Just Experiment versus Be Judged On Your Best


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This morning the preacher began his sermon with a story about two pottery classes.  In one, the students were told to make pots.  That’s it.  Just practice, experiment, see what works and what doesn’t … their job was simply to keep making pots and, ideally, to learn from that experience.  The second class was told that they’d be judged at the end of the semester on just one pot.  They could spend as long as they wanted on it, could make as many pots as they wanted, but in the end the only thing that mattered was That One Pot they produced to be judged.  The pots from the class tasked only with making pots were the most beautifully made — in fact were much better than the carefully crafted One Beautiful Pot produced by the students of the second class.  Maybe knowing they’d be judged on that one pot, that had to be made perfectly, was too much pressure.  Maybe those students didn’t allow themselves time to learn, they couldn’t relax and just enjoy the creative process.  I don’t know the reason, but I do know that the story struck home.  I couldn’t help thinking about this blog.

I started this blog two years ago to share my travel experiences.  But I haven’t kept it up.  Of course as usual there are plenty of very good excuses for that.  I’m busy … who isn’t, these days.  There are so many distractions.  So many demands on my time.  But the story my preacher told at church today brought home what is one of the biggest obstacles to my writing.  I Want It To Be Good.

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I am ashamed when I read something I’ve written and realize how pedestrian it sounds.  I berate myself for such shoddy writing, get discouraged, find it easier to find excuses not to write.  But last week when I decided to steal time away from social media to pound out some blog posts on anything, without thinking they had to sound good or even, really, caring — and I ended up writing more than I have in months.  It was fun, I didn’t feel any pressure, I didn’t even re-read my posts after I sent them out into the universe.  They might suck but I didn’t care, because it was only an experiment to see how to find time to write and wean myself from my Twitter addiction.  To journal my random thoughts without worrying about how they sounded when typed and posted.

Just like those students in the pottery class that pounded away at their pots.  Over and over and over, throwing pots.  Learning what worked and what didn’t.  Having fun.  Getting their hands wet.  Learning the feel of the clay.  Not worrying how the pot turned out in the end, because it was the process that was moving them forward.  Not being so stressed about making one perfect sentence that I don’t put in the hours in just writing sentences.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll never being able to turn a phrase.  Maybe I’ll never bring a character to life, or touch a reader’s heart, or create a mystery people enjoy trying to solve.  Certainly I never will if I’m so afraid of sounding stupid that I don’t write anything at all.  And if I write and write and write and write and it never gets any better?  Well, I’m no worse off than if I hadn’t written at all.  So I’m going to just throw pots.  Experiment.  Have fun!

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Greens


I read yesterday that our eyes don’t view greens as clashing, so you can mix and match all hues of greens and not be thought odd.  I’m not adventuresome when it comes to mixing and matching patterns and colors in my clothes.  Black is easy, elegant, slimming, professional … and what you’ll generally find me wearing.  But colors look better on me, at least near my face.  So I’ve become bolder in my color choices lately.  Not quite to the level of J Crew models, who find pink floral cardigans to go perfectly well with striped satin pants and bright heels.  But some color, nonetheless.  Apparently mixing greens is easy on the eyes because we’re so used to seeing a mix of greens in nature.

Take this picture, for example.

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It’s in one section of the garden at Versailles.  Lights, darks, brights — a mix of green shades bundle together and all look beautiful, calm, peaceful.  So I’m taking a hint from nature … biomimicry is all the rage, after all, and mixing some colors into my wardrobe.  I guess I’m gaining confidence in my old age.

23andme


I’m a DNA addict. I love finding learning about my ancestry, but I don’t have the time or patience to do the hard work of tracking down historic records, visiting cemeteries, spending weeks in the library’s microfiche archives. Nor do I have the money to hire a professional to do the work for me. So I’ve participated had my brother swab his cheek for National Geographic’s DNA project. And I swabbed my cheek for my DNA info from Family Tree. And, now, I’m spitting into a test tube for 23andme. The feedback my brother received from National Geographic was interesting, but very general about our ancestors 20,000 or so years ago. I was wanting to know more about folks in the middle ages, maybe, or even ancient Roman times, but it’s hard to relate to 20,000 years ago. The Family Tree was more detailed but I find it very hard to understand. And I had dinner with a 23andme fan recently so I decided it was worth the $99 to check it out. This time I get not only geneology information but health information as well. After carefully following the directions on the box, I started spitting away. Fortunately I’m not very good at it, and filling up the tube looked as if it was going to take all day, so I stopped to open up and read the more detailed directions inside (as opposed to on the box itself). Discovering that I wasn’t to spit within 30 minutes of eating, drinking or chewing gum. And I’d just thrown out my gum. So my advice if you choose 23andme is to read ALL of the directions before beginning!

This Week I’ll Write, Not Tweet


Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I’m taking the March Challenge to write something every day.  To find the time, I’ve decided to try switching my twitter addiction to a writing one.  Every time I want to check twitter, I’m going to write, instead.  May be disjointed, random tidbits but at least I’ll be writing about life instead of reading tweets about others’ lives.

Unfortunately for anyone reading this, I have yet to learn how to do anything other than the basics in blogging, and even adding photos is a time-consuming challenge for me.  So these blogs are rarely going to be illustrated as I’m using my time to write instead of to figure out this blogging thing.  Maybe that will be the next step!

Dreaming of Vacation


There are so many places I want to visit, live in, explore … and so little time to take even a one-week trip, much less to stay someplace long enough to do more than make introductions.  Worse yet, my husband wants our vacation this year to be Alaska or tropical, and I want it to be Southern France, or the Loire Valley, or the Greek Isles, or Wales, or the UK, or Berlin.  And I’m ending up using my time off to participate in TEDActive, Qideas, my son’s graduation from college, Goddess Kamp and, to cap off the year, Rancho la Puerta.  It’s not like I have room to complain.  I’m blessed to be able to have spent most of the week at TEDActive in Palm Springs, hearing about ideas worth spreading.  And I’m beyond excited and proud of my son for graduating in four years, and the whole family’s coming to Santa Cruz to celebrate and renting a beach house for 5 nights from which we can explore the Boardwalk, Monterey, Salinas (Steinbeck museum), maybe even the wine country or Big Sur.  I’m also looking forward to what I’m calling my “Christian TED” experience at Qideas.  So it’s all good.  But it isn’t the year-long immersion in France or England I long to experience.  Guess I have something to look forward to; after all, anticipating and planning a trip is almost more fun than actually experiencing it!

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