To contact Gika Rector, call 713.213.7643 or send e-mail.

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Getting It Right the First Time

Pattern drafting materials

Getting it right the first time is definitely overrated. I’m pretty sure I’m right about this. I made good grades in school, I’ve done a lot of things right, I’ve often benefited from being right, and I still think it’s overrated.

Not that I don’t love to be right. I do. It makes me feel good and smart and virtuous, maybe even a little superior. But needing to be right, especially needing to be right the first time, can be a huge obstacle. If you need to be right, you can’t afford to be wrong. If you can’t afford to be wrong, you can’t afford to try. If you can’t afford to try, you can’t learn anything new. And what fun is that?!

I’m taking a pattern drafting class to learn how to create sewing patterns from scratch. You take specific measurements of a person’s body, and use those measurements to create a sewing pattern and then a garment that fits that person perfectly—when you get it right. There are lots of opportunities for getting it wrong. I’m surely right about that. This week I went to class full of enthusiasm for what I’d accomplished. I was enthused until I learned how much I’d done wrong: a dart that was too large and in the wrong place, a finished skirt that was too big, an unfinished skirt that was going to cling worse than cling wrap, and seam binding meant to be a touch of couture that was sloppy, bulky and just plain wrong. Well, darn.

How discouraging. I’ve been sewing for a lot of years. I’ve even been taking this class for a few years. I should know better. I should have it right. In fact, I haven’t made that many mistakes in this class. And there’s the rub. I haven’t made many mistakes, because I haven’t done much. As I started correcting my mistakes, I began to appreciate how much I was learning from them. Now I know what happens when the dart is too wide or comes from a certain angle. Now I know what happens when the fabric stretches. Now I know what to put under a skirt that clings. Now I know what happens when you stretch the fabric under the seam binding. Hmm, might be useful if I want a ruffled look.

And the biggest thing I’ve learned is that I wasted a lot of time not learning this stuff sooner. If I hadn’t been so concerned about getting it right the first time, I might have already made a lot more mistakes and gained a lot more understanding.

That’s all for now. I need to go baste together the latest revision of the muslin and see if it’s closer to right.

Oops, there’s more: notice what you notice about getting it right, being willing to be wrong, and the opportunities that follow. And have all the fun you can.

Prepare for Success

by Vicky Lampros

Virginia and Don lived in a small cottage on Long Island. The cottage was cluttered with evidence of their many interests—music, gardening, mathematics, history, birding. A friend decided to surprise them with an anniversary party in their own home. She needed a way to get the clutter out of the way, so she sent them flowers. She knew that Virginia would always clear and clean to make way for beautiful flowers.

What would you do differently if you were expecting something beautiful to arrive soon?

Dr. Louis C. Smith is a scientist and a photographer. He told me about a student who once conducted an off-the-wall experiment with surprising success. When he asked the student how he planned to follow up, the student replied, “I don’t know, I wasn’t expecting it to work.” Dr. Smith reprimanded the student, not because he did the unexpected, but because he had not prepared for success. According to Dr. Smith, you should always prepare for success.

How would you prepare for success? What would need clearing and cleaning? How might you look at your life and your work differently if you were expecting success? How would your focus shift? What would you let go of? Would you recognize success if it arrived on your doorstep? Could expecting success change the likelihood of success?

Suggestion: pick one thing that you’d do differently if you were expecting success and start with that. And, of course, notice what you notice. Have all the fun you can. Success should be fun, don’t you think?

Tools for Transformation is a series of blog posts about improving your life. The series is about using what you already have—yourself, your community, and your resources—to make a difference, to add meaning and grace, to explore new territory, and perhaps have more fun than you ever thought possible.

Cleaning Up Along the Way

It should be obvious. Cleaning up along the way makes sense, a lot of sense.

It’s so nice to complete a project and have it really complete. When you sit down to dinner, what a delight to have the kitchen already neat and tidy. When you spend time in the garden and allocate the last 10 or 20 minutes to put away your tools, you earn a moment to step back and admire your work.

