Why being punk rock will save your life, or at least your crafting

It started young. I got 8/10 on a spelling test and had to practice the mistakes. I got 87% on a maths exam (my worst subject), “what did you get wrong?”. There were the parents evenings where all I got to hear were the ways my teachers thought I could improve, the incorrectly answered questions in quizzes and trivial pursuit which I am never, even to this day, allowed to forget. All of it piling up into one thing: perfectionism.

Let me tell you, my lovelies, perfectionism will kill you. Maybe not physically, but there’s another thing that goes hand in hand with it.

Fear.

If you can’t get it absolutely perfect everyone will judge you (says your perfectionism). Better not to try it at all if you can’t get it right (says your fear).

If you listen to those voices, you’ll never try anything, no matter how badly you want to. Wanting to do something plus those voices ends up with statements like “oh, I’m so envious of people who can do that, I could never do it.”

Stop right there. Yes, you can. And this is where a punk rock attitude will save you.

Fuck the fear. Fuck perfect. As my heroine Veronica Varlow would say, just rock that mother out.

You want to knit? Pick up the needles and give it a go. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Yes, you’re almost certainly going to make mistakes. And that’s OK.

Just tell yourself ‘this is totally punk rock’. It’s not a perfect scarf, it’s a punk rock scarf. The stitch count probably changes from row to row, and there are probably more than a few dropped stitches. It’s “distressed”. It’s channelling Vivienne Westwood- seriously, look in any fashion magazine and just see what people will pay for things covered in those artful ‘mistakes’.

But most of all, darlings, stop worrying about it! If you want to do it, do it, and make the mistakes because that’s how you learn. When you learn how not to make those mistakes you can try new things and make all new sets of mistakes.

I know very well that my sewing, my knitting, my paper craft, are far from perfect. But they’re good enough. Getting OK with that is so important, not just because it means you’re more willing to try things that interest you, but also for your mental health.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you you can’t do something, especially when it comes to craft. If you’re willing to give it a go, and you’re willing to practice and make a lot of gloriously mistake-ridden things, you can, and you will, do it.

So do it. Be punk rock- just fucking do it. And just see the amazing possibilities that unfold for you.

Confession time in the comments- what do you really want to try? If you could break through that fear and perfectionism, and just do something, what would it be? Tell me…and you might just find yourself being pointed to things that will help. Go on…don’t be afraid. Share it here!

Ink on a pin, underneath the skin

I’ve wanted to do it for years. Ever since, aged 21, I was in Poland with a group of other people my age, most of whom had beautiful tattoos.

I hadn’t realised that they could be beautiful.

With the upbringing I had, tattoos were not something encouraged. Not tattoos, not tarot, nothing alternative, nothing new age. No, no, no. Not OK. Red! Do. Not. Enter.  The people with unusual hair colours and ink and piercings were weird. They were dangerous. They wore leather. Probably they were going to attack. I remember my heart would flutter in terror when I saw them, how I would retreat into myself, try not to draw attention (as with so very many other people.)

It took me a long time to realise that I wanted to be one of them. That the ink, the colours, are who I am, too.

My first step into this world involved a magic symbol. Magnet magic, to attract the best things for our dreams. A bunch of us realised we wanted it in our skin, each tattoo with our own unique spin on it.

I talked to a friend who has gone under the needle several times. He recommended someone. I found the studio- not too hard to get to, it turned out. Went in, consulted about the design.

On Tuesday, the day of the New Moon (in NZ anyway, a good day to start something new and magical), I sat on the steps of the parlour, talking myself into and out of going through with it many times while my tattooist rushed back from Waiheke Island having missed the ferry. I nearly left when it was 10 minutes after we were supposed to start and he still wasn’t there.

“Hang around the area” said my Best Beloved, who was going to be in the town centre and who I had planned to meet with for mid-shift kisses. “Give him a chance to show up.”

He did. I sat watching him get everything ready, the ink, the carefully sealed fresh needles, the clingfilm, the machine. Talking myself into and out of it again, and back into it. We fussed over placement- I spoke my mind. It was good for me.

