Crafting Through The Chaos

March 14, 2020

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How To Find Calm Among Chaos With Crafts and DIY

Last night, sitting in front of the tv, watching Gone With The Wind with my family, trying to avoid the news and the the endless list of canceled events, I starting thinking.

Thinking about the passage of time and the cyclical nature of things.

You see, almost exactly seven years ago, I hit publish for the very first time on this blog.

I wasn't looking to make money. I had no aspirations to become a famous writer or have my own DIY tv show. In fact, I barely knew what a blog was.

Seven years ago I just needed an escape.

My fiercely independent mother had suddenly fallen several times. She broke hips, was in and out of rehab on a revolving basis and had begun to lose her ability to speak.

She had to stop work, turn over her car keys, give up an active social schedule and the idea of living on her own.

We'd always been extremely close, so it was an unbelievably difficult time.

Yellow Rose

I internalized her pain, I cried with her and for her every single day. The bruises on her face and body made me shudder. Standing over her passed out body on the floor in the mall, left me panicked and weak in the knees.

The scared look in her eyes tore at my heart and daily visits to hospitals or nursing home/ rehab centers left me breathless with anxiety.

Incredibly, at the same time, two of my siblings were fighting cancer.  Every time the phone rang, I knew it was more bad news.

I remember one absolutely terrible week, during the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, when I was sure I was going to break.

We'd been without power for days. The food stores were, too. Nothing to eat, gas shortages, cold nights with no heat and a husband far away. I was alone with little kids and no cell service.

On top of it all, my mother was in the hospital with pneumonia.

Spring Garden Spoons

While most of my neighborhood friends were having cocktails by candlelight and freezer meat parties, I was packing the kids up in the car, driving, while dodging downed trees and power lines, to a place where I could get cell service.

I would then sit on hold, watching the gas gauge drop, as I tried to get a nurse on the phone to ask how my mother was doing, since she, herself, could no longer speak. And I did this several times a day.

The days that followed were no better.

Kitchen Tulips

In between trying to raise two small children and run a house with a husband that was gone 14+ hours a day and traveled often, my days were spent in doctors' offices, emergency rooms, moving my mother out of her home and into various living situations, since her condition kept deteriorating.

There were lawyers to deal with, medicaid applications, home healthcare aides that didn't show up, falls and the incredibly painful experience of watching my mother, as a vague Parkinson's-like disease stole more and more from her with each passing day.

Fall Wreath

And I was unable to do anything to stop it.

I was completely helpless.

And the weight of it was almost too much to bear.

So I started writing. For me.

My blog was my bunker. I crawled in at night and blocked the real world out.

I wrote about inconsequential things, like crafts and decor. I satirically poked fun at the seriousness of topics like the color of my tissue boxes, I stenciled, I sewed and told embarrassing stories.

I actively looked for at least one small thing to make me smile during the day. Every day.

And when I couldn't find one, I made one...and believe it or not, it helped.

Cottage Kitchen

When a moment of craziness hit, I found comfort in DIY. I focused on the process and the words.

It's was a mediation of sorts. I used what I had around the house to craft, so it was inexpensive...and since my projects were quick, I could fit them in between theater practice pick up and nursing home visits.

Somewhere along the way, I started documenting my DIYs and the their steps, hoping to encourage others to bring a little bit of light into their own worlds.

Sharing my tiny moments of grace and simple smiles with the world made me smile even more.

Sure there were some people who just didn't get it, enough with story, just tell us how to do it or those that didn't get my sense of humor, accusing me of taking home decor way too seriously.

All part of the journey I suppose, but I never took any stock in those words because, as I said, I was writing for me.

Eventually, it became an addiction and one I've thoroughly enjoyed over the last seven years. Even though that life, that one I needed a break from, disappeared.

Rainbow Rose Bouquet

My family members recovered and my mom passed and while the grief is still present, the overwhelming weight of those horrible days, faded.

I continued to write, although maybe not as often, because I loved it. So much so that I was thinking of doing a lot more of it, writing a book perhaps and calling it Crafting Through The Chaos.

A name my sister came up with, as she watched me navigate my way though those weighty years.

