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Up close image of leaves appliqued on gray t-shirt.

The Creative Practice and a Shifting Definition of “Pefect”

The Fall

A few days before New Years 2023, the speed hooks on my winter boots connected and locked together. In a quick second, I was flat on the sidewalk, my dominant right hand tucked under my chin to break the fall. Over the next couple of minutes, I took stock of the situation and realized it could have been so much worse. Only my hand throbbed. I would recover. I was grateful.

During a week when many people are taking some time off, I was fortunate in that the doctors I needed to see were available and close to home. A few hours later, x-rays confirmed my hand was indeed broken. It was put in a splint… A couple of days later I graduated to a cast.

Shifting My Definition of “Perfect”

In the weeks after the fall, I learned to do tasks with my non-dominant left hand. Sometimes the outcome was surprisingly positive: Everyone agreed my handwriting was now legible! Sometimes my efforts left me less than pleased: My attempts at stitching with my left hand yielded a new style that was quite different from the past. My stitches had always been uniform in size and proportions, precise. My new stitches were anything but this. I folded up projects that were in process and put them away. They would have to wait until my hand was healed and I could make “perfect” stitches again.

The projects did not stay put away for long. About a month later, I realized my creative process had to shift along with how I defined “perfect” and “good”.

Recovery – Both of My Hand and My Creative Practice

Over the months ahead, I began to focus on sketching more and more, especially designs where those neat, uniform stitches seemed less of a requisite. And, I began to stitch again with an expanded understanding of what makes for a “good” stitch and with an expanded repertoire of stitch looks.

These days, with my hand continues to make incremental improvements. My stitching style continues to evolve. Some days that uniform stitch is back; other days, the style is more loose and improvised. All our good.

Our creative practice is just that, a practice. One that, ideally, will continue to evolve and grow as our circumstances change, curiosity takes us in new directions, and our skills deepen and expand. Often the impetus for a shift occurs when we least expect it and, often, in situations beyond our control. Instead of putting a creative practice on hold for a year, I learned, at the end of the day, to embrace what is and use it as an opportunity to explore new directions and expand my definition of “perfect”.


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