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Archive for the ‘Imperfection’ Category

I hate it when I overthink things. And I overthink things a lot. How about you? I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post for more than a year now. Really. And for about 6 months before that. Each time I spend so much time considering ALL the possibilities. Seriously I consider every last one of them, which keeps me from writing anything at all.

Maybe you can’t relate. Maybe you’re just one of those people who just decides to do something and does it. You want to learn to draw, BAM! You go pull out a pencil and start drawing. Maybe after a couple of hours you pull up a video and watch it or grab a book at the library the next time you’re there because, hey it couldn’t hurt to see if they have anything useful to say now that you are drawing. If that’s you, then this blog post is gonna feel really foreign to you, I bet. Just for giggles, here’s what my process would look like if I wanted to learn to draw:

  1. Decide I’d like to draw.
  2. Think about it for months to see if I really want to learn to draw.
  3. Pin a bunch of articles about drawing on Pinterest.
  4. Start a list of a bunch of YouTube videos I could watch about drawing but read all the comments first to see if it’s a worthwhile video about drawing.
  5. Start to doubt the negative reviews on YouTube, remembering that people complain about every little piece of minutia. But skip the videos anyway in case the critics were right.
  6. Get out all the art supplies- pencils, colored pencils, sharpeners, paper, ink etc.
  7. Stress for at least one week that I have all the wrong supplies.
  8. Go to an art store, walk around, feel overwhelmed, go home with nothing.
  9. Get onto Amazon, load up my cart with arts supplies – never buy any of it.
  10. Mention that I’m thinking about drawing to a friend and then tell them all the reasons (excuses) I’m not actually drawing yet
  11. Feel guilty when my friend, completely non-judgmentally asks me why I don’t just pick up a pencil and draw if that would make me happy?
  12. Finally pick up my pencil, draw for two minutes, decide I can’t possibly be any good at it, become completely anxious and walk away.
  13. After a few hours, contemplate taking a drawing class.

This is Olympic level overthinking people! Trust me, don’t try this at home.

I was going to explain to you all the reasons I haven’t been writing for a long time. I felt like I couldn’t just start writing again without some sort of explanation. But then I couldn’t figure out which pieces to tell you, what would make sense, what you would care about, etc. etc. etc. Overthinking for the win once again.

You know what overthinking is? It’s fear and perfectionism swirled together in a lethal combination. It’s that misguided, bat-shit crazy notion that if I just consider and reconsider and re-reconsider all the possibilities, I am going to be able to figure something out and then execute it perfectly and not make any mistakes and not disappoint anyone and…and…and…

And we all know where this leads.

So today, I’m trying to not let the overthinking beat me.

Here’s what you need to know:

My blog is going to change. It needs to change, because I burned out trying to be someone I wasn’t, trying to impart wisdom I didn’t have. I’m going to fumble and misstep and I’m going to try to be more authentic and vulnerable and I’m going to fumble around that too. I’m going to try for a more, here’s where I am, show me where you are and maybe we can muck through this whole messy life thing out together, sort of vibe.

I’m predicting I’m gonna look  a lot like this at first:

train-wreck-67775_1280

 

And it feels a lot like this at the moment:

 

parachute-704416_1280

But I‘m gonna try to remember to have fun even through the fear.

I hope you’ll join me.

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Robin

Robin

Several of my friends know that I used to dabble in comedy writing and most people who know me could easily surmise that I’m a huge fan of comedic movies and personalities. So recently, more than one person has asked why I haven’t blogged about Robin Williams’ death.

The truth is, (more…)

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keyboardSo my month of daily posting is over. For those of you who don’t know, I was participating in The National Blog Posting Month Challenge, otherwise known as NaBloPoMo. The challenge is to write and post a blog entry every day during the month of November. I made it 25 out of 30 days. Not bad for a first attempt.  It’s been a good month generally and it was definitely a learning experience.  Some were new lessons, some were reminders of things I already knew but could use some reinforcement. Here’s what I took away from the month: (more…)

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Melt Down

NaBloPoMo_November_smallI teach at a homeschool co-op once a week. A group of parents get together and teach about 100 kids from preschool through high school. Kids can take anything from belly dancing to British Literature. I love being there and tapping into a huge network of creative and resourceful parents.

One of my contributions tot he co-op is to teach a creative writing class for seven to nine-year-olds. It is truly one of the best things I do all week. It just so happens that across the hall from us during that time period is a music class for some of our youngest students and their parents.

This past week, my kids and I were working on creating poetry, when all of a sudden there was a horrible shriek from the classroom across the hall. It quickly became apparent that one small musician was having a meltdown of monumental proportions. Her mom was with her the entire time and quickly removed her from that classroom, moving her down the hall to the unoccupied nursery.

A few minutes later, I needed to leave the classroom to get some additional supplies, and as I walked by the nursery. As I passed by,  I was struck by the most stunning image. The young girl, who is about two, was still stuck in a full-blown temper tantrum. Her mother was sitting in front of her, perfectly calm and practicing active listening skills as the little girl sobbed and spoke, fairly unintelligibly, I would imagine, while struggling to regain control.  And here was her mother, clearly listening, not judging, not telling her to calm down, just listening.

It got me thinking about those times we, as adults, melt down. It happens to the best of us occasionally.  Maybe you yell, maybe you drink, maybe you watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer for hours on end while eating eight cartons of Chinese take-out. People don’t melt down randomly, it’s a build up of frustrations, little and big, that we stuff down until they pile up. Eventually, if you keep it up, you run out of room to hold it in- that’s when the meltdown happens. How quickly we personally recover depends on how long it takes for us to listen to ourselves, without judgement or without asking ourselves to do something we have no ability to do, like calm down or get over it. Meltdowns are a way of saying that something is very wrong, that our needs can no longer be ignored for the sake of politeness, appropriateness or because we’re choosing to put other people’s’  needs ahead of our own.

