Thursday, February 12, 2015

How do you choose?

Image courtesy of
Rasmus Thomsen at

“Her eyes were too big for her stomach,” my Momma used to say about someone who took on more than she could handle. That’s me, see. I want to do it all. Not only do it all, but also do it well—like a pro. I buy tools and supplies and books and instructions and materials for whatever new project catches my fancy. Then all these wonderful things go into my studio and, if they’re lucky, get put into a project bag where they wait (and wait, and wait) until I get around to working on the project. If these wonderful things don’t make it into a project bag, they get lost and may never see the light of day again. I call my studio “The Black Hole.”

My studio is also known as the dumping ground: when I need to clean up a bit, various things that are left out somewhere else in the house—things that don’t have a Home—are brought into the studio and dumped. Most of these things actually belong in the studio; they just don’t have a Home. One reason most of these things don’t have a Home is because there are too many things and not enough Homes. This is all a result of my eyes being too big for my stomach.

I want to do it all, and that includes many different types of arts—mostly related to fibers: Sewing (clothing, bags, quilts); embroidery (cross stitch, canvas work, Hardanger, surface embroidery); beading; knitting and crochet; and drawing and painting. All of these types of art-making require their own set of tools, supplies, and materials (with some overlap, of course). And I have a lot of tools, supplies, and materials for each. My stash runneth over; it would probably take me several life-times to do all the projects residing in my studio. I am lucky to have such abundance.

My abundance is both a blessing and a curse, however: A blessing because I have so many choices from such a big stash (or resource center); and a curse because there is so much in here that I can’t choose any one thing to work on. And choosing one thing to work on is the key to getting things done. “Focus” is the name of the game, and when there’s so much visual noise it’s extremely difficult to focus.

I’d like to home in on what’s important to me, so I can focus on getting something done. It’s time to find the specific projects to work on that will allow me accomplish some work for a change. Perhaps asking, “Does this spark joy,” will help me find my focus; it helped me clear out my closet. Clearing out the clothes closet is easier, though, because I could try things on and discover that an item really doesn't fit and, besides, I haven’t worn it in years. That kind of thing is easier to let go of. What’s hard is giving up the creative potential of art-projects-in-waiting.

It’s also hard to give up the idea that I can do it all. As many people already know, and research has shown, multi-tasking is a myth; a person can really only do one thing at a time. And, as I said above, having too many possibilities makes it hard to choose the one thing you want to do, and so nothing gets the attention it deserves. So I struggle on, trying to understand what my biggest passion is so I can do that. Making decisions is not my strong suit, but maybe, just maybe, it all comes down to just making a decision and sticking with it. Maybe it’s that simple, that and asking, “Does this spark joy?” I only want joy on my plate!

 Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach. - Tony Robbins


  1. This is a tough one. As someone who has done a variety of hand crafts I know that each one usually requires a different tool, different kinds of threads or fabric. I also know what its like when you already have a 'stash' of fabric on hand but none of it will work for the current project - grrrr! I have no answer to this but have found that one thing that helps me is to choose something and work it to death - putting aside all the other craft-to-be stuff that I own. After awhile it will come naturally to me whether I want to continue the current path or not. If not I usually weed out stuff and move on. The biggest hurtle is probably determining exactly what you will work on right now and then sticking to it until you've either finished that particular project or decided that its not a craft that you want to pursue any longer. Good luck!!

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