When as Good as it Gets is Good Enough

I can’t believe its been 9 months since my last post.  There are two reasons for that. The first reason I won’t go into as it is depressing and dark and not at all interesting. I know, depressing and dark is almost always interesting, but in some cases it is also just predictable and boring. Besides, the second reason is a little bit better.

I’ve been busy. Busy is, of course, always a good thing. Busy with life and busy with business.

Well, maybe I should elaborate a little on the first reason, otherwise I may have to come up with another title and angle for this post and frankly I don’t have the mental energy for that.  I’ll leave out the years of psychoanalysis and relentless (somewhat narcissistic) self-analysis and get to the point: I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I think I’ve mentioned that before. Now, if you know me, have been to my house, or just peeked around any of my social media sites and have picked up all the glaring typos, you may be thinking “A perfectionist? Really?”

It’s true, though I’m not one of those perfectionists whose need for perfection has worked to my great advantage in life. You know those types who are always well put together, live in pristine homes or are wildly successful? Or those designer types with exquisite attention to detail with the skill set and patience to bring an idea to such a high level of perfection they are known as innovators in their fields?  Yeah, I’m not that kind of perfectionist. I’m more or less the kind who becomes so overwhelmed at the idea of failing that I can’t try at all.  Yes, I meant can’t. In short, I am a typical under achiever. Of course, there are other reasons for my lack of success, which according to the rules of psychoanalysis are all my mother’s fault, but over all I’m pretty sure it’s my desire to be perfect that is the root cause of all my failures. Or lack of success, since failing means you actually have to try.

Let me just get one thing straight right now – for the sake of this post, I am only talking business and my experiences in working for myself and my experiences in trying to figure out what that means. In all other aspects of my life, I’m perfect. (just seeing if you’re paying attention)

Now ,here is the funny thing. It took me so long to write this post (I’ve omitted several paragraphs) that I decided delete a good chunk of it and post without all the elaborate, frivolous details; just to prove that sometimes done has to be better than good.  But I now have ideas for future posts, so all that writing wasn’t a complete loss. After much editing, here is the best I can do today. I’ve come up with just two points (maybe three, you decide and let me know).

This morning I spent so much time fretting over my new Etsy listings being absolutely perfect, I almost decided to shut down my whole shop. What difference does it make? I asked myself, My shop has been closed more than it has been opened. One reason for that was due to building inventory for shows, but honestly it was due to my absolute unrealistic fear of publicly posting anything less than perfection. I can’t tell you how many times I have logged into Etsy, eager to revamp and reopen, only to be so discouraged by every single imperfection in my photos that I’d just decide to keep my shop on vacation. Then there was the pressure of writing the most enticing, entertaining product descriptions. I simply go blank when I see that white space staring at me. One thing became (once again) blatantly clear to me: I need to get over it. So I told myself “something is better than nothing”, gave up on anything close to perfection, hit that publish button and got over it.

Point 1 – I’m over it. ( really, I am…. )

Then I headed over here, knowing how long its been since my last post, feeling the shame and the pressure of it all. I was excited about “getting over it “and wanted to share that liberating feeling with you and offer you encouragement and advice and inspiration(!).

But as it turns out I have so much to say on the topic of  “good enough” “done is better than undone” “something is better than nothing”  that I went off on so many angles and tangents I became overwhelmed with finding the most perfect way to let you know you don’t have to be perfect. I started thinking ” what difference does it make? It’s been months since I posted, why bother now?” Then I remembered a promise I made to my blog, which brings me to the second point.

Point 2 – this might be as good as it gets.

I started blogging a little over 5 years ago. I promised myself I would make a commitment to keeping my blog alive. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. Forever? Maybe. As long as I live? Possibly. My absence here lately has been weighing on me. I’ve felt the need to write something, but well, there is point number one which I wont go into. I thought announcing the reopening of my Etsy store would be a good way to restart and as I started to write about my struggle with perfectionism I remembered that promise  I made a few years ago. As I searched through past posts, I found it quite entertaining that today is the actual to-the-date 5 year anniversary of the promise to my blog.  The promise to never let it die a slow death, to just do my best and not worry about being perfect.

And so I face the harsh reality of point number 2.  This truly is all there is in life. This is me. This is as good as it gets. Sad.

But I can’t leave you with that, what kind of person would I be to leave you with such a dismal fact of life? A realist, true, but a realist who is not willing to force sad reality on others.

So instead I will leave you with this: I’ve  been working lately with new ideas and trying to find my “thing”.  For now, the main support for any medium I choose is still an Altoids tin. It seems so weird and silly, but by keeping this one constant thing in my art, I’ve discovered I really thoroughly enjoy working in small-scale, regardless of the medium, and I also enjoy creating with paper, regardless of scale. Here are a couple of pieces I made and sold recently. I WILL NOT talk about their imperfections and I’m happy to be sharing them here with you today.

 

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Inspired by a photo of a Japanese garden – hand cut and painted (punch used for the lotus flowers, center of lotus is hand cut, rolled paper) 

 

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Cottage garden. hand formed and painted irises, daffodils and pansies, hand cut fence. Hand painted cottage. Gate opens and closes.

And now, to just hit that publish button and breath. Ahhhhhhh it feels pretty good to be back in the blogosphere.

Are there times when you’ve had to completely let go of perfection and just settle for good enough? How did that work for you?  I look forward to hearing your stories and advice.

