Tag Archives: procrastination

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

 

 

Me – A New Book and A Work in Progress…

Last weekend, I mentioned that I was reading Raphaelle Giordano’s: Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One. I’d first spotted it at Gleebooks while on holidays at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains West of Sydney.  I don’t know why I bought this book. It was positioned in a huge stack right next to the register in prime real estate “look at me!!!” territory. It was also set in Paris. Then, the cover boasted that over 2 million French readers had loved it.Clearly, this book was going to be the next big thing, even if I hadn’t heard of it yet. For once, I was going to be ahead of the pack.

Book

However, being somewhat restrained, I waited til I arrived home and headed to our local bookshop, Book Bazaar. Of course, I couldn’t remember anything about it other than the colour…a delicious shade of musk pink. Well, at least that was the colour of the title. Oh yes…it was a French novel. Thank goodness Mandy is good at cryptic puzzles. Clutching my book in my fingertips, I was off on a virtual trip to Paris.

I don’t know whether you’ve ever considered this, but buying a book is always a bit of a mystery.  A leap of faith. A stab in the dark. Even when you’ve heard raving reviews and its been loved and adored by the masses and has even been elevated to the best seller lists, that’s still no guarantee it’s going to touch, inspire or even prod you.

So, I shouldn’t be surprised that with a title like: Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One, that I might be set for some kind of transformation. Moreover, now that Winter’s evolving into Spring, that I might even be set for a metamorphosis. Indeed, I’m no longer reading the book as a novel. Rather, it’s turned into a challenge. As the main character documents her visits to Claude a routinologist (whatever that is…), he provides her with a series of accumulating steps towards finding fulfillment. Described as a “third world problem”, her life is the epitomy of happiness and success on the outside, yet feels hollow and empty inside. She isn’t satisfied.

I didn’t buy this book because I’m not satisfied. Rather, I bought it because it was a French novel set in Paris. I spent six weeks in Paris in 1992 after finishing university and I like reflecting back on my time there, despite going through an existential crisis and the horrors of the “Paris dumper” (named after a Sydney band and I believe it was their lead singer who had a similar experience. As I’ve said before no one ever tells you that the city of love, is also the epicentre of heartbreak and despair. Indeed, in hindsight, I no longer wonder why there are so many bridges in Paris…

Anyway, I decided to follow the steps outlined in the book and see where they lead me. I had no great expectations. Indeed, I had none at all. After all, as I said, I wasn’t dissatisfied with my life. However, I had the feeling that I should be. That I should be bothered that I haven’t been in paid employment since I had chemo five years ago. That I should feel panic stricken that I haven’t edited my book “manuscripts” and got something out there. That pouring my heart and soul into so much research was an utter waste of time and a symptom of some kind of deep seated mental health issue which should be drawn out from the depths and slayed like the proverbial dragon. How could I be content when my life was up shit creek without a paddle, especially when I’ve always been a very driven person? Perhaps, that was just as worthy of exploration and change. Surely, I couldn’t possibly be happy when my life didn’t tick most of the boxes. Indeed, I’d ticked a few of those boxes you are supposed to avoid at all costs such as living with a severe life threatening illness. Actually, make that two.

Perhaps, I just didn’t realize I wasn’t happy with the status quo. That somehow I found enjoyment selling sausages at the scout fundraising BBQ at our local Bunnings hardware store. That I found pleasure in spotting a red rose just leaning into view through the window behind my desk. The window itself had an enormous cobweb so I wasn’t even looking at a perfect rose. It was rose through the cobwebs and in my deluded state, I found that even more alluring. I loved that juxtaposition of opposites…the comedy. I had made peace with my imperfect life and didn’t feel compelled to fetch the broom. Perhaps, I’d given up.

So, I stated writing the points out from the book on post it notes. Two post it notes:

You are responsible for your own happiness.

Throw out 10 useless objects.

