Summer's End
MODA Country Fair!


I have had a full week. A really full week. And I've struggled with its fullness. A lot.

My friend Jana mentioned the other day on twitter that she was having a perfect amount of "whelmedness" that day,not too overwhelmed and not too underwhelmed. What a fabulous idea! It sounded like an absolutely perfect day to me since I seem to have had my fair share of the former kind lately and have been dreaming of the latter.

But really when it comes down to it, what I have been wanting is that perfect balance of "whelmedness" each day. Don't we all? As I descended into one of my internal "balance of life" struggles, I realized however that even though this perfection is a good thing to strive for, achieving a perfect balance of whelmedness each day is a high and lofty goal. Perhaps I should stop thinking that I can do that every day and cut myself at least a little bit of slack. Just maybe.

One of the questions I get asked the most often, which might also be why I think about it so much, is how do I balance a full time, often more than full time design job, and business along with being a "stay at home" mom of my three munchkins. To be fair, I don't really think I am such a good example of either. I have business and production offices next door and a wonderful staff of gals who help me make it all happen on a variety of fronts. They sew, they edit, they process orders and answer emails. They stuff patterns and ship boxes. They do most of the paperwork.


... Gabrielle made new cream bundles up on the website now.....

I have a hub who runs most of the fulfillment side of the business and all 3 of my kids are in school now so the balance is definitely more doable these days than it was when I started all of this craziness. Mr. Fig and I share all child responsibilities since both of our jobs have the luxury of flexing around the kids and I know that I couldn't do it at all without all of these folks and without all of this help.

And yet I still struggle with what I am not doing on any given day. 

In the end, there isn't any good answer to the balance question, other than I take each day as it comes and often feel like I have let one of the two halves down. As I thought about it al again this morning, what I realized was that what I want to strive for is balance in my week and balance in my month. Balance in  my day would be the icing on my cupcake but can't happen most days!

Their will be days like this Wednesday, the first day of school, when one side is clearly more important than the other.


... first day of school photos of the two youngest Figs!

There will be days like this Monday, the final deadline for my newest manuscript, when the other side of my pendulum will win.



... prop shots from the photo shoot, since I can't actually show any of the products just yet....

There will be days like this Tuesday, back to school shopping in the morning/photo shoot in the afternoon, when I will try to do both and feel completely overwhelmed by the end of the day, not sure that I gave either halves of my life all that they needed.

...more props from the other day's shoot.

And there will be days like today when I will sleep in a little, let the hub get the munchkins off to school, let the office gals run the office without me and enjoy a little bit of quiet time with my tea and the homemade zucchini bread that my 13 yr. old boy whipped up this weekend.

There will be evenings like today when our friend will need to take the munchkins out to dinner, while I finish studying the swatches for the next fabric collection I am working on but I will still get to tuck them into bed when the day is done.


Who knows what tomorrow will look like.  But as I look back on the week AS A WHOLE, I think I can be happy about what I accomplished, what I chose to do and what I chose to hold off on. All in all, I think my week has had a perfect balance of whelmedness even if each day felt completely different and perhaps not that perfect in and of itself.

Trying to keep myself focused on the big picture instead of the little one that gets me down and makes me crazy. This balance thing is not that easy. I am sure you all know this already. I am wishing each and every one of you the perfect balance of whelmedness this next week!





I always admire your ability to manage it all.

Your kids look happy.

I love that you've acknowledged the whelmdness and put it in its place! This is a struggle I share with you indeed. But so long as each day has some space carved out in it for you then you can take that itty bit of peace and share it with your wonderful family. Right? We're battening down the hatches for both the impending hurricane as well as the arrival of color swatches for my next line. They can be similar in their whelmdness, as you are well aware :) Your kids are adorable! Hope all the figs are happy. xo

Balance is the hardest thing to do in life it seems..just ask yourself each day, what really has to get done, including time with your family and a little time (even 15 min) of time for yourself? Next, what is the worse that can happen if not everything gets done (to keep it in perspective)? As I have gotten older (in years, not in mind), I have realized that the worst that could happen really wasn't anything to get excited about. I have never regretted the time that I spent with my kids or husband, the work always seemed to get done and my only wish is that I had not taken everything so seriously. Delegate as much as you can,and love every day!!

Mercury has been in retrograde Aug. 2-26. SO I'm blaming all the whelmedness on that - what else could account for it, really? Know in your heart of hearts that you are doing a great job.

Thanks for the glimpses into your actual life. Sounds kind of similar to my own, except I've got SUCH a different type of job. As a consumer of all the goodness you design, it's easy to imagine your everyday life being more like your photo shoots. That's why I love to read your sets the record straight and calms me into realizing that everyday is wonderful, too!

I am in awe of all that you do and all that you accomplish!!

Your kids are adorable. Love the colors in the photo shoot.

What a beautifully written post about "whelmedness" and balance. Such cute photos of your children, too!

From what I have been able to glean by following your blog, it seems to me that you and your hub are doing a fine job of focusing on what I think is a fantastic life decision. You are raising your children right in the midst of where you are also working, not only to put food on the table but also to provide for their and their parents' well-being and a prosperous future for all of you. While the treasures this decision can bring are great, one can feel as though one is up to one's neck in alligators on many occasions.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you, but maybe a little reminder now and then can't hurt. The life lessons that your children are learning by osmosis and the richness of your family's collective memories are priceless. Not every day, week, month, or even year will be as balanced as it should be. Life happens and we have to react to it. Sometimes we can react with grace and ease, and even true elegance. Sometimes we shoot from the hip because time is of the essence and we later regret the decision that we made but know that it was the best decision we could have made under the circumstances. Most of the time we're somewhere on the grey line in between. I am retired now and my years of successful business experience have taught me that "somewhere on the grey line" is perfectly adequate for most things. The secret is in knowing when "perfection" is a must, when "somewhere, and where, on the grey line" is adequate, and when something can simply be "ignored".

