If procrastination were an Olympic event, I could represent my country... eventually... aw, heck, I wouldn't get around to it. In school, like many smart kids, I discovered that I could rush my homework at the last minute and still get decent grades, so there was little need to budget time for study. As an adult, my lack of discipline around time has greater consequences. I try to combat procrastination by various means. For instance, I say I need a deadline. Without a deadline, I won't finish. But in practice, a deadline only works if it's imposed by another; if I have a deadline from someone else, it activates my dread of disappointing people, but my self-imposed deadlines have no teeth. Still, that's not a good solution; do I really want to be motivated by dread and obligation?
In the last several years, when sewing for paying clients, I kept repeating the same miserable cycle: I'd get a project with a deadline; I'd be excited about the possibilities and make plans to do something really cool; I'd get intimidated by my own perfectionism, so I'd fail to start; I'd fail to do anything else, either, because I felt guilty to work on things that were not my assigned project; I'd talk badly to myself in frustration; finally the deadline would near and I'd rush to finish, feeling a surge of creativity and pleasure in creation, but falling short of my perfect vision because of lack of time; I'd deliver the project and feel freed to do other things again.
In the winter of 2020-2021, it got really bad, as I had a perfect storm of other issues and winter depression as well. There was a jacket that might have taken me two weeks to make if I'd budgeted a few evenings here and there, but instead too nearly six months of angsting and procrastinating. I was happy with the jacket, but at my wits end with my own maladaptive behavior!
Then one day I saw a video put out by Cathy Hay, a historical costumer and researcher whom I follow. She said something that may have opened a door in my head:
There's a transition you go through when you switch from having a project to having a finished thing. And that's because you change role... from Maker to Owner of a thing. You switch, when it's finished, from being the maker of the thing to the person who's judging the finished thing. So when you're afraid of finishing, it's really the Maker in you who is afraid of the Owner, the judge, that is gonna look at the finished thing and judge it.
I've since practiced telling my maker-self what my owner self will think, even before the thing is done, so I can finish. I'll say things like "I'm going to love having this blanket", or "I will use the heck out of this, and be charmed by its quirks" or "It'll be nice to hear others admire this, and only I will know about this mistake... it'll be my little secret." My future self trying to earn the trust of my present one. I think it's helping.
Big news in the world of sewing vloggers! Which is to say, not big news, but I am enthused. In December 2019, Sony Pictures released a new version of Little Women (Louisa May Alcott's novel about four sisters), directed by Greta Gerwig. In February 2020, at the 92nd Academy awards, the film won Best Costume Design for Jacqueline Durran's costumes.
One day I told my mom, in passing, that I was a feminist. "You are?!" she asked in bewilderment, and I wondered what feminism meant to her. As I see it, I am a feminist because of the things my mother taught me: I believe in educating myself, paying my own way, embracing my inherent strengths, appreciating how I'm different from men, being strong and gentle, standing up to people who would use or devalue me, voting, et cetera. Why would the word "feminist" put her off when she knows and approves all those things about me?
But when I read something like this, I understand where the confusion comes from:
I should be able to dress how I want and act how I want. That's what feminism is about, not about making others feel comfortable.
Two friends of mine have been talking about clothes lately. Here are their situations in brief:
Friend A is a professional woman, a freelancer, whose life and work intertwine a lot. She works with clients in her studio in her apartment, for example. She is interested in curating her wardrobe so it works for easy daily wear, but also gives the impression of competence, professionalism, and style. She wants to be able to grab any item from her closet in the morning, and look like a put-together professional. She sees it in terms of costuming: dressing for the role she has to play.
Friend B is a professional woman as well. Her job requires a college degree, but is also physical and doesn't require dressing up. A very active person, she likes to wear comfortable clothes, like sweat pants and gym-wear, on her days off. However, when people routinely tell her she looks like a teenager or young college student, she finds this annoying. She worries that people are telling her she's immature, or are judging her as less serious because of her clothes. So now she's wondering: should she make an effort to dress more "adult" in order to forestall those comments? And if she does, does that mean she's less of herself?
The other day while reading Barchester Towers, I came across this characterization of Mrs. Stanhope, the indolent wife of an absentee clergyman:
The structure of her attire was always elaborate and yet never over-laboured. She was rich in apparel but not bedizened with finery; her ornaments were costly, rare, and such as could not fail to attract notice, but they did not look as though worn with that purpose. She well knew the great architectural secret of decorating her constructions, and never descended to construct a decoration. But when we have said that Mrs. Stanhope knew how to dress and used her knowledge daily, we have said all. Other purpose in life she had none.
Ouch! A fit match for a husband who takes his job so seriously that he delegates it to a lesser-ranking clergyman and spends his life abroad, collecting butterflies and a salary for the work he's not doing! But the part of the quote that intrigued me was the bit about the "great architectural secret", which sounded like a quote.
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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