However, now, I find myself in need of an escape. All over again.

Flowers In The Bathroom

While the situation is clearly not the same, there is uncertainty. There is fear. And there is a never-ending cycle of scary news and social media bombarding us.

Family members are working from home, classes are canceled.

Stores are sold out of basic supplies and there's an air of panic about.

I'm trying to remain calm, but I have bad lungs on a good day and I have loved ones with health issues. I worry.

And so I find myself here. Again.

Diving back into my little bunker.

Just like I did seven years ago.

Writing.

Red Tulips

I'll write about inconsequential things, like crafts and decor. I'll poke fun at things like the color of my tissue boxes, I'll stencil and maybe I'll share some more of those embarrassing stories. Maybe.

However, I'll absolutely spend my days looking for something to make me smile.

And when I can't find one, I'll make one.

Because crafting and writing really do help.

Especially when I feel so helpless.

Where do you go to escape? I'd love to know...



50 comments

  1. Hi Kim,
    This is my escape as well. Blogging and the blog community we have created together over the years has helped me with so much.. Empty Nest.. Basic Training.. Deployments..Bully of a co worker.. my dad's heart attack.. yes this community of blog friends is a blessing and I love each one of you.

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    1. So glad to have you in the bunker with me, Carla! Sending you big hugs and love, my friend. ❤️

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  2. Oh Kim I liked your post today. It is wonderful with all the horrible heartache and stress you found an outlet to relieve some of your daily stress. We all need a sanctuary of hope to escape when life gets rough. It was so uneasy to go to the Target and my grocery store yesterday to find most of the shelves empty. Not only paper products and hand sanitizers or bleach but food too. People are in a panic and I think we should be very aware of this virus. It is a deadly one and it spreads quickly. I feel for the elderly and compromised people that have to be ever so cautious. There are not enough hospital beds or vents for the people seriously ill from the Coronavirus in Italy and the death toll is rising. All our schools, churches, large gathering places are closed here until April. Hospitals and medical offices are only open to employees and people needing help. I think our government officials are trying not to panic people but are trying in the best way they can to keep this virus under control and we do not become like China and Italy. Best precautions are to use common sense. Stay home as much as possible and wash your hands with soap and water often. As a nurse I usually do not get too excited about the hype on the news about these kinds of things but this one with its uncertainty and deadly consequences seems to need attention. I am glad we have the internet to continue to have a social life for now lol! Stay safe and cautious. Big hugs.

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    1. Thank you, Kris. It is scary out there. I’ve had to walk away from the tv and the computer several times already today. Unfortunately with a house full of people stuck at home, something always seems to be playing in the background. We’re trying to employ common sense, stying home and washing up, so I’m deep in crafting mode. It really does help keep me sane. When I focused on my process, I can’t think of anything else. I suppose that’s a good thing right now. Please stay safe and be cautious yourself. I’m sure Terry has his hands full right now and the rest of your family since I know so many of you are involved in public service or the health community. Scary right now all over. Big hugs!

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  3. I guess I'm in habitual escape pattern. I don't go out much to start with. But I'm not as crafty as you, so I'd rather see what you come up with and enjoy it through my computer. You're a very talented and wonderful writer, Kim!
    Brenda

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    1. Thank you, Brenda. You always have the kindest things to say...and I really am more like you, than you probably think. I love being home. My favorite quote says something like "People who say go big or go home, seriously underestimate my willingness to go home. It's literally my only goal"...That's me!!

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  4. This is a beautiful post, not because of the sad things you have been through, but because you found a way to deal with it all. Years ago when I was raising my girls by myself, I encouraged them to find one good thing a day, even if was just that gasoline had gone down a penny. Keep on writing, Kim!

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    1. Thank you, Donna. ❤️ And I love your example! Something as small as saving a penny counts. I think most of us are looking for big things, but the flower buds, the birds’ songs and evening stars all you really need. Stay well...

