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Archive for August, 2010

the real McCoy

For a few weeks I have been avoiding writing, but I didn’t really know why. It wasn’t that long ago that I went to a writers conference and got all kinds of validation about the book I am writing but since then I haven’t worked on the book at all.  I have hardly even picked up my journal either, which is very unusual for me. I thought about the whole “fear of success” thing and that’s probably a factor, but I knew there was more to it than that. I just didn’t know what the “more” was.

Then one morning on the way to work I was listening to a recorded book called “Scarlet Feather” by Mauve Binchey.   The basic story is of two friends, a man and a woman, starting a catering business. The woman comes from a poor family and has married into a very rich family. In fact, her mother used to be her mother-in-law’s maid. In this part they are having a launch party to celebrate the start of their business.  
    At the party, her parents feel very uncomfortable around the other guests because a lot of them are from wealthy families or are celebrities.  She’s observing her parents and we hear her thoughts about them. She wonders (about both of her parents)…
   
“Why did they feel so ill at ease? As if somehow they were going to be found out, pronounced unacceptable and sent home.”

I got teary-eyed. And then I rewound and listened to it like six more times. That’s it – that’s exactly it. That describes how I feel about my writing being published.  As if somehow I will be found out, pronounced unacceptable and sent home. It’s hard to explain it, but this realization is liberating.  

I shared this with two friends and one said that it is liberating because when the feeling is identified it can be consciously countered.  Yes – exactly! Once I know what’s holding me back I can deal with it and move forward. My other friend said she has been through this and knows others who have and that there’s even a name for it.  Imposter Syndrome.  🙂  It was reassuring to instantly hear back from two people who knew exactly what I was talking about.

Truth is, I’m not an impostor. There is nothing in my book that I haven’t experienced in my own life. I don’t make any claims in the book to have “arrived” in any way.  When the book is published (and I do believe I will eventually get to that point) there will be some people who like it and some who don’t. There will be some who say good things about it and some who criticize it.  Some customers in a bookstore will pick it up and others won’t give it a second glance.  This is reality.  I’m totally okay with this because I don’t like every book I see either.  So I wouldn’t expect everyone to want or like my book, just as it’s a reality that there are some people who (gasp!) don’t like ME.   (I know, hard to imagine, right? 😉 )

So the bottom line is that there’s really nothing to be impostoring about. Okay, so impostor isn’t a verb, but it seemed to work in this context.  I am who I am. What you see is what you get.  To bring it back to the Scarlet Feather reference, there’s nothing to be “found out”.  If someones finds me unacceptable, according to their standards, that’s really for them to deal with, not me.  No worries. They can go ahead and not accept me – they will be missing out.  As for being sent home – I guess in the context of writing that would mean someone telling me to stop writing. But reality is that nobody can actually do that.   

I looked up an antonym for imposter and it gave me “the real McCoy”.  I like that. Sure, I could have used “authentic”, but that’s not nearly as memorable. The next time those feelings start surfacing, I’ll just remind myself that I have RMS – Real McCoy Syndrome instead.  🙂

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When I was driving home I saw a woman walking along on the sidewalk.  In front of one house there were three trash cans and one of the lids was laying on the ground. As the woman reached that house she picked up the lid and put it back on the trash can.  I thought she must live there, but she didn’t turn in at the driveway. She kept walking.

She wasn’t responsible for those trash cans. She didn’t even have to look at them. Did she know the people who lived there or were they total strangers? I’ll never know.  But for some reason this woman took a moment from her walk to straighten something up for someone else.  She did something nice for the people who lived there and also for anyone passing by.  I would guess that hundreds of people drive past that house. It’s not like everyone would go past and think “wow, look how great those trash cans look – all the lids are on them.”  Of course not.  That’s kind of the point. She just took a moment out of her day to make something right in this world, even though it was quite likely that nobody would ever know about it.

A simple action. She didn’t have to do it. She didn’t even know anyone was watching – and that’s what makes it the most meaningful. One small action made that little portion of the world a just a little bit nicer. And it made me smile.  I doubt that this woman even remembers that she put the lid on that trash can.

But I do.

