On the Mend

sewingsupplesMy family and I are preparing for a big move—after 15 years of New York City living, we’re headed for Providence, Rhode Island in (gulp) 10 short days.

Which explains why most nights, after the kids are sleeping, find me rummaging through our drawers, sorting stuff in to move, sell, or give away piles. But there’s one particular pile I want to talk about today: stuff that needs fixing.

So far the pile has included one of my daughter’s favorite shirts—it has a picture of a girl wearing earmuffs, except the earmuffs are pom-poms. (Or, were pom-poms, until my daughter’s high-energy best friend yanked them off.) A pair of shorts with no button. A skirt with a ripped hem. A brand new tank top with mysterious holes. A baby pajama top with a tear in the sleeve.

At first, the pile taunted me. I couldn’t just make a decision about the items in it and move on. They needed attention. And tools. And time spent sitting still under a bright light. When were all those conditions going to be met?

Then one night I decided to dive in and dragged out my little bag of sewing stuff. It felt so good—so gosh darn wholesome—to transform these broken things into something useful. It’s like we all got some new clothes without spending a penny. I also got a real charge out of restoring things to their proper function. I’m helping items fulfill their destiny! How cool is that?

Granted, sitting on the couch with a needle and thread isn’t necessarily sexy. It’s not something you’re going to put on your calendar and get giddy about. But taking time to mend broken things has taught me that slowing down, focusing, and working with my hands all add up to something much greater: Complete and utter satisfaction. (Even if my handiwork is what you might lovingly call “organic.”)

What needs fixing in your life?

What’s languishing in a pile, shelf, or drawer in your house that you could mend easily if you simply took the time? I dare you to fix it! Leave a comment telling us what you’re going to bring back to life. I’ll choose someone at random to win a copy of my friend Judi Ketteler’s awesome book Sew Retro: A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution. (Winner must live in the U.S.)

A couple of things I’ve been loving lately
(P.S. — nobody’s paying me to endorse these items – I’ve just been finding them incredibly useful and think you might too)

Elaine Petrone’s The Miracle Ball Method for Pregnancy
This tiny little book, that comes packaged with two grapefruit-sized purple balls, is one of the few places you’ll hear the message that there is immense power in doing less–which is a lesson most Moms really need. Elaine’s clear instructions, simple wisdom, and purple balls helped me finally (after 13 months) banish the hip pain and marshmallow abs that developed after having two babies in two years. It also helped me truly, madly, and deeply relax, which benefited everyone in my family. Thank you Elaine!

Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing email newsletter
Dr. Hanson is a neuropsychologist—meaning he studies the way our brain mechanics impact our emotional lives. And his weekly-ish newletter provides insights in to how simple mindfulness-based practices can have a big impact on our physical and emotional wellbeing. They are always inspiring. I read every single one of them and find myself thinking about them in the days after. You can check him out and sign up here.

Take care and keep breathing,


Want to be a better person, but don’t know where to start?

My new daily podcast, How to Be a Better Person, is here to help by sharing one simple thing you can do in the next 24 hours to rise. My mission? To help you live your best life.

Subscribe on iTunes Get podcast news

6 thoughts on “On the Mend

  1. I’ve had that same feeling of satisfaction by either fixing things or returning them. I had this humidifier sitting around the house for months that needed to either be trashed or fixed. Truth is, I’ve really never heard of a humidifier repair shop. I’ve had it for about eight years and it wasn’t cheap. I brought it to Bed, Bath & Beyond, explained what happened (without revealing how old it was…for all they knew I bought it last year) and they replaced it for free. I got a $180 brand new humidifier just because I took the time to bring in my broken one to the store. I also went to Michael’s the other day and bought replacement stuff for some broken jewelry that I really liked. It felt so good to cross those things off my list. Not the same as sewing, but it did involve taking time out of my busy life to do mundane stuff that always gets pushed to the bottom of my list and never seems to get any higher than that. Good luck with your move!!!!

  2. Hi Kate, So you are on the move. How exciting. I had to giggle at your post this week. I am a artist and have two studios in my home. A dry studio (usually for art quilts, etc) and a wet studio (watercolor, etc). Well both were so jammed full of supplies and “stuff” it was hard to be creative. So I made a plan. Instead of tackling it all at once, I set time limits. I could only work on cleaning each place for 2 hours a day, then I had to stop. I found that I wanted to continue after the 2 hours but made myself stop. I know this sounds crazy but when I used to try to tackle it all at once I always failed and ended up with a bigger mess. This 2 hour way gave me time to think things out as far as organizing and it works. I walked away each day feeling good that I had accomplished what I had set out to do that day. Works for me. Now for the rest of the house. :-) Sharon

  3. Sharon — two studios??? Sounds fabulous and amazing! Love that you’re making progress on things that once seemed daunting. It’s a great feeling. Glad you’re digging Dr. Rick. He’s great.

  4. Go, Jomamma, go! Have fun wearing your new/old jewelry. It’s funny — actually doing the thing (sewing on the button or returning the thing that never worked) takes a lot less time than thinking of it again and again and deciding not to do anything about it. Thanks for the good wishes on the move.

  5. Hi Kate! Your on the move, how exciting!!
    We are pregnant with our first child , a daughter! My husband and I have been married for 10 years so, we have accrued A LOT of stuff over the years. Needless to say, I have been forced, in a good way of course, to start decluttering my home. The clutter of stuff has been out of site, therefore, out of mind. So when I opened the door to our spare bedroom that would become the nursery, I almost panicked. The task was bigger than I imagined. I set into cleaning it and somehow managed to reduce a room full of stuff down to 4 boxes. It’s been repainted from floor to ceiling in nursery colors. I’ve even broken out my sewing machine for the first time in 8 years, and made her some Disney Princess curtains that bring the room to life. Just waiting on hubby to put in the baseboard and the room will be complete. In the meantime, I moved from there to the laundry room. I had my husband put up some new shelving and places to hang or fold clothes. In cleaning that room, I found a pair of his cargo shorts that have needed a button replaced for 2 years!! Yep, they are fixed now too! I feel so much better with just those two rooms taken care of. My next project will be my bedroom. I want to rearrange it so the bassinet will fit where I want it to and have the carpet cleaned. I am determined to have everything in order so that I can relax and enjoy our new little blessing.

Comments are closed.