Random thoughts on scrapbooking and life's journey

Welcome to My Fragmented Journey
Thursday, April 24 2014 @ 01:50 PM CST

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Hijacked

The best laid plans....

April loomed full of possibility. The schedule freed of constant running, or so I thought. Now it draws to a close with more packed into a few short days than I imagined at the start. My plans for the month were hijacked. Delays and unexpected tasks accumulated. My month of relaxation melted faster than the snow which lingers on my lawn.

April 2013 promised many things. Spring returns in April, or so we thought. Mounds of snow dot the landscape after the coldest spring in 100 years. The frigid temperatures seem to have slowed our thoughts. Somewhere excitement waits. Sometime relaxation will come. Until then, I am tackling dreaded tasks. An ear infection lead to a jaw infection which put me two weeks behind. Two weeks behind with deadlines is an ugly combination. Mistakes lurk in the corners. Hurry exposes them.

The next instalment of the Artful Readers Club is due today. What have I been reading? I doubt anyone wants to hear of tax codes and spreadsheets. Hemmingway has inspired some artwork, however, I have been prevented from completing it due to my own dilly dallying and the dreaded accumulation of responsibility. I keep hoping the elusive balance is just a day away. High speed living gets tiring. Until then I join Orphan Annie, "Tomorrow, tomorrow...."

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Finding Confidence

He that is overcautious will accomplish little ~ Friedrich von Schiller.

Actions repeated regularly become habits. Habits get comfortable. Change happens slowly. It requires thoughtful action to rework the habits. Some habits are beneficial. Some habits hold us back.

Some time ago I started a habit of doubting my ability. It ate away at my confidence. I let others take the lead on projects I could have done. I justified it in various ways. Sometimes it is helpful to let someone else take the lead. In my case it became a habit. It became a habit that is in my mind and thinking. It affects new activities I try. My confidence sagged. Each time I doubted my ability, each time I stepped back just in case, I chipped away at me. I stopped taking risks even well thought out risks. My fear of failure grew. My fear of failure no longer affected only me but those around me as my lack of confidence held others back.

Since September, I have been challenging my thinking. I have read books. Reading is only half the equation. It gives ideas. It spurs thought. Without action nothing changes. This year, I have stepped out and tried different things. I have also stopped trying some that I enjoyed. Why did I stop? I saw possible success coming that would demand more. The confidence kicked in and I questioned, "Am I really capable of more?" As I push at the boundaries I have confined myself to, there is excitement and nervousness. I push forward and pull back at the same time. Finding confidence is hard.

After a speech contest

Finding confidence takes me out of my comfort zone. It challenges my assumptions. It forces me to act. I make mistakes. Slowly, I learn to analyze what went wrong and move forward. Slowly, I find my confidence. Small steps forward. Small challenges. A speech on Redefining Failure. A speech on the power of words. New audiences. New risks. The journey is long and slow. The rewards are worth every step.

What habits hold you back? How do you move beyond them?

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Currently...

... recovering from an ear infection

... working on a website for my Toastmasters club

... reading For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemmingway and Antifragile by Nassir Taleb

... Waiting for the snow to melt

... preparing a speech for Tuesday. Practicing a speech for next Saturday.

... dreaming and planning a road trip. Niagra Falls anyone?

... making to do lists and ignoring them (as usual)

... looking forward to working at a writer's conference this weekend

... trying to find my missing creativity

... writing and editing short stories. Wondering what to do with them when I finish.

... wishing the house would magically clean itself

... setting goals and working towards them

... thankful for my full and varied life.

March 13, 2013 in photos
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In Review: March

As I look back on March, I wonder how did we get ninety-one days into the new year? Time is speeding by and I am missing it. March was a very busy month and we knew it would be. I am not sure I like it but at least April is looking to be quieter. Perhaps that is balance busy followed by quiet. Before I rush into the calm, I pause and reflect on the storm that passed and storm it did for March. March 21st there was a winter storm over much of the southern half of our province with some areas experiencing blizzard conditions. Even in the city there were areas that driving was difficult due to drifting.

March 2013

My review questions for the month are:

1. What books and or magazines did I read this month?

For the Artful Reader's Club, I read Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Once again, I did not finish any other books this month. I continued to read Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. While I was waiting for it to be available at the library, I read most of Better by Mistake: the unexpected Benefits of being Wrong by Alina Tugend. I am finishing the last chapter today. I also started Adapt: Why Success Always Atarts with Failure by Tim Harford and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway. It is one of my Artful Readers choices. With my ladies BOOKClub bible study, I read through Romans.

