Back in my party days—no, not the days of me in the middle of the dance floor bringing down the house—but that time period of about five years when my two eldest were in the early years of their life and there were parties happening every week: kitchen gadget parties, jewelry making parties, wine tasting parties, cooking club parties, home decor parties, scrapbooking parties, investment club parties, and book club and Lego club parties for the kids that were really additional wine tasting parties for the adults in disguise. Nowadays, I’ve cut out all the parties except those involving wine, coffee, food, and friends, but back then a neighbor invited me to her scrapbooking party. Not one to turn down a night out with the gals, I said, “Count me in!”
When I arrived at the party, I was shown to my place at the dining room table. In front of me was a little pile of colored paper, scissors, markers, glue, and googly eyes. Seeing this, my heart fluttered because I love brand new school supplies. I could hardly wait to crack open that fresh bottle of glue without any dried bits under the lid. Once everyone had arrived, my neighbor said, “This is one of my favorite scrapbooking activities to do because it tells me a lot about my friends—which of you are perfectionists, which of you whip through things just to get the job done, and which of you fall somewhere in the middle. Tonight we’re going to make border buddies. Since it’s October, we’ll start with scarecrows, and then work our way through a different themed border for each month of the year. You can then take these home with you and glue them on the outside edges of your scrapbook to coordinate with the month you are putting together.”
I could barely contain myself I was so excited to get started on my scarecrow. When my neighbor gave us the cue to begin, I carefully worked my way through each step of the assembly directions. I cut out my rectangular border and all of my scarecrow’s clothes with laser-sharp precision. His little straw hair pieces looked like yellow squash julienned by a five-star restaurant prep cook, and not a speck of glue gushed out from under his googly eyes that I had placed perfectly beneath his fringe. From time-to-time, I held my scarecrow out in front of me and thought, “Wow! That’s a damn good looking border buddy.” I was putting the finishing touches on my scarecrow—his cute little belt—when my neighbor said that our time was up. I was surprised. I had been so focused on my scarecrow that I hadn’t been paying attention to the time nor to what everyone else was doing
I looked around at what the other gals had accomplished and I was taken aback to see that a few people had made it through all twelve months of border buddies. Most of the group had at least made it to St. Patrick’s Day but I was the only one who was still back in October. At that point, I believe I feigned a headache as a way to explain my lack of progress.
While my neighbor said that she learned a lot about her friends from this scrapbooking activity, that party confirmed something for me that I had always known, but didn’t want to fully admit – I have a perfectionism problem.
Since that time, I have accepted that wanting my creative endeavors to have a perfect aesthetic is both a blessing and a curse. I am continually learning to balance those pros and cons to make sure that I actually finish projects I start. I know that when I rush through projects without much care just to get the job done, I’m not happy with the results. All of the imperfections claw at my back like my childhood friend’s bird used to do when it would escape from its cage, take refuge on my shoulders, and my friend would have to rip its claws out of my skin to get the bird back in the cage. Yet, when I take the time to thoughtfully work through my creative endeavors and actually finish them, I am always pleasantly pleased with how they turn out. Whenever I look at them, a little weight lifts from my chest and a sense of calm and accomplishment take its place. The challenge is reminding myself that my projects always take a little longer to finish than average, but that they shouldn’t take so long they never get done.
Knowing what I know about myself, how on earth did I think I could take on the creating and publishing of a book last June and have it ready to be sold in the fall, or even this spring, when large publishing houses take years to bring a single book to print? I suppose this is part of my continual learning process. I have a mantra hanging near my desk to remind myself of my particular work style so I don’t get down on myself when things don’t happen like I envisioned, “Trust the process—your OWN process—and keep moving forward.”
I am moving forward. Every week another bit of the book gets finished but it will in no way be ready to sell in time for Mother’s Day gifts. Thank you for being here on this book journey with me. Maybe some of what I’m learning and sharing will translate into your life and help you along in whatever journey you might be on.
PS: For the record, I think my scarecrow was the best looking one of the group but don’t tell the other gals I said so. I don’t want to hurt their feelings.
PPS: The photos included in this post are some more outtakes from the cover shoot day. I shot these photos on film and I’m in love with the dreaminess of them.
PPPS: I heard there were glitches for some people with my new email subscription service and the formatting. (Gads!) Hoping that this post comes through sparkly clean!