Category Archives: Thoughts

Wanting Opposites

In my last post, I discussed one of my favorite writers, Daniele LaPorte and one of the excerpts from her book :  The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul  She had so many wonderful thoughts, exercises and writing prompts.  I really enjoyed it and still do.  In fact, I bought a copy for one of my friends.

In that same book, she lists some of her desires.  From wanting to shave her head and also wanting to have long beautiful hair.  Who hasn’t desired opposites?  My big opposite desires are the freedom of being tied toanything, and my agricultural, living of the land simply dreams.  In the same vein, but opposite. This is the duality I have always and will always feel.  This tug I’ve never been able to fully reconcile.  Quite frankly, I doubt I ever will.

But,  in these opposites, I see similarity.  I see that I crave a life of simplicity, semi-solitude, and quiet.  Give me organic acoustic.  I want the Bow and Arrow vs the rifle.  Give me the Kayak vs the motor boat.  I feel myself tense when I enter a city.  My deep breaths are met with the sourness (ugh, Philly in Spring will make you eyes water).  When I drive into the country, the mountains, the valleys I can breathe.  The crick in my neck loosens and my heart can beat fully. I feel home.

I think within these opposite pulls, we need to find the similar thread, and I think this thread is part of the fabric that makes us us.  The Sarah-ness of Sarah, or the Julia-ness of Julia.

One day I may find myself living in van down by the river or climbing crag moving with the seasons, or I may find myself on a small permaculture farm  tending to my roots.  I may also be working for a corporation BUT I’m sure I’ll always crave wide open spaces.  I’m sure I’ll always dream.  I’m sure I’ll always come up with wild ideas and I’m sure I’ll always, always be changing my mind.

Comfort comes from seeing the consistency of my wild dreams.  It makes me feel not so much like a flailing teenager.  It makes me feel like my pendulum of desire is no longer swinging as wildly from one extreme to another, but quietly swinging back and forth like a porch swing in a spring breeze.  (Please note: this breeze is decidedly in the country and NOT in any major metropolitan area)

Inspired

Creators and Consumers

Innovators and Copiers

Actors and Audience

I think we all land in  both categories at some time.  We have to.  But some people create, innovate and entertain more often than others.  They can’t help it.  Their wheels are always turning, innovating.  And the aim of their creation reaches so much further than just any single object or idea they put in the world.

One of my favorite writers, Danielle LaPorte (DanielleLaPorte.com) strings words together that make me feel, make me think in different ways and opens my mind.  I’m consuming her stuff, but it also makes me want to create.

She tells a story a two of her friends in The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul, Lance and Louise.  Louise loves Lance, Lance doesn’t quite feel the same vibe for Louise.  So, in a very romantic movie kind of way, Louise approaches him about her love one final time.  And like the lyrics of a song, the words in this story play in my mind over and over again.

With heart in hand and Cabernet courage

Geez.  I can feel that.

Her selection and ordering of words make me feel.  Who knows if that was her why.

She also describes her desires in another section of the book.  She wants to “make things that make people want to make things of their own”.  With that single line, she inspired me to want to make things.  To be a creator.  To be part of the makers, not the takers.

And when you make things, and yes, that means you.  If you are reading this and you want to make something, please do.  And in your doing, in your making, in your creating, you inspire the hell out of me.

Do you tell awesome stories around a campfire? You know the kind, every time you tell the story, it gets more entertaining (but maybe less true?).

Do you sing songs, play guitar, draw, make videos or build with legos?

Thank you.  You make this world so much richer.  You make me want to create.

Creative Inspiring Home:

When I walk into a house filled with creative souls, I can feel the inspiration.  There is a house in particular that comes to mind.   I walk into that house and the inspiration is oozing out of every wall.  The walls are filled with art, books, music and movies.  The backyard is filled with native plants that harbor wildlife, and are beautifully arranged in a calming flow.  It makes the small backyard in the middle of suburban insane-sameness feel like a safe quiet heaven.  And then there is “The Fridge”.  Oh The Fridge! It is filled with quotes, some cartoons and some pictures.  An hour could be spent ( dare not say wasted ) enjoying the collage of creation.

