Southern tales from a southern girl


Podcast #5: Perfect Perfectionism


Podcast #5 Notes:

I hope you’re all enjoying the podcast because I’m having a blast with this thing. I got my first review on itunes here lately which is so exciting and I’ve had over 300 listens to the podcast! How exciting is that?!!

If you have any comments or requests for shows just let me know. Thanks so much!

So I made it through that time of year. The time of year all craft and creative people both look forward to and dread. I worked late into the night many nights furiously trying to finish the handmade presents I wanted to get done.  And during the more mundane tasks of pressing seams or weaving in the ends of yarn my mind would wander to Christmas and Christmas presents past. Some of my very favorite presents were handmade when I was growing up. I loved having custom one of a kind presents that no one else could get or have. Nothing made me happier than being able to tell the kids at school they couldn’t have one of my dresses or dolls or whatever it was. Handcraft is a longstanding tradition in my family with the women and the men both creating amazing things that have been passed down through the family. I grew up around a lot of talented people. My great grandmother Ethel Pepper was a woman of varied talents. Her greatest one was taking a little bit of nothing and creating something amazing. She did things like take black and white plastic bailer twine and weave a seat for a chair - it was honestly amazing. She also made the cutest little kittens from yarn pompoms.  She sewed, she quilted, she was an accomplished needleworker who embroidered shirts, jackets, and pillowcases. Anything she cooked or canned was perfection. Her husband John Pepper was a basket weaver, a furniture maker, a metal worker, hunter, trapper, and farmer. My grandfather Olyn Pounds was a woodworker who took simple materials and tools and made the cutest wood figures you ever saw. His mother Liza Pounds was an amazing quilter who quilted by hand for years for the public. My dad is a darn good welder, metal worker, carpenter, and generally one handy dude to have around on a daily basis. My mom is crazy good with numbers. She can manage money and balance a checkbook down to the halfpenny. She can also type and hold a conversation at the same time. I can’t chew gum and walk on flat ground at the same time. And according to my husband she makes the best cornbread and fried chicken he’s ever had. Momma also sewed back in the day and helped me learn to sew.  She bought me my first sewing machine, a Singer StyleMate, that came from a pawnshop. I’m sure she wonders at the good sense of that decision on a daily basis. My sewing obsession is still going strong 24 years and 7 sewing machines later.

In all the years I’ve spent around the myriad of people I grew up around and looked up to one fact has remained consistent and true - anything you do in life is worth doing well.  You’ll never reach perfection, but there’s no harm in striving for it. “That’s good enough” was never an acceptable answer to any question or situation. Uneven stitches were taken out, jar rims were always wiped clean each and every time before a lid was applied, welds that needed more than just a little cleaning up were ground out and done again. Braids on a horse’s mane not quite right? Do it again. Circle you’re loping not quite round? Do it again.  Anything less than to strive for “doing it right” was pushed to the side. The other weekend I had started a scarf over two times. It finally looked okay, but that was it. Okay. I came home from work that Monday, looked at it again and completely undid everything I had just spent three days creating. As I started on a new pattern I thought about how crazy I was. I was crazy. Crazy. Who did that? What person in their right mind would toss away three days of work?  That would be me. Me.

As much as I am a hot mess on a daily basis (consistently walking out the door with wet hair anyone?) the things I’m passionate about creating border on a slightly disturbing level of perfection (maybe obsession?) with me. And it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. It could be anything. My sewing, photography, writing, hell braiding rope reins for riding all have to have a certain look. They have to look well crafted and professional looking. I might not care that my bun is askew but you better believe that my hem is going to be straight and hand stitched.  It all goes back to those talented people I grew up with and wanted to be one day. Thanks yall, you broke my brain. Kidding. Slightly. But really kidding.

I’ll never be a great horse trainer or a damn good welder or able to balance a checkbook down to the very last cent but I strive to be the very best version of myself I can be. I’m grateful for the inspiration and the examples I grew up with and am thankful for the knowledge they passed along every time I patch a pair of jeans or create something I saw in my mind’s eye. All the while I try and remind myself to be kind to me and proud of the little accomplishments I do get right. So here’s to getting just the right tension on your crochet stitch, a perfect rise on your cake, and may your bobbin thread never run out in the middle of a seam.

Be kind to others but also remember to be kind to yourself.   

In case you were interested here is the link to the blog post I was talking about Done is Better Than Perfect.