Time Tunnel

I was scheduled to write a blog post for Cloth in Common on December 25th. It didn’t happen. Why? Because I ran out of time. 

I am always running out of time. What is up with that?

I rarely waste time. I can tell you what I was doing last month, last Tuesday, and last year. My hours are always logged and documented. My goal is to have between 10 -12 hours of productivity every day. I know this is strange, but I am a Capicorn, and I enjoy being productive. It is what makes me meaningful to myself.

I am always with my nose at my sewing machine or in front of the computer working out the business end of things. I like this.

I am opposed to wasting time. If you are a time waster, you should be glad that you don’t live with me. I want all time wasters to give their time to me. I would make such good use of it.

On the flip side of that. I see people who really enjoy their leisure time. They go on all day hikes, they make beautiful handcrafted gifts, they are willing to do lunch. I am jealous of these people. Why am I not like that?

Still, I don’t get it all done. I am always up to the last minute.

How do people get things done ahead of time? I really wonder about this. I think that they either do less or get up earlier. I am willing to get up earlier, but am I willing to do less?

That is the question I have been asking myself lately. What to say no to? I have the hardest time with that. Every opportunity sounds so interesting, so worthwhile—a gleaming orb of newness.

So I say yes, and yes, and yes.

But then life morphs into what I have now. Which is the potentail for failure because I have said yes one too many times. I teeter on the brink of that—the cliff of overcommitting.

There are the tasks that must be done—laundry, children, bills. I can usually manage these commitments as they are known entities. They take time but they can be put in the schedule and planned for.

It is the interruptions and surprises that set me back—earthquakes, holidays, the dentist. They take time I wasn’t planning on giving. As in, I don’t have the time for that.

And then the end time arrives. These are the days right before whatever I said yes to must be completed. I think I will call this the time tunnel. In the time tunnell every hour is dedicated to completing a particular task. All other things on my to-do list are not worth my time.

I give up everything from taking a shower to checking my emails.
I am in the time tunnel right now. I must complete ten new small pieces and have them in the mail by midnight on January 2nd.

I like the times when I get to put the time I normally spend on my external life on pause, and hunker down to the meditative time of my studio. Life becomes all about what I want it to be about — my work.

And if I didn’t say yes to all these crazy things, I don’t think I would get this focused studio experience. 

Because the time for tasks, for leisure, for interruptions would expand to be all of my time, and I don’t want that. I want this concentrated, focused, head down, stitch to the deadline experience.  That is a bit selfish, isn’t it? Or maybe it’s just masculine? A dude wouldn’t worry about the fact that the kitchen countertop is not clean.

So, I say yes alot of the time. Too much of the time? Maybe? But the time is up for thinking about that, because you know, I am running out time. I have given this idea of time all the time I have got right now. Time is a ticking away.

I invite you to read all the Cloth in Common artist responses to our prompts here. If you haven’t already guessed it, the prompt for our next quilt is TIME. 

All of these quilts will be on display as part of the show Pieced Canvas at the Visions Art Museum in San Diego, California from January 19 – April  7, 2019. 

Pieced Canvas is my tenth kind of important solo/group show of my life.
This is my 400th blog post.
And yesterday was the sixth anniversary of this blog.
Life is good in the tunnel. Thank you people for being with me.

This entry was published on December 28, 2018 at 9:10 AM. It’s filed under News And Events, Quilt Stories and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

14 thoughts on “Time Tunnel

  1. I wish I was as incredibly productive as you are. But I also enjoy lunch with friends, the occasional movie, knitting, reading and playing Words With Friends. So I will never reach 10 to 12 productive hours per day. I usually shoot for eight, and I’m good with that. Good luck on finishing your pieces for the show! You will get it done — you always do!

  2. I really appreciate it when artists share what it’s like not just to create, but to have an actual human life. We all have to reconcile responsibilities with creative production. Especially when production is one of our responsibilities! Thank you for sharing what it’s like for you. Enjoy the tunnel!

  3. Mary Durda on said:

    You are among the most generous of people I know (or, in your case, don’t know). You share your doubts, pleasures, incentives, ideas and so much more. I think you cannot be improved upon – even if you had twice the time you couldn’t be a better Maria Shell.

  4. Wow! Good luck and congrats on your show and all your other accomplishments. The quilts look fantastic. For what it’s worth, I’m deadline driven and finish up studio things right until the last possible second. BUT, that’s probably because I say “yes” to lunch with friends, movies, reading, museum work, and all sorts of other stuff. I don’t know that I’ll ever get 10-12 hour in my studio on any regular basis. I’m too all-over the place, plus I get lonely and antsy. I need to get outside, talk with other people. I’m so impressed with your studio fortitude. I am an artist. You are an ARTIST.

  5. Kathleen Scott on said:

    I envy you your time in the “tunnel”… I have not been able to silence the guilt of wanting to shut out the rest of my life for any significant swath of time.

  6. If you find the way you spend your time rewarding, then it’s all good. If you end up feeling resentful or frustrated because of saying “yes” to opportunities, and they don’t bring you pleasure, then you might think through your priorities again and make different choices. But you’re the only one who can say what’s right for you! Enjoy, and happy new year.

  7. Go Maria, go—you’ll get it done and it’ll be fabulous! Thank you so much for taking time out of your incredibly busy life to advise me recently. I had a very productive email exchange with Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh and I’ll be teaching a sculptural peyote class on June 2—ta da!

  8. Those time constraints definitely help us strip down to the essentials ! Thanks for taking time to communicate. Best of luck on completing this next body of work.

  9. Jackie Stevens on said:

    It is always a tug of war between yes and no. Yes often provides growth and challenge, while no provides time to regroup. Relish this time, but hold on to your family. I so enjoyed this post and felt I was a fly on the wall.

  10. Enjoy your time in the time tunnel and thank you for another inspiring post

  11. Bravo!!

  12. Ineke Marijnissen - van der Molen on said:

    Go on, don,t waste time….. ;-).have fun with all you do. Have a good 2019 with very much time

  13. elizabeth a hinze on said:

    Thank you for sharing,
    I know your TIME : ) is precious to you….

  14. As I read and looked at the progress on the quilts I kept hearing the Conductor from Dinosaur Train calling out “Time Tunnel!”

Leave a Reply