have hurt or wronged a person goes on and on. When I think about it I know I could spend a full day writing that list! I feel so sick to my stomach thinking about it all! I am working hard on changing this! I will never have this all together but I know I can make a huge difference if I keep trying. Just the thought of how every time in my life I felt hurt by something someone did to me and knowing that I somehow played a part in hurting that person. I have either caused this hurt and wronged my friends by 1. doing something that made that person want to hurt me back. 2. Frustrated a person with my ignorance and caused hurt. 3. Not responded to them in a kind loving way because I was feeling hurt. 4. Stepping away from a relationship when I feel hurt. 5. Hurting back because I was so hurt I reacted instead of loving. or some other way that I haven't thought about yet. I am sure that I have played a HUGE part in all my hurt feelings. After doing some thinking about this I now know that I have in some way at one time hurt everyone I know. That is a hard thing to think about! I am trying to improve and become a better person but this is something I have a TON of work to do to make all the changes I need to make. I have started to give apologies to everyone I know. I have a long list of people I have to say I am sorry to and thank them for being a friend. I think it is going to take me a lot longer than I thought to get to everyone on my list.
Time is another thing I never gave enough thought about with gift giving. For some crazy reason I have always thought SPEED and TIMELY giving are a focus of my giving. I am now trying to look at it that speed and time have nothing to do with giving. Sure I think a gift holiday or party gift should be done on time but most of the things I have been making are not for a party they are just little thank you for being a friend kind of no holiday gift. I know if someone was making something for me I would not want them to feel like they needed to rush. I would never want them to feel anxious, get short with children, miss out on time with a husband, skip housework, view making something as a chore, or any other stupid things I have done in the past when I am making something! I have no idea why I often get into some kind of get it done race the clock kind of thinking. Now that I am taking my time and thinking about the person I am making something for I feel it is OK to put it down and take care of what I need to do. Making something in 1 hour or 1 month doesn't matter. I have never had anyone say I heard you are making me something can you finish it now! Most of the time the person has no idea I am making something for them. Why did I rush along or turn something fun to do into a chore that needed to get done so many times? This is such a wonderful way for me to look at things. I am able to take care of all I need to do, make my gift, have fun crafting, and enjoy every minute of it.
I am still struggling with gifts that need to be mailed out! I know I must be missing the simple solution with how to mail things. It shouldn't be that hard to walk into the Post office and ask to mail my boxes. It has always been a simple task until I had 2 children. Now with 3 children it seems impossible to do. Trying to get school work done, housework done, baby feed, boxes in car, and get coats and shoes on everyone feel like it takes a lot of time. Then by the time I drive downtown the baby needs a diaper change and to be fed again. Getting out of the car and into the PO with boxes, a baby, and a toddler is so hard. My son can't keep a good hold of my toddler. She is squirmy and strong so I have to be the one to hold her hand. She listens well most of the time but she is a toddler and does throw some tantrums. I always worry she might try to run off in a parking lot or toss herself on the ground in the parking lot. I am always worried about her safety. When you add in a baby that has to be carried and packages it gets impossible to figure out! If I did get that far the waiting in line with my active toddler, baby, and boxes gets VERY UGLY! My baby is still nursing and she wants to nurse for comfort when she is in a strange new place. I am not the kind of person who feels comfortable nursing my baby in public. My toddler doesn't stand in line well so chasing after her is exhausting. I don't ever leave my children in the car. My husband told me that his cousin once went into a tiny country corner market and left her child in the car. Someone stole her car with baby in it!!!! The person wasn't trying to kidnap the baby he wanted the car. I don't think this is something that happens often BUT I can't get that thought out of my head so I will not leave them in the car. I hope once Rob is done with training and he has more weekdays off I think I will either ask him to mail my stuff or I will have him go with us and he can sit in the car with the children when I run in. Until I mail out my stack of boxes I have waiting to mail out I can't make anymore gifts to mail out! All that is happening is I am staking up boxes and then everyone moves them around room to room corner to corner out of the way. My family views them as in the way junk. Just a few more weeks and I hope to take care of this problem.
I now feel that I have so many things I need to work on. I know this list is very small compared to all the things I should be working on but at least it is a start and I am making progress. I hope if someone reads this they don't feel like I am saying this is what everyone should do and how you need to do it! I often think and do things that is not a good fit for others. I often do things that isn't good for me! I might look back at this several months from now and think WOW I was way off when I thought that way. I am only writing this because if it is what the Lord wants me to do I want to keep doing it. I often slip back to my bad ways I hope writing it down keeps me from slipping back.
I am feeling so happy that I have made so much progress in this area! I am so thankful that 2 friends inspired me to work on changing in this way. 2 loving gifts in one week at the end of last year has changed me so much. I feel that a lot has changed in my thinking and my doing in just a few months. I hope to keep moving along in a helpful, positive, kind way. Maybe someday I will get all my unfinished projects in boxes done and who knows maybe doing them all will improve my crafting skills enough that I can be proud of my crafting and not look at it as something someone makes nicer than I do. I now see that giving is so much more than the not telling your right hand what your left one does! I use to think everything about giving was simple and easy I now find it a bit more complicated but I also am finding it more enjoyable.

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