15 Minutes to Tell Your Last Story

I am participating in #Trust30, an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself.
Join in at http://ralphwaldoemerson.me/

Day #1:
We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.
1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.
(Author: Gwen Bell)
In the spirit of the game this has not been edited so the grammar is a bit rough. Deal with it.

There once was a little girl who didn’t know what she would be someday. She saw herself as shy and alone, not very pretty or fun to play with. The other kids agreed with her. She had a few friends but not for very long and she often would write down ways to end her life, since she wouldn’t really be missed anyway.

As she became older she quit doing that. It wasn’t healthy. But she still felt it. She was still lonely and not very pretty and not fun to play with. The boys all agreed with her.

So she focused on not needing them. She learned many hobbies and she made elaborate worlds in her head and she taught herself to not need people. To love the aloneness. She almost convinced herself that it was true.

Meanwhile, she felt a wooing from her Creator. He often spoke to her, he gave her gifts and attention. Even when she was quite rude in response. Then He started to give her gifts she did not want. He gave her pain and hurt that could not be locked away. He gave her tears she could not stop and fears she could not control. The made the girl very cross and she was unhappy with Him.

The girl looked for many ways to feel better and not think. None of them worked for very long. Meanwhile, the girl met new friends. She still not feel very pretty or fun to play with but she could not feel alone because the new friends disagreed and would not go away. Not even when the girl was very cross with them and said things to upset them.

The girl was confused. Friends were simply those who put-up with her and were not too mean. She did not understand her new friends, who thought that was a bad definition of friendship. And the girl was confused. Still, she liked her new friends and she started to imitate them and be a better friend herself.

Her Creator smiled at her. He had done this often before but she had not noticed because she was too afraid to see His face. This time she was watching and His smile made the whole world seem a bit nicer. She still felt cross about some of the gifts He had given to her but she was willing to wait and see what they turned into. *****

The girl went on many more adventures and cried many more tears. She still felt alone much of the time, and she still didn’t think she was very pretty or fun to play with. But her Creator told her she was very silly and that she should not listen to herself but to Him. And that when that was too hard she should listen to her stubborn friends who, she found out, were more of her Creator’s gifts, and not be too proud to say what was true; even if it made her feel unsafe, because He was big enough to protect her heart.

And so that is what the girl did.

(The *****’s are where the 15 minutes ran out. The entire thing actually took me about 20 minutes)

Flower Woes

I bought a gardenia a few weeks ago. They are one of my favorite flowers, the scent of them takes me back summers as a kid and the bush that grew by my grandmothers front porch. I saw a display of them at a grocery store just before Easter and were such cute little things. I looked through them and found the one that had the most buds, 14, and bought it. I carefully avoided the ones that were already blooming, promising myself that if I had patience then I’d have a longer time to enjoy my new flower once I got it home.

Excited for how amazing my room was going to smell I placed my little friend in the window and I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I’ve yet to see a bloom

Turns out that despite my grandmothers casual care of her bush, just sticking it in the ground and letting it go, gardenias are finicky beasts and many hobby gardeners spend YEARS trying to get on to bloom. Or even to just survive. Then they get therapy and and medication to deal with the stress.

This makes me want to cry a little. I gave her a new pot, fresh dirt, fertilizer, water, and sun. But not too much water or sun. Nonetheless I have an adorable little bush with yellowing leaves that drop off at an alarming rate and the occasional bud that tempts me by looking like it will open before laughing at me and falling off instead. Plus, she learned a new trick this week and has allowed a colony of mites to take up residence! Spiteful thing.

I’m back, though I never meant to go

In starting a blog about the art of learning to fail well I have failed. As you may have noticed it’s been some time since my last post. That’s because the very day I fell behind on the schedule I had made for myself my inner perfectionist came out to play and insisted that I quit, since I’d already messed things up anyway.

Of course, I argued that it was fine and likely no one had even noticed. Certainly true. Then I made the critical mistake. Instead of jumping right back in I decided to take another day before I posted, take a little more time to think of something good. And, of course, the next day was too busy and the next I didn’t think about it….

In the spirit of this blog I found 3 lessons this failure has taught me.

1. I like to jump into the deep end of projects. No baby steps for me! This has been both a advantage and disadvantage in my life. I’ve had some great adventures and experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything because I pulled a Peter and went for a walk. “Jump, then Look” had served me well in some areas of my life. On the other hand, I do tend to take on too much or give up on projects because I feel completely over-whelmed. Lesson? If it’s an adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime event, or just something crazy fun or short-term then jumping in with both feet can work. But if it’s going to be a long-haul, or a bedrock habit I’m trying to build into my life, then it might be better to take things a bit more slowly in the beginning.

2. It’s easy to drift away when there is no accountability. No one else knew what my posting schedule was supposed to be so no one noticed when I didn’t make it. So when I felt no one noticed I was right. Not much motivation there. Lesson? Accountability is good. I’m going to be posting a minimum of twice a week now. If both posts are on Saturday night you’ll know lesson 3 was in full effect.

3. The Resistance is strong in this one. If you’ve never read “The War or Art” by Steven Pressfield I’d recommend you find a copy. The book was not what I was expecting when I read it but it changed the way I look at my writing, and other areas of my lfe as well. Most of all, he names the reason I don’t write- Resistance. With a capitol R. Resistance is a tricky beast, and clever to boot. It’s the same sort of idea that Seth Godin talks about, the “lizard brain”. Lesson? The things I want the most are the things I am most afraid of of failing at, which means they are the things I am most resistant to attempt.

An example- Knitting is fun. However, I have no major dreams that involve knitting, nothing is riding on my ability to do it well or succeed at it. Failure at knitting costs me nothing but a little time. Therefore, Resistance doesn’t show up when I knit. I can fail and fail and fail again and though it is frustrating it isn’t a big deal. There is no fear of failure in making a scarf. Writing, on the other hand, is very important to me. I want to succeed, I have dreams and hopes and plans riding on that success. This makes writing trigger an immense amount of Resistance. When I fail at writing I don’t just feel like I’ve failed, I feel like I am a failure. Worst of all, it feels like my dreams are being threatened and I hide. When I write poorly it feels like a big deal, and there is much fear of failure.

This makes Resistance extraordinarily valuable. It shines a light right on the things I value most, on the things I want at the deepest level but am afraid of going after because trying and losing seems more painful than simply longing.

Now that I have a more reasonable posting schedule, accountability, and have recognized my Resistance as a sign that this is something I should pursue I am ready to begin again.

And I’m going to turn the tables-

Is there an area in your life that is important to you, where you are striving to reach a new level or gain a new skill, but that you find yourself consistently not gaining ground because you just don’t do the work? Have you considered the idea that it might not be laziness or a lack of self-discipline (the 2 attacks I toss at myself the most often) that is holding you back but rather that it might be fear? Does that change the way you go after those goals?

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