Self-Esteem Needs Many Mirrors

Self Esteem Needs Many Mirrors

I’m always impressed by how many of us have incredibly full lives outside of sewing and knitting. I know of bloggers who are actors, scientists, teachers, designers, business people, parents, bakers, gardeners… This list goes on and on. What we do here is only one slice of the pie! Which is a very good thing.

Myself, I work in children’s publishing. I edit full-time and write. On a daily basis, I see and experience the highs and lows of creative pursuits. It’s a rollercoaster, and you’d better make sure you’re strapped in. Many new authors see publication as the ultimate accolade. Well done, you have succeeded. Boy, are they in for a rude awakening. Commercial success brings its own rattling bag of insecurities. Your book’s out there, but is it selling? If it isn’t selling, will the publisher want more? Probably not. Am I capable of writing another book? Maybe.Β There aren’t any guarantees with creativity. We all know that and then some. Everyone here has a tight bundle of abandoned rags in their sewing psyche, even if it’s been thrown out of their sewing room.

This is why it’s really important to have other things to do. When I feel bad about my writing, I take comfort in the fact that I know I’m a really good editor. When I’ve had a frustrating day at the office, I come home and sew. When my brain is too frazzled for anything else, I focus on a single row of knitting. Just one row. All I have to do for the next ten minutes is move some sticks around some wool. Everything else disappears. My baby blanket project has saved my sanity on many a recent tube journey. (If you’re interested, the baby’s arrived and my blanket is 5/7ths finished!)

Knitting

There are myriad ways of propping up your self-esteem. Run marathons, bake cakes, write poetry, retrain for a new career, buy a lipstick … get a sewing machine or buy some wool. Just have more than one mirror in the house. If you pour all your sense of self into a single area of your life, that leaves you teetering atop a tall and narrow pillar. You might get dizzy.

Well, that’s just my opinion and I may be wrong. What do you think? Has sewing or knitting helped you keep perspective? Do you think it’s good or bad to juggle several balls? It’s getting the balance right. Right?!

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80 Responses to Self-Esteem Needs Many Mirrors

  1. Jenny says:

    Karen, you have managed to put into (very eloquent) words something I’ve thought but not been able to communicate quite like this.

    Before I started sewing, work was my whole life and if I had a bad day or week, well then, it was all over. Since I’ve been sewing I can now not only come home to an activity that takes my mind off my work problems, but having outside interests also seems to make my worries diminish as I know that work is no longer the be all and end all of my life.

    Lovely thoughts, lovely post πŸ™‚

  2. Definitely, completely agree. Sewing is so absorbing and knitting so soothing that any frustrations or anxieties you have get put into perspective.

  3. It’s very much a mixed bag for me. It has taken me four and a half years of motherhood, two children and an ongoing financial crisis to put into perspective the fact that you don’t have to constantly push yourself to be perfect. Or in actual fact, constantly feel that you are very far from perfect. Before I had children I was able to focus solely on my job and creative pursuits with something like a fanatical devotion – and I would keep pushing myself on and on, attempting to get every project done in the shortest space of time, and feeling frustrated until I finished it, which then inevitably left me feeling deflated after a short period of elation. Now I have to space out my projects between looking after the kids and working at home, so I have learnt to switch my focus on and off like a tap, meaning I don’t get into the habit of working til stupid o clock, simply because I can’t step away from the computer/canvas/needles etc. I have also cme to terms with the fact that you can and should sometimes undo things and start again – yes it takes more time, but if the end result is worth it, then you should have the patience to do it. That’s the key I think – if you don’t have patience, you will inevitably be endlessly frustrated rather than pleased by your out put.

    • My experience is very similar to yours. In a culture that is so wrapped up in chasing a career at all costs, for a stay at home mum the question “what do you do?” can tip the lid off a whole can of emotional worms.
      It’s taken me over four years to find myself again in my mothering, wifeing, sewing, knitting, baking and homemaking.
      I would add that discussions such have this have aided that process no end. We have a great community.
      Now if someone asks me “what do you do?”, my response is inevitable “about what?”.