2. What movies, TV shows, plays, etc. did I watch?

We did not watch anything this month.

3. What interesting things did we do as a family? With friends?

We attended baton competitions almost every weekend. Kathryn had a track meet. I took part in some Toastmaster events. We celebrated Bruce's Mom's birthday and ended the month with Easter.

Preparation

4. What were our accomplishments?

I took 2nd in our club evaluation contest and am preparing to participate in the area contest this weekend. I am also representing our club in the speech contest. Victoria caught some baton tricks she has been struggling with. She caught a two spin in front of the judge at the last competition and had a no drop solo-dance routine in spite of not feeling well. She worked hard to achieve both. Kathryn's relay team placed third in provincials.

5. What were our disappointments?

Juggling schedules continues to be a frustration. There are many things we all want to do and it is hard to choose which to focus on. I missed Kathryn's track meet because I was in Edmonton with Victoria. Bruce stayed with Kathryn. We were all a little disappointed that the events were the sae weekend. I continued to struggle with health and injury.

6. What did I do for exercise?

Track time continues to be a struggle. My knee kept me from walking properly some days. I enjoy swimming and can handle that easier with my leg injuries. Illness added to the injury woes and I missed two weeks of exercise. Once the spring weather arrives, I will return to running outdoors. Hopefully, I will continue to swim once that happens. Shovelling snow replaced some of the track time.

Us

7. Did I make progress on my goals?

I have started to refine my goals for the year. They are still mainly large, vague ideas. Setting an exercise goal would likely help me set and stick to a training plan. I am trying to set up routines that help me with writing and creating while not ignoring the household tasks. We are discussing a few bigger ideas as a family that will affect this years goals. I made progress on cleaning up the stacks of papers but am not finished.

As the year progresses, I expect this list will change to more accurately reflect the things I want to track and remember at the end of the year. I am also working on a list of tasks I want to make sure I complete each month. I have had huge stacks of papers to file. I hope to build routines to keep that from happening.

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ARC: Life of Pi

An animal inhabits its space, whether in a zoo or in the wild, in the same way chess pieces move about a chessboard. Life of Pi

I was planning to read this book later in the year. At the end of February, I found out Victoria's class would be reading it for their classroom book clubs. I changed my plan even though I was mid-book on one of my other choices. I am grateful I decided to change my plans. Life of Pi is an easy read compared to the non-fiction I am currently digging into. It was just the change I needed.

I first heard of Yann Martel when he was writer in residence at our city library in 2003, two years after he wrote Life of Pi. I had no intention of writing more than mundane entries in my journal at the time. I paid little attention to the writer in residence. With two pre-schoolers, my reading was limited to Go Dog, Go and or similar books. Later, Mr. Martel, started mailing Mr. Harper books. I thought it was an interesting publicity idea and again paid little attention. Mr. Martel has since made our fine city his home. He has published another book, Beatrice and Virgil that seems to have receives mixed reviews. I intend to read it and decide for myself.

English is the language in which I best express the subtlety of Life. But I must say that French is the language closest to my heart. And for this same reason, English gives me sufficient distance to write. -- Yann Martel

Life of Pi is the journey of Pi Patel from India to Canada via Mexico. It is a journey the narrator claims will make you believe in God. It is a story about life and death because the two are inseparable. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs what it can. It is a story o questions, of growth and of change. It is unbelievable and yet enticingly real.

With vivid language, Yann Martel creates characters and scenes. He places us in the zoo. We feel the heat of the day and hear the animals. We enter the mind of Piscine (Pi) Molter Patel as he journeys through life. It was a journey I wanted to end well. I kept turning the pages to see what would happen to Pi and his companion Richard Parker. Two days after I started, my journey ended as I turned the last page.

I recommend this book with a caution. It is vivid and descriptive. Pi's journey is not an easy one. It might be too much for some. Kathryn has often read to the middle of a book then asked me to read the last chapter to tell her if it ends well enough for her to continue. For the characters in this book, the last page is merely the start of the next stage of the journey. There are clues throughout that point to the end and yet there are surprises along the way. I am not recommending this book to Kathryn until she can distance herself from the characters a little more.

