Ebb and Flow {Discussion}

This is a quick post today reflecting on something I shared via Instagram earlier this week. Amy from Amy’s Creative Side is hosting a month long photo challenge on Instagram called #IGQuiltFest to bring the quilting community together there. A prompt for earlier this week was “Best Tip Ever” and I shared this graphic:

A wise man once told my husband, “Don’t let your highs be too high and your lows be too low.” The gentleman is a blue collar machinist and had mastered a zen of living and working in today’s high paced society that we talk about almost daily since he shared this wisdom.

I like to think of this in terms of creating. There are going to be natural bursts of creativity and creation followed by lulls and periods of rest and recovery. Don’t let social media fool you: this happens with everyone. I just spent over a month working on only one project. It’s ok. We all need to recharge and take care of our full selves. Let’s honor the full process and in so doing, the tension and fear of the cresting wave won’t pull us under.

I’ll repeat: I’ve been on a bit of a slow making, low ebb part of the normal cycle myself, and it is OK. While making a quilt a week (or more) is exciting, it can also be exhausting.

How do you create self-care as part of your routine above and beyond creating and quilting? Are there things that help you feel relaxed and at peace with the natural ebb and flow of life?

30 thoughts on “Ebb and Flow {Discussion}

  1. This is so true and chimes well with other discussions on social media. All those lovely pictures are not all posted in ‘real time’ but can create pressure for us to be creating and producing flat out all the time to keep up with the perceived production rate. I am rediscovering the joy of reading. It is so relaxing to take short breaks through the day and get lost in an other world. And days out are important – a change of scene helps to recharge batteries and can be a source of creativity too. 🙂

  2. kaholly says:

    I can relate. A day out reconnecting with Mother Nature soothes my soul.

  3. I used to look at blogs or IG and think why can’t I churn out like everyone else is. Now I let it slide, if I have time to create that’s great if not I am accountable to no one. We all need downtime, a simple walk can bring surprising results.

  4. Life is short. I feel the accuracy of this statement more and more as I age and it reminds me to try and be in the moment. Instead of racing my way through things, I’ve discovered it’s so much more enjoyable when I’m more zen in my approach. I try and bring this calm state to all my activities – washing the dishes, creating, spending time with loved ones – the only exception is maybe my workout, which I use to channel excess energy and stress and push myself physically. Plus, the simple reminder of “you’re doing the best you can” resets my mindset.

  5. Jan O says:

    So true. I think social media kind of pressures creatives to produce, produce, produce, all beautifully photo-worthy of course. Sometimes it’s better to sit back and find your own rhythm. Sometimes that rhythm includes peaks and valleys, with interruptions for deadlines. It has taken awhile, but I think I’ve found a pace that works for me. I hope you do too.

  6. I’ve appreciated recent posts like this one, where reality is acknowledged along with amazing productivity. I can now look to IG and other channels for inspiration and community, and mostly resist feeling like a major loser. The last few months have been overwhelming from all fronts, and that’s taken its toll on the time I’ve given myself to be creative. I’ll get back to it, but in the meantime, I’m taking walks and reading as a break from it all. And watching all your creativity from afar until I get the energy back.

  7. Liz W. says:

    Thank you for that post, Yvonne, it is such a good reminder, not just for creativity, but life in general!

  8. Bernie says:

    It boils down to social media for me. The more I browse, the more I feel I need to be making something to stay “current”, “keep up”, etc. While I do enjoy getting to know people, it can be a drain and it also consumes my time. So, I am really trying to cut back on screen time. Less blog reading, less posting. I don’t know for sure, but I think it helps. I don’t want sewing, quilting and creating to be a chore. It should be a very pleasurable experience.

  9. Lisa says:

    I was thinking that the quote above sounds so much like the middle way. I have periods like last week where I hardly quilt and hardly look at social media and it’s nice to be reminded that this is o.k.

  10. Wonderful words, we all need to remind ourselves that to stop for a while is OK,and beneficial. After 3 weeks away, I will be so happy to sit and ponder for some time. It gives me a new perspective about those who travel for work all the time. Your one month project was so worth the days, it is a winner.

  11. Elizabeth E. says:

    Truthfully, after years of experience, I don’t have to think about “self-care” because after decades of trying to figure out a balance, it comes more easily at this stage. It helps that I’ve retired from my day job. It also helps that we are financially secure. I worry more about those who don’t have the luxury of stepping back, of those women who have no choice but to keep going.

    One of those who comes to mind was the well-known quilter Ruth McDowell. As a single mother, she used her quilting to support herself, and was always selling what she made to keep the household running. As a result, she had no samples to show at her classes, nor to hang in shows. Finally a good friend bought one of her quilts, and then gave it back to her, telling her to return it only when she no longer needed it. She told this story in a four-day class I took with her, and it has always stuck with me. I’m sure there are other stories out there that are similar.

    I also had many graduate classes (creative writing) which emphasized that often the Muse shows up only after we do. So while I sometimes pull back to take a break, the Muse often disappears at that time. Creative energy can exhaust us, certainly, but often I wonder if it’s not *creative energy,* but instead (as your reader above noted) *frenetic activity* in trying to keep up.

    To that point, I was interested in the story of Ethel Stein, a textile weaver who died this past week and was profiled in the NYTimes. She was mostly unknown, although prolific. I quote: ““Ethel Stein did not shun an audience; rather, she sidestepped the pervasive marketing focus of others,” Jack Lenor Larsen, a noted textile designer and author, wrote in the introduction to the monograph. “She would rather just get on to the next project.”

