About four months ago, I discovered the pleasures of crafting. Give me some paper mache boxes, acrylics, scrapbook paper and Mod Podge, and I'm good to go for at least a few hours. It definitely takes me to my happy place, giving my right brain a nice stretch. Pretty patterns, smooth paper, intoxicating colors that fill me with delight....until...
Wait....is that an air bubble? Oh shoot, I was silly to think I could free cut a straight line! Did I measure that wrong again!?!? Daggone it, I should have waited for it to dry longer...now I've smudged some of the paper in my enthusiastic effort to rid the surface of air bubbles.
When my perfectionistic tendencies come storming to the surface, they steal some of the delight I was feeling just moments before. I often cast the imperfect item into a bag, saving it for who knows what, because even though it's not perfect, I put my heart and soul into it. I can't possibly toss it.
Great...now in addition to perfectionism, I've succumbed to attachment! That's a one-two punch that knocks the wind out of me and makes me start to judge (the KO punch) whatever I've been working on. Lights out.
The good news is, I've discovered a beautiful way to reframe the perfectionism monster that comes up for all of us, whether we're crafting, creating, working or just plain living.
In the Navajo tradition, rug makers integrate a "spirit string" into their weavings. It's believed that because of the energy the rug makers put into the process, a piece of their spirit or soul gets trapped in the rug as it's woven. The spirit string, a piece of yarn which sticks out slightly from the rug's surface, serves a profound purpose: it allows the very invested soul of the rug maker to escape from the rug.
This idea of weaving in imperfection isn't reserved only for rugs. The Navajo believe that only God is perfect, and that humans canot match that perfection. So they work in a "mistake" in anything they create, to acknowledge our flawed existence...a spirit string, a misthreaded bead, a catch in the pattern. Often the imperfection is not noticeable and in no way detracts from the object's beauty. Instead, it enhances it.
So now I see those air bubbles and not-quite-exact measurements as my version of spirit strings in my work. Their presence gives me the space and grace to be compassionate with myself and my perfectly imperfect humanity. In the new year, vow to weave more spirit strings into your life...you'll find the fabric more colorful and the texture softer when you're motivated by the love of creation rather than the fear of being flawed.
Beth Buelow, ACC, CPC, is Founder and CEO of The Introvert Entrepreneur. Learn more about her coaching, speaking and training services at www.TheIntrovertEntrepreneur.com.