What Comes Naturally

What comes naturally is a funny thing.  Normally I think going outside one’s comfort zone is a good idea.  However, sometimes it is better to forget the comfort zone and just do things your way.  My recent bedroom makeover project has reminded me of what comes naturally and what is tedious for me.   I was talking to my Mom about my project and told her decorating is not my thing…and it likely never will be.  She said, “It is not where your passion lies.”  Bingo!  I like the final product yet the process is like trudging through quicksand. My Mom has pointed out that I never get past the paint and she is right.  I have been known to start projects like this and let them fall by the wayside.  I have never felt I have a strong eye for coordination and combinations of fabric, furniture, color, accessories.  I have a really hard time visualizing what furniture looks like in my space based on a picture in a catalog or online.  I never seem to find exactly what I want.  A lack of confidence in my ability to decorate and design, amps up my “it has to be perfect or I cannot move forward with it” mode.  My eye is better suited for spying the best pastry or figuring out the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Shopping for furniture and paint colors makes me wish one of those TV home shows would show up on my doorstep and get to work.

I realized a few years ago more success comes from focusing on what comes naturally.  Doing anything that highlights a weakness can prove to be frustrating and discouraging. It reminds me of high school sports – there is always one kid who joins the team because his/her parents forced the issue.  In reality that kid really would rather be studying chemistry or dancing or playing video games.  I think most people know the feeling of having to do something that is of little interest while feeling some obligation to keep plugging along.  When I work on something that falls outside of my strengths, I have a sense of discomfort and stress that drives me to overcompensate by trying to perfect every element.  I find my perfectionism paralyzes me in my effort to make progress because everything has to be, well, perfect!

A few years ago, I was laboring over a spreadsheet for a contract negotiation with a client.  I was trying to understand every last rounding scenario to calculate things down the decimal place.  One of my colleagues was waiting for me to deliver the spreadsheet and stopped by my cubicle.  He said, “You are STILL working on that thing?  Your perfectionism is driving me crazy!”   I sat back and looked at what I was doing and understood his point.  I was belaboring minute details that were really of little importance and realized it was pointless to try be so meticulous and perfect in the exercise.  I decided I am better off accepting negligible rounding differences and keeping things simple.  It turned out to make my life easier!

I had the same epiphany with my bedroom project.  I had to stop trying to find the perfect everything to get my project rolling.  To make progress, I had no choice but to just make decisions even if I was not 100% certain about my selections.  I picked a paint color after a year of talking about it, yes a year. I forced myself to sit at the paint store till I found options I liked – I think I spent 2 hours looking at paint chips. I never previously considered that I can pick a color and paint over it if necessary (newsflash, paint is not permanent). I was also over-thinking night stands.  My old nightstands were in great need of replacement yet I could not visualize what new ones would look like in my room. To that end, I was unable to find the PERFECT nightstands.  I decided to simplify and bought interim night stands to help me better visualize.  I had to break my own patterns to keep my project moving forward.  Visualizing the final “style” of my bedroom has been too difficult for me so I opted to work on it piece by piece.  I have been asking for help and advice when I needed it. I focus on one thing per week.  I did wall art last week, this week I have been shopping for bedding.  I am not sure what I will focus on next week but piecemeal has helped formulate my vision. I am doing it my way because any other way just gives me angst and self induced pressure to do things perfectly.

In my round about long winded way, what I have been learning is, we all have to find our way of doing things.  Rather than getting caught up in the way something “should” be done, it is likely more beneficial to figure out an approach that comes naturally and with ease.  Why force a square peg into a round hole? Why follow someone else’s rules and why obligate yourself to anything?  Work within your means, ask for help when in need of assistance or advice, and use a process that gets you to your desired result.  

Thank you for reading this blog!

The Skeletons Can Be Helpful

Have faith in what will happen. It just popped into my head  and I started thinking about various events in my life.  When I reflect back on where I have been and where I am now, there are so many things I never expected or never anticipated. Writing that sounds ridiculous to me on some level. There are so many unexpected things that happen in life.  It is necessary trust in the idea that there is a reason behind everything that happens and the timing of things will be what it needs to be. Maybe some people ponder this often but I tend to reflect when something reminds me to do so.  How did you get here?  What decisions did I make or did I not make?  How have I changed? What has changed me or what has been the impetus to change? Here is what was happening 1 year ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago.  The things in the present that were never on my radar in prior years are most interesting to me. 10 years ago I never would have imagined I would be working where I am today.5 years ago I would not have believed I would still be working where I am. It is interesting to reflect on the people who were in my life and those who have drifted in a different direction and the new people I have met along the way.

There is a saying I have read that I will misquote and it goes something like,  “Do not think about the past because you do not live there.”  I tend to look at the past as the way to learn how to avoid repeating those things you prefer to never again repeat.  You can say you will never do something again but I believe until you determine why you did something or examine what was happening in your life at a specific time, you may repeat things.  You have to look at the matter, understand why it happened, what role you played and what you can do differently next time.  I have a friend who says he nevers likes to think about the past.  He does not like to think about mistakes he has made or “stupid” things he has done.  Avoidance only leads to more of the same.   Facing yourself and taking accountability for things that have happened can be difficult and uncomfortable.  I tend to think once you take a hard look at something and you learn something valuable.   I think avoiding the past is like being chased. I think of a cartoon character running with zombie skeletons in fast pursuit.  Once you stop and turn around and address each skeleton by name and find out why you are being chased, the skeletons vanish.  We learn lessons from past actions by virtue of  facing things and setting them free.  If we choose to face a lesson or take a lesson to heart, it can only be a helpful lead-in to change. The past does not define us.  It can help us figure out who we want to be moving forward. We make mistakes, we make less than ideal decisions, we do weird things, hang out with various people and it all happens for a reason. I guess sometimes you have to visit the past and then move on versus living in the past and dwelling or letting the past continuously tap you on the shoulder.  It is like going on a weekend trip.  You visit, you look around, you experience things and then you go back to your reality.

Learning is an ongoing experience, we never stop learning whether we like or not regardless of age.  Well, perhaps on some level learning is choice or admitting there is something to learn is a process.  I was talking to a friend recently about a specific situation and I said I had nothing to learn from it.  The next day I was driving to work and realized there was something big I had been ignoring – kind of like an elephant in the room.  When you least expect it things can reveal themselves and teach you something new.  I would guess in a year or 5 years I will look back again and be amazed about what has changed in my life.  I tend to think things change in our life if we pay attention to signs and messages that lead to the lessons.  Some lessons are harder than others and some result in really positive things.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.