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  5. bless you child. for what you've been through. but you have good genes. look how you've come through!
    I will be 75 this June. I don't remember WW II but my grandmother and my mother did. and oddly enough this is beginning to have the Homefront repercussions of one! for years I have watched the waste in this country.
    people ordering more than they can eat but not taking it home... leaving platefuls of food. to be thrown away because of our health dept rules. and not just wasting food! but everything really. leaving lights on all over the house whether anyone is in it or not. those seem like silly little things. but they're not.
    we've never been a country where most people have to do without. it's always been 'another's problem.'
    I don't ever craft as you know. I just love your spirit for LIFE. as a happy and cozy minimalist …
    anyone who 'rises above' is an inspiration to me! we've all been through terrible LOSS. cancer. job loss.
    and other debilitating diseases.
    it's how we handle it all that inspires and impresses me! that and my LOVE FOR DOGS! ANY DOGS! and seeing the wonderful comical way they show loyalty and approach life with unconditional LOVE!
    keep on keeping on darling bean! you're a favorite you know! XOXOXO

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    1. Tammy, thank you for your thoughtful comment, as usual. ❤️ I have been thinking about it A LOT these past few days. I grew up with Depression Era parents and my dad fought in WWII. We saved everything and grew up living frugally, even during successful days. This has just brought that careful mentality back to the forefront for me and and introduced it to many more, I believe. I hope you're staying safe my friend and thanks for coming by. You know I always love seeing your name pop up!! xoxo

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  6. I go to the woods to escape....or to bed....I love a good nap. Or I play with my grandson...or my dog. I play music, clean house, pick flowers, cook. Just getting something accomplished at home seems to set the world straight for awhile.

    I'm honestly not too stressed about things going on in the world. Like you, I've lieved through some pretty horrifically hard years. So I've learned to live in the moment. I only need to take care of this moment I am in. I've done all I can do for the future. There are enough problems for today with carrying the ones from the past. I feel peace about a life well lived & I think I'm ready to face whatever comes.

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    1. One day at a time, Jenny....and when that doesn't work it's one minute at a time. The woods sound lovely, too. I wish we had a secluded wooded drop of land to escape to now. Enjoy yours!

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  7. Dear Kim: I am so sorry that you had to go through even one day of all that but am so proud of you how you have handled it all. We all look so forward to your posts where we can learn something or just listen to the words you put down. This was such a beautiful post. If some might think that it is not as important to listen to our friends and what they have gone through, they should take another look, as every single word and thought is something that the most of us have gone through also and it is really helpful to see how it affects us all. Someday, I will write a post about moments in my life, as you have set a wonderful example, and if you don't mind. Thank you for letting us see how strong you are, my friend..xxoJudy

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    1. Thank you, Judy. Your kind words are always a bright spot in my day. I hope that you are doing well and staying safe! xo

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  8. Hi Kim,

    I know you have bad lungs and must be concerned. Wash, wash, wash! I'm concerned too having MS and my new drug does a number on my immune system.

    I like you throw myself into projects. I have tons to get done and work on. My husband is home, they closed the office. I'm happy he's not going into NYC right now. He'll work from home.

    I also focus my energy on exercise because for me I release tons of anxiety. I'll keep you in my thoughts.

    I get to see your posts more often which make me smile. At times like this one with your mom I feel like you because I was there with mine at 26 and just getting diagnosed.

    Hugs,

    Cindy

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    1. Cindy, I'm glad you husband is working from home. NYC is very scary at the moment. And I'm so sorry to hear that you had the same experiences with your mom. Heartbreaking. Stay safe my friend. Hugs.

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  9. Kim, I admire you for how you've handled life's frustrations, especially those with your mom. I can relate to that because I had a similar situation with mine.
    As for this virus, I alternate between being concerned and worried and being not worried. With news gabbing on about it 24/7, it's hard not to be concerned, but my faith in God helps me through it. I'm not too concerned about being confined to home because I love being home anyway, so I plan on getting caught up with lots of projects while I remain healthy. I wish everyone else good health.

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    1. Florence, I think so many of us are in the same boat right now, back and forth between being worried and then not and then worried again. The endless news cycle doesn't help. I hope you find peace in your projects! And I wish you good health, too!

