Tag Archives: perfectionist

The Closet Violinist Breaks Out.

Tonight, the closet violinist swung from the chandelier onto centre stage, dazzling the audience with a half-decent rendition of Chopin’s: “How Deep Is the Night” (Tristesse). However, if I’m honest, my entry onto the stage was much more reticent. Of course, I didn’t want to trip over which was quite a possibility with all the leads, drum kits etc to fall over. However, my violin teacher helped me out and my grand entry went smoothly. Now, I just needed to play…

In the days leading up to the concert, I second guessed myself something chronic.WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!! “You’re hopeless. It’s not ready. Don’t do it!!!” Of course, I’d done nowhere near enough practice. It was only in the last days before the concert, I actually got moving squeezing in all those critical hours of practice, which make such a difference yet almost came too late. However, despite the anxiety, I actually love performing and would love to get out there more often. It’s another one of those eternal, internal conundrums.

Rowena on stage

I could almost look like a rock violinist under these lights.

It was only a small soiree with fellow students and their families. Hardly playing at the big end of year concert, or heaven forbid, at the Sydney Opera House. However, no one likes making mistakes and there’s always that possibility of humiliating disaster. Yours truly has even broken her foot just before going on stage, but in true violinist fashion, it was on with the show. However, nobody in our household says “break a leg” before any of my performances now.

“How Deep Is the Night” is a particularly melancholy piece of music and the words are grab you by throat kind of dark…

SO DEEP IS THE NIGHT 

So deep is the night,

No moon tonight,

No friendly star to guide me with its light.

Be still my heart,

Silent lest my love could be returning,

From a world far apart.

So deep is the night,

Oh lonely night,

On broken wings my heart has taken flight,

And left a dream.

In my dream our lips are blending;

Will my dream be never ending?

Will your memory haunt me till I die?

Alone am I,

Deep into the night,

Waiting for the light.

Alone am I,

I wonder why,

I wonder why.

In my dream our lips are blending;

Will my dream be never ending?

Will your memory haunt me till I die?

Alone am I,

Deep into the night,

Waiting for the light.

Alone am I,

I wonder why,

I wonder why.

Frederik Chopin (m) 1832 Sonny Miller (l) as recorded by Richard Tauber March 29th 1940

However, who hasn’t experienced that all-consuming heartbreak and that sense of the surrounding darkness penetrating your soul? That’s one thing I don’t miss about my youth!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t share the words with the audience so I gave a brief introduction and parked a teddy bear in front. You can’t see it clearly in the photos. However, he has a red stone on his lap with “I love you” etched into it.

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I’d proud of myself for persevering with the violin, which has been very challenging at times. However, persistence and regular practice pays off. I’m making solid strides forward. It’s fantastic.

Rowena & Danni

Photographed here with my very encouraging and patient teacher, Danielle. We played as a duet. 

Do you play an instrument? Do you perform at all? Do you like it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena

P- Perfectionism…A-Z Challenge.

“Tomorrow, I will get it right.”

– Rowena Curtin (Myself)

Perfectionism is not a good topic to be tackling when I’ve dropped my bundle with the A-Z April Blogging Challenge and am goodness knows how many days behind.

“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.”

– Charles Dickens

For those of you unfamiliar with the April Blogging A-Z Challenge, you write through the alphabet to a theme and post every day except Sunday. In previous years, I’ve really got stuck into the challenge and even exceeded expectations writing in the vicinity of 55,000 words last year. However, this year, I’m so deeply embroiled in my book research and writing, that I’m struggling to put one foot in front of the other let alone juggle the challenge on top.

Of course, I could just stop. Not finish this year.

That isn’t a crime and the powers that be from the A-Z Challenge, are hardly going to throw me in jail or hit me with a hefty fine. No one else is pointing a gun at my head either, including myself. If being involved is just going to stress me out and distract me from the book, walking away even makes sense. I could even take the dogs with me and head down to the beach. I don’t have to do this.

However, I am actually learning a lot through writing this series and thinking through the quotes and how they apply to my current book project and who I am simply as a person.

After all, we don’t always feel like jumping out of bed and even seizing that lifesaving cup of coffee can be a struggle and it’s helpful to look at those moments as well as celebrating our triumphs.

