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Permission to Pause

Last Friday, I turned 40.

It was a whirlwind weekend full of wonderful surprises and the very next day my Whole Life Challenge started. The week before mine was my husband’s 40th birthday so we had a whirlwind for him, too. All this has meant a bunch of days off work and out of routine. And since Saturday, a bunch of really tired days as I move more and eat differently. Most nights this week, I’ve pretty much wanted to do nothing after work. My kids go to bed and pretty soon after, I do, too.

That doesn’t leave a lot of room for my ever-growing-never-getting-done todo list.

Or my ever-growing email.

And I know it’s okay to take breaks. But I also know that all this postponing will eventually catch up with me. I also know I wanted to set some projects for myself for the fall and possibly reorganize things.

And yet, all I want to do now is lie down.

So I’ve been trying to figure out what to do. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

This week has been all about the Whole Life Challenge. Eating healthier. Moving differently and being sore and getting better. All this will make me more energetic in the long term but it leaves me pretty tired for now. So, since my health is indeed one of my top issues for 2014, I give myself permission to take the rest of this week off.

But.

This weekend, I will get organized. Take stock. See where I am and what’s really falling behind. And next week I will slowly start catching up.

By the week after, I expect to be back to my regularly scheduled life and tempo.

Let’s see if any of that is realistic. But sometimes you just need to start doing things to get back into the groove so I am trying to balance giving myself permission to pause with making sure I do have a plan for being productive again because I know that productive is where I feel happiest.

I think for people like me, who thrive on routine, it’s really tough to have things that knock you off your schedule. Even when it’s good things, like birthdays. And the trick is giving myself grace but still gently coaxing myself back on schedule.

That balance is always the tough part.

I know this post seems pointless and maybe it’s just me trying to work out how I can get back on track. And also wondering how do others do it….

Constraining Joy

I’ve been thinking a lot about rules lately. About two months ago, I took a wonderful Sketching class at Sketchbook Skool (in fact, I am taking all their classes now) and I really loved it. I immediately started sketching more regularly.

But just as immediately, I noticed myself making up random rules. Or maybe not random but just rules.

First it was that I couldn’t sketch from a photo, it had to be from real-life or nothing.

Then I decided I couldn’t use pencil and had to do it straight from pen.

Then I made up new rules about type of sketch, time of sketch, duration of sketch….on and on.

By this time, I had constructed so many rules in my head that some of them were even conflicting with each other. One part of my head said sketch quickly and the other one screamed for me to seriously slow down and pay attention to detail. There was so much going on in my head that I wasn’t sure I enjoyed the sketching anymore.

This has happened to me a lot in different hobbies I’ve taken up. I’ve heard people say things like

“If you don’t use Manual mode on your camera it’s cheating”

“If you scrap the same photo multiple times, it’s cheating”

“If you don’t journal, it’s cheating.”

“If you use pencil first, it’s cheating.”

on and on.

Doesn’t matter what the hobby is, apparently there are rules and judgements even on something we do to spend our free time.

As soon as I realized the pressure I was adding to my life, I decided to step back and take it all off the table. I decided to wipe the slate clean and say “there are no rules.” Let’s start fresh.

I decided the only rules I wanted to create were around a specific area of growth I was planning to tackle. If I specifically decided it was important to learn to sketch without pencil, then, fine, no pencil could be the rule but I wasn’t going to then add 4 more rules to that. If my goal is to work on perspective, who cares if my camera is on manual?

Instead of adding arbitrary rules that others have created, I decided I wanted to get very clear on my own goals and then make my own rules to meet my own goals. If my only goal is to practice sketching as much as possible, then all the other stuff goes out the window so I can just sketch, sketch, sketch.

Are you also creating rules to restrict your joy without realizing it or am I the only one driving myself crazy?

Challenging Myself

About a month ago, I was reading Stephanie Howell’s blog and I saw her mention The Whole Life Challenge. I hadn’t heard of this site or concept at all and I was looking for an excuse to get myself back into track from all the Nutella and Starbucks I’d gotten in the habit of overdoing.

I emailed Steph to ask more questions and she very kindly and enthusiastically encouraged me to do it.

Sometimes, the universe comes together at the right time and this was one of those cases. I saw it, I decided I wanted to do it, and I signed up. All within a matter of hours.

I knew it was starting the day after I turned 40 so I thought that, too, was maybe a sign. But it also meant that I wasn’t prepared at all. At all. And if you’ve been here for any length of time, you know that I definitely lean on the organized side, so this was quite unusual. I think maybe I just didn’t want to think about it until I had to. Instead I had more lattes and more Nutella.

