You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup

Seasons of overwhelm and exhaustion can have different triggers for each of us, but the feelings are all too familiar as we battle being swept away by a tide of demands. The waves keep crashing over us and we can barely catch our breaths let alone pause from treading water.

My own season of overwhelm left me feeling empty inside, emotionally flatlining with nothing left to give. The needs presented to me were never-ending. Yet I wanted to give myself fully to things that mattered to me. After all, what made them so challenging were the same things that also made them so rewarding. Isn’t this true of so many things in life? But I had no energy left for any of it.

It never occurred to me that I couldn’t continue to expend so much emotional energy without refueling my own heart’s tank. And so my exhaustion lead to the only place it could: forced rest. During this time I found myself discovering the gift of slowness, grace for myself, and how to allow others to give to me when I had need.

I also rediscovered things I loved to do which I had long neglected. For years I had wrongly believed time would not permit such “indulgences,” and that they were somehow unimportant. The biggest of these was making time for creative outlets. Somehow I had forgotten that this thing—this act of creating—had always filled me up and brought me great joy. It was not until I was forced to pause and nurture myself that I remembered how much I loved it.

As I learned to intentionally make space to care for myself and create, I realized these were the moments when I felt most at peace and refilled to be able to give to others. But more than that, I knew that surely I could not be alone in my struggle to develop healthy rhythms and make time to refuel regularly.

We women are always giving—to our families, to our friends, in our careers, to causes we care about, to our places of worship, to those in need. When it comes to our families, our work week doesn’t come to an end. Moms want to be the very best they can for their kids. We are always pouring out—nurturing and caring for someone else. But often we women can do a not-so-great job of nurturing ourselves as we put others first. There’s nothing wrong with giving freely and sacrificially, but as the saying goes “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”

If we are to love our families well, we need to rest and refuel too. Maybe more than in any other season of life, this is one where we have to intentionally find pockets of time to do things that bring us joy. After my own bout with burnout, I wanted to learn to live a full, joyful, present life, and see other women experience that too. I had found so much delight and fulfillment in creative outlets that I wanted to share how crafting can be used as a tool for self-care. Through my embroidery craft kits, I invite you to join me in finding that space of rest where you stop racing through life and begin breathing again.

Embroidery is by nature a slow craft, ideal for quieting one’s mind. The rhythm of stitching has a soothing and meditative quality to it, which is why I love offering it in a craft kit. Even if you have never so much as threaded a needle, embroidery is easy to learn without investing a lot of time and is versatile in many contemporary applications. But one of the things I love best about embroidery is how portable and easy it is to store. So pulling it out to work on for even 15 or 20 minutes as I can spare makes it a very accessible outlet. It also tolerates interruptions beautifully as you can pause even mid-stitch without ruining your design, and then pick it back up again without having to count your stitches to find your place again.

Each of us has the capacity and even the need for creativity. Often we want to do something creative, but aren’t sure where to begin, or doubt we have enough talent. We figure it will be too laborious to churn out something Pinterest-worthy so we quit before we’ve even begun. But I’m a firm believer that all of us are creative—we just need tools and encouragement to cultivate the practice a bit. It’s my hope that the craft kits I make will be just that: tools and encouragement to invite women to slow down, flex their creative muscles and refuel.

Using creative outlets as a means of self-care is rewarding on so many levels. Not only are we making time for ourselves to do something fun—which serves to make us healthier moms, wives, employees and friends—is is also gratifying to see the results of our efforts as we create something beautiful. No matter what self care looks like, engaging in it regularly and intentionally is so worth it if it will help us to be happier about the people we are and more energized as we give to others.

Post Author
Beth Colletti