My life has started to get almost unbearably busy. You know me – I fancy myself as being rather good at time management. But of course I am not that good because I am now dropping the ball, forgetting things, doing things wrong and letting people down.
My philosophy of life is that I am fearful of dying before I get my money’s worth! I have so many things I want to do, make, see, experience, savour and love and so little time – if I am lucky as my Mum I have just 30 years left. (I am not sure I can use up all my patterns and fabric in that time!)
My other key motivation is to keep on learning. This gives meaning to my life. While I have more than enough of material things – especially clothes! – I never have enough of learning. I still make things to learn new techniques and to challenge myself.
At work preparing to merge two large housing associations is challenging for me. Nobody really likes change – including me of course – and in preparing for such a big change requires hundreds of people to collaborate together on the project. I have been working long hours and have had to deal with lots of anxieties – both individual and organisational. It’s tough and it is impinging greatly on the rest of my life.
My family is undergoing changes too – two out of three have new jobs to adapt to, and the other one has become a part time student. Nick is doing lots of work in the new house so we are seeing less of each other during the week. Here are some typical pictures of everyday life.
In terms of my free time I may have overcommitted. I have been trying to write a management book, and have started a new blog to begin to put things together. In retrospect I am not sure I can write the book without running the blog for a year or two to get my ideas sorted out. I don’t know if I want to write a general management book – about compassionate management – or a specific merger manual. And then I do sometimes wonder if I would rather write Fabrickated-the book! So I am spending time on “the book” without actually knowing what Book I am writing. I am having help from a specialist but I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Even if I don’t manage to achieve a published book I am learning so much. And researching the book is teaching me many useful things. I am listening to business book podcasts, and reading about the psychology of work, and planning.
Did you know that you cannot write well unless you also read widely? So despite my resolution for the year being to read one book a week I have completely failed to do that since I took up knitting. I read a book last week, but it was the first for a long while. (All at Sea by Decca Aitkenhead)
Also I had been thinking about learning Spanish for years. I like the language and have a rudimentary understanding from trying to learn. But now my son Gus is studying French at Uni, and my daughter Esme is learning Italian, I thought it would be a good time to go for it. But I can’t really give it enough time.
Knitting, sewing and crafts
And then I want to make things – another Chanel jacket, more knitting and a second pair of boots. We are loving the boot making course but of course I would now like to take it further.
I am not sure how we will achieve that. Nick and I are also beginning to think about what to do a course on next – he has suggested pottery, which is fine with me.
So what I have I been doing at home? Let me give you a quick update on what I have achieved. Embarrassingly I have four knitting projects on the go.
- Started a New Zealand sweater for Nick (preparing for the knitalong). The yarn I order to complete the jumper is a different colour. I think it looks OK as a colour block, but I would have prefered the grey – had it been available.It is too long, and we can’t decide on the neckline, so this has stalled. Elizabeth Zimmermann New Zealand sweater
- Remaking the striped kids sweater. I made too many mistakes on this (wrong size of needles, not keen on the yarns, the colours don’t appeal greatly especially the heavy navy neckline and shoulders). I started to lengthen the body and considered making this up as a tank top. With all those colours I figured this might be preferable to a fully striped long sleeved jumper. But I think I will abort the mission. However I do want to do a stripey, rainbow sweater at some point. The crochet skirt showed how nice small pieces of yarn can look together, especially when the colour scheme is harmonious.
- The diaphanous pink and white jumper, inspired by Helmut Lang. This is going quite well, if rather slowly. I used lace weight merino yarn and relatively large needles creating a transparent look. I found an appropriate pink yarn to create the stripe across the middle. I have yet to decide if I want sleeves or not and how to finish it. I think the tank top may be nice. But short sleeves, with wide pink borders would contrast well with a cotton vest underneath.
- The violet cardigan. This needs steeking and I am fearful of doing it. So this is sitting in a bag.
my – dont know how you can knit without dropping stitches with that schedule…… I have gone back working full-time two weeks ago and promptly cut back on one or two things as I didnt want to get over tired or overwhelmed – so far I am neither! I love those sweaters, the New Zealand sweater would be my favourite as I love the tones and suble change in stitch for texture – best of luck with all the projects and possibilities
I find new things are very tiring, so well done on your adaption to full time work Eimear. I think it is learning all the new things like schedules, and travel, and new expectations and relationships. And I am dropping stitches. The pink and white sweater is really hard to knit well.
