One of the many (well, two or three) readers of this blog left a comment earlier today saying that she had come to my blog from 25 Things for Charity. This is a blog for people who have a goal of making (you guessed it) 25 things to donate in a year. I joined it quite a long time ago, but rarely posted to it because (a) I didn’t really know how to use Blogger, especially how to post photos; (b) I didn’t have a blog of my own that I could link to; and (c) I have a teeny tiny issue with follow-through, which grows into a bigger and bigger issue the busier I get with work and all those other things that interrupt my creative time.
I’ve always loved making things for other people. Friends, family, complete strangers—it doesn’t matter to me. Although I’ve been crafting since I was a kid, I actually own very few things that I’ve made. Whenever I’m working on something for someone else, I think about that person. Even if I’m watching TV or listening to the radio or talking to a friend, an image of the recipient is in my mind, so by the time I’m done, thoughts of that person are part of the finished product. I do this too when I’m making things for strangers, even though I have no idea what they look like or who they are. I imagine a premature baby wearing a hat that’s small enough to fit an orange or a homeless person being a little bit warmer because of a scarf I’ve made. It’s a change of view that helps me keep my own life—both its challenges and its blessings—in perspective.
Volunteering has been an important part of my life since I was very young and at one time, crafting for charity was an almost daily part of that. I still give away most of what I make, but as my life has gotten busier and my crafting time has decreased, I find that one of the things I really miss is that time spent thinking of someone else as I work. My mind races through so much of every day—pick this child up here, drop that child off there, buy cat food before the cats revolt and start eating us, make that appointment that’s been on my to-do list for three months, remember which clients use serial commas and which don’t. I miss—I need—the opportunity to slow it down, to think of a woman in a hospital somewhere who has no clothes to bring her baby home in or a child in a shelter being given a quilt to keep for his very own. For me, doing things for others is not a selfless act. I get much more than I give.
One of the goals of my Year of Living Differently is to spend more of my time doing things that I enjoy and value. This year I plan to make at least 25 things for charity and to post them on the group blog. I now know how to use Blogger (kind of) and I do have a blog to link to (two, actually!), so all I have to do is figure out the follow-through thing and I’m set.