I'd like to talk to you for a moment about fear. I don't mean fear experienced as terror or a phobia; I want to talk about more everyday fear that goes unrecognised, sneaking into our minds and hearts as procrastination, perfectionism, and self-reproach.
What started this morning as a dig through my fabric stash became a full-on frustrated guilt binge as I was forced to confront the mountain of my good intentions gone to waste. I own so much fabric that it is truly unreasonable, because all that gorgeousness is doing no one any good packed away unused. One find in particular pushed me over the edge from "should" to action: the simple Anna Maria Horner voile pictured above. I bought it years ago with the express intention of creating this simple dress for myself, just perfect for Australian summers that were my reality at the time. The fabric I found is washed and even cut into four strips, and thus it remained, packed away out of sight. Seeing it today, I remembered how reluctant I was to start it, waiting until I had more time, until I understood sewing better, knew better seaming, had any idea how to sew voile as opposed to quilting cotton. Exactly when did I think I might magically be granted more time and experience without working to make that happen (and probably stumbling along the way)?
It was fear, plain and simple.
Fear of making a mistake, but who doesn't make those?
Fear of wasting the material, as if its current state is anything less than waste.
Fear of it not turning out perfectly, which is crazy because I am not a professional seamstress.
Recognizing that fear for what it is made action obvious. Not wanting to waste another minute*, I marched right out of the basement and started to work, complete with French seams that I have never tried before. What's the worst that can happen? Surely whatever I do will be better than this lovely material languishing in a box in the basement. Even if it comes out a mess, I might learn something. It's a small thing, but it is time to move on from fear.
If the notion of fear holding you back resonates with you but you aren't sure where to start, I highly recommend the Buddhism for Mothers series of books by Sarah Napthali. Another regular dose of mindfulness can be found on Zen Habits. This month, he is running a self-compassion module in the Sea Change program. Warmest wishes to you.
*and yes, I know it's all well and good to say so while you actually have a minute to spare…and which mothers among us have that? Choosing to conquer this today meant my to-do list went neglected. Tough luck. It's one day. Attacking this fear head on while the motivation was fresh felt worth it.