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How to Fail and Win Anyway

Pamela Dewey

Hi friends.

I make mistakes. Ok. I make a lot of mistakes.

It is human to make mistakes. And I am human certainly. (No robots are employed at the Vintage Modern shop.)

Like I said last week, I like a little imperfection, a little character. But when I am working on projects like writing or refinishing furniture, I like complete those maybe not perfectly, but somewhere close to perfect.

Perfect with character. Perfect with personality. Handmade perfect.

But the only way you to get close to perfect is practice. And as you practice, you make mistakes.

You hit the wrong note. You cut the board too short. You realize no matter what the paint label said, use primer.

And from these mistakes, you learn.

You play different notes. You measure twice. You always use primer. (Seriously, just use primer.)

And slowly, your songs sound better. You cut your boards the right length. Your paint covers perfectly.

You get better.

But before that happens, you make those mistakes.

Over the last two weeks, I got better at some things. I saw this cool banner DIY on A Beautiful Mess.

I thought, I could make that, and I could sell that at the shop.

But I had a tweak in mind. I wanted my banner to be not quite so Christmas-themed. So instead of NOEL, I decided my banner would say ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.

So I went to the fabric store to buy my supplies. I agonized over the type of sheet moss to buy. Cost, how much I need, etc. Sheet moss cost more than I anticipated.

I went home and unrolled my moss. It was completely see-through.

I went back to the store and bought something that actually resembled a sheet. Mistake made. Lesson learned.

Since I was adding more words to my banner, I also decided to scale down my letters. Instead of doing the word LOVE 8 inches tall like the blog post suggests, I made the word LOVE 6 inches tall and the rest of the words 2 inches tall.

I cut my banner out of felt and cut and glued my ribbon down to the felt. I printed out the letters, taped the letters to the cardboard and then cut these letters out. Then I cut the letters out of moss and glued these letters to the cardboard letters. I arranged ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE on my banner, and I glued the words down. Then I hung my banner over the edge of a door and glued two wreath hangers to the back of the banner.

I stood back and looked at the banner. Something was off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I took a couple pictures, and I sent one to my mom.

“Kinda on the fence about it.”

“Doesn’t seem to have the same pop as the other one. Are all the letters moss covered?” she wrote back.

I had, of course, covered all the letters in moss. But with this text, my mom essentially identified the problem.

She couldn’t tell for sure if all the letters were moss-covered, so the green was not nearly as bold as it should have been. By making the letters smaller, I had thrown the scale off. So the banner didn’t have as much “pop" because the size of the banner wasn’t proportional to the letters.

This letter re-sizing amounted to a mistake, and one that was not as easily fixed as returning the moss to the store. The banner was maybe not entirely ruined, but certainly not usable in its current state.

So I failed. But I also learned.

Some tweaks are good. I still like the idea of using “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.” I also like the rose gold ribbon I bought. But the letters must be bigger, or the banner must be smaller to correct the scale.

I haven’t decided how I want to try to salvage the banner I made. Or if I want to try to make more banners for the shop.

As I get older, I have accepted there are plenty of things I won’t ever be great at. But it doesn’t mean I want to stop pushing myself to try new things.

Some of these things I will be good at. And some of these things I will fail at.

Making mistakes and failing is what makes us human. Failure helps us grow. And no matter how old I am, I don’t ever want to stop learning and growing.

 These are my work-in-progress moss letters. If nothing else, I had a fun time playing with the moss.

These are my work-in-progress moss letters. If nothing else, I had a fun time playing with the moss.