So Saturday came and I immediately went into panic mode. The only food I’d bought was oatmeal that was 100% oats to ensure I had some breakfast. I ate my breakfast and then went shopping for food. I also went through the house and threw away everything I knew I could no longer eat. (There wasn’t much left at this point because I hadn’t been buying much and I’d been eating whatever I bought.)

The way this challenge works is that there are 7 aspects: nutrition, 10min workout, 10min stretching, supplement, water, lifestyle(changes each week), reflections (journaling). I spent some time deciding what all these mean for me and how they will manifest in my life.

Last night, I finally decided it was time to get organized. So I sat down to list all the different parts of this process:

  1. Water – Drink 3 containers full of water – this is sized to work for me
  2. Supplement – I’ve decided to take Omega-3 for now but seeing the doctor tomorrow so we’ll see
  3. Stretch – The WLC site has different daily stretches they recommend and for now I am just doing those each day for 10 mins.
  4. Exercise – Exercise component is a bit involved for me partly because I wanted to do different things:
    1. Walk 10,000 steps each day
    2. Walk up 10 floors of stairs each day
    3. Do the NYTimes Scientific 7-min workout daily (I use this YouTube video)
  5. Nutrition – There are three different levels you can choose in the game, I’ve decided to go with LifeStyle which is the medium level. (PDF of Levels)
  6. LifeStyle – This week this is about no technology during Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
  7. Reflection – This is just a small amount of journaling I have to do each night. Not hard :)

And to ensure I don’t forget about some part, I’ve made a printable I glue to my notebook each week:

This way I can track it all day long and feel good about my progress. (you can ignore the sketching bit, that’s a different daily goal.)

So far, the biggest challenge has been the 7-minute exercise which apparently is working out muscles I didn’t even know I had. So I am sore everywhere. And, I mean: everywhere.

But, other than that, I have been doing fine with no bread or lattes or nutella. At least for three days.

My hope is that this 56-day challenge will fundamentally shift the way I eat food so that I can move my diet to a more plant and protein based one. Here’s to giving it an honest try.

Mixed Media Class with me and some Amazing People

A few months ago, the awesome folk at Big Picture Classes contacted me to see if I’d be up for doing a class on Mixed Media with some other Mixed Media artists. I was scared but I said yes. And then I saw the list of artists and I got a lot more scared. They are AMAZING.

I am so incredibly honored to be amongst these artists.

The list includes artists like Donna Downey, Rebecca Sower, Christy Tomlinson and Celine Navarro.

For my part, I show a technique I like to use on my pages but also walk you through how I make a page from beginning to end. I made a brand new page for this class, of course. Here’s a little sneak:

I know it’s tiny.

The page I have is very much in the vein of the pages I create usually.

I will be up front that all the links are affiliate links as that’s a big part of how I make any income from the class. So if you’re thinking about taking it I hope you’ll use my links :)

More than anything, though, I hope to see you in the class!

Sign up here: Mixed Media Studio!

The Gift of Awareness

On Monday mornings my sons’ school has a school-wide assembly where they talk about different topics each week. This week was the first one for the 2014-2015 school year. The head of the school talked about awareness. Being more present and aware of this moment. Aware of your choices. Paying attention.

I drove home thinking about awareness in my life. Where I can foster it more. What gets in the way of my being more aware?

Then, later in the day, I was talking to a friend from work who’s frustrated with a situation. As we talked, I realized that he was making a mistake I have made in the past. He was too busy complaining about the other person and how this person had to change instead of focusing on himself. When I asked him what he wanted from his own life, he wasn’t sure. He said “if only I knew.”

Awareness.

So I told him that what was getting in his own way wasn’t this other person but his own lack of awareness about what he wanted. His lack of desire/willingness to get that figured out. It’s tough to do this work. Most of us really want to complain and have the situation fixed in the easiest way possible, ideally where we don’t have to do the work but it’s fixed for us. This is why we complain, point the finger, or whine about others.

It’s easier.

I’ve done it a million times myself.

Looking deep down and understanding what you want, what you deeply desire is tough. Figuring out what you’re willing to do to make that happen is even tougher. And doing it is the toughest of them all. But, sometimes, once you know, it’s really easy to take the necessary steps. It’s as if you’re suddenly propelled forward. What was holding you back was really the lack of articulation. Not sorting out what you really want.

As with everything, it all starts with awareness.

