Thursday, September 29, 2011

I fail because I can

Are you ever just drifting along, not paying much attention, when unexpectely you hear something rather profound that then gets stuck in your head and makes you feel like you've had a mini revelation?  This happened to me.

I was watching a silly sitcom I like, Modern Family, last night, when one of the characters said something that struck me. The situation was, the father wanted to walk a tightrope and kept falling off a wire stretched just  inches above the ground. Then his young son said, "You fall because you can." The father had a sudden realization and then raised the wire to maybe six feet, and managed to walk across without falling.

As I watched I kept thinking about that phrase, "You fall because you can." I changed fall to fail. I fail in some of my goals because I have a safety net, I know I'm not going to suffer any great consequences if I fail. It's when something big and important is at stake that I can really step up to the challenge.

So if that's the case, do I need to insert risk into my challenge in order to be successful? And how to do that? Anything I do would be an artificial risk. I don't have an answer to that question--just thinking aloud, so to speak.

Anyway, this is something I'm thinking about today: I fail because I can. How do I change my personal goals and challenges so that failure is not an option?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Watercolor Class and How I Spent My Summer Vacation

To call the summer a whirlwind, understates it.  In June my son and his wife, after trying for a year and a half, sold their house in Layton and bought a home in my little town of North Salt Lake--and my life changed.  With them living nearby, I'm now able to help much more with the children and assist the parents who both work.  Through June, July and August, 8-year old Kevin spent his days with me since I worked from home and he was able to play and entertain himself just fine.  But 4-year old Brandon went to daycare as it was too much for me to manage both while working.  Now Kevin is back in school and I don't have my daily companion.  But Brandon has started going to the daycare provided by a neighbor who lives just behind me.  However, since they don't open until 7 a.m. and both parents start work at 7, he comes and stays with me for a half hour and then I walk him to his "school" before logging on for my own workday.  It works out well and saves that little family some extra costs.  The bonus for me and for them is this one-on-one time I've enjoyed with these little boys. 

The drawback has been that at the end of the day of working and caring for an 8-year old, I felt too tired to follow my established walking routine from the spring.  Plus keeping up with the yard work provided other calorie-burning opportunities.  Somehow I maintained my weight through the summer and stayed with my healthy eating habits.  This week I returned to my walking and it was such a pleasure--like meeting an old friend.  I'm now looking into either a recumbent exercise bike or an elliptical for bad weather days.  I didn't want to buy one until the basement remodel was completed, but that's now on the fall agenda.  So we'll see how the timing of all that goes.

So summer flew by and I took no vacation at all except for a day here and there just to use up vacation days rather than lose them.  The yard is beautiful with the occasional help from Alberto's crew.  I've had a contented and uneventful few months.  And yet, the metamorphosis that started last winter has continued with an unexpected new hobby.

In August, my friend Celia asked me to join her and her sister, Pat, in a private watercolor class with a teacher they had met at Red Butte Gardens.  It sounded like fun, but I was unprepared for how much I would love it and become addicted to it.  We've had five lessons now with one remaining.  I will be sad for the classes to end, but my new adventure in creativity has just begun.

Our class is at Diva's--a charming coffee shop famous for its cupcakes but where you can also get a delicious sandwich or soup and a glass of wine.  And we usually do since the shop charges nothing to use its space.  Located in a former green house, it has beautiful outdoor and indoor spaces.  We utilize the "library" space with its large table.  In class we work on specific projects, and we all practice at home on our own subjects.  So, in order of completion, here are my class projects and some of my practice efforts.  I offer no apologies for the flaws - I'm still learning:

Class Week 1:  Op Art coffee cup and cupcake

Practice: Himalayan poppies.
Practice, my cup of brushes.
Class Week 2-3; Bird on a wire (birds are hard!)
Practice:  Prothonotary Warbler - I loved this one!
Class week 2-3-4, Tuscan Landscape
Practice: Lavender fields and Abbey of Senanque, Provence
Practice: Hummingbird
Class weeks 4, 5, 6:  Leaves
 Final class week 6: Western Landscape (impressionist)

And at the top of this post, my favorite practice yet, my Thatched Cottage which I painted yesterday on my day off instead of cleaning the basement -- no regrets.