#36: Cross stitching at work

In this week, I discuss feeling emotions, a relaxing project, and sketchnoting.

These weekly updates are an ongoing series in which I share what it is like to live with OCD in an effort to reduce the stigma around mental health, particularly in the workplace.


Something hard

Happily, this week I have struggled to think of what was hard. That is so unusual that I wanted to celebrate it a bit.

Part of living with a mental health condition is becoming accustomed to wading through difficult waters. This becomes normal and expected. When there is a respite, it is easy to feel fear. Surely there is something bad coming.

And yet, sometimes life is just ok.

So many of us hold our breath when things seem good, expecting the other shoe to drop at any moment. We don’t allow ourselves to fully experience positive emotions any more than we sit in negative emotions.

We need to learn the skill of feeling. Of letting emotions flow through our body. Too often we are afraid of what might happen or how strong they might be and so we find a way to avoid them.

As we become more comfortable with our feelings, we can more fully experience our lives.

Something good

This week I tackled a craft project. It had been years since I cross stitched. My wife showed me a piece one of her friends started that is going to take months or maybe years. The next day, I made my first purchase on Etsy and hit the craft store to start my own project.

While I made some progress at home in the evenings, where I really dug in was during work meetings. It started with two full days of meetings, and continued throughout the week in meetings where I primarily needed to listen. I worried that people would think it was unprofessional or rude, but it was fine.

I have found that I can listen so much better when my hands are occupied. This is why I sketchnote many events when I want to learn or remember what I am hearing.

Mandolorian cross stitch

Exactly a week after I started, I finished the project. I still don’t know what I am going to do with the finished piece—probably frame it and give it to one of my kids. The process of creating it mattered much more to me than having an artifact at the end.

Something else

Sketchnoting is on my mind these days. Over the next little while, I will attend a homeschooling conference and capture sketchnotes. I am giving a couple presentations at the same conference about sketchnotes. And I will be interviewed on a podcast about sketchnoting.

Returning back to an enjoyable hobby, such as cross stitching or sketchnoting, is like meeting up with an old friend. There is a sense of comfort. You don’t realize that you have been missing it until you feel how good it is to have it back.

I look forward to becoming reacquainted with my good friend, sketchnoting.

Wrap up

Whether you are having a hard time right now, whether life is going well, or whether things are in between, I invite you to lean in to it. Fully engage in your emotions and allow them to run their course. Emotions will always pass, both the good and the hard. And that can be comforting.


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