In Kinship - A podcast for makers
who crave a vibrant life on their own terms

Show Notes

Episode #11 - Expand your JOY...let go of perfect

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It ought to be a four letter word.  You know, one of THOSE four letters words.

It’s constricting and such a thief of joy.  And no good comes from perfectionism.  A bit much?  I don’t think so. 

Now to be clear, striving for excellence and to be better and better at something…that I can get behind.  But I feel that’s a different thing altogether.

In this episode, I talk about perfectionism and ask you to let it go and disconnect your self-worth from what you can do.  Your value is not in how good you are at things.  Your value is in who you are.  

Take a listen! 


Hey!  Do you know of someone who would make a great guest on the show?  (maybe you?)
Email me

...working on the Maker's Studio

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Ep11 Solo5

Tina: Hey, there you are listening to the In Kinship Podcast. On today’s episode, I get into perfectionism. Now you probably have heard me say before, I am not a perfectionist. It’s not who I am, and I have a lot of gratitude that it’s not who I am, but at the same time, I also have some space where I could hold myself to a higher standard, particularly when I’m doing something just for myself.

And I’ve alluded in a different episode that there’s probably some room for a conversation around that. Like why is that? Why when I’m doing something for myself, am I okay with not bringing out all of my skillsets? But if I’m making something for somebody else, I show up with all my skillset. I rip out seams, I redo things.

I don’t strive for perfection per se, but I strive for excellence, which is a beautiful place to strive for, I think. And my goal in my life right now is to strive for excellence when I’m the only one who’s gonna benefit because I’m sure there’s some kind of self-worth wrapped up in that, right? Oh, it’s just for me.

I don’t need to worry about it. Uh, it’s good enough. It’s good enough for me. And I’m like, what, what does that mean? It’s good enough for me. Come on now, Tina. Like, honestly, I deserve excellence from myself just as much as anyone else does. And so that’s something I’m shifting in my life. So I’m not a perfectionist, but again, like I said, I kind of dabble on the other side of that coin..

So today I’m gonna talk about that. I’m gonna talk about perfectionism. I’m gonna talk about how debilitating I think it is and how it, , is a massive killjoy, and I’m gonna talk about holding the duality of not striving for perfectionism. and also striving for excellence at the same time, right? Like allowing yourself to be imperfect and also striving for excellence at the same time and being happy with that progress wherever you are in there.

So wearing that wonky seamed dress, hanging up that painting that you can see the flaws to finding that medium for you where you can have grace with yourself and also know that you’re striving for more. Cause I think there’s a lot of value as humans in continuing to strive for more excellence in what we can do, right?

Because we’re amazing, really, if we put a little bit of pressure on ourselves, not so much that we’re debilitated, not so much that our self-worth is impacted, but if we put a little bit of pressure on ourselves, we can accomplish so much more than we even. . So like give yourself that gift, but also give yourself at the same time the gift of knowing that your worth is not wrapped up in how well you do something. Everyone does things really well, and everyone struggles with other things, and I think it’s just really important to find out what that is for each of us individually. And I think it’s one of the reasons, and this is gonna be probably controversial, here on the podcast, but I think it’s one of the reasons that I sort of hate the idea of a participation award because I don’t want anyone to feel left out.

I don’t want anyone to feel less than. But I think our opportunity when it comes to children is to teach them how to handle disappointment. Still feel a sense of self-value. and strive for excellence in the ways that are theirs to strive for excellence. Cuz we’re like, I’m not an awesome painter or drawer and I probably never will be.

Can I get better than I am right now? Yes. But there are things that I am excellent at, and so finding those things to build my self-esteem is a much healthier way in my opinion, than being mediocre at all sorts of. And not having any sense of striving for better.

 Without further ado, let’s get started. You are listening to the In Kinship Podcast, a podcast for makers, makers who crave a vibrant, joyful life on their own terms. And I am your host, Tina VanDenburg. Before we begin, a quick word from our sponsor. Today’s sponsor is Kinship Handwork. Yeah. My own business. I love sponsoring my own podcast cuz Why not?

Right? Plus I’ve got some fun, exciting things up my sleeve for the spring and I wanna share them with you. So at the time of this recording, it is March of 2023. And I am in the process of finishing a new sewing studio. Just yesterday it got paint on the wainscoating and the final mud is being sanded on the drywall.