If you looked around me, you’d say that I’d have no trouble throwing out 10 useless objects. Indeed, I could throw out, or re-home thousands of objects and never hit the sides. However, it’s not the last step that’s the most difficult. It’s the first. Of course, I could throw away 10 useless bobby pins which weren’t taking up any space whatsoever. However, wouldn’t that be cheating? Shouldn’t I be thinking about the spirit of the challenge and actually making a noticeable change to my external environment? Personally, I didn’t view this as over-thinking, but a case of being more conscious about my actions. I gather ten things into a crate and they hit the bin. I crossed the task off my list. And yet…

Somehow this desire for more space was addictive. I needed more real estate.

However, to create more space, you need to have somewhere to put things.

You also need to have discipline in addition to those create flights of fancy which have created the teetering stacks of books, paperwork and miscellaneous detritus which have fluttered onto my desk and built a nest.

Rowena Desk

It’s going to take a lot more than a line from a book to reform my desk but I am serious about it. Somehow I’m going to conquer.

xx Rowena

Books

PS When they said to throw ten things out, they didn’t mention anything about not bringing new stuff into the house. I don’t know how this happened, but we were driving back from the Scout camp yesterday and we spotted a sign outside a farm which said FREE. We had no idea what it was and thought it was most likely oranges or manure. However, there were bags and bags of books. We started going through them and it was a bonanza…an entire collection of Sci Fi, which my husband snapped up. Have no idea where all these books are going to live but they’ve certainly dumbfounded my quest for more space!

 

 

 

Theme Reveal…Blogging A-Z Challenge.

On April 1st, the 2018 Blogging A-Z Challenge launches and with it, I shut off from the real world and immerse myself in yet another uber-ambitious theme. Something that not only requires a lot of research, but also having my thinking cap switched onto “Genius”,. This could be dangerous. Two years ago, when my theme was “Letters To Dead Poets”, my brain went into overdrive. Steam and sparks were flying out my ears. My circuits blew up. By the end of the month,  I was a zombie staring blankly at an empty screen. So, to prevent an all-systems collapse, I’m trying to get as much down before it starts.

If I was being true to myself, my theme would be “Ways of Procrastinating” using all 26 letters of the alphabet. After all, this weekend alone, I have:

  1. Bought new stationery for the challenge.
  2. I also bought a cork board with a world map printed onto it so I can pin the relevant places and link them up with red string as we go.
  3. I’ve cleaned my desk, including my desk drawers and vacated a drawer especially for my April Challenge material.
  4. Last night, I watched a couple of old movies…The Jackal and Play Misty For Me.
  5. Today, I took my daughter shopping to spend her birthday money.
  6. I also took the dog for a walk…another proven procrastination strategy.

However, that ISN’T my theme for 2018.

Rather, following on from the success of Letters to Dead Poets, this time I’ll be writing…

Letter-from-Vincent-van-G-001

Letters to Dead Artists!

For those of you who aren’t aware, I’m Australian and so I’ll be featuring a number of Australian Artists you might not have heard of, but art is universal. However, I have diverse tastes and I’ve managed to include an artist from all five inhabited continents.

“A picture is a poem without words.”

Horace

I’m not going to ruin the suspense by listing all the artists now. However, the point of this series is that I’ll be writing to artists who have impacted on me personally and where there’s some kind of history, memories, a story. These stories revisit 9 months I backpacked through Europe in 1992, travels through Australia and also my undergraduate History Honours thesis: The Cult of Ugliness The Modernist Threat to the Bush Legend.

“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.”

Winston Churchill

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

Edgar Degas

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

Pablo Picasso

So, stay tuned for the launch on April 1st and I hope you’ll also share some of your thoughts and passions about these artists in the comments.

Wish me luck!

xx Rowena

Keep Breathing…Friday Fictioneers.

“All my life,” Melissa sighed to her therapist. “I’ve been peering through the keyhole too afraid to live.”

Phillippa was trying hard not to yawn. Dumping clients was hard. Never mentioned the “F” word.  It was all about “finding a better fit”.  Being a “therapy drop out” wasn’t good for their self-esteem.