So I am doing the same thing myself today. Making a list of my desires. My frustrations. My hopes and dreams. Things I whine about. And then looking at them through the eye of awareness. What do I really want. What’s getting in the way? What am I willing to risk to get what I want?

Welcoming the gift of awareness into my life.

Magical Moments

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Here in California, we are blessed with quite nice weather every day. My job, however, is in front of the computer and often indoors. Generally, I go out twice a day: to drop my kids to school and to pick them up. That’s when I see sunshine and remember that I live in lovely California and need to get out more.

I also tend to have this revelation each year during July. I go home to see my family, come back and decide it’s time to sit outside. So I setup camp in our small backyard. I bring out my computers, diet coke, coffee, art, and my audiobook. And I settle in for the day. This generally lasts all summer and comes to an end with the beginning of school.

Last week, when the boys went back to school, I spent the whole week inside and then over the 3-day weekend, I decided I wasn’t ready to welcome the end of summer just yet. So I am back outside. I sit here as the breeze washes over me, typing on one computer and keeping my eye on the other while the boys do their homework (david) and play (nathaniel.)

Transitions aren’t easy for me. I like to live a relatively scheduled life and transitions cause major havoc to my planned days. I think that might be why I am rebelling against the fall. So instead of fighting it or resisting it or just relenting, I’ve been thinking about what I like about these summer days and what, if anything, I might want to bring over to the fall/winter.

Siting outside is not just about sitting outside, of course. It’s about the calmer attitude. It’s about enjoying LIFE and not making all my days just about the computer. It’s about remembering that I am part of something so much bigger. This helps me put my worries in perspective. It helps me remember the transient nature of life. It helps me remember that it’s all cycles and we’re in this phase now.

I also love it. I love the air. I love the green. I love the birds and squirrels and even all the noise. This morning, a hummingbird paused right in front of me for a split second. It was magical.

It’s about remembering that life is magical. And that magical moments happen all day long, every single day.

That’s what I want to take with me as I welcome the fall.

Growing a New Skin

I feel like it’s been months and months and months since I’ve written a blog post. The funny thing is I found myself here last year, too and I remember specifically thinking how I want to write more posts this year. More of these thoughts posts. But then it just doesn’t become a priority. I feel like I make the art a priority. The work, the kids, the exercise, the coaching. But not the blogging. And the fact is, for me, blogging really does help. It’s therapeutic. It’s centering.

So it’s something I want to find time for.

Life’s been passing by really quickly over here. I feel like this year has passed by more quickly than any before. In exactly ten days, I turn 40.

Four-zero.

That’s a big number.

I have no qualms about getting older. In many ways, I actually like it. I know this is because I am blessed enough to be in good health and have a job that allows me to support my family. I am grateful for both of these things regularly. I don’t mind the lines on my face or the sagging (well i am not a fan of sagging but more on this later.) I don’t mind the number. I feel I’ve spent my life well and have wonderful things to show for my forty years on this earth. I am proud of where I am and how I got here.

But.

(There’s always a but, isn’t there?)

But, forty is a big number. I am likely done with the first half of my life (if i am lucky and live to be in my 80s) and there are some tangible changes I’d like to make to my second half. Things that were maybe a necessary part of getting here but things that are now holding me back from enjoying “here” and from getting to the next place, wherever that may be.

Here’s some of what’s on my mind: (in no particular order)

  1. Health/Wellness: I’ve spent a lot of my teenage years, twenties, and thirties yoyoing with my weight, eating habits, exercise (or lack thereof) etc. I’ve fretted about my weight, my size, my food… all my life. I am so very ready to be done with this. I don’t want to spend the next 40 years of my life worrying about my weight. About what I eat. About wearing a bathing suit. Or even pants. I just want to be done with this particular worry. To address this, I am trying to figure out if I can make some fundamental shifts in how I eat and what wellness means to me. (I will readily admit to eating Nutella out of a jar as I type this. So I think we can all agree this needs to be addressed.) For me, this is not an issue about being thin (though I do want to be thin, even if it’s not cool to admit this.) but it’s an issue of being aligned. I want what I do and what I say to be aligned. I don’t want to eat badly, be sedentary and then whine constantly about my weight. I want this kind of out-of-balance lifestyle to no longer be a part of my life. So, to that end, I am going to try to do the whole life challenge starting in a few weeks. (one day after i turn 40, in fact.) And I will give it an honest try. I will try to use it as an opportunity to shift my way of living around wellness. If it doesn’t work, I will figure something out. What I know is that I will not carry this issue with me much longer. I am determined to put it to rest one way or another.

