Friday, November 13, 2009

Learning How to Fail Without Being a Failure

So much for everything I wrote in my first blog entry. My convection is still immaculate in every way.

I haven't done much cooking. (Well, not any at all if I can't count canned soup, peanut butter on toast and the like.)

Did I say that I was going to eat better and get more exercise? I certainly haven't.

I suppose I should be grateful that nothing disgusting has happened on the train for me to describe (lately), but still - I haven't been able to think of anything to write at all.

So what have I to show for the time since my last entry?

See the painting I've posted of the black dog? This poor fellow (Dhalgren: my boss' long-haired Whippet) has been waiting for me to fix/finish him since I started painting him last winter (early months of 2009). He's been staring at me day after day after day, daring me to figure out what it is I need to do for him to look right...for him to be good enough to give to my boss. Day after day after day I have failed to meet the challenge. Afraid to destroy the parts of him that I liked in the process of fixing what I didn't, I have left him alone for months; avoiding eye contact with him and letting the whole thing become an overwhelming obstacle to my ability (and desire) to paint him or anything else.

Last weekend I found myself in a local art gallery and was left feeling inspired to try my hand at my own painting again. Surely I could do this, and if I threw caution to the wind and "just did it" I could end up happy with the result, right? Wrong. The Dhalgren painting ceased to exist that afternoon. I couldn't make it work and so painted over the entire image with the background colour, and now only a shadow of him remains on the canvas. A ghost of what could have been a success but wasn't. So how do I keep this from haunting me?

The painting was a failure. *I* felt like a failure, but here's what I'm trying to learn from it: Failing at something does not a failure make. I will only be a failure if I give up and let it beat me; if I run away from it; if I keep avoiding the act of failing (something I've done all my life). And when I think about it, I realize all of that actually makes me worse than a failure - it makes me a loser.

So, using the painting as an example, here is how I am am going to try to see things from now on:
Avoiding the completion of that painting = failure. This is unacceptable. I don't want to do this anymore.
Trying to complete the painting and putting it out of its misery when it wouldn't work = successful failure. This is always acceptable, and something I'm actually proud of. Accepting my failure wasn't easy to do.
Painting again because I'm able to leave the "failure" label attached to the painting instead of wearing it around my neck = success.
Accepting failure as a necessary part of life and learning from it...AND moving on from it to try (and possibly fail) again = huge success!

Wow. It hits me as I write this: I am allowed to fail over and over again and still be a huge success!!! How amazing is that?!?!?

I should blog more often. The revelations can be incredible... :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

They Make it a Home

I'm between two anniversaries. One bad, one good.

A year ago last month, I lost my little friend Sophie. I adopted her as a kitten 14 years earlier, and she was with me through thick and thin, tears and laughter, marriage and divorce, move after move...until it was time to help her travel across the "Rainbow Bridge"; a place you learn about when you lose your pet and your friends are desperate to help you feel better.

There were some positive things I tried to focus on: There would be no more litter box to clean. No longer would I step on those gravelly bits that I swear she intentionally clutched between her little toes so she could scatter them throughout the apartment. Cat hair no longer collected on the furniture, on the floors, or on me. I could breathe better at night and my eyes weren't so itchy. I didn't have to rush home from work...or from anywhere, for that matter. And that was just it. I didn't have much reason to be home, period. She wasn't there to greet or to need me anymore. She was gone.

My house didn't feel like a home without her, but I couldn't replace Sophie with another cat. I didn't want a cat that wasn't her. I thought very briefly about getting a pet rat (company without being too tied down - the best of both worlds perhaps)...until I learned that they leave drops of pee wherever they go (ew!). I decided instead to swing in the opposite direction towards a larger commitment. I'd get a dog. Looking back, I can see that I was a little impulsive about it, but at the time I felt it was the right thing for me to do.

It was a year ago now that I met my little 8-year-old, 9 pound Chihuahua mix for the beginning of the adoption process. I fell for her immediately. By mid-October I passed a home inspection, and then brought Lucy home with me Oct. 30th.

