How I failed at slowing down, and what I'm trying instead.
We will never do all the things we want to do, nor all the things we should do. There are just too many of them. It’s impossible! The options, in terms of responsibilities we take on, or creative pursuits we pursue, are truly limitless. In my experience, the satisfaction and joy comes in choosing to do something (small or large, want to do or should do) and deeply engaging in it while we do it, then taking a break and choosing to move on to something else that feels right for that next moment. If something really matters to you, it will get done one day, when circumstances allow or supposedly insurmountable barriers just become meaningless. We are not here to make over the world, just to participate in it day by day, bringing our selves to our tasks or leisure and trusting that is enough.
I moved from my ideal small home to a bedroom for sleeping and sewing. Nothing is ideal and I've tried to change the arrangement. It has taken me almost two years living in this space to realise this is the space I have. I have now rearranged certain things, bought a cabinet for all sewing accessories. I am also donating and selling all fabric that I know I cannot possible use up. I am 75 and have just started to sew again. I plan better now. Choose design and fabric. Then cut it out - 2 projects only. Then sew in small batches. I chain piece quilt blocks. And Voila I am on the stitching band wagon again. No matter how slow it is taking me out of the doldrums. Thank you for letting me share this.
I’m excited to follow along! Your current situation sounds similar to mine - plenty of land, a work from home setup, and the time and space to be creative - except the creative endeavors aren’t happening. The slow down isn’t happening. I hate it. I love encouraging others to embrace a slow productivity mindset where the whole self and relationships are the priority. I’m not doing it with myself though.
One item to do this week - hang up the items I got to start a gallery wall even though I know I’ll have to take them down to paint.
ohh, the many layers of "should" it's a bit scary how many of us turn to crafts for the relaxation, joy, and slower pace of it all, and then proceed to make it into another task that has to be done. While I'm glad I'm not the only one letting this suck the joy out of my creativity, I'm also a little sad for us all. I look forward to reading about your thoughts and actions, and, based on what I have read through today, the wonderful insight and contributions of the rest of this new community! I'm glad you hit publish.
Wow, this new arena of “making time” is very interesting and certainly worthy of discussion! Here’s my two cents!….
I’m a sewist/fiber artist who owns and operates a private sewing and quilting studio! I teach the art of sewing and create custom orders for clients! I’m a one women show and blessed to be busy with a nice following! As you can imagine my life is filled with “shoulds”!!! —and let me make this very clear—Again I’m blessed to love the “should” work and truly enjoy my business and daily tasks! With that said —my hobby -turned business, definitely changed and perhaps off-balanced some personal joy!
People think that my day is spent leisurely sewing all day! Certainly not the case! Often my days are spent with technology, and the business side verses the creative side! Other days I’m planning classes, new projects, and of course teaching and creating for others! Most days I’m playing “catch-up”!!! And yes it often feels like a rat race! What I miss most is what I call the frivolous, personal, “joyful me” sewing and creating! The no purpose, no reason creating! I remember in my earlier days when things were much less hectic—I would sew , and experiment with techniques just because! No reason! I created several special occasion dresses -because I loved creating with those fancy, fun and elegant fabrics. After they were completed —I’d model them in the mirror and realize I was all dressed up with no where to go! But that was perfectly fine, it was a learning and joyous adventure in which I loved the planning , creating, and process! —And yes, I’ve pulled those dresses out and proudly wore them when occasions and invites emerged! I’m glad I had them on hand because with my current responsibilities that kind of creating has become limited for me!
In essence I think this all boils down to balance —which can be difficult to achieve and even harder to manage. We want it all! But in reality we can’t have it all! But we can create better balance through compromise. For years I’ve tried to “make time” until I realized —we can’t “make time”—that part is already pre-planned as a day only has 24 hours! What we do with our time and how we manage it, is where we have choices. Recently after not feeling well—I had to temporary cancel my classes and put a hold on client orders! I was in a panic state having to do this! Although far from an enjoyable experience, lessons were learned. You can stop to breath and life doesn’t fall apart. Yes, we really do have moments in the day that we can set aside for personal creative joy and growth, and still do the “shoulds”! We just don’t stop to treat ourselves to those joyful tidbits often enough if at all!
My recent events taught me —we need two lists or goal plans—a “should “ list and a “wanna” list”!—and sometimes choosing the latter—creates that balance we need at that moment! Doing this periodically can actually make the “should” list feel less like a chaotic rat race!
