The last week of May my family and I attended an ancestral skills gathering. There, I wove my first willow basket.
We began with splitting red fir roots as they are small and pliable and can more easily form the central base of the basket. From there, we began twining in small to gradually larger willows.
As I was about to transition from root to willow, I happened to compare my basket base to another woman’s. Mine was decidedly inferior.
At that point, I’d already learned enough to recognize many of the mistakes I’d made. Looking at the beauty of the other woman’s base, I became convinced I needed to destroy all I’d done and begin anew.
Fortunately, the dinner bell rang and I was able to set the basket aside momentarily.
While eating, I described my dilemma to a friend and she mentioned that she’d heard that the purpose of your first basket is to hold all of your mistakes.
What?!? I don’t have to do it all perfectly the first time? It’s possible for me to simply continue weaving and learning as I weave?
My fundamentalist, puritanical upbringing would beg to differ.
From that perspective, my first basket must be a bastion of glory, of perfection, a skillful and artful weaving of wonder! If not, what’s the point of creating it? If not, I will be shamed and mocked and most likely, cast to the depths of hell.
(yes, those are the underlying, mostly unconscious, beliefs/thoughts that were dictating the desire to dis-assemble my basket).
And yet, the truth is that this is my first basket. This is the basket that, through completing, will allow my next to be closer to my aspirations, closer to the basket of my dreams.
What are you in the midst of weaving right now (in your daily life, with your family/friends, within your sacred work)?
Where might you notice a creeping in of perfectionism?
Or, of that fundamentalist attitude of all-or-nothing? “If it isn’t perfect, I should just tear it all apart and begin again! Or, even better, just give up.”
Here’s the too-often true truth:
When you operate from perfectionism (including an all-or-nothing mindset), you often don’t actually complete the thing you set out to do.
That new offering doesn’t make it into the hands of those who could actually benefit from it. That art project isn’t completed. The article goes unfinished. That new skill you want to master just because it looks like fun and you feel this spark of desire to learn how to do it… just keeps being put off and put off and put off…
In short, the basket that holds all of your mistakes remains unwoven.
In order to avoid this outcome, here are some steps you can take:
- acknowledge the part(s) of you who want everything to be perfect (who NEED everything to be perfect so they can feel safe). “I hear you; I feel you; I love you; I’m here.” Give yourself a few moments to give and receive safety from/for yourself in this way… or, in whatever way works well for you.
- become curious about who your ‘basket’ is (whether your basket is an art project, an article or book, a new course or other offer for your clients, some other creative endeavor, etc etc). Take an animist approach to your project and get to know this one who you hold in your heart and possibly in your hands.
- speak to your basket (come into relationship with it). Let it know your dreams for it and what you hope it will become.
- listen… what does your basket want to become? What does your basket want for you?
- as you continue on your journey of basket creation, allow your basket to hold your mistakes (you honor your basket and yourself in this way).
In the end, I became curious what would emerge from my imperfectly begun basket. I continued with the weaving, talking to the basket, asking it what it wanted to become, listening to its response. Time passed and what had been a pile of roots and willows became a basket.
Looking at it now, it is imperfect. (It is also perfect.) It holds all of my mistakes and all that I’ve learned up to this point in my willow basket weaving journey.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
ps. unweaving the patterns of perfectionism including that so-often-present all-or-nothing mindset requires time, awareness, and curiosity. Just like weaving a basket, there is much to learn and to practice along the way.
If you’d like some help dismantling this pattern within yourself so you can approach your various baskets with curiosity and connection (and perhaps even finish them!), I can help. The Witchy Healer Wisdom School is where this profound and necessary work takes place.
Want to know if WHWS is right for you? Reach out and we’ll set up a time for an absolutely no-pressure chat. <3