Today, I’m a bonafide sewista, but that wasn’t always the case.
For many years, a stylish sewing room equipped with two machines, a dress form, and neatly stocked shelves of fabric had not been enough to convince me.
A pile of overstuffed IKEA bags in one corner of the room shook my confidence. And a collection of too-many-to-count incomplete coats, jumpsuits, and home decor items challenged my claim to sewist status.
Quitterista felt like a much more appropriate title.
The scenario was always the same; I’d work meticulously on fabric selection, pattern cutting and construction, but as soon as I neared the finish line – only a few more seam presses to go – I’d toss the project into one of those IKEA bags and move on.
The turning point came in January 2015 while preparing for an unexpected trip down south.
New Jersey was brick cold, but temperatures in South Carolina were still lukewarm. My oldest daughter, Brooklyn, could no longer fit her mild weather outerwear, but the urgent nature of our travel plans left no room for shopping. She remembered that there was a quilted poncho in the IKEA bags intended for her.
In less than two hours, I’d finished construction and added enough brass snap closures to create a convertible collar and three sleeve variations.
I was shocked at how much I loved it. Brooklyn thought it was dope too. “I could tell it was great when you started it Mama”, she said as she played with riffs on the collar . “There are a lot of cool things waiting on you in those bags…can’t wait to see ‘em.” she added, before leaving to model the poncho for her dad and siblings.
She reveled in the countless compliments received that weekend and made sure everyone knew I was the designer.
At times, I was overwhelmed by the positive responses. They seemed to intensify the frustration I recognized bubbling up inside me since finishing the garment.
I had spent a lot of time standing in the way of other poncho successes.
Do you know how big IKEA bags are? I had a pile of them! And for so long, I’d allowed that pile to become the extent of my sewing potential.
Every sight of Brooklyn in her poncho proved how untrue that notion was – provided a visual confirmation of possibilities.
Becoming ‘unstuck’ was certainly uncomfortable, but it felt freeing as well.
I was experiencing direction that journeyed way past that corner of my sewing room.
Like the teachings of American New Thought author, Michael Bernard Beckwith, seeing the garment come alive – in my hands and as my daughter lived in it – was a culmination of both my potential and possibility.
By definition, both would always be bigger than anything holding me back.
Seeing my potential as a designer and the possibility my creativity added to life experiences allowed me to detach from pain, fear and doubt associated with failure: “Pain pushes until the vision pulls.”
The revelation had come so distinctly that a maintenance plan came together easily during our return trip home. I used a sentiment from popular entrepreneur, podcaster and TED Talker, Myleik Teele as my foundation: “Finish one thing at a time. That’s all you have to do. Finish one thing at a time and you will build momentum.”
One bag at a time, I was going to finish each of the great starts I’d stifled – literally and figuratively.
Life coach Valorie Burton suggests that completing each item represented an opportunity to grow into my full potential as an accomplished sewist and powerful person overall.
Completing each project would take me farther away from my comfort zone and closer to becoming unstoppable in every area of my life: “When we muster up the courage to close an important gap despite our fears or doubts, we gain more than the reward of a goal reached. We gain depth of character and strength of courage.”
Courage is what we all need to discover, consider, and conquer what is truly holding us back from seeking our full potential. Quitting reinforces barricades and maintains stagnancy.
Valorie Burton offers the following fear conquering tools sure to keep us on track toward our best possible lives:
- Your thoughts: Dismiss counterproductive messages and focus strictly on motivational thoughts.
- Your words: Speaking positively about your life produces an accompanying life-changing energy.
- Your actions: Just do it. Even a small step is confirmation of the power you possess over your life.
I use those IKEA bags for laundry now, and a full length mirror now occupies that corner of the room. Great visuals of my projects through out the creative process help to keep me focused on the finish line.
Every now-and-again, I shoot myself a wink to remind myself that I’m an overcomer and capable of greatness – even if I fall short sometimes.
Quitting is no longer my protection from failure. It is, in fact, failure epitomized.
The good news is, failure does not have to define us. If we allow it to refine us instead, we can grow.
We’re not losing when we fail, we’re learning and that is the key to empowerment.
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