What happens when your hobby becomes a job?
I was once an avid cross-stitcher. For anyone who does not know what cross-stitching entails, I will explain.
A cross-stitched project begins with a piece of finely woven fabric dotted with tiny holes placed equal distances apart, usually 11, 14, 18 or 22 holes per inch of fabric. Numerous skeins of colored floss (thread), a blunt-tipped sewing needle, an embroidery hoop, and a pair of sharp scissors are also needed.
Following a color-coded pattern printed on a tiny grid, the cross-stitch worker counts tediously and sews tiny x’s or half-x’s or quarter-x’s, using the appropriate color floss. She does this by pushing her needle up and down in exactly the correct holes of the fabric, sometimes even between the holes of the fabric, thus replicating the picture on the paper pattern.
Cross-stitching, like other hobbies, can become work. The more beautiful projects I completed, the more driven I was to begin new ones. Never mind that I was ruining my eyesight and developing pressure sores on my behind.
Over the years I have dabbled in other hobbies including scrapbooking, gardening, and sewing clothes. Once again I discovered I didn’t own these projects. They owned me.
Progress on the scrapbook I was assembling for my seven-year-old granddaughter halted after her first birthday. Soon I had as much hope of catching up on her scrapbook as I would have of running after and catching a bus traveling 50 miles an hour.
My gardening hobby hit a snag when I realized my tomato plants were producing tomatoes faster than I could use them. The sight of ripe tomatoes rotting on the ground because I neglected them caused me to feel wasteful and irresponsible.
My sewing hobby tortured me most. Every time my eyes lit on a sewing project left unfinished because I couldn’t figure out how to put in sleeves or create pleats or insert a zipper, I felt like a ninth-grader well on her way to flunking home economics.
Unfinished projects taunted me everywhere I looked. When I had a bit of free time, I couldn’t decide which one of them to tackle. Frustrated by indecision, I usually retreated to the hammock to take a nap.
I have finally developed a strategy that keeps me from obsessing over abandoned hobbies. First, I shush the little voice inside my head that tells me quitting is always bad.
I shove my cross-stitch projects and supplies, along with all unfinished sewing projects, into a dresser drawer. Then I stay away from stores like JoAnn Fabrics where such materials are sold.
I plant only enough tomatoes to supply my family and friends, not the whole county. I then invite neighbors to help themselves to my crop. That way I share not only my harvest but also any guilt that comes when tomatoes are left unused.
The scrapbook for my granddaughter is one project I passionately want to complete. If I give up cross-stitching, gardening, and sewing, maybe I will make some progress on it.
Or maybe I won’t. To move forward with the scrapbook project, I will need to stop writing, working crossword puzzles, crocheting, reading, listening to audio books, and playing Bookworm on my laptop. So many interests. So little time.
I think I hear the hammock calling.