Bell bottom blues, and learning new skills.

    When we were teenagers, my sister and I used to sew our own clothes. Actually, we made clothes for the entire family. My sister and I were the seamstresses; our mother did the handwork and the finishing. We were quite a team.

    Of course, we each had our strengths, and our specific skills. I was a pretty good little seamstress and fairly accomplished at the Singer. But, for some reason, I was never permitted to sew the zippers into the garments that I was making. Instead, my mother would instruct me to ask my older sister to put the zipper in for me.

    It became a tedious ritual. I would reluctantly hand over the garment to my sister and begrudgingly ask her to sew the zipper in place for me. She in turn would sigh, give a long suffering look, and patiently explain to my mother that I would eventually have to learn to do it myself. Our little ritual was reinforced every time we repeated it.

    One day, I had enough. After all, the zippers came with a complete set of instructions. Surely if I could read and follow pattern instructions, certainly I could put in my own zippers. It was time for me to throw caution to the wind, take the plunge and sew my own zipper in the bell bottoms I was making for myself. You know, the low riding hip hugger type that was so stylish when I was a teenager.

    I announced my intentions to the team. My sister looked grateful. My mother looked skeptical. I looked determined. I stepped up to the Singer, got to work, and meticulously followed the directions. Honestly, it really wasn’t that difficult. And I did a great job, if I do say so myself. I proudly showed the finished project to my sister. She looked at it carefully, and complimented me on a job well done. Then she asked why I put it in the pant leg instead of the waistband where it belonged. Sheesh!

    It was one of those funny and silly things that we laughed about for years, and a story that got a lot of mileage. But the life’s lesson in this silly story is that it’s okay to make mistakes when you are learning new skills. It’s important to try new things, and you can’t let the fear of failure get in the way. After all, if you are trying, you are learning. If you are learning, you are succeeding. Most of all, don’t be afraid to interrupt old habits and patterns to allow for new ones to emerge. That’s when the real learning begins.

Be healthy, and keep learning!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP