Tag Archives | failure

You Are So Very Beautiful*

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This week I took time back. And this morning, I officially agreed to a part-time job that will pay half my bills, leaving me time to do craftivism work, because freelancing was scattering my thoughts too much. Pitch a story on literacy, the weaving industry, online dating, and etiquette. Watch your mind unspool in a dozen directions as you watch your bank account dwindle, all while seeing the reality of not doing what you want to do. Realizing all that unspooling was not getting you towards anything, not building anything. That there was no direction, just scattered thoughts. And as I’ve been through a series of interviews, there was a period of time where this path seemed like a huge effing failure.

So I took some time. I hung out with friends, I stitched at home, I made gluten-free zucchini chocolate chip bread and my heart gushed when I took it out of the oven and held it in my own hands, I hung out with Bobbin, I drank coffee on my porch, I took time to truly taste it, sat (just sat) on my sofa, I took time to rein in my mind from months of freaking out about money to the point that most of my joy was sucked out of my life for ages. I helped the same bird who got stuck in screened-in porch twice in one day escape, taking the time to let it hop to freedom instead of feeling like I had to hurry his little heart through the process.

And I thought about the affirmations that I had to write each day as part of the 5-Minute Journal, which I heard about via a recommendation from Lisa Congdon on the While She Naps podcast. I thought about how they sustained me as I typed them, all the thoughts I was not letting sink into myself, lest I turn into someone too proud or vain or righteous or greedy. I was scared typing them would make me a different person, which meant change, which meant changing.

And lo, how they did change me! They pushed me to see I was beautiful, capable, worthy, enough, smart, and other permutations. And in homage to the work of the late artist Susan O’Malley, I envisioned a project where I stitched those sentiments I so needed to hear and then left them for others to find.

Because activism is as much about fighting the bad things in this world as it is fighting the bad things we tell ourselves. We can be better activists if we can better stand up for ourselves. We live in a world where we war with what the media tells us what is in, out, cool, passé. Every day we have to remind ourselves we are these good things. And some days we forget. And those days can drag on into weeks and months. Leaving us soul sucked and dry, a husk of what we were as children and knew we were amazing.

So it’s time to do that in the process of stitching. And it’s time to let that act of stitching go by leaving it somewhere for someone to find who needs to hear those words as much as you do, if not more. And that’s what that photo is up at the top, a prototype of the pieces I’m going to make. Craftivism is about healing ourselves as we stitch, and then healing the world with the product, so this project is about taking a microstep to help other people, to let them know that they are so very many wonderful things. And to remind ourselves that we are so many wonderful things.

xx

*You Are So Very Beautiful is what I’m calling this for right now, because I think that we, no matter what our gender orientation, can have a problem seeing this about ourselves, regarding both our inner and outer beauty. And seeing ourselves as beautiful is a radical act.

On accentuating the positive and embracing failure

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Anxiety. It’s something we don’t talk much about in the craft world. However, it’s something we all face in our own ways. We all have our worries, our fears, our insecurities. And to be honest, this is something that the craft world is not good at facing. We are excellent cheerleaders and friends and co-workers and always there to lend support, which has buoyed myself and thousands of others for well over a decade. I have never felt such warmth in a community as I have in the craft world.

However, we are not good when it comes to problems. To sharing them, embracing them, letting others know we are having them. And I think the internet takes a lot of blame here, because we’re all curators of our own feeds. And just like sex sells, so does beauty. And aspiration. I’m not saying we need to do a huge turn and start complaining. But I am saying we need to think about being more honest about our foibles, our flaws, and our troubles. Because if we don’t feel open enough to share a problem or a post that is less than perfect, how strong of a community have we actually built?

Can a full-functioning community be formed on just the positive?

Well, I definitely know it can’t be formed entirely in the negative, so high five for the crafternet not turning into a total jerkfest. While I know that side of things exists, I’m super glad it’s in the minority, so woohoo and hell yeah, way to go, kids! I guess I just have perfection fatigue. I can’t emotionally connect with a photo of your perfect house with nothing out of place, yet I can’t stand to take a photo with too many things out of place, either. Therefore, I, too, am part of the problem. I am tired of it and bored by it, but I’m also trapped by it.

