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How Crafting Saved My Sanity, by Maggie Craner

Crafting should be available on prescription through the NHS. It would save this country millions in anti-depressants, in my opinion. It has certainly been a real lifeline for me over the past two years, since my husband died so suddenly and unexpectedly.

I have always done some form of crafting throughout my life, knitting, sewing, crochet, and, as a child, drawing and colouring. Cross stitch came into my life as a result of a severe attack of vertigo, when I needed something to do to keep my hands and mind busy and kept my head still at the same time. It definitely saved my sanity at that time.

Cross stitch was my preferred hobby until I was asked to do the wedding stationary for my son and his fiancée, which was very simple in style. This was the point I started looking at stamps and all that goes with them, and once I had discovered Barbara Gray, I was well and truly hooked.

I was very lucky in that my husband was very supportive and even watching most of the Clarity programmes with me and suggesting that certain stamps would be a good idea. After his death in April 2013, I struggled initially to do anything creative for a while. Then I realised that he would have been very cross with me if I had given up something that gave me so much pleasure. My first decision for my changed life was to book a workshop with Barbara Gray. That was the best thing I could have done. I arrived late in a brand new motor, which I could not park, in a total panic, to be met by Dave Roe, who did the job for me before taking me in to meet Barbara for the first time.

The support and friendship I received from the friends I have made through Barbara and crafting have helped to keep me sane, and to take some of the weight from my two children.  It was also easier in many ways to talk to people who were a little removed from the scene, people who could not see my tears but still understood something of what I was going through (and still am going through).

It was vital to keep my hands and my brain occupied a much as possible and crafting was the thing that did it for me, crocheting two blankets, knitting things for my grandchildren and then gradually getting back into drawing, painting and stamping. I started to travel to get more crafting and to learn more. I joined first one then another Clarity workshop and found even more great friends and more techniques to keep my mind busy. The panic at my first venture has gradually subsided and now allows me to build my new life. I have gained in confidence in myself, even overcoming (slowly) doubts from my school days when I was told I was rubbish at art.

I am learning how to use new things, ideas sparking off others. Yes, I am stubborn and independent but crafting helped me when I really needed it and gave me a vital way to engage my brain and to go forward. I still have bad days and probably always will, but my family, my dogs and my crafting friends can always lift me. I know there is always someone else out there to chat to and to discuss our mutual addiction to crafting. I have not resorted to any medication to deal with my life. Crafting in some way is far more effective and less damaging than anti-depressants.

Maggie's Piece - "I Love The Sea"

I wanted to do something different for Jane, something that would really test me and challenge some demons. I was told at school that I was rubbish at art and painting so this is my very first painting since those days. It is an A3 canvas (brave or stupid?)

I painted with gouache, an unknown medium for me. I drew it first and then just screwed up my courage and went for it. It may be rubbish but I no longer care. I enjoyed doing it and will carry on playing with paint and my own drawings again.

The sea to me is Cornwall, rough seas breaking over the rocks and the wonderful light, so that is what I was sort of aiming at. I know it is not fantastic but it represents a real battle for me.

Love Maggie xxxxx

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