I suggest that you not struggle trying to achieve an acceptable balance. I think the best thing to do is just to surrender to the wonderful lifestyle you have chosen and try to enjoy every aspect of it; accept the present circumstances, go with the flow, focus on the task at hand, and do the best that you can, asking for assistance from your family and staff when appropriate. I think your woman's and mother's intuition will let you know what your immediate priorities are if you keep your eye on the big picture. After all, isn't this the advice you would give to your own children were they in similar circumstances?

I have no children at home, am retired and still stugle with the same issues. Just know that it is so apparent that you love you family and they know it, you are passionate about your "work" and those of us that purchase your products and get to know you are aware that you care for all of us as well. In my mind, Mission Accomplished, Joanna!!

My mum always had the answer to this one. I studied architecture at university and was always tempted to stay up till the wee small hours 'tweaking' designs...only get up at the crack of dawn to start tweaking again! On hearing my weary little voice at the end of the 'phone, she would always say,"You need a break from it: have a nice bubble bath". I never did, of course, but I always think of her advice when I'm under pressure and it makes me smile.
Now "having a nice bubble bath" might just be making a cup of tea and tickling the dog, but it always helps x

Women are always trying to balance whatever we have in our lives. Just do your best and let your family know you love them and everything else will be fine. Can't wait to see your new stuff. What are those rods with metal ends in the photo from your shoot? I couldn't guess.

A beautiful post, and topics that fill up most women's minds, whether they balance a design business and children, church and career, whatever it is. Thanks for a nice step back and a nice way to cut some slack. I think evaluating on a weekly or monthly basis is SO MUCH MORE realistic. I mean really? That whole Rome wasn't built in a day could definitely apply to whelmedness. xoxo

I think you do a wonderful job and your children are beautiful. Life can throw us such curves everyday so we can only take each day as it comes and do our best and I am sure you do this. Don't get caught up on perfection. Blessings Sandra

Dear Joanna, thank you for sharing. I, too, struggle with the work/kids/hubby/craft balance, and your story (and the comments before me) reassured me that I (and some of my friends) am (are) not alone. Maybe I should take Nicola's mum's advice to heart and have a bubble bath more often! Thank you too, for sharing pictures of your munchkins and pictures of your new 'manuscript'. Can't wait, but will!
Enjoy your weekend!

Thanks for a beautiful post - I love reading about how you manage to juggle everything in your life and the obvious appreciation you have for the special people in your life who help to make it happen - and on top of it all, we get to enjoy your wonderful fabrics!

You said that extremely well. You've given us all a lot to think about. Thank you for posting it.

Re: TypePad: [Fresh Figs] kate spain submitted a comment on Whelmedness


I know you know exactly what this is all like and Im glad to struggle alongside you! Wishing the best for both impending hurricanes!


Great post and something we all can relate to although, each in our own way. I love your honesty and telling us a little bit about your world. It's interesting and fun to hear about what your day/week is like. I absolutely love Fig Tree and what you do! Your kids are so cute too! Looking forward to seeing your wonderful and new products! Thank you for your creativity - all your hard work is not in vain, I can assure you!

Thank you for sharing how it really goes for the Figs. As someone said above its easy to confuse the lovely fabrics and photo shoots with real life. But everyone one looks happy, healthy and looking forward to the day, good job Mom and Dad! (And it is lovely to get that cup of tea and treat in a quiet moment to ponder things like whelmedness)

Your kids are adorable! Hope all the figs are happy.

Isn't it comforting to hear, pretty much the same thing, from all of your wonderful followers? Balance.... I home schooled 5 out of my 7 kids plus... led a homeschool group of moms, ran a household, and tried to keep everything in check as my husband often had to travel. I remember that several of the moms that I led said they wished they could be a fly on my wall so that they could see how I did it. My reply was always the same, "Are you kidding! I would swat each one of you!" None of us are perfect, but the only and true answer remains the same. Keep striving for balance. I failed so many times, but the one thing that that holds true for each of us is to keep trying... to keep striving to get it right. I applaud your honesty.. so often people have this false view of how it must be in other people's private lives and it IS comforting to know that in reality... we're all just the same and prayerfully, we're all on the same page of this life we've been given. Have a great weekend. Debbie

That was a great post Joanna. I think we all struggle with it, but you hit the nail on the head. You can't judge things by just one day...gotta stand back and look at the big picture. Thanks for the reminder.

Good luck with everything. Your kids are BEAUTIFUL!

Amber Johnson

hmmmmmm ... the perfect amount of "whelm". Why do I find my self on both of the ends of that spectrum? Shouldn't they average out to the middle. Seriously? Your pictures ... and their smiles ... made up for the imbalance. Thanks.


I have a stepmother who never had children and could never understand the confusion in having two in high school , one in junior high and one in grade school.
The high school and junior high were 10 miles from home.
She always told me that if I put a list on the refrigerator and followed it, I would be more organized.
She could never understand that their schedules were not set in stone, One morning, I made three trips to the high school and one trip was for a friend's child who had forgotten his notebook and his mom and dad were at work. Band for one at 5:30 practice, another at 7:30
45 minutes before bus arrival and then her son, It used to make me so frustrated. She still doesn't understand anything about raising kids. Oh, I stayed home because I was restoring a house built in 1865.
Oh, lazy me!!!1

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