Friday, September 21, 2018

Changes? Changes!

Whether I'm wanting to change a habit, start a project or make a plan I have an unhelpful, self sabotaging tendency to think I ought to start with HUGE steps. "I need to walk five miles by Tuesday day." "I must paint every day." "I must cut out all carbs and sugar." This tendency usually only manifests itself in the initial thinking stage. When I actually get going, I either fail and THEN re-size the steps, procrastinate, or change the whole thing.

Research shows that taking small steps works best.   "Moderation." If you want to memorize the Constitution, start with the preamble rather than with the whole thing.  (The Constitution contains 4,543 words. Including the 27 amendments, it contains 7,591 words.)

To find the best tendency for yourself, you need to know yourself. Do you need to see the big picture ? Or do you need to know the details first?  What if there is more than one way to look at your habit, project or plan?

If you follow your plan, what will it get you?  Is it really worth the trouble TO YOU?

I remember studying what helps alcoholics stop drinking.  Rather than focus on the negatives, like deprivation, life problems that seem even bigger when sober, they could focus on changing "easier" habits.  How about changing the habits that supported the drinking? Where would they hang out in their free time? (Not a bar!) Who would they hang out with? (not Drunk Uncle who'd always buy another round.) 

Thinking this way is part of contemplating making the desired big change without setting yourself up for failure with a too-big to succeed plan.. 
James Prochaska and his cohort Carlo DiClemente famously developed a model of the change process.

 As you can see, there's a fair amount of thinking before doing anything different! Note the assumption that you won't make a permanent or easy change the first time.  You might have to practice the action and repeat and repeat.  

“I hated every minute of training,
but I said, ‘Don’t quit. 
Suffer now and live the rest of your life
as a champion.’” – 
         Muhommad Ali

There's lots of research on developing helpful habits.  And lots of research on stopping destructive ones.   I have a friend who is so afraid of anything called addiction, he has avoided a lot of the facts and gotten trapped by wrong thinking and  is generally immobilized.  Our society has made addiction something to be ashamed of. (Addiction is a biological PROCESS that has very little to do with will power or character. It is much more about a complicated cacophony of enzymes, genetics and personal history.)Fear and shame are paralyzing. (Don't judge your fear, though, it may well indicate how much is at stake.) 

Facts clarify the situation!

Best wishes!

“If you hear a voice within you say,
‘you cannot paint’,
then by all means paint 
and that voice will be silenced.”
 — Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Promoter or preventer? (or both)

Do you set goals to achieve? Plan steps to advancement and gain? Pursue your ambitions? Hope to "get more" of whatever you want? Being ambitious has the reputation of being the all American style. (Play offense, don't settle for defense!)

Some people's achievements are prodded by those around them. If one is surrounded by people who encourage success and mentor those with less experience, it seems possible to achieve and move ahead. That person may find it natural to live up to expectations.

On the other-hand, if one is brow-beaten and threatened in case of sub-par achievement he or she may invest a lot of will and effort to either "prove them wrong," or get ahead of the consequences.

It seems to me that those who were brow-beaten and threatened a lot, might have taken a different view.  They might have learned to be cautious, to be on the look out for pitfalls and risks. You might be a preventer if you consciously strategize to avoid losses, to minimize danger or pain and to conserve what you've managed to get. 

As you could probably predict, most folks use both tendencies at least some of the time. After all, the entire insurance industry is comprised of underwriters and risk managers!

I would call myself a promoter when it comes to most kinds of learning: life-long learning, classes-- anything that might include lessons or that I can do by my self.  Playing the piano, playing the flute, public speaking, painting, creative writing.

But I am all about minimizing danger when it comes to any physical challenge. (You will never see me on a zip line or climbing the side of a cliff!) I carry the avoidant style into any situation where it might be useful to  promote myself-- not because of anything really horrible that might happen, but because of how much I worry about what other people might think, say or do. Admiringly, I watch my friends and colleagues enter juried art shows, ask for pay raises, change jobs.  

What are the situations where you take the initiative?
What are the ones where you hang back and watch?

Which strategy and situation combinations work best.  For YOU?

Like a kitten, I alternate between curiosity and caution.  An OLD kitten!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Sometimes I'm judgmental.


I've been listening to endless commentaries and controversies surrounding the US Senate's hearings about the life-time nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States.

So many issues: politics, the "Me,too"movement,  sexist and tone deaf treatment of Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearing.

