Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Perfect Gift is not always the gift that is perfect.

Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanugh. We post first Wednesday of each month and here writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak...or just outright obsessive and contradictory.

I wanted to let my friends know how special they are so I threw a virtual party for them.  I was insecure about the way I wrote it. I didn't know if the post would reflect my feelings as I intended.

Dragons deny it but we are not perfect. Many of us are perfectionists, though. At first, I questioned the gifts I planned for those I wanted to honor. Were they too simple? Would they be considered meaningless? Could they encompass the feeling and reason involved the making? My perfectionist inner critic reminded me my ideas were like children's game compared to professional illustrations.

Mother Dragon taught me he who does what he can, does what he must; and he who gives his best effort, is giving everything of him. This was my winning argument. I couldn't give the best gift ever seen but I would give the best I had. I spent many hours planning, testing, and experimenting with art and edition software. I jumped from program to program and from laptop to iPad until I got dizzy. In the end, I was really proud of the result. It was not that my painstaking effort was visible but I thought it had been worth.

The day came. Dragon, dwarves, cave and gifts were ready. I was insecure about the length of the post. I didn't want to drive people into a catatonic state. There was always the option to have the dwarves perform the rumba version of Far Over the Misty Mountain Cold, but I didn't want them to fight over who wears the high heels. Luckily for you and me, there was no need.

The party was a success. The response was way above my expectations. Almost all my VIP showed up and some new faces too. The comments made me feel everyone enjoyed the party and left with a smile. My heart did the happy dance inside my chest.

At least until this


Turn into this.


Higher Powers, mercy me! Be still my cholesterol and don't give me a heart attack. By some format error, the Scale Award I found in my friends' blogs looked as if my dwarves made it when drunk and wiped their mouths with it.  People will think this was the best I could come up with? Really? My face flushed, scales glowing in shame, as many times as I ran into this image. I cringed and wanted to hide beneath the biggest rock.

I asked Alex and Jeremy for their expert's advice to fix the problem a.s.a.p. The Ninja answered first and his advice was: "Email the original image to the ones you can and don't worry about the rest. People will appreciate it anyway, because it came from you."  My eye twitched. Dragon talk vs. Ninja talk. I was risking demotion or permanent banning from the High Academy of Controlling and Perfectionist Dragons and Alex didn't sound a bit concerned. What's wrong with this world? I thought.

"All right Ninja, abandon the Dragon in his time of need. Tassin, bring the Oreos, double chocolate for quick death. Sessin and Millin, play sad music. Pancholin, I blame you for this."

Luckily, Jeremy Hawkins fixed the problem before I could commit Oreo Seppuku to save my honor. Now I just had to go on the hunt for the disgraceful image. I visited several blogs and asked my friends to please come back and download the award again (in .png to ensure quality). As I did this, I couldn't help but to question the Higher Powers. Why, oh why, did this happen with something that was meant to be so special and where I put so much effort? That wasn't the dragon award; that was an accident.

Wait a minute! I don't believe in accidents. I strongly believe things go wrong for a reason and it is completely up to us to learn from them or limit ourselves to complain about them. Once I remembered that, I was able to translate the Ninja's words. I used my heart, instead of my eyes, to see and I saw how proudly people were displaying the award. Never mind the picture quality. To them, it was not about the image in itself but the meaning behind it. It was all about the reason I made it in the first place. I was so touched and grateful then.The message I wanted to convey came through and was understood as I meant it. I doubt I would have this conviction if I hadn't faced the format error.

Sometimes we worry so much about the gift that we forget the true intent behind giving it. Often we get carried away. In the stressful frenzy of getting the whole paraphernalia perfectly, we forget the essence, the real reason, for the celebration. This is a good month to keep in mind the Perfect Gift is not always the gift that is perfect.

P.S. Nevertheless, if those who have the scrappy award would like to relief the dragon from his obsessive stress, you may replace the image with the one above.

I leave you all Dragon Hugs!

74 comments:

  1. Sir Dragon, you could have drawn the award with paddlepop sticks and crayons and I would have been proud and honoured to receive it. The thought and the warmth were the gift, and the artwork (beautiful as it is) the wrapping.
    Hugs.

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    1. You are so sweet! Thank you for the reassurance. You also made me laugh with the paddlepop sticks. Maybe next time I'll try that. :) Dragon Hugs!

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  2. I was truly honoured to receive your award and am proud to display it upon my humble blog as a constant reminder of what it stands for. I think the quality of my image was fine but I will check and re do if needed. Thanks again.

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    1. Thank you, Suzanne. I've forgotten how many places I've visited already but your words make me feel happy.