Besides, I particularly wanted to address perfectionism along with what I am coming to acknowledge its close ally…procrastination. Indeed, these days I’m starting to wonder just how many of those good for nothing lazy layabouts are actually perfectionists too afraid of making a mistake and have a go? How many of us are sitting on work we know is good but haven’t taken further because it’s “not there yet”? Where is “there”? Is that absolutely perfection?

I’m not sure whether this quote helps with that but at least it made me smile:

“Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.”

Salvador Dali.

“I have to say that I’ve always believed

perfectionism is more of a disease than a

quality. I do try to go with the flow but I can’t

let go.”

Rowan Atkinson

“We must understand the need for

perfectionism is a corrosive waste of time,

because nothing is ever beyond criticism. No

matter how many hours you spend to render

something flawless, somebody will always be

able to find fault with it.”

-Elizabeth Gilbert

Now, I’ll leave you with the warnings of Drew Barrymore:

“When things are perfect, that’s when you need

to worry most.”

How do you overcome perfectionism? Or, does it still hold you in it’s grasp? On the other hand, there must be those of you who simply couldn’t be bothered and subscribe to a different creed: “Near enough is good enough”.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Thursday Doors…St John’s Cathedral, Parramatta, Australia.

This week, a new door opened up, when I stumbled across a new-to-me blog share…Thursday Doors, hosted by Norm 2.0. As he explains:

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time), by using the blue link-up button below. 

What a great idea!

Yet, there began my dilemma.

Of all the doors in all the world, which one would I choose to be my first?

Of course, it couldn’t just be any old door.

It had to be special. Personal. Tell a story.

At the same time, being the eternal procrastinating perfectionist, I also twigged that I could spend days, even years, sifting through millions of photos on my hard drive pedantically searching for the perfect door and this new opportunity would never open up for me.

Trust me. There’s no perfect door.

No perfect door photo either.

Well, I’d probably find one if I searched a bit harder, and I really should’ve straightened this photo by the smallest fraction of a degree, because it isn’t quite straight. You see, despite being a half-decent photographer I struggle to get the horizon level. There’s often a slight lean to one side. So, this photo as it stands has my personal signature.

So, let me introduce you to Sydney’s St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta, home to Australia’s longest continuing church site, and one of its earliest churches. The cathedral itself was built in three main stages, St John’s Anglican Cathedral combines Victorian Romanesque style with an (earlier) pair of Old Colonial Gothic towers.  The oldest part of the current building, the two western towers, were built between 1817 and 1819 on apparently new foundations to replace the collapsed vestry. The towers are modelled on the towers of the ruined 12th century Saxon Church of St Mary’s at Reculver, Kent, England. See source.

My husband and I had a weekend away in Parramatta a few months ago and really enjoyed having a chance to explore its historic architecture. You can read more about that in: A Weekend Away In Parramatta.

Well, I look forward to knocking on a few new doors taking part in Thursday Doors and I also hope a few of you will head over there and give it a go. Here’s the link again.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Mummy’s Littler Miss.

This is the inimitable Miss, Age 3…a long 8 years ago!

I’m currently riffling through photos on my hard drive, searching for a photo of my daughter with her ballet teacher, which was taken about 5 years ago. That’s how I chanced upon this stunner,  which grabbed my heart with both hands.

The things is, eight years down the track, I’m struggling to remember why she’s covering her eyes. Is she playing hide-and-seek? More than likely, she’s hiding from my flash.

So, I return to the scene of the crime.

After all, I never take just one photo. There’s always a series!

 

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Someone loves Mummy’s lipstick a tad too much!

 

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Look at me!

I’m not going to show the next image of her contorting herself to escape from the flash. However, there’s no doubt she’d had enough of the paparazzi!

Fast-forwarding to 2017, her make-up is impeccable and the lipstick well and truly stays within the lines and yet it’s so lovely to hop into my time machine and celebrate this exuberant moment… three year old’s passionate journey into Mummy’s world.

She has plenty of time to grow up!

xx Rowena

 

Quote: Living With Yourself.

“but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

–Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird

As hard as it it to live with someone else, perhaps the most difficult person to live is ourselves.

After all, we live with our selves twenty four hours a day seven days a week from birth right through to eternity. That’s way longer than being stuck in the same lift with someone…anyone!!