This heavenly house is far from being featured in the most recent architectural Digest, or the most recent Home Decor magazine.  But when you walk into this house, you know who lives there.  You feel them.  You feel their appreciation of beauty, of family, and their humor.

And do you think when the owners of this house were hanging pictures, arranging pictures and stacking their shelves with books – everything from Music Appreciation, Children’s books, Art books, Fiction, Gardening- Belle from Beauty and the Beast would be elated) do you think they ever thought I would leave that house wanting to make things of my own?

No! but creativity is contagious. It makes your cells vibrate in a different, almost primal way.

And I don’t necessarily think it needs to be shared.  Unless you want to.  There are many words I string together on paper.  Many scribbles I make, many silly stories that play out in my head.

I throw most of them away.  (There are parts of my life that I am unapologetically, furiously attached to, I sometimes work on unattachement in other areas).  Why did I create? Who did I inspire?  No one.  But it let me enjoy my human experience a little more.

It allows me to feel a little differently.

So please continue to create.  Whatever it is, in whatever way it is.  Just let yourself come alive in that very special way that only you do.  Because when you do, you inspire me.  You really do.

Thank you.

 

 

Special Suffering

I will be boldly attached.
Buddha said that suffering comes from attachment.
It does.
He was right.
But my bliss comes from my attachment.
My attachment to my husband, my child.
I will never ever be unattached.
Take that away, and I am what?
I am experiencing less than my human experience.
My child cries in pain, and I think my heart will not survive.
My child professes his love.
My heart flies to the heavens.
So fuck you being unattached.
I would not want to live without that special love, that special attachment,
that Special suffering.
that Special Suffering is part of my human experience.
So I gladly sign my self up to Suffer in a very Special way for those that I am mightily attached to.

80% Done is 100% Incomplete

80% done is 100% incomplete.

That thought quote has two effects on me:

  1. It makes me want to complete things that I’ve started.
  2. It makes me not want to start as much for fear of not finishing.

I generally find quotes  insprirational and motivational, but I also feel that quotes like that can pull me two ways.  The quote can inspire me, while also leaving me feel completely and utterly overwhelmed.

Another quote (from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book: Big Magic);

Done is better than perfect.

Ugh.  That makes me feel two things: inspiration and revolt.  Done is better than perfect.  Okay, that makes me want to get some shit done.  But then all I have is completed shit.  That is not very appealing to me.  Neither is the idea of an endless cycle of perfection which this quote aims to disrupt.  Where do you draw the line?

So how do we keep the fear of creating crap balanced with the fear of creating nothing?

Well, we start creating.  We start making what we feel we are good at.  Or what give us joy to create.  And we be honest with ourselves.  I mean really honest.  We need walk the line between having pride in our work and being paralyzed by perfection.  We need to work on our creation – be it a visual creation, the stringing of words, writing code for a coputer program or hosting a sales call.  And by continuing to work, we will continue to get better.  So we don’t have to start at perfect, or even good.  We need to start.

Then we continue. We work.  We get better.  When do we declare a project done?  We declare it done when we realize that the extra amount of time we would take to perfect it would be better spent creating our next work.  We declare it done when we know that is good. When we take a deep breath and realize that it’s time to walk away.

At that  point, put your lovely creation out into the world, or put it away.  As long as you keep moving, you will keep improving.  The things you create will become better.  Here’s a secret: they will never be good enough.  There will always be a better way you could have drawn the line, written those words, or delivered that speech.  The personal and creative growth comes from continually trying and honing yourself.

Thank you.

Life is a Highway

Song lyrics.  Great Song Lyrics.  Great Song.  Now here’s my take:

Twice a week, I drive to a train station about about 50 miles away.  Sometimes it takes me an hour, sometimes it takes me much longer. When it takes me longer, I can usually blame one or two causes: accidents or road work.

The road work has been an on-going project for over a year.  It has been expensive, time consuming and a pain in the butt.  The traffic patterns are confusing, and merging on to the highway adds an addrenaline spike to my drive home.

