Thursday, February 18, 2016

Gaining Self Confidence Through Creativity...


My love of machine embroidery has taught me so much outside of digitizing and hooping skills. And the lessons I learned along the way apply to all hobbies and skills. (I enjoy card making, knitting and more - not cooking)

When I began in 1995 with machine embroidery, I brought my office skills with me:

Computers
MS Office
Word Perfect
MS Paint

Many have shared with me at events that the computer was enough to scare you off yet you persisted. 
In order for any of us to persist at something, we need to feel rewarded at some level.  
I had the advantage of some computer skills and photography. Yet, digitizing software was brand new on the market and it certainly was new to me. And as mentioned in my previous post there was an element of guilt for having spent so much money on a "hobby" machine and feeling the need to "validate" the purchase. (Of course, now I know there is no need to rationalize the pursuit of a hobby I enjoy and hope you do, too.) Did I mention, I also had guilt over the computer I purchased back then at the time? 
Machine embroidery made me face all the things that were my "quiet worries" and helped me to realize that this guilt was a lack of self-confidence. 
I doubted my own abilities to learn it all.  My husband and children never once doubted my abilities to learn any of this. Somewhere along the way from the moment we take our first steps all of us develop a sense of who we are, what others expect of us, our abilities, in short an inner voice telling us "stuff" all the time. It's really insane when you think about how we interpret what others say and it may have nothing to do with the way you hear it. Children are so impressionable and take things to heart in the same way. Today when I hear that inner voice of self doubt, I call into mind someone I loved who told me it doesn't matter what others do or say, don't look around just stay on task.  That advice has served me well, and I've learned to do many creative things.  
Pieced but never quilted - me, too!

I recall the sinking feeling with a first design of an airplane that looked like spaghetti when I pressed the next button in Version 1 of PE Design. It was a horrible moment and immediately began doubting how I had invested the $. The demo at the store was so flawless. I had read the manual, followed the steps and mine had fallen apart.  Knowing that it was brand new software and stores didn't know it yet I sought out others who were in the same situation. 

Those others are now life long friends that I met on the Internet in chat rooms and lists. It's the exact thing we tell our kids not to do! I was "cmonsterx". After all of us comparing notes, we began to realize that the key was in the graphics and tools we used.  Our learning curve was faster because we had each other to bounce off ideas. Suddenly the stores were asking me to teach.  Self-confidence grew and I said yes.
Each new skill mastered produces positive feedback and increased self-confidence.  I want the same for my students.
I remember vividly the panicked faces as I sat down with new hobbyists behind computers at Atlanta Sewing Center. I brought treats for us to snack on to make it fun and relaxed. Left clicking a "mouse" was a tough skill back then for many yet they persevered that first hour. We laughed as a group at our challenges. I shared different mice so each student could see what felt best in his or her hand. Yes, even the guys felt challenged. I understood the pressure they felt because I was once there, too. I would hear how they were already obligated by others to do great embroidery and this was the first time turning on the power button of a computer. Yet we managed on for weeks in lessons and today I see several of my students with great websites and designs for sale.  Others, I see at events wearing beautiful creations made by them from garment to the design embellishments.  

My students learned the power of saying, "I would love to, but I can't." If you use this statement say it with the air of self-confidence. Do not say another word. If you feel compelled to say anything else be sure to have a recommended store to send them to due to your heavy schedule of fun. ~Cookie









                                                                                                       

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