Waiting for Perfection

Thanks to Grammarly for sponsoring this post. Use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because it also checks your grammar, and no one wants to be the person everyone thinks about when they post bad-grammar memes on Facebook.

I haven’t been writing a lot lately. Largely because of time—I’ll put 75% of the blame there—but also because the topics swirl around in my head and I wait for them to position themselves just so before committing to putting words to my thoughts. I only want to write if it’s meaningful. I only want to write if I get it right.

atwood-on-writing-perfection

There’s no such thing as perfection. I know that. And there’s especially no such thing as perfection in writing. Words are living, breathing things and a piece of writing is never truly done. It’s just finished, and the writer has to release those words to the world and let them continue to live on through readers. As you peruse the words and unravel their meaning, the words breathe. As you comment, continue to ponder, or share, the words’ breath, their very being, carries on.

Often, when I really have something to say, I will think and write and revise and think some more. I will edit and re-write and let the words lead me to making sense of my world. And when I finally let them go, I wait for the answer to one question: Did I get it right?

But there is no right. There is only right now. Whatever I write, whether I publish it or not, is my reality in the moment. It’s part of how my world evolves. The words I use and the paragraphs that form don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to be right by anyone’s judgment. Not even by mine. Those words are merely part of the picture.

I know this, and something someone shared recently (that originally inspired this post but that I can no longer find) has reminded me of it once again.

I don’t have to finish writing. I just have to start.

Look to the Sky

I left work late tonight, as is often the case these days. But I guess the days are indeed getting longer, because instead of being dark the sky was full of brilliant tiger stripes of colour – pink and red and orange and wisps of blue. The city skyline was a barely lit silhouette, and at the end of the wash of colour was the outline of the mountains and a brilliant, golden glare as the sun started to sink behind the horizon. It was incredible. Stop-to-take-a-picture incredible. (But of course no picture I could take would ever do it justice.)

I breathe deeply when I see sunsets like that (even if I’m in my car). And in doing so I pause, sometimes just figuratively and often just for a moment, and think about something other than what I have to do next.

brick wall

Your comments on my post about missing inspiration were interesting. Good interesting, even though I don’t agree with many of you, including my mother. (Sorry, mom.)

Here’s the thing: I like that wide open space of a new year. I love the anything-is-possible feeling. I thrive on change and possibility and new. Day-to-day life gets boring pretty fast, and if I don’t have something to jolt me into a new perspective I will blink and 20 years will have gone by and my small boys will be big and all I will remember is how much laundry I did.

That is not how I wish to live my life.

I realized, upon reading (and railing against) some of those comments on that last post, that I don’t necessarily want some huge, gigantic goal and I’m not really looking for change. But I also don’t want to let life just happen. I prefer living with intention.

That’s why I’ve chosen one word as a guide post for the last few years. It’s why I have a life list and why I breathe in sunsets.

Northern lights in night sky

So where does that leave me? I’m not sure yet. I will probably start by committing to my one word for 2014 (and sharing it here). I’m going to make some changes to my day-to-day focus and schedule. I’m going to move away from feeling stuck in the everydayness of wake/feed children/commute/work/commute/feed children/put children to bed/walk dog/do dishes/fold laundry/repeat.

I’m going to look to the sky. And see where it takes me.

Missing: Inspiration

The new year is normally soaked with inspiration for me, like a path laid down just waiting for me to walk it.

I never quite found that path this year.

snowy path

I looked for it. I waited. I read the usual things and saw the usual references to potential and opportunity and new. But by the time the new year came it seemed like the path had been walked by everyone else already.

This time last year I was pursuing my goal of exercising for 30 days straight and looking forward to a year of adventure and exploration. This time last year, not incidentally, I was on mat leave.

Maybe the path is always well-worn and maybe it’s up to us to find our own footsteps or our own way to walk it. Or maybe my path is just filled with other things right now.

Every other year, it seems, I have felt like I can do anything. Anything! I just have to decide what to aim for. And then of course the inevitable everydayness sneaks in and turns that anything into well, maybe something and eventually it’s more like at least I can do a few things, but it has always started as a wide open space.

This year that wide open space is filled with laundry.

It’s hard to make new goals and seize opportunities when it’s all I can do to remember which day we need to put the bins out and when I’ve been carrying cheques in my wallet for weeks (months?) because I can’t figure out how to get into the bank to deposit them (because cheques in US funds need to be deposited in person and do you ever find yourself in a situation like this where you wonder if it’s really worth the 30 bucks?).

So I haven’t found my 2014 inspiration. I’ve chosen my one word for the year—or, I suppose, it chose me—but I haven’t quite managed to commit to it. I haven’t spoken it out loud.

Maybe this year, this time – maybe right now I need a different path. Maybe inspiration will only come in small doses.

Think small instead of big and a month instead of a year at a time. Chase moments instead of mountains.