I also think that this also has to do with the fact that we’re all still figuring out this here internet. Because things that go on the internet stay on the internet, I think we’re reluctant to show our imperfect sides because they conflict with who we aspire to be, not necessarily with who we are now.

I’m also tired of initiatives that cost tons and basically offer a person on the other end saying, “you can do it!.” I’m not talking about business coaching, but about hand holding. We should be holding each other’s hands better, but in order to do so, we need to let more of our vulnerability show in order to more holistically connect. That people are lining up to pay money to be told “you, too, can do this!” speaks to the fact that we need more transparency and openness in our own community.

That people are only posting perfection and then others feel that they’re failing because their lives are not that perfect signals to me, a disconnect. One of our own devising. We’ve created a vicious cycle of want and distance. We find ourselves wanting to be like other people, even though we are wanting to be how someone else is purposely presenting themselves vs. how they actually are. And the distance that it’s creating keeps us from interacting authentically and from showing any vulnerability.

That’s what I want out of my community. Shared vulnerability. And that’s why I posted that photo above, a recent Instagram photo. I want to talk about my failures and my goals and receive help and tips as I go, not just receive a “way to go” once I get there, because going on that journey alone is beginning to tire me. Now don’t get me wrong, the “way to gos” have their place, but when comment threads have 25 “way to gos” in them, what does that mean? That we’re scared to share our own related story? Too busy to say anything else? That we don’t feel like our story has a place there? That we’re too thinly spread? Or maybe everyone else is backchanneling all these discussions? I guess I just feel that we get so stuck on selling ourselves and our competencies, we forget to share where we’re not moving forward. Or when we do share, we fear that we’re sharing too much.

Last week in my newsletter, I spoke about two different initiatives. One, a secret Facebook group about growth and failure. We’re still figuring it out and it may fail, but I hope it at least gives people a place to share where they want to go and what problems they’re facing. And somewhere to talk about the process of getting to where you want to be. (If you’re into it, add me on Facebook and message me that you’d like to join!) And the other, I’m starting to do freelance work, and even have a little freelance website set up over here. I’ve been editing for years and love helping people find their authentic voices and strength in their own words. And it’s scary. I literally feel like I’m standing on a very thin branch, even though I know that not everyone feels comfortable with their written words, whether they’re still percolating in their head or whether they’re on a website or about to go to print.

And I’m wondering why no one else talks about how freakin’ thin that branch really is. How scary it is to find yourself without the infrastructure that a day job provides and to create a new one. Because there is no path to follow if you’re working from your own heart. There is no promise of a net, yet you know the only way one will appear is if you jump wholeheartedly. Holy hell! And how, yes, how the threat of failure becomes excessively real in a way you never even imagined, because you’re so busy being terrified of hitting the ground that you can’t even imagine that the net will appear. So you stand there, paralyzed, waiting for someone else to make the decision or possibly a heavy gust of wind, when in fact, nothing is going to happen if you don’t decide to move.

But maybe I’m just speaking to myself here. Maybe I’m on that branch all alone. Maybe it really is just me. But, you know what? That’s okay. Really truly honestly okay. I love my friends and peers and colleagues, especially those that are crafty. And I adore beyond belief the community that has been made. But I need to say that I am scared and terrified and really truly not sure everything is going to work out. And as much as I love the “you can do its” and “way to gos,” sometimes I really just need to hear a “me too.”

So here’s a little tiny callout for more “me toos” in the world. Maybe you need to hear a “me too,” too. If you do, let me know either in the comment section or via email. I’m glad to lead the tiny charge in the hopes it can make a crack in the foundation that leads to more shared vulnerability and to an even stronger community. Because we need “me toos” as much as we need “way to gos” in order to grow to our fullest potential, in order to see and hear that we are not alone. Or maybe it’s just me and that’s okay, but I needed to say this anyway just in case one of you out there is thinking “me too,” too. Because it’s not just you, it’s me, too.

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