DIYing Yourself to Death

Modern Domestic Woman DIY to death

It seems the Modern Domestic Woman has been DIYing herself into an early grave these days. From homemade gluten-free granola bars and knitting intricate scarves to repurposing a vintage armoire found on the side of the road, suggestions for DIY projects are overflowing around the internet and in every women’s magazine on the newsstands.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore DIY projects and do them often, but why do I constantly have an overwhelming sense of urgency to DIY everything?

Finding your “true north” – designer Carrie Hammer was recently featured in Forbes and spoke about the push and pull of what society wants versus what she truly believes in.

“My true north is what I believe in, what my thoughts are, what my values are,” Hammer said. “The magnetic north is what society wants, what the traditional industry has always done, what your parents want. It pulls you. It’s magnetic, but you always have to reorient towards your true north because that’s when you’re unstoppable.”

Now, a person might not see her DIY project as a move toward being an unstoppable force, but let’s back this up a bit. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the distraction and noise of the world around us, isn’t it? And if we take a micro-second to ponder whether or not we should spend $150 at Hobby Lobby making whatever it was that caught our eye on Pinterest, or go with our gut and steer the ship of our heart toward our “true north,” amazing things can start to happen in our lives.

This is not too deep. In fact, Hammer talks of experiencing thousands of micro-moments of following her gut to find her own true north. And those micro-moments could be the realization that you don’t have to tackle every project on your DIY wish list, which could lead to what I like to call “heart-keeping.”

I speak from experience on this topic and found when I finally stopped making impulsive decisions and saying “yes” to every opportunity that tickled my fancy, my heart softened and the pressure to “produce” slipped away.

Yet, completely giving up projects that allow me to create with my hands is out of the question. I long for the process of brainstorming an idea, my imagination lighting a fire that pulls my mood from steady to excited with the enthusiasm of a child. However, now, before I take the DIY plunge, I ask myself a few questions:

#1 – Why do I want to make this?

Handmade items make amazing gifts, but all the good intentions in the world usually do not give me enough time to produce something lovely. Poor planning on my part? Possibly, but the happy demands of my life (kids, husband, house keeping, food making, job, etc.) come before my DIY projects. So rather than run head first into an anxiety attack trying to rush to get this well-intentioned gift complete, it’s often good for my spirit to purchase something artisan-made.

Made from the heart and hands, just not my hands.

#2 – Does this make me want to squeal?

Clapping with glee like an excited middle-schooler is my personal cue that an idea needs to be executed or an item needs to be purchased. No squeal, no deal.

This is not a juvenile approach, rather, an honest assessment of whether or not my heart is truly in it and will continue to be roused by “it” after the creating or purchasing is over.

For example, I have a skirt that I purchased 13 years ago and it is still in my clothing arsenal. It has a watercolor Parisian café scene on it and I actually screamed out loud when I saw it on the Nordstrom website. Even 13 years later, a smile still peaks from the corners of my mouth when I slip it on and I feel delightful and confident wearing it. You see, that one little assessment has brought years of happy feelings to my life.

Of course this approach is still far from being a natural reaction in my heart. I often find myself mindlessly adding ideas to my list of to-dos and crazily pinning ideas for “later” on my Pinterest boards. But since I have felt a little bit of peace in my heart by way of “heart-keeping”, I want more of the “squeal seal of approval” in my life and less of the noise that will inevitably bring regret later.

Start being choosy about what makes you truly happy in your everyday. Time is everything, and it’s too short to be clogging your days with things that don’t make you squeal.

Your Modern Domestic Correspondent,




This article was originally published on March 1, 2017, in the Kane County Chronicle.





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