 

 

 

In the Garden

Today I’m feeling like I need an escape; a peaceful place to gather my thoughts and tune out the world. I have it in my mind to create such a place in my own back yard, but for now I’ll just have to pretend.

Here is a simple paper cutting I finished last month. It was a good month for me. I think all the sunshine helped energize my mind and awaken a little creative beast with in me.

I did this tin because Japan during springtime is one of my favorite places to be.  I wanted to capture the serenity of a tranquil Japanese bamboo forest, the soothing sound of bamboo leaves rustling in the breeze and the trickling of a gentle stream.japanese garden papercut

I’ve started to use more of my own hand made embellishments and I like to keep it as true to handmade as possible, but I did use two texture plates for the sky and the grass. Also, I cheated a little and used a small circle punch for the cherry blossoms. I wasn’t feeling up to the challenge of cutting out 50 little tiny circles by hand.

bamboo garden

Japanese garden collage

As I said, this was a pretty productive month for me and I’m excited to be finishing up a few projects, which I hope to share with you next time. But now – I must go tend to the garden –

Cheers!

 

 

Riding the Wave

When I posted I was DONE, you didn’t take me seriously did you? Well, the fact is – I am done, my last post still applies. And no, I don’t have anything profound or truly blogworthy to share, but a funny thing happened – not funny ha ha, but funny interesting…

Lately I’ve had a wonderful amount of “free time” and used that time to NOT stress about making goals, meeting deadlines or planning anything other than using my time to put more thought and energy  into the activities I enjoy.  This is not only true for the business side of things but also for the home life side of things as well. In reality, the daily chores and tasks that NEED to be done are simple and take very little time; keeping the floors swept, the sink empty, fridge full, electricity on, internet connected and having clean clothes – all important and all can be accomplished in less than 5 hours a week. As for business, well a person could fill every hour of  the 24 doing business related stuff and that doesn’t include creating and making. Now I’m just riding the wave of life, going with the flow, enjoying the ride. And with that new philosophy I’ve managed to get some fun “work’ done.

I was, for some reason, compelled to do a paper cutting using Hiroshige’s Thirty six Views of  Mt. Fuji as my inspiration. I decided to use The Sea Off Satta in Suruga Province because it is such a widely recognized iconic piece of work and my reference would need  very little explanation.

The Wave

It took about a month to do this one. There was no deadline and I even took a couple of road trips during the month too, something I would have never done before. This time I just enjoyed the process and had fun with it.  I didn’t even stress out when most the layers had to be peeled off and reconfigured because the lid wouldn’t close properly. Now I know how better to plan out my layers so that doesn’t happen again.

Here is a little peek at the process, the quick sketch and a few of the cut layers with one side assembled.

wave assembly

Well, that’s all folks.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention… I took this piece and about 4 other older pieces with me to an event I had no intention of selling at and what do you know… SOLD. And see, I am so done, I didn’t even bother to fret over the lack of wave metaphors I could have been and should have been using throughout this whole post to make it more you know, “bolgworthy”.

Cheers!

 

 

Hope Untarnished

I thought I’d ease into my new-found interest in paper cutting by creating the piece here. When I say ease in, I mean this isn’t exactly what I would consider a true paper cutting. I simply cut out the flowers from decorative paper with scissors. The small, detailed flowers were cut using a die cut machine, very little skill required. The butterfly is hand cut from a scrap of cereal box, then hand painted.

As usual, I wanted to use salvaged items. The frame is actually purchased from Ikea and was to be used for signage, but I decided to rough it up and use it as a support for the Altoids tin that houses the butterfly.

I titled this piece “Untarnished”. I wanted to call it “Hope”, but I did a painting a few years back with that title, so “Hope” didn’t seem original enough.

Perhaps it was the ghost of Dante whispering to me “Abandon all hope…. ” You know the rest. But this isn’t about a trip through the hell, nor does it attempt to explain a great literary work. It’s more a reference to personal growth or regeneration; “here begins new life”. That Dante. At least, I’m pretty sure it was Dante, the voice was speaking English, so I can’t be too sure. But I suspect that in the after life we’ll be capable of speaking and understanding all languages. 

Now, with my reference to Dante you may expect me to get all philosophical and existential.  Ha – no chance of that happening today. Believe me, I go through an existential crisis regularly. It’s all quite boring, so I will spare you the pain.

I only felt compelled to project an idea that under the rubble of a damned, fallen humanity there is still an unwavering certainty that all hope is not lost. I decided to go with the title of “Untarnished” because lets face it – life is full of little “surprises” that can take a toll on our spirit, mind and body. We may feel like that old rusted out clunker, which long ago lost its usefulness. Yet, if you look closely you’ll see that old abandoned rust bucket has sprouted its own perfect ecosystem. Which is really the point. Difficult situations may lead us to see nothing but the rust and ruin. But deep inside we remain untarnished. Under the tarnished debris, germination of a new world occurs and we find that those difficult situations can also be used as fodder a beautiful metamorphosis. Well, the hope is that it would be beautiful and not a Kafkaesque nightmare. No, wouldn’t want that. 

So what do you think? Should I go with “Hope” or does “Untarnished” work just as well? And does any of this even matter? Oh wait. I’m NOT going to get all existential, remember?

untarnished 1

untarnished

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