I’m really excited. I’m actually gonna show you some in-progress pictures and the show notes, so check that out. I wanted to sponsor today’s podcast, and get you excited as well for something I have coming up this spring. So to back up, if you’re not familiar with my business, I. sewing classes online and in person.

And if you go to my website, kinship, you’ll see links to the podcast. You’ll also say links to my blog and an ability to sign up for my newsletter, which it’s full of my deep thoughts. A lot like today’s podcast is going to be. You’ll also find information on the two sewing retreats I teach at and host on Mackinaw Island.

I’m also considering a new location for next year, so stay tuned for that. There are links to the courses I have that you can buy at any time. Courses on sewing with knits, courses on learning how to use your sewing machine, courses on getting started with natural dyes, all sorts of things so you can check out online learning.

And the new thing, the thing that I’m excited for and the reason that I’m sponsoring this podcast is that I plan to do four workshops this spring they are going to be Zoom workshops, but they’re going to be live. It’s not gonna be pre-recorded. It’s not going to be something you can purchase just any old time. It’s gonna have a start date and an end date, and we’re going to get on Zoom together just for like an hour and a half at a time, and we are going to talk about the fabric for the project, talk about how to get the project started.

Then a couple of weeks later we’re gonna come together and do three or four sessions of sewing that project. And I’m really excited about this format because I love teaching. I love teaching, and I love to teach in person, but I find that when I get the opportunity to teach online in a more live format, I love that too.

And so I’m excited to try this out and see how it feels. The four patterns that I’m going to teach this spring are going to be. Three of them that are my own patterns. So one will be a waxed canvas work apron. It’s gonna have rivets, it’s gonna have some leather accents or twill.

Whatever your choice is, it’s gonna have a kit that you can purchase if you’d like to not source all of the items, or you can get your own. And then I’m also going to teach a felted wool vest. I actually have patterned this pattern off of a vintage hunting vest that I found, and I was excited to use that as inspiration to create a new pattern and teach it to you. In this workshop, and then I’m going to teach a bralette and panties class. Um, bralettes can be sort of intimidating and we found a great pattern that we used at a retreat last year, and I would love to teach people how to use that pattern.

And then I’ll end out the series with my favorite knit dress, which we’re gonna begin with my fit and flare pattern, get that fit down, and then we’re gonna take that pattern and turn it into a princess seam dress that has inseam pockets, like the best pockets ever, the kind of pockets that are just perfect for a knit dress.

So I’m excited to duple all four of those this spring. There’s not even a sales page on the website yet. There will be in a few weeks, but I wanted to tell you now because I’m excited. So there we go. So that’s what I had to say. And now onto our show.

So I’m here solo with you today, which is something that I like to do every few episodes because I like to just talk to you one-on-one sometimes. And today I wanna talk about perfectionism. So last week my dad was hospitalized down in the Grand Rapids area of Michigan. I’m, I live up in Northern Lower Michigan, up near the Mackinaw Bridge.

So I drove down for five days to be with him. , and I should say right now too, he’s home and he is doing great, and I was really grateful that some family members who I’ve not seen in a while were able to let me stay with them while I was down there. And one night my aunt and I were talking about perfectionism and she was talking about courage and the ability to just try something.

And even though you don’t know how well you’re gonna do it, or if it’s gonna. , and she was sharing that in her life. She’s been debilitated by perfectionism that, she didn’t even start or try anything if she didn’t know she was gonna be the best at it. And we explored why that was and how that stemmed from some childhood things.

That is not really for this podcast, but I wanted to talk about perfectionism and how debilitating it could be. And then in the way of these things, I got two emails from two different people that I follow talking about perfectionism being such a joy killer, and I thought, absolutely, it completely is. I am not a perfectionist, 

and I have some gratitude that I’m not a perfectionist because I have this ability, and I’m gonna celebrate this for a moment cuz I think we don’t celebrate our strengths that often enough. 

But I have this ability to just leap, right? I have this ability to just try something and be okay with not being great at it. do I wanna be great at everything? Yes. Yes, I do. But sometimes I’m not. And sometimes I know that it’s a progress, right? Like I’ll start out and not be great at something.

