I guess, when I think about it, I get why the Jack-of-all-trades mentality works for me, why it fits so very well. It's nice to be useful to everyone, to be the Go-to Girl, to be willing and capable and to have skills that someone else doesn't possess. And I want that. I mean, who doesn't? Who doesn't want to be needed and appreciated, even if only in some small way?
But, as I said before, a Jack-of-all-trades must also inherently be a Master-of-none, and that's the part of the concept that really speaks to (or of) me. I'm not really a Jack-of-all-trades. I can't do everything. I can't even do most things. But there are some things I can do, and I like doing those some things. I just wish (ohh how much I wish) that I could do them better.
I'm not a Jack-of-all-trades on purpose. I didn't even realize until the other day that I had fallen into Jack's trap. I'd go as far as to say that it's not someone's fault if they're a Jack-of-all-trades. It IS, however, their (my) fault if they are (I am) a Master-of-none.
I know this all too well. It means taking on too much. It means not enough follow-through. It means only a mild level of diligence in each task that makes you somewhat experienced but woefully inadequate in each field of interest you undertake. It means jobs undone.
And you know what?
I am SICK of it!
Most days I like myself, flaws and all. But today I'm mad at myself. Disgusted even. I feel so lost and it's my own (insert curse-word of choice here) fault. And before you think I'm being too hard on myself, let me explain a little further, so that you know the full extent of my Master-of-none expertise (hmm, interesting concept. Apparently I AM really good at something! I'm good at being good at nothing. HA. I've had lots of practice.)
So. I cross-stitch. I have a heap of supplies for 3 cross-stitches that I would like to do, and it all sits untouched in the cabinet beside me. Also, I had a big cross-stitch that is nearly done (it's taken me over 200 hours of work) but the beads need to be sewn on and I don't know how to do that/am afraid of pricking myself with the needle I need to use, so it has sat for a year just waiting. Also, I have a Christmas stocking for myself that I decided to leave unfinished before starting Matt's.
I took up scrapbooking a while back but I take so long to get one stinking page done that I kindof gave up and all the supplies are sitting in a cupboard in my basement.
We have a treadmill that I've jogged on maybe 10 times. And a yoga mat that is a year old and still untouched. And an exercise ball that I really only bought for a fun chair, and I haven't even used it as that.
I have a journal where I haven't finished writing the last 3 entries and I keep starting over needing to update the update.
I'm learning to play the piano, but I haven't taken lessons since September, and even then I decided to drop it for a bit. I got to grade 5 and found the pieces really difficult, was told that I wouldn't be able to fly through the next grade in 4 months, lost motivation, stopped practicing, realized that I was wasting money showing up for lessons without practicing, and dropped it. Just when I was starting to be able to play the Children's Songbook pieces.
I have a new sewing machine (NEW I tell you!) and I've pulled it out all of twice. I'm excited about it, true, but how far will the excitement carry me? Will it carry me through a difficult pattern, or will I just get frustrated and give up on that, too?
I have a camera and (I think) am half-way good at photography but I feel awkward talking pictures of other people because I don't know good poses and I get intimidated by needing to lead and direct (it's the non-confrontational aspect of me shining through.) I WANT to make something of it, but I don't feel I'm good enough to charge people and I'm scared stiff of someone wanting one thing and me producing another and wasting their time. I keep feeling like once I do X then I'll be good enough. Like, after this course, once I have Elijah and get some more experience, etc etc. But I never actually feel good enough.
If I learned photoshop I'd be able to make my pictures look cooler and fix them up. So I bought book at Chapters to teach me photoshop. And I've put it down 1 1/2 chapters in.
If I really sat down and learned flash I'd be a much more versatile photographer, but beyond what Matthew has showed me, that all I can really do and I have yet to read online how to do more.
I LOVE to read and sometimes get books that excite and make me stay up until all hours reading. But often, when it's 2am and I simply must put it down so I can go to bed, I feel the need to just skim ahead so I can know what is happening next. I convince myself I'd sleep better knowing than anticipating. And I end up skimming through the rest of the book. And when the next day comes, I already know what's going to happen, so I don't bother finishing the book, making me feel very incomplete. Also, I buy lots of books intending to read them, but I read other books first, then re-read old favourites, then lose motivation to read the books I bought, thus adding to the pile of books that still need to be read. I believe my current total is around 20 new books to be read.
Aaaaaaand worst of all, my schooling. I can't even feel good about that! I am 1/2 a credit shy of graduating from my 3-year degree and I've been going to school 6 years. Sad, huh?
I'm sure there are other things that I have a hard time following through on, I just don't have the energy to list them all (ironic, isn't it? I'm not even following through on my list of things I don't follow-through on!!)
My patriarchal blessing says at one point, "There are many things you wish to accomplish in your life," and that's it. It moves on to some other point, after merely acknowledging the fact that I'm ambitious.
I don't know if anyone else out there is like this, but if you are, then you understand how damaging this incompletion-syndrome (as I will now call it) can be for your psyche.
I feel frustrated because I don't have anything to show for the hours and hours I've spent doing all of these pursuits.
I feel overwhelmed because there is just too much to do.
I feel lost because I don't know where to start, or where to focus my attention.
I feel like a failure, and I'm worried. What will I teach Elijah? What will I fail to follow through on, in raising him? How can I make sure I give this, the most important task given to me in this life, my all, and become a Master of at least one thing?
I don't entirely know the answers to all of these questions, and when I think too much about how BIG this task is, I feel like I'll never be able to accomplish it.
But I can, and I will.
I think I just need to narrow-down the playing field, and focus my efforts a little more.
