“BURNING” AWAY WORRIES

Times are tough. There is a lot going on in our country and in the world. First Covid spread across the world, then shortages plagued our businesses, then people fighting over politics raided the capital, then Russia declared war on Ukraine, and inflation and rising gas prices struck many countries including ours. All of these have taken a toll on people, creating worrying, anxiety, fear, and sadness. Worries plague us all and hit those with mental illness even harder.

I’m a worrier. My husband is always reassuring me that things will be okay. My friend Cheryl says we do a kind of song and dance. I text her my worries, she reassures me with texts, and we do this several times until I calm down. Everything I worry about always turns out for the good and Lou and Cheryl say, “See, we told you everything would be alright.”

When Lou and I were first married, the worries were so bad I would lose sleep, have anxiety attacks, and fall apart. With therapy and my support system, the worrying had gotten better and less debilitating. This year those debilitating worries are threatening to overtake me again. We’ve been having a tough time financially. Things at Lou’s job have changed, and this has taken a toll on our finances. On top of that we’re still paying on some bills from when I had back surgery, our furnace is squealing, and other bills are adding up.

My worries have become like a nagging voice in my mind telling me negative things, obsessing on the same things, making things out to be worse than they are, and embellishing the problems. Once the voice of my worries gets started, it refuses to stop. My muscles tighten, my chest aches, my anxiety heightens, and I lose sleep even with sleeping medication. The voices shout at me, ramping up my fears, and I feel like curling up in a ball. It’s so agonizing to fight the voices. My whole body feels the power of a small worry that turns into a huge one.

In 2020 I started a business by chance. While laid up from back surgery I coped by woodburning Christmas ornaments, and when I said I would give one to a friend, she offered to buy it. Before I knew it, I was selling ornaments, plaques, canvas wrist purses, and much more. I started a group on Facebook to sell my work and my business: “Aimee’s Woodburnings” was started. I love to woodburn and it has been my coping technique through some of my surgeries and is now helping me cope with the worrying.

During Christmas I sold forty-two ornaments. Then during January my sales slowed. In February they began to pick up. This month I have had several orders plus an order for twenty-five crosses. I can’t draw anything but stick figures, so I use patterns to create my designs. There is nothing more exciting to me than the challenge to come up with a design my customers would love. Sometimes I cut patterns and use several of them to create a design. This gets my mind thinking about other things then my worries.

For the crosses I use stencils to put the words “He’s Risen” across the middle of the cross and stencils to decorate the top and bottom half of the crosses. Woodburning relieves my stress and keeps my mind occupied. I get excited when a customer requests something special. My mind starts thinking of what patterns I can use to fill the request. It feels like I have reached a euphoria. I flip through my patterns, I pick the patterns I need, I make copies on my printer, I cut them and position them, and I tape them and carbon paper to the wood. Finally, I trace them to the wood and then I burn them. All of this takes concentration which keeps the worries away.

The money from my small business was originally meant to go towards getting my memoir published, but during these hard times it has helped with groceries and necessities. My small business has been helping me fight my obsessive worrying from getting too overwhelming, and it has helped us out financially. I just love how an idea or a pattern can transform into a beautiful piece of work. It brings me joy to sell my work to people who can give them as gifts or use them to decorate their homes. With each woodburning I feel my worries drift away. I get so engulfed in my work I forget what was bothering me in the first place.

What crafts or activities in your life makes you happy? What things do you like to do that keep your mind occupied? If you’re struggling with overwhelming worries and anxiety, turn to the things that help you cope and keep your mind busy. Find something you enjoy and when worries voice starts nagging you, do that craft or activity that distracts the mind and lifts your spirits. If this doesn’t help with your worrying and your having problems with anxiety and panic attacks, talk to a therapist or psychiatrist.

My small business is therapy to me, and I love doing it. Each order I get helps burn away my worries. Aimee’s Woodburnings helps me stand radiantly in the light of recovery.

If you want to know more about my business leave me a comment.

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