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Back to Basics

In the midst of January's goal-setting frenzy, remember to go easy on yourself.

Posted in: Creativity & Mindset • December 31, 2014

Even the most hardened cynic can be seduced by the appeal of a new year. There's something so comforting about the clean slate that a brand new calendar offers. It's a chance to begin again, to put aside whatever disappointments we've had lately and work toward a bright and shiny new future.

But for many of us, January first isn't so much a time for reflection and rebalancing as it is a chance to set incredibly high new expectations of ourselves. We look around and see others apparently reaching their goals, and think, I need to work harder, I need to learn self-discipline, and most importantly, I need to change.

Goals are helpful and growth is wonderful, but too often I've found that these sort of sudden and dramatic ambitions have only left me feeling disappointed in myself. I race into a new year, convinced that sheer willpower and determination will produce the new me I envision, only to find that there is no new me. Soon, my lofty goals have left me feeling defeated, tired, and full of self-doubt.

A friend of mine once told me he wanted to learn to sew. Excited for him, I asked what he was planning to work on to get started. He nonchalantly said, "I really want to make a three piece suit that fits me perfectly, but I'm going to start with a dress shirt and do the suit second." A couple months later, I asked him how the sewing was going. He sheepishly told me that he'd found that sewing just wasn't his forte.

I've done this myself countless times. We humans seem to routinely underestimate how difficult things will be, and when they don't turn out just as we imagine, we blame ourselves. To avoid the pain of any more failure, we say, "I'm just not good at that" and move on, trying to forget about the dream we once had.

Oddly, I've found that most good things happen because of small, incremental changes and realistic expectations. It may seem weird to hear "be realistic" in the face of all the messages of "dream big" at this time of year, but I've actually found it quite liberating. You don't need to beat yourself up when inevitable setbacks happen. You just need to readjust to the idea that it was a little harder than you realized. Then try again.

In sewing, I'm a firm believer in starting with a simple idea and building with new techniques and details to learn as you create. That's why this issue is titled "back to basics." Basic patterns are a home base, a place to return to again and again to rebuild skills and try new experiments.

With our Savannah camisole, you can try techniques for sewing on the bias, or add some lovely hemstitching with your sewing machine. Or sew the versatile Manila leggings and try out working with double knits, or turn them into workout tights by using activewear fabric.

Whatever your goals, I hope you have plenty of fun and treat yourself with kindness as you progress.


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