Perfectionism, Surrender, and a Difficult August


I missed you on Monday. It was Labor Day here in the States and I hope many of you were lounging in a park or backyard somewhere, sipping cold beverages, and grilling veggies for what just might be the last time this season. Or more likely, many of you used this day to catch up on housework, random errands, or maybe to make a dent into a creative project that was waiting for just a few more hours. Maybe you just did the laundry and watched a movie--that counts too.

Because I missed my weekly post on Monday's holiday I wanted to add an extra post here before the week is officially done. Instead of sharing a project or inspiration I wanted to write about perfectionism and also about surrender. That's right, surrender. And about the many moments in our big, beautiful lives when we must place our carefully designed plans to the side and simply give in. Just stay afloat drifting downstream instead of sharpening our muscles with quickened swimming.

Now that it's freshly September I think I can declare August as one of my most exhausting mothering months yet. Not exhausting in the sense that he wasn't yet sleeping through the night (I'm still not sure how I survived the first 15 months of his life) or exhausting in the sense that he was very ill and I was worried about his safety (Thankfully, that's only happened twice, knock on wood) but hardest in the sense of my own expectations and unforeseen limitations. Yes, that kind of exhaustion.

As you know, we spent four weeks with family in NY this summer and when we returned in late July I had this very good set of plans for work in my studio. You know, a few weeks without a dozen deadlines when I could really "get ahead" and make "steady" progress. But then August came with her own plans and ideas. My husband opened five shows in four weeks which roughly translates to 12-14 hour days, 6-7 days a week; my 19 hour/ week nanny went on vacation for two entire weeks; and my sweet and very active toddler was sick no less than three times. Yes, three. Sleep escaped us. Work escaped me. Any sense of order escaped our entire household. I had to give in.

And so you can imagine what happened with my carefully constructed work-from-home plans, right? Right. They pretty much crawled under my desk amidst the suitcases of fabric and boxes of fiberfill and crossed their arms and closed their eyes and hid. Yes, they hid.

Somewhere in my grief about what I had planned and what I was actually able to accomplish I came to the realization that I just had to get by. I just had to keep myself and my son fed, and clothed, and in good communication with his doctors, and try to get us to sleep when we could, and keep food in our refrigerator, and completely revise my work plans to simply respond to my emails and little else. In short, I had to accept my limitations and keep perfectionism at bay.

So it's September. And I've magically enrolled him in preschool on less than a month's notice. This feels like a huge success in the Bay Area! I found two adorable schools with openings, I made appointments to visit both, and then I just picked one. I desperately needed to know that I'll have more reliable daycare and be able to meet deadlines this fall so this was my solution. Is it perfect? No it isn't. But is it good enough? Yes, it absolutely is. Actually, it has chickens in the yard and an art room and a garden ripe with tomatoes and so far we're smitten. Phew.

Now I'm preparing for a new workshop on Saturday. A new Sashiko workshop at Britex Fabrics. We'll be discussing Sashiko, quilting, Boro, and visible mending and how all these things influence the project we'll make together. It's a simple potholder with Sashiko stitching but it's quickly become a favorite item on my own work desk. I keep reviewing my Sashiko books and feeling my anxiety levels rise with each precise stitch, knot, and pattern. I marvel at the intricate beauty and perfection of each design so articulately executed in the projects in the book.

But you know what? If I'd held myself to those perfect, traditional Sashiko standards I never would have used that stitch to mend my beloved denim. And yet mending denim was my gateway into the amazing world of visible mending. I wouldn't have made this potholder let alone be teaching it to a sold-out workshop at an iconic fabric store in San Francisco.

But guess what? I love the Sashiko stitch. And I love how it's finding its way into my current work. In a way that isn't perfect, isn't precise, but fits exactly where I need it to fit. Guess what? Keep perfectionism at bay and finish prepping for tomorrow's workshop? I'm on it.

That's my mindset lately. No space for perfectionism but more space for acceptance. More space for flexibility. More space for surrender. More space for good enough. Have a great weekend, my friends! I'm thrilled some of you will be joining me for this very exciting (and totally imperfect but I promise very inspired) workshop. See you Monday, as usual.



  1. Such great writing and I appreciate your reflections here. Sounds like a tiring month, but accompanied by some life lessons. I'd LOVE to be at your workshop today, but I don't think I'd make it in time from Pittsburgh. Still very much looking forward to your fall on-line workshop! Happy weekend. :)

    1. Thank you so much! August was exhausting but September is already proving to be a better match for me. I hope you'll join me for the workshop in October. xoxo

  2. katrina ~ this post was a joy to read. yes, yes, yes to saying no to perfection!
    all the best, p

    1. Yes, to imperfection! I agree. A lesson I have to learn 100 times but every time it feels so very important. Thank you.

  3. i am behind on reading (of course) and then i find this. repeating the exact words i have been re-learning with intensity this year, my year of surrender. your soul inspires me and gives me hope as i journey (sometimes trudge) through the thick and beauty of life. thank you for sharing your heart and wisdom with the rest of us.

    1. ditto, my friend. so much of this post could be snippets of conversations between us. grateful to be on this parenting journey with you. xoxo


Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.