Sunday, May 29, 2011

Creative Stress

I'll be honest. I won't lie to you. I'm feeling blocked and stuck these days. I just cannot get over it and have almost no creative urge or impulse AT ALL. Nada. Totally lacking in inspiration.

I really used to enjoy playing around with ideas for new quilts.

The box is empty  right now . . .

Does that ever happen to you? For someone who calls herself a "quilt designer/author" it's pretty stressful and depressing, let me tell you. Not many will admit to this I think. I pick up magazines and books and look at blogs to see what's new but it seems like everything is whirling past me so fast and I have not kept up for so long. Will anyone still be there waiting for me at the station when I finally get off this recovery train?

I get e-mails asking me "What's next, what's next, What are you working on, When is another book coming out??  Soon, soon, soon, we hope . . . can't wait for another one!" Give. me. a. break. Actually, forgive me for sounding rude  and cranky, I'm really a nice person, honest, but I simply want to scream back sometimes: "I'm on a break! I'm still having a hard time making myself lunch and walking up and down stairs . . . "

The dilemma is, if I'm technically on a break, shouldn't I still just be quilting for fun or whatever? Happy as a clam to finally have time to myself?? Quilting always used to make  me feel good. Last week I was all ready to pick up a few of my Dear Jane blocks and see if I could at least whip up a few easy ones to add to my meager collection. I got out the Dear Jane book and poked through some of my scraps -

I turned on the iron and promptly burned my left hand. Ouch, has it been so long since I've quilted that I forgot how to use one, LOL?? But I persisted, slipped on a bandage and put an ice pack on it. It's only my left, I can still cut and sew with my right. 

I chose a block, then went over to the printer with my freezer paper to transfer the block pattern from my DJ  EQ software. Yes, you guessed it, the printer decided that now was a perfect time to break. I'm pretty sure I just used it 2 days ago and it was FINE. Could not get anything out of it except for a loud, angry, grinding sigh. Or, wait, was that coming from me?? I suspect this is the Universe telling me to just go sit down and watch another movie already or read a book or something until I feel better. No quilting for now.

Big sigh . . .

Actually, I do have a few other things on my plate at the moment - a party/barbeque to plan for tomorrow for My Daughter's 18th Birthday. Nothing fancy, hamburgers (and one veggie burger) on the grill,  some easy sides and a salad. A cake from the store (sorry  Hon).  Not stressful at all but nevertheless a lot more than I've done in awhile. But she's my miracle baby - the one I was lucky enough to have at a late age when we thought there was no hope for another - and I always like to make her feel special you know. The weather should be nice and, oh yes, some of the perennials are blooming and all of the bought plants are now in pots or in the ground! Yay for super hard-working husbands!!

They grow up so fast . . . 
My son is graduating from college next week and, before I know it, she'll be gone too.

I will have more thoughts on this creativity thing coming up I'm sure. I'm not WORKING on anything so what else do I have to do until I get my groove back?

I'll get that box filled up soon, I just know it. The hardest part is waiting.


Dixie Redmond said...

You have to rest to get a break. :-) You have to allow yourself to rediscover the rhythms of life. And while you rest, little seeds of ideas will form...and maybe even a new direction.

Nancy said...

Give yourself permission to turn off the computer and go sit in the garden or go for a walk every day. You may not find inspiration, but it will find you. Be patient and kind to yourself.

Stephanie said...

We quilters can be a selfish lot...our favorites come out with something new and wonderful and we're already thinking about how much longer 'til the NEXT thing hits the shelves! I thought of you and I took a road trip to Kerrville, Texas and, bless them, they gave me one WHOLE hour at Creations of Kerrville quilt shop...all to myself. Saw your Civil War Sewing Circle book and thought how long 'til your next comes out. We can be like children, satisfied for 60 seconds with our new, bright-shiny something and petulant about waiting for what's next. I sincerely hope you find some inspiration (and not just 'cause I'm selfish!) and that you find renewed energy and strength every day, so you're back to feeling perky and upbeat. Get well soon, but let 'em wait on you hand and foot until you do!

edie said...

Kathy, close the door to your sewing room, turn off the computer, and right now listen to your body and concentrate on healing. When you feel better the computer will still be there, the sewing room will still be there, and all of us who treasure you, your books, and your designs will still be here. It's time for you to just be still and indulge yourself.

WoolenSails said...

I think we all get like that and we all need to break once in awhile.
With the wonderful weather, I am finding myself wanting to be outside and not stuck in my room. Once the heat kicks in, I will be stuck in the air, then I can do more quilting again;)


Kathleen Tracy said...

