Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Practicing Imperfection

afternoon shadowsThis time of year I try to look back at what I have accomplished the previous year. Today I am celebrating my progress toward embracing imperfection. My hard practice is paying off! I won’t get cocky though and give up my daily practice…one must be dedicated to that which they want to achieve after all. For starters, the photos in this post have nothing to do with our holiday celebration because I didn't take any...totally forgot! I could skip the post because I don't have the perfect photos but that would be giving in to perfection.

I know, it sounds silly to have to practice imperfection but I have to practice every day! I am a Perfectionist; a type A, workaholic, first born, product of 16 years of Catholic school kinda girl. Perfectionism is part of my core identity.  It has taken me years of battle with this cunning demon and I have made a lot of progress keeping it at bay. However, my perfection demon always likes to tempt me during the holidays demanding that I put on the best Christmas ever.

vintage christmas ornamentThis year, I set my Christmas Eve family table with a fine linen tablecloth that I hand dyed in shades of green and blue...a little unusual but fun. My napkins were dyed to match but perfection ended there! (Actually my dyeing is sort of random so the didn't match perfectly anyway.) I didn’t iron one bit of it…it adorned my table in all its wrinkled glory. This is a BIG DEAL! At one point in my life I ironed my boy’s tee shirts. Yes…their little tiny tee shirts, jeans and even pjs. Looking back I know my life was more than a little insane at that point and my obsessive ironing was probably an attempt to bring order to the chaos but still…little boys tee shirts???

Our Christmas dinner was a delicious gluten free lasagna. Woot! Win over perfection #2: I didn’t make it! We bought it…pre-made/homemade Taste of Life GF meals to go. A few of my loyal readers know that I have a lot of dietary restrictions including almost all the ingredients of lasagna. However, my son has been asking for lasagna for ages so Christmas seemed a perfect time to grant his request. I did feel guilty about not making it myself…yes, even though I couldn’t eat any of it my perfectionist demon suggested that I was less than a good mother for purchasing a frozen lasagna for Christmas! But, I overcame my demon with the help of my good husband and some will power. I didn’t give in to the guilt of being imperfect.

I have been pleasantly surprised by a side effect of my imperfection practice: calmness and a sense of peace. Yup, this girl is learning to let go of the stress of leading a perfect life and finding joy in just letting things be what they are. Not saying it is easy but it is good.



I am ready to let go of something else in my life this next year. I am not sure exactly what yet. Maybe it will be banishing self-doubt or guilt…ok, so given my background getting rid of guilt probably would be the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. Maybe I will save that for another year.

Is there something that you want to give up this year? Something that will bring you closer to the life you want to have?
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Who says you're an artist?


I had a great weekend…started with my Visual Journaling class on Sat morning where I had them take a baby step toward drawing and they were brave! Then I took my students on a field trip to Denver…well technically, one of my students drove so I guess she took us. We went to hear a talk given by Laurie M Hawley of Aha Life Designs. Laurie’s topic was the Road to Authenticity – Embracing Imperfection and Feeling Worthy. The talk was inspired by Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.I am a big fan of Brene Brown. She has a couple of talks available on TED that are really great. Laurie shared her experiences on her journey to discovering joy in her life as well as facing the painful parts of embracing imperfection.

A lot of what Laurie talked about really resonated with me…my own journey...especially  being a perfectionist as it is something that I have and still do struggle with. Perfectionists continually seek external validation. Laurie talked about her creativity and life coaching business and how she strives to be the best coach she can be and to that end is continually participating in further training. Which is great for her clients but when is enough, enough? When do ‘they’ see fit declare that you an expert…or in my case, an artist?

I wanted to be an interior designer when I was young but that wasn’t ‘practical’ so I got my degree in business management. Years later when I decided that I really wanted to be an artist my first roadblock was how to go to art school? I didn’t have the time or money to go to art school and everybody said you really had to have an MFA to be an artist. I longingly perused the UK’s City and Guild’s program…even on-line it was still too expensive. How would I get the certificate that declared, YES, I was an artist?? I decided that formal education would just have to wait until the kids were launched even though that meant I wouldn’t get that validation until I was at least 56 and maybe even 60.


In the mean time I took whatever workshops I could, read every book I could get my hand on, joined art groups and I took baby steps. I changed the name of my sewing room to ‘studio’. That was incredibly difficult! It took me at least 3 years to feel comfortable calling it a ‘studio’. I mean really…how pretentious!! I certainly couldn’t bring myself to utter the words ‘I am an artist’. When friends called me an artist I rolled my eyes and dismissed their comments…after all, I hadn’t earned that degree yet!

A funny thing happened while I was busy raising my family, homeschooling, taking creative technique classes, and making stuff. I became an artist. I still didn’t have the diploma that officially declared it but the more confident I became in my skills and the more I talked to ‘real artists’ it slowly dawned on me that being an artist isn’t like being a lawyer. There isn’t a test to pass, a degree required or any hoops to jump through. Being an artist is a state of mind. The only person, entity or even country that can truly declare someone an artist is one’s self.

Go ahead…declare yourself an artist! Hey, want to make today Declare Yourself an Artist Day? We could start a movement!

The photos in this post are from my very first soy wax batik experiments done last Thursday at my Discovery group. This group explores art techniques...not always related to cloth. If you are in the Colorado Springs area let me know and I will send you the meeting details. We always have fun and I am now in love with soy!
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