Friday, July 23, 2010

I'll have the #3, no wait...make it the Confit Arctic Char (part II of II)

I showed up about 3 decades late to the "thing" party. Somehow it feels important for me to figure this out. I should know how to:
a) order the oyster,
b) open the oyster.

Otherwise, I would be all, "Hey girls, the world is your oyster. I have no idea how to order it off the menu or eat it when it gets here though, so let's just safely order from a numbered fast food menu." (If you post comments I may later plagiarize them-thanks for funny fast food joke, sis.)

Hence, my recent piano lesson and goal-setting binge. I wanted to model something for my children. Something that showed them the importance of working hard, weathering the storms, perseverance, blah, blah, blah. But signing up for lessons and making proclamations was the easy part. I was unprepared for what followed.

Trying to learn something new has made me feel overwhelmed and vulnerable. I questioned at times if I was simply revising my goals within reason, or if I was giving up. Was I being sensible about time management or going all Quitty McQuitterson? (Big thank you to this series on success and my friends for helping me to simply check my intentions and trust the outcome, btw.) And learning PIANO! Did you know you're supposed to simultaneously use your right and left hand when playing the piano??? A tall order for someone who can't write a coherent grocery list.
 <<< What if my destiny is to play the piano at an oyster bar?

But my kids are going to have a whole different experience. For one, they don't have mombie brain. And exposing them to things is actually relatively simple. Their brains have tons of plasticity and zero preconceptions about what they are/are not good at. All I have to do is give them opportunities to feel successful, build confidence -- and oh yeah -- experience all the fun, joy, and exhilaration of discovering what they enjoy.

And that story in the Bible that so troubled my kid self, the essence was not that the guy who buried his talent didn't win American Idol; it's that he didn't share his gifts (no YouTube back then). In the dark earth of the hole the talent rested in, it could not grow or be used to help others.

Your comments have been tremendously helpful in understanding my job is to offer them a buffet, believe in them, follow their lead ... and trust the process. Despite my ineptness with shuckers, I think I can do that.

Has there been a time when making yourself vulnerable or trying something new really paid off? Do you have a buried talent waiting to see the light of day? Has watching your kid's journey of discovery inspired any personal revelations?

Bon appetit!


  1. True Story: Girl reads this blog post. Girl sees McDonald's photograph and reads words about food. Girl starts to write a comment but then decides to go get McDonald's for supper. Girl eats disgusting fast food then returns to computer, erases old comment and begins new comment. The name of the person has been changed to "Girl" to protect the guilty party.

    So...on to non-food subjects...It really does make a person feel VERY vulnerable to try something new. I remember when I signed up for Easy 8 (Shout out to Shannon Hodges!) I was terrified at first. I think getting to that first piano lesson or first running session or first lap dancing lesson is the HARDEST part of taking on a new "thing." Once you get there and get started it doesn't feel quite as scary to begin something brand new. Even if the new thing you are trying is hecka challenging, it always feels good to just jump in and get your hands dirty and try it! Once you are trying a new thing for the first time, instead of sitting there imagining how it will go beforehand---the whole "fear of the unknown" factor is alleviated. And boy does that feel good.

  2. gee, I wonder who that girl could be. I am so glad that I did not develop some gross, weird craving for a fast burger tonight. I am so glad that staring at that picture while I edited this post did not lead me down some path to, um for example, Sonic. Nope, instead I was inspired by the fancy picture and cooked an elaborate and healthy meal. Are you buying that?

    I agree that starting is the hardest part is getting started and facing the fear of the unknown as well as just taking that step of doing something that flies in the face of how you see yourself, such as "I am not athletic, social, musical, artistic" or whatever. Although I will admit that some of my real anxiety came a few lessons in as things got more complex. But I am really trying to see it as exhilarating, and it is!

    And if I fail, I can always find comfort sandwiched between two warm buns. As girl lead said in "Waiting for Guffman" famously said..."I'll always have the Dairy Queen."

  3. HAHAHHAHA! You so funny, oh oh you so funny! That is one big reason I heart your blog because it never fails to make me laugh. But its also really deep at the same time. Don't know how those two things co-exist like that but you sure as heck make it work.

    You are very right about anxiety coming AFTER you start something new as well. Its a different kind of pressure/icky feeling than the fear of the unknown. But in not giving up and viewing it as "exhilarating" we become triumphant!

  4. Shellody aka Pimp Momma Shell aka House IIJuly 24, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    I have no buried talents...if I do, they are so far buried they are a mystery to everyone!