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in the same boat

I went for a walk today.  It wasn’t a long walk.  It wasn’t a fast walk.  But it was a walk.  It’s hard to believe that just six months ago I was in the final preparation for my first triathlon.  Things seemed to go downhill after that with knee issues, then a shoulder issue that kept me from swimming. Then the worst symptom of all – lethargy.  The longer I went without walking/swimming/biking, the less I wanted to do any of it. 

Six months ago I could swim a mile. I could walk 5 miles. I could bike 15 miles. No, I couldn’t do them all the same day, but in February I did complete a triathlon where I swam a half mile, biked 10 miles and walked 3 miles.  For me, especially at this weight, that was pretty amazing. I felt great.  I want that again. I believe I CAN get there again, but it’s so very hard to get moving again once the momentum is lost. 

I’ll be honest – I was quite frustrated with myself. I know how good it feels to be working out regularly and I’ve been annoyed with myself for not doing it.  Today I had a note from a friend of mine who, in my opinion, is an amazing athlete. She has accomplished things I can’t even imagine. I had expressed some very honest thoughts about where I am with all this.  In her response she said these wonderful words: 

“I think we’re both in pretty much the same boat lately.” 

Wow. She is in a totally different league regarding athletic ability.  But she gets it. She knows what it’s like to get out of a workout routine and have a hard time getting back into it. What we DO in our workouts are vastly different. She has the ability to do things I will most likely never be able to do, but that’s not the point.  It doesn’t matter who can (or can’t) do what.  With her note she reminded me that we’re in this together. Today, for me, it made a big difference for someone to say we’re in the same boat – to be reminded that I’m not in this alone.  

So I just wanted to take a moment to remind you that we’re ALL in this together – in the same boat. We all have goals and hopes and dreams and yours might be very different from mine, but from time to time, we all get stuck.  No worries. We’ll get moving again.  

I’m sure of it.  🙂

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I was walking through Target yesterday when I heard a young boy’s voice say those words.  “I could LIVE in this aisle!” with such excitement in his voice.  As I turned the corner I saw how his face was lit up.  He was at the end of the candy aisle and looked like he had found treasure.

The woman he was with (I’m guessing it was not his mother because he called her by her first name) didn’t say anything.  She kept walking. He called after her and said, still excitedly, “this is my favorite aisle!”.   She said nothing. Determined to get her attention he told her he was at the candy aisle.  She said nothing and just kept walking.

All she had to do was look at him and smile to share his excitement.  Perhaps she could have said “wouldn’t that be fun!?” or some simple comment to acknowledge his excitement.  It would have taken a few seconds, that’s all.  What’s the big deal about that? Would it have been so difficult for her to take a few seconds to share in his excitement over his discovery of the candy aisle?

Apparently she was in too much of a rush or perhaps she was annoyed with him about something or had other things on her mind.  That’s no excuse. 

One day when my oldest niece was a very little girl, we went for a walk. She was in a stroller and as we went through a church parking lot she pointed to a bus and asked “What’s that?”   “A bus”, I told her.  “What kind of bus?” she wanted to know.  “A church bus.”  “What kind of church bus?”  “Umm…a brown church bus.”   “What kind of brown church bus?”  I had run out of descriptions, so I laughed and asked her “How come you ask so many questions?” I will never forget her response. She just looked at me and said “Cuz there’s things I don’t know.”

Good point. She’s a little girl.  She may have never seen a brown church bus before. She wants to know about it.  As an adult, I’ve seen countless vehicles of all shapes and sizes and they don’t really get my attention.  But that was a first for her. I never forgot her response and when her siblings went through the “why?/what?/how?” phase I tried to keep in mind that they are only asking because they don’t yet know. It’s a privilege to be part of their learning experience and teach them about things that will eventually become mundane but at that moment are captivating.

That little boy in Target may have never seen a candy aisle before. He clearly had never seen THAT one before. I wish his companion would have taken a moment to share that experience with him.

Kids are only kids for a blink of an eye. We need to nurture their sense of discovery and also just need to let them know they are heard and that their thoughts are important, too.  And maybe by sharing their “moments”, we can recapture a bit of our own sense of discovery as well.

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