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

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Feelin’ Stupid

I did something this evening that made me feel stupid. And then I did it again. Still stupid. Actually, I did it at least three times before I figured out how to correct the problem. Well, darn. I’m a smart woman. I really am. I made good grades in school. I figure things out pretty quickly. Most people who know me will tell you that I’m smart.

And yet I did something pretty stupid. Granted, it was related to household mechanics, which is not even remotely in my comfort zone. Granted, I was tired. Too tired to think through what I was doing, to be a bit more careful. Granted, “someone” should have explained the process a little better.

But there you go: I was tired, doing something outside my expertise, and neglected to get a full explanation, and I did something really stupid—three times.

I didn’t want to clean up, but it needed to be done, and so I did it.

Photo credit?

And then I cleaned up the mess. I was too tired for that too, but there was no getting around it. It had to be cleaned up, or the consequences would make me feel “even more stupider.”

And then I figured it out. I figured out where my mistakes were and what I needed to do to accomplish the task. I did it. I got it done.

Still feel stupid. Still wonder what possessed me. And I feel stronger. The cleanup was hard work, especially for a tired person. And I feel disciplined. I didn’t want to clean up, but it needed to be done, and so I did it.

Winding down afterward, I listened to a talk by Seth Godin. He mentioned telling an employee that in a full five years, the employee had never failed at anything. Sounds like a compliment, right? Nope. Seth told him if he didn’t start failing soon, he’d be fired. And he meant it. Failing, you see, means we’re stretching, trying stuff we don’t really know how to do. Taking risks. It’s where we have to go for exploration, creativity, innovation. And, once we get over wondering how much more stupider we can possibly be, it’s downright fun.

Have all the fun you can. And let me know if you’ve done something stupid lately, especially if it turned out to be fun.

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.