Sunday, May 30, 2010

Perfectionism (A long wordy post)

Quite often I find myself not wanting to quilt because the thought that I am not perfect at this craft stops me cold. I look at magazines and see award winning quilts and instead of enjoying the beautiful quilts, I lament that I have never acquired that level of expertise. I decide in my mind that everything is too hard, would take too long, and I couldn’t think up the designs in the first place. So why should I bother at all? Then someone will remind me that you have to work at the craft; that the expertise only comes from years of practice and failing. Sorry, but that does NOT inspire me. It just increases the size of the mountain I must climb.

Oh, I have periods of not letting the perfectionism factor stop me. I sew, I quilt, I buy fabric, I continue haphazardly, enjoying the colors and patterns. Most of all though, I love my fellow quilters – the friends in my Bee group, women I admire in my Guild, and many, many quilting bloggers.

As the years have gone by I increasingly lament the fact that I am not good at quilting. As I bemoan my shortcomings I have begun to notice that my listeners are getting tired of hearing my sob story.

My unhappiness got so bad that there have been many times recently when I seriously considered throwing out or giving away ALL my fabric and quilt books – thousands and thousands of dollars worth of quilting stuff. It was not bringing pleasure into my life and instead was making me miserable.

Enjoying lunch with my friend Brenda the other day, she patiently sat listening to me once more go on and on about poor me, lousy quilter me, never good enough me. What do I expect people to say? “Yes you are lousy. You better quit quilting.” Hardly. The usual response is “Oh Bonnie, I love your quilts. You’re too hard on yourself. Your quilting is fine.” They might as well be saying, “blah, blah, blah” for all that I listen to that reply. But Brenda replied with something that I have heard before, but have never felt as deeply. She gave me the “enjoy the process” speech – and it penetrated my thick brain that the whole point of quilting or stitching or knitting or reading or eating or being with your friends or just about anything that you do is to enjoy the process.

The people I admire most in the world are those that have enthusiasm – about what they are doing or what they just acquired or where they are going or what they had to eat or what they are reading. Who wants to be around someone like me who whines and complains about being less than adequate? Not me. I want to be around the person who can’t wait to show me their latest garage sale find, who just has to tell me about a good book, who got some fabulous new fabric, who had a great idea for a quilt project and who made a wild, crazy, wonky quilt. I don’t care if the quilt they show me is perfect – all I care about is the enthusiasm and pride with which they share their craft.

So right here on this public blog, I am vowing to stop the negative thinking and begin to truly enjoy the process of quilting – picking out the fabric, deciding on a pattern, cutting everything apart, sewing it all back together again, and sometimes doing my imperfect but unique (and wonderful) machine quilting.

If I slip up on my vow, would you please remind me? Thanks!


Caryl W said...

Yes Bonnie...that is the enjoy the process. I love all the aspects of quilting...but I still have to "push" to finish things when I know they aren't perfect!!! I know it is hard to get past that!!! We can do it!!!

BrendaS said...

Enjoy the process! Life is too short and we need to enjoy every step along the way.

I LOVE your quilting, stitching and just being with you!

MB said...

A post-it note I wrote on 1-1-2010 reads: "2010 - The Year of Wonderful Thinking"!! It really worked because I worked it joyfully then I let myself slip into other thoughts. So I'm returning too to "Wonderful Thinking" and we'll keep each other on task! Enjoy the process ... the "now" moments - they really are all we have. Tomorrow's a future yesterday ... today is the real thing!

Becky said...

Your quilt work is an inspiration to me and I love that we can talk about our projects with each other. Quilts are not supposed to be perfect so your quilts (and mine) are just as they should be.