  2. Worrying about Work: Over five years ago, when Nathaniel was born, I made an active choice to downscale my career. I decided to work at home full time so I could raise my boys while I earn money and still have an intellectually challenging job. I have a job that I am proud of and love in many ways. I am grateful to earn what I do and take care of my family how I can. I love and adore Chrome and I am incredibly proud to be a part of the product I love so much and the team I respect and the company I love. All of these things are wonderful. I am incredibly grateful to get to do all this while I also raise my kids, take them to school and pick them up from school, and check their homework and on and on. I am lucky. Lucky, lucky, lucky. I don’t want to forget that for one second. I also want to remember that this came at a cost. And one of the costs was career progression, etc. My job is still relatively high pressure and demanding. There are many moments where I am really, really stressed and a lot of hours I spend worrying. In the last few months, I’ve decided that while the intensity of my job might not be alterable, my attitude towards it all certainly is. There are times I yell at my kids because I am stressed about something on my computer screen. And here’s another example of lack of alignment… the fact is, I chose my kids. I decided being a mom and being physically around was more important than being at work and having the benefits of that. So if I am choosing to work at home, I should not yell at my kids. Because I always knew what working at home means. I understand it’s tough for my kids to have me there but not always available. And this is my burden, not theirs. Taking my work stress out on them kills the whole point of being home. So my plan is to worry about work less. I still work just as hard and vigorously. I just tone down the worrying. I remember what matters most at all times. And that’s my boys. My family. My life. My friends. They will always matter most. Work matters a lot. Just not most.

  3. Sense of Self: I’ve spent a lot (a LOT) of my years apologizing for who I am. Feeling less than. Feeling unworthy. Not belonging. Apologizing. On and on. I am done with that. Done. I fully accept that I am flawed. I am not the perfect person. I mess up just as often as I do well. I try to be kind and generous and sometimes I am. And other times I am selfish and manipulative. I yell. I can be cruel. I am incredibly hard working and I can be lazy. I am weird. I have issues (oh, lord, do i have issues.) and I randomly freak out without a lot of reason and apologize not long after. I fail. Sometimes I don’t even try. And sometimes I am awesome. I belong just as much as anyone else ever did. I am worthy just like the rest of us. I have my good sides and my bad sides. I am not saying I am the best person ever but, either way, I made it to 40 and the chances that the core of my being will shift are low at this point. And, to be honest, I still choose to be me over other options, even with my flaws. So here we are. I am 40. I am me. I am done apologizing for who that is. I am done squashing myself. I will still apologize for many mistakes I will undoubtedly make in my life. I will still feel bad many times. But I will no longer subscribe to the belief that there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. Good or bad, I seem to be stuck with this person for now and it is time I honor and cherish her instead of beating her up regularly. I have decided to fully grow into loving my self. Grateful for the gift of being me.

  4. No Guilt Trips, No Arbitrary Rules: Along with the sense of self, I’ve decided I am done worrying about being someone I am not or living my life by others’ rules. If I don’t like to cook and my family is ok with that, it is not of anyone’s concern. I am not feeling guilty about never ironing. I am not feeling bad about things I don’t do. My messy house. I just don’t want to do anything with resentment. I want to do it because I truly value doing it. My time is so precious. We are here for such a short amount of time and I want to use mine the way that makes me (and the people I love) happiest. I don’t want to make up rules about anything. Drawing from a photo is not cheating. Using pencil isn’t either. If I want to do art, I shall do art. If I want to walk away from it all, I will and if I want to come back, I will do that, too. The only rules are the ones I want to live by. The ones that enhance my life and bring joy into my days. I am no longer living my life by some random shoulds.  I am officially old enough to make up my own rules.

  5. More Grace, more self care: Along the lines of wellness and sense of self, I want to spend more time taking care of myself. My soul. My body. My teeth. My skin. I want to treat my whole body, inside and out with more care and love. And I want to make this a priority. For me.

  6. More/Better Connection: As I get old, I realize how much I cherish my friends, family and even acquaintances. Social events are not easiest for me. I usually prefer being alone or one-on-one but I want to put myself out there more and to expand my circle. I want to deepen my connection with my friends. I want to show them that they are a priority with my actions.

  7. Braver: And finally (at least for now), I want to be braver. I feel like courage is a muscle and it needs regular exercise. I want to exercise my courage muscles. More. Deeper. Regularly. I want to try new things. I want to walk away from things. I want to go places I am scared to go. I want to be brave. I want to live life fully. There’s joy that comes from courage. Excitement and freedom. I want both of those.

