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Leah's Notions- Neat Freak?
Overdoing It
Leah's Notions - "Creative or Wise"

Leah's Notions- Neat Freak?

An article written for the January 1998 issue of Tangled Threads

I think I am a neat freak. I love to have my sewing studio neat and orderly.  I think I work more efficiently if everything is where it belongs when I go to fetch something and when I have elbow room to work in.

Other sewing pros I know find it easy to function in what I would call organized chaos.  Is it that they feel it a waist of time to clean up?  Or is it a state of mind thing?  Does creativity sometimes needs a little chaos to jump start itself.  After all, many people believe the whole world was created from chaos.  So maybe it's not so bad to let things go unorganized some.

The main reason I am such a neat freak is that I am frightened that I may miss something I had promised a customer.  If I am not "on the ball" I may hurt my reputation.  But, even though I do my best to stay on top of things, I still mess up now and then.  So lately I have been thinking
that I need to ease up a little and not be so hard on myself.

I admire my "messy" fellow sewing pros.  Their work is always so wonderfully creative. It makes me wonder if the energy I use to keep my studio so organized could be better utilized to make my work more creative.

So my New Year's resolution is to not be so uptight when my studio is messy.

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Overdoing It

Yes, I do think there are ways you can take professionalism too far when you're running a home based business. You want your customer to believe you are proficient at sewing and running your business, but you don't want them to be afraid to talk to you. You need their trust and openness if you are to created that perfect garment that they are dreaming of. Remember, you are not a mind reader, so they need to feel at ease with you.

Do dress nicely, but not like you are going to the office or Church. The customer knows this is your home, so overdressing could make them feel less at ease. A business suit would be strange. I will often wear a nice casual dress with only socks on my feet, no hose. Especially if I am meeting a customer for the first time, this type of dress seems to put them at ease from the moment I greet them at my door.

We do also want to protect ourselves from clients who will take advantage of us, but having long legalistic contracts tend to put people off. A simple one page form listing what you agree to make and the pricing details is enough. Having them sign and making a copy is a good idea, but a 100% deposit is not. I usually ask for enough to cover the cost of materials.

It is a risk for you to trust the customer is going to pay you when the work is done, but the customer also has a job trusting you will deliver the work they will be pleased with. If a little less stringent professionalism will foster more trust, then we must seek that level of comfort where both professionalism and trust can abide.

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Leah's Notions - "Creative or Wise"

An article written for the June 1997 issue of Tangled Threads

My ex-husband could never understand why I would get my feelings hurt when he criticized some thing I had made. It was a major reason for the divorce. He could never see the connection I had with my creations, how I considered them an extension of myself.

Creative people through the ages have had this interesting kinship with their creations. I find it fascinating and perfectly natural, even a good thing. When I create some thing part of me is in it and I therefore see it as an extension of who I am. Physically, there is a little of me in every piece I handle for each part I touch will leave a tiny bit of hand oil or undetectable skin fragments.  I have even purposefully inserted a piece of hair into a serged seam. Emotionally, the gifts I make carry with them my hopes for the recipient's good will, and long life. Yes, a bought item also carries these things, but a hand made item is just more special in the eyes of creative folk. Spiritually, a bit of my mind is in the designs I create, like they are manifestations of my thoughts. Some tribal teachings say that part of the soul goes into the items we make by hand. I like that way of looking at my creations. I think you all will agree with me that we do have this kinship with the
items we create.

Therefore when our creations are commented upon unfavorably, we get hurt feelings. It's a difficult thing for creative folk to overcome and it spills over into other areas of life. The more active I become in writing the more I see this mind set entering my feelings about what I write. I decided that I must learn to differentiate between the things I create and the words I write in the way I interpret other's comments about them.

A wise person understands the necessity to be forever learning and growing. It is the fool who thinks he knows everything. If I seek to be not just creative, but wise, I must understand that anything I write has to be left open to interpretation, and even criticism. That way when some one disagrees with me, I can avoid getting my feeling hurt and react with, "Gee, haven't thought of it that way. Thanks for teaching me some thing." Then I can see the criticism not as making me look stupid, but as showing me as being open to the ideas and opinions of others.

The written word can be so easily misinterpreted. Reading between the lines is such an easy thing to do without realizing that what you see so clearly was not put there with the author's intent. When reading any item, you can't see the author's facial expressions,
body gestures, or tone of voice that would give you clues to their intent. So misunderstandings are bound to happen. How we react to them is the measure of our growth as human beings.

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