But when the road has been widened, the lanes are smooth, and the workers and their machinery move to a different project, I’ll forget about all the inconvenvience.  If the road was built well.  If it wasn’t, if one part is missing: the angles of the ramp were mis-engineered,  or the road is bumpy, I’m going to remember the awful time I had commuting from work.  I’m going to think about how that whole load of crap we had to deal with was a waste of everyone’s time and money.

And what would be the worse case in road work: the workers keep their equipment there, no new work is getting done, but all of the inconvenient pain in the butt road work is there for drivers to contend with.  YUCK.

So here’s my point: Life is a Highway.

We undertake self-improvement projects that are sometimes exhuasting, or just make us incredibly uncomfortable, because positive growth is work and the process sometimes sucks.

But much like highway work, it will make our travels better in the end.  We will enjoy the fruits of our labor, and forget the pains of getting there.  BUT if we stop halfway through, don’t clean up our project, nor do we make any effort to learn from our shortcoming, we just made everything worse.

So take on your self-improvement projects.  If not, you’ll be working with dirt roads that are impassible in any sort of inclement weather.  But make sure you keep you eye on your progress, so as to not ruin traffic for no reason.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Stop Trying to Convince Yourself

I recently published a post about how good everything is waking up early, living in the country and living my dream:  “I Get To

I still stand by this post.  Sometimes the day-to-day is a drag and we have to remind ourselves of how lucky and blessed we are.

But sometimes, we spend so much time “focusing on the positive” and “looking at the bright side” that we are blind to the fact that the choices we are currently making are not serving us, and therefore, not serving the world around us.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t look for ways that we are blessed every day in every way.

What I am saying is that we need to be honest with ourselves when certain life choices aren’t working.  And when they aren’t working, we need make the changes needed to live the best life we can possibly live.

And I truly believe that each and every one of us has an inner barometer.  If we are quiet with ourselves, we absolutely know what is right for us.  The right path to take.  The right decisions to make when it comes to living your absolute purpose.  What will make you the most happy.

Because, as the Dali Lama says, “The purpose of life is to be happy.”  A deep, true sense of happy.  Not the sleeping in, eating-too-much, drinking-too-much-kind-of-happy.  The kind of happy where you feel quietly fulfilled.  The kind of happy that you feel when you lose yourself in nature.  When I take a deep breath on a cool crisp day in Autumn, everything falls away, and I am just happy.

And in quietness, we know what we need, and what we need to let go.

So if our whole being is expending energy to convince ourselves that we are happy, and seeking the light in our continual heartbreak, perhaps it is time for a change.  Instead of using coping mechanism after coping mechanism, what if we left the cause of the pain?  That way, we can focus our energies and our love for a greater good, our greater calling; instead of focusing it on our grief.

Although, there are times when we do just have to endure, and reach down deep and use coping mechanism after coping mechanism.

But what if..

Your kid or spouse is sick?

Endure. But you knew that.  In your quiet moments, you know you are meant to support and love and be there.

I’m not saying stop doing challenging things.  I’m saying move away from doing things that suck the life and love out of you. Move towards things that bring you light and joy.

Personal Example:

Running is a challenge.  I’m slow.  I’ve had stress fractures and have never placed in any race I’ve ever been in.  Getting out the door is a struggle, but it’s also a wonderful experience.  I feel more alive and more like me when I’m doing it and after I’ve done it.  More running make me happier.  It is a challenge,  but I’m not spending energy convincing myself I love it.  Once I have to use my energy to convince myself that running is wonderful, when I feel it just is not for me, I give myself permission to move on.

I am not defined by the activities that I participate in.  If I decide to quit running I am still me.  But right now, it is one of the things that gives me joy.

Walking away from what sucks us dry is a beautiful, powerful and smart thing to do.  It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of courage.

Another way to look at this:

I have two bachelors degrees: One in applied Mathematics, and one in Economics.

In Economics, there is a theory is called “Sunk Costs“.  This theory applies to decision making in all cases.  However, most of the time, it is cited in business decisions.  The idea is that when making a decision,  look at the pros and cons currently in front of you, do not consider what has already been invested into a project.  A sunk cost is a cost that has already been invested and cannot be recovered.

