Healthy Thinking

I finished a quilt the night before last. I’m not totally happy with it. It’s not a design I’ve been waiting anxiously to bring to fruition. It was born out of the failure of a set of place mats. It kind of just happened. And it’s done.

As in d, o, n, e. Not a single thing left to do on it. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

For anyone who knows me well, this is a huge accomplishment! Despite being immensely passionate about, and jumping eagerly into, the world of making quilts over 4 years ago, I haven’t managed to actually complete more than 2.

Oh, I’ve done plenty else. I built up an impressive inventory of materials. I purchased a new sewing machine. I scratched out hurried designs as they occurred to me. I planned and I prepped. The follow through is what gets me.

Only 2 done. How dismal. I have several started, along with various other sewing projects (bags, the aforementioned place mats, pocket organizers, coasters, etc) and dozens of ideas in my head but crossing that finish line eludes me for the most part. I finally figured out why. Often, it’s more than simply being stuck on how to do something (binding the edges had me stumped. I’m very stubborn and didn’t want to Google it. I wanted it to be “my” way. smh).

I’m a procrastinator. (Nope, that’s not the reason although I really thought it was!)

I always have been. I stopped trying to change ages ago because I never had success. It’s just part of who I am and I’ve learned to accept it.

I’m also a perfectionist. (Yep! Therein lies the rub!)

Not necessarily in how my home is arranged (except maybe my towels and canned goods), in how my clothes hang in the closet (my brother is the “freak” in that department, all color coordinated, right side out AND identical hangers!) or in how often I clean my house but most definitely in my work.

I strive for the best. I take tremendous pride in what I do. It disturbs me if the results are less than stellar. And they typically are! So I AM a consistently disturbed individual.

When I make something with my own 2 hands, I aim for flawless whether it’s a coat rack, a stepping stone, a quilt or a cake. Which is ridiculous. The very nature of handmade dictates that it’s NOT perfect. It can be good. It can be great, awesome or incredible.

It can’t be without flaw. However minor. Or massive!

This is what I’m repeatedly telling myself. Lately.

And maybe I’m the only one who sees the flaws. I know they’re present because I’m responsible for them. I can’t pretend they don’t exist. I was THERE when they happened. I’m really trying to trade the word ‘flaw’ for those with a nurturing atmosphere.

Handmade is charming. It has character. It’s filled with love, care and attention. It’s not cold and heartless, pumped out in a factory along with thousands exactly like it. Handmade is one-of-a-kind. It’s unique. There’s a story that goes with it.

Until recently, I believed it was my procrastinating that so largely hindered my quilt making. I now realize it’s my inability to create a flawless product that slows me down. It’s my inability to accept the fact that I cannot be perfect, no matter how determined I am. It’s prevented me from finishing the six (plus) quilts I’ve started. I’ve blamed it on my eyesight. I’ve blamed it on poor lighting. I’ve blamed it on my sewing machines. My newer one broke down. My old Singer is reliable and I prefer it for many reasons but it just doesn’t produce as perfect a stitch. I can’t finish my quilts in progress until I have my newer machine fixed because I began them on it AND the stitching must match. Like anyone would notice a difference! Very poor excuse. I know! Being a procrastinator gives one a certain aptitude for explaining “why” 🙂 something wasn’t achieved.

My sister would say my negative thinking, my mistaken belief that I couldn’t possibly sell something that wasn’t perfect, is the ONLY issue. She’d say keep doing what I’m trying to do; use good, kind and loving words when referring to my work, to myself.

She’s absolutely correct. My inner dialogue requires serious adjustment.

But it’s difficult.

I WANT ruler straight seams. I WANT precisely aligned pieces. I WANT sharp corners and material that lies perfectly flat. 100% of the time.

I want the impossible.

I know this. Logically, in my mind. I’m not a stupid person. I guess what’s really paralyzing me is a bad habit. I’m almost 46. I’ve had a lot of practice with self-deprecation. My UNhealthy, counter-productive thinking has to go. Every now and then, when I’m talking to my sister on the phone, she’ll ask me how my healthy thinking is going. My standard reply is, “I don’t think about it unless I actually think to think about it!”.

She suggested Post-It notes.

So that’s my next, cognizant step in changing my thinking. Yesterday, I grabbed my Post-It notes and began sticking them all over. I live alone. Well, my dogs are here but they won’t care 🙂

Yesterday, I ditched the word ‘flaw’! From now on I surround myself with, and enthusiastically embrace, words such as ‘beautiful’, ‘talented’, ‘capable’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘amazing’ (okay, perhaps that one’s a stretch).

Today, tomorrow and for the rest of my life (high aspirations!) it’s all about the positive. Go ahead, give it a try, if you have any proclivities similar to mine. It will take some learning. I should have written ‘my’ in ‘Just do your best’. It feels a bit goofy but also good too. Here’s hoping it works! 🙂




Find gratitude in everything!

I try not to complain. It’s something I’m learning as I get older. I try to be consciously grateful for all that I have, for the simple fact that I’m alive and can move of my own free will.

But like most everyone, I do find myself disliking the weather from time to time. Or maybe I have a bad hair day and am unhappy about that. I wish I could lose 20 pounds. My hot water tank has been leaking for over a year. I might run out of firewood this winter.

I could probably write a pretty lengthy list of “negatives” in my life right now. And then I remember, MAKE myself remember, I have nothing to be moaning about!

Really, truly, absolutely nothing.

I have a warm bed to sleep in each night. I have clean clothes. Needing to lose 20 pounds. . . . means I’m not starving. I didn’t just lose a child to cancer. My home wasn’t washed away in a flood. All of my worries are trivial in comparison to what other people are going through.

The horrific events in Paris have made that abundantly clear again, as any tragedy does. I can’t even imagine the destruction and bone-chilling fear that took place. It’s difficult for me to fathom such ugliness, that people are capable of it. I’m going to try even harder to be thankful for what I have, leaky roof, leaky hot water tank and all!

My thoughts are with those in Paris, and around the world, today and in the days to come.