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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Feeling guilty and why

Over the years I've collected thousands of quilting designs to use on customer quilts. Some I drew myself, some were purchased. If I had to choose only one person who influenced my professional machine quilting the most it would have to be Diana Phillips.

I do have many personal favorites but for practical purposes Diana's are the easiest to put on customer tops. The designs are very forgiving. They can be done either as pantograph or as freehand designs. Yes, both. Now some of her designs are also digitized for those who have computerized machines.

Why do I mention Diana? Well, it's like this.... I'm feeling guilty. Diana and I used to keep in touch pretty often. I was one of the people who tested her Flower Power designs before it was published. I considered her a really good friend. So what makes me feel guilty? It's because I haven't emailed her in over a year. I vaguely remember her last email to me right before one of my hospital stays. I didn't answer her because I felt just so awful and sick. I told myself I would get back to her when I felt better.... only feeling better has taken a year. Right now all I can do is hope she still considers me a friend.
Another person I lost touch with is Mindy Casperson.... Oh heck.... there are many professional machine quilters I used to talk with regularly. 25 plus years of internet connections to others means many friendships. Marcia Stevens is another one. Jurgen Nittner, a really good male quilter, is another. So many friendships have come and gone in my life. It makes me sad to think that I let "keeping ahead of customer demands" cause me to draw away from those friendships.
If you are thinking of becoming (or already) a machine quilter; don't let the demands of keeping on schedule rule your life. I made that mistake. It's too late for me but I can warn you of this possibility. Always find time for family and friends and never let "the waiting list" control your life.
It's all too easy to tell a friend or family member "I can't because I have customer quilts to do." We expect family and friends to understand when we say no to their requests. Yes, yes, we do have to earn a living and that means completing customer quilts; but, it's all the extra customer requests that interfere with friendships and family connections.
Hmm... how to explain it better? I mean the customers who schedule one top but bring you 4. The customer who doesn't show up for her appointment (or call to cancel) but calls you 3 months later to say she finally finished the top.... can she bring it today and have it back next week? The customer who hasn't called you in over a year but suddenly wants one quilted in time for xmas.... and today is the 20th and you still have 4 to do already. The customer who just put together a top to comfort a dieing person and wants you to have the honor of quilting it before that person dies. You see what I'm getting at?
If you have a waiting list it means you have carefully planned your work time. The waiting list is filled enough that you know you are going to earn a decent wage but leaves time for a life. If all goes according to the schedule then you are fine. You go to work each day and end it knowing it's a job well done. The rest of the day and the up coming weekend is for friends and family.
Then along comes a special request. Ok, you tell yourself you can give up one activity in order to help this one customer this one time. You don't go to the ball game with your grandson. You stay home to do the extra quilting work. It was not too bad giving up one activity. All of a sudden you have request after request for special circumstances. Did the word get around that you are a softie? So... one by one.... you cancel time with family and friends in order to help a customer. Before you know it you've grown a chain connected between your ankle and the quilting machine. The days are slipping by while you struggle to handle all the extra work plus stay on schedule too. Next comes burnout but that's another post.
What can you do to prevent this over booking from happening? It's simple:
Remember that the next time someone not on your schedule asks a special favor from you.


Laura said...

I am a CPA in my day job and one of my favorite expressions is "Lack of planning on your part does not a create an emergency on mine." The constant unnecessary firedrills at my last firm is one of the reasons I am now self-employed. You are absolutely correct in that WE need to control our time. You can still give good service while setting boundaries in order to have your own life outside of work.

The timing of your post was perfect and a great reminder to me as I go into tax season 2010. I am getting better at controlling my work time, but there's still room for improvement. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Anita Estes said...

Thank you Laura. I'm glad to see others feel the same was as I do. Ooo... your rush season is just starting while the quilter's just finished. I hadn't thought of that.