Posted in about me, ebb & flow, meandering, mindset

Perfectionism, skill, imposter syndrome

I am a recovering perfectionist.

For a long time, everything had to be just right. Edit, erase, start over. Make sure there’s always a straight-edge handy. No streaks, no cracks, no chips.

I realize this is fear-based.

I’m better about it. I don’t spend an hour carefully curating which font I’m going to use on slides for public presentations. Find one, make sure it’s good enough (primarily: legible), and spend the time on the real work.

I’ve hand-drawn cards for my students with music notes on them that are not each exactly the same. Someone volunteered to laminate and cut these cards for me, and they’re not all the same size. Deep breath, use them anyway, they still work fine.


I am also not always a good judge of “good enough” versus “the best I can do right now” (which might not really be good enough).

I was looking through pictures from an old blog the other day. I had shared quite a few recipes, and there was one pic with each … and many of them were not good at all.

These kinds of realizations make it a little bit harder for me not to get thrown back into perfectionism, or into give-up-ism, or just into heightened self-consciousness.

Ultimately, my photography skills are limited (though that’s on my to-do list, and has been longer than I’ve been blogging) and my photography tools are limited (phone, though a real camera is on my wish list).

(That’s why I’ve given myself permission not to have a photo with every blog post. If I don’t have one or can’t relatively easily take one that works for the post, I’m going without. It’s not a photo blog—they’re here to enhance or to attract, but the words are what I’m here for and, I assume, what you’re here for.)

And you see how defensive I immediately became? Oof. Brains are funny. And this post isn’t supposed to be about photography! So then I debate: edit those paragraphs down (or out) and stick more closely to the topic, or keep them in and let it be more real?

Today, real wins. Paragraphs stay. (Sometimes, I choose to stick to the topic more closely.)

This rabbit hole occasionally brings me to this: what is life like for people who don’t have this problem? People who can create the details (like the font, or the photo), and be satisfied with it, and be correct that it is satisfying, and then move on? Or is that one of those things where I’m comparing my insides to others’ outside and everyone who creates anything has this struggle in some capacity? Or am I expecting to be able to do something easily that others have spent hours working on?

That happens with my students. Often. They see that I can play instruments easily. They see some other students who can play their instruments easily. And they assume they “just can’t do it.” When really … they need to put in the time.

I would take better photos with more practice, for sure. Would I choose fonts more easily?

How do you differentiate between imposter syndrome and just needing more skill?

What’s your experience?

Posted in about me, ebb & flow

Take a little break

The creeping crud is creeping around here. The Kid has missed two days of school. I’m just starting to get a little stuffy. The Climbing Daddy has been coughing a bit.

This afternoon, The Kid and I needed something a little different. So we took coloring sheets and colored pencils out back on the porch, sat in the sun, and colored for half an hour.

Half an hour outside in the sun, unplugged, relaxing, together.

Good for the heart, mind, body.

I’m not in a regular habit of relaxing like that, and I know many others aren’t, either.

Take some time to recharge. You’ll feel better. You’ll be a better mom/spouse/friend/employee.

Posted in ebb & flow, gifts, hope, mindset, podcasts, storytelling, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Podcast quote: creativity (and so much more)

TED has started a new podcast series called TED Interviews, where Chris Anderson interviews people who have give TED talks about their talks, and they get more in depth.

I haven’t quite listened to all of them, but all that I’ve listened to have been captivating. (As of this writing, there are only six of them.)

I listened to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, mostly known for writing Eat, Pray, Love. (I haven’t read it.)

First, they got into creativity. She talked a short bit about the history of creativity (who knew there was one?!) I loved the imagery in what she had to say:

“The way I describe it is the way I’ve empirically experienced it, which is broken down in my life to this notion: that ideas are living entities. They have consciousness. They don’t have matter. They can’t be seen, they can’t be felt, they can’t be proven, but they have will. And the way I picture it—and it’s sort of whimsical but I have also literally based my life on this—is the universe is sort of swirling with these ideas that wish to be created and they’re constantly looking for human collaborators because for some reason we have this oddly sensitive consciousness that can hear them and find them. And so the way I picture it is they sort of just roam around being like, ‘Are you my mother? Are you my mother? Are you my mother?’ And every single human who is struck by inspiration describes the experience exactly the same way … there’s this distraction where the idea sort of consumes you and in that consuming which can take months, weeks, years, the idea is interviewing you and asking you, ‘Do you wanna do this thing with me or not?’ And that’s the most important conversation that I think human beings can have, is that dialogue between your willingness to cooperate and show up and make something with this idea and manifest it and the idea’s desire to be made and the question of whether you are indeed the right partner.”