“Anyway…”

Suddenly, Melissa became strangely animated, even possessed. “I finally attended a writer’s group this week and read one of my poems. Thought I was gunna die. Then, I heard you counting and this other voice saying: “Breathe, Melissa. Breathe. You can do it.”

“It was actually me.”

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s image was provided by © Shaktiki Sharma.

This week, I’ve spent a bit of time researching my grandmother who was a concert pianist and I’ve been thinking about that experience I had as a child of almost looking through the keyhole into her adult world. There was definitely a “them” and “us” policy and children should be not seen AND not heard. That suited us and we’d round up change for lollies from the adults and disappear with our stash.

Yet, there were those times I distinctly remember peering into this adult world and watching through that metaphorical keyhole. Nothing quite like being a spy!

By the way, I’d also encourage comments about when therapy doesn’t work and what that was like. Personally, I’m a lousy one for taking action but I’m currently working through that with my physio. Or, should I say, I’m “walking” it out.

Hope you’ve had a great week!

xx Rowena

 

 

The Fork in the Tree.

What do you see when you look at this tree?

Initially, I saw the fork in the road but when I look at it now I see a very flexible, headless dancer whose toe is pointing up into the clouds. Mind you, when I came up with that image, I’d chopped the top off the photo on my laptop screen. or, maybe, the dancer hasn’t shaved her legs?

Unfortunately, I also noticed this tree isn’t looking very healthy.While it is deciduous, it’s neighbours are all sprouting Spring leaves and there isn’t so much as a bud on this one. I’m hoping my suspicions are wrong but is this tree deceased?

“C’mon! Grow, baby. Grow!…Just a leaf? A sign? A glimmer of hope?”

A Jumbled Path.JPG

My Pathway is Lost in a  Jumble of Twigs. Where am I going?

Meanwhile, looking further up the tree, I spotted “chaos central” where there is no clear-cut fork in the road… the A & B options. Rather, these twigs graphically portrayed:

“My life is such a Mess!” or “I’m soooo confused”.

There are no patterns and no pathway through. No exit from the maze but at least there is no minotaur but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a spider’s next in there…a tribe of Huntsmen.

When you have complicated decisions to make, what do you do? How do you choose which way to go? Toss a coin? Phone a friend? Write about it? Make a list of pros and cons?

I use a range of these strategies but what I’ve finally come to appreciate the hard way, is that action outranks procrastination. That even if you make the wrong decision, that’s better than doing nothing at all. Procrastination is not my friend and yet…

Hey, I just went chasing up a quote to illuminate this post and this was the first quote I found and it was so about this tree. It must be a sign:

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”

Robert H. Schuller

Perhaps, this tree should be renamed: “The Philosopher’s Tree”. Well, it’s certainly got me thinking and fired up a few brain cells. Dare I say, cleared out some “dead wood”?

Surely, there’s life in the old tree yet!

xx Rowena

Waffling About Perfection.

How long has it taken me to actually use my waffle machine for its intended purpose and actually make waffles?

I’m not telling. This is a blog, NOT a confessional!

While I’ve crushed, fried and crunchified boiled potatoes in the waffle iron before, I’ve NEVER ever made a waffle. Yet, tonight I finally walked the plank, jumped over the edge and straight into the raging waves only to find absolute calm…still waters!

The waffles worked. Were delicious! I succeeded!

So why have I put it off for so long?

Of course, you know why. You know the crazy reason why. I’ve been too scared. Scared I’d make a mistake and botch them up.

That’s right. I’ve been yet another a paralyzed perfectionist.

How about you? Are you also guilty as charged?

There’s nothing more annoying than a perfectionist who isn’t perfect…especially when it’s yourself!

Perfectionism is a sneaky, cunning beast. It doesn’t knock on your front door and announce its arrival. It doesn’t have flashing neon lights with ringing sirens either. Instead, it silently sneaks in through the back door and creeps up on you from behind and grabs you by the throat.

