A Balanced Life: feeling in control of your time + decisions, with Ruth Werwai

Ever wonder how other women create a life that feels balanced, intentional and fulfilling? 

A Balanced Life is my blog series in which I interview mentors, makers, creatives and others who are intentionally seeking to live a more balanced life.

We talk about living life without the hustle, resisting norms around productivity + busyness, and about consciously making the choice to live life more attuned to your own rhythms, energy, needs.

A Balanced Life: feeling in control of your time + decisions, with Ruth Werwai of Raincloud & Sage

Ruth Werwai shares how feeling in control of her time + decisions helps her live a balanced life.

Ruth Werwai is the founder and creative director of Raincloud & Sage, a yarn company that focuses on turning previously unused wool into yarn for knitters and makers. When Ruth first started her business she would have described herself as a passionate knitter and fiber artist with a business on the side. Now she describes herself as an entrepreneur who knits sometimes. 

Ruth currently lives in Marburg, Germany. When she’s not running her business or chasing after her young son you can find her reading, walking in the woods and trying to keep her houseplants alive.

You can find out more about Ruth on the Raincloud & Sage website, on Pinterest and through Instagram

Welcome Ruth! Let’s discover what living a balanced life as a female small business owner means to you!

What does living a balanced life look like to you? What does a day look like for you?

I must admit that living a balanced life changes a lot for me – sometimes because of outward circumstances and sometimes intentionally. Currently though I work full time on my business from home during the hours my son is at Kindergarten. He leaves around 8 in the morning and I try to start each day either with some yoga and stretching or with a little reading before starting up my laptop as I find otherwise the day just gets away from me. 

Recently I separated my tasks into “theme days” – so for example, I’ve got two days a week specifically set aside for admin tasks like answering emails or packing and shipping orders. The other three days are for content creation & marketing, product development and finances or website upkeep when needed. Recently I’ve started finishing off all my computer work about one hour before I need to leave to pick up my son so that I can fit in an hour of sample knitting to round off the work day. And then my walk to the Kindergarten is what officially starts off the rest of my day.

Sometimes I wish I had a boss who could give me permission to quit for the day, but I’m learning that I can be that boss to myself and write my own permission slips.

The number one thing that’s important to me about living a balanced life is that I am in control of my own time and decisions. I never want to be doing something just because I think I have to or should. But at the same time I don’t want to avoid something just because it doesn’t fit with someone else’s definition of a balanced life. Essentially I try and make conscious decisions about how (and when) I work rather than having it be my default mode – because running a business can be all-consuming if we let it and there will always always be more work that needs to be done. Sometimes I wish I had a boss who could give me permission to quit for the day but I’m learning that I can be that boss to myself and write my own permission slips.

What inspired you to live this way? What choices and changes did you make, or have to make?

I think the biggest thing that forced me to define balance in my work life was that through growing my business I essentially lost my hobby – something that was completely unexpected and went entirely unrecognized for several years. 

When I first started out I would absolutely have described myself as a knitter or maker with a business on the side. At some point in the last three years this understanding of who I am, my interest and priorities has completely flipped. I now feel much more confident describing myself as an entrepreneur who sometimes knits and I have had to make a ton of changes in regards to my boundaries around my work. It sounds ridiculous but I’ve had to really consciously define the line between my life and business – they are so wrapped up in each other but they are not the same thing. 

Practically for me, this has looked like actively pursuing my other hobbies and even creating a few new ones. I used to do all my knitting in the evenings but now I try and consciously check in with myself to see if I even want to knit before just mindlessly picking up my needles. 

The biggest thing that forced me to define balance in my work was that through growing my business I lost my hobby.

I’ve also set up some “rules” around my laptop usage- like for example never turning it on during the weekends or keeping it at my desk so that I have a clear “work spot” that I can then leave at the end of the work day – even if that just means hopping across the living room to the couch. 

What three tips/habits/strategies would you suggest for readers who also want to live a balanced life?

I’m sure none of my tips will work for everyone – we’re all so different both in terms of our work habits and needs but also in terms of our circumstances and the privileges we have when it comes to our time and resources.  But here are the top three strategies (or mindset shifts) that have helped me: 

  • Let yourself be a work in progress (or WIP as we knitters like to say). None of us are going to live up to our plans for balance 100% of the time and that’s okay. Give yourself grace for those moments or seasons when you feel like you don’t measure up.
  • Secondly (and related) I would say it’s important not to throw everything out the window if you do slip up a little. This has been crucial for me – while I thrive with routine, I tend to be idealistic about what that looks like and once I mess up it’s so hard for me to go back to the structures I previously put in place. So to follow up on giving yourself grace for not measuring up – remember that this doesn’t mean you can’t come back to a more balanced life and those routines at a later point in time. 
  • Zoom out a little. One of the biggest things that’s helped me when I feel overwhelmed and off-balance is to get a little perspective. When I first went back to work (from home) after my son was born I honestly felt stressed and overwhelmed all of the time. When I was working I felt like a bad mom but when I wasn’t working I just worried and stressed about everything I knew was waiting for me in my inbox or on my to-do list. So I started writing my to-do lists for a two-week period rather than every day. In one day it can be difficult to be a great mom/partner/business owner/employee but in the span of two weeks there were of course moments where I was the best version of all of these things. Changing my perspective in this way really helped take the pressure off of every single moment of the day. 

Thank you Ruth, for sharing with us what living a balanced life looks like for you! I love how feeling in control of your time + decisions shines through in the way you live your life. Find out more about Ruth on the Raincloud & Sage website, on Pinterest and through Instagram

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