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  3. You're learning, little grasshopper!
    Seriously, everyone was so touched by your words and your thoughtfulness. That is what mattered. Yes, I understand the need for perfectionism. But when it involves people, there's just no such thing. And that's all right.

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    1. Grasshopper? HAHAHA! I thought I was the master, but I guess we can take turns in the teaching role. ;)

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  4. For what it's worth, my award looked great from the start. But I would treasure it either way.

    See? You're so special, I'm visiting you even while on hiatus. :)

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    1. I do feel special now, but then again, you ALWAYS make me feel a special dragon. :D Thank you!

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  5. Didn't your mother ever teach you that it is the thought that counts? Having said that, I think all artists are perfectionists.

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    1. Hi Wendy. I guess it must come with the muse package. ;)

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  6. Little grasshopper... *snort* Ninjas must be fireproof. :)
    I agree with EC. You could have drawn stick figures with crayon and it would have been beautiful. It came from your heart. I proudly display it on my (new) blog.
    You made me laugh (thank you!) about your Oreo Seppuku. Pass the Oreos this way. I'll make the sacrifice and eat them for you...with a swig of Jezebel's punch. ;)

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    1. This Ninja friend is getting confident, hahaha. You are such a good friend. I am thinking a card of macaroni for the next time. ;) Here are all the Oreos I didn't use. Don't eat them all at once, though. Dragon Hugs!

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    2. Oreos! You are my bestest friend! No, Pancholin! You must share.
      *happily munching with the dwarves doing the rumba around me*
      Bolitas!

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  7. Awww. What a great lesson learned. It sounds like you had yourself a wonderful celebration. And I certainly understand (as did all of your other friends) about the technical glitches. Just the other day I was blogpost worrying about agent e-mail submittals, and how cutting and pasting ms copy into the body of the e-mail causes unwanted things to happen. Things that require fixing. And things that you aren't sure get fixed. So totally relate!
    December IWSG co-host
    http://swaggerwriters.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks Kim, it was really good. Those technical glitches as you call them can really give me a headache, though. I guess we will have to take it easy. :)

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  8. I saw your "fixed" award on FB before I could post the one I downloaded from the party, so I don't know if the original would have shown up that way, but you know what? It's beautiful, regardless of what it looked like. But I understand completely the need to "get it right." I still have to get it up on my awards page, though. :)

    YOU are perfect, just the way you are. Don't you think God sees the things we consider flaws? Except to God, they're not flaws, they are the things that make you unique.

    Many hugs to my perfectly imperfect friend.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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    1. You are too kind as always, Mike. Yeah, I might get a bit obsessive with details sometimes. I am working hard on that part. I try to breath deeply several times before I get too nuts. But sometimes it just doesn't work, hahaha. Thank you for your words. I do believe you. :)

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  9. Your heart is the most beautiful gift of all-- and you give that freely and openly. That is what we all feel and want to give back. SHs

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    1. I'm blessed to have such wonderful people as friends. I always learn new things from all of you. SH SHSHSHSHSHSHSH plus one!

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  10. Can the dwarves perform that rumba for a future party? I'd love to see that.

    For what it's worth, I thought your award looked great from the start, Al. I know what you mean about wanting to fix it, but it was wonderful either way. Thanks again!

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    1. The rumba version of Far Over the Misty Mountain cold? hahahaha. Okay, it will be scheduled after the Hawaiian dances they will perform with Mark Koopsman. ;) I will keep you informed. Thanks, Julie! Dragon hugs.

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  11. Perfectionism can be a huge over-bearing burden. It's also impossible to achieve -- nothing is ever "perfect" no matter how good it is.

    It's probably going to be a never-ending process, but I'm working to evolve my unhealthy "it's not good enough!" perfectionism into a simple-but-healthy "it's a good enough step towards improvement."

    And, actually, I kinda like the colorful embellishment in the "flawed" Scale Award. It's kind of like it has an aura of ethereal magic to it. So I think it was a perfect gift, and I suspect those who received it probably felt the same way.

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    1. That's a pretty good idea, Chris. I think "It's a good enough step towards improvement" is something I can work on easier. I'll keep this in mind. Thank you very much!

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  12. It's a shame I haven't come across you before now. Your wonderful heart and thoughtful personality shows through your words. And you're thoroughly entertaining to read. In my book, that's perfect.

    It's a pleasure to meet you, Father Dragon. I look forward to reading more.

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    1. Welcome to the dragon cave, Loni. Always glad to see new faces. Thank you very much for your words and I'm glad you find the cave entertaining. Nice to meet you too! :D

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  13. LOL Well, I will tell you that I agree with Alex. It was a wonderful gift AND your words in that post were just beautiful.