The island

Maggie's note

The art challenged me this month. Animals are not a strength. Could I draw a tiger? Could I draw a sloth? Could I depict the island? My postcard characters were mysteriously silent. I chose to draw a chess game in progress or rather some pieces as they could be during game play because of the comparison between animals and chess pieces. I studied the memento mori art style and am considering an attempt at it. It will be a stretch for me. March has not been a month for stretching. There has been too much scheduled and unscheduled to try something so far from my normal styles. For a second piece I choose to depict the island using soft pastels and oil pencils. Once I started the art, I was able to coax my characters to talk to me.

Queen and Pawn

Kitty writes

There are a multitude of books inspiring art this month in the Artful Reader's Club. Some will be added to my reading list for next year.

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Thankful for the Cross

Only he who does nothing, makes no mistakes. French Proverb

Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

I strive to live a godly life. I want to do what I know is right. I can't. I fail repeatedly. The doubt creeps in and gives way to worry. My faith is weak. The accuser condemns, "where is your faith now?"

My sins are numerous. Each one a new weight on Christ's shoulders as he hung to the cross. Would I join Peter in denial? "I do not know him." THe rooster crows. Shame. Why do I doubt?

The miracles march through my life. Faith stories all along. God is in action, protecting me, directing me, providing for me. I watch the faith of others. God is at work, now, as in the past. I praise. The seed stirs.

The battle rages with in doubt or faith, which will I choose today? Which will I choose this hour? I falter, doubt creeps in. A reminder comes. Grace. I walk with grace. The Spirit's gentle reminders. Faith grows.

Each day I struggle. Each day I cling, I strive, I win, I lose. Each day I need grace, forgiveness and love. Forgiveness that cost everything that day on a hill between two criminals. Love that gave everything though I deserve nothing. Grace extended so I can be seen as perfect even as my Heavenly Father is perfect. Because on my own, I can do nothing but surrender and trust.

He Lives

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Mixed Messages

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Unknown

Do or do not. There is no try. Yoda

short circuiting mixed messages

I want to succeed or rather, I do not want to fail. This winter, I have been reading some challenging books. They challenge my thinking, my habits and my actions. I am surrounded by contradictory messages about success and failure. It becomes paralysing. It paralyses me. It paralyses Victoria who wants to succeed in everything she does. We tend to act from the point of view of Yoda, there is no in between.

when we are afraid to make mistakes, we tend to limit our actions to that which we know. We short circuit the learning process. Mistakes help us learn. But do we still believe that as adults. I tend to forget it. I expect babies will fall while learning to walk. I expect kids will mispronounce words when learning to read. Somehow, somewhere along the way, the message comes that we should have it figured out now. I don't. I make mistakes daily.

Bruce and I have started reading books and articles about the role of failure in success. They go together. We have started to look for ways to "fail well". We have each chosen a challenge in an area we want to learn and grow. An area where we are taking risks. Bruce has been taking a photo a day. He planned to edit and post them each day. Some days life happens. They don't get posted on schedule. Some photos experiments are a success others don't quite work out. Small failures. Chances to experiment and learn. I set learning goals with art and writing. I have been struggling. I want to return to the safe styles and mediums I have used for years. I don't learn when I do that. To learn I must pick up a pencil or pastels and try something different. Each blank canvas, each piece of paper holds risk. Can I communicate the ideas from my head? I only learn if I try.

We want to continue to learn, to take risks and to try again. There are some things that I learned I do not enjoy. Other things I am not good at yet I enjoy them. I keep trying and learning. Hopefully, I improve as I return to try again. The girls are watching me. I want them to learn to keep trying as well.

He that is overcautious will accomplish little. Friedrich von Schiller

Do you shy away from risk and failure? Do you embrace them as a chance to learn?

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Shamrock Surprise

What happens when you mix St. Patrick's Day and a baton bus trip? A Shamrock Surprise full of energy and fun! It is possible that mothers and fathers will snatch the kids batons and give marching a try. Watch your head as flying batons abound.

opening Ceremonies

For years, we travelled to Regina to participate in the Shamrock Twirl and then it was no more. For the last two years, none of the competitions in Alberta or Saskatchewan worked for a bus trip. Everyone missed the fun and team spirit of those trips. This year the Supernova club in Stoney Plain, Alberta hosted the Shamrock Surprise for the first time. The first surprise they received was an email from us, are you prepared for our team to join you? The planning began. The excitement built. The coaches drilled the athletes on tricks and routines. The parents organized the travel. The weather threatened to dampen the spirits with snow. Inside the gym the snow and wind were forgotten as the girls danced and twirl, laughed and cheered.