  4. Miriam says:

    Karen I love the way you put things. I think defining ourselves and making our identity about any singular thing is not good for us mentally or emotionally – what happens when we lose our job? have a child? have to leave our beautiful home for another? live through devastating earthquakes (as we have done in my city for the last couple of years)….. when our identity is wrapped up in a thing or pursuit it’s a short topple to no identity – that’s my 2 cents worth any way. Great post. I always read every word of your posts even though I don’t comment that often.

    • ‘A short topple to no identity’ – what a great way of putting things. Thank you for reading. Don’t ever feel obliged to comment unless you’re moved to!

      • CamberwellGal says:

        Goodness how wise – both the main post – but also, I couldn’t agree more – the risk of the ‘short topple to no identity’. Been there and done that in relation to work – and don’t recommend it to anyone! It of course doesn’t help that the industry I work in doesn’t really approve of outside interests or things ‘frivolous’, particularly ‘fashionable’, but they don’t need to know!

        What does help is doing things that produce a tangible output that can be pointed at, shared (well sometimes, with sewing!), to diversify the things ones engaged and interested in. I’m always amazed and impressed at the range of other things sewing bloggers are interested and involved in that peep through into their blogs.

        But in the meantime, I’m about to write out the title of this post and stick it to the top of my computer screen.

  5. Katy says:

    I completely agree. I have so many things I adore that it can sometimes feel overwhelming, and I get frustrated that I don’t have enough time for them all. But when one thing, be that my job, sewing, jewellery making etc, doesn’t go quite right I know I can loose myself in another activity and be proud that I’m good at more than thing. I’ve found sewing to be the greatest stress reliever and I can’t imagine myself without it now. In fact, I,m meant to be revising for some very important interviews atm. Everyone around me is freaking out, but I’m able to keep a level head by letting myself sew for short periods, and can see that these interviews are not the only thing going on in my life (although it feels like its taken all my life to get them!). Beautifully written!

  6. Patty says:

    Oh Karen, what a great article you’ve written (again!). How many times have I almost gone crazy thinking about a project at work that did not go according to plan, a meeting that proved problematic, or even a colleague showing disrespect. There is bound to be something that can take us down. Don’t let it! Aside from actually finding a solution to any of these challenges, switch off! It will clear the mind, it will focus your attention to something beautiful, and it will give you strength to face the day! And, in the end, you will have created something – in our “push a button” society, how many can still say they’re creating things? Thanks for reminding everyone about this!

  7. Helen says:

    Firstly I am surprised you find space to knit on the tube!
    My main hobby is gardening, I work in higher education as a senior administrator and it can be stressful, fustrating etc etc sometimes. I unwind in my garden. However, I started blogging about gardening 5 years ago and became involved with the media side of gardening, helped at Chelsea, wrote for the Guardian blog (unpaid of course). All this was great and I thought I wanted to change my career and go into gardening journalism. However, I started to realise that turning my hobby into a career was for me at that time a disaster. I stopped enjoying gardening, all the time I was looking for the next post to write. If I went to a show on a press pass I was looking for a story rather than enjoying myself.
    I think it is a lesson to all of us who blog about our hobby – be careful that you dont loose the escapism of the hobby. Like you say we all need to have other aspects to our lives to give us self esteem, confidence and stress release.
    Now my sons are men I have more time and to I am returning to old hobbies. I am teaching myself to crochet and am starting to get the confidence to dressmake again although a 20 year break and several additional stone isnt helping. I get a thrill from making things, a sense of achievement, something that is unique and is mine. There are knockbacks, a jumper I tried to knit 3 times before I decided the pattern was out, a skirt that doesnt flatter me and cost a fortune but overall its being a more rounded person

  8. Sam says:

    I’m in 2 minds about this. Yes, sewing, knitting and creating in general are very good for my self esteem when I’ve had a bad day (or week) at work, although if I get TOO stressed I do lose my creative urges.
    However I do sometimes find reading creative blogs knocks my self esteem. I see something amazing that someone else has made, and find myself thinking “Why can’t I do that? I should be able to do that. I’ve been sewing longer than they have.” Or something along those lines. I know I should just admire whatever it is, and enjoy my own creativeness, but sometimes it is hard!