    Probably the scariest new thing I ever did was to move to Denver...I learned a lot about myself and it totally paid off.

    Other than that, however, I have to say I've lived a pretty safe life. I gravitate towards the comfortable, and well, easy. I take the path of least resistance. I'm not proud of this, but it's not all bad either. There is something to be said for comfort and stability. That being said, I need to be more willing to take risks. There is also something to be said for balance!!!

    I think it's important to note it's not always about the choice you make, but the reasoning behind the choice that really matters. Many times I choose the safe road because I don't believe in myself. There, I said it! I choose comfort because I'm afraid of failure.

    I'm watching a loved one really put himself out there and take risks right now. It's really amazing to watch, but scary too. The implications of his risk-taking will affect his entire family (fyi--all family members have signed-on for the ride). Still I watch/participate/assist in fear...if he succeeds, the pay-off will be big, life-changing in fact. But what if he doesn't?

    This is where I get caught up...The risk of failure seems to overshadow the benefits of success. It's easy to think that it's better to *not* try and *not* fail, than to try and fail. But, when it's truly examined, if he doesn't succeed, life will go on. Once he overcomes the disappointment, he'll pick himself up and continue. And hopefully he'll be better prepared for the next challenge, the next opportunity, the next risk.

  5. I LOVE your point about failure. When I get all caught up in fear one thing I don't consider is the, "okay and then what" aspect. This is actually a tool of behavioral therapists when working with anxieties. You fear the elevator getting stuck. And so what if does? You fear you would wet yourself and curl up in the fetal position. Okay, so what if you did? And so on until people are either able to get to a root or see that 99% of the time the "worst" or the "failure" isn't world ending. And as you pointed out, even ultimately a success for something else down the road. I get sorta tired of feeling anxiety about everything all the time. Maybe I'll stop. Or maybe I will just call you in the middle of the night because I am having symptoms of a panic attack.

  6. I have to apologize for being so slackery in my blog readership and commentary! Just finished the last two entries and have lots of thoughts, so many in fact that articulating them would be impossible (especially given that my sweet daughter is standing here in Little Mermaid undies,one glittery shoe on wrong foot, and persistently trying to "sell" me a cup of raspberries in exchange for a crumpled monopoly dollar. Seriously.) Anywho, I first want to thank this blogger for the "crazy good runner" compliment! Wow. That totally made my year, however, I have to clear up that I have actually won ONE race, singular. So, I am a work in progress as well! As for the topic at hand, I hope that you have considered and are not discounting the idea that being a mother and doing it well (and you do!) is most definitely a talent. I think that because most people are capable of procreating, raising offspring seems more like a fact of biology more than a talent or a form of art. However, being able to do something and doing it WELL are two very different things. The commitment you have towards your girls and your family, the love, time, patience and care that you put into that - THAT is talent. All you have to do is know your amazing girls to know that is true. After all, shouldn't our "thing" be the thing we love most?

    (If you don't know who this anonymous is I am not gonna tell you!) :)

  7. Well thank you anonymous! And you make a fine point, it is like parenting is so expected and routine that it is easy to lose sight of the effort and joy of it all. My cousin made a great and similar comment on the "measure this" post. My tv friend Hope, from Thirtysomething, said in one ep "My daughter is so happy, can't I just feel proud of that?" but there is some crazy mixed bag of messages about child rearing. I, like many, would not even think of claiming it is a "thing" and yet as surely as your kid looks precious in her get-up schilling raspberries, it is my favorite thing of all.

  8. Wise words. Being an effective and loving parent is a challenge and treasure beyond measure.

    I've recently realized that I often back-burner my kids because they're such a constant. My oldest challenges me so much that gradually, my MO has morphed from "pick my battles" to "look the other way." It pains me to admit this. But now I recognize it, so now I can get back in the action. It's exhausting on the battlefield, but I know he needs me and if I give up on him now and simply throw my hands up in a loss of what to do, I have a feeling we'll both be reaping a not so pretty harvest sooner rather than later.

    A little off-topic perhaps, but all of this is to say, I agree wholeheartedly that parenting should not only count as a "thing," but rank at the top of the thing food chain, even perhaps above greasy, indestructible french fries (dipped in hot mustard sauce, please). :)

  9. Here, here. I am all about parenting counting towards your graduation credits. It really, really matters. And if I am going to do it, I am going to give it my all and proudly count it as a thing! In fact, my husband and I even call the girls "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" and dressed them up ala Dr Seuss creatures for Halloween.


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