#38 for 38.

Happy Birthday, Matt!

Happy Birthday, Matt!

Perfectionism can stop us cold.

One of the lessons, and other demons to overcome, is the need to do it ‘just the right way’, or have ‘just the right outcome’.

For years, I wasn’t good enough, or worthy enough, and it had to be ‘just right’. It’s part of why I didn’t create for 20 years. I stopped myself before I even started. I got stuck in my head because I wasn’t sure of the right way to make it perfect. And, didn’t think I mattered enough. (Wow, that’s even sad to write.)

A very large part of this project is about having fun, and enjoying the process. Allowing the good, the bad and the ugly to come forth. That includes allowing images to have imperfections. It’s not easy for me, but it’s getting a little easier each step of the way.

At the beginning, if something had a spot, I’d tear it up and start again. It wasn’t perfect enough.

Lately, though, I’ve been letting them be. Letting those human, manual, natural imperfections be a part of the image. I’m seeing how that feels… and frankly… after a bit of time, it feels pretty damn good. It feels natural and it feels honest. I still see every bit of ‘wrong’ in the item, but I’m pushing through that this time, and moving beyond it. It’s like owning the truth in some way.

The key is to acknowledge this perfection need, and then just let it go. Some times are easier than others, but that’s the key for me. Acknowledge, identify, and then let it go. I have to be honest though… I don’t forget. I replay that mistake or issue in my head often. That’s where I can get tripped up and stagnate. it’s a multi-step process to move beyond it, but, it’s working this time.

The next way that helps is to make more than one image at a time. Three seems to be my magic number. When I have three at a time, I stress less over any particular one. I know that if I make a mistake, something else will take it’s place. It’s not the ‘only one’ and it’s not that big of deal. That helps a lot and removes a TON of pressure.

That doesn’t mean that quality isn’t required. It is… even with these basic, ‘use what I have on hand’ items. Matt said it best the other day. I do expect quality. And yet, we are human, and imperfection is human.

Nature is imperfect. And, it’s freaking hard to create a perfect circle… even with a circle cutter. Some of the best things in life are slightly unbalanced. But, there’s an odd perfection in that imbalance.

These images are handmade. There will be imperfections at times. (But with Photoshop in modern times, you don’t always have to see it when they get printed! 😉 ) And, now, after time, that imperfection is just one small part of why I love this 52 images in 52 weeks project.



This is the 38th card, of the 52 in the challenge. I made it for my husband, Matt on his 38th birthday.

What you don’t see as much in the image above, are the dots from the adhesive over-spray. It was very disappointing to see those on such a special card, especially since I always try to be SO careful about that. But true to form… Matt is supportive the entire way. And, Photoshop does an amazing job of editing those out for printing. If these are ever shown in a gallery setting, you’ll see it in its imperfect glory. 😉

Happy Birthday, Matt - original

Happy Birthday, Matt – original

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. John Grogan

    Your article reminds me of the sentiments expressed in this book called “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck which talks about two competing orientations (mindsets) towards life, the Fixed Mindset (relies on notions of scarcity, perfection, image, external validation) and then the Growth Mindset (learning through trial and error, imperfect action, willingness to risk). It’s an insightful book and after reading it, I see so much evidence of the effects of both of these mindsets. http://www.amazon.com/Mindset-Psychology-Success-Carol-Dweck/dp/0345472322/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413567478&sr=1-2&keywords=the+psychology+of+success

    1. Ellen

      Thanks for sharing, John! I’ll check it out.

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