Finding Balance

by Featured

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Many people have had a break from the craziness of life in the last few months. Some have been more busy than ever. It has been a strange time to be alive for all of us.

If there has been any lesson to be learned from all this, I believe it is that a slower pace and a simpler life are good things. We have spent more time with family. We have been home more to cook, clean, and take care of our yards. We have had more time to sew or work on home improvement projects. Some of us even took this time to organize and clean our sewing spaces!

So, as things start to open back up, and our schedules threaten to fill up, what can we do to keep the simple life going?

  1. Say “no” more often. Some of us have a hard time saying “no” to legitimate or worthwhile causes. An example of this might be when a distant relative contacts you, because they know that you sew, and asks you to make them 25 masks. Newsflash—there are plenty of masks out there now available for sale. You do not have to say “yes” or feel any obligation to do this! Direct this person to an Etsy shop, or even their local hardware supply store.

My point here is: the burden of saving the world (running the next quilt show, being president of the PTA, insert “good” thing here) is not on you. It’s okay to have other priorities. It’s okay to say “no” without an explanation. It’s okay to maintain balance in your life by mindfully choosing what you can manage to do, what you want to do, and what you are obligated to do.

2. Use a bullet journal to help organize and prioritize your activities. Bullet journals can be so helpful. You can find all kinds of examples and options on websites like Pinterest.

Your bullet journal does not have to be a work of art, unless you enjoy drawing and that type of artwork. It can be as simple as a cheap notebook from a dollar store. The main point is that it is a place to keep track of your schedule, your projects, your ideas, your dreams. It helps to put down your lists and priorities in a concrete way. If new opportunities arise or new obligations are presented, it’s easier to say “yes” or “no” based on your list of goals or plans for a certain week, month, or year.

3. Be introspective. Take some time now to really contemplate what your “new normal” needs to look like. Think about what has been happening in your life over the last few month and decide what you want to continue to happen, and what you want to add back in. Use your bullet journal to write down those two lists, kind of like a “pros and cons” list. Maybe do a weekly check of how you are doing with your lists. Are you adding in things that you wanted to add? Are you continuing to do the things that you really wanted to do?

4. Clear the clutter. Clutter is not only physical excess, it is also mental excess. On the physical side, clearing clutter leaves us with more space and less stuff we don’t use. This is definitely a place to find balance. If my dear husband had his way, we would have very little in our home. He is a minimalist, to be sure. However, the balance for him and his minimalist ways is me! I like cozy rugs, comfy pillows, quilts on the backs of furniture and on the walls, little vignettes of this and that to make the house look pretty. He keeps me from overdoing the bric a brac, and I keep him from living like a homeless guy with a home. 🙂

On the mental side, clutter is just too much to keep track of. Too many appointments. Too many obligations. Too many things to do all the time. It can actually be doing too many things at once, often called multi-tasking. When we have too much mental clutter, we are tired, less-productive, and in the worst case scenarios completely overwhelmed.

So, how do we clear it out? Make lists of priorities, make plans to accomplish the things on your lists, and eliminate the things that you cannot accomplish and be okay with that.

Finding balance in the "new normal"
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At this point, you may be wondering what this has to do with quilting. Here is the connection: If we don’t find balance in our lives, we don’t have time to quilt! When being overly busy becomes our “normal” there just is no time to relax and create. Even quilting becomes just one more thing on our “to do” list that we can’t enjoy because that list is so long.

It’s okay to make quilting time a priority. It’s okay to say “no” to others once in awhile and say “yes” to yourself. Finding balance means that you and the people and things you enjoy don’t always go on the bottom of the list. As we venture into the “new normal” and begin to get back to our lives, let’s make an effort to find time for quilting. We deserve that time. We need it.

Sandi Griepenstroh

Sandi Griepenstroh


I started quilting in the early 90's as a young mom while I was still teaching high school social sciences and English. Now it is my full time job, and I love sharing the joy that quilting has brought into my life through lecturing, trunk shows, teaching everything from piecing to machine quilting, and longarm quilting the pieced quilt tops that others have made. I am a maker through and through, and I can't wait to meet my fellow makers and talk quilting!

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