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  10. Dear Kim you have been through so much but still have a good outlook on how to handle what comes your way. I love your craftyness. I have gotten so many great ideas from you because I cant look at something and see an idea or inspiration of what to do with it. You are so down to earth and express your feelings so well. You are my favorite blog. I am a homebody too and my favorite vacation is staying home. My sisters will tell me they are so bored but I can always find something to do at home. You take care and God Bless you and your family.

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    1. Thank you so much, Cheryl. Your words are very sweet and you really have made my day. There's always something of beauty in each day and today, your comment is it for me. ❤️ I'm glad you find inspiration here, that is my goal and if I have made a difference for even one person, it's so worth it. Blessing to you, too friend. Please stay safe.

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  11. Dear Kim,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I enjoy reading your posts and am glad that the writing of them brought you some peace. I will pray for your health. I try to be optimistic about the virus and I do believe that it will not be as bad as some fear but it is hard. My dad is frail, battling cancer and not knowing how much longer we will have him. My kids, who live across the state in big city suburbs where the risks for exposure are greater are electing to stay away, at least so far, to avoid bringing something back here. I appreciate their decisions but know that there is the possibility that they will not see their grandpa again. Stay well, good friend.

    Lorri

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    1. Lorri, I really do hope that you're right and things don't get any worse. Unfortunately, I'm fearful that it will. The numbers in my area are staggering. I've been watching less news and more fun shows and cooking and sewing and playing games. It's way better for me. I hope your family is safe and healthy! Hugs to you, my sweet friend.

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  12. Blogging and journaling are my escape, too. I had no idea you had been through so much. I'm praying we can all find comfort as these days become more and more stressful.

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    1. Thank you so much, Mandy. Please take care of yourself during this time...

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  13. My family and I are not in a panic about this situation. We have not run to the store to stock up on anything. We have been living our ordinary lives. Unfortunately, our business has started to suffer. Our clients are in the hospitality industry and they are suffering and this has trickled down to our little family business. Our three biggest accounts will not be ordering from us in the near future. I am more concerned about this than the virus. My husband told me that our faith has to been in God and not in our business clients. He is right and I am trying hard not to worry about our financial future. So, in the meantime, I will come up with creative recipes for the food I have in the freezer & pantry instead of buying more. I'll organize my closet, put away my winter curtains & decor items, go for long walks with my husband, spring clean our apartment (maybe). Perhaps I will even try my hand at something craftily creative like you. I refuse to panic and become a hoarder. Oh, who am kidding? I can't afford to become a hoarder right now.

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    1. Briana, I've been thinking about you and your situation whenever the business news comes on. It's not easy for anyone right now, but small businesses, especially in your industry, seem very hard hit. I do hope once this is over, your business springs back with great growth. In the meantime, I do hope you are well and trying something crafty!! Stay safe.

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  14. My escapes are reading and watching old movies ~ ya gotta love MGM!

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    1. I love old movies, Bobbie!! MGM is the best!! We've been diving in to Turner Classic Movies all week long...

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  15. This is a lovely post filled with so much wisdom.

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    1. Thank you, Cheri. I hope you are well...

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  16. I also come to blogging for a safe and sane place, and also crafting and writing that I do just for me. It is nice to feel that you still have control over some things. Kim, I was so sorry to hear that you've gone through so much, you are a lot stronger than you think, to carry on through it all and be the cheerful, wonderful person that you are.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Thank you so much, Amalia. I enjoy seeing your cheerful crafty creations and reading your whimsical poems. They always make me smile and that is a gift. Hoping you are well...xo

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  17. I'm right there with you, Kim. I try to remind myself that I can't control what goes on outside of my home, but I can control what goes on in it. That being said, I'm retired, a blessing right now, and the list of projects and blog posts is getting my attention. I love to read and have my Kindle since the library is probably a good place to stay away from right now. Soon there will be yard work and a garden to plant. Focusing on those things keeps me busy and away from the media. Stay in and stay healthy - this too shall pass.

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    1. Oh Ann, I can't wait for the gardening days. I'd settle for a little sunshine right about now, too. The forsythia in my year is in full bloom though, that's holding me over until the clouds disappear. Be well, my friend.