But what's got me thinking, particularly in light of my focus on habits and accepting myself the way I am is how much I dislike and disapprove of lying.

In a study done at the University of Virginia, anonymous college students reported that they told an average of two lies per day.  Members of the community reported telling just one.
A more recent study of 1000 adults found that they told an average of 1.65 lies a day; that 60 percent of the people said they told no lies at all, and that a small minority of 5 percent of the people told almost half of the lies that were disclosed.

Of course lies vary in magnitude and attitude.  There are giant whoppers which are easily recognized by most listeners. Tall tales. Fish stories.

 There are half truths which cloak lies. There are "white" lies which are intended to protect the people to whom they are told. And then there are mean falsehoods which are (usually) attempts to boost the ego of the teller and shrink the confidence of the listener.

If you set yourself a goal not to lie, consider writing down your untruths.
  • Are they self serving?
  • Protective of someone else?
  • Deliberately deceptive? 
  • About particular subjects?
  • Religion?
  • Politics? 
  • Sex? 
  • Money?

 I believe in the benefits of truth telling. I'm sure it reduces internal stress and anxiety. I believe that it (almost) always improves interpersonal relationships, although sometimes it is wise to say nothing, say "no comment," or answer a difficult question with another question.  "I'm not sure, what do YOU think?"

Wishing you the success and happiness of being a truth teller.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The argument in my head between abundance and simplicity

Image result for gretchen rubin quotes 
Apparently I'm fuzzy, foggy and unclear about a lot of things. 
Wanting to write a week day blog everyday got in the way of going to sleep last Friday.  (I doubt that anyone noticed except me and my guilty conscience.
Taking a morning walk got postponed because I had a class meeting to go to and I didn't get up early enough to do the (short) walk.
Sounds like my sleep habits could still use tweaking!
I think I'd like to declutter.  I'm willing to start small.  My clothes closet, perhaps.  Or the linen closet which has platters, table cloths and bed linens I haven't used in years. Or one of the three "junk" drawers that have taken up resident in the kitchen. The basement which has unopened boxes from our move more than 5 years ago.

But when it comes to decluttering, I almost always get stuck.  There are   sentimental attachments to my stuff... birthday cards from my grown children, craft supplies that I might be able to use, jewelry that just needs a little repair.  My children's toys that their children might like.

What am I to do with my unframed, unsold, not ready for the Art Museum paintings?

Or I can't stand to just put something in the trash.  But what to do with it?  We have a "Savers" nearby and I think they take most anything.  I really should bag or box my unwanted things and let THEM sort it out.  Really.  Same with the dozens of books that I've read but no longer have room for. I could take a couple of cartons every time I go to the library and in 6 months, I might have some room in the book case.

I grew up in a mid-century modern house.  One of the things my mother was good at was keeping the zen-atmosphere of our post and beam house.  VERY little clutter.  I'd like my living space to look that way.

Regrettably, living in my mother's house often left me feeling deprived.  Mostly of permission to be my own self. And I think my old emotions around being told "Don't" all the time has led me to the erroneous conclusion that having "stuff" would make me feel happier.  (There's a brief article on 12 prohibitions that we could all afford to forget here.)

I'm going to take a side trip and make a list of what I really want.
Clutter or cleared tables? Zen like calm or circus-like chaos.

What do you really want? Do your habits reinforce getting it?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Salt and sugar look a lot alike

Have you ever noticed how often cooks put a little sugar in spicy things (Salted Caramel anyone?) or a little salt in sweet things (like chocolate chip cookies)? Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed you want to indulge in both at the same time?

Thinkers far wiser than I have noted that the same is true of happiness and sadness; joy and grief. 

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, 
and the word happy would lose its meaning 
if it were not balanced by sadness 
 CG Jung. 

I've experienced the truth in these words. Contrasts seem to wake me up and make me pay attention.  Being oblivious to happiness eventually becomes routine, boring and even sad!  Being oblivious to sadness leads to poor self care and dangerous choices.  

But I can get irritate quickly when a happy time gets dark.

This evening Dear Husband and I went out for dinner, then browsed our nearest bookstore, and had some coffee.  
But then we realized the car might be running on fumes and we needed to get gas.