And so now I have hair all over my floors, my furniture and my clothes. There is grit (of all kinds) tracked in from the great outdoors, I have itchy eyes, I don't sleep well for fear of rolling over and squashing her, I have to rush home after work to feed and take her out for her walks, however miserable the weather....and I couldn't be happier.

I have a wonderful reason to come home again. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It Could Have Been Classified as a WMD

I had to take a late train home today. It's one that is always filled to standing room only, but I got there in time to grab my seat of choice: right by the door. Fresh air at every stop, and first off when it pulls into my station. Perfect.

A pleasant looking, well-dressed senior lady climbed on board through my coveted doorway a moment after I'd sat down, only to hop right off again. Must have realized she was on the wrong train, I thought to myself.

I should have been so lucky. Seconds later - far too soon - she climbed back on and started to sit next to me only to rise, yet again, and exit in a hurry without looking back. This time it was clear why. She'd dropped a bomb outside the door and then dragged it back in with her...and she knew it.

So much for my fresh air.

It was vile. It hung in the air like a thick, invisible fog, and damned if it didn't adhere itself to me before I had the chance to evacuate to a safer zone. She disappeared the very moment it hit me, so there was no need to even consider staying put to be polite. I jumped up and hurried myself to another section of the train, but it was too late. It had taken hold. It clung to me for at least two stops, and for the entire ride all I could think was:

1) The people left behind at the point of impact - did they think it was me? Did they see the real perpetrator at all, or was I the only one they noticed sitting there until I suddenly bolted out of my seat to escape the scene of the crime?

2) What about the people sitting in the area where I landed? I could still smell it...could they?!? Had I dragged it along with me as though it were my own?

3) If germs can be spread when people aspirate from within by coughing and sneezing, what then of this kind of aspiration? Was I now at risk of contracting whatever it was that had taken hold of this lady? (Hello, my name is Debra and I'm a Hypochondriac...)

I suppose it helps a little that this was not my usual train so I'm not likely to see many of those riders again, but still...should any of those people ever read this post: It truly, TRULY was not me!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The First Supper

And so it begins with this:
Me. Cooking.

I obtained some "easy to do" recipes from a friend in an effort to help me get on the cooking-dinner-for-myself bandwagon. I tried one out last week (successfully, thank you very much), and decided to make it again last night. Overly-pleased with myself (not only was it good, it was not yet a full week since I did it the first time and here I was cooking...again!), I snapped a photo of it while it was still in the oven so that I could share the experience with some of my very supportive friends.

Well, once I downloaded the photo and had a look at it I immediately noticed that the inside of my oven, purchased well over a year ago for a kitchen renovation that was intended to have me cooking up a storm, was SPOTLESS! (I have to say it made me smile when it occurred to me that I had an immaculate convection.) Some people have spotless ovens because they clean them, but with me it's only due to a lack of use.

Don't get me wrong - I've heated up a few pizzas, baked several batches of cookies and made a few loaves of my prize-winning banana bread, but nothing like I had intended when I renovated my kitchen and bought this oven. I had great visions of the things that I would do, that I *still* have yet to do. Seems I envision myself doing a lot of things, and certainly not just cooking. There's painting, drawing, reading, blogging, exercising (you should just see the great vision I had for my slender self last year! If only I'd followed through...). Nothing newsworthy really, just some things that I think would be worth doing. For me.

So, as the sun sets on yet another day, I have begun my very first blog. I'm calling this "My Immaculate Convection" not just for the cooking aspect, but for everything I have not yet done in my life. What good are unused ovens, pristine paintbrushes, unwritten stories, pure white runners and uncracked books. Clearly these are not signs of a life well-lived, so I think I'm going to get off my not-yet-slender butt (I said "yet"!) and make some changes.

Now then, I find when I get overly ambitious I scare myself off and wind up in front of the tv unproductively working on my comfy sofa dent, so instead I'm going to take this slowly. One step at a time. One blog at a time. One day at a time.

It's time. :)