And if I put enough energy and time into it, it’s very likely that I’ll get pretty good at it. Will I be a genius at it? Will I be perfect at it? Maybe, probably not, though, right? There are a few things that I do really, really well, and I know that about myself, and I think it’s important that we explore what we do really, really well, so that we can build our self-confidence in those ways. But ultimately, I think the work here around perfectionism is figuring out or finding ways to bolster our self-worth so that we don’t have to be perfect in order to feel like we’re worthy. Because, because doing something well does not determine your worth, and that’s really hard to believe.

That’s really hard.

to hold onto sometimes, because often there’s a lot of praise associated with doing something really well or perfectly right, and I think that that can muddy the waters or we can take that on. And I wanna bring this back to the individual level because I think that we all have the ability to either put so much meaning into doing something perfectly or give ourselves some grace.

and say, I’m gonna try this. I’m gonna stay curious. I’m going to have fun. Because perfectionism is absolutely a buzz killer and it’s debilitating and it creates roadblocks and it stops people from doing things that they might have a lot of fun doing and it stops people from doing things that they might be really good at.

they might be masters of that thing, but it creates this block to even begin. And so I’m really, again, grateful that I have that starter ability, that I have the ability to try something and fail at it. I don’t wanna fail at it. Let me be very clear, but I’m okay if I do. And then on the flip side of that, where my sort of shadow side comes in is.

I sometimes don’t take the time to stop and do something to a level of excellence when I have the ability to do that, especially if that thing’s just for me. Right? So that’s where my self-worth, Hmm. Hiccup, if you will, comes in, is that I can sometimes have that thought of, oh, it’s just for me, it’s good enough.

And I’m like, what is that? Right? Like, and often for me, it butts up with I don’t have time to stop and make this better because I only have so much time. I’m always in this time dearth. There’s always not enough time. Not enough time, not enough time. And it’s like, all right, hold on. First of all, , you have the ability.

This is me talking to myself. You have the ability to do these things with excellence and choosing not to, just brings me dissatisfaction in the end. And it feels like not only did I not have enough time, but I wasted the time I did have. And so one of my goals, for this period of my life, is to explore why I feel like I can short-change myself and slow it down a little bit.

Redo the seams if I need to. Begin again. Make the mockup, perfect the fit, and sew it again, right? I’ve always been a rush-to-the-end, kind of person sacrificing excellence for the product. and I’m working to not do that. So like I think of that as the other side of the coin of perfectionism.

And so definitely I think they both have some kind of self-worth wrapped in them. And I recently found this quote from Brene Brown and the quote was Wise, those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect. , and this definitely fits into the conversations that I have with multiple different people that come to their retreats or are in my classes.

It happens so often in the classes that I have that somebody comes and they’re like, I’m not really gonna be able to do this.

This is not going to work for me. I’m not gonna be able to. And it’s that fear of not doing something well, that fear that they are not enough. And I think that, again, this is where our opportunity lies. I really struggle with the idea that we instill in our young people that we don’t want them to feel like they’re not enough.

We don’t want them to feel. , like they don’t belong. And so everyone gets some kind of a participation model, right? And this might be controversial to say, but I think there’s folly to that. I think that the opportunity in that situation is not, in making them all feel like they’re good enough for that situation, is helping children to understand.

That their worth is not tied to what they’re doing. Their worth is not tied to that basketball game or to that art project, or to that play that they’re working on. Their worth is inherent in themselves, and your worth is inherent in yourself. And having a strong sense of love and belonging is like the foundation of that, right?

And so I want my son to fail at things because then he has the opportunity. We as parents have the opportunity to get with him and say, you didn’t do all that good on this particular thing. You didn’t try that hard. That could be the case, right? Or this isn’t your thing. Or any number of things.

But ultimately the lesson in that is that you are a worthwhile human whether you’ve done well at this or not. And at the same time, if you want to excel at this, You have the ability to strive for that. And I think the participation awards take away that desire to strive for better and I don’t want that for my child.

I don’t want that for me. I don’t want that for you. I want you to, I want you to fail. I want you to fail. and want something bad enough to work through the hurdles it takes to get better, to work through the pressure it sometimes takes in those moments of feeling like frustrated and less than. To work through that rather than deflect it or pretend it’s not there.