    • Be gentle on yourself. Coveting other people’s achievements is part of creating – it’s just a part we don’t like talking about!

    • Gjeometry says:

      I have to second Karen on her thoughts on this. You are your own person and comparing yourself to others will also be a losing battle. You simply aren’t them. Being inspired by them is one thing, (and, yes a tinge of jealousy now and again, sure) but feeling inadequate is something that doesn’t seem will be helpful in the long run.

  9. Ashley0107 says:

    I’ve been job searching since August. Knitting and sewing has helped so much. Just having something to show for the last few months other than a load of rejection letters is so uplifting.

  10. Absolutley, there are real health benefits to having absorbing hobbies as well as putting your all into your career.
    What struck (and, if I’m honest, dissapointed) me at the end of the final episode of GBSB was that most had made the transition from amature sewer to professional. I just hope that the spark they all have for sewing isn’t lost because of a new connection between their hobby and income. I also laughed out loud when I read that Ann had made her first quilt – that’s a true amature (no desire for financial gain from her hobby) and why for me she was always the winner.

  11. Karen says:

    I was a headteacher until recently. My working day (and sometimes weekend) was so long there was really only a little time and head space left and that was reserved for family. However I loved it and didn’t realise how one dimensional I had become. When I made the decision to retire early it I explained it as the desire to do not less but more – in the sense of more variety that used different skill sets and interests. And now I do lots of things (sewing featuring high in the list) some paid, mostly not and I am loving it and feel incredibly fortunate to have this option. I look the same in every mirror in my house but in the mirrors in my head I see a range of images and feel all the better for it.

  12. Janet says:

    You have summed up beautifully what I have concluded for myself over the last couple of years or so. I am grateful that I have different outlets I can turn to and enjoy at different times and each gives me something I need for my sanity and general sense of well being. It’s when I let one thing dominate a bit too much and attach too much importance to it that things go a bit wrong. At the moment, with a house move that is stressing me out a bit, I am finding simple tasks (that I can control more) enjoyable to distract me – planting sunflowers in pots (so I can enjoy them wherever I live); having a big clear out; learning to crochet; and picking a new cake (from the Hummingbird Home Sweet Home book I have recently been given) each week and getting a handful of friends round to eat it with me.
    A lovely piece – thank you for writing.

  13. We all need a ‘safety valve’ and you have expressed perfectly why it is good to have more than one. Well done.
    And I would never have thought of using circular needles in a confined space. Genius!

  14. Amy says:

    Great post Karen.
    It was very similar for me. I did my Masters in creative writing, and left determined to get published. But its so so competitve and no one was interested in my ideas so I got a job in publishing – If you can’t beat them, join them. It’s so disheartening when you lose the enjoyment of being creative because you’re doing it to impress someone else. With sewing its entirely for me!

    • Ah yes, the old chestnut of doing things to impress someone else. Been there, done it, failed. There’s only one person you need to keep happy – yourself! Do what’s true to you. (And only you know what that is…)

      • Helen says:

        I spent years trying to impress my parents and others now I try very hard not to let that sort of thing affect me and be myself – its all about learning to be comfortable with who you are.

  15. Apart from the usual juggle of being a wife, a mum, a business partner, a volunteer, chief food gatherer & cook and domestic goddess, I enjoy sewing, knitting, taking photos and learning the violin (suzuki method). Sometimes I think I have too many hobbies! As you put more eloquently, the beauty of ‘many’ is that you can switch between roles and hobbies as much or little as you like.

  16. yesilikethat says:

    I feel the same about knitting. It’s so slow that it forces you to stop rushing. My other two main hobbies of sewing and dancing both frequently lead me to tears of frustration, so it’s nice to have something that isn’t quite so stressful to fall back on!