When I was younger, I used to get frustrated when my Mum would think she knew me better than I knew myself. Who did she think she was? She wasn’t me. She wasn’t walking in my shoes. Indeed, she had her own shoes and she could jolly well step straight back in them and leave my shoes alone!!

However, I have lately come to appreciate that we only know ourselves from the inside out.. through our own eyes, our own experience and let’s faceit, when you’ve only been on the planet for 5 short years, your understanding of the bigger picture and wider world is extremely limited.

Those around us, particularly who know us well but also have a broader experience and knowledge of life, can not only see us but also where and how we might fit into the overall scheme of things. They can see abilities in us we might overlook or downplay as well because so many of us are our own worst critics. In putting ourselves down or aiming for a perfection we can never attain, we can completely dismiss our strengths and fail to become all we were meant to be.

Rowena sea steps

Returning to the quote, however, that deals more with our conscience. That it doesn’t matter what other people think or hold dear, we must be true to our own values and conscience. Stand up and be counted…even if we are the one…that lone voice calling out through the wilderness.

After all, only we need to live with ourselves…and our actions and inactions. No one else.

As Edmund Burke wrote:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Moreover, for those of you who are a bit like me and feel you can’t do much, he also wrote:

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

Edmund Burke

It is so much easier for us to point the finger out, instead of pointing it in and asking: “What is my role? What do I need to do? Not someone else…just me.

What are your views? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

I would like to thank Merril Smith for sharing the quotes from To Kill A Mockingbird, which inspired this post. You can read her post here: https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/walk-and-talk/

Compassion…it’s Complicated.

Around 18 months ago, I joined a revolutionary blogging network called: “One Thousand Voices for Compassion”. We not only write about compassion, empathy and trying to make the world a better and more connected place, we try to take that out into the real world and translate these thoughts into action. Naturally, we feel a strong need for compassion, or we wouldn’t be part of the group.

This month, we’re addressing whether compassion is innate or learned. Are we born caring about the welfare of others or is it something we learn along the way?

While I could’ve written this from my gut, instead I fleetingly perused “the science”, which seemed to support that we’re at least born with some level of compassion and that our life experiences can either nurture or diminish our compassionate selves . If you’d like to read more about the nature versus nurture debate, there’s some recommended reading.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201306/compassion-our-first-instinct

The Compassionate Instinct

This leaves me doing my usual thing of exploring yet another tangent, looking at why people don’t help or respond to someone’s pain, loss, discomfort…you get the gist. Why do people do nothing?

More pertinently, why do I do nothing?

That’s right. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. No matter how hard we try, people fall through our cracks, even when we know they’re falling through a dark abyss. Even though we love these people with all of our hearts.

For those of us who are part of this 1000 Voices for Compassion Movement, these personal failings are even more frustrating. After all, we are striving to be that compassionate caring person… the Good Samaritan who stops and takes care of that person in need…not the person who walks past. We think from our hearts, not from our heads and would be willing to leap tall buildings in a single bound for anyone in trouble.

So, why can’t we do it? Why can’t we always be the person we’re striving to be?

The trouble is we’re only human. That as much as we might strive to be that superhero…Don the cape, flex out muscles and take to the skies,  we have so many limitations, frailties and who hasn’t ended up somehow paralyzed and glued to the spot in a stressful situation . Who hasn’t forgotten to phone a friend when you know the proverbial’s hit the fan?

Guilty as charged.

Compassion guilt…send me straight to jail…directly to jail. Do no pass Go. Do not collect $200.

BUT…

We can’t be in two places at once. We can’t clone ourselves and even help everyone in our own backyards, let alone to try to save the world as we would like.

That learns us having to make choices.

Or, circumstances can also dictate our response.

This brings me back to what I’ve written before about being kind to ourselves. Understanding and being compassionate to ourselves when we don’t live up to our own principles, ideologies, which includes fighting whatever negative stuff someone else might send our way when we let them down. We’ve done our best and even when we haven’t, know we can take that life lesson back to the drawing board and hope to be a better friend or person next time.

I am rushing this through to get this up before the link closes. So I hope it make sense. I’ll be back to straighten up the rough edges.

Or, perhaps writing rough is good enough, after all.

Well, at least once and awhile.