It’s a different path forward, but it will be okay, I guess.

It’s an okay path.

I’m trying to believe that.

How is your new year going?

 

iPPP button

 

Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

Picture in Picture

marble cam image of ferris wheel

Any guesses what this is?

I took this picture with an app that takes a portion of an image, flips it upside down, and puts it in a little bubble so you can see it clearly. All the rest fades to a blur in the background.

I didn’t think of it at the time, but this is an interesting way to look at a situation. Instead of looking at the whole and seeing what you expect to see, pull out a small piece and look at it in a different way.

I tend to be a fairly black and white thinker, at least initially. You’ll occasionally find me planted firmly atop the metaphorical fence, but more often I have a definite viewpoint on things. The good thing (at least I suppose it’s good) is that I’m open to other perspectives and have sometimes been known to be persuaded to take a different stance.

I’ve had my chosen perspective challenged in any number of ways lately: Going back to work and seeing my connections to things and my priorities shift subtly from where I thought they were; letting go of things I thought were a given; accepting that taking a deep breath and a step back is okay, even if it means I have to play a different role.

One such challenge presented itself at work recently. In a very déjà-vu-esque sense I found myself staring down the mouth of a dragon I’ve fought (and been burned by) before. I didn’t want to be there, but I was having a really hard time changing my point of view.

Then a cherished colleague did for me what that app did to this picture – turned a piece of it upside down and gave me another way to look at it. I’m grateful both for her support and her insight, and I may just keep this image on my desk as a reminder.

Is there something you need to think differently about? Try this – grab hold of a part, flip it, turn it, and toss it into the air like a soap bubble. Let it hang. It might tell you a different story than the one you tell yourself.

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Want to know what the photo was originally? Here’s your answer

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I’ve joined Greta from Gfunkified as co-host of #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

 

iPPP button

 

Things I Learned as Campaign Volunteer

The election in Calgary is over and I can’t say I’m sorry. The amount of vitriol spewed, on social media especially, was disheartening for this campaign newbie to see.

I volunteered (for the first time) with two campaigns – the campaign to re-elect Mayor Naheed Nenshi, and with my friend Misty Hamel’s campaign when she decided to run for public school board trustee. During this process I’ve learned a lot of  things that are relevant to both politics and life. (Maybe mostly the latter… Let me know what you think after reading this.) Here are five of those things:

1. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and do it. 

The conversation about Misty running started months ago, but for a variety of personal reasons she only committed right before the nomination deadline. Despite running against an incumbent and someone who had been campaigning for years (who had connections and a significantly bigger bank account than we did), Misty dove head first into her campaign. She got the required signatures in two days, submitted her nomination papers, and bravely stood before the media to declare her candidacy. And then she started studying. She read stuff she needed to in order to be completely up to date on the issues, she learned more about the wards she would be representing, and she unabashedly joined the conversation. I’ve told her more than once that I couldn’t have done it, and I’m not just blowing smoke. I greatly admire how passionately and thoroughly she approached this endeavour.baby on the campaign trail

2. Everyone can contribute something.

Our group of friends includes those who are politically involved and savvy and those for whom the idea of door knocking incites tremendous fear, and yet no one hesitated to help out. We had people creating websites and Facebook pages, distributing flyers, and writing campaign material. Others repeatedly put the message out to their networks and went door knocking with Misty. People helped her prep for the candidates’ forum and went with her to provide moral support. The lesson: You don’t have to be politically savvy (or even interested) to be part of doing something good for your community.

3. Talk to people on social media like you would talk to them in real life. 

I am astonished, truly ASTONISHED, at the way some people talk to others on social media. Because Misty was an unknown with many great qualifications that happen not to include a background in education, certain people felt she was fair game. And those who supported her were called everything from stupid, liars, and cowards (for stating things that are true and publicly available in meeting minutes, no less) to “mean mommy bloggers.” They’re hiding behind screens and I dare them to say that to our faces. I doubt they would, but nevertheless if my children, years from now, saw my comments on social media I would want them to be proud of how I represented myself.

delivering campaign flyers4. Politics is about people, not politicians. 

I learned this on my first night of being involved in Nenshi’s campaign. He has a reputation as being a person more than a politician, and nothing I saw in supporting him suggested that wasn’t true (or that it was just for show). There are many ways we can inspire people, and being involved in a political campaign is no different. Remember the people. Treat them like people. It’s not that complicated.

The other thing about being involved with Misty’s campaign is that I got to work as a team with some women I love and admire and, politics aside, that was a really positive experience.

5. Whether you win or lose, you can still change the conversation. 

Nenshi won, Misty didn’t, but they both changed the conversation. Nenshi has been doing it for years, but Misty did it in under a month. She raised some valid points about the system she wants to be a part of and she challenged her opponents on things that matter. They both did it with humanity and heart.

And, after all, isn’t that what life is actually about?