Whimsical was a solid word to describe the idea, but I love the imagery. Even more, though, I love the ownership of the work, and how the idea doesn’t just come and magically happen—it’s a partnership. “Your labor is the contribution to the miracle.” (She says that later.)

She talked more about that in other places in the podcast as well.

They also talked about curiosity vs. passion, enchantment vs. empiricism, fear, memes (not the pictures on the internet), secular magic, dark night of the soul, why to do the work if it’s likely to fail, and quite a bit about grieving.

It’s an hour long, and it’s well worth your hour. I listened to it twice, in addition to the bits I listened and paused so I could transcribe.

Posted in ebb & flow, motivation

No-work Sundays

Years ago, a friend of mine was in grad school. She had her work load, she had a part-time job, she had her apartment to take care of.

She decided that Sundays were going to be no-work days. No school work. No job work (which was easy—her employer wasn’t open on the weekends). No chores. She was going to work her butt off the rest of the week and take Sundays off.

I was impressed by how she stuck to that.

I have tried to do that occasionally. There was a while—also years ago—that I was able to do it, and it was great! The main sticking point for me was meal planning and grocery shopping, which I have done on Sundays for a long time. I pushed that back to Saturday, but more recently, as long as we have what we need to get us through breakfast and lunch on Monday, shopping on the way home from work on Mondays is better. Less crowded.

The other thing that was nice about making Sunday the no-work day (instead of Saturday) is that it really cleared up about 80% of the Sunday crunch feeling. There still had to be reasonable bedtime and there was still work on Monday morning, but without needing to get done All The Stuff, Sundays were much more pleasant.

It’s worth it to have a little bit more to do on other days to have that one day of free time, guilt-free. To-do list-free.

I have not at all been in this habit lately. But I’m thinking that it might be a good thing to revisit. I’m thinking, as a household of three now (instead of one or two), we can look at the next week’s calendar on Saturday, make a list of what needs to get done when and by whom, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll all have a work-free Sunday.

Today? No. But next week? Maybe…

Posted in ebb & flow, exercise

A Golden Age of Exercise

Exercise has been a near-constant part of my daily life since my mid-20s.

But only sometimes has it been amazing. (It’s always been good for my physical and mental health, whether I’m enjoying what I’m doing or not, whether I’m putting in as much time and energy as I’d like or not. But that doesn’t always make it something I want to do.)

I’m slipping into another era of Exercise is Astounding! Hooray!

I’ve been running a few days a week very consistently all summer, which I’m going to take a moment to pat myself on the back for. In part because running several days a week consistently takes some discipline, but people. It’s hot. I live in Phoenix.

(Yes, it’s a dry heat. But it’s still hot. My favorite part of the pic? Besides that I cracked myself up making it? The wind chill. Pic was taken after an evening run in July. So it was cooler than when I started.)

The payoff for that, besides all the usual payoffs for running several times per week for several months, is that in another month or so, I’m suddenly going to have WAY BETTER endurance. And it’s not because of me—it’s because the weather will break. And suddenly running will be easier.

Happens every fall. Well, every fall that I run through the summer.


Besides running, I’ve been climbing at the rock gym a couple of times per week. (I have so much more to say about climbing, but I’ll save it for another day.)

We put a pull-up bar in the house, and I’ve been working on pull-ups every day when I walk by it. (Can’t do any yet. Getting stronger, though.)

And I’m going to be training with a trainer again in a couple of weeks! I’m so excited about this! It’s been many years since I’ve had a trainer. I have loved training with a trainer every time I’ve done it and am ready for the extended soreness that comes along with sessions, especially the early ones.

There have been times when there’s been less exercise, when exercise has been more doing it because I should/need and less because I want to. But nowadays? It’s a lot more fun than work.

Where are you in that spectrum? Does the pendulum swing for you, or do you need a push? What’s your favorite way to get some exercise? Anything you’ve been toying with trying but haven’t? Here’s your sign—go try it!