With the advent of the holiday season I find myself feeling more isolated than usual. If you've looked over this blog carefully you know that I suffer from extreme chemical sensitivities. That means the merest whiff of a product with any degree of petroleum or synthetic chemicals in it gives me, at the very least, a headache that lasts for 24 hours on average. More typically I will have not only the headache but also chills, become lightheaded, sometimes nauseous, and suffer an inability to think or process information. My reactions slow, and my temper flares. I’ve been known to unaccountably burst into tears. These reactions are most often short-lived, but they tend to be followed by depression. Consequently, negative reinforcement has made it preferable for me to stay home, inside my detoxified little house, and have very limited contact with people outside of my immediate family. Given that I am naturally a more solitary individual than most people seem to be this isn’t usually a hardship. However, it does take a toll over time, and the holidays can be especially difficult. Everyone else seems to be running around doing things and going places and here I sit, all but trapped within the walls of my home.
While I may be more comfortable in my solitude than others, I am also an artist who feeds on visual and tactile stimulation. Textiles or fibers are my medium of choice. Back in the day I was an active member of embroidery and quilt groups. I went to shows, galleries, and exhibits as often as I could. I loved to browse department stores and craft markets. Shopping, although not necessarily buying, was an effective way to fill my artistic well because I could touch as well as see the delights on offer. The experience of being among other people, even if I didn’t interact with them directly, was energizing. (Most of the time anyway. Everyone has bad shopping experiences!) All of this has been taken away from me - unless I want to pay a very high price for a very short excursion. The brevity of my endurance is just as frustrating as not going at all.
I am fortunate to live in a time when I can shop online. I can still purchase supplies, I can see what others are making, and I can converse with them after a fashion. The challenge for me is that I’m not technologically inclined. If it weren’t for my chemical sensitivities I probably wouldn’t use a computer for anything other than email. I’m not interested in going digital in any sense of the word. In that respect I’m a Luddite. In fact, I still have a flip phone, not a smart phone. While the computer makes it possible for me to stay more-or-less connected with the outside world it cannot replace the experience of seeing a quilt or painting in person, of handling a ceramic vase, or give me the ability to turn something over to see the back or bottom of a piece. It can be hard to get an accurate idea of the size of an object when you only see a picture of it, never mind the accuracy of color representation! The virtual feast offered by blogs and Pinterest, etc. is helpful but often unsatisfactory.
Occasionally, all of these factors combine and overwhelm me. Creativity comes to a halt. There isn’t energy or desire even for mindless piecing. I find that truly frightening. Fortunately, there have only been a handful of times when this state of being persisted. Books and movies seem to provide a useful escape. I just have to remember not to panic, to trust that “this too shall pass,” and ride the wave. I am grateful to have been blessed with the gift of faith. I may grouse and complain during difficult times but underneath it all I have confidence that God knows my suffering and will turn it to good purpose eventually. I just have to "hang in there baby!" 😉