This has been part of 1000 Voices for Compassion and if you’d like to read other contributions, please click on the Linky.

xx Rowena

PS: I just came across a great hymn “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” over at Ann’s Corner. It guess it’s a precursor to a great slogan from our times: “Think global. Act local.” https://annofgg.com/2015/03/07/anns-corner/

The Craft Master.

Today, my daughter and I revisited the toy shop, AKA “the scene of the crime” and decided to reattempt our previous craft catastrophe. Hopefully, an extra four years and learning from our mistakes, would bring about a different result. After all, we’re not too keen on mistakes.

So what was our illustrious craft project?

We bought a Suncatcher Making Kit. You’re probably familiar with these kids’ craft kits, which come with a metal frame and little plastic packets filled with multi-coloured plastic “crystals” which you pour into the gaps. Or, if you’re more meticulously inclined, or have a more detailed design, you might use a pair of tweezers to carefully place each and every crystal into its intended place. Once all the gaps are filled, you bake it in the oven and after 20 minutes or so of magic, it comes out looking like a stained-glass window. I still remember the incredible sense of magic when I made these as a child. Wow! How I loved making my own stained glass window!

suncatcher

Our Cat Suncatcher Kit.

By the way, before you get all excited and rush into making one of these, there are a few pitfalls for the unsuspecting parent and child. Firstly, before you even think about adding the crystals, that you need to put a sheet of foil down on a metal baking tray and ensure the tray is on a flat surface. This might sound like stating the blatantly obvious, but you can get caught up in the creative moment and sweep over all sorts of details, leading to catastrophe. That’s right, you can send all those multi-coloured crystals flying faster than Jaffas down the aisle.

Trust me! I know!!

Although all those tiny crystals are only plastic and aren’t going to cut little feet or anything nasty like that, if they spill all over the floor, there will be tears. Nobody likes to see their artwork break…especially a young personage matching the age ranges mentioned on the packet.

There will also be tears if those crystals only spread over the tray.

a-place-for-everything

After all, if there was ever a moment for “a place for everything and everything in its place”, this is it.

Anyway, as you might appreciate through my previous tales of catastrophes with kids’ craft, baking and just about everything I touch, I know all about how to screw up something which truly should have been Simple Simon.

You can read all about that in my previous post: Disaster Crafter

Stained Glass Fairy.jpg

Mummy needed more help with this attempt than the child.

When it comes to doing craft with your kids, you can say that the outcome doesn’t matter. That it’s all about spending time together, being creative and having a go. However, if your budding artist is adding those coloured crystals with meticulous precision, I warn you that there could well be tears… even if nothing seemingly goes wrong. This time round, my daughter wasn’t happy with the number of very small gaps in the “glass” and I guess I’d suggest being generous when you’re applying the crystals to get around this. We had quite a few left over.

“I have to say that I’ve always believed perfectionism is more of a disease than a quality. I do try to go with the flow but I can’t let go.”

– Rowan Atkinson

However, you could say that the resulting conversation was an important life lesson. That when it comes to home made, there usually isn’t pure perfection because we’re human. There are themes and variations in the things we make by hand and while they might like that factory-made uniformity, there’s so much pride in making something yourself and unless you’re into cross stitch and someone always has to turn your work over and inspect the back, no one else is going to notice those infinitesimal mistakes or imperfections. They’re not going to look at it under a microscope and wack you over the knuckles with the proverbial ruler.

“These ‘mistakes’ occur in my books for a reason. I have an agenda: I’m secretly trying to inspire kids to create their own stories and comics, and I don’t want them to feel stifled by ‘perfectionism.'”

Dav Pilkey, author and Illustrator, The Adventures of Captain Underpants.

I should also share that when I showed my daughter a photo of our last fairy suncatcher and my post, she actually really liked it and she was quite embarrassed about telling me I should “go back to kindergarten and learn how to stay between the lines”. So, I’m hoping that she comes to like today’s effort and won’t be so critical.

“If you look in the dictionary under ‘perfectionist,’ you see Henry Selick* correcting the definition of perfectionist in the dictionary. I mean, he is so meticulous.”

John Hodgman

After all, isn’t the point of art and craft, especially as a kid, that you have a bit of fun?!!
So, forget about staying between the lines and throwing all those luscious rainbow colours to the wind.

 

xx Rowena

*Henry Selick is an American stop motion director, producer and writer who is best known for directing The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.