    I often try and get through awful days at work by thinking about the sewing project I can work on that night (although by the time I get home and have dinner I’m normally too tired to actually do it. Oh for another day in the week…)

  17. This is a lovely post, Karen, thank you. I have found sewing and developing other hobbies to be hugely beneficial to my self-esteem and general mental health. As you probably know, when I took up sewing three years ago I was suffering from depression and had been signed off work, and actually the sewing machine was brilliant, because it gave me something to do with my days and it took my mind off the things that were causing me to be so ill. But it was also a bit of a double-edged sword in that, as I was depressed and anxious and basically sinking so much into sewing, it was very easy to become discouraged when things didn’t go well – and this of course was a bit more frequent because I was a beginner!

    This side of it is something that has been more of a process to get through, and I am getting my head around it a bit now. It is having more than one mirror! I’m a civil servant and I have a stressful job and it’s also not that creative, so having sewing as a creative outlet is really important to me. But it’s also important that it doesn’t add more stress to my life so while I have been sewing much more frequently recently, I’ve had to become a lot more zen about the whole thing! And the only way to do this is to diversify – as you said – spend time on other hobbies like crochet and blogging and also socialising with my friends. But it has taken me ages to get to this point.

    Oooh wall of text! The TL:DR of this is: sewing is good, but don’t overdo it or it will bum you out.

  18. Ruth says:

    Workwise, hobbywise you are my twin. The only thing is that I don’t believe in the “self-esteem story.” It has become popular in recent years to say that everybody needs it. However, the only actual research into the topic has shown that criminals tend to have high self-esteem (“Only stupid people follow the rules, and I’m smarter than them”), whereas people who are very successful in their field tend to have lower self-esteem (so they work harder to justify their existence). Of course, this analysis only works if you realize that most bankers fall into the first group. In my own life, I think that my sense of being “comfortable in my skin” actually relies on belonging to lots of networks – being sociable, loving, lovable, valuing other people and being valued. Self-esteem – the danger is that some people are “proud” of having “good self-esteem”, when everyone else sees them as conceited or arrogant. What happened to humility? That used to be a very good quality.

    This post is not aimed at anyone, btw, just at the general zeitgeist that self-esteem is a good thing.

  19. This is a truly great post. I’m an illustrator/comic book artist (still studying but I already work if they ask me and I have the time) and to me sewing is something creative that I can do without the pressure of deadlines or meeting the approval of a client. Drawing used to be what I did as a hobby, and now it turned into my job, so sewing has become a second creative outlet that lets me relax. Most other artists I know do the same thing: a classmate started playing the trumpet this year and a friend who makes traditional funny comics goes out every week and paints gorgeous landscapes in oil paint.

    I truly love what I do, I’ll always love drawing and I’m extremely happy to be able to work as an artist, but after working on a project for ages and meeting the deadline, I’m so happy to be able to sit down and create something without any pressure to do it right.

    PS: if you’re curious about my drawing work, I post about it here: http://annetsplayground.blogspot.com

  20. laylatotah says:

    Too true. I too turned my sewing hobby into a job-i now teach sewing- and it can get a little stressful not to have another outlet from work that is not the same as work! That said, I do love my job, but perhaps I need to find another creative outlet as well.

  21. MrsSmith says:

    This is brilliant! I agree that we all are so many things to so many people often. I am a wife, mother, scientist…But I’m still…”me”. I love to bake, I crochet, I read obsessively, I am loving sewing, I have recently added knitting to my list of hobbies too!

    Your post sums up my advice to new moms especially, well. You can’t wrap your entire identity in any single part of your life, including your child(ren).

    Great read!

  22. Louise says:

    I only discovered your blog recently but I have to say I’m really enjoying your posts πŸ™‚ Knitting and sewing have been my salvation whilst I’m at home with my daughters. And like you when I’m worn out and frazzled, knitting is just the thing. But not complicated lace patterns or cables!!

  23. maddie says:

    Multi tasking is a great skill. That’s what women are so great at, right πŸ™‚ But finding that balance is crucial. I have also found that the skills I learn and acquire in other areas in my life, non sewing related, help me in my sewing realm and vice versa. In the end, well roundedness is what I am trying to achieve.