So I just ate brunch with Matthew, and he had a lot to say on this topic of self-defacement and incompletion-syndrome. He pointed out that it's not the end of the world if I decide to put down cross-stitching or piano or scrapbooking or any other hobby of mine, because they aren't things that I HAVE to do in life. I'm not expected to do any of these things well, or at all for that matter. They are all good things, but I shouldn't worry so much that leaving such things undone will mean I'm going to be a bad mother. Following through with my children is much more important than taking nice photos and I'll be much more motivated to do that, so I need to stop being so dramatic.
Also, he agrees that I'm spreading myself too thin, with everything that I want to do. I can now recall the phrase, "You can't do everything, but you can do something. Whatever you do, do it well." That's what my focus needs to be. Matthew also reminded me of what Dieter F. Uchtdorf said in a talk during the Priesthood session this past conference. He spoke on patience and said that our goals can only be achieved through consistent effort over an extended period of time.
So no more taking one photography course and expecting to be a pro at it. No more completing grade 4 piano and feeling deflated when my piano teacher tells me that it might take me longer than 4 months to complete grade 5 piano. No more giving up on a cross-stitching project because it is taking a long time. No more being a quitter.
Also, no more wasting my valuable free time with useless things that do not build me up and increase my overall happiness.
I only have so many hours of free time in a day, and I've decided to focus on a few things from now on, instead of many things. Here are my new goals:
-pick one picture that someone else took that I like, and try to duplicate it. Do this once a week, and post on my efforts (so keep after me if I haven't been doing it!)
-go to Fabricland today and find a pattern for a cape. Buy the material. Make it already. In other words, stop TALKING about what I want to do and go out and DO it.
-learn the song called The Meadow (from New Moon.) I can play through the first page on the piano, but nothing beyond that. I have a month to do this (because I thrive on deadlines!)
-read my scriptures every day, because I really do feel better when I remember to do this, and make my life a little less centred on my day-to-day distractions and a little more centred on spiritual things.
And with all of this comes taking care of Eli, playing with him, feeding him, giving him attention and making sure we do tummy time (because the doctor thinks his head is getting too flat.)
So there. Those are my mid-year resolutions. Because, really, I can do anything. I don't say that to be arrogant, I say it to be optimistic. There is so much potential in me, in EVERYONE, and I just want to tap a little bit of it.
And now I'm reminded of not just a quote, but an entire talk given by President Uchtdorf at a General Relief society meeting a couple years ago. Here's the link to the talk, but to keep it short, here are some quotes:
"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.
Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.
Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.
You might say, “I’m not the creative type. When I sing, I’m always half a tone above or below the note. I cannot draw a line without a ruler. And the only practical use for my homemade bread is as a paperweight or as a doorstop.”
If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination."
"The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you."
Anyway, this post is getting awfully long. AND there are no pictures! My deepest apologies. Today I turned to the blog to vent and let some frustrating thoughts out, rather than to update and show pictures.
But I do have a little bit of updating to do, so I'll do it now.
Last week at the doctor's Elijah weighed in at 13 lb's 2 oz and was 25.5" long. That means he gained a pound and added 1.25" in a matter of 2 weeks! He has almost grown out of his 0-6mos. Robeez, his feet are so big. He had his 2-month immunizations at the same time, and while the screaming then was very sad, the hardest part came later around 5pm when he cried until he was bright red in the face every time he so much as moved his little legs. I'm not sure if that reaction is normal, but we gave him some Tempra and by 7 he was fine again. It was hard though, he couldn't be held, couldn't be fed, couldn't move an inch or else he'd cry and cry.
On a much happier note, he has started sleeping through the night! Not all the time, but 4 times in the last week he has slept for between 6 and 6.25 hours at night before waking up wanting to feed, and then he'll go back down for another 2-3 hours. What would make it even nicer is if I could manage to fall back asleep after the 6-hr run. Sometimes I lie awake for another 1-1.5 hrs, so that sucks.
This past weekend was Easter and General Conference and it was great. We watched the broadcasts from home (except for the Sunday morning one, which we'll totally watch from home next time, it's so much comfier.)
Not that anyone but me cares, but today marks one year since I got my period and then got pregnant with Elijah. I think the day only sticks out so much because it determined my due date (add 9 months and one week and you get January 14th.) It's still crazy to me to think where we were last year. Waiting to adopt any day, plans to get my 4-year degree (because going to school with a toddler would be much easier than with a breastfeeding infant) etc. etc.
I'm getting excited to do some more photography classes, but I think I'll have to wait until September to do anything. One month from now is just too soon for me to be having a weekly commitment without Elijah there, mostly because I don't want to pump and bottlefeed him. In September he'll be 8 1/2 months and can manage an evening of baby food and cereal, especially if the course turns out to be in town and not 1/2 an hour away.
Aaaand not that this is a big update, but yesterday I heard thunder again for the first time in 6 months. Excitement ensued and now I'm watching the weather like a hawk, cursing the dishwasher for being too noisy, and thanking Matthew for waking me up this morning because I was sleeping through a really good thunderstorm. Elijah seems to be completely unphased, which is good. I'm going to try to teach him to relish every thunderclap, but I realize in the end that I have little control over a little one's fears.
Speaking of little ones, I'm going to go feed my little one so that I can get going to fabricland.
But first, photo to imitate for the week:
Because I absolutely love this woman's work and wish I could take pictures like her. I really don't know if I'm doing something illegal posting it, but is it okay if I give someone else total credit for it? It was taken by Kelle Hampton, and my goal is to imitate it by analyzing how I think she took it, and then getting the circumstances just right so that my photo looks as close as possible to hers. Minus the exact baby model of course.
So there you have it! And I really need to go because I told Matt I would be done "in a second" about 10 minutes ago!