For example: You buy a car that turns out to be a lemon.  You have made $1,000 of repairs and a week later, you find out you need to make another $500 worth of repairs.  When making the decision of whether or not to spend another $500 for repairs, the initial $1,000 should not be considered.  That $1,000 is a sunk cost and cannot be recovered, no matter what decisions are made. So if it is a good decision to invest $500 in car, it is good regardless of the $1,000 spent a week earlier.

A more personal example: I have spent time and money (and a lot of ego), wrapped up in homesteading.  I defined myself to be a homesteader.  It is what I strove to be.   I read and yearned.  I bought canning supplies and books.  But one day, I found that homesteading felt like a burden.  So, after much thought (quiet time, and more listening to myself actually), I decided to let myself drift away from it.  The fact that I spent huge amounts of time and effort in the pursuit of homesteading did not influence the fact that it was no longer fulfilling me as it once did.  The time and efforts I put into homesteading were sunk costs.

It is important to listen to our heart in our decision making process.  Our heart knows best when you are open to listen to its truth.

The reality is that the truth that you are seeking is already in you.

 

The Power of Moving On

As you saw from My Not So Simple Confession, I’ve decided to change gears in my life a little bit, for  now.

I’ve allowed for myself to switch directions a bit.  And I’ve given myself the freedom to go back.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, and it certainly wasn’t the hardest time I’ve done this.

Switching directions, without getting mad at myself is incredibly freeing.

It also helps me to see myself for myself.  I’m not a gardener, or a writer, or a runner.  I am a person who does those things.  When I stop doing one of those things, I’m still me.

The me-ness of me hasn’t changed.

The most difficult change I ever made in my life was quitting grad school.

I had dreamed of getting my PhD and teaching on the college level.  I dreamed of being called “Doctor Reeder”.  These were all labels that I held dearly to my identity.

But when I got to graduate school in Iowa, I was miserable and I was lonely.  I had no friends, and the study of economics was getting boring to me. And getting your PhD is an insanely intense pursuit.

If I quit, it seemed I had failed. I had nothing to go back to. But I was miserable in Iowa.

I traveled back to Pennsylvania from Iowa for my Christmas break and had a lovely time.  While on break, I agonized about what to do, with no clear answer.

I went to a party at my friend’s parents’ house.  While there, I talk to my friend’s mom, and told her I was thinking about quitting grad school and coming home.

I was expecting disappointment, judgement, or overall let down.  But do you know what I got?

I got a huge hug.  She said to me, “Oh, Julia, we would love to have you home!”.

That’s what I needed to hear.  No one cared about my degree.  No one that mattered anyway.  I would still be me, even if I gave up one of the biggest defining parts of my life.

Her love gave me the courage to move forward and do what I needed to do in order to be happy.

I was able to move on.

This lesson has allowed me to move through other parts of my life more seamlessly.

Continuing to do something or be in a relationship just because it defines you can be comfortable, but it’s also soul crushing and heavy.  Moving on from that soul crushing project or job or relationship can be difficult and terrifying, but so freeing.

And the more freedom you give yourself to move on, the more freedom you allow yourself to become the best version of yourself.  And that seems to make other transitions easier.

My Not So Simple Confession

Some Facts:

I am an enthusiastic, all-in, 100% kind of person.

I have not posted on here in a while.

I have been neglecting my garden. On purpose.

I have been having a lot of fun lately, and am okay with both of the above facts.

My story:

Background:

I was in love with the idea of homesteading.  I still am.  But given that I am such an “all-in” kind of person, the second we moved to our mini-homestead, I got to work.  Within weeks of moving in, I had a large garden planned, I had chickens ordered, and my dreams were going BIG.

In fact, I’m staring at a paper where I posted my goals as a homesteader.  One of my goals was to supply 50% of our food needs.  I don’t think I got really close, but most of our meals contained at least one ingredient (and sometimes most of its ingredients) from our land.  While this gave ( and gives) me a great sense of pride and fulfillment, I felt like I was lacking something in my life.

