Never explain, never apologise- crafting, kindness and mistakes

A month ago, I got a big beautiful tattoo. And this week I heard that my Dad is still in shock over it. In the past, this would have led to an automatic, overwhelming urge on my part to apologise.

Not this time.

I can’t apologise for something I’m not sorry about.

Not any more.

My tattoos, like my craft projects, like my writing, are how I express myself. To apologise would be to suggest there’s something wrong with who I am.

The thing about crafting is, as I’ve said before and will say again, you are going to make mistakes. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are. By its very nature, crafting is imperfect. That doesn’t make it any less awesome.

Did you know that in the beautiful, intricate geometry of Islamic art, there is always a mistake? Always. Because to Muslim crafters and artists, only God is perfect. To be human is to be imperfect. It doesn’t make their art any less beautiful, their work any less meticulous.

I read a story once about a woman who was cutting out superhero fabric for some shorts for her son. To save fabric, she ignored the pattern cutting guide, and ended up with the print for the front of them upside down. She told her son it was so he could read the comics when he was sitting down. It’s not a mistake. It’s a design feature.

Most people, even other crafters, won’t notice a mistake if you don’t point it out. But of course, if it really does bother you (or it’s big enough that the finished item just won’t work), and yes I know I’ve said this before, but you can always unpick, unravel, start again.

It’s World Kindness Day today, so where I’m going with this is simple. Be kind to yourself. Don’t ever apologise for what you create. There’s no apology needed. You’re expressing something about yourself, in the choice of colours and fabrics and papers.

You don’t have to show off the mistakes- unless you accidentally invented something awesome, of course. Just don’t let them cloud your vision of the whole. Because it’s the whole that really matters.

On compliments: A simple way to boost your self-esteem.

It’s all thanks to Reese Witherspoon. 

I can’t remember how many years it was ago now, but I remember reading an interview with her in which she said that when people compliment her she always simply says “thank you”.

Think about it. When people pay you a compliment what do you say? 

Do you thank them? Or do you come out with something like “what, this? Oh, but it’s really cheap/I just threw it on/I’m not sure about it… and anyway yours is much nicer/it’s all thanks to my hairdresser…”

What are you really saying to them? Do you mean that their compliment isn’t worth that much? That you don’t deserve it? 

Next time someone gives you a compliment, try simply saying ‘thank you’. If you feel the need to embellish, how about “I got it at this great shop…” or “I like your __________ too”. Or just SMILE and say thank you. Notice how different it feels. How much better. 

You’re not downplaying yourself. You’re not downplaying them. You’re taking the kindness they’ve sent your way and sending some of your own back to them. 

Simple, no?

(And when you’ve practiced that one, try this- say something when someone says, does, looks or wears something good. Don’t just think it, let them know. You may well make their day.)