  24. Becky says:

    My husband said it almost as well as you, and it has stayed with me for a long time. “It’s always a mistake to compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” Everyone has self-esteem issues, but you often don’t know what other people’s are. Having lots of things to dabble in is a great idea, and you are very wise. It is all about finding a balance, but I think that is the work of a lifetime.

  25. Stephanie says:

    I’m new to your blog, but I absolutely love it. I read all of your entries with great interest. I’m an economist by virtue of many circumstances growing up, having been pushed in that direction because I had strong math skills and because it was taught to me by my mother that a secure job is the pinnacle of achievement. I get a sense of achievement from my job, which is an interesting one, but inside of me I’m a creative, and I’d be completely bonkers if I weren’t constantly making things and taking art courses and taking time off work to travel to “art” locations. Knitting has saved me on so many occasions – I remember working in another country far away from my home country in my twenties, breaking up with a partner and relying on knitting on the bus to work as the balm to my extreme loneliness. (If you’ve ever seen Like Water for Chocolate, the cardigan I knitted on that occasion is not dissimilar to the endless afghan she’s knitting and that is dragging from the back of the wagon as she’s being taken off to the insane asylum. πŸ™‚ I can’t get rid of it though!).

  26. LinB says:

    Use of tools to construct clothing is one of the markers that paleoanthropologists use to decide if a species was human or not. When I sew/knit/crochet/tat, I affirm a connection with all of humankind, throughout all of time. It is tapping into that collective energy that strengthens us, when we practice the fiber arts. Many cultures buried a woman’s sewing tools with her, as tribute to a life spent making garments and household goods from leather and cloth. (I’d like my own sewing artifacts to go out into the world to be used by some other human, my ownself.) Even more than the personal psychological benefits that come to you by the soothing repetitive nature of the tasks is that the end product of your sewing/knitting/crocheting/tatting is a item that is useful to someone, and that in some small way improves the world you live in. (Beginners, it gets better — practice of your new skills brings unexpected confidence in other parts of your lives.) Thus endeth the sermon.

  27. oonaballoona says:

    you know i agree, it’s why i started sewing! wonderfully said (and written).

  28. Salma says:

    When I’m really very stressed out and in need of a boost I turn to my embroidery, there’s something about starting with a clean sheet and watching color and design take shape to create something beautiful. When I want more focus and order, I turn to sewing. As for knitting and crochet, I give up – I’ve tried and tried but I don’t seem to have the knack for it!

  29. Jen says:

    Brilliant post ! I surely love to see these sides of the creators’ who’s craft blogs I read. Your identity is intriguing to hear about. I surely believe that having many aspects to life is very important. I am a folk musician of sorts, and compose, and funny thing, is I’m SO bashful to let that be known on my knitting blog. Its just something that I find when my music confidence is low (it is subject to a ‘season’) , I really excell in the knitting, and visa versa. Excellent post !

  30. sallie says:

    great post! i definitely know i feel more out of balance when i don’t have time to sew – which has been the past month – and my hands are itching to get started on a new project. my day job is also highly creative, and results in a lot of high’s and low’s which sometimes drives me up the wall! that’s when i really retreat into sewing – or if i’m too twitchy for that – yoga.

  31. Helen says:

    Sewing has saved my sanity more than once, so I agree. I just need to ensure the sewing doesn’t take over my other enjoyment activities – I recently wished for rain, so I could sew guilt free, instead of spending time in my much neglected garden! Not sure that’s right either. I got my wish though! πŸ™‚

  32. Absolutely and you’ve phrased that very well. I went through a phase of baking with yeast. I would make soft pretzels, coffee braids, pitas, bagels, dinner rolls, pizza dough, foccacia, cherry loaf, etc (although strangely enough I don’t think I made a loaf of plain white bread), the time I had at home determined what I made, I’d time grocery shopping while it was rising. And I didn’t really know why. There is nothing wrong with the activity, but the push and drive to do it was strange. It took a few months (and lots of flour) to figure out it was shoring up my insecurities having recurrent miscarriages. Maybe I can’t have a baby but I damn well could do things my grandmother would have done (a loose tie to my “feminine side” and most recipes were from her cook books). Once I figured that out, the urge to bake has eased and I do it when there is an event and time rather than following a compulsion to do it.