My life was filled with working a full-time, high-stakes, high-stress job, and still is.  And then when I got off of work, I had a constant to-do list.  I had to pull the weeds, I had to plant the seeds, I had to harvest, then I had to be sure to process the harvest so it wouldn’t go to waste.  I always felt behind and I always felt like I was failing. Failing as a homesteader, Failing as a mom, Failing as a wife.

My garden began to feel like I was never done.  Never good enough.  It felt heavy.  It felt like a burden.  But it also felt good to eat from my garden.  My pride was swelling.  My ego was full.  From gardening? From eating off your land?  Yes, it was almost 100% ego driven.

The breaking point(s):

This happened in stages.  I started to feel weighed down.  Even if I wasn’t working on the chickens or working on the garden.  and when I wasn’t doing that, I was feeling guilty.

Stress of Meat Chickens:

We had a fox in the area.  This is a very similar story to the hawk from last year.  The fox would get through our electric fence, God knows how, and attack a chicken.  The fox must not have been big enough to actually pull the chicken, just big enough to hurt them.  So the fox would attack.  I would hear the awful  noise of a chicken in pain in the early morning hours.

This noise is almost indescribable, but it’s clear that the animal is in pain.  This first time this happened was at 5 am.  I had to butcher the chicken.  It was just about time to butcher it anyway.  but I was not prepared.  I was late to work and emotionally exhausted.

I had butchered a chicken before, but it was with the help of my dad, and I was a little more prepared for this. The actual taking of the chickens’ life was peaceful, and I know the chicken was not in pain.  On the other side of the coin, when I had to butcher the chicken that was attacked by the fox, it was clear the chicken was in pain.  It was so sad to hear, and my heart wept.  I cried when I was finished.  The images haunted me throughout the day.

I had no choice but to butcher the chicken.

Then, the fox struck again, but must have been able to drag the chicken off.  This was easier to deal with.

I stopped sleeping well.  I was always on alert for that fox.  Many times, I would hear an odd sound outside, and wake up in the middle of the night to run outside to try and scare a fox away.

To set the stage:  My husband and kid went on a weekend trip away, so  I had planned to butcher chickens.  Not something I was looking forward to, but something that had to be done. If you’re going to raise them, butchering them is part of it.

A week after the last strike, it was a blue  moon.  My husband and child were gone for the weekend, and I was home alone.  It was Saturday, around 2 am, and I was planning on butchering on Saturday, by myself.  I was sad that I would be butchering the next day and I wasn’t sleeping very well. I woke up to that awful sound. I hoped I was wrong.  But when I checked two chickens were injured and one was dead, but still warm to the touch.

My butchering had to start right then and there.  I started with the most injured chicken, did the next most injured.  When they were done, I processed the dead one.  It was sad and exhausting.  When I was done, I had no emotional energy left.  AND I had five more chickens that needed to be butchered.

I waited a week and butchered them.

At that point, I was so emotionally exhausted, I ordered a turkey from Ledamete Farm and named the two we were raising for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We now have two turkey pets: Priscilla and Turkey Lurky.  They entertain us and help provide a richer soundtrack of country living with their gobbling.

Lack of Adventure:

Before we moved to the country, we were rock climbing, and whitewater kayaking. I was running and biking and had a fulfilling yoga practice.  Moving here, I cast those activities off, and focused on homesteading.  While I enjoy(ed) it, I felt so one dimensional.  I felt like I was missing a part of me.

So I made a decision:

Something’s got to give. I can’t have it ALL.  My job, being a good mom, my homestead, my blog, my adventure.  I had to determine what made me me.  What made me tick.  What lit me up, made me feel alive.

What can I talk about all night?

What makes my heart happy?

What am I doing when I feel drunk off life?

And I came to a conclusion.  I have a few loves in my life: I love my family.  They are a source of deep joy.  I love adventure, activity and the outdoors.  I feel whole and like my truest self in that arena.  I love to express myself through written word.  Even if no one EVER reads it.

I have some likes: Gardening, cooking, homesteading.

And I have some needs: My job.

And I have to give something up.  I need to do what makes me happiest.  That way I can be the best mom, wife and person I can be. My best shot at living out my mission statement is to be as genuine as I know how.  And right now, I genuinely need a break from homesteading seriously.