Hoping this offers some insight—
Blessings to all for a happy and creative life!❤️✂️🧵
Like everyone else here, I have allowed my "shoulds" to take over my life to the point that I also suffer from analysis paralysis. Part of my "shoulds" however also involve inventorying all of the quilting and apparel stash that I have just moved into a storage unit because I have to downsize into an apartment from a 2100 square foot house. The storage unit is 10'x30' and it's packed to the gills. I have no idea what's in each tub, so even if I had a plan to sew or do any of the embellishment stuff I want to try, I don't know where most of anything is. SO my should in this case is a pretty firm reminder that I have to make at least 10 hours a week to inventory tubs in the storage unit so I'll know where to look when I have the scheduled time to be creative. And if anyone tells you that you'll have more time when you retire - they haven't retired.
I feel like I'm right in the same spot. We moved in 2020 and settled in a house with 4 acres and there is so much to do its constantly overwhelming. With work and the house my mental energy can be non-existant. I was just watching a youtube video discussing creative blockers and one comment that stayed with me was just because something isn't perfect doesn't mean that it doesn't have value. That inspires me that even if I spend 5 minutes creating something I enjoy its worth it. Glad you started this.
"to share the slow, quiet, internal journey towards enjoying every moment of this short life" – I loved that line. Congrats on starting this Sarai. I agree completely, writing expands my lens on the world too. Looking forward to more!
"I often feel I'm on a treadmill going just a bit too fast, with no way to hop off." - wow. I felt this word for word. Thank you for sharing and making those of us feeling the same feel a little bit less alone!
For me, my to-do item this week is 30 minutes at least three days this week where I sit down and just create. I let everything else stack on top of what I really love to do, and my creative endeavors get pushed to the bottom of the list. Writing that out, I think I'll create an entirely separate creative list so that it doesn't feel like I'm constantly putting everything else over top of what I want to do creatively.
So well said. Often, over my working outside the home years, I felt that if I could just work at home...I finally am working at home (not paid) and I still struggle "to get done." I'm glad to know I'm not the only one. It seems to be a human condition. Thanks for writing this. I won't promise to read every single one, however, I will promise to try. I have unsubscribed to quite a number of things lately (time sucks I called them) just so my inbox will not get so full everyday. It takes too much time to sort it daily.
What this made me think of is the luxury we have of worrying about if we are busy, or not. There are people hiding in basements hoping they won’t be bombed or walking displaced along a road with little children having no idea what may come next…yet still, though we could be perfectly happy in our circumstances, we torture ourselves. Why do we do this? Why does our mind not go in the direction of contentment, but cause us to create chaos so that we cannot even see the peace we have?
Thank you for this. I have felt the same especially this year. I make time for laundry but not for creating. I am also putting more effort into connecting with people I have lost touch with. I tend to do what needs to be done, not with what I want to do. The comments are inspiring also.
Love this! I also feel like everything has to be elevated to a "should" for me to take time to do it, so this post resonates so deeply with me. Your head/heart/hands division reminds me of an incredible Vermont-based magazine, called Taproot, that you might enjoy (and it's ad-free! woohoo!). Looking forward to more of your insights. :)
One thing I do is start with "bad" drawing or "bad" writing. I'll just start drawing anything to get going on making my drawings and get unblocked. I will often (although not always) label them with "BAD DRAWING" in all caps. Then I keep drawing. It's to help me remember that nothing I do has to be perfect in order to get the job done. In fact I try also to remember Taylor Mac's words: "Perfection is for a**holes, craft is everything."
I can relate to that feeling of everything feels like it’s on a to do list. Even the fun things. I turned 50 this year and my body tells me to rest. So I’m getting better at doing nothing. And amazingly I actually feel more accomplished and calmer. We need time to rest.
A favorite book of mine you might enjoy:
Thank you for this!! I’ve had a membership to Seamwork for two or maybe years now and have YET to make what I truly want BECAUSE I tell myself I need to have my work room set up this way and that. I’ve had consultants over, friends, no one seems to have “my perfect answer” and when I get to my room it’s overwhelming I'm discouraged once again. Recently I hit my breaking point in life because I have no calm space in my head or my home, and told myself if I’m not making even a small change how will I EVER feel better? So I sold some of my fabric (not much because of time to get it ready but it felt GREAT), and set even more aside to donate to community organizations my fellow sewing peeps work for. I wish I had organization skills because I truly feel that would help my mental block but right now I just have to be happy with the small wins of acknowledging that only I have the power to change my life in the way I need to. Small steps equal big change.