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  18. I abSoooooolutely love your realness Kim and your way with words, but I think I've said that before. I'm glad you were willing to share your bunker with the rest of the world, not glad how it came about though. Sending you a virtual hug and so much more. My Mom's been in and out of hospital too with a broken hip and has been in isolation now for more than a week now. I dread every phone call and wish there was more I could do to help her. Be safe and when you write that book of yours I'll be pre-ordering for sure.

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    1. Michelle, I read this a month ago and I really thought I answered you. I do hope your mom is doing well...

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  19. I pray, read my Bible and glean from others "how I overcome" stories.

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    1. That sounds like a wonderful idea. I should probably try more of that...

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  20. Writing does indeed help us through the chaos of life. I also find relief in walking in nature, immersing myself in my art journal, yoga and meditation. {{hugs}}

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    1. Sounds like you have a great plan, Melanie and a lot of very good skills to cope. Stay well my friend and hugs...

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  21. I had no idea that you had gone through all of this-if I missed something, I'm so sorry. My condolences on the passing of your mother.

    I, too, started writing and blogging shortly after my sister passed. She was just too much for me to live without. I needed a distraction. She and my mother were published writers. I never dreamed I'd achieve something close to their talent.

    I'm very edgy about the coronavirus. Each day brings more bad news and challenges. I totally watch the news--I started to prepare weeks ago. My favorite saying has always been: The more you know, the less you need. Some people say that can't bear to watch new...that's just sticking your head in the sand. I focus on the really needy people, the elderly and the kids that aren't getting their meals school.

    My lungs are shot as well. One has collapsed in the lower part. I push on--I hate to give in. I also hate to rely on anyone but my kids keep an eye out on me and leaving my house.

    Have faith... we will get though this one day at a time.

    Excellent post, albeit a tough one for your to write.

    Love ya, Kim

    Jane😘

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    1. One day at a time, for sure, Jane. We really do have so much in common, some not great like the loss of of dear ones and our lung issues. Not great...however, I know we also share a love of writing, creativity, decor and family. That's what I'm leaning on now. I'm sure you're doing the same. I wish you well my friend. Please stay safe. Big hugs to you! ❤️

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  22. Hi Kim, this is a scary time for all of us right now. We have to get used to the new norm. It's very hard for me to concentrate with doing anything crafty right now with a full house. I do plan to work on a scarf that I'm crocheting when things calm down a little. Crafting is a fun way to deal with stress. Be well, safe, and take care Kim.

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    1. Crocheting sounds like a great distraction, Julie. I still wish I knew how to do it. Can you believe after all these years, I still haven't learned!! I know I have all the supplies, maybe I should take these days to try it. Take care!

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  23. Kim,
    Loved this post!! I too started to blog as a stress reliever from my very taxing nursing job. It was vert cathartic for me..People used to ask me why I decorate like I do for all the holidays ...It is because I get bored quickly and it gave me a creative outlet... Like you it is a fun way to deal with stress...I am trying to remain calm and not to worry about my loved ones, who of all things, are now on the front lines , working in grocery stores!!!I am the one who was always in danger being a nurse, but now retired... I, like you ,will continue to post about pretty things as both an escape for me and for my readers....we bloggers have to stick together, right??
    Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words! Stay safe, healthy and happy!!
    Hugs,
    Deb

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    1. Thank you, Deb, and yes, visiting friends and peeking at the pretty is a wonderful distraction right now. Thank you for always sharing your heart and your home with us...stay well my friend. Hugs!

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  24. Reading this post was like a bad movie, in spots. A lot of us relate to you situation. For me is was the 2008 Recession! Our daughter moved into our small home with her husband and daughter and announced, "ALL FOUR OF US ARE HERE!" She was pregnant with #2! I needed to get away and decided to jump into Blogging after being a "look-e-lou".

    One of the best things that happened!

    Keep on, keeping on... we love❤ to read your blog!

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    1. A bad movie is right, Christine and not one I'd like to watch again. I guess we've all been through times like that...Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. It really does mean a lot. Hugs!

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