Several months ago this blog by Seth Godin resonated deeply. Each one of us has a unique lived experience, and that lived experience informs our quilt making experience. Here’s the post (follow the link for more Seth!)
Most people can’t resist a mirror. It makes the wait for an elevator more palatable, and we can’t help checking–how do I look?
In many ways, though, this is futile, because we can never know how we look through other people’s eyes.
No one else has lived your life, heard all of your jokes, experienced your disappointments, listened to the noise in your head. As a result, no one else sees you (and your actions) quite the way you do.
And, to magnify the disconnect, every single person has their own narrative, so even when two people see you at the same time, they have different interpretations of what just happened, what was just said.
The same goes for brands and organizations. No one has experienced your brand or your product the way you have. They don’t know about the compromises and choices that went into it. They don’t understand the competitive pressures or the mis-steps either.
Even the best quality mirror tells you very little. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to focus on this sort of grooming if you want to understand what customers or friends are going to see. Far better to watch what they do.
(But yes, you do have a little green thing stuck in your teeth). – Seth Godin
So, there are moments when, as we look at our work (that’s the quilting) and recognize it’s absolute crap. The backing looks as though it sucked lemons; the tension isn’t right on the stitching – making it easy to pull it all out; the composition or color is wrong. This is a piece that a lot of hard work, and heart have poured forth and just yuck. For many the thought process totally changes and our internal conversation begins to let us know how awful we are. When we embrace the lie that “I’m awful” simply because a quilt, wall-hanging or fiber art piece, didn’t turn out as expected or there were problems we miss a deeper truth: we are good, and the work had something to teach us, maybe. Not every icky piece we turn out will teach us something, nor do we need every lesson our “art”, or “quilt” decides to teach us. Yes, there seems to be a personification of the object.
Buying the Lie
Purchasing and keeping the Lie limits our ability to make changes in our quilting. We’re not good enough, our skills will never improve, the list goes on ad infinitum. Since we’ve purchased the lie there is a sense that we must keep, and use this Lie, until it is no more. The thing is with this particular Lie, the more we use it, the more it grows. The more it grows, the more we believe…see where I’m going here?
Once the purchase is made, it’s hard to return the Lie. It whispers in our ear reminding us of and pointing out those things which, on the surface, look like failures, though in all reality they are not failures. While whatever we’re working on might indeed be crap, it does not mean that we are crap, and does not further mean that everything we create is crap.
Letting go of the Lie
Letting go is a little bit more difficult as we need to see the lie for what it is, a falsehood. Our mind is playing tricks on us, trying desperately to retreat to a safe place of knowing where we are and what we’re doing. And it is in this place where we experience a deeps sense of knowing and comfort, like old tennis shoes that have formed well to our feet. They’re no longer giving us the support we need, but we can walk around in them for hours.
Letting go takes time, and commitment. It requires a gentleness. Here in our house my sweetie got a cactus from a neighbor. This neighbor warned my sweetie that there are very fine spines and they are sharp and hurt like a paper cut. The cactus needs to be treated gently and with respect. I don’t put my hands near it, as I use my hands for quilting and getting pricked with one of these things, I can’t even. So the Lie has these spines that are sharp and lodge in painful places. When dealing with them it’s important to be kind, cautious and caring. The spines will show up in places we don’t expect.
Back to Seth, our quilts mirror us in some way. When they go out into the world they speak of who we are, and represent us. When we look at them we see everything we’ve poured into them, and all of the “flaws”, flaws that give our quilts character. Things that most people won’t notice. If they do notice let’s hope they’re polite enough not to tell us. Unless of course, we have lettuce in our teeth, or are dragging toilet paper on our shoe then yes by all means.
Let’s be kinder
To ourselves. This is, particularly after the last few weeks, one of my big missions both personally and professionally. Kindness matters. Treat yourself with great kindness, this leads to so many great places.
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