We passed at least three dark, closed gas stations. We couldn't find one that was open.  We worried that our "cruising range" was approaching 0 miles.  We ended up in an unfamiliar, poorly lit, congested neighborhood that has a bad reputation.
Finally, we found a crowded, open station. 
When we asked whether that neighborhood was always dark and the stations always closed, the attendant said there had been a gas main explosion and that gas had been shut off to at least three communties. 

Turns out the explosions and subsequent fires numbered in the 80's.
I realized I was happy our house was well out of range.

Jung had a few more words about happiness and darkness.  He offers a lesson on regaining balance:
  It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity

I don't know about you, but I still need practice with that part.  For now I'll be grateful and of good cheer that we have a full tank of gas, we had a mini adventure even though our 20 minute ride home took almost an hour.
I'm going to practice for practicing patience and equanimity.  I will also remind myself that even in the darkest night, there are pinpoints of starlight, even when fog or my nearsightedness prevent me from seeing them.

The word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. Carl Jung
Read more at:
The word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. Carl Jung
Read more at:
The word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. Carl Jung
Read more at:
The word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. Carl Jung
Read more at:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Observe closely

The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality TestingThere's a new book out about the development of the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory.

Reviews of the book and the MBPI are mixed.
I think one of the problems with the MBTI is that it seems to established to determine dichotomies rather than tendencies. My experience is one of being at the pivot point of lots of qualities: introverted/extroverted, emotion or evidence based,
AND the type has fluctuated over time.  (You can take a free, on-line version here or here.)

There are plenty psychologists and philosophers who think this is all bunk.  I find it interesting bunk just the same! I don't know of any scientific proof.

What I intended to write about was whether I preferred routine or novelty.  I don't think I know! There seems to be a relationship to the question of preferring comfort or growth.

I think I tend toward routine and comfort -- until it gets boring.  We go to the same restaurants. We always watch Jeopardy (!). I go to rug hooking Mondays

Hooked rug for someone whose name means 8 pines
and studio painting class on Tuesday. Too much novelty and too much "growth" tend to make me anxious much quicker than routine and comfort bore me. It doesn't take much for novelty to seem like chaos.

But sometimes routine turns into boredom which turns into feeling stuck which turns into whining which turns into not being happy.

I'm getting better about nipping that process in the bud. It helps to "DO something!" Shift gears. Whether it is taking a few steps outside, reading a different book, calling a friend, or writing a letter;  doing SOMETHING different helps.

Planned-for novelty is better than the kind of novelty that ambushes. It seems to help to have a wished-for plan on my calendar each week. A movie date with my daughter? A visit with the grandchildren?  An exhibit at a local gallery or craft museum?

Konstantin Dimopoulos: The Blue Trees
There is an anticipated community art installation at the Currier Museum in Concord, NH.
 Spontaneity has it's place, but in my house, I can't count on it showing up without a little planning.  Ironic, isn't it?!

When the plan is bigger, it can be a source of anxiety AND anticipation-- I have an out of state trip planned for next month.  I don't like flying anymore and thoughts of TSA make me angry and nervous.  I'm hoping that friends at the destination will make it "worth it."

Today's MBTI said I was an INFP:  "The Mediator"

Image result for MBTI

The explanation also said "Mediators are the most likely personality type to spend a lot of time wondering where their life is going."  But you already knew that.  Even I knew that.

So will you build more routine or more novelty into the rest of the year?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Ready, aim, what next?

This is the 8th of a 9 square embroidery sampler.  It lay abandoned most of the summer.
 Artists usually have forgotten or abandoned works called UFO’s: unfinished objects. Although I have dozens of canvases ready for framing leaning up against my studio walls, I’m more of a starter than a finisher.

There are plenty of UFO’s! I have a partially knit sweater, 1 7/8 pair of socks, a shawl that got really complicated, a hooked rug that needs the border and edging done and  dozens more that I’ve forgotten.

I also have projects where I’ve only gotten as far as buying the supplies: Containers full of wool in spectrum order, yarn filled cubbies taking up an entire bookshelf, dozens of skeins of embroidery floss, wire cutters and a substantial bead collection, pens, bottles of ink, wads of sheep fleece to be needlefelted...could be anything!

I get excited about starting new things; designing, picking colors, anticipating challenges. But sometimes I run out of steam. The novelty wears off. I don’t like how it’s going and don’t know how to proceed. Somebody says something critical.
I know I'm not the only one who has a hard time deciding IF the piece is finished. 
I wish this were finished because I have no idea how to paint the green glass ball on the left of the vase.

