The closing of Joan B's Paperlicious blog got me thinking. And please don't panic! I'm not going to stop blogging anytime soon. My life is in a completely different place than Joan's, and I need to stamp and blog obsessively for my mental health. That seems contradictory, but it's not.
Several other stampers and bloggers I know are contemplating quitting, and when I start seeing repetition of behavior in various places, the English major in me starts looking for patterns and meaning in it all.
I'm a big believer in living intentionally, which means periodic questioning of what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and figuring out if I should be doing something else entirely. That's why my other blog is called Questioning my Intelligence. Questioning, indeed.
It's fascinating to watch others go through their own process of questioning, even when their answers don't make me happy, like the closing of Paperlicious. I appreciate how others can share their thoughts and feelings, especially in times of change and transition in life, because you just never know when someone else's ideas will help you or someone you love. We're all different, but in so many ways, we can help each other through this thing called life just by being open and honest and sharing our choices and how we make them.
Don't hide your light under a bushel!
Why do I stamp? Because it's fun and it satisfies some very deep, very personal needs. I grew up in a very crafty, artistic family. I couldn't do (or didn't enjoy) any of the crafts I grew up around, and honestly felt a bit like an outsider in the family because of it. Until I discovered papercrafts, whenever anyone asked what my hobbies were, I answered, "I read."
When I started papercrafting, I felt like a whole new world opened for me, but so often I felt like I didn't belong to the papercrafting world either. Oh, I wanted to belong, but my style, whatever the heck it was, didn't match what I was seeing in the magazines and online or, more importantly, what I was making.
One thing you might not know about me is that I'm part bulldog. When I decide to do something, I won't rest until I've exhausted the possibilities, and very little intimidates me. I just figure given enough time and obsession, I'll figure it out eventually. For instance, when I heard in seventh grade that women weren't welcome in the sciences, I resolved to be a scientist.
Because it would be hard.
Because men said I couldn't.
It took years for me to realize doing something just because people said I couldn't might not be the best way to live my life.
Language was both my true passion and my gift...reading literature and writing about it were much more natural to me than pipettes and ventilation hoods. I still love science and happily read about it, and I have no regrets for taking Cell Biology and Calculus and Organic Chemistry. But I made a choice to follow my light and have no regrets about that, either. It's all good.
So, with bull-dog determination, I eventually found a way to create papercrafts that reflected me--my personality, my vision, my passion, my light.
Clean and simple.
Who would have thought this crazy, overthinking, obsessive literary critic whose writing style tends toward long, discursive sentences and sophisticated vocabulary would find honest self-expression in a completely minimalist style?
Clearly not me, judging from how long it took me to get there.
It feels right for me to make minimalist cards. It might feel right for you to make minimalist cards or to make cards that could function as door-stops because they are so thick and heavily embellished. Or it might feel right for you to do a little bit of everything in between the two extremes, to play around and not commit to any one thing because you love it all. Or it might feel right for you not to make cards at all.
The message I hope I convey through Simplicity is that you should do what you want to do, what makes you happy, not what I do. I love that some people who read Simplicity don't make CAS cards. I also love that some people come here because they found someone who understands their own minimalist desire despite the industry push to buy more and use more product.
All options are on the table. What you serve up on your own plate should be food you love. Not what the person in front of you or behind you loves.
Aren't food metaphors yummy?
Tastes and styles can change over time because we change over time. Our inner light changes, our focus changes, our need to express ourselves changes. Sometimes, we get restless or bored doing the same thing over and over, and we want to shake things up. Sometimes, we need to quit one thing to move forward in another, like I quit science to take up English.
Sometimes, the direction forward is quite clear, a paved road well marked and smooth. I know people who walked away from hobbies they'd enjoyed for years and never looked back. Sometimes, though, we feel like we're facing a wall of tall trees and thick brush and have to blaze our own trail forward through it. It's intimidating, daunting, frightening.
And we think, "Isn't this just a hobby? Shouldn't it just be fun? Should it be this hard to figure out?"
If you're like me, the hard part is the fun part...a challenge, a windmill to joust. If you're like me, you are confident in your ability to rise to a challenge and have a never-say-never attitude. If you're like me, you've learned that not much in life should be taken seriously and knowledge of that fact takes a lot of the pressure off.
If you're like me, you might also need therapy because maintaining balance and sensibility when jousting with windmills is pretty darn hard.
And that's part of why I blog about stamping. It's my therapy. When I'm writing for others about stamping, in a sense, I'm accountable for my own balance. If I want you to come here to feel inspired, if I want to share my light and encourage your light, I'd better make darn sure my light is healthy and positive.
If I melted into a little puddle every time I got an unsubscribe email, would it be honest of me to encourage you to create what you want without worrying about what others think?
If I made cards just because I thought readers would like them, wouldn't I be a hypocrite?
Blogging can give us validation for our artistic voice. It can give us friends who share our interests even when no one in our real life does. It can allow us to connect with others in meaningful ways. But it can also keep us honest. We think about what we put out there for all the world to see, and if we're respectful of our audience (the first rule in writing...respect your audience!) and ourselves, we can make blogs that are good for us and for our readers. Everybody wins.
As I mentioned earlier in this beastly long post, we all change over time. Sometimes, to respect ourselves, we have to quit what isn't working for us, even if it's working for our readers. When that mile-high hedge of trees and bushes looms in front of us, sometimes we need to walk away rather than pull out our machete.
Joan quit Paperlicious for very good reasons of her own. Her readers were NOT happy about it for themselves, but we care about Joan and want her to be happy. When she started a new blog, lots of us followed her to it. I, for one, deeply appreciate her willingness to share her transition to her new life with a bunch of nosy strangers.
As long as I feel balanced and happy with stamping and blogging, I'll keep doing it. I'm glad you enjoy it (as you must if you've stuck with this essay until the end!), but if you ever stop enjoying it, if you ever stop feeling that it's useful to you, it won't hurt my feelings if you quit. I confess I might be a little sad, of course, and I will miss you, but I won't let my feelings hurt.
You have your own light to shine. I have mine. If our lights shine together for a while, well, that's just lovely, isn't it?