Bless you guys . . .

Lee Prairie Designs said...

Dear Kathleen---Nancy and Dixie have good and wonderful advise for you. Give yourself permission to rest and sit in your garden. Patients will find and be with you. Most of all be sure you make time for enjoying all the little things in life--for one day, you may look back and realize they were the big things. Even the dandelions are beautiful. Our youngest son used to pick a handfull and say...these are for you Mommy. He is 40 now. A little thing but lives in my heart forever.

Rest and dream of special times of the past and I know soon you will feel better soon. Just give yourself time.

Blessings, Carolyn

Millie en Miles said...

Everybody has a writers block... or quiltersblock sometime... hope you can get inspiration because I think a lot of poeple love you're books. Who knows perhaps my blog will help you... or will show you a way to another blog on my bloglist where the inspirations will get to you!!! Good luck !!

Pat said...

Hi Kathy -
Tell people you're taking a little sabbatical. Life will go on with member's sharing what they are doing and you can get rid of one "obligation" that's eating at you. While on sabbatical, do something else. By that I mean stitch, garden, cook, knit.........whatever else you like, but is different from quilting. It will free the mind and sooner than you think new ideas will come back. This is take care of Kathy time.....physically and mentally. As the Nike saying goes......Just Do It.
Pat........who has been in your shoes.

Mary said...

You sound like you need a mental break, too - take it! I love to quilt but not all the time and I don't know anyone who honestly does. Your garden is much farther along than mine. I still have beautiful plants in pots and am hoping they stay alive till I can get them in the ground. Happy birthday to your daughter.

jolanda said...

You worry too much!! Just give it some time and it will be allright... you will see. It sounds like you are pushing yourself too hard instead of giving yourself some rest.
Oooooh... if only my english was a little better because I can't express myself the way I want to but I think Pat in the previous comment says just about what I would like to say to you.
Just take all the time you need... we are not going anywhere and we still be here when you are comming back.
Take care!!

Marsha B said...

Take your time, you still need time to heal. Once you are feeling good, the creative juices will flow again. Right now all that energy is going towards healing. With this break, I'm sure lots of new ideas will grow in time. Just like your new plants. Relax and take care of yourself first, we will be here waiting for when your ideas are ready. Happy Birthday to your daughter!

Impera Magna said...

Please don't stress... or worry... but I know that hard not to do! Take care of yourself, let your body heal itself... that's where all your energies are going.

Look into Mazlow's heirarch of needs...

Creativity is way up the list... your health is more basic.

You will get better, you will heal, and your creativity will come back in it's own time.

conny's quilts en creaties said...

Just stop trying for a while, do only things that you like to do at the moment, read a book, sit in the garden, take a walk. Then one day it will come again, your inspiration. But when you force it won't work. Good luck and take it easy!

Heartsdesire said...

Not to worry, we will all be waiting at the station for you and hoping for your speedy recovery. I think all of us go through a period of being less productive and creative. Sometimes a change of scene helps. Sometimes a change of project. I know that you do x-stitching. Perhaps a new needlework project could be soothing and help with the creative process. Whenever I get frustrated with quilting, I find that knitting is a very good stress reliever and seems to get the design juices flowing. Just simple projects, maybe some knitted dish clothes. Unfortunately, recovery from surgery can be a long process. You have to take it one day at a time, I think.

Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

Don't worry Kathy, your brain is thinking of quilts in the background, and when you get your mojo back, it is going to come in a big rush! Take care of yourself. It is time to do other things now.

Jenny said...

Dear Kathleen,
You are a very talented quilter and that talent and creativity will never leave you. When you are feeling better you will find it was never gone, only taking a much needed break to allow you time to heal and do the things you have to do to get well. But rest assured, you are still inspiring did me just the other day with the little quilt from Little Women. I love that movie and that little quilt just spoke to my don't worry, the people who love you will be at the station to meet you and your creative ideas when you are ready...but the key is when you are relax, rest and don't idea will come to mind when you least expect it.

Darlene said...

Give yourself a break, Kathy! Allow yourself all the time you need for your body to heal. Try to stop expecting so much from yourself. Relax and just be!

Anonymous said...

Please give yourself a break!!! I know, you said you did, but I think your mind isn't getting it yet.
Try to 'forget' quilts and patterns and blocks for a while, spend a great day with your daughter and with your son next week (congrats on both). Think of something you liked to do when you were not submerged in stress and deadlines and just try to relax ( will need to practice a bit I suppose ).
Creativity will return.
Dutch hugs
PS I got Remembering Adelia last week, just don't know where to start LOL. I love it.

melody said...