Right. I want that to be part of my son’s childhood, part of my son’s growth, and part of my experience because I know that on the other side of that, he will be a more resilient, strong, and powerful human. And that’s what I want for him, and that’s what I want for you, and that’s what I want for me. And so I think perfectionism in its debilitating manners.

takes it away from us. And like I said, at the same time, there’s this duality. The duality of both, not striving for perfectionism and also striving for excellence, right? Allowing yourself to fail and also expecting more of yourself than what you have already done. . I think we can hold both of those things at the same time, especially if our self-worth isn’t wrapped up in this thing that we’re doing.

And so I have entreaty to you. I have entreaty to let go of perfectionism and also hold on to an expectation of more excellence from yourself because you can accomplish that, whatever it might be, and if what you’re working towards doesn’t light you up, you might be really great at it, but like this is a side note.

There’s no point in doing that thing if you don’t find satisfaction and joy in that thing that you’re doing, right? Like we are all meant to do different things in the world. We’re all meant to be lit up by different things. So find what lights you up, find your excellence. Cultivate the excellence in your children, show them different experiences, and let them fail at things.

Let them fail all on their own. Like I think one of the other things, wow, am I just really side noting here? But one of the other things that I think is tragic that we do is we overschedule our children and they’re scheduled with a coach. They’re scheduled with a teacher all the time, and so they have an authority there to seek answers from all the time, and they don’t get to tap into their own authority. They don’t get to tap into their own knowing and their own ability to problem solve because our little kids, are so much smarter than we get them credit for, and they’re so much more capable. And if we let them fail at things, we let them cut their finger on their new knife.

We let them figure out how to get outta that tree with nobody around. They’re going to. such more resilient, happy humans. I believe that in my soul. And so that’s my entreaty to you. Let yourself fail. Let yourself work through it. Trust your own authority and find a way. And this is so much easier said than done, and I know that but find a way to disconnect your sense of worth from the actions that you’re doing.

That’s not your worth. I want you to imagine for a minute. So imagine your loved one. Somebody that you respect very much, became completely paralyzed and all they could do was speak with you. They couldn’t do anything right? Would their worth for you have diminished? I’m gonna guess no because their worth is something inherent to them as a human is something in their spirit. It’s something in their character, in their soul. And so that doesn’t disappear because they no longer have the ability to move their legs. Right. 

Giving space and grace to someone else, then we can start to imagine giving ourselves that same grace and space and that it’s possible for us as well, right? If we can give it to somebody else, then we also deserve that too. 

On the perfectionism conversation.

Just the other day, I was talking with a friend of mine and we were talking about artificial intelligence, which of course is all the rage right now. Right. In the circles that I walk in online, there’s a lot of conversation around copywriting ai, so artificial intelligence, um, artwork, ai, he brought it from the perspective of music.

He’s part of a band and he was talking about how they have software that can create a drumbeat that can create a baseline that can create the musicians you need in order to record a song. Now, not necessarily that you would record that song for the public, but so that you can work out the production of the creation of a song, right?

But he was telling me that inside of the software in the drummer, as an example, you could have a perfect drummer because of course a computer can do things to perfection. Like it literally can, cuz it’s a machine, it’s a computer. and it will do things without any kind of a human feel to it if we want it to.

Right? But you can also choose a drummer that’s like a beginning drummer. You can choose a drumming style that is from somebody who’s been drumming for a little while, but not all that long. You know, you can actually ask the computer to put flaws into the drumming. So that it sounds more natural, more human.

And I thought, wow, that is so interesting. The conversation about where artificial intelligence is gonna take us is for a whole different podcast, but it’s mind-boggling to me. And so there’s so much talk going around about the copywriting AI and the Artis in my business world. And I just read a post from somebody who said that she was able.

jump on and I think it was open AI or something like that, and ask it to write a sales page for a program. And she described what her program was and she told the AI what her website was. It could go and it could get her tone and it could understand how she speaks to her audience and all of that.

And then it wrote a sales page and she was talking about how. how good it really was. And of course there are a lot of responses to that kind of post like, but it will never have the human touch, which is true, it won’t. But it is and again, this is totally, a bunny trail, but it is amazing on where that’s going.

