Thank you for all the birthday wishes! I had a most relaxing time, completely ignoring my to-do list and doing everything that makes me feel good and whole: walking, spending time with my favorite people, writing and doodling in one of my regular coffee shop haunts, getting lost in a bookstore and choosing just the right birthday books for me (turns out I’m in the mood for sewing books and acquired this one and this one and this one). I’ve checked out that Twinkle Sews book so many times from the library that I figured I might as well own it and not sew from it instead of what I was doing: repeatedly accruing library late fees and not sewing from it.
I’ve gotten nothing “productive” done. And I don’t feel guilty at all — this is progress for a former workaholic.
Yesterday, I came across this post by Sew Liberated and I was nodding my head so vigorously as I read, I felt dizzy towards the end. Meg writes about the stuff I think about all the time: what’s important, how to approach the creative process, what to do if the activities we love turn into obligatory, stress-mongering jobs. She’s a whole lot wiser and more grounded and definitely way more eloquent than I am and it was a treat to stumble upon her blog. These types of musings filled with thoughtful and sometimes heart-aching yet ultimately affirming words and images were what had attracted me to the medium of blogging in the first place. It felt like reading someone’s journal, albeit more polished and less weird than my own scrawls.
I’m easing back into so-called work mode, but I’m trying to be conscious of finding enjoyment in what I do. At the Kinokuniya event last weekend (so fun! the kimono-wearing pair that participated in the Sashiko coaster demo/workshop bowled me over with delight), a lovely attendee asked me if I ever felt pressured to create things for the sake of keeping up with the blog. The short answer would be yes. Yes, I’ve sewn or painted or photographed things just so I can stick to my schedule. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with that, especially since I need deadlines to get my mojo in gear. I view myself as being both the producer/art director and peon grunt worker for this blog. I give myself assignments and execute to the best of my abilities.
The problem, I believe, starts to rear its unwelcome head when the enjoyment and authenticity parts start to slip away (I hesitated to resort to the word “authenticity” because it’s starting to feel threadbare and overused). At some point, I found that I wasn’t actually finding any pleasure in sewing weekly outfits for K once my skills started to improve — outfits that she steadfastly refused to wear as our tastes diverged. Then I noticed that I was racking my brains for fresh content and feeling burnt out just so I could post every week day, which is when I went down to three times a week. Perhaps I’ll post even less frequently in the future, it’s hard to tell.
It’s a tricky balance. I’m a big believer in consistent habits and persistence and longevity, but I also know that rigidity can stifle the best, most creatively flourishing parts of us.
Maybe that’s why I love writing in my journal so much, which strikes the balance for me. It’s such a long-standing habit of mine, it never feels laborious (and the writing portion of the blog and to a certain extent the Furoku content I create feel like extensions of my journal). I’m not militant about how much or how little I should write per day, and I have no rules about topics. All that matters to me is that I write every day until I feel satisfied or until my window of available time has closed. Most of all, it’s meant just for me and it keeps me honest. Even though I try not to be affected by it, with blogs and books and other external-facing projects that I work on, I’m aware that other people are reading it. That adds a layer of complexity. Sometimes that layer is helpful, other times, not so much. I’ve published a lot of posts on this blog over the past four years and one of the things I struggle with is the sensation of repetitiveness. I loved this little mini episode that Gretchen Rubin did about Picasso — I often feel like I’m painting my own fakes too. As I browsed through my archives the other day, the one that is most truly representative of me is probably this one.
Anyway. With journaling in mind, a journaling kit giveaway seemed appropriate. This is a beautifully bound notebook with pink (!) grid paper. It’s the one featured in the book for the book cover project and I’m throwing in the cover as part of the giveaway too. It’s made out of this nubby, high quality grey linen and lined with a Japanese cotton. I’m also including the most amazing Palomino Blackwing pencil (it’s a limited edition style) with its distinctive eraser shape and a stripey pencil from the Anna Bond Rifle collection. Doesn’t this make a cute set?
Full disclosure: I did write in the journal as part of the photoshoot, but I’ve removed those pages so this is essentially a brand-new notebook.
Anyone game? I’ll take any comment, but I’d also love to hear about a good habit that you have. Do you exercise or do yoga regularly? Are you a water-drinking fiend? Do you have a penchant for sending thank you cards right away (not me!). I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, June 24th, and will announce the winner the following Monday. International entries=no problemo!