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Sometimes Success Looks Like Failure

We live in a perfect world. A world that rewards perfect and only perfect.

The world’s filled with beautiful ideas, shared in awe by others while the ‘Pinterest fails’ are shared in mockery and mirth. As adults, we often belittle ourselves and, in some cases, others, when we make mistakes. So often we hear words like, “I could never do that, I’m not a [fill in the blank].” As adults we’ve learned that unless we’re perfect, we shouldn’t even try. We became square pegs in square holes.

Take a moment for that to sink in.

When we limit ourselves to what we’re already good at, we are merely square pegs.

For a long time I was a square peg, unhappily sitting in a square hole. Fear of mistakes crippled me and held me in place. My self worth hinged on being good and right all the time. If you’ve never lived in that kind of world, let me tell you, it’s a miserable place to be! When I saw my children showing signs of living in a perfection based world, I knew something drastic needed to change.

How can we teach our children they can learn anything, be anything, do anything if we constantly send the message that we need to be perfect the first time we try something? How will our children learn that practice makes perfect, if they see us never try anything new? But also, how will they learn that not being perfect is okay, if we never point out our own mistakes?

I made a cake this week. It’s not the first cake I’ve made, but it was the first time I’ve tried this technique. It turned out great! (For a first try). Everyone gushed over it (well except that one person that sneered and said, “it’s okay.” But we won’t talk about him anymore! lol).

As I made the cake, Ella and Agatha gushed over how awesome the cake was and how amazing they thought I was. Nothing feels better than knowing your children admire you!

My cake wasn’t perfect. Not even close! It looked like a zombie garden gnome (a la Harry Potter). Not pretty! The fondant ripped in a few places, and the entire thing looked a little creepy. I’d go so far as to say it’d be worthy of a ‘Pinterest Fail’ post. Except, I’m ridiculously proud of this cake. No. It isn’t perfect, I’m very aware of the differences between mine and the professional’s cake. But I tried.

I tried something new and I think it turned out really good, for someone that doesn’t do this every day, or even every month.

I’m not a cake decorator, a baker, or a chef in anyway (sometimes I despise anything to do with cooking), but it makes my children happy to have fun parties and fun cakes. It makes them feel loved and so I do it. Even though it takes all my will power to place that cake, with all it’s faults, in front of other people, I do it.

Today it’s cakes, a different day it was wire sculptures. Sometimes it’s words. I try. I work. I make mistakes, a lot of mistakes. Sometimes it looks like failure. Sometimes it feels like failure.

I tried something and it didn’t go the way I envisioned. I compare myself to others. I compare myself to the person I wish I was. That person that knows what to say and how to say it. The one that makes gorgeous cakes and throws elaborate parties, while also looking amazing. I see the dissonance between who I am and who I wish to be. Sometimes the distance seems so vast, and then I see how far I’ve come.

It may look like failure to some, but to me, it’s a huge success.

I want my children to see these moments of failure as success too. I pointed out the differences between the way my cake looked and the way I wish it looked. Together we watched the video I used as inspiration. We talked about the differences between what she did and what I did. We took maybe 3 minutes to really pick apart the problems with my cake, then I changed course and talked about how wonderful I thought my cake was. No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was still a great try and I was able to see where my mistakes were, which meant I could learn from it.

Success!

Now that you’ve seen my cake, this is the video I used as inspiration:

 

 

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Embarrassment, Failure, Growth

Recently, I submitted some of my artwork to the Strathcona County Art Gallery@501. I hoped people would like my work. I hoped the county would buy my art to display. I hoped for a lot of things, but beneath, and on top of, that hope something else whispered to me.

Something whispered that I wasn’t good enough. Something whispered that people would laugh at my work.

I felt embarrassed by my submissions. I told myself the gallery accepted all submissions. I didn’t even need to be good and they’d still display my work. People would see my work. They’d see it for what it really was.

I saw derision.

In my head I picture people telling my they like my work just to be nice. In my head I see other people thinking my work is childish. They’re only saying nice things about my work to be – well – nice.

In my head I hear a lot of things. ¬†In my head I hear all the reasons I should keep my art hidden at home. In my head I hear all the reasons I shouldn’t talk to real artists. In my head I am not good enough. In my head I do not deserve to have my art on display. In my head my art is not valuable to others. In my head I doubt myself. A lot.

I submitted my work anyway.

Even though I never received a phone call saying my art was selected, I attended the unveiling reception at the gallery. I talked to other artists. I praised other artist’s work. It was so hard to go. I felt rather sick while I drove to the gallery. I wanted to leave before they made the announcements. I wanted to leave as soon as the announcements were done and I knew my work wasn’t selected.

