Lessons from Tim Gunn

I admire Tim Gunn so much. I think he’s brave. I think he’s thoughtful. I think he’s present. I think he’s kind. I think he’s a good mentor and compassionate and authentic and dapper. I would like to hang at his place for apps and drinks at the kitchen island and end up staying too long because he was imparting wisdom to me.

He’s known for the phrase “Make It Work”, which has so much appeal.

We love work. We love making things. We love making it work. It’s really the ultimate American statement of encouragement and challenge and grit and character, and it’s what John Wayne did.

On the surface.

Tim Gunn is known for being the mentor on Project Runway and throwing down the “Make It Work” challenge when a designer is lost or stuck making something horrible but time is running too short to completely start over unless you really have it together in the sewing and construction department. I relate, because I went to design school and we did that a lot – your design is really bad until you are up against the clock and you have to pull it together and produce something by the time class starts. Sometimes you get really efficient and focused. Sometimes your ideas come together and you produce something worthwhile. Make It Work is the way forward in those situations – take what you have, no matter how bad or messy and make something out of it.

Really though, sometimes you can’t make it work. And I think that’s where you have to dive a bit into the statement. What isn’t said? What else is in those three short words?

Make It Work For You.

And if it isn’t, then get your hands on something that does. The fabric was a terrible choice? Maybe there is another one available if you look around for it. The design was horrible and unflattering? Conjure up a different design. Your collection isn’t cohesive? Scrap some things and get real with yourself about what does work and else you need to complete the picture.

It wasn’t just an admonition to make the best you could of the bad situation and being stuck with the bad situation, it was evaluating whether the situation was even working for you, and if not, scrapping it in favor of something that did.

It was and is really good advice. Thanks, Tim! You mentored me too.

Compassion Burnout

It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I cannot be here one more second without my skin crawling, an overwhelming desire to cry and severe anxiety that is killing my productivity.

My therapist introduced me to a new thing yesterday, which is Compassion Burnout. I apparently passed fatigue a month and a half ago, but since I kept having to skip therapy, it didn’t really come up and I went straight to burnout.

Some self-care would have helped not to pass fatigue, but…that didn’t happen.

The application to me is that I can’t really care for my grandma (or any other family member for that matter) in a way that I enjoy in any form because I have cared so intensely for so long (and through so much crisis) that I actually just can’t.

The solution is to completely remove myself for a while.

That urge I have to run away back to the desert for a month? I’m supposed to listen to that. I’m supposed to run away. Because if I don’t, I can’t get back to compassion.

I’m only here two days this week (30 more hours), so it’s less, and slightly less anxiety and skin crawling, but not much. Today I was reduced to zero ability to multitask (I can’t tell you the discussion I had on the phone because I was looking at my laptop screen and couldn’t hear and see at the same time), and I am crawling through the things I want to get done today, because while I am somewhat incapacitated by anxiety, I am so determined to get these things done. So determined. But burned out. And faking my way through compassion while trying to stay calm.