It also gets you busy. In the case of the waffles, it threw a bamboozling array of recipes at me, followed by a plethora of different waffle irons and that was before we’d even considered toppings. By this stage, there so  many rats going round and round in spinning wheels inside my head, for me to do anything.

Although it might be cliched, paralysis by analysis is real. Too many cogs spinning all at once and your exhausted, over-worked brain is blowing a gasket. Boom! Bang! Crash!

So, as I said, I made waffles for the first time tonight and they were great. Covered in creamy vanilla ice cream and maple syrup dripping off the fork…So yum!

Why on earth did I put it off for so long?

DSC_2004

The Lutheran Church in Wollongong put this recipe book together in the aftermath of WWII. Having members from a multitude of European countries, some being enemies at home, the idea of the cookbook was to bring people together and sharing recipes is a great way to start.

We didn’t have a waffle machine growing up at home. Even though I ended up using my grandmother’s recipe to make our waffles tonight, she’d never made them for me either. I found the recipe in a Church cookbook she’d edited back in the 1950s. Of course, all the measurements were in “ancient” and had to be translated. I also wondered whether I really did have to separate the eggs, or whether I should use a simpler recipe, which just throws the ingredients together? I chose the complicated path, hoping for fluffier waffles and I used my egg beater as well. It’s also ancient.

DSC_1991

As I was saying, we didn’t have a waffle machine growing up and I have to admit that making the waffles, was like magic. The batter looked just like pancake mix and I admit that as I spread it over the waffle iron, I doubted it could actually make a waffle and I had that child-like sense of wonder, when I opened up the machine, and found the sculptured waffles cooking inside.

DSC_1988

Abracadabra!…Waffles!

I’m proud of my waffles. Not just because they were good, but also because in tackling that challenge, I crossed a new frontier…just like an explorer crossing a mountain for the very first time. I did it. I actually extended my wings and allowed myself to leave my cage and truly soar.

While making waffles might only be a small step for woman and nowhere near actually landing on the moon, all these steps add up and could ultimately build a ladder. You never know.

So, in case you want to follow in my esteemed footsteps, here’s Grandma’s Waffle Recipe:

DSC_2001

My Grandmother’s Waffle Recipe taken from the “Around the World With Cooking” Cookbook.

Grandma’s Waffle Recipe

250g Plain Flour

Pinch salt

1 teas Baking Powder

1 generous cup of milk and a splash (270 mls)

2 eggs, separated.

50g melted butter.

Directions

  1. Start preparing the batter about an hour before required.
  2. Take eggs out of the fridge 30 mins beforehand and at room temperature.
  3. Sift flour & salt into a basin. Make a well in the centre.
  4. Separate eggs and put the whites aside.
  5. Beat egg yolks and add hald the milk. Pour into the flour and mix into a smooth batter, gradually stirring in the rest of the milk.
  6. Beat mixture and allow to stand for an hour.
  7. 15 minutes before the mix is ready to cook, beat egg whites until stiff. Put aside.
  8. Once the hour is up, add the melted butter to the mixture and then stiffly beaten egg whites and baking powder.
  9. Spray waffle iron with oil or butter and have it hot to make the waffles.

Enjoy!

By the way, just to encourage you and humble myself a little further, when I went to reheat my cup of tea in the microwave, I found the melted butter for the waffle mix in there. That’s right. I’d left it out. This could explain why the waffles weren’t quite as crunchy as expected, but I’d instinctively added butter to the machine for the second batch.

Have you ever made waffles? How does your recipe compare to mine and do you have any tips and topping suggestions to share?

I look forward to hearing from you!

xx Rowena

Picture1

My Grandparents.

Back to the Proust Questionnaire.

No More Detours! Today, we’re back to the Proust Questionnaire.

Don’t you just love how you announce a grand new project on the blog to keep you accountable and then you fall flat on your face and you’re left to crawl out, waving a white flag surrendering to your public shame?

Yes, I know that when it comes to public confessions, this is small fry.