Some of us need to practice active listening with ourselves which may come in the form of journaling or running or painting. Some of us need stillness and silence – meditation – to truly listen to ourselves. I don’t know about you, but it’s much harder for me to listen to myself without judgement, without harping on all the reasons I should have it together, or shouldn’t have lost it in the first place, that it is to do the very same things for the people around me. And all those judgements, all those “shoulds” and reasons to beat ourselves up don’t help us  find our center or right us. They just keep us in the vortex of the storm.

The simple wisdom of this mom to not try to change the situation or judge or ask of her daughter something she simply wasn’t capable of in that moment stunned me. The act of being present in the frustration and the pain and to just listen stuck with me in a way I don’t think I’ll easily dismiss. I hope the next time I find myself in the middle of a personal meltdown I have the ability to just stop and listen and hear what it is I am so desperately trying to say.

 

This is day 22 of the National Blog Posting Challenge.

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NaBloPoMo_November_smallThis year I’ve worked harder to learn to play the guitar than I have in past years (lots and lots of past years). While I’m not ready to open for Aerosmith on their next world tour, I’m making progress. More importantly, I’m having more fun playing than I have ever before.

So this past weekend of ridiculous fun, raucous laughter and amazing concerts included a brunch in Northern VA with friends from far and wide. I consumed way too much delicious food and was seriously considering a cat nap when musical instruments started coming out. More than a couple of people in our group are really talented musicians who have been honing their craft for years. One could get really intimidated by their abilities if they weren’t so freakin’ nice and inclusive.

So, I ended up with a guitar in my hands.  My initial instinct was to play the one song I know really well (really well being a relative term) and hand off the guitar to someone more experienced.  I made my way through my song, the other guests sang along and I put the guitar on the table so the “real” musicians could play. Then a funny thing happened, the serious musicians started playing and I quickly realized they expected me to play with them. Again, I found myself ready to hand off the guitar but then I remembered a great rule for beginners or anyone looking to learn more, really. Anytime you have the chance to practice your skill with more advanced practitioners, take advantage of the situation.

In other words, play up.

I struggled to keep up as they went through a number of songs way more advanced than I am, but the others took the time to yell out chords, help me with my strumming and in general allow me to fumble my way through. The great thing is that I learned a few things that I wouldn’t have learned just sitting there. I don’t care if you’re a knitter or a litigator: if someone with more experience is willing to put you in the game or spend time teaching you something new, you take them up on that offer. Check your ego at the door over your imperfections and dive in. It beats sitting in your room watching Youtube videos trying to figure something out, I promise you that.

Did I come out of that jam session an entirely new and improved guitar player? No. But I learned a few things and had a hell of a lot of fun at the same time.

Play up.

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Plans Change

NaBloPoMo_November_smallIf you’re keeping track, I didn’t post yesterday. First day in the November challenge that I missed. I actually had it all planned out. Writing in the morning was impossible due to scheduling conflicts. I had a concert in the evening but it was early enough that  I would be home in plenty of time to write something.

As so often happens, plans change. Finding dinner after the show turned out to be harder than we thought in that area of Washington DC. After looking at a few restaurants and not finding one to accommodate our group, we decided to leave the city and head back to my town in search of food. There was just one complication; friends locked their keys in their car and were stranded. So we waited with them, of course.  We made sure they stayed safe until they were able to pop the lock.  You have no idea how hard it is to find a wire hanger in this day and age. Anyway, after a bit, we saw them on their way and my group of merry revelers made it home without incident. By then it was after midnight and I had missed my window.

But really, it’s okay.  A few years ago I would have freaked out about missing one day. I would have seen the blogging challenge as an all-or-nothing endeavor. Either I succeeded in writing 30 posts or I failed by missing even just one. Thankfully, I’ve mostly recovered from that kind of black and white thinking. I’m learning to recognize the thought patterns and to challenge them when they rear their ugly heads.

In this particular case it was totally worth missing the post to ensure my friends were safe. But there are lots of other reasons that would have been okay too. The first is I don’t have to be perfect to be successful at any goal that I have. And neither do you by the way. Which is actually a fantastic thing because no situations ever happen perfectly. That’s just life. And once I not only figured that out, but also believed it to be true (the harder of the two tasks), reaching my goals not only became more doable but less daunting as well.

So I’m moving forward. Posting this today and letting go of yesterday. I may not get all thirty blogs up but that doesn’t mean I didn’t successfully complete the National Blog Posting Month Challenge. In fact, I think a little struggle to post shows me just how successful I am.  Instead of quitting at the first sign on imperfection, I am soldiering on. My journey isn’t perfect but I get to exchange perfectionism for learning and growing. Seems like I am getting the better part of that deal.

 

This is Day 17 of the National Blog Posting Month Challenge.

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Under The Wire

NaBloPoMo_November_smallI said I was going to post every day for 30 days and so here I am. This isn’t much of a post – It’s 11:50 at night.  But I am showing up and writing anyway. I was tempted to let it go, cut myself some slack. I have friends who arrived in town today and it’s been a whirlwind. In fact, we just now arrived home.

But there is something important to the muse about showing up when you said you would. So here I am, if only briefly. I’m counting it as a win.  My instinct would be to let it go, complain that I couldn’t make it perfect or even good so why bother? But here’s the thing: showing up is always better than not showing up, great or not. In fact, showing up and allowing yourself to do it badly can be freeing and can ultimately open up your creativity to bigger and better things.

On another occasion, I could write more about this – but with only minutes to go to get this posting online, I’ll just say:

Show up – it matters.

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