And along with so many things in our world right now, it’s so interesting to say like, where will we be in 10 years? I, I can’t even fathom Anyway, , while we were talking about imperfection and the human touch of it, I found it interesting. As I said, the computer program had the ability to add flaws to be more human.

So we felt, it felt more natural. It felt more real. Right. And I then shared how you. Sewing machines nowadays have a hand stitch and the hand stitch on the sewing machine has gone just a tiny bit wonky so that it isn’t perfect like a sewing machine stitch is so that it looks like it might be hand sew.

 And it’s so interesting that we actually love to see the proof of our humanness in the things that we create. We want ’em to be pretty darn perfect. That is true. Like honestly, yeah. I want my dresses to have like the most beautiful seams and to be lined up perfectly and to fit me really well.

I do want all of that to happen, but there’s also this beauty, especially as you start to master what you’re doing, there’s this beauty of seeing the hand of the maker. in that, in that thing, whatever the thing is, in the drumbeat, in the stitching, whatever it might be. And so as we strive for perfection, I want us to remember that like we actually also strongly desire for things to feel real, for things to feel human, cuz we’re not machines.

And even if we’ve mastered our craft, even if we’ve got some sort of mastery over what we’re. every day is different. They, we are organic creatures and there are so many variables to how our brain is working in that day, or how our muscles and our fingers are working, or, you know, we are not built to just run and run and run.

We have to take all of our limitations and bring them in and support. , right? When you’re tired, you have to sleep. When your life is too busy, you have to open up some space so that you can feel as vibrant as you can. And I think that that fits into that whole idea of vibrancy and understanding that we’re human and it’s a beautiful thing, and not being perfect is a beautiful thing, and striving for excellence and expecting better of yourself is also a beautiful thing.

if it’s not tied to your self-worth. Tying your actions to your self-worth, I think can’t ever do anything but limit us and bring us down. And when you think about how constricting perfectionism can be, like anytime something feels constricting in your life, it’s shutting out the possibility. It’s shutting out.

The expansiveness that comes from being curious and being willing to fail. And so those are the thoughts are my mind today. I would love to hear your thoughts on perfectionism. I would love to hear your thoughts on artificial intelligence. Like as a side note, on, like, I can’t even imagine where it’s gonna go.

It’s sort of exciting and horrifying all at the same time.

I hope that today you find the courage to do something just for the fun of it, whether you’re good at it or not. And I also wanna mention like that beginner energy is so much fun, right? and it’s very frustrating. They go hand in hand. There’s so many times when I have students in my classes that I watch them go through the very real process of excited to begin, frustrated when things aren’t going quite how they want them to, and then elated to end up with something that they’re proud of, right? I think that’s a natural progression of learning anything new. And so remind yourself of that. When you’re in the middle and it feels like crummy and you feel like you are failing, keep going.

Put one more step in front of the other and keep moving. Cuz you’re gonna end up somewhere, especially if you keep putting your effort into it, you’re gonna end up somewhere good all right. Have the best day.

Well, friends, that’s the end of our show for today. Thank you so much for listening. 

I also send out a weekly newsletter where I talk about things like this, things that are on my mind, or I share exciting projects, or I talk about funny stories with my child. I don’t know. Whatever it is I feel like sharing, but always they’re pretty heartfelt and so if you would like to get on my newsletter mailing list, you can subscribe on

 On the front page is a join the newsletter link. So I’d love to have you there.

And a final word from our sponsor. Today’s sponsor is Kinship Handwork. Yeah. My business. And again, I wanna share with you that I’m super excited for some fun spring projects in my new sewing space. I’m excited to show it to you. I’m excited to have live Zoom classes with you in there. You cannot check it out on the website yet, but you’ll be able to soon.

And I’ll tell you when that happens. But I wanted to give you a little teaser to let you know that I’m gonna teach four different workshops this spring. One on a wax canvas work, apron, one on a wool outdoor vest, one on panties and a bralet. And finally, one of my favorite knit dresses that has inseam pockets and princess seams.

All right, check it out at You can also find information on the retreats that I have in the spring and the fall on Mackinac Island. You can find courses that you can buy right now on sewing with knits and sewing clothes you love and learning how to use your sewing machine. All sorts of things.

So check it out. Mm-hmm.

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