I stayed anyway. I was uncomfortable. But I stayed. I chatted. I looked at a lot of art. Particularly the art that was purchased. I wanted to see what the selection committee saw. I wanted to learn. I wanted to open my eyes a little wider.

I was sad my work wasn’t selected for purchase. I was sad my work didn’t win the people’s choice award. But in my sadness I was also happy I tried. In my sadness I see hope. I see growth. I see a chance to learn more and do better next year.

I don’t know if I’ll feel anymore worthy next year, but sometimes it isn’t about feeling worthy, it’s about proving worth just by showing up.

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Toy Story Trouble

Over the past few months we’ve been getting rid of stuff and really looking at what we use and don’t use, so we can make our home more joyful. We want to be able to use the space (and the stuff) we have without needing to put a ton of effort into cleaning in order to do so.

While Ryan and I’ve been going through our stuff and the general household stuff, w e’ve also been encouraging the kiddos to also get rid of their old toys they don’t use anymore, or the ones they forgot they even had.

Things were going pretty well, until we watched Toy Story 3.

Brom was so taken with the idea of toys being sad that their children didn’t want them anymore that he cried for hours anytime he thought about his toys being given away. It was heartbreaking to watch. We spent so much time this week cuddling and talking about how hard it is to say goodbye. We talked about the movie and how the toys felt, and also how the children felt. We talked about the actions the parents in the movie took and how that impacted the children and toys. It took time. A lot of time. He was heart broken.

We took all of his toys he’d decided to donate out of the box and sent them back to the playroom. He cried some more. We talked some more. We cuddled some more.

Then just as suddenly he brought all the toys back, put them int he box, and said he was ready to give them to someone else who’d continue to love his toys as much as he does. He knows his toys will be happy because someone loves them.

As a parent it was an amazing thing to watch. To hold space for him while he was sad, to walk this journey with him. Not trying to change his mind or make him feel better, but just being with him while he was sad.

It can be so difficult when our children do something different than what we want. It’s absolutely painful to see our children sad. But those are both¬†experiences that are so powerful and important not only to our children, but to us and our relationship with them as well.

My heart swelled with so much love and pride when Brom gently placed his toys in a box, told them he loved them, and wished them well in their next home.

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Stepping Out of Comfort Zones

It takes a lot of soul searching, and twice as much work, to elevate myself to become a person I admire. It’s incredibly difficult to admit that I didn’t like who I was. It’s so hard to peal back the layers, find the parts I don’t like, amplify what I do, and rewrite new layers. I’ve spent many days crying as I search back to discover why I think or behave certain ways. Growing isn’t easy. It isn’t comfortable. But it’s so worth it!

I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone more and more often. Last week Ella had a bad experience at her first tumbling class. A coach shamed her in front of others for not knowing how to do something, on the first day of her first class. Ella felt humiliated. When we got home she sent an email to the gym, explained what happened, explained that it wasn’t acceptable, she wanted to know the gym didn’t find it acceptable, and wanted a response back so she could decide whether to remain in the class, or not. After three days she’d received no response, she decided to withdraw from the course. I needed to call the gym, withdraw her, give a reason, and request a refund. The gym has a no refund policy without a doctor’s note.

Normally a phone call like this would result in me yelling or crying, depending on which childhood programming surfaced at the time. That type of phone call is also one I’d usually avoid making if at all possible. I did consider sending an email instead of a phone call.

I made the phone call. To someone I didn’t know, to make a complaint, to withdraw my daughter, and to request a refund. Pain, pain, pain!

It went really well! I neither yelled, nor cried and they agreed to provide a pro-rated refund and processed the withdrawal.

Besides making difficult phone calls, I’ve also stepped so far out of my comfort zone and volunteered to model at the True Beauty Gala. I also agreed to dance, a choreographed dance, at the Gala. In front of people!

Participating in the Gala means I need to drive to Calgary several times until the end of October. It means overcoming so many fears. Fear of something happening to someone. Fear of falling on (or off) the runway, fear of being ridiculed for not being pretty enough, fear of not being coordinated enough, of messing up the dance.

I’ve allowed my fears to control and limit me for so long. The first weekend I drove to Calgary, 3 hours away, I barely slept the night before. Partly because Brom doesn’t sleep anymore, but also because I kept picturing all the things that could happen.

When I see the scary images start, I say, “No!” I pray. I then purposefully picture the day being amazing. Instead of picturing a car accident, I picture a fun drive singing, and enjoying quiet time.

It’s still uncomfortable, but not crippling. I’m showing up. I’m trying. I’m putting real effort into the event. My past patterns protected me from pain by not bothering to even try. If I failed, it wasn’t a huge deal because it’s not like I put effort in to anything. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t able to admit to fear. I wasn’t able to admit to not knowing or not understanding. I wasn’t able to learn and grow.

It isn’t easy being uncomfortable, but it is better.

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