Jump!

Each girl took the floor with different expectations. Each had their own goals. Victoria had many achievements this weekend though few would be recognized with medals. She entered the speed contest for fun. After she told me, "I didn't know I could twirl that fast." Though she was not the fastest she learned something and gained confidence that she was previously lacking. In warm up for solo, her new found confidence brought a 1 drop warm up. She caught tricks she struggled with. The success would not carry onto the floor in front of the judge but it didn't matter. She took a step toward her goals that would continue to carry into the afternoon and her 2-baton event. Later, she would again test her expectations and resolve. After accidentally catching a baton on the mouth and possibly chipping a tooth, she went back on the floor and performed three more times. She was tired. She was sore. She was determined. She learned. She tried. She adjusted.

rest

Two coaches, each with the their daughters competing this year for the first time. Each with different strengths. Each giving of their time and talents to help our girls on and off the floor. Because sport influences life and life influences sport. The character our girls are building is invaluable. The marks will be forgotten but the lessons in sportsmanship, in teamwork, and in perseverance will be remembered. I am thankful for both the coaches who were on the trip and those who were not. Each has added something along this journey.

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Fear, Doubt, Uncertainty

I was browsing around the digitals forum today. It is one of the places I go for inspiration. I wanted to change direction mentally. It didn't work. The Around the World challenge is about pet peeves. Ugh. A pet peeve has frustrated me since Tuesday morning. How is this going to help me mentally change direction? Perhaps an altered art page will help me work out my frustration.

eerily uncertain

Today's frustration is fear, uncertainty and doubt. When we make decisions based on any one of these three companions, we make flawed decisions. They cloud our judgement. We make inconsistent statements to back up our fear and doubt. I have made far too many decisions with these partners. I am trying to stop. I do not want my girls walking that same path. I not only get frustrated with myself when I allow these companions but with others. I participated in a discussion yesterday where fear kept people from looking at the facts. What if....? In this case they used a well publicized what if. But fear exaggerated the risk. It kept us from looking at the facts. Facts that point to a very different and vary solid reason for the very thing they tried to use fear to argue. One collapses with investigation the other holds.

How often do I allow this trio of emotion to block my analysis of the facts? I don't want to admit I am wrong. I don't want to have to consider an alternative. Do I even argue with those who agree with me because they are using a different set of arguments? Unfortunately yes. Bruce and I have had far too many discussions and arguments where we both agreed on the outcome. He argued from fact, I argued from emotion. I was afraid to listen to the facts just in case they caused me to change my mind.

I still allow fear to influence my choices too often. I recently gave a speech on failure as a path to success. When we limit our risk, we limit our learning. Less than one week after the speech, I caught myself once again limiting my risk and trying to take the safe route. Bruce noticed at the same time. My response: Why did I give that speech? Because it is a lesson I need to learn. My mistakes inform my success. I am a work in progress. I am learning to admit where I went wrong. I am learning to take the next step and examine the error so I can correct it and learn from it. It is not easy. I want to be right. I want to do well. The more I research success and failure the more I see they are the same thing, like heads and tails of a coin. The more I work to recognize these patterns in my own thinking, the more frustrated I get when I see them as part of a 'logical' debate. It is unfortunate that fear is such a powerful motivator. How much more could we as a society achieve if we stopped fearing failure and started learning from our mistakes?

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Currently

... watching the snow fall softly to the ground.

... planning for a weekend away with Victoria. It will be different to travel without the whole family.

... digging through photos for a story that is forming in my brain. I know I have just the right one somewhere.

... thankful for a great weekend. The baton competition was long and tiring for the volunteers but so worth it for the girls (and guy).

... thankful for the lessons my girls can learn about life as they try new things and face disappointments as well as success.

... dreaming of a family vacation.

... contemplating new adventures. Wondering if I have the courage to take the risk necessary to get started.

... Relaxation. We all need something that helps us relax.

... organizing my week. It might be a hopeless task to get me organized but I am trying.

... reading two very thought provoking books. One will go in my bag for the weekend.

... thankful for the lessons and blessings I have encountered in the past week or two. It has been busy. It has been fun. It has been challenging. It has been worth it.