You are one busy lady! I think with that number of things going on, most people would struggle to fit any personal time in, so my advice would be not to beat yourself up about the things you can’t do right now. Do continue to review your strategies, because I believe that’s essential and more effective than just waiting for the “The Thing” (in your case the merger, but we all have these monster projects in our lives from time to time) to pass on it’s own. Of course it will, but I found it’s easy to slip into a habit of leaving that space then open for a new monster project to occupy it …
But enough babbling about things I have little else but opinion on 😀
You do know that you can fix Nick’s jumper without having to rip it all out? You can just undo it from the bottom to the length you want, and then reknit the band – it’s far easier than it sounds, and knitting is forgiving like that, it doesn’t matter which direction you. Find your starting point, and pull it out from there – you may have to do a couple of snips, depending on how you start your cast on, but it’s totally possible.
Thanks for the jumper advice. I actually did exactly as you suggest on Gus’s jumper (I am not very good at gauging other people’s size and shape, especially men). Nick is certain the jersey will shrink (hmm. Maybe that is because he doesn’t wash things carefully enough), so he suggests any alterations are done at the very end. Thank you also for advice on big projects Katja. Even over the last week things have started to move forward in a hopeful way.
Just my two cents 🙂 You are a very capable woman, and will come out the other end with new lessons learned and new tools and strategies at your disposal.
The jumper may shrink – knit garments have the tendency to shrink more in width than lengths – maybe something to consider?
Thank you so much Katja. I will finish it then see how it looks on.
Gosh! You leave me breathless, you obviously thrive on packing in as much as you can possibly do determined not to waste a minute, it may be more about the journey than the destination unless you’re chasing your muse and have yet to find it, whichever, I’ve no suggestions for you as I’m a more ‘stop the roundabout I wanna get off’ type.
The book idea sounds intriguing, you are an interesting writer whatever the subject, I can see that working.
Obviously sometimes busyness is a deflection activity – to avoid confronting one’s own emotional issues – so I am wary. I do spend time being still, and observing/listening/reflecting. I find this very helpful, especially at work. But in my free time I want to get so many things done which really do refresh me. Including the blog. And including conversing with wise and kind souls like you. Thank you Annie. I appreciate every word you offer me. I trust you.
It is important to know what makes you thrive. Some of us prefer to concentrate on just one or two things with great focus in order to be productive. Others need, and have the ability, to be at their best when giving short but intense bursts of energy to many things. You seem to be one of these people. I remember your time management post also giving me that feeling. That being said, being emotionally drawn into activity such your work due to its current difficult nature, can sap you of energy and render your focus and ability to complete other projects less sure. I always tell myself and my children that it is important to keep putting one foot in front of the other even in challenging times. That usually gets me over the hurdles and creates a clearer path for me. However, being emotionally drained can render my best efforts fruitless. Perhaps now is not the time to learn a new language but rather to relax/escape through some reading so that you continue to be at your best. With regards to the book project, I have often heard authors say that the book wrote them not that they wrote the book as a way of explaining how a book evolved. Without wanting to sound critical and I am hesitant to even venture this thought as you obviously know exactly what you want, perhaps you are not quite ready to write this book if this inner conviction has not manifested itself clearly enough for you?
Your knitting projects are lovely, even the striped sweater which I think would be very chic matched to a pale yellow bottom. I would leave that project to marinate as I am sure inspiration will point you in a solid direction on how to make it work for you. A store I follow for trends is showing very lovely shrunken long line bra tops that button up the front which are meant to be worn over shirts or t-shirts. It think it is a playful way to add colour under a blazer.
Oh Dagmar – thank you for your wisdom and insight. I think you hit the nail on the head there. The emotionally draining activities diminish whereas the creative efforts enhance and strengthen. I have decided to give up the Spanish for now. And you are so right about writing a book. I have found I am at my best when inspired by a passion rather than a sense of doing something that needs doing. I have rarely written poetry, but have only done so when I have been miserable and usually facing loss. Writing a business book will evolve as I reflect more on what I am doing, and as you say, if the words and ideas don’t flow then I am not going to be forcing them. And yes, good point on the jumper. I have recently picked up jumpers I started six years ago, so I will let it simmer on your advice.
