Sunday, December 2, 2012

The same lessons. Again & again.

I'm constantly learning the same lessons over and over again. It's not that I'm stupid, it just that these lessons have a habit of  disguising themselves as something new and taking me by surprise. Wanna know the really crazy thing about it?  This is all stuff I already know. Yep. Things that people have been telling me for years and years. Seriously people, this is stuff that flashes by my eyes in the form of internet memes on a daily basis. This is fodder for self-help books and afternoon talk shows.  I'd bet good money that Oprah has done a show on it. Am I hard-headed or what? Why does it not sink in?  Because it's so simple, it's hard to keep hold of.

I'll explain by giving you an example. Once you've managed the basics (such as literacy and learning how to set an alarm clock), what  skills does one need to be successful in obtaining a college degree? As someone who very recently accomplished this, I can tell you. You don't need to be incredibly brilliant. You don't need a huge bankroll (although considering the cost of textbooks, this might be helpful), and you don't even need to know what degree you're pursuing at first. You just need to be resolute. This isn't flash-in-the-pan, turning over a new leaf, quick spurts of greatness. Nope. It requires a sense of purpose. You need to form a plausible plan for how to get from point A to B, and then you need to take those actions every single day. You need to develop a consistent habit of always doing your best and sticking with it. This very difficult to sustain over a long period of time.

I've come to realize that this concept applies to every single thing worth pursuing in my life.  Forging real and positive change in your life? Forming relationships which uplift and support you?  How about becoming a writer? An artist? All of these things, and more, can be attained using the same method. Any goal within reason, can be accomplished this way, take my word for it. Now, if you're only 5 feet tall, don't aim for the NBA. Be reasonable. If your social skills leave something to be desired, and you're just not that bright, it isn't realistic to aim for the presidency. It is, however, a worthy goal to begin interacting with one new person a day in an effort to learn more grace in social situations. You could take a class or start reading a book which challenges and inspires you. These smaller goals might someday lead you to the bigger one, or better yet, a new, more fulfilling goal that you haven't even thought of yet.

I'm a very results-driven person. Which is another way of saying that I'm competitive, and never more fiercely so than when I'm competing with myself, which can turn my life into a never-ending sprint to reach the next benchmark. Of course, there is always another after that, so I barely have time to catch my breath and I'm off again. An important concept in my life right now is being present in my current reality. I spend so much time with my mind spinning off into different directions, planning and plotting, that it would be easy to fall into the trap of living in the future, and I don't want to do that. Every single second, every minute, is a small piece of my life passing by and I want to enjoy every second of it, so I'm reminding myself daily to enjoy the journey as well as the destinations along the way. 

See?  I told you. We've all heard this stuff before. The trick is: find something worth pursuing and work really, really hard at it. Come at it from every direction. Don't take no for an answer. Push, push, then push some more.

Of course, things will go awry. They always do, don't they? Now what?

I've spent all this time encouraging to be resolute and determined. To find a goal and stick with it. Don't give up. It's all true, but here's the trick - you've also got to be light on your feet. I know this might sound incongruous with everything I said previously, but it's not. You must be receptive to change and willing to reassess your plan if necessary. Know when to change your tact, but don't do it without good reason and don't do it unless you can come up with a better plan. A really awesome plan.

I've had so many small successes in my life lately that it feels like an embarrassing amount of riches. I don't mean material goods or tangible riches, but other, more valuable riches. I feel encouraged and inspired. I feel hopeful and excited. I feel alive. And ultimately, isn't that what we're all looking for? 

Thanks to each and every fan and supporter of Ink & Alchemy. Your interactions and comments mean more than you know.  I love supporting the creative community and there are tons of fringe benefits. One of those benefits is that I get to meet so many talented and lovely people. One of those people is Sam Randall. All of the art in this post was created by Sam. I love the colors! Click on any image to visit her page and check out the rest of her work. She also has a Facebook page for her art - click over and 'like' it to keep up with her work.

Have a perfectly delightful week! Go create something beautiful!


  1. Okay, I've just been staring at "the rainbowed assassin" for ages trying to work out the layers. Fantastic textures. Love all the fish/ river ones too.

    And yes, it all boils down to persistance and perseverance, hard graft (not necessarily "hard" as in physically or even mentally hard, but as in keeping at it).

    I'm a baby-stepper. When I was younger, I was always discouraged because I tried to run before I could walk, or crawl. I expected results that were many skill levels above my own and constantly compared myself to others who were further along their journey than I was. Then I became bedridden for many years and had to relearn many basic physical skills. It humbled me, and made me realize the importance of baby steps. I still get a bit over enthusiastic when I get into something new, and start comparing myself to the seasoned people in that field, but usually find my way back to baby stepping pretty quickly (after a good cry and/or talking to by myself lol). And the thing is when you focus on the baby steps rather than the big illusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow you have so much more to be happy and grateful for at the end of the day.

    Well done on finishing NaNoWriMo 2012. So great seeing your winner badges up there!

  2. Hi, Carin!

    You are so right about the baby-steps. You can baby-step your way into all kinds of things that would seemed to be impossible if you just aimed for the end goal right out of the box. Math was like that for me. I didn't start college until I was 34 and I began with remedial math because I was terrified of failing. I really hadn't ever thought of myself as a math person. I plodded my way through it one class at a time and by the time I was finished, I'd taken all kinds of advanced math. I had to work really hard for each and every one of those credits, but none of them were impossible because I worked my way up to them slowly and methodically.

    And yes! The feeling of accomplishment after a hard-won victory is really something fabulous!

    Thanks for noticing the NaNoWriMo. Yet another example of something that was completely and utterly overwhelming at face value, but absolutely doable in tiny chunks. Still glowing from that one - it was a struggle!

    Thanks so much, Carin, for your words of encouragement and interaction on my blog. Soooooo appreciated!


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