Advice from a mother hen (me)take care of yourself first or you won't be taking care of anyone or anything. Any one who has followed you knows you have had 3 major surgies in less
than one year and that is a lot for anyone
physically and emotionaly. Everyday you will feel a little better and a little stronger. I'll continue to keep you my prayers.

Kathleen Tracy said...

Thank you all for being so much smarter than I am right now! You are all so right about everything. It's still scary to not be able to bring myself to sew or quilt at all when I know it would help me feel better.

Rita said...

Hi Kathy, I know how you feel. Excactly one year ago, I was very sick and diagnosed with a chronic disease. I didn't feel like myself and felt even worse because I didn't have the energy or any desire to stitch. I wondered if I would ever have an interest again in something I enjoy so much. It took about three or four months, but I slowly got my groove back. Sometimes I think our bodies just need time to heal...your health should be your priority right now. I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

Meredith said...

I take care of me first. I am grateful for my hard working husband. Since my grandfather passed this year I have been stuck as far as quilting goes.

Take care of yourself. Adding stress and pushing (creativity counts in this) never helps.

*karendianne. said...

What a great post. I have so much respect for the truth and the woman that can stand up and share it. I knew I liked you but now, now I think I just gotta hug you!!! I relate to your post. I sometimes feel blocked and pressure (self-induced). I hope sharing helps to loosen the cap on the stress-cap. Sometimes it does that. Sometimes it nice to know so many people relate and so many people care. Plus I reckon you get advice. I'm not carrying any of that along but I am letting you know I sure care & wish you peace when you look up into the stars tonight!

Anonymous said...

Please take care of yourself and let your body heal. We followers who love you and your quilts will be at the station waiting for you.
Happy Birthday to your daughter.


Merilyn said...

Hi Kathy, I can sense the distress you are feeling, and I think it's great that you have been so honest!!! I had major surgery a few years ago and I know what that kind of assault on the body and the spirit can do! Just veg out and don't feel in the least bit guilty! As a nurse and a woman I understand the tremendous ajustments you have had to make over past months, (both physical and emotional & it can get very emotional!) and even if it doesn't feel like it now, (and it certainly doesn't!) you WILL get your old self back.....but in your own time.... Flick off any expectations you and or others have of you and just sit with it, if that takes 6 months or more, then so be it...... (It actually takes about a year for the body to fully recover from a major surgery, for your hair, skin and nails too!
I wish I could give you a big hug!, so consider this a big hug (....)!!!
The waiting room at the station will be full of your dedicated followers when your train comes in ok!!! Instead of trying to get creative, why not treat yourself to a facial or hand and foot massage, I'm talking about self-love here, give yourself permission to have some self-love girl, you deserve it!!!!
Fondest Regards, Merilyn

Ingrid said...

I loved reading these great supportive posts from all these wonderful women! It's only been a few weeks since your surgery so you're bound to still feel pretty lousy, physically. Plus you have a lot going on - your daughter's birthday celebration, and then graduations. And this weather, oh, this weather. Even I, who am not usually bothered by bad weather, have pretty much had enough this non-spring, and find myself in a bit of a funk. Anyway, there are better days ahead. Just hold on a bit longer.

Wendy said...

Hi Kathy,
You have permission to relax, rejuvenate, remember and remove yourself from deadlines...They can be what derails us many times. I belong to a quilt group, we get together once a month, just to do some handwork, some gabbing, some tea and scones and whatever floats our boats! What did quilters do before the internet, email, iphones? They didn't get consumed with consumerism....Is that a word?? I too love searching the blogsphere late at night when I can't sleep, but honestly it can put us into overload....Do what you LOVE...when you want, on your schedule.....I do hope you take some time just for you...

Elyte said...

Don't be too hard on yourself Kathy, leave it be for awhile. It will come back, and with a vengeance I suspect.

Anonymous said...

just take it easy a bit longer Kathy. let your body and mind heal. with the healing will come your inspiration again. your friends will be here waiting for you when you are ready. but dont push your self. if you do you will be unhappy with the results! sit out in the garden and enjoy those bueatiful flowers! it is amazing what can happen when you just sit and do nothing and let your mind wander

Anonymous said...

You have to listen to your own body and take care of yourself first. We don't get to pick and chose when we will feel better. It just happens. You should really listen to your dogs. They are saying keep your nose to the Joy Trail. Maybe there's a new adventure waiting for you at the end of your recovery.

Beth said...

