Mature Process

So often I’ve compared a given experience to learning to drive a standard. You know, with the clutch.

Today’s new drivers aren’t as likely to learn to drive this way, since most new cars today are automatic (and have been for a long time). But once upon a time, at least in my neighborhood, if you were a teenager and wanted a car, you took your official driving lessons in an automatic (the school provided  lessons once you passed Safety Ed.) and a family member took on the task of teaching you to drive a 5-speed.

You learned because a standard cost about 25 percent less than an automatic. That’s a lot of money with that price tag. Besides, there’s more power in shifting gears. More control. More attitude.

However, it’s a frustrating process. You know what you’re supposed to do, you swear you’re doing it and still it doesn’t work. That’s not the only swearing, typically. Your first teacher gives up after sharing a few choice words and passes the task on to the next unsuspecting volunteer.

frustrationThen one day, you get it. It works. You no longer are stopped at a green light, praying you won’t stall again. There’s the occasional slip-up, sure, but you now know how to drive a standard.

Other learning experiences mimic that process. For me, it was math.  Particularly algebra. I struggled and struggled until miraculously, the light broke through. Lucky for me, my high school math teacher watched my process and understood why I went from Ds to As, virtually overnight.

I wasn’t so lucky in college, but that’s another story for another day.

I’ve seen men and women take on knitting, something that is second nature to me, and talk themselves through every labored stitch. “I’ll never get it,” they might moan, but I assure them, it will happen. Just keep breaking in those new pathways in the brain.

Driving, calculating, knitting.  It takes time, but the battle is part of the joy. By the way, I impressed the heck out of a KFC worker a few years back when I pulled up in my 5-speed Corolla. “I’ve never seen a woman drive a standard,” he marveled. Ah, the passing of time. The needs, and therefore the skills, change.

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So whatever you’re learning, stay with it until that breakthrough.  Actually, I’m not going to say never give up. There is always a time to move on. Just don’t give up before the process is complete, and your frustration has matured and born fruit.


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Image Credits: (Light Bulbs) © Dmitry Guzhanin – stock.adobe.com; (Frustrated Woman) © ivector — stock.adobe.com; (Woman in Car) courtesy of Pixabay.

 

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The Ideal(istic) Adult

Being thirty was about the best thing that ever happened to me.

I’d set goals and achieved them, and the world seemed like a welcome place, with manifold glorious destinations. My mind was likely at its sharpest (although admittedly, I still had much to learn), Me c 1989I’ve probably never looked better, before or since, and I’d started to make some money. Not a lot, but more than ever before, and it seemed like a fortune.

If I could live forever in that magical world, that’s where I’d be. Has my life gone downhill since? No, not really. I’ve had ups and downs — that’s the way life is — but I’ve never regained that sense of optimism, my belief in the future and my own potential.

That glory must have been more than reaching my goals, because I’ve set goals and achieved them since that time, goals that were further out of reach and potentially more rewarding.

The problem with that sort of idealism is the world is more complex and more ordinary than our dreams. Jobs don’t deliver, people disappoint us, relationships fail. Of course then we find better work, more rewarding and lasting, we discover friends who stand beside us through thick & thin, and new relationships begin, with all the hope they hold at the start. But it’s the first time the world looks good that we’re happiest, because we don’t have the cynicism of experience.

Yet the wisdom we gain over the years benefits us, too. We see that hard times end, and impossible situations are resolved through perseverance and yes, some luck. Pain beats at us persistently, but in the end we overcome it, newly girded with the wisdom of survival.

Looking in the mirror can be discouraging. Our looks fade. It costs more money to maintain a lesser appearance. It’s hard sometimes to remember you’re 55 and not 35, who your peers actually are and what you can & can’t do anymore.

Given the choice, I’d always prefer to be an adult, but can I specify a few things? I’d like to have the physical and physiological benefits of being 30, with the wisdom and maturity that comes from living.

Of course we’re not given any such choice, or anything like it, and I’m aware many have the same thoughts as they get older. Makes me wonder what I need to appreciate about being the age I am now, and what I’ll miss about it 20 or 30 years from now.


Image Credit:  © justdd — Bigstock

To Whom Shall I Turn

Emotionally drained. When will this end?

Unfair is unfair. I’m being treated like less than I am because of the vile ego of others.

I face moments of great stress and fear because others wouldn’t let go when the facts said, “you are wrong.” Make this right.

