Off Kilter?

Have you ever noticed that the word “kilter” is only seen with “off” or “out of”? “Off kilter” means “unbalanced,” But “kilter” used by itself doesn’t mean “balanced.” In fact it’s never used by itself.

I’ve been a little off kilter lately. Or at least, my time is balanced differently. Early in April I spent a lot of time preparing for a presentation. Both the prep and presenting were rewarding. Since then I’ve been absorbed in prepping for a medallion class I’m teaching at a local quilt shop. As you may have noticed, blogging hasn’t been a big priority.

Short-term priorities aren’t always the same as long-term priorities. Working on deadline does have a tendency to concentrate the mind!

Longer term, my blogs, and more generally my writing are big priorities. Words are important, and I think a lot about how to use them to connect and to teach, and simply to express myself, even if no one is listening.

Priorities… some are clear to me and some less clear. I’ve pondered them over the last few months, trying to make helpful decisions for today and the future. Two items that keep rising to the top of my list are balance and power.

Priorities, balance, power… Get the first one right and the others will follow, yes?

Priorities need to be identified to know direction, to keep from flailing around while grasping for something better. Know what you consider to be “better,” and then work toward that. As I taught my financial management students, you have to know the question, identify the client’s needs and goals, in order to solve their problems. This holds true whether solving the problem of investing for retirement, or solving a relationship issue, or just calculating the length of a border strip.

For me balance has to do with how I spend my time, energy, and money, as well as my emotions. If I plunge into a large project at the expense of other parts of my life, it might create imbalances that would trouble me. I need time for quilting and writing and teaching and hiking and family and friends and healthy eating and activity, not necessarily in that order! I need to balance the emotionally satisfying parts of my life with those that are less so. Basic maintenance is required, even when it doesn’t stir my soul.

And power – I don’t need power over anyone but myself. Working independently suits me well. Likewise, I don’t want others to have power over me. I don’t want to be subject to the whims of others, any more than need be. Recognizing my own (existing) power and where I cede it to others is part of my concern.

I gain power when I’m successful in my efforts, and I am the one who gets to define “success.” Recently I finished a quilt that was intended to be a wall-hanging. The wool batting I used left it thick, bunchy, spongy. It isn’t a wall-hanging, and I am sorely disappointed in that. However, it’s a heckuva lap quilt, a beautiful design, and a worthy experiment. I found power in the attempt.

I lose power when I let others control my actions or emotions. I lose power when I let others get away with disrespectful behavior. Anyone who thinks they can push me around without me pushing back doesn’t know me very well. Anyone who repeatedly disrespects me should expect that I will tell them – as respectfully as I can – what their words or actions mean to me. Being “correct” in what they say is not enough. How the message is conveyed and how it may be received is important. Saying hurtful things and then blaming me is not acceptable.

More than a month ago someone stopped talking to me. I don’t really know why. I’ve made overtures to her, unreturned. One thing I know is that you can’t make people care about you. They either will or won’t. It’s like being “friends” in Facebook. If one person “unfriends” another, they are not friends anymore. There isn’t any unilateral friendship. It has to go both ways. I won’t chase anyone down. I’ve made that mistake before – and I will not cede that power again. Their decisions are their own. Her decisions are her own. I sincerely hope she feels peaceful about the whole thing. Yet the whole episode leaves me a little unsettled, off kilter.

So I am working hard on identifying my priorities. Actually there is a pretty good list above: quilting and writing and teaching and hiking and family and friends and healthy eating and activity, not necessarily in that order! But those are broad terms. Developing clear descriptions of those items is needed in order to implement my goals. And finding the right balance and owning my power are essential to making this list work.

Bear with me while I reconnect with you here on the blog. Over the last month, my writing has been sporadic at best. But I have a number of things planned. And yes, those plans support my goals, my priorities, for the future.

I’m feeling more kilter all the time.

12 thoughts on “Off Kilter?

  1. Thread crazy

    You hit the nail on the head Melanie. Seems like with warmer weather, I’ve been off-kilter myself, trying to get this and that done. Just life issues I suppose, but when there’s only so many hours in the day to get everything that need attention done,it can try one’s patience . When I get this way I find my sewing gets the least attention. Not exactly sure, but it’s always a relief when I’m back in “control”, back on kilter and back in my sewing haven.

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Back in control… little things like taking time to update the checkbook or do my nails. (And by “do my nails,” I mean that in a very minimal sense…) But yes, feeling off kilter means even those little things slip out of grasp. Very odd feeling …

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Thanks, Jim. You surely have a lot of time to ponder these same issues. Your day-to-day life will be substantially different once you’ve met your goal. Different priorities may be in play.

  2. melintheattic

    I find that kilter shifts over time. Sometimes it takes getting off kilter to figure out what part of life was being slowly ignored. There will be ebbs and flows and periods of unrest followed by peace. As long as we’re aware and striving for balance, we’re doing good work. Obviously I’ve been thinking about this lately too. 🙂

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      It does indeed shift over time. Seems like we just get settled and something changes, even if it is only our mind! Time for re-evaluation. Good luck to you as you chew through this, too.

  3. denmck

    Ah, Melanie. Your posting was made at exactly the same time I was finding myself very off-kilter. Honestly, my most recent internal conversation was “why am I struggling so much over a first-world problem”? I’m sorely dissatisfied with my 9 to 5 job right now which includes coping with some pettiness and lack of communication between team members. So I threw myself into another quilt project just so that I could gain the satisfaction of accomplishing something. I believe I too, need to rethink my priorities and get my kilter back. You are not alone!

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Hugs and sympathies for you! Especially when you spend so much time with people/work, it’s important to feel a sense of satisfaction and control. It’s very off-putting when something is wrong there!

      And I get it on starting a new project. We must have the positive feeling in some parts of our lives. For you and me, quilting is part of that.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I wish you the best!

  4. farmquilter

    Here’s to finding your kilter and maintaining that kilter!!! I think that is something we struggle with most of the time, especially women. Remember too, as we pass through different “seasons”, our kilter changes too! Great post, definitely reflective of the hectic lives we live.

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      This is certainly true: “as we pass through different “seasons”, our kilter changes too!” And I try to be very aware this is a first-world problem. I do not need to worry about food, shelter, or safety, so I get to fret on these issues instead.

      Thanks for taking a look today.


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