In spite of recommendations to “start with the end in mind,” my inner artist doesn’t seen to be built that way!
I'd like this to be a recognizable cranberry bog. But I don't know if I want it abstract, impressionistic or realistic. And I'm not sure how to DO any of those besides.     
Image result for irma cerese cranberry
Although I wish I had the confident style of Irma Cerese I know I have to work until my own style emerges!

Are you a person who loves to finish projects and tasks? Or are you an adventurous starter of another new thing?

Monday, September 10, 2018

Popeye was right! Or maybe it was Augustine.

We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.
Read more at:
We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses. Carl Jung
Read more at:
We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses. Carl Jung
Read more at:

About 30 years ago I found a book of family mottoes.  It listed what was written on coats of arms of kings, queens, literati and pretentious/famous folk from times past. I didn't much care for the ones that actually went with my surname, so I browsed until I found one to borrow.

I am what I am.
 I adopted this motto with a somewhat defiant attitude.  I was tired of trying to accommodate every Tom, Dick, Harry, and and Jane's attempt to change me. This was my motto now.  I didn't know that Augustine expressed his gratitude to God making him the way he was in Sermon 76. I don't have all that much in common with Augustine. I lightened up when I remembered that Popeye tended to say the same thing (before or after the spinach.)
Besides, there were the wise words of C.G. Jung :

We cannot change anything unless we accept it. 
Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.

The motto reminds me of the phrase "it is what it is," which seems to mean, "we have to accept this, even if it isn't quite what we want." 
Start with the reality first! Reality always wins!! If you are arguing against reality, you aren't going to get anything to change.  Whether it is property ownership in the middle East, a toddler who just wants to climb (or cuddle), or neighbors who think their holly bushes are just fine growing over your fence..

We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.
Read more at:
Sadly, most people I know grew up with lots of demands to change. Work harder. Be quiet. Don't interrupt.  So many rules, directives and injunctions! No wonder they feel oppressed... and like they don't have permission to be their own true selves.

After the acceptance comes the ability (if not total enthusiasm) to change.  To become more like yourself. If you want to change, fine.  If you don't, fine.  I'm pretty sure you'll be happier with a big helping of "I am what I am"!

                                         Image result for bowl of cherries public domain

Challenge:  Make a list of 100 qualities that are YOU. Try to ignore judgment and opinion about whether they are good or bad qualities.  They are what they are!

We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.
Read more at:


Friday, September 07, 2018

Even a "wasted day" didn't turn out to be quite what I expected.

By the time I finished what should have been yesterday's blog entry, it was 2 pm. The day seemed to be more than half over. In my mind, I thought that would be over and done with by 7 am.  HA!

In retirement, especially when there were no external obligations, I've often felt that I "wasted my day," or "got nothing done."  That wasn't making me happy at all.

So even though my bedtime and the nightly news approach, I'm taking a different point of view.  
I've known since grad school that FEELINGS DON'T = REALITY. So I did a bit of reality testing by listing what I DID get done.
  • coordinated flight times for a Florida trip with a friend
  • booked airline tickets
  • let friend know the travel times
  • used a discount travel service (which felt daring and risky)
  • paid three bills on line
  • contacted bank as to why my credit card didn't work (I'd miss-typed the CVV  # and the bank shut down the card)
  • culled email and read the rest
  • read for pleasure
  • read a book study book and took notes
  • read two lessons on better oil painting
  • cleaned kitchen after darling husband made Caesar salad for dinner 
Are there additional things I meant to do? Yes. 
But monitoring what I DID do makes me feel much better and determined to get some of those wished for activities worked in.  Tomorrow.

For now it's off to dreamland.  I had a sufficient amount of "me" time to be willing to go to bed.  And more sleep will most likely give me an energy boost that will help with those additional activities.
Jim Shore's Angel of Persistence

What have you done that shows persistence?


Could you be a Repository of Happiness?

                                         Finally!  Got back to the easel last night.  Seeing this on screen makes me realize that it's NOT done.  But it makes me happy to have made a fresh start.                     

I know Mother wanted me to be happy.  Unfortunately, her wish tended to sound like a demand: "Don't be sad," "Cheer up," "Get a grip!" 
And even though I finally figured out that being of good cheer can be a cheerful thing AND contribute to the happiness of  those around me, I've not paid much attention to sprinkling happy thoughts or deeds on others like fairy dust.
So then came a suggestion related to being a repository of happiness.
Start a collection.