Now what?

I’m going to keep on keeping on.  I’m going to continue to blog it up.  Although my topics may be a bit less focused on homesteading.  I’m going to continue to have my adventures: running, climbing, kayaking.

and I’m going to continue to be my most honest self, leave myself open to coming back to homesteading, and I’m going continue to share my journey with you, if you are so interested.

Thank you for coming along!

The Beauty of Gifts

I’ve always tended to be drawn to the minimalist idea on life.   I didn’t feel I needed more “stuff” to be happy.  That being said, I would bristle at big gift giving occasions.  I become haughty and was not my best self.  I have changed my tune.  While I think gift giving / receiving can be senseless and materialistic, I also believe it can be beautiful and a wonderful, thoughtful way to let someone know that you are thinking of them.  I believe it is true that the thought really does matter when gift giving.

Gifts I have received over the years are part of my most cherished material possessions.  In fact, this Christmas I received a  gift that I use every day.

My Mugs

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When I was younger, I would go hiking with my Grandpa.  He had a hiking group he met with on Thursdays, and over the summers, I got to go along a few times.  I hold these memories very dearly.  One Christmas years ago, my Nana and Grandpa gave me a brown mug with a hiker on it.  I have had it through my years when I was doing my undergraduate work, and when I traveled to Iowa to start work toward my PhD (which I never achieved).

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This mug allowed me to stay connected to my home and my family.  Particularly, it connected me to my Grandpa.  It reminded me of a place where I was always loved.  My Grandpa died just under five years ago, but he was ill from Parkinson’s many years before that.  Every morning, I drank my coffee from a mug that would connect me with him.  This was one of my few belongings that I would not share.  Only I drank from this mug.  Not my husband, not my child.  This was solely mine.

A year ago, I was making myself a cup of tea.  When I poured boiling water into my cherished mug, cracking the it.  Hot water flowed from my cup onto the counter, and tears flowed from my eyes.  I looked up ways to fix my mug, but the crack was long, and even if I fixed it, I couldn’t use it.  The methods used to fix a mug leaves it unusable.  So, I placed it in my office, and I gaze at it while I’m working.  It helps me feel connected to my late Grandfather.

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When my Nana asked me what I wanted for the Christmas, I told her I wanted a mug.  I loved having that small daily reminder of my loving grandparents.  I wanted that to continue and I wanted it to be something my Nana selected particularly for me.

Late  on Christmas morning, we went to my parent’s house to exchange presents.  I was expecting to get a mug from my Nana.  I was looking forward to having a sentimental piece of ceramic to hold in my hands every morning.    When I opened one of my presents, it was indeed a mug from my Nana.  But to my surprise, it wasn’t a mug bought just for me.  It was my grandfather’s mug which he used.  It looked so similar to the mug they bought me years ago.  I had no clue my grandfather even owned this mug.  I had no clue we had been enjoying drinks from the same mug all these years.

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I felt so deeply close to him, and so deeply close to my Nana.  These two mugs, together, are my most cherished, sentimental possessions.  Every time I sip from my mug, I have a quiet, gentle reminder of all the love I have been blessed with over the years.  All from a gift, a material possession.

I’ve received gifts, that while not as sentimentally charged, have also left me feeling so blessed.

A Book and a Bookmark

A few months ago, I was gifted a book from a family friend.  I even wrote a review of the book here.  Receiving this book was so wonderful.  First, she thought of me and thought I would like this book.  The thoughtfulness involved in getting someone a book that which you sure that would enjoy is profound.  But there was something else included in the book.  Some other material goody which I have grown to love and which I deeply appreciate.

A Bookmark.

But not just any bookmark.  This is a bookmark that was made by the gift giver.  I love to read, and I use this bookmark in my books.  When I look at it, it reminds me of the love, kindness and thoughtfulness of it’s original giving.  And, as it was handcrafted, it feels like a little bit of that person is with me when I read my books.

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As you can see on the bottom of the bookmark, the word “Tranquility” is written.  This is a beautiful reminder to me about my desired state of mind, as well as a reminder of the kindness and love that is in the world.

