This blog post has been floating around in my head for a while. It is the marriage of several conversations that have helped me uncover this “thing” I have been feeling, and I am finally able to name it.
I call it, “Quilt Time Guilt.”
Some days it is, “Sewing Time Guilt.” Other times it is, “Creation Time Guilt.” Ever feel it? It is that uneasiness you get when a part of your mind is sitting at the sewing machine making something you want to be beautiful, but it isn't working out, because the other part of your brain is thinking, "I should be..."
You can totally fill in the blanks, can't you?
- I should be... doing laundry.
- I should be... cleaning the house.
- I should be... making dinner.
- I should be... finishing that report.
- I should be... going to bed on time.
- I should be... spending more time with my family.
I should be... ______________________________________ And instead of making something beautiful, you are half way in and half way out of your sewing or creating zone.
Recently, and multiple times recently, I have caught myself justifying the time I spend creating with self-thoughts that are turning into outward messages to others. I have noticed an uptick in the number of times a week I find myself saying them out loud, and it isn’t sitting right with me. I am quite transparent, ask my friends. If it is coming out of my mouth, my face matches it. I also mean it. I learned long ago to say what I mean and mean what I say. I also learned that if I can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. While I am certainly not perfect at that, it is something I strive for...so yes, transparent.
I asked myself, did I really mean these things I was saying? Really, deep down, did I mean them? It hurts me to say this, but yes. I was starting to believe them. What I was saying wasn't a clear dismissal of my time spent creating/sewing/quilting, it was subtle.
- I am making this as a gift for someone else.
- I am making all our Christmas gifts this year.
- Well, I can sell these and make some money.
- I try to wait till the kids are in bed.
I was working hard, without even realizing it, to justify WHY I quilt/sew/create. I was working hard, without even realizing it, to justify THE AMOUNT OF TIME I spend doing those things. WHY? Where did that come from? While there is truth to them, they aren’t the REASON I create, sew or quilt.
The straw that broke the camels back for me? I ordered some amazing labels from a shop on Etsy. I couldn’t respond very timely to a message the seller asked me and I “justified” it in my response by saying “Sorry, I was busy with my ‘real’ job.” She was so amazing…AND…RIGHTLY SO… she called me on it. “I think Etsy is a real job too, 😉”
So, let us just stop here…let us ALL just pause for a moment and break this down. That is what I do, I see a problem, an idea or a puzzle, and I immediately start to break it down. Part of my creative process.
I realize now, I have been saying all these things and THINKING them in response to key phrases I'm hearing more and more often from others in my life. Quite honestly, the phrases have been putting me on the defensive without even knowing it.
- How do you have time to do that?
- How much time do you spend sewing, good grief?
- I am too tired to do anything when I get home (with emphasis on "they work hard at their 'real' job than I do).
- I don’t have time to do anything for myself.
- I am too busy with my children to do anything for myself?
So, okay. Now, let us break down this part of the puzzle , and to do that, I need to give you some context. I work a full-time, “non-creative,” job. My job has me all over North and South Carolina weekly and involves being away from home at least two nights a week. I have two middle school children. I have a husband who works a job that includes a large percentage of nights and EVERY weekend. I have ADHD and I am never idle. I fill every minute of life with something. If I am sitting down just watching TV, then most likely my neurological disorder symptoms have kicked me in the butt so hard I am bordering on taking “extra” meds, and even still, I may not sit still for that. I have laundry, dishes, dust. Okay, so we each have our own list. There are those things that we must do…at least if we want to be good neighbors and citizens. Yes. No argument here.
What I don’t do? - I don’t watch sports. - I don’t watch TV. (I gave it up years ago. I might have something playing in the background I have seen before – like Friends – I love Friends – but as a rule, I don’t watch TV.) - I don’t have to mow the yard (thank you to my husband’s employer for that!) - I don’t take my children to sporting events or practices. They do have academic team and scouts, but TOTALLY not the time commitment of sports. A tiny additional moment of confession here. WE don’t do these sorts of things as a family because well, we don’t like them. I have tons of friends who watch “their favorite TV shows every night” or who “follow a sports team.” . It is important to them that their children play sports, or their child loves the sport and wants to play. It is important to them to volunteer for a club. It is important for them to…fill in the blank.
In the list of family and/or personal life, we who can financially afford it, have priorities. Things we want to do, things we have to do, things we would like to do, and things we would never do. That is what makes us – well, us. In my home, my children play Minecraft, build with Legos, do weird science experiments, bake, make soap, build swords, etc. My husband plays music and builds amps, or something like that…you would have to ask him if you want to understand it. I sew/quilt.
My list of priorities doesn’t look like anyone else’s list of priorities – nor does it have to. Sometimes, throughout life, we choose our list. Other times, like when our children are smaller or our parents are ill and/or aging, or when a natural disaster happens, our list gets chosen for us. That isn’t what I am talking about here. I am talking about folks saying things like, “How much time do you spend sewing, good grief? I don’t have time for that,” when really they do – they just simply “choose” to spend their time on something else. In the ridiculousness of it all it would be like me saying, “How much TV do you watch, good grief? I don’t have time for that!” OR “How much social media do you consume, good grief? I don’t have time for that.”
We time to what matters to us.
Our “matters” aren’t the same, nor do they have to be. In realizing that others do it to me, I am starting to see that I do it to others. Ouch! Transparent. Truth.
I am going to try to start doing a better job embracing my “matters” and my “whys.” I am going to try and STOP comparing my “matters” and my “whys.” I am going to make an effort to encourage others to find their's and do the same! Join me?
So, how much time DO I spend sewing? A LOT!
Why? BECAUSE I LOVE IT! I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.
I love the feel of the fabric, I love that I can see a final product in my head and work out the puzzle to get it there – well, sometimes. I love that things I create bring other people joy. I love that when I create, it is like a motor inside me with no off switch, the switch is completion. I love that my creating empowers my children to create. I love that creating teaches me to fail, to try again, and to pay way more attention to the journey than the final product. I love that creating causes me to see the world differently…that when I look at a sunset, I don’t just see the sunset, but how the sunset translates into colors and patterns and feelings.
So, there…I said it. I spend a lot of time creating – not every day – but almost every day – even if it is just a design I jot down during a pit stop driving to my next meeting because something on the road caught my eye – and I will never make that thing – but I got the image down on paper for future consideration.
I create because it is who I am – created.
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This quilt took 100+ glorious hours!