I’m tired, fragile. I thought it was past me, but it lingers.

God grant me the strength to survive this hell.

And God, rain fire on those who abuse their authority.

And grant me the strength, and desire, to forgive.


Photo Credit: dariazu — Bigstock

Now Let Us All Limbo!

AdobeStock_111646585 [Converted]You  have your goals, you have your dreams, you are even taking steps to achieve them. Yet due to circumstances beyond your control, whatever they may be, you are currently in limbo. Someone or something else has power in your life right now, and you cannot move forward in the way you wish because of it.

What do you do when your dreams have to wait?

  • Keep the dreams alive in a concrete way. Maybe you save all your pennies, literally, toward a class you can take someday. (I get it, that’s all you can afford, and even that’s stretching it. I mean, you need new underwear, and you’re saving for a dream? Yes.)
  • Read a book, take an online class or webinar (there is so much out there!), find a website that specializes in what you’re seeking and keep up on the latest. A lot of what’s free has a bias or may be trying to sell you something, so keep your wits about you. But build your expertise by keeping up-to-date on the world you dream of, maintaining and growing skills, and learning about related subjects.
  • Find those who support your dreams and keep in regular touch with them. Whether it’s a college friend, a clergyman, or your grocery store clerk, maintain contact. That doesn’t mean you gripe about your present circumstances with them, rather, you dare to voice the dream is alive while you’re waiting for circumstances to change.
  • AdobeStock_110260540 [Converted]Look for other fulfilling options. Unless your dream is incredibly specific, there may be multiple ways to make it come true. If you have a particular talent, look at all the ways you could use it. You don’t have to seriously consider all opportunities, but don’t cut yourself short due to a limited focus.
  • Consider what your dream really is. I want to write, but what do I want to write? Not poetry, I determined that a long time ago. Probably not the Great American Novel. Do I want to use this skill to further a message? If so, what’s the message?
  • Build supplemental skills. Any person who wants to live on his or her creative talent had better have a bit of business sense, or be closely related to someone else who does. Generally creative people need someone more pragmatic by their side, but learn enough to know who can fill that role adequately.
  • Cry a little. Some days, it’s okay to wallow. Just set the timer.

If you’re in limbo, rest easy. I trust it will end someday in my life, and yours as well. In the meantime, one step forward is better than standing still.

 

Image Credits: © geosap — Fotolia

High Hopes and Hard Work

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

— Babe Ruth

AdobeStock_100995809 [Converted] c geosapIt isn’t always easy to keep going in the face of adversity, and there are times when you do need to acknowledge failure. Not that doing so means you give up, mind you. Sometimes all that’s required is a fresh view or approach, or a more detailed understanding of what’s required for success.

I recently met a man, an artist, who makes a living selling his paintings. Since I know a lot of people with talent who would like to do something like that, but have no idea how, I told him I respect those who can make a living with their art. He laughed and gave credit to a team of people supporting him, such as his marketing person and probably a lot of individuals who work hard and stay silently behind the scenes.

Now he’s talented, no doubt about it, his work merits success. Still, without knowing scoot about him, I imagine along the way he had to figure out a few things. Maybe someone gave him a copy of “Dummies Guide to Success as a Painter.” Maybe he had all the right people every step of the way guiding him to success. It’s more likely he had to sort through a lot of well-intended advice and suffer a few failures.

I have my dreams, but they’re vague and poorly defined right now. I believe there is a way for me to successfully use my talents, one I’d find rewarding, and I’m seeking that way. There are barriers for me, and I’m not certain how they’ll factor in.

If you believe in the value of your dreams, it is worth the fight to pursue them. Some of my fellow bloggers show great talent in various areas and I know are seeking a way to bring that talent in the broadest way possible to the rest of the world. I hope they do, and I can brag I “knew them when.”

Success as a practical goal requires knowing what you want and knowing what it takes to make it yours. There’s plenty of advice out there for many endeavors, but some leave out basic information.

AdobeStock_109760634 [Converted]For example, if you want success as a writer, you need to be a good writer. That includes having a grasp on basic grammar and punctuation, something I am forever learning and re-learning. I’ve read a multitude of articles about writing, and surprisingly, none address that simple fact. Yet editors everywhere will tell you their job is to catch mistakes (the assumption being you do know the correct way to do it) and polish writing. Not overhaul it.

