Monday, September 28, 2009

*8Things: You Need to Practice to Get Good At

"Ah, practice. The natural enemy of the moderately talented."
My favorite quote from Magpie Girl last week!

Here's my take from that post:

The things we are naturally, innately, good at are like rafting down stream; all it takes is a bit of steering, and we are there, flying along, following the channel as if it was made for us. Or actually, that we were made for it! There's nothing like finding the ideal channel for our talents and our lives.

It's so easy to flow with the talent, to float downstream. But it's harder to go a-journeying up an intriguing side branch. That takes a little more work. The water doesn't flow as easily, plus it's often uphill. But like salmon, something compels you to heave yourself forward up the stream, following the trickle of water to your desire.

Magpie Girl challenges us to name 8 Things You Need To Practice to Get Good At.

The first one is that I have a hard time persevering with things that don't come easily. So:

1. Persevere with things that don't come easily.

I tend to think that I'm no good when I run into something that's difficult or awkward for me. Not true, but I have to push through the rough patches first.

Underneath that is ... Avoiding discouragement and self doubt. Another biggie. I am so not great at this. Mr Sweetie has been very helpful over the years, but I still have to do all the work. *sigh*

Whoops! heh. I mean, yeah, I sure do have a lot of practice avoiding sliding into discouragement! It's right up there with having a hard time doing the things that are difficult for me. I'm practicing.

2. Play a musical instrument.

I love music. I've fallen in love with numerous instruments over the years, but have not made much headway with any of them except, slightly, with singing. It is painful to play out loud and hear myself squeaking or otherwise torturing the notes. But I still have hope that I will (someday) persevere. I should probably learn to play something simply to practice persevering!* These days I have my eye on a completely different instrument than ever before (something that will allow me to play with other people and be encouraged by similarly-minded musicians), and have hopes it will shake me out of my earlier frustrations.

3. Go with the flow.

I remember the revelation of a special weekend wherein I was determined to not spend so much energy *anticipating* all the wonderful things (and fretting over whether and when they would come), but to just enjoy them as they came (or didn't). Wow! It was fun! But I still do not sit well without some sort of anxious expectations, so I have much more practice to do on this one.

4. Make friends and maintain social contacts.

I both enjoy talking with people (even people I don't know well), and am shy about becoming better known and/or vulnerable to being hurt or judged. (I know this doesn't make sense but that's part of the dynamic for me.) I hate to reveal myself and then end up feeling like the odd duck. I have to really work at keeping up contacts because my tendency is to hide in the house! Yes, it is so much simpler, but ultimately counter productive. I have to constantly encourage myself to invest in friendships without getting so anxious or discouraged.

5. Go to bed at a reasonable hour and not let my mind take on all the distraction it wants.

Really, I don't have to check email one more time or follow semi-interesting news stories. Go. To. Bed!

6. Follow my own path without looking for clues from other people.

I sometimes have an excessive amount of consideration for other people's plans. Sometimes I get stuck waiting for something that never happens because I'm waiting for someone else to decide or act on something. Sometimes I just need to make my own plans for the afternoon, weekend or life, and not worry about coordinating.

(Interesting how many personal revelations I'm pulling up by simply brainstorming this exercise! Self-improvement city, here.)

7. Letting go of sentimental items. Oy! Letting go of anything I *might* need. Double Oy!

Little personally meaningful tchotchkes are irresistible to me. Things my sisters or friends gave me a long time ago or this or that from my childhood. Do I really need to keep all of these? Just to remember a person or a time? They are silting up my life, yet it's dreadful actually giving them up. Then there are things like random city information and medical paperwork. Who knows when I might need it again? I'm working on it: Something comes in the house; one or two things have to leave. FlyLady has been a huge help.

8. Caring enough to dress stylishly.

Wow, another one of those things I have (had) almost completely given up on. It's hard for me to deal with the complexity of dressing well, so I get impatient and don't bother or end up sticking with really mundane combinations. I got so sick of this, but what could I do?

I did start working up a wardrobe strategy through MissusSmartyPants the year before last. It was so much fun, I thought, hey, I can do this! And then 'ere I'd barely gotten my new system up and running, I found myself expecting and expanding, and then nursing and mostly milk-stained. And now it seems there's hardly any point to wearing nice clothes for a year or two. I'm all about washables & durables right now. But still, I am looking forward to working on this again! I'm looking forward to fitting into my nicer clothes... um, when do babies stop spitting up on you? But on the other hand, I've started restocking my wardrobe in bits and pieces to fit my current self. Most of it is not particularly stylish, but I feel good dressing in clothes that actually fit me.


So all of these are a stretch for me. I'm not good at any of them, but I can remind myself to practice them. I don't have to be perfect at them to do them at all; I think that's the point. Am I a poster child for FlyLady or what? :)

Next up: I need to find something to try for the fun of it or for hell of it. Something I can allow myself to be bad at, and allow myself to just play with it and practice the practicing.

Happily enough, I have found a few successes and new endeavors to report! More to come.

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