What?!  I'm in de-cluttering mode! Downsizing! Attempting to get rid of junk and stuff. (Pinterest pictures don't count!  I've saved twenty plus thousand!)

On my first birthday, I had a collection started for me.  And while I enjoy it, it's kind of a burden.  At least 4 moving boxes worth of miniature figurines - mostly wood, mostly European, too numerous to display (think of the dust!).  At Christmas, I put out a few favorites, but tend to resent that they were really Mother's collection and 40 years after her passing, I'm still trying to make her happy.
Wendt and Kuhn angels are my favorites.

I confess, that I do occasionally buy new ones because they "fit."
So while I like looking at them, it does NOT make me happy to unwrap and re-wrap them during the busiest month of the year.
But something I do collect, in a lazy way, is quotes, aphorisms and words I want to be find again. Cutting and pasting is way easier than maintaining a scrapbook, although such "commonplace books" have existed since the early Middle Ages.
I have fourteen files of quotes backed up on my desktop computer.  There are too many for just one file... it would take forever to load! But a couple are big enough to be trusty repositories of good feelings... AND through the miracle of Word, searchable.

I am in a wonderful mood!! I don't know why but I always liked the saying

  that you don't need a reason to be happy, only a reason to be sad.   
                                                                           W. M.  Pinizzotto

 "When someone does something well, applaud! 
You will make two people happy." 

                                                                              Samuel Goldwyn

"The work will teach you how to do it."

                                                            Estonian Proverb

We collect data, things, people, ideas, profound experiences, never penetrating any of them... But there are other times. There are times when we stop. We sit still. We lose ourselves in a pile of leaves or its memory. We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper.
                                                                             James Carroll
                                             Image result for pile of leaves                               

What do you collect?
What do you share?

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Distinctions and Differences

You can choose what you do. 
But you can't choose what you like to do.

One of the things I was mis-taught as a kid was that I should like everything I do.... or at least be good natured about it. Clean your room. Brush your teeth. Do your homework. Write a thank you note to Aunt Matilda.
Outwardly, I was relatively compliant.

Internally, not so much. 
The obstacle to liking a lot of things was not knowing how to do it and failing to find any reward in the task. I always liked doing homework and getting good grades, I had to admit that I was happier in a neat, vacuumed and dusted room.  I liked my toothpaste flavor. And Aunt Matilda always sent unexpected gifts.

But, as mentioned before, I never enjoyed house cleaning. I got told to "JUST DO IT!" but not how to do it. So when I thought I was done there was no applause, just criticism. 

I now devised a "system" for kitchen sink cleaning.  I still don't like it much, but as I practice the HABIT I don't grumble (or procrastinate) so much.

A habit is how people get things done WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT IT.

When cleaning the kitchen has become a habit, I'll do it automatically without kvetching or suffering even if I never learn to love doing it.

Something else I've never liked?
EXERCISE.  Moving. Sweating.

Not sure why, I just don't.  But I am thinking about how to make it a habit.
I don't need to go on a five mile hike for starters.  I could go for a five minute WALK and that would be huge progress. 

If I restarted a subscription to a morning newspaper, that would be a huge incentive.  Get up. Put on shoes and socks. GET THE PAPER.  Do it daily. Work up to walking to the end of the block , or up the hill. Cardio huffing and puffing achieved, no shower required! That's a habit with some appeal for me, even if I have to get up a bit earlier.

Of course I really like to draw, paint and do crafty things. 
But it would benefit by a more habitual practice. A schedule would be good!  I be thinking about developing a practice habit.
 By the way, when I was studying addiction interventions, I did learn that the best way to break a habit is to substitute something else.

What habits are helping you? What do you wish was a habit so that it didn't take up too much room in your brain?

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Obstacle? Speed bump? Time to ask for help?

 You might think that approaching my 50th high school reunion, I'd have learned to how to keep house. I haven't.  I did find a darling husband, though, who doesn't seem to mind.
Nevertheless, hope springs eternal, and I would like to do better.  I would start by making sure that the kitchen sink and counters were cleared and clean before I went to bed.  (Oh, yes, I know of Fly Lady... we're just barely on speaking terms.)

Two whole days, I was successful. But on the third after a larder-filