It's Okay to Have Fun

I love making my quilts. Bringing my imagination to life through my artwork gives me a soul-deep satisfaction and makes me a better person. But I've chosen to make my artwork also my job, and that sometimes puts a strain on my psyche that's hard to overcome. But it's important to remember that even if I love what I do, it's okay to still let myself have fun.

Because I quilt for my job, I've found myself falling into a mentality that gamers refer to as "min-maxing". In video games, min-maxing means the player minimizes the undesirable qualities of their character while maximizing the desirable qualities. For me, I found myself min-maxing the time I spent in my studio and in front of my sewing machine. If I was working on a project in my studio, it had to be a quilt that would either go on to show or sell. Working on anything else was "wasted" time, because I wasn't being productive toward my business goal of exhibiting my art.

The problem is that although I love making my big, story-telling show quilts, they aren't all I love to do. I also like to make fan art quilts, which I can't exhibit due to copyright. And I've looked at some small sewing projects — just simple, fun things that may require following a pattern — that look pretty fun, but I've never tried any of them. Allowing myself to work on those kinds of projects would be "a waste of time", because I can't do anything with them; they would just be for me. Right? Wrong.

This is my struggle, and one I'm sure is shared by every other creative professional who turned their passion into a job. I have to remind myself that just because sewing/quilting is my job, that doesn't mean every minute I spend sewing/quilting has to be for work. I can sew/quilt just for me. It's okay for me to have fun doing something I love for no purpose other than I enjoy doing it.

My first jelly roll rug

Last week, I signed up to take part in my local quilt guild's sewing "retreat". For two days, about a hundred of us all hung out and sewed in a big community room. And I took this opportunity to sew something just for me. I've always wanted to try this, but it's in no way a project that relates to work. I made my first ever jelly roll rug.

Jelly roll rug

And you know what? It was so much fun.

This jelly roll rug is now on the floor of my studio, covering up some of the loops Yoda has accidentally yanked out of my berber carpet. (He chews bones or carrots and gets his teeth stuck in the carpet. This has never been a problem with any of my other dogs, but Yoda is something else. Imagine me sighing and shaking my head in real life.) Anyway, it's been a few days since the retreat, and I'm happy to report that the rug has my boys' seal of approval — and the rug itself not yet been chewed. Yay!

Puppies on jelly roll rug

Remember: Just because you love your work doesn't mean it has to be work all the time. Take care of your mental health. It's okay to let yourself have fun.