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    1. All right, now the Ninja has a supporter. He'll brag about it with the dwarves so let's keep it between you and me. ;)

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  14. Ahhh, come on, Daddy D. The folks who received the award weren't looking at the decor. They loved the thought behind it. I doubt they felt anything but gratitude.

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    1. Hahaha, Daddy D... it sounds cool. :D Your words bring a smile to my face. Thanks, Huntress!

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  15. Mistakes are beautiful when we embrace them and turn them into lessons. You seem to do that very well, but then you're a dragon, and we expect no less of dragons. It's all about their hearts, you see. But you know that already.

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    1. Since we can't get rid of mistakes, we better turn them into friends somehow, right? :D Yes, I know it's all about hearts but sometimes pride makes me forget it. Must be more careful. Dragon Hugs, milady!

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  16. When in doubt, let the dwarves perform the rumba.

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    1. Century-distilled wisdom here, Tony. :D

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  17. It is perfect in its imperfection, much like each of us:) Our flaws make us who we are, without them, we'd not strive to be better. Your intentions were heard loud and clear! I would have liked to see the dwarves dancing in high heels though--perhaps for the next party:) Wishing you a holiday filled with the gift of happiness and all its beautiful flaws!

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    1. Now the dwarves feel so special and excited already from so many requesting their performance, hahahaha. I will have to open some sort of Dwarf Theater for their shows. Thank you for your words, Sam. Have a wonderful holiday you too. And take plenty of dragon hugs to last all season.

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  18. My adorable dragon, I was so honoured to receive the award and my name in dragon breath, I uploaded it on my Blog, Facebook and WhatsApp immediately. I was wracked with guilt for being so late for the virtual party and making my poor dragon (the tired host) wait for me to turn up. The gift is precious not just to me but to all of us. Please don't worry about it. Hugs.

    Btw, I badly want to see the dwarves do the rumba.

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    1. They will gladly do the rumba for you, Rachna. We'll just get the fruit bowls ready because they want fruit bowls on their head, hahahaha. Or may it is just the dragon who wants them. ;) Thank you very much for all this love to the dragon. I really didn't mind to wait for that dance with you. We rocked! :D Dragon Hugs.

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    2. Yep, we rocked the dance floor, wouldn't mind dancing again with my favourite dragon :)

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  19. Sometimes those ninjas can be pretty smart too. It's definitely about the thought behind the gift, although I get the perfectionism too. *hugs*

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    1. Hugs back at you, Cherie. Yes, the Ninja is smart. He calls me grasshopper and disappear in a shroud of smoke. ;) Dragon Hugs!

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  20. Quite honestly, I think they are both beautiful awards. Mine never did have the blue, so ;looks like the dwarves like me...they made mine perfect the first time!! Never sweat the small stuff my friend...I know that's hard advice for a giant dragon, but still. Hugs!

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    1. Ah the dwarves have a crush on you, Elizabeth. They sigh with an absent-minded look on their faces whenever they see around. There is no point in denying it. Thanks for the advice, it's hard but I'll try to follow it. It's healthy. Dragon Hugs!

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  21. Y'know Al that actually looks pretty cool. It looks like a glowing effect. Maybe it's just me.

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    1. Funny thing is that some people had told me they actually think it looks fine. I'm also wondering if it is just me too. Thanks, Maurice! :)

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  22. HI, FD…

    SOOOO sorry I missed the festivities.(Limited internet access in Colombia) BUT, as always your HEART reigns… WE all love our sensitive and sweet dragon. That will never change.

    How sweet of you to show us your HEART at FULL BEAM…

    Gifts from the heart are our GREATEST treasure!!!!!

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    1. Don't worry, Michael, I knew you were away. Welcome back and thank you for your words and friendship. You are right, gifts from the heart are what matter most. :)

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  23. You truly are wise. Thanks for sharing what we need to remember during the upcoming holiday season.

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    1. Thanks for coming, Susan. Honestly, I'll try to keep it mind too. :)

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  24. Oh Al, this post had me laughing, sighing, and nearly crying. How often do we try to give the perfect gift and it simply not work out the way we intend?

    I have been all around the blogosphere and seen posts that mentioned your amazing post. I didn't think to do it myself and it felt like copying... so I proudly hung the award in my sidebar. After reading this, I now MUST go check and see if I have the smudgy award or the real thing.

    Either way, YOU are a treasure!

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    1. I'm glad I could give you a good laughter. It happens more times than we wish to think on, right? The gift not working out. I'm glad you accepted the award (the shiny one, hahaha). Dragon Hugs!

