Friday, July 8, 2016

I support #SewDiversity

Here we are, yet again... in the news another story of another instance of someone doing something horrible to someone else. I don't even have to give a specific reference here... chances are, whenever you are reading this, there is something terrible in the news. Shootings, bombings, rape, Trump, etc... we are spoiled for choice over ugly, hateful things to think about. 

In my heady college days at UC Santa Cruz, I often heard the phrase "If you're not pissed off, you're not paying attention" and right now it feels more relevant ever. That said, I've started to type and then deleted a dozen different things here... but, I just don't know what to say. Today I have gone beyond pissed off into confusion and helplessness. Maddie of Badass Quilters Society has written a lovely post in response to the current situation (she also shares my writer's block) and reminds us that in times like these, small gestures are still important. 

I cannot fight every fight and I cannot champion every cause, but neither can I ignore them. What I can do is focus on the causes I find most important and make sure I support and promote them in my immediate sphere of influence. By doing that, I hope to inspire those around me to do the same... and I might be a little pissed off now and then, too ;) (hey, I'm a UCSC alumnus, it's what we do!) To that end, I shall continue to support inclusiveness and celebrate diversity in my little sewing and quilting community, and tomorrow I look forward to spending a few hours with some of my fellow community members in putting together a quilt for the Orlando MQG to donate to those impacted by the Pulse nightclub shooting. I may not be able to change the world, but I can at least try to make it a little better for a few!

If you are interested in digging further into the specific issues that triggered my and Maggie's posts today, I strongly recommend you start with the Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston; it is an incredible article that goes in-depth into the discussion of racism and lists a ton of great resources and discussions on the subject. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Failure is always an option

As Adam Savage notably said many times on Mythbusters, "Failure is always an option". In fact, he talks in-depth about the importance of failure in his excellent 2016 Maker Faire talk... I highly recommend you give it a listen.

From early grade school through high school I took the 'honors classes' track through school. I mostly enjoyed it, but as we approached our senior year, it became something of a pressure cooker for everyone to 'live up to their potential' and get into a good university and go on to save the world as we had grown up expecting we would do. Or, yanno, move to Seattle and have Eddie Vedder fall madly in love with you. Hey, gimme a break... it was the 90's. ;)

In all that time, however, the one thing we were never taught was how to fail. Failure was the enemy... failure was unacceptable... failure meant we just weren't applying ourselves hard enough to the problem! Looking back now... if there were one thing I could go back and tell my younger self, aside from "Dear god, do NOT get that perm!", it would be simply that it is ok to fail. Failure will be, by and large, the one thing you learn from the most... it is ok to fail. Fail as many times as you need to, just make sure you learn from those failures.

Even now I have a hard time when I try something new and do not succeed at it. Which is crazy if you think about it... how can you expect to do something perfectly that you've never done before? But still, that little high school honors student voice in the back of my head laughs at me when I don't get something right the first time. But luckily, my adult voice has slowly learned to drown out that other voice as I remind myself repeatedly that it's ok to fail.

Case in point, the travel bag I made last summer. It was a first attempt and while it turned out fairly well, I made a poor choice for some of the stitching on the handles, using an invisible thread that snapped under the weight of the bag. It has been kicking around my workroom ever since... the repairs are not difficult, but getting to them requires taking the bag apart and redoing it. Considering I have another travel bag that I prefer using anyway, and I have certainly learned my lesson about using invisible thread, I am comfortable with calling this one a failure.

Some days, all you can do is salvage the hardware and move on to another project. Perhaps these will be reincarnated into a new purse, instead :)