Tuesday, May 26

the mistakes we make

Every day, every single one of us makes a ton of mistakes. We speak out of turn, we cut a guy off, we forget to be gentle, we leave our travel mugs at home, we do any number of little things that we might wish we'd done differently.

Some of us have an easier time of mistake making than others, I am one of the others. Small mistakes linger in my head, taunting me with their un-do-able-ness, I worry long after the repercussions are past. This is a part of the mental illness that I take medication for (OCD), but it doesn't need to be as powerful as I allow it to be.

I am slowly (and deliberately) learning how to make mistakes with grace, but it feels so counter-intuitive. Somehow I've got it in my head that if I am going to do something, I must do it flawlessly. This backwards thinking paralyzes creativity, because it leads me to believe that there is one "right" answer and many "wrong" ones. It is nearly impossible in creative ventures to know if I've got something "right" until it is completed, so if I consider that the chances of getting it "wrong" far outweigh getting it right and I won't do it unless I know I'll do it flawlessly, you end up here - where I barely do anything.

And when you further consider that I am a very creative person, you can better understand why I've spent so much time unhappy.

That voice of wrong is the main reason I have so many UFOs in my studio, it is also the main reason I have had an empty Etsy shop for as long as Etsy's been in existance (I shit you not), it is also why I feel ineffective as a parent. I fear doing things wrong.

Last night I made a small something for my son, a felt and fleece eye-patch for his wandering eye. I was down to three sticky patches and was tired of the battle to get them on, tired of the daily layers of waxy paper trash they create, and tired just thinking about sourcing the neat-o printed ones he likes in our new city. I did a little research and found a lot of uggo patch styles before finding the style I went with, it was easy, so I styled it up with an embroidered rocket ship and blanket-stich border.

It wasn't perfect, but I remided myself of its purpose (to cover the eye) and that it would be the first of many and decided I'd done well enough. It took me an hour to get to that point of acceptance, but I did!

Today, I sewed my son a skirt from old curtains, at his request. It had been so long I had forgotten how to use my sewing maching (thank Maude for manuals) - and even though I could list every little imperfection, I am doing a decent job of letting them go. He loves it and wore it all day, even to the park!

And tonight I am writing this, it could be full of errors (I have decided not to proofread it because my battery is almost dead) but I am posting it anyways.

Take that, perfectionist mentality!!

Tuesday, May 19

it is what it is

I used to be so angry. I was like a bomb, ready to go off at any sign of life not fulfilling my innate sense of entitlement and when I went off - oh man, I can only imagine what it would have felt like to be on the other end.

That was 10 years ago, since then I have quieted my anger with compassion and perspective. I still get riled up over things, but now they tend to be the things a person should get angry about - world hunger, the systematic poisoning of our planet, green-washing - as opposed to the occasional tomato on my sandwich when I am 100% positive that I requested none.

My life is better. It is nicer, calmer, happier when I stop keeping score and make the sometimes difficult decision to drop the rope and let people worry about themselves. I still prefer to be right, but as my wise old man put it, the trick is to realise that being right doesn't make everyone else wrong.

This isn't how I grew up. My parents were angry for most of my childhood. They'll deny it, but I remember the tantrums, the snide remarks and most of all the feeling that there was no way I could ever be right enough or do well enough. I spent my twenties working through that and will likely spend a lot more time convincing myself that I am capable of more than I feel I am.

I went to the mall the other day to renew my license. I took the opportunity to window-shop, checking out trends in both fashion and marketing, because evil or not, it is a huge part of who I am. Something I also checked out, though somewhat involuntarily, were current trend in public parenting. Basically, I witnessed a whole lot of grown-ups treating a whole lot of kids like shit. I didn't witness any overt abuse, instead I saw parents treating their kids like disobeying puppies. Kicking them with words and looks and loud sighs. As I broadened my scope I saw people all over doing this to others, to partners, to staff, to strangers. And I went one step further and though of my own recent behaviour, came up with a few examples of my being cunty to my kids, to Drew and to the world at large - where did it stem from?

Believe it or not, I am not judging any of the parents I saw - I am a firm believer that it is rare that we can get the whole picture from witnessing an isolated interaction - I reserve judgment for myself. Do I generally treat people well and where could I stand to improve?

Generally, yes, I am a nice person. A little narcissistic and impatient, for sure, but I am a benefit-of-the-doubt type and a see-a-need-fill-a-need type. So where can I improve? It almost always comes down to compassion. Compassion for the person who makes an ignorant remark, compassion for the person shooting me an angry glare, and compassion for myself, a woman who is trying very hard to do right by her kids and who is mothering without a map.

With that compassion I can cut everyone else slack and truly let things go. This gives me the mind-space to look at what I am feeling that is manifesting itself as this bitchiness and what I can I change? Often, reflecting is hard. So hard that I have done as little of it as possible this past year. I do the easy stuff, like ensuring I get enough sleep, eat well, de-clutter, get a little exercise and drink my water - and then I stop. It has been a band-aid solution, but it worked while it worked.

And here I am today. Full of compassion and optimism like I haven't felt in ages. It will take some work and time to train my brain away from negative thinking, but I am ready for the challenge.