    • LinB says:

      Oh, Seraphinalina, I am so sorry for your pain! I agree that if, for whatever reason, a woman finds herself unable to make the baby she so desperately wants, other “making” activities are a constructive outlet to keep oneself from going insane. It is not a substitute, but a coping mechanism. I am glad that you were able to find a way to help the hurt.

  33. ClaireE says:

    I completely agree! Recently I have been “working on me”, taking the time to work out what increases my self-esteem and what takes it away. I often find my work to equally rewarding and frustrating. Sewing has become a more important part of my life as a result of this process, to the point that I now blog about it. It has saved me from moments of frustration and despair but has also caused them, just like work and many other areas of life I guess. It is important to have a balance and to make sure that you take the time to do what you enjoy in life. Great post.

  34. fern1knits says:

    I love this post! I have just recently been experiencing a low point in my crafting ‘mojo’ but you’ve reminded me that I do a LOT of things that bring me joy. And if I feel down about one thing, I have MANY outlets to find my magic and bring some kind of ‘alchemy’ to my life.

  35. I think this is a very interesting and inspiting post. I think sewing is a great way to forget all that is going on around you and probably knitting and crochet, if you love doing them as well. i am a sewer first and foremost. Mind you hobbies in general are good for relaxing. I believe that if you keep busy you haven’t got time to dwell too much on problems. I consider myself very lucky to be able to sew.

  36. sewbusylizzy says:

    My life is very busy. I love sewing because I find it’s the only time that the chatter & worry of the world goes away. People ask me how I find time to sew, I ask them how can I not find time to sew!!??

  37. Gjeometry says:

    Physics teacher and math geek here. And, sewing has saved my life in some strange ways. I tend to lean towards the OCD spectrum of things (Do you watch The Big Bang Theory? Ok, if you do, I AM Sheldon. Seriously. Sad, but true, lol). And sewing has given me a creative outlet and something positive and joyful to obsess on. Plus, I get to wear groovy stuff after all the creativity and obsessing ends! Win-win!! πŸ™‚

  38. Rochelle New says:

    Well said. As much as I love sewing, one of the most stressful jobs I had was working at a fabric shop! I was constantly trying to sew things for the shop or for other people that it left me completely burned out from wanting to sew anything for myself. Definitely not a good feeling. I am truly thankful for everything I learned at the job as far as being in small business and all, but I’m happy to be sewing for myself again.

    p.s. when I was younger I always thought I would write children’s books. That must be so much fun! Even with the added stress.

  39. Zoe says:

    Aww, that was a lovely post Karen! I pretty much only sew, but I always have a few projects on the go so if something isn’t working and stressing you out, you can flit over to another project for a while. Or if you are super-tired but still want to feel productive in one area, any area, of your life, I’ll often curl up on the sofa or in bed with the instructions of a pattern so I can use the time to get my head round the next steps of construction when I have more energy and things are going right!

    Lots of love
    Zoe xxx

  40. I’m in college, and sometimes I feel like I can’t do any thing right: study, juggle work and school, and still get myself ready for the work world (it’s settled in for real, now that I’ve turned 21!)
    This post really spoke to me. When it all falls down, I go back to my apartment and pull out the knitting or make plans to sew something. Lucky for me, I found your blog and now I HAVE to make that Minoru Jacket…Thank goodness for people like you. Hope the sun is shining where you are!

  41. Sally says:

    Excellent post! Yes a diverse range of skills and interests is a real buffer against life’s rocky road…..

    This time last year I became ill with ME. Having been a very active individual who loved: walking, gardening, cycling, riding horses and swimming, I suddenly became unable to do any of those things.

    Luckily I have also always loved reading, painting, sewing, knitting and being creative… and so I could pick up those interests once more and find a way to re-invent myself again….

