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.

I’m Still Uncomfortable

I have been busting my ass at work on several challenging projects, and don’t have resolution on any of them yet. I am waiting on responses, waiting on meetings or not yet able to get to the work due to the slew of things on my plate right now. It’s a lot of uncertainty, and it feels like a lot is on the line.

I have a lot of uncertainty with my company right now because job openings keep coming through my email and I’m just not sure that it’s not better to quit what I’m doing and get paid to show up. Right now I show up and don’t always get paid (there’s a lot of boundary setting to do that hasn’t been done the last two years and I am just now able to see and acknowledge that).

I have a lot of uncertainty with relationships right now. I might have to take a break from therapy (thanks, insurance), my family is still sorting ourselves out after a lot of illness and injury and my experience living with PTSD continues to be challenging and limiting. What I want and what I have to work with aren’t matching up right now, and I haven’t managed to break through the barrier and constraints yet.