Why, hello there, Ira. Thanks for confirming that I’m not crazy.
I’ve been the “creative type” my whole life – a dancer and at times, a choreographer; a writer; a chronic crafter. And in all my artistic endeavors, I always dive in with the same zeal and enthusiasm and optimistic vision, and inevitably I always hit the same wall.
In high school after I’d had years of rigorous ballet training, I suddenly felt the overwhelming desire not just to master and perfect, but also to create. I’d witnessed and worked with so many brilliant choreographers, whose work could evoke so many emotions and make me feel like I was watching a piece of music come to life… it made want to strive for greatness like theirs.
But time after time, my work seemed to fall short. It felt too choppy, too forced. The creative juices would quickly run dry, and instead of feeling liberated by the creative process and the possibilities, I felt burdened. Like I was stuck in a math problem I just. couldn’t. solve.
For a while, I thought I just wasn’t cut out for it. There were also days (many of them, in fact) when I thought I was just a crazy perfectionist. Turns out, I was wrong… and I wasn’t alone. (Enter: Ira.)
Ira Glass, an American public radio personality and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life, is a fellow creator. Aside from being poignant and wonderful and generally adorable, he’s also accomplished, articulate, and wise. (Marry me? No? Okay.)
The following is a quote from Ira himself that feels like validation and a breath of fresh air every time I read it. It reminds me that mastery takes time, and it encourages me to push ahead. It reassures me that imperfection is okay, and patience is necessary.
As a new blogger, I think this quote still applies to me in a big way. I’ve been struggling lately to keep writing as often as I want to, and New Kid Frustration is totally to blame. I have plenty more to learn, try, and master before I’m as good as I want to be… but wise words like these are often the nudge I need to just keep going.
Have you felt these frustrations? Does this quote resonate with you?
With all the weddings and bridal showers that keep appearing on my calendar these days, I find myself having the same debate, over and over (and over…):
To stray from the registry, or not to stray from the registry?
On the one hand, these people clearly took the time to cherry pick and tell us – their family and friends – exactly what they want. Do I really think I know better than they do?
But then, on the other hand, my inner Martha Stewart can’t handle the idea of buying some thing for someone, peeling off the sticker, putting it in a bag with some tissue and calling it a day. A gift that doesn’t involve some combination of brainstorming, envisioning, making several trips to Michael’s, cutting, gluing, tying elaborate bows, and/or washing glitter off my clothes feels too… I dunno… easy. It’s just how I’m wired. You craftaholics understand.
So, in answer to the question at hand – to stray, or not to stray – I say, a little of both. Honor their wish list, and add some flare.
I was recently invited to a friend’s bridal shower, so naturally I kicked things off by checking out her registry. I immediately narrowed down the list based on my price point and personal preferences, and I was left with…. a bundt pan.
Because nothing screams “pizzaz” like a bundt pan.
Clearly I had work to do. My mind immediately went to ‘function’. What good is a bundt pan with no recipe to use it for? And so, the ideas swirled, and I grabbed the necessary supplie and fuel (yes, that’s a venti… don’t judge me…) and got to work.
I tracked down a few spectacular-sounding recipes for bundt cakes (thank you, Pinterest) and raided my supply box for a way to craftify them. Enter: Glitter. Lucky for me, I had lots of lovely paper scraps on hand that coordinated nicely together, thanks to years of frequenting Michael’s and compulsively overspending. Whoopsie. I also think there’s something really special about a recipe that’s lovingly hand-written, so I put my crafty handwriting to work too.
Once the recipe cards were ready and to my liking, I wrapped them up in a neat little bow and tucked them inside a card file I found at Staples.
Last but not least, I’m a sucker for killer gift wrap. And I mean killer gift wrap. More often than I’d like to admit, I find myself at Paper Source spending more on wrapping supplies than I spent on a gift itself. And this, my friends, was no exception. Throw on a lovely bow from my ribbon stash leftover from Christmas, and I was ready to rock and roll.
By the way? Favorite. Wrapping Paper. EVER.
Voila! A registry gift with flare. Putting all of this together brightened my day, and reminded me of how fulfilling it is to put personal touches on the gifts I give to the people I hold near and dear.
Do you stick to the registry, or do you lean toward more personal gifts? Perhaps a combination? Share, s’il vous plait!
As a little girl, I remember adoringly watching my mom as she scrapbooked on summer afternoons. (That aggressive red squiggly underline is trying to tell me that ‘scrapbooked’ is not a word. Overruled, squiggles! It is now.)
She’d spend hours riffling through family photos, meticulously cutting paper, digging for the perfect sticker, adding bits of her beautiful loopy handwriting to tie the page together… and it made me desperate to turn my own memories into something so lovely and special. I am so the ‘apple’ to her crafty ‘tree’.
Recording memories in a thoughtful, artistic way is something I wish I had more time to do. Would I love to be able to flip through colorful, handcrafted books filled with sentimental photos and memorabilia? OF COURSE! But with a job, a growing social life, and ten years’ worth of photos waiting to be craftified… who has that kind of time!?
Thankfully, scrapbooking seems to be evolving to match the busy-busy-go-go-go lifestyle we all know so well. Project Life by Becky Higgins and K&C Company SMASH are two products lines I found and like in theory, though I haven’t tried either one. Each is designed to simplify and expedite the scrapbooking process.
Personally, I’d love to get back into a routine of artistically documenting my life as it’s happening, but I hesitate to commit to buying products and getting started until I’m convinced I’ve found a system that’s convenient and time-friendly enough for me. At this moment, Project Life seems like the strongest candidate in my book – it provides some structure (a must for me), encourages a balance of pictures with journaling, and allows for a pretty, uncluttered aesthetic.
Do the letters ‘ENFJ’ mean anything to you?
If not, I’d like you to meet the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a questionnaire that is meant to measure and assess how we perceive the world and make decisions. There are 16 personality types in all, each one represented by a four-letter combination.
My dad first introduced me to this idea as a kid, and immediately I loved it. I still remember taking the assessment and feeling blown away by how much of it resonated with me, down the the tiniest, frighteningly specific detail.
Since then, I’ve essentially forced everyone I know to take the test, I’ve read this book that uses personality types to help determine possible careers, and I even learned that one of my favorite bloggers in the whole wide world is an ENFJ like me.
The Manfriend and I are also HUGE Myers-Briggs Nerds. Like, shamelessly. The fist time we compared our types, two giant light bulbs lit up. We nodded vigorously and laughed as we read each other’s descriptions and re-read our own, and we couldn’t believe how true they were. We’ve always known how different we are, but seeing it on paper really drove that message home.
For his birthday one year, I created and framed two individual portraits of our personality types, in the style of word clouds. (Sort of.) The idea was to pay tribute to who we are as individuals, and to remind ourselves and each other that we differ, how we differ, and to celebrate those differences:
1. I am an ENFJ. In a nutshell: people-focused, supportive, sensitive, warm, organized, diplomatic.
2. He is an INTJ. In a nutshell: independent, innovative, intellectual, decisive, ambitious, confident.
3. To this day, these frames hang side by side in our foyer. We read, admire, and refer to them constantly. For that reason alone, these babies are quite possibly my proudest creations ever.
What’s your personality type? I’d love to find out! If you’ve never taken the test, here’s a quick, free online version.