So here we are. Just a few things on my mind as I approach the big four-oh. I want to look at this as an opportunity to shed one skin for another. Create a new “truth” for myself. No need to carry around the past and stories I made up in my teens.

Here’s to being brave.

August Check In

How about another check in for August:

Making: sketches. i am doing a 75-day sketch challenge.
Cooking: salads still. making them fresh and colorful.
Drinking: too much diet coke still.
Reading: in between books at the moment. All the Light We Cannot See is next on my list.
Listening: to audio books. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler.
Wanting: for my drive to come back. i feel disorganized and disinterested.
Looking: at my piles and piles and wanting to do an enormous purge.
Playing: with instagram lately. haven’t decided if i like it.
Deciding: to follow this advice: “You don’t have to turn this into something. It doesn’t have to upset you.”
Wishing: i could start getting organized. i am thinking about it a lot but not doing it.
Enjoying: the outdoors. i sit outside from 7am to 10pm daily.
Waiting: for nothing. i don’t want to wait.
Liking: being home with my boys even when they drive me crazy.
Wondering: how to create my fall schedule and fit all i want into it.
Loving: My new fluorescent pink shoes.
Pondering: what i crave.
Considering: letting go of all my projects and picking new ones for the rest of the year.
Watching: little bits of TV here and there.
Hoping: my new camera will be as awesome as i want it to be.
Marvelling: at everything.
Needing: more rest.
Smelling: tuna and watermelon are the strongest competing for attention in my fridge.
Wearing: new pants i bought in turkey.
Following: up on some important todos before school starts.
Noticing: how calm i feel lately. not that i want to jinx it.
Knowing: september is coming and i don’t do well with transitions.
Thinking: of what my monthly project might be in september.
Feeling: in that in-between place.
Admiring: other people’s talent for art. people are amazing.
Sorting: out any last minute todos for school.
Buying: a new camera.
Getting: worried that the UPS truck is still not here.
Bookmarking: harry potter recipes for our party this weekend.
Disliking: inconsistency. i don’t like how my thoughts and actions don’t line up.
Opening: a package of goodies from my mind’s eye.
Feeling: tired. relaxed. grateful.

How are you doing? Are you enjoying your days of summer (or winter)?

Mix and Match - July

Here’s my Mix and Match page for My Mind’s Eye for July.

My sweet boys,

Today, you two decided it would be fun to do some sidewalk chalk. You two grabbed the box and I took a chair, my camera, and my ipad so I could sit outside and watch you while I read. You two started out by playing individually at first. David wrote some formulas and Nathaniel drew some sheep.

Then David had this idea of tracing his footsteps from the house to the sidewalk. And when he was done, Nathaniel wanted to do it, too. So then he made his footsteps from the other side so they could meet in the middle. And then where they met, you drew a little rainbow with a heart on it.

And then you were so happy that you hugged each other and asked me to take pictures.

And I did. I so did.

As I snapped each photo, my heart grew bigger and bigger.

My sons, I have many, many wishes for each of you, but one of my biggest wishes for both of you is that you love each other deeply and support each other throughout your whole lives.

Having a sibling means there’s this other person who has shared all of your childhood memories with you. It means there’s a person who will be there for you no matter what. It means this person will love you unconditionally. You will have many different friends in your lifetime. Some will come and some will go, but you get to have this one sibling and he will be there forever. He will be the one consistent person in your life.

And my wish for you is that the two of you never take that for granted.

I hope that years from now, you still turn to each other in times of joy and sorrow. That you are not only siblings but also friends. That you spend time together and that your kids play with each other. I hope that you never stop playing together or hugging each other.

When I look back upon my life, some of my fondest memories include my sister. Today, she is the person I trust above all and the person I can turn to for honesty, kindness, and support. She is the person who loves me unconditionally. The person with whom I belong forever.

And that’s what I want for the two of you. I hope that you will always remember that you belong with each other and that I love you both with all my heart.

Checking In

I got back from Turkey almost a week ago but I still seem to be suffering from some form of jetlag. It’s almost 4pm here and I am fading quickly. Part of me feels like I have so much I want to say and so much I want to do (mostly draw) but then another part of me is totally wiped out and needs more time to recover.

So, in the spirit of trying to do both, I found this post and decided to do one of my own.