Let me tell you, outlining hurts like a motherf***er. Not as bad as the time I had to have local anaesthetic injected into my arm, but still- such pain. Very ouch. “The outline always hurts more than the shading”, my artist told me as I took deep breaths occasionally punctuated with “ow, ow, ow!”. Strange, since outlining uses a single needle where shading uses three. But it was true. The shading was less painful.

Soon there it was in my skin, the magnet magic, the purple swirls (Cadbury purple, my favourite). Then clingwrap over it, and a paper towel, and making sure I got home before the hour was up so I could clean off the blood with lukewarm water and soapless cleanser (he said it didn’t have to be soapfree, but I was glad it was- less stinging).

Now I’m pinning ideas for two half-sleeves, lots of them. I was warned that it’s addictive. They were right. I’m glad, though, that I started small. And magical.

 

Things I Think about Thursday- the accidental truthbomb

I overheard it quite by accident, drinking my second cup of tea of the day. A friend was talking about a conversation she’d had with her sister. Her sister had asked her something, and it’s a damn good thing to ask:

“Tell me how you would change your life if you knew you’d never win the lottery”

Knowing you’ll never be able to just quit and live on your winnings, would you stay in a job that doesn’t fulfil you? Or would you start upskilling, or looking for a new opportunity that really floats your boat and gets you fired up to go to work? Maybe you’d start putting some time and thought into going into business for yourself?

Knowing that you’d never be able to give a huge windfall of cash to your favourite charity, would you start giving a regular monthly donation? Or maybe you’d start doing some fundraising for them some other way? For most of us, it’s possible to be generous even when you’re not a millionaire. Especially when you’re not a millionaire. For example, there’s Kiva, a micro-loan organisation where you can give a little bit to help people all over the world. Or maybe you could volunteer at your local animal shelter or soup kitchen, or donate cans to a food drive. All the little acts of kindness add up.

Knowing you’ll never be able to walk into Chanel and say “I’ll take the lot” (or in my case, go to Pinup Girl and buy All The Things), would you just keep buying cheap, easily worn out clothes? Perhaps, instead, you would save your money and buy one or two things that are made to last, building up your wardrobe over time? Or maybe you’d do what I’m doing- practice your sewing skills, garment by garment, so you can make beautiful clothes for yourself which are unique and lovely, that you’re excited to wear.

Would you just never go on the dream holiday? Or would you save up some money, and still go on an amazing trip somewhere, maybe staying in youth hostels instead of five star hotels? You could start exploring and adventuring in your own town, or your own country. There are bound to be things near you that you haven’t tried.  Maybe you’d even find a job abroad?

And knowing you’ll never be able to just buy them a house/huge diamond necklace/a skein of every single Socks that Rock colour (OK maybe that last one is just me), how would you show the people in your life that you love them and they matter to you? Because here’s the thing- cuddles, spending time with those people, sending something silly that made you think of them, or even writing a letter, to tell them how much you care, will all do just that.

Most of us are never going to match all those numbers.

And it doesn’t matter.

You can still build a good life for yourself, do things you enjoy, be loved and loving, spread happiness, and help others. You can even own the odd shiny thing. Having a lot of money is only one way to be rich. There are so many others that have nothing to do with a game of chance. Being grateful for what you do have is a good place to start. A big part of happiness is realising how many blessings you already have. Without gratitude, even having a pile of gold coins to dive into like Scrooge McDuck won’t make you happy, because you won’t be able to enjoy it. There will be an empty space where the happiness should be. But if you can see the ways that you’ve already been given wonderful things by the Universe, and appreciate them and give thanks for them, you’ll be happy no matter what you have or don’t have.

It’s not that it’s not fun to dream, and maybe one day you might be lucky. But the truth is, you don’t have to wait around to change your life- nor should you if it isn’t what you want. You have the power to make changes. You are never as stuck as you think. Start small. Do some research, apply for that job, sign up for that class you’ve been meaning to take, make a date to spend time with someone you want to hang out with. You’ll be surprised how far the little steps will take you, and how, once you make the decision to make a change, the Universe can rush to support it.

So go on, what one small step could you take today towards a happier and more fulfilling life (and if you already live a happy and fulfilling life, hurrah! Let us know what blessings you’re most thankful for)- let me know your ideas in the comments. Lets get our inspiration on!