Thoughts on Taking a Break From Sewing

me last week in Paris, on rue Christine :)

When you do what you love, it can be a double edged sword– you get to do what you love, but you are around what you love 24/7/365. Luckily I love something that's good for me and not something unhealthy, but still, it can be a bit of a vacuum when you're living and working and breathing sewing all day every day.

Each year, as many of you know, I take a real break; an actual vacation from it all, and fully remove myself from my usual surroundings and give my body and mind a break from my studio and my sewing habits, good and bad. Many people ask me in a panicked tone, "do you sew while you're there?" or "do you take your machine with you?" and the answer is no. I know this is hard for people to get sometimes, but it is a relief to get away from bias binding and top stitching and setting sleeves and the like for a moment.

Think of it like that line in Eat, Pray, Love that James Franco says to Julia Roberts, (yeah, I just wrote that... stick with me here for a sec...), "don't you want to give me a chance to miss you?" I think about that all the time with all the things I love and all those that love me. Missing something develops desire; a crave to return to it. And if you don't miss it when you're away from it for a long period of time, perhaps that tells you something too! But I always miss sewing desperately by the time I'm home, and that feeds me for months on end in a wonderfully refreshed and healthy way.

You might not work in the sewing world, but I think that the idea of removing yourself from your routine is a good thing for everyone, so I thought I'd pass on my thoughts on how taking a break can actually help your own personal practice and work momentum in the end, sewing or not.

1. Go somewhere foreign to you
When you completely remove yourself from the routine of your day to day life, you literally reset all your daily habits. Everything is new and different, so you simply cannot rely on your usual activities as you do at home. It doesn't have to be a far away exotic land, just somewhere different to you. Why this is scary: because things will be different, and different can be scary. Foreign = the unknown, and that relies on a certain amount of trust and faith that everything will work out, even if you don't know what's coming next. 

I spent the whole day in the park, reading, sketching, thinking

2. Give yourself time to think
We do not fill each and every day with action packed actives on holiday, and that is so that I have some free time to sit and think. This also looks like I'm doing nothing, but in actuality, it's when I have the best ideas for my business. I think about future patterns, what's working and not working in my life and studio, and what I might want to change when I get home. Allow yourself the time to pause and consider the good and the bad at home from a distance. Why this is scary: when faced with what you honestly like and don't like about your life, it forces you to confront potentially difficult things and either put change into motion, or knowingly ignore the issue.

I'm reacquainting myself with watercolors this year

3. Get lost
Wander somewhere without a map, without an agenda, and without a plan. When you have a map, you are merely focusing on the staring point and the destination, and the stuff in between is overlooked. But you shouldn't ignore the journey as you might find that you're so inspired by what's coming along the way. Why this is scary: because you will get lost. I found this scary at first, and now I cannot imagine it any other way. Now when I get a rental car, I turn off the GPS. I don't take a map with me when I'm wandering a foreign city, and I have only a rough plan as to where I'm going. This is a hard one to do, but freeing yourself up to the unknown is the most liberating thing I've done and it makes life so much better. Really. 

it didn't matter that we were totally lost at this moment; we had no where to be

4. Take notes
You think you'll remember all those good ideas you had along the way, but you won't. Trust me, you will forget. So take along a sketchbook and a pencil and write down everything you think about as you wander and sit and think. Sketch things down, even if you think you can't draw, and jot down both complete thoughts and single words. All of it is valid. This isn't a time to edit yourself, simply write down what you're thinking, what's inspiring you, and you can refer to this later. Why this is scary: It makes the conceptional thought a concrete idea. There's nothing more real than writing it down to look you back in the face. 

5. Do something else
When I'm at home, the main task is sewing. Everything else takes a backseat and sometimes I resent that I don't have the time to do other activities I love, like cooking or hiking or whatever. So while I'm on vacation, it gives me an opportunity to experience some of those other things that work pushes aside. On this year's trip I am working through a cookbook that I wanted to try a few things from. For you it could be learning a language, or learning to surf, or whatever. It's a opportunity to indulge in another sense, and it usually comes back around to my life in a positive way long after the trip. Why this is scary: because trying anything new means you are a humble beginner and you will make mistakes! 

I'm finding joy in the simple tasks, like shelling peas

6. End the race
I can easily get caught up in "what's new" and "what's next" and before you know it, you are willingly filling all your waking moments with something that is suppose to be a fun and relaxing hobby. Between working on sewing projects for my business, and then working on sewing projects for myself, before you know it, that's all I'm thinking and talking about. Slowing down the train of self-imposed tasks for "fun" can really help you prioritize what you really want to do and what you're only doing because you're getting sucked into the hype of it all. Why this is scary: you can easily feel like you'e missing something by stepping off the treadmill for a moment. It's okay if you don't know about the latest pattern release the very second it comes out! It will still be there waiting for you when you're ready. 

How about you? What do you like to do on your breaks? And have any of these ideas sparked something in you?