Thursday, 21 December 2017

May all your Christmases be striped: A tale of festive crafting with anxiety.

Hello you ...  

This post both is and isn't about Christmas cards. Kind of a 'Schrödinger's Christmas Card' post if you will. Anyway ... 

Merry Christmas! Please accept the following as a festive greeting from me to you:
I haven't been around here lately at all (although I'm always on Instagram if you want to keep in touch there.) But, a look back at some of the titles of my most recent posts: 'An anxious person does stuff, like climbing a tower.' and 'How having anxiety is like having a funfair goldfish thrust upon you', might just give you a clue as to what's been preoccupying me lately.

I mean, when thousands of words on a given topic pour out of you on to the page, you might think that'd be a big clue that your mind was especially focused on that subject right now. It wouldn't take a genius to work out that maybe, just maybe, something wasn't quite right. Right?

Yeah. Except, no.

Somehow - despite having written two major blog posts about it, and even discussing with my writing mentor the possibility of writing an entire book on the subject, the anxiety attacks that I started experiencing back November took me completely by surprise

This genius here missed all the signs.

In hindsight, it's no great shock, but at the time? Sideswiped.

But, please don't worry about me, this isn't a sad post. I'll be fine, I'm getting treatment, I'm talking to people, I'm trying to take it easy on myself and ... I'm crafting. Which is where these cards come into the story ...
While taking some time off work I gave myself a few weeks to rest (OK, you got me ... I find that very hard to do, so maybe I tidied the loft, and all the dining room cupboards, and made shop kits, and put all the Christmas decorations up, and ... you know how it is ..). 
So, yeah, maybe I wasn't exactly resting my body so much, but I did make an effort to rest my mind. A remedy that involved things like a good dose of guilt-free Netflixing (it's the guilt-free part that 's the hardest to achieve, but that does the most good) and also a spot of purpose-free card-making.

It began at my monthly crafty get-together with friends where I started making greetings cards for no reason whatsoever.  Which I hadn't done in ... I couldn't tell you how long.  Yes, I make cards for magazine commissions but, as nice as that is, it's still work. So to just sit with no brief, no end goal, no recipient in mind, to just enjoy sifting through papery products, for fun, for the pleasure of mixing and matching colours and shapes and prints - was just what I needed.

These cards and those but it kick-started my crafty brain / hands again ... and I just kept going, only with more festive slant on things: 
And yes, my striped friends even make it into my festive crafts because zebras are for Christmas, not just for life. 

So, with 'Anne with an 'E'' running in the background on Netflix (highly recommended!), I surrounded myself with all kinds of supplies - traditionally Christmassy ones and regular non-festive, year-round stuff too, and pulled out a mix of zebra images and stamps to use as my focal point, and made a start ...
And just kept going ... 
I gave the various zebras noses fit to guide a sleigh ...
And typed out the greetings on kraft labels: 
And I coloured, clustered and layered to my heart's content ... 
Now, I'm not saying crafting with zebras has cured me (although ... my stripey friends do have previous experience of helping me out in these situations), but they did allow me several welcome hours of using a different part of my brain to the one trying to work out where and why my brain had taken a detour.
And that's what you need isn't it? A brief distraction. Not so much that you're ignoring the problem, and not for so long that you become unwilling to return to reality ... but for just long enough to let your brain to take a break, put up its feet, drift away for a while. 
And - really - I could do worse that a distraction that involves zebras, washi-tape, coloured staples, patterned papers and shiny 'bits'. Remind me to try it again sometime soon. 

Merry Christmas. May it bring you some gem-like delights and distractions of your own. 


(P.S. Don't forget to find me @withjuliekirk on Instagram if you'd like to hear from me more often. I even do Instagram Stories - short videos - over there, so you literally will hear from me and my tiny North Eastern accented voice. Which James says is posher than my real voice. So it's worth a visit purely for that.)


  1. I can vouch for the fact that those cards look super in a blog post, but even better in real life! So sorry to hear that you are ending the year in an anxious way but am pleased that you are taking positive steps to turn things around. And don't feel guilty about not noticing that it was creeping up on you, we don't all have the perfect detective skills of a certain Mr B Cumberbatch ;-)
    I do hope that you find time to unwind, relax and recuperate with those you love and those who love you back.

    1. Thank you Deb! Strangely I feel OK about it - I reckon I could have gone on trying to muddle through obliviously if things hadn't unexpectedly come to a standstill like they did. So it was probably for the best in the long run. I'm fully intending to have a lovely time - thanks for all your support. Xxxx

  2. what fabulous cards! I am sorry you've been struggling lately, and hope that thinks improve soon. Wishing you a happy Christmas, if possible. xx

  3. I love your Rudolph-y zebra cards. Wishing you better times in 2018.

  4. You sure have much more ho ho ho then I do. Maybe I will place second as a humbug.
    Coffee is on

  5. Your cards are fabulous and even better in real life ... thank you so much! The Brainy One even commented on how fantastic it was and he never even notices that we actually receive Christmas cards! I'm wishing you and James a wonderful Christmas, a marvellous 2018 and a much less anxious future.

  6. I just love love love your writing Julie. I seem to have forgotten about blogs over the last year, but was just sitting here thinking “I must see what Julie’s up to” (though I do see you on IG...)

  7. I am very late in getting here, but admiring your huge talent for cards (well, for everything, really) - you layer like non-one else can! And I'm always partial to a zebra :). Hoping that you are gently easing into a calmer and less anxious time and that there are lots of nice things in 2018 for you. xx


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