Take care of yourself! You need timeto heal.
Enjoy your pretty flowers and your lovely daughter...(Happy Birthday to her). And you son after graduation (congrats to him).
I think that we can't force creativity...yours will pop back up as you heal.
Don't worry, there will be lots of quilters at the station when you are ready. We wouldn't forget you!

ferne said...

Sounds like you have to best and friends. You are a very creative person so I have no doubt after your mind gets the rest it needs you will back to creating and who knows what new ideas will come out! We'll all be at the station!

Anonymous said...

Kathy, please, try not to stress - I know it's hard when people keep asking (how rude! obviously they've not had surgery - not that I know of LOL). Your mojo will come back. Stress holds back the healing, just do what you feel like doing (not what you THINK you should be doing!). I know the vast majority of us will be patiently waiting for as long as it takes.
Enjoy the planning and executing of DD's 18th birthday! The time does go so fast - it seems like only last month my first granddaughter was born, and she's already 10 1/2 and the other is 9!!! And congratulations to Evan, for graduating college!!! A lot of hard work went into that.
And your gardens look so pretty!! enjoy that too (Thanks, Paul, for doing all that hard work - ya dun good!!)
Gerda in Alberta

Mary said...

Ah, the rhythms of life. A child graduating and trying to heal from surgery...take a nap, take your daughter shopping and to lunch, and enjoy the stress. Your friends and fans will be waiting for you when you return to designing and creating. I took up quilting in ernest when I became an empty nester, and it saved my sanity. I hug you through the wires, Kathleen!

Anonymous said...

Since I just received your latest book for a Mother's Day gift, I am fine with the idea of "no new book for a while". I picked out several projects from CWSC and I need to make those first!! So relax and heal then everything else will fall into place.


Dora, the Quilter said...

Kathy, what you are experiencing is quite common after anesthesia and surgery. Many people think of them as affecting only the body, but their effect on the brain can be even more profound. You've gotten good advice: rest, be kind to yourself,do what you feel like doing, give yourself time. I'd add that you might want to check with someone who knows a lot about nutrition and brain health and make sure you're getting the nutrients you need to enhance your healing. It can take a while.

Janny Schoneveld said...

Promiss yourself that you may not quilt for 2 weeks.
Then it comes by itself.
Nothing to worry about.
Take it easy.
Get well first and enjoy the birthday of your beautifull daughter.
Greetings from a sunny Holland. Janny

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

There are so many things I would like to say, but I see that many other people have already said them...I'll just say that I think you have to be authentic to yourself, to what you are feeling. You cannot be creative if you are not being authentic. You cannot force creativity, either....So rest, care for yourself as WELL AS YOU ARE ABLE, and only do what you feel like doing.........Do this for its own sake, not to be some sort of jump start into quilting again! Just do it for your own sake. Live in the minute. See what happens..........Smile gently, listen to your heart. You'll be safe, you really will!

The Civil War Quilter said...

Don't worry, we'll be here when you return from "vacation." Your daughter only turns eighteen once, enjoy it while you can. Take a stroll through that beautiful garden every chance you get. Your "mojo" will return and then we'll stand back and watch you go!

Jeana said...

Give yourself time to heal, for heavens sake! Sounds like you have a lot going on right now to be worried about another book. (Can't help adding though, a Little Women Quilt book would be really neat!) Take care!

Anonymous said...

well sounds like you were given very good advice by everyone, not sure about you but if quilting becomes an obligation, Im done forever doing it, nothing takes the joy out of something which becomes an obligation for me.....

Deb said...

Kathleen, listen to your bloggers! You've been given sage advice! I know when you are used to going 100 mph and all at once are forced to slow down, it is a hard adjustment. A mantra I have had since my first child was born is "this too shall pass." It reminds me that when things get stressful and hectic, it will pass. And when things are calm and quiet...enjoy them. Because they too shall pass.
A few years ago, I had a horrible bout of depression brought on by menopause and no longer making the hormones I needed to think. It was horrible feeling like I might never be a creative person again...but I found out what was wrong...gave my brain time to heal and now I am back to not being able to keep up with my ideas!!

Take care of yourself.
Deb from

antique quilter said...

sometimes we all need a break, I have taken weeks off from my sewing room and it was the best thing ever. When I came back I felt renewed.
I am sure this will happen to you, be kind to yourself, its all ok!
You need to recover first and foremost.
take care of yourself

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your honesty, Kathy.

Give up your struggle.

Einstein once said:
'Once we accept our boundaries, we go beyond them.'
I hate it.
I hate the fact that it is true.
But that's what it is: true.
Accepting our boundaries.
What a struggle.



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