To quote John Steinbeck, “The best laid plans of mice and men…” would be an understatement for today. Currently, as I sit in my chair taking a break from frustration and failure, I feel like Charlie Brown. Nothing went as planned today and I failed at a task I am quite adept in doing.
Those faces attest to my attempt and non-success of my tasks on the last day of vacation. The cars did not get vacuumed out today. Oh well. The bathroom did not yet get cleaned. Oh well. The heavy jacket zipper did not get sewn on to my husband’s heavy winter coat. Oh well.
Yes, I certainly had plans today. Lots of plans. I did get up early instead of sleeping in late as I have done for the past two weeks. I did get one teenager to work on time and the other teenager a haircut as promised. I did run by the store and pick up the few items we really needed for the week and my husband’s tee-shirts. What I did NOT do was finish my list. At first I am inclined to feel upset and frustrated. Today, however, I have learned two things about myself that I knew deep down but never really noticed about myself. I hate unresolved things and failure. Shocking, I am sure. Shocking to me rather.
Today has been a beautiful, sunny, super cold day. The morning has been stress-free and smooth until, that is, I sat down with the winter coat. There I met my match. I have been sewing since I was in middle school. While I am no Coco Chanel, I am quite good and often have sewn my own articles of clothing. So, what is the big deal then? After gathering all my supplies and settling into my cozy chair (the very one I’m writing in at the moment) I begun the tedious task of removing the broken zipper from the coat. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy. Then, the coat and I move to the kitchen table where I carefully pin in the new, shiny, heavy duty zipper and prep my machine. Ah, comfort in the small tasks. Next, WW3 with my modern sewing machine (insert epic war sounds here).
Let me just say that a task I have done hundreds of times that should have taken about 10 to 15 minutes, got the better of me. Not for my lack of trying mind you. The interesting thing is that modern sewing machines come with plastic bobbins. Seriously! Whose bright idea was this?! I grew up using my grandmother’s old machine that used metal bobbins with never a day of trouble. Needless to say after much frustration, wasted thread, and troubleshooting I head off to the fabric store. Fuming all the way, I keep replaying in my mind what could the possible issues be with the machine. I am certain it is not user error.
Home again, home again with new, shiny, metal bobbins in hand. After a quick load of the new bobbin, I am again this time with success. Apparently I have solved the problem and all is well with my world once more. But wait…it gets better! Hum, hum, hum…the zipper is now attached on one side. I just need to sew that side closed. That is where things come to a screaming halt! Turns out, as adept as I am at sewing, my new and modern machine is not up for the task. The two layers of coat plus a zipper are just too much for the girl. Much to my dismay, and several attempts with lots of wasted thread, I must concede to the machine. The coat with the shiny, new zipper already pinned and ready for assembly will have to go to the alterations lady. She, unlike myself, will slay this dragon of a jacket with her industrial machine. I hang my head, sigh a heavy sigh, and decide I need a break.
This is turn, brings me here. Tired, frustrated, and upset at so much lost time I retreat here to my blog. Ah, sweet control. Now back to my reflection on unresolved things and failure. While the winter jacket did not get fixed today, I did learn a new thing or two about my modern sewing machine. I guess that counts for something resolved. Unexpected, but resolved none the less. On to failure. In reality I did not fail at the task of fixing the zipper. My machine did. I still have the knowledge, skills, and experience of successfully sewing on zippers. Today, I can add the knowledge that my modern machine cannot handle the thick, heavy layers I wanted to force upon it.
So the lesson for today is that there is no failure here. Rather there is just a realization of one thing that my machine cannot do. This is reminiscent to me of Edison’s attempts at creating the light bulb. He was not truly successful until his 1,001st attempt. This does not mean that he failed in the previous 1,000 times. It simply means he was able to document 1,000 ways a light bulb cannot be created. He gained knowledge, skill, and proficiency on the matter in the process. Edison demonstrated resiliency. While my discovery today is in no way as important as Edison’s, I am content with the outcome. I am resilient and smarter for this experience today. I now know the limits of my machine and what options are available. I will be able to share this experience with my daughter as she is currently starting to learn sewing. I will be able to use this as an analogy for my students at school who often want to give up after the first attempt at anything.
So with this I leave you. Remember that failure is nothing more than an option that does not work for that situation at that moment. Never give up! Always keep trying and seeking a new way, a new method that does give you success. If at times, you find yourself utterly frustrated and overwhelmed, remember me and how I lost my battle with a jacket zipper. Smile. Close your eyes and breath. You can do it. You can find a way. You are resilient!
P.S. Just for giggles, here is the mug-shot of the jacket that beat me at my own game.
Prep time… Zipper removed… Pinned and ready…to beat me. LOL!