Sweeter Than Honey: Finding the Balance That Works for You

A columnist tackles a new project and pulls it off with support from family

Jamie Hughes avatar

by Jamie Hughes |

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I’m a fairly neat and tidy person, but you wouldn’t have thought that if you’d looked in my kitchen over the last few weeks. Bottles of oils, jars full of melted wax, bags of butters and soaps, and boxes were scattered everywhere.

My husband is a beekeeper, and he wanted to sell his honey. So we signed up for a table at a small market in the area. It was our first go at something like this, but I knew we couldn’t just sell honey. So I said the words I would later come to (slightly) regret: “Babe, would you like me to make some things to sell, too?”

I’ve lived with multiple sclerosis for a long time — almost 18 years. I’ve learned how to balance work and rest. I’ve gotten better at saying no. But the fact remains that I’m a pretty competitive person. When I say I’m going to do something, I want to be the best. I wanted to have the most product, the most creative table, the highest sales. I also just freaking love it when something I come up with actually works the way I expected! Like John “Hannibal” Smith, I do indeed love it when a plan comes together.

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And so I started researching and creating. I started with soap (and ended up making six different kinds). I learned how to make lip and beard balms and mastered lotion bars. I even figured out the fairly gnarly and complicated process of making eco-friendly beeswax wraps.

But being busy — as much as I enjoy it — can also come with a cost. I had a few late nights in the kitchen testing out new techniques and recipes and spent a lot of time (and a bit more money than I intended) trying and failing a few times. And because I stew over things until they’re done, I lay in bed at night thinking through problems and possible solutions rather than getting the rest I needed.

At one point in the process, I crashed. I had to put down the pinking shears and the adorable bee-themed molds and take a break, which I loathe. When I start something, I want to push through until it’s done. But dadgummit, sometimes I just can’t. MS showed me that years ago, but sometimes I forget.

Thankfully, my husband stepped up. He cut the fabric and prepped the labels. He made me sit in a kitchen chair and talk him through how to make soap. And you know what? It turned out all right. The work got done. Not all of it rested on my very capable (if I do say so myself) shoulders.

And here you can see the result of all my labor and meticulous planning.

An indoor specialty market stand shows various artisanal products including honey, soaps, and other items. The predominant color on the products and banner is yellow

A pristine table of artisanal products created by the author awaits customers at a market near her home on Nov. 6, 2022. (Photo by Jamie Hughes)

The market was another busy day; we had to set up, sell our items, and tear everything down. It was about seven hours of frantic activity, but my husband and sons all pitched in. And that made the entire process fun. I got to use my creativity to set up a lovely and inviting table, and people really seemed to enjoy the things I’d created. It makes me happy to think that something I made will be under someone’s Christmas tree in a month or so.

But as rewarding as that is, I think the reminder to show myself a little compassion was even better. I got to take the cape off and rely on the strengths of others for a change, and that was pretty darned sweet.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Leanne Broughton avatar

Leanne Broughton

Your display looks brilliant. I would buy lots of things. Good work by you and your family..

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Thanks so much, Leanne! I appreciate the kind words!


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