You’re a woman who loves to be busy! In one lifetime, no matter how long, we can’t do or experience everything we’d like to, so those of us who are curious and love to learn, have difficult choices to make. (I’m glad that blogging is one of the things that you’ve chosen.)
Yes I like to be busy and to do lots of interesting things. As you say we all need to make conscious choices within the resources we have. Thank you for your generous feedback about the blog Elle. I appreciate it.
Many projects! I think, breathe easy, it will fall into place when the new structure at work gets its routine. (I’m in love with the lacy knit idea btw).
Thank you Jay. The translucence fascinates me too – how the colour builds as it layers on top of itself. I hope you are OK now you are retiring from blogging.
Yikes. So much going on, I can only imagine how scattered and stressed I would feel in similar circumstances – vs the stimulation you seem to be experiencing! Sounds like you are seeing some things to jettison (striped sweater re-make, which was only an experiment after all?) and some that are farther out in time (management book?) but the day to day agenda still seems daunting!
Yes – you are right. I feel very stressed so it is important to let go of certain things. I have stopped the Spanish, but I have committed to being back in the gym. I think it is OK to let things slide if you have too much on. I love all the elements of my life and I am very fortunate. Thank you for your support dear Ceci.
Exercise is a great stress reliever. I’m glad you are back at the gym. The last thing you need is a health problem!
You are outstandingly busy – it’s not too surprising that you feel that you are ‘dropping’ the odd ball. Like you I enjoy being very busy BUT when it all starts to feel a bit much I often feel better just by finishing off a couple of almost done projects to clear my mind.
Everything you are doing looks fascinating, and the knitting is great. Be kind to yourself and breathe. Maybe a yoga class rather than gym once or twice?
I read this with interest and it could be a whole chapter in your book – or several: issues of time management, lifelong learning, self management, work/life balance etc. For years I have thought of a blog that focussed on grammar, spelling and punctuation because I am so overwhelmed by the convoluted way people write (consider the way that the preposition “of” keeps appearing so unnecessarily) so when you say you need to keep reading to write, I would like to add that we need to read high quality material to write high quality material.
It’s so nice to read you speaking about “my book” – it brings it to life! Also I have put it out there and now need to do it. I would certainly read a blog about how to write better. Maybe you could consider a few posts? And I love your advice. Most of what I am reading for the book is rather academic and inaccessible to the general reader.
Wow, I am exhausted just reading this wonderful post, and the comments. Before I retired, my best work seemed to happen when I was bombarded by projects and deadlines. “I thrive in chaos!” was my motto, and I had to remind myself often. Now that I’m home, it’s difficult to get anything started (or finished, as the case may be). My point is this, we adapt to our situations, and when one is called upon to complete a multitude of tasks, being organized is an absolute requirement. Sometimes, some of those tasks we put upon ourselves. So kind to you, give yourself permission to breathe slowly every once in a while. Good that you’ve put Spanish on hold for now, and I’m with Kim, maybe try a yoga class? And I’m waiting for Sue’s blog on grammar (and spelling)….folks these days use terms and non-terms that make me cringe! Hugs.
Thanks so much for you kind feedback and useful insight. I am starting to plan a little bit for the next stage of my life – which I don’t like to think of as withdrawing or retiring. Also I really, really take your point and others about having quiet time, down time, reflection time, relaxation time. I do try to build these into my life and it will be a relief to you and others to know that at the gym I do a range of things including yoga, ballet, weight lifting (not heavy weights), cycling (spinnning) and running on a running machine. I hope this reassures you that I am not burning myself out….!
Thank you for telling more about your busy life. It sounds slightly on the hectic side of the scale. I’m sure you will strike the balance that will suit you.
Today I made a goal of finishing a couple of projects because having undone things weighs on me. That helped my peace of mind a lot.
I think I agree with this. A bag with a half finished item in makes me feel uncomfortable too. But somethings would probably best just thrown out, but it is hard given the “sunk costs” of the materials and our time.