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January 13, 2010

Fighting the Conventional Life


I've often wondered how it is that some people find it so easy to get up at 4am, get dressed, and go to the gym before showering and then going to work an 8-10 hour day or more.  Just thinking about this makes me tired.  I'm almost convinced that this energy level and mental drive must be genetic.  I certainly don't have it and envy those that do. 



Just the other day I received an email from a reader, Janet, who enjoys sewing just like I do, and was a successful quilter at one time, winning a number of contests for her creations, however, she has put up her sewing machine because her "other" job takes up so much of her time.  By the time she gets home from work from her full-time job she is completely wiped out, with barely enough energy to cook dinner and care for her family before retiring for the evening.  The weekends for her are not much better as she spends time cleaning and doing laundry.  So her sewing machine sits in a closet unused.  

I know how she feels.  I have had many moments in my life when I have put my creative energy on the back burner.  It has been during these times, too, that I haven't been my happiest.  It is only when I am creating and doing something that I am passionate about that I find I am my happiest - even when times are tough, if I am painting or sewing or quilting, I am happy.  And, from the tone of Janet's email, I sensed that she wasn't her happiest - and probably because she has neglected her creative self.


I struggle too.  It's like being stuck in the middle of conflicting voices in our head or a fly between two swatters.  For me, I have so many things going on, I don't know what hat to wear first!  I struggle with organizing my time so that I enjoy all aspects of my life and not just a few.  Getting one's butt in gear while the "energy draining non-artful life" is tugging away at the back of your brain and the "fear of creative failure" is tugging away at the front is exhausting.


Structure can be a tough nail to hammer too.  If like me, you have a rather unstructured life and kind of wing-it every day, then you may find that that can be just as difficult pulling yourself out of this rut as anything else you want to do.  I sew when I want, paint when I want, nap when I want, and work on this blog when I want.  I also do laundry and clean the kitchen when I want although that needs to be done on a daily basis or I end up with a really nasty situation.  I also homeschool the children and unlike most other aspects of my life, that is structured.  The children know what their assignments are for the day before the day begins and they know that as soon as they finish their breakfast, it is on to the schoolwork.  There is some comfort, I suppose, in knowing what the day holds in store.


For someone like Janet who works a full-time job and has a family, finding the time to do something that you really enjoy, whether it is a hobby or a second career can't be easy.  If nothing else, it is down-right difficult - but not impossible.  My suggestion to Janet was to carve out 2 days a week to start, to do what she loves to do - and in her case it is sewing and quilting.  In other words, she should maybe choose an hour after work on a Tuesday (or any day of the week) to sew.  She should have her machine and supplies set up and ready to go when she gets home.  She should take some time to make herself some hot tea and relax and get on her slippers.  Then she can focus on her creative wares and after an hour or so, put it away and tend to her family responsibilities.  Janet's next day of sewing should be on the weekend when hopefully, she can devote a few more hours to her craft.  Carving out a time that she won't let anybody in the family distract her and take her away from her plans is important to getting back in the saddle of her creative self.  


As I see it, just having the machine and all your supplies set up is motivation enough to sit down at your sewing machine and create.  She'll probably even discover that she can make more time for what she loves to create once she sets it all up and it is begging her for attention - kinda like the kids.

For endless inspiration, visit some of my favorite places on the web:

Rosy Little Things by Alicia Paulson

Hello My Name is Heather by Heather Bailey

Alice Beasley Quilt Artist

Celebrate Creativity by Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson

Studio Art Quilt Associates

Charlotte Warr Anderson Pictorial Quilts

Embellished Cloth

The Overall Quilter

Barn Quilt Memories

The Quilting Nook

Sew Many Ways

Little Acorns

Nie Nie Dialogues

These are just a few of my favorite creative friends on the web.  Check them out!  In the meantime, pull out your sewing machine, dust it off, dig out some fabric, and play.  You won't regret it.

The beautiful mini quilts featured in this post are from:

Elizabeth Ruffing


Happy Holidays

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