Friday, January 14, 2011

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

I absolutely love this book!  I read this in the late 80s and have reread it several times when I've needed a burst of fear fighting mojo.

If you've never read it before you can probably get it at the library, or at a used bookstore, or even order it online at

Anyway, what I love about this book is that it really helps put your fears in perspective and gives some really good coping tools.  My favorite is to turn any outcome into a "win-win."  It's applicable to almost any situation if you take the time to apply it.

For instance, if I'm in a restaurant and I want to order fries but can't make up my mind whether to do it or not, here's how I'd make it into a win-win.

Win:  If I order the fries and they're delicious I get to enjoy them.
Win:  If they aren't delicious I don't eat them and avoid the calories.
Win:  If they aren't delicious I know not to order them again.

So, in this case it's a "win-win-win."  You can apply this to your quilting experiences as well.  For instance, you're afraid to enter a quilt contest.

Win:  If I enter I might win.
Win:  If I enter and I lose, I can be proud that I took the risk and entered.
Win:  If I enter and I lose, I can get some insights from the judge's comments.
Win:  If I enter and I lose, my quilt has been on display in a show, instead of being folded up in my studio.
Win:  If I enter and I lose, I can enjoy the praise of others, it's not only the winning quilts that get "oohs and ahhs" at shows.

Everytime you put yourself out there you take a risk.  However, you aren't going to get any encouragement or move forward unless you put it out there. 

I have quilted for over 30 years.  I had success my first time out at the County Fair when I was 19, taking first place in the quilt division.  The competition wasn't particularly keen because not that many people were making quilts then.  However, it was kind of a backhanded win because I won for my design idea, not for my execution. That "win" began another 25 years of working on technique and sewing skills.  If that judge hadn't been honest I might have thought I was the "bee's knees," instead I got a lesson in how to lose while still winning.  A valuable lesson at nineteen!

Twenty years later I was the mother of a baby boy who was a great napper.  This gave me free time for the first time in many years, and since he slept through the night as well, I was awake enough to enjoy it.

I'd seen an ad for entries for The Bead and Button show, and since I was obsessed with sewing beads and buttons on my quilts, it sounded like fun.  So, I decided to take the plunge again.  I sent off photos of my entry, (it was a juried show), thoroughly expecting it to be rejected.  When I got the acceptance letter I was ecstatic!  I sent the quilt off to the show and when I told my folks I'd finally gotten the courage to do something with my quilts they suggested that we go to Portland to see the show.  So, we flew up there and went to the convention center.  All this time I never expected to win anything, I was just excited about my work being on display. 

When we got into the show we went right to the area where the quilts were displayed.  I looked everywhere and couldn't find my piece, then all of a sudden I saw it.  It had a huge purple ribbon hanging off of it.  I had actually won "Best of Show."

I will never forget the excitement of that moment.  The thrill of winning, the fun of having my very supportive parents with me, and the realization that putting my toe in the water had just changed my life.

Since then I've entered multiple shows and won more ribbons and awards.  Everytime I enter I do not expect to win, and many times I don't win anything, but if I hadn't taken the risk of entering that first show 12 years ago, I would not have had all of the wonderful experiences I've been fortunate enough to have since.

I've had people say to me, it's easy for you to say, since you've been a winner.

Yes, I guess it is easier for me to say, now, but when I entered that first quilt I was as nervous and scared and freaked out as any of you could be.

Which is one of the reasons I'm writing this blog.  I know what it's like to struggle, to feel unwanted, to feel unappreciated, and invisible.  Even with the limited success I've had, I know that even that is fleeting.  What's important is to have the courage to do what you feel in your heart you have to do.  You owe yourself that much.

So, enter that show you've been thinking about.  Who knows, you might win.  And, if you don't, you're still a winner.

Feel the Fear, and do it already!


1 comment:

Staci said...

I've done a bit of this in the last year. I started a blog. My family is still stunned I did it. So am I.
I started a little flicker group for finishing UFO's. I think that took even more nerve. I saw all kinds of UFO challenges out there, and while I want to work on my stack, I had a hard time with people telling me what to do and how to do it. So I started a 'support group' where we all decide what we want and encourage each other. Who know, by summer everyone might lose interest and it may all fall apart, but I did it.
I still feel strange and unsure about both projects, and have days I wish I had never tried either one.