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  25. Wouldn't even have noticed if you hadn't pointed it out. Looks cool either way. Will change it just to ease your concern but very proud to display either version.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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    1. Thank you, Moody. I think I am the only one noticing it that much, but still my peace of mind appreciates the help. :D

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  26. One, knowing you is a gift. Two, that you thought of me was a gift. That you wrote your appreciation of me was another. The dragon graphic was icing on the cake. Thank you for the party and all of the awesome gifts, Al. Know that I send you the gift of positive thoughts everyday. :)

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    1. Aww, Mary Pax, you always make me feel like a star. :)Those positive thoughts put me in the sky. Thank you and plenty of dragon hugs!

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  27. I wouldn't have noticed either! I know you wanted it to look right though. What matters most is the people who are displaying it, right or wrong, because its gift meant something.

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    1. That's right, Diane. That's my valuable lesson learned and it really felt good when I got it. Dragon Hugs.

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  28. I think my award was perfect right from the beginning, but whatever it had been like I would have displayed it with pride and gratitude. I am also using the dragon fire version of my name at the end of my blogs these days. I love it. I am sorry you were distressed when the awards came out wrong, but I am sure none of us cared that much, only that we had been awarded such a gift in the first place. You are so right Al, its not the gift but the thought behind it.

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    1. Thank you, Jo. I was really flattered to see the award in your blog. You're so sweet. I try not to be that obsessive about it. :) Dragon Hugs.

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  29. Personally, I'm surprised the dragon didn't roam the blogosphere and delete all the images. I hear the dragon's keyboard has an enormous "Delete" button. :)

    It really is the motivation and intent that's important. That, my friend, you delivered 100% error free.

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    1. I was using the Delete button for something else. ;) It's always a relief to know at least motivation is of the highest quality, right? :D

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  30. Sir, Alex was correct. I LOVE my Dragon Scales award, fuzzy as it is. I noted your comment on Gary's post, and downloaded the version on his blog - I got to his post late enough I figured he'd already fixed it. I see the quality is colorful on my blog. Sorry Hon, I'm not sure how to fix that. I replaced it with the black one from here, but it still has all that awesome color smudges. If you don't mind, I'll keep all that color that is exceptionally bright and reflective of love and light to me. It is not flawed, to my eyes. Yes, I see the intent, and I cry each time I look at the honor you bestowed upon me. There is humanity in flaws, to a point, lol.

    Chillax Dude. I believe your gift was well received. Speaking for myself especially. Thanks for the motivational link in your comment on my post today. He made me laugh, and think deeply about my decisions. It will all turn out the way it is meant to; as did your Scales award.

    .......dhole

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    1. It has to be downloaded in .png format instead of .jpg but if you insist, what can I tell you. If you like that one better, go ahead and keep it. :D I'm glad the video proved interesting. I know you will find your way, Donna. I'm sure of it. Dragon Hugs!

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  31. um...I didn't even notice!! you could have so gone without saying it to some of us like me would have just not noticed. I appreciated the kind words. seriously. we shall have flaming dragon hugs!

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    1. Maybe not everyone has the excessive critical eye I have, hahaha. Dragon Hugs!

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  32. You know, I didn't even notice the award was 'off'--I was just so honored and happy to have received it in the first place! I checked the image I downloaded and it looks fine, so I'm not sure why it didn't work properly when I posted it. I'll try again!

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    1. It's the format, Lara. One has to make sure to download in png format instead of jpg. That would fix the problem. Dragon Hugs!

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  33. I'm not catatonic, but I really want to see the dwarves perform the rhumba!! And even though I rescued the image with the png thing -- I'd have displayed your award very proudly anyway! :-)

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    1. I think they will be rather happy to show their dancing skills, Lexa! Yes, your idea was very good as well. And I'm glad you accepted the award really. Dragon Hugs!

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  34. Hi Father Dragon - Mother Dragon summed it .. do your bestest - give us your bestest most colourfulest flame ... we get your thoughts - I was so chuffed you mentioned me .. and I just am grateful and don't even take the award on over ... my poor blog is quiet! But renewal will come in 2014 ... happy hunting Master Father Dragon .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Don't worry, Hilary, it's okay. The new year will bring new things for me as well. I hope so too. Dragon hugs!!

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  35. I was really quite happy with the slightly fuzzy image - the meaning was still the same. But to comfort your dragon sensibilities, I downloaded it in the correct format and that's the one now gracing my sidebar. Thank you again for the honor.

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    1. Hahaha, thank you LD. My dragon sensibilities really appreciate that, really. ;) Dragon Hugs!!

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  36. Of course it didn't matter to us if the image you honored us with was perfect! It's a lovely award, but the heart behind it was the part that mattered to each of us.

    The Warrior Muse

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  37. It was a awesome gesture for you to share and gift us the honor, I am glad I was able to help a little...

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