How do you begin to stop?

stop and start

I’m considering a new approach to my annual New Year’s resolution ritual. The whole thing is usually an exercise in frustration for me. I start out with enthusiasm, then gradually stop doing whatever it was I started, and then beat myself up over it.

This year, I may try STOPPING something instead of STARTING stuff.

A friend recently pointed me to an article on the blog “Marc and Angel Hack Life: Practical Tips for Productive Living.” The article begins with a quote:

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
― Maria Robinson, From Birth to One

and continues with an annotated list of 30 things people should stop doing.

So, this year, I may STOP something. Oh, not my usual “stop eating junk food” or “stop being lazy.” Something more like #7 on Marc and Angel’s list: “Stop being afraid to make a mistake.”

I’ve had a problem with perfectionism all my life. It makes it difficult for me to finish projects (but it’s not perfect yet!) and makes me reluctant to try things I haven’t done before (how do I know I can do it right?). Don’t get me wrong. I love learning how to do new things. It’s the actual doing new things that gives me pause, especially when the results will be seen—and judged—by others.

I could start small, with a personal (rather than professional) project. I’ve knit scarves and sweaters, for others and for myself. Maybe I should knit a pair of socks and give them away. Socks involve skills I’ve never tried: using short double-pointed needles (but I drop little things!) and turning heels (there might be lumps!).

There’s a simple pattern with clear directions in one of my knitting books, and I’ve found some lovely, soft, non-itchy yarn. I have two friends who knit lots of socks and can cheer me on.

Come January 1, assuming I’ve finished Andy’s Christmas sweater, I’ll buy me some DPNs, cast on, and stop being afraid to make a mistake!

And, after that, I’ll jump off the deep end with a professional project:  code a WordPress theme from scratch, or teach one of my workshops as a webinar, or publish a book of essays.

We’ll see.

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Wordless Wednesday 2014-10-29: October

October landscape

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

~ from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery



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Danger! Expectations!

“You’re doing NaBloPoMo? Why?”

“It’s a bunch of mommy-bloggers and foodies, and they don’t write very well. Why associate yourself with them?”

My colleagues and friends expect bad writing about subjects that don’t interest them, and that’s what they find when they browse through the NaBloPoMo blogroll.

My experience has been a little different.

The first time I joined the NaBloPoMo challenge, I didn’t know what to expect. I did it for the personal discipline: committing to 30 days of personal writing seemed like a good way to get out of my techwriting mind-set and gain experience with a different type of non-fiction creativity.

It worked. I still don’t post as regularly as I’d like to, but I’ve experimented with a lot of different ideas and techniques: memoir, art research, social issues, photo essays, rants, and idle musings. It’s fun!

Part of the challenge commitment is to read and comment on other bloggers’ posts. Yes, some of them don’t write well. It’s been interesting, though, to watch some of them improve over the four years I’ve been doing this. One young woman, whose first language is not English, has gone from haltingly expressed teen angst to fluent descriptions of culture clash as she grows to maturity.

Mommy bloggers? Yes. Foodies? Yes. Some of them don’t interest me, but others are wonderful. There’s Stacey, of She’s an English teacher, so her writing doesn’t make me cringe. And just when I lapse into thinking of her as “only” a food blogger, she comes up with something like “16th Avenue Tiled Steps ~ a Hidden Treasure in San Francisco” or “A Dozen Ways to Be a Better Human.”

Then there is Sojourner’s Sojourns. Sort of a mommy blog, sometimes. Sometimes, more like a foodie blog. Sometimes the posts are low-key sales pieces for her hand-crafted herbal remedies, and sometimes there are articles on exotic travel destinations. Always well-written, though, and usually with outstanding photographs as illustrations. I love it.

expect boring = get boring

If we expect boring bricks, we see boring bricks. If we expect bright skies and clouds shaped like dinosaurs, maybe—just maybe—we’ll see something strange and wonderful.

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Hand and Eye

eye in hand, John DilworthToday was another lost day, as far as work and personal projects are concerned. I spent the day in doctors’ offices and outpatient surgery.

The bad news:
I’ll probably have to have surgery to correct the trigger finger on my left hand. I’ve already had two steroid injections in the joint, and there’s a limit to how often they can repeat the injections without permanently weakening the tendon. Bummer.

The good news:
After laser surgery, my left eye is now clear again except for a few floaters. I’ll return to have the right eye done in two weeks. Yay!


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Sidetracked again

pod desk to eliminate distractions

I had planned to start a major assault on the stored files I wailed about on Sunday, but I let myself be distracted by a bunch of stuff.

First, before I could sit down at the desk in my new staging area, I had to rearrange the furniture (one of my favorite procrastination techniques).

Next, it was the weather. It was a beautiful day, so I went for a walk. Ran into a neighbor I hadn’t seen in a while, so we talked long enough to catch up with the major events in our busy lives. His dog—a gentle three-legged poodle mix rescued from the local shelter—was sniffling a bit, so we discussed vets and antibiotics and pilling techniques before I headed home.

A glance at the calendar reminded me that I had some errands to run, and while I was out, I decided I might as well drop off a box of donations to the thrift shop and pick up some more cat food.

Even after Andy left for his tutoring gig, I found reasons to put off sorting and filing (or scanning, or shredding, or recycling) those boxes of 40-year-old files.

  1. I had to choose the next book for my Teaser Tuesday and Third Sentence Thursday book posts. As usual, this involved actually reading bits of a dozen or more books before I found something appropriate.
  2. The shoes I was wearing started tearing at the point where the leather met the rubber sole, and a blister was forming. Can’t have that! Changed shoes, and put the torn pair aside for a trip to the shoe repair shop in my next errand day.
  3. All three cats were feeling neglected, so I spent some time kitty-fishing with The Brats. After that, I had to sit and cuddle Midnight for a while. (Can’t have my beloved former feral getting in a snit because The Brats get more attention than she does!)
  4. Then, I realized I hadn’t heard back from the people I was expecting to meet in New York next week, so I fired off several emails. I also emailed the friends who want to get married in our living room in December, and my cousin in Denver, and a friend who wants to meet me for lunch this week.

By then, Andy was home and it was dinner time.

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