This gift that was given to me was not just a gift, it was thoughtfulness, it was love, and I get to be reminded of this every time I open a book.

Gifts can be Beautiful

I am so grateful to have so many loving people in my life who so generously have given to me over the years.  It has taken me a long time to realize the beauty of giving and receiving gifts.  I finally understand that giving someone a gift isn’t about fulfilling some greedy, materialistic want that we all unwillingly oblige to.  Gifts are one of many ways to show our love to those that we care for.  And these gifts can be accepted with loving gratitude.  Gift giving and receiving is a beautiful way to share love.

So thank you for all the gift that have been so lovingly given to me in the past, and thank you for those I will receive in the future.  I hope that I have and will gift those I love with things that make their lives better, more fulfilled and maybe even a little more sentimental.

Failure: The Road to Success

Last night, we went out to eat.  That’s not post worthy.   Let me tell you why we went out to eat.  I caught my oven on fire.  Not a big fire.  Just a small one.  I made a pot roast and it cooked out over the dutch oven making a mess in the bottom of my oven.  I didn’t realize that.

So last night, when I preheated the oven to bake a chicken, smoke was coming from out from the oven’s seams.  Upon opening the door to investigate the smoke, I saw a small fire.  Chris used the fire extinguisher we keep under the sink and the fire was out.  It was smelly, so we had to open up the windows and the back door.  We also had a thin layer of white dust covering the entire kitchen, including the prepped chicken.  This wasn’t a big deal, but it was definitely not in the plans.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I messed up.  And it’s not going to be the last time I mess up.  I mess up in the kitchen quite often.  This is because I’m constantly trying new things, and constantly learning new things.  And I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  If I never spent any time cooking, I would have never had that small fire, I would never burn dishes or end up producing food that tastes yucky.

I think sometimes bloggers, vloggers and some teachers don’t talk about their failures.  We talk about what went right and how you can do that too.  On the road to success, new things and adventures, you are met with failure.  We all are.  Don’t give up.  If you tried to make rice, and it didn’t turn out exactly how you like it, you’ve experienced success through your failure.  You now know a way NOT to make rice.  When I first started to try to make rice, I burnt it to the bottom of the pot and spent more time cleaning up after my learning experience (AKA mistake), than I did cooking or eating the rice.  If you try to make rice enough times, you may find a new way to make it (like I did, and wrote about it here) or you will perfect the way you were trying.

What does failing mean?

It means you are trying and that you are doing something.  You won’t get better in the kitchen unless you are in the kitchen.  This applied to every aspect of life.  Sometimes you don’t necessarily fail, but it feels like you are just floundering around not making progress.  If you are working at something, with a goal in mind, you are not failing.  You are learning.  You are becoming a better version of you.

When my chicken was ruined, and the house was smokey, did I feel like I was learning, and gaining experience? No, I felt stupid.  But now, I feel a lot better.  I know that I will not make that mistake again.  I also have more empathy for anyone else who has experienced this failure.  I needed some time to collect myself and my thoughts and move forward.  But guess what? I’ll be in the kitchen tonight, again.  I’ll also continue to try new things.  And I’ll continue to fail (AKA learn through experience).  But at the other end of those failures is a more experienced and better cook.

Keep on Cookin’ (or doing whatever it is that you do…)

So please, get in the kitchen and fail.  Burn things, make things that your family wrinkles their nose at.  BUT over time, you will cook things perfectly and have meals that your family loves, meals they request.  When someone tells you about a dish they tried to make, and it didn’t turn out, you’ll be able to ask a few questions and help.  You’ll know exactly what went wrong with their recipe because you have experienced it yourself.

You are becoming better, all the time.  It doesn’t matter what you are doing, but as long as you are doing something, you will be experiencing failures AND you will be learning. You will have great successes, as well.  It doesn’t matter what you are doing, just do it.

Thank you for letting me share my failure with you.  I hope that it helps you through any challenges you may have.  I probably won’t share all of my failures with you, but know that I have them.

To quote the Red Green from the Red Green show: We’re all in this together.