The practical skills, the step-by-step actions required, the commitment to keep going when giving up seems the better option. Perseverance is hard, and dreams can be challenging.

“Never, never, never quit.”

— Winston Churchill

Churchill was a man who faced unending obstacles, yet he did remarkable things. I do think upbringing and family values play into our success; I don’t feel well-versed enough on that subject to elaborate here, but advantages help breed success. Still, those with less have a lot if they seek it, and in today’s world, there are resources for most.

I fully recognize the challenges some of you are facing today, and I don’t want to minimize the pain and frustration you’re facing. I have been in situations when all hope seemed lost, yet little by little I was able to rebuild my life. It has taken me some time to get back to a point where pursuing dreams was a possibility. Survival was the issue for so long.

How you define success will shape what you achieve as well. If you believe you must win the Nobel prize for literature to be considered a successful author, you will almost certainly fail. Not that I would discourage anyone from striving to make their writing fit a standard that would make it acceptable to the jury for that prize. That is a more reasonable goal, although even it is a challenging one for most writers.

AdobeStock_98361776 [Converted]If your goal is to make a living from your craft, look at the multiple ways that can be achieved. Some of those ways will not be an option for you, but you may find a door opens you didn’t expect.

If you find yourself discouraged, frustrated or overwhelmed by your dreams, take a deep breath and look for a simple next step. Or re-visit old steps. Give yourself a break when you need to,  but never quit. Never.

 

 

Image Credits © geosap — Fotolia

“Three Day” Quote Challenge

 

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Normally, I don’t do these challenges…and I’m a little late in responding, my apologies. But the blogger who nominated me has touched me lately, so I want to honor her with what is, for me, a full-throated response.

She has a fun, honest, straightforward approach, so if you like that style, check out her blog at Stealing Quiet Time in Noisy Disorder.

Of course the problem for me is leaving it at the quote. I want to expound…I think a future post is germinating…

I am not Rosie the Riveter…but I can hang curtains!

I believe in being as self-sufficient as possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I like having the right guy help me around the house. What’s more, the right guy can tease me a little about mistakes in my efforts at home improvement, as long as he doesn’t make me feel like a fool. There’s a difference.

Once upon a time I dated the wrong guy

for way too long. Despite oodles of proof to the contrary, he believed I was utterly incompetent when it came to things like changing a tire or replacing hardware on kitchen cupboards, and felt quite comfortable saying so.  Frankly, I think he would have preferred someone who didn’t know a hammer from a nail, but that’s not what he got. With me, anyway.

So no way was I going to ask for his help hanging my curtains. Even though in this case I was clueless about how it was done.

You see, I’d never heard of a level.

So instead I took a ruler, measured a reasonable amount above the window frame on either side and once in between, and marked each spot with a pencil. Then I took a strip of painter’s tape and stretched it across, so I’d have something I could check for a straight line.

Looked good to me. I took out my screwdriver and the screws that came with the curtain rod and went at it.

Now, I only had an old-fashioned manual screwdriver. It took FOREVER to get the task done. FOREVER.

On occasion I cheated and pounded the screw with a hammer just to get the thing moving.

Finally, it was ready. I slid the curtains onto the rod and placed the rod in the brackets.

You guessed it – crooked. I eyeballed how much and set out to adjust.

Again, FOREVER.

Still not right.

This went on for I don’t know how long,

until finally I had the whole thing looking perfect. Except, I had so many holes it looked like teeny mice had built a teeny mouse-hole condominium complex. That wouldn’t do.

Curtains! Victory!I knew about spackle, though, and Krylon paint. The curtains came down again, and I set out to fix the wall.

Well, I did a reasonable job with that. The curtains were hanging straight and looking good. Feeling almost smug, I made the mistake of watching some DIY show on the very subject of Mission Accomplished — and learned about anchors.

Oh Lord have mercy. Now I needed an electric screwdriver. And some sort of reward when this was done, because I was headed for the finish line, and I was going to finish a winner.

Finally, after getting this newly discovered aspect completed efficiently

— I did have an expert explain it to me, after all — it really looked good. Darn good. Good enough that when Mr. Wrong came over, his suspicious and close inspection didn’t reveal the truth. And certainly I didn’t.

Today, I have a plethora of electric screwdrivers, each designed for specific tasks l rarely perform. Perhaps more importantly, I have a level.

Now I just need to learn how to sew the curtains properly. Kidding, just kidding.