    Thanks for sharing that thought… πŸ˜‰

    • Sheree says:

      Sally- so sorry you are suffering with ME. My husband had it for 3 years, so know what its like. You may like to check out John Sarno book The Divided Mind. Sorry Karen for side-tracking.

  42. stgilbert says:

    Karen, I just love this post! I, too, am always amazed and impressed by the diversity of everyone’s skills. It’s so true that downtime / stress is wonderfully relieved with crafty pursuits. I plan on a decadent day of sewing tomorrow!

  43. Sheree says:

    I think it is so important to have a creative aspect in our lives. It doesn’t matter what. And the more the merrier. For me, sewing ( something I have come back to after a gap of 20 odd years) has been a godsend during a tough time health-wise.

  44. Ashley says:

    Sewing, knitting, crafting anything really helps to center me and give me the perspective I need to stay positive! For a long time, I tried to repress that side of my personality because it was so out of the ordinary. Now, it’s such a huge part of who I am that I couldn’t hide it if I tried (and I never would).

  45. Uta says:

    You have interesting thoughts, and a lovely way of putting them! There have been a few posts around the blogosphere from people who took up sewing to get perspective/get out of depression/add a positive element or something easier to control to their daily lives. I’m one of those people. I always had enough perspective to know life isn’t about my job, or studies before that, and I always did other things (infrequently sewing, too). The “mirror” that was added when I had children was a real boon to my life and self-esteem. When DD was little though and sick a lot, with no improvement in sight, and my life just felt like an endless round of doctor’s visits/mediacation/sitting home with DD, I knew I needed to do something else that made me feel productive but not under pressure. So I started sewing more and keeping a blog. DD has gotten better, I’ve added some other “mirrors” to my life since then and sewing has lost the importance to my mental stability it had for a while. Thus, less sewing, less blogging. I totally agree with you, though, lots of mirrors make a better life!

  46. Pella says:

    Self esteem – no. But it keeps me sane.

  47. Sewing is my lifesaver!

  48. Rachel says:

    Brilliant perspective – thank you!

  49. Tracy says:

    I can empathise with Helen’s reply, I used to try to please other people and worry about what they thought of me and if i was ‘good enough’, but after being in pain and going through 3 spinal operations over the past 5 years, I do things for me now and don’t care that people think I’m ‘sad’ or ‘boring’ or a ‘granny’ for enjoying knitting and sewing. If I have a bad day either at work or due to pain, I pick up my needles and knit or look through my patterns and decide whats next,or read some inspiring blogs! I may not be brilliant but I enjoy what I do, and that’s what keeps me going and my 3 daughters are proud of what I do!

  50. I just like to think I like to do it all. I never want to hold back on a new creative or fitness journey, or progressing in my job. Variety can be frustrating and difficult to fit it all in, but crafts and hobbies are like season, there is time for all.

  51. suth2 says:

    Great post and so true. I think women in particular are expert at juggling the balls in the air. Gardening is another wonderful activity for releasing tension and getting things back into perspective.

  52. Anne-Marie says:

    Thank you for this great post, Karen. Luckily I live where I can see a beautiful night sky; when I feel frazzled I look at the stars and know how insignificant my life is in the big scheme of things and that works for me.

  53. Jacq C says:

    Thought provoking and beautifully expressed Karen. Like many others I had time off work with stress related illness – more common than we think. My friend had taught me to crochet a year earlier which helped enormously but then I fell into a trap of agreeing to make things for other people and that put pressure on my crafting too. A doctor I saw banned me from crafting for a week (I dabble with sewing, crochet, card making, occasional knitting …) – I was devastated, thought I’d been helping my stress levels. He said I was manically crafting to avoid thinking about being over-extended in other areas of my life. He was right, I’d totally lost the ability to just ‘sit and be’. Couldn’t sit through a film or concentrate on a book. That’s when I found blogs like yours and I could concentrate on those because the subject matter and style were so interesting and welcoming. So that’s important to remember, we need balance even in our leisure and I try to do that now. πŸ™‚

    • Helen Johnstone says:

      I experienced something similar to Jacq C but would you believe due to Twitter. I was completely addicted and it seriously affected my stress levels, my self-esteem. It caused big mood swings and I was on the edge – how ridiculous and an indicator of how bad social media can be. It was a real addiction so my sons disabled it on my laptop and I blocked it on my work PC, that was at teh start of the year and I havent been back. I am calmer, more focussed, can sit and be more and my son said the other day he thought I was much happier.