However, 25th August (almost a month ago), I made a very grand announcement on my blog that I was going to be doing the Proust Character Questionnaire and finally getting the Book Project up and running (yes, this definitely deserves a serious drum roll and the whole red carpet treatment.): https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/in-pursuit-of-character-the-proust-questionnaire/

Indeed, every day I was going to be addressing a question from the Proust Questionnaire which, given there are 31 questions, would mean that I should be well on the way to finishing the @#$% thing by now.

2157931-Road-closed-and-detour-signs-on-road-barriers-Stock-Photo

Almost a month later, it is now the 18th September and Winter has even given way to Spring and in lieu of flowers, our duck population has exploded and we’re constantly stopping to let ducks and their clutch of precious ducklings cross the road.

This is my kind of detour.

This is my kind of detour.

Despite all this activity around me, all I’ve managed to get through is Question number 1: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Admittedly, this was rather a big question. The kind of question which really does warrant considerable thought, a few exploratory posts and even diving into The Pursuit of Happiness by no less than the Dalai Lama himself (in cahoots with an American psychiatrist)

However, while I know you’ve heard all these excuses before,  IT WASN’T MY FAULT!! Truly, it wasn’t!

Accompanying Miss while on the nebuliser. I personally find combination of preparing for the audition while being so sick and on the nebuliser almost comic. It's the first time I've been on the neb at home for 20 years. I have also playing chess with Mister while on the neb too.

Accompanying Miss while on the nebuliser. I personally find combination of preparing for the audition while being so sick and on the nebuliser almost comic. It’s the first time I’ve been on the neb at home for 20 years. I have also playing chess with Mister while on the neb too.

Despite having my flu jab, I still came down with a serious case of bronchitis/pneumonia which saw my lungs shake, rattle and roll for a good 2-3 weeks. I even ended up on the nebuliser, all while exploring this issue of happiness.  All I’ll say is thank goodness for the industrial strength antibiotics, freshly squeezed orange juice and my husband taking a week off work.Somehow, I was well enough to get Miss to her audition.

Miss outside the Brent Street Studios where the auditions were held.

Miss outside the Brent Street Studios where the auditions were held.

Next, we had my daughter’s grand audition for the Sydney leg of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s: The Sound of Music. Moving on from happiness to tackling my greatest fear had to wait until we’d conquered “Do a Deer” and the house was well and truly groaning and complaining about the The Sound of Music .

Captured by the Ginormous Koala demanding more gum leaves.

Captured by the Ginormous Koala demanding more gum leaves.

Then, there were all the follow up posts from “Audition Day”, including our trip up the Sydney Tower Eye, eating ice cream in Hyde Park, meeting Tim and his dog, Nugget, who sleep rough in Hyde Park across the road from prestigious department store, David Jones, which was having it’s grand annual Spring Flower Festival, including a sensational tribute to Chanel.

Of course, I couldn’t miss any of these “opportunities”.

So, after more detours than a maze, this brings me back to the Proust Questionnaire.

Here’s the list of questions again as it appeared at The Writing Practice: http://thewritepractice.com/proust-questionnaire/

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
What is your greatest fear?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Which living person do you most admire?
What is your greatest extravagance?
What is your current state of mind?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
On what occasion do you lie?
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Which living person do you most despise?
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
When and where were you happiest?
Which talent would you most like to have?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Where would you most like to live?
What is your most treasured possession?
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
What is your favorite occupation?
What is your most marked characteristic?
What do you most value in your friends?
Who are your favorite writers?
Who is your hero of fiction?
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Who are your heroes in real life?
What are your favorite names?
What is it that you most dislike?
What is your greatest regret?
How would you like to die?
What is your motto?

Exploring Question 1:

The DNA of Happiness: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/the-dna-of-happiness/

What is your idea of perfect happiness? https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/what-is-your-idea-of-perfect-happiness-the-proust-questionnaire/

End Detour.

End Detour.

Stay tuned…We are now finally progressing to Question 2:

What is your greatest fear?

Have you ever done the Proust Questionnaire? How about you come and join me on this intriguing journey!

xx Rowena