Making: Lists of what I need to do to get back on my schedule.
Cooking: nothing. Bought some fresh fruits and veggies today and making salads.
Drinking: More Diet Coke than I’d like to admit.
Reading: Per my promise to David, I just finished all the Harry Potter books. They were magnificent.
Wanting: A lot more time off. Time to catch up to my own life. Time to rest.
Looking: forward to digging into new watercolors and fluorescent acrylics I bought.
Playing: A card game I downloaded while I was home. Thanks for the new addiction, Daddy.
Deciding: on what my daily art will be in July.
Wishing: I could freeze time and catch up. And also that I could feel less tired.
Enjoying: The beautiful weather. Sitting in the backyard as often as possible.
Waiting: For Murakami’s new book to come out.
Liking: Having some pants for the first time in a long while.
Wondering: If I can choose to mediate this month.
Loving: Talking to my nephews every night on Skype.
Pondering: My next book to read.
Considering: Going to sleep even though it’s 5pm.
Watching: Harry Potter movies soon!
Hoping: I feel more rested tomorrow.
Marveling: At how my kids got no jetlag whatsoever.
Needing: Some down time. Some art time.
Smelling: Fresh fruit.
Wearing: A new watch and new jewelry, thank you mom!
Following: Up on all the emails I missed.
Noticing: That I have another trip coming up in just weeks.
Knowing: How incredibly lucky I am in so many ways.
Thinking: It’s ok if I drop the ball for a while.
Feeling: Tired.
Admiring: My husband and his optimism. Love him so.
Sorting: Through all the photos I took.
Buying: New watercolors. So excited.
Getting: Overwhelmed.
Bookmarking: Sketching ideas.
Disliking: My eating habits.
Opening: Myself up to new possibilities.
Giggling: Along with the boys, as they wave at the work camera.
Feeling: Grateful.

How about you? How are you?

The Dare

believe in impossible things. dream big dreams. live the dare.

By the time I did this piece, I had run out of quotes. So I ended up taking some of my sheets from The Walk and pasted them on my page. I love how the wording turned out. I think it was a reminder to the deep parts of myself.

I could use a lot more of these.

I want to believe in impossible things. I want to be brave. Maybe the line between stupid and brave is thin but I still want to dance on it. I’ve always been conservative. Safe. I do the right thing. I make the wise choices.

Not that I didn’t make mistakes but in the grand scheme, I’ve consistently played it safe. It’s what I do.

But when I read “live the dare” it lights up my soul. I want to live the dare. I want to dream big dreams. The big dreams of my childhood are all met (and I am really grateful for that, of course.) and the only down side of that is that it’s time for new dreams.

New big dreams.

I think that’s fuel for the soul. At least for my soul.

So what are your big dreams? are you living the dare?

that little extra

This quote says:

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.

This one made me think a lot, too. I don’t really know if I agree with it. Is it really just “little” extra or is it a lot. Maybe it’s better to say a little extra every day. Because I think it takes a lot of work to be extraordinary.

I am a firm believer that we can all be extraordinary in pretty much anything we want to be (okay, yes there are some exceptions but fewer than people make it out to be.) and that the trick is consistent and persistent effort. And not just blind effort but concerted effort. Effort that involves critical thinking, growth, and forward progress.

When people tell me that they don’t have the brain for languages, I have to stop myself from calling them out. The fact is, languages might come a bit more easily to me now that I know many of them but, in the beginning, they were just as hard for me. I studied. A LOT. to get to where I am. When I learned English, I read incessantly in English. When I was in Japan, I spent hours every single day practicing. Just to get mediocre at it.

It wasn’t luck or genes. It was hard work.

And yes maybe some things come easier to some of us on a fundamental level. But it still doesn’t mean you can’t get extraordinary at math, it just means you might have to work harder than the other person. Which is something you choose or don’t choose.

But saying it’s not in my genes takes the choice away from you. It puts you back into the victim mentality and I dislike that. It also feels like a cop out. Like “too bad for me, i guess i am just not wired that way.” when it really is more like “aren’t I lucky, I have this excuse so I don’t actually have to put in the time and effort. I can just say I am not wired that way.”

Ahem.

If you don’t want to do it, that’s fine by me. I think there’s freedom in owning that. Just don’t confuse it with “can’t.” IT’s not that you can’t, it’s that you don’t want to do what it takes.

Which is fine. And takes me back to the quote. It’s not a “little” extra in my opinion. Extraordinary requires passionate amount of extra. Consistent. Disciplined. Obsessive. Truly, deeply, joyfully doing something enough to get really good at it.

Maybe if you’re passionate enough it feels like it’s only a little extra?