      It just shows how something small can really impact on your mental health.

  54. Pingback: Sunday Reading #1 | Crafting my own style

  55. Kbenco says:

    You write so well.Some days the only thing that goes well is the knitting, and this is ridiculously satisfying. How sad that some people can only watch the telly when they get home from their bad-days at work.

  56. Meraj says:

    Thanks for this post! Especially this: “There aren’t any guarantees with creativity. …This is why it’s really important to have other things to do.” I liked that so much, partly because I think creative fields in particular perpetuate this myth that to achieve your potential as a _______ you need to focus on only that, all the time. Whether it’s a visual artist or a writer or a computer programmer–there’s this destructive idea that, if you’re not willing to all your work time and then all your free time on your passion, you’re clearly not “meant to be” one, or you’re not passionate /enough/.

    …Even though, as far as I know, that kind of intense focus doesn’t even necessarily translate into better creative output. So yeah, great post :)!

    • Meraj says:

      (Also, just wanted to say I like the focus on publishing in your recent blog posts. I love it when sewing bloggers talk about the intersections between sewing and the other things that they’re knowledgeable about, and your publishing posts were particularly interesting, I thought.)

  57. Lorna says:

    Hello! Very wise post, Karen. Sometimes I feel a little lost, and creativity keeps me sane. I lost my best friend of 30 years two years ago (she was just 42), I’ve moved miles away from my other friends, who all have very busy lives, and I have a job I’m not suited for at all. I know, though, that I can come home and make something and that keeps me going. Even if it doesn’t turn out well, that doesn’t matter – it’s the process that counts. Whether I’m filing silver or struggling with a skirt pattern, it’s all very cathartic because I’m concentrating on something other than what’s going on in my head. I think creativity is incredibly important – for me, it’s essential and almost part of a healing process.

  58. L. Marie says:

    That blanket is gorgeous! I’m a crocheter and a knitter as well as a writer/editor. I relax by crocheting. And I find that crocheting makes me more creative with my words!

  59. Alexandra says:

    I really love this post – it really has voiced some of the vague thoughts I’ve had running through my head for a while!

    I feel that it’s really important to have creative outlets, and not just one! I know that a lot of people think I’m flighty, because I have so many creative loves and interests, but I think that the process of creating is totally addictive, and it’s hard to limit yourself.

    Having said that, I also feel that it is very hard when a creation doesn’t work out, especially if you’ve spent a substantial amount of time on it! I think my boyfriend would say that (considering the hissy fits that sometimes follow the realisation that my most recent make is a wadder) I’m not always the best at keeping perspective when it comes to my sewing/knitting/writing! But, I always pick myself back up afterwards, because, as Churchill said ‘Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm’!!

  60. bikelove says:

    Thanks for your wonderful post. I totally get you. I’m running a cycle training business. Cycling is massive for me. It’s how I get around, it’s what I do for fun, it’s how I spend my holiday but it cannot be the only thing in my life. Its too one-diesnional, too small a basket to stack your eggs. The thing I love best is being able to fill my life with loads of others cool stuff… I love sewing, baking, running, swimming, yoga, playing piano. And the mental list of other things I’d love to do is even longer. It’s hard to rely oh only one aspect of your life for fulfillment.,. You need to share that around!

  61. Sewing has saved my life in many ways!!

  62. Sika says:

    You are so right. It is important for our self esteem when we are able to do what we like to do the best. Everyone has a great talent that needs to be discovered and then experienced. This is part of the sense of our life, isn’t it.

  63. Such a beautiful – and brilliant – post!

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