    And we must also. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

  12. sewserena says:

    Thank you for sharing such powerful words. I am also on a low ebb and learning to love the few minutes I find to seems and me gentle with myself for not producing a lot of results. A beautiful reminder.

  13. Alys says:

    I kind of just let the highs and lows flow. Because I love to read and to do jigsaw puzzles, I find that just taking a break and doing something else for a while helps me feel more invigorated when i get back to a project. i also belong to a group that meets on Wednesdays for 4 hours. it is always nice when someone has something completed that we can all comment and congratulate upon. All of this helps to keep the lows from being abysses.

  14. Facetfully says:

    PERFECT for this period in my life! Is it something to do with rest before the spring springs? Thanks, Yvonne!

  15. Great thought-provoking read! I have often wondered how I could churn out quilt after quilt like I see some when in reality I sew three blocks to every one whole quilt of theirs. I am learning to balance my quilting time with the other things I enjoy doing as well as learning to let go of the thought that I have to “keep up with the quilters.” Maybe, I’m learning that I personally find the journey of making more exciting and rewarding than actually reaching the destination (a finished quilt).

  16. Kaja says:

    Wise words indeed. I have concluded that life seems altogether saner if I just don’t look at instagram that much.

  17. Kate says:

    Being in the sewing room relaxes me. It’s nice to have a variety of projects from the fiddly to the mindless to help with the lows. The highs of course pretty much take care of themselves. Thanks for sharing the thoughts. Social media sometimes does make it seem that others do so much more. It can be intimidating and depressing if you let it.

  18. Kathleen McCormick says:

    I have learned to do what I love and do it at my own pace. I think it is very hard to watch social media and be fooled into thinking that everyone has huge studios, longarms, etc. I am happy with what I have, my talent and my ability to share it. I try to keep that in mind. When it is all too much, a little visit with one of my close friends or a good walk helps me to recharge!

  19. Wanda Bamberg says:

    I agree with Kathleen a lot. Look at what I do have and not what I don’t. I love my quilting projects in all phases and am thankful I can still do them all. I had to learn to take it easier, slow down and relax expectations of myself. I read, sit or lie down when my body yells that clue in my head/heart. Going to the pool for water exercise at my pace is a VERY good thing for me to do. It helps my body, my spirit and my soul. ❤️

  20. Jess says:

    To work through this, I’ve found another outlet (reading both physical and audiobooks) for my free time. That means I do less sewing – I used to be in the sewing room every single night, but sometimes I sew on the couch or not at all. I’m a lot happier that way!

  21. I so agree! The hardest part for me is forcing myself to create when I do not want to be creating. I am looking forward to a little quilting breather, making some quilts just for fun, and planning a new festival with you 🙂

  22. annette810 says:

    This is so, so true. Thank you very much for the reminder that it’s ok to rest and recover. We need to be kind to ourselves. Who knows us better?!

  23. Lea says:

    Thank you for writing this. It is timely for me since I’ve been in a creative funk for about 3 or 4 weeks now.

    A few weeks ago a laid out some simple 8 1/2″ blocks for a kid’s quilt. Usually this kind of quilt is my favorite to do. It’s fun, fast and easy adn the fabrics do the talking in this kind of a quilt. But the layout looked terrible.

    So I started sewing some blocks together for a different quilt and after starting 2 blocks I didn’t like how they were progressing. Something felt “off”. So I’ve decided I’ll put a little border around these blocks and set them aside with my other orphan blocks. They’ll all end up in a quilt together eventually. The colors are similar because I make kids quilts and have colors I like to use for their quilts.

    Thanks for reminding me that the ebb and flow is natural for us creative quilters. I needed that reminder. You made me feel better about this. Thanks!!

    I enjoy reading and like other quilters have been catching up on some reading.

  24. My health seems to dictate what I get done so it was a good reminder seeing this post. It’s ok 🙂

  25. Sarah Ruiz says:

    Such wise words. I’m currently working through a list of projects that clearly shows I took on too much for this month — which means that once I power through it, I’ll probably need to give myself a lull!

  26. Helen says:

    I tend to switch about . I tend to do most things all of the time , but the creative part that comes to the fore will change . Sometimes quilting , sometimes scrapbooking, sometimes knitting or baking . Or reading . Yes reading is being creative too . And sometimes I just sit

  27. It can be difficult finding that balance. I have been struggling with the “low” lately, my dad just passed away and immediately following my mom took ill. I have had great difficulty finding my creative release. I think sometimes you just have to allow your spirit the time to recharge; I think underneath that creative block something g is stirring that will.come other when it’s ready. At least I hope so!

  28. The quote is a good one. A tumultuous life like that is only good in soap operas.
    My self-care days are when I take a rare but deliberate strike from chores. Today is Saturday, I should run all sorts of errands, but I will not. I worked hard this week, so apart from picking up the dry cleaning, I’ll take today for myself and start the chores tomorrow.

  29. Another great post, Yvonne. Social media definitely encourages that push to make, make, make because even though we all go through highs and lows there’s always someone posting something gorgeous that they just finished. It can feel like we’re alone in needing to be slower sometimes. I find the biggest part of self care is knowing when you need to just take a break. Sometimes the break is from other stuff and making is the answer, but sometimes the break needs to be from the making (especially if a lot of deadlines have been involved) and we need to step away from the fabric and do other things. Either way, listening to your body/mood will go a long way towards keeping yourself in balance 🙂

  30. Jasmine @ Quilt Kisses says:

    I’ve definitely been on a low in quilting productivity. However, I have spent a lot of time with family and started crocheting washcloths. Those are addicting.

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)