Mardi Gras debris
After the parade
by Gika Rector

Whether your office is a place at the kitchen counter or an entire room, what a difference it can make when you clean up along the way. It’s the difference between a clear, clean workspace and a disastrous mountain of paper. Even when you go paperless, it helps to clean up along the way. A sea of computer files can be just as overwhelming as a mountain of papers.

And what about our personal interactions? Thomas Leonard, the father of modern coaching, said, “When someone is doing something…you must communicate immediately or forever carry the extra burden of your unspoken reaction.” How many people or groups of people do you avoid because of something you didn’t clean up along the way? …more

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Life as a daring adventure
Life as a daring adventure
by Gika Rector

It’s so easy to look at most of the obstacles in your path. “I need to do this for so‑and‑so. I have to clean up that mess. I have to check my e‑mail or see what’s up on Facebook. I have so many meetings to attend. The phone is ringing.” You get the idea. There’s always something else you could or should be doing, and somehow you let that get in the way of doing what you really want to do.

So those are the other obstacles. What about YOU as an obstacle? What are the ideas, thoughts, and expectations that block what you really want? What would you have to give up in order to play full out, to go for a totally fabulous life?

Do you like to think of yourself as a busy, productive, generous person? Would you have to give up that image …more

Pain and Grace

I’ve known her for a really long time, but I don’t remember our first meeting. I do remember our first road trip. I drove and she told me stories the whole way—there and back. I was totally engaged, listening and laughing and wondering which parts of the stories I should actually believe.

Menil Magnolia
Menil Magnolia, salt print on silk
by Gika Rector

She was fun, totally fun. Life was an adventure, a joy, something to relish with friends and loved ones. Until it wasn’t. Until it all came crashing in and it was too much.

I’m smart, and I’m interested, and I’m curious. But it still took me a while to notice the pattern of her life. Happy, lively, engaged, generous and fun, crashing and burning. Dark and stormy. Tears. How to keep going? Too much pain.

Once, I kept her going, when she had decided to end it. It took her a long time to forgive me. …more

My Promise

My Promise
My Promise, acrylic on canvas
by Vicki Lampros

I’m storing some paintings for a friend. One of them just didn’t fit in the closet, so she was going to take it back and find another spot for it. Without looking at it, I said, “Let’s hang it up. I don’t know where I have any spaces, but let’s hang it up.” Turns out that the perfect spot is in my studio. Turns out the painting is called My Promise.

And we were going to put it in a closet—an attic closet! How ironic, and how sadly common, that we take our promises and store them in a closet.

Take your promises out of the closet. Look at them. Promises to keep, yes? And perhaps some to let go. Either way, they don’t belong in the closet.

It could be that some of your promises just don’t work any more …more


OverwhelmMonday mornings are tricky. If you get out on the wrong side of the bed, it can stay with you all week long. If you get off on the right foot, things fall into place and you breeze through your days. Sweet.

So what to do on those “It’s Monday all day long!” days? Notice. That’s it. Just notice what you notice. Notice all the things that overwhelm you. Notice all the things that are wrong. Notice all the things you should have done, but didn’t. Notice the dirty dishes and the dirty laundry. Notice how your body feels. Notice that you’ve experienced something like this before and you’re still here. Notice what it was that got you through that experience.

Notice what it was like when you got through it.

Notice one thing you can give thanks for.

Notice one thing you like …more

Measuring Progress in Inches

I read an odd little horoscope today, which said that it’s time for me to pay attention to details. Fair enough, but then came the suggestion that I should consider measuring progress in inches. Oh my! Measuring progress in inches! Not such a great prospect for someone who just taught a workshop called “Moving Forward.”

On reflection, I suppose it’s the only way to make progress—one step at a time. I’m inclined to take on projects that are worked in tiny increments. Projects like sewing and knitting and felting and helping people change their lives. Not to mention the volunteer work, being on committees and boards. A friend used to call it “church time.” When a committee meets monthly or quarterly, it can take years to get anything completed.

Oddly enough, I tried to drive into town today, a 35‑mile trip one way. It took an hour to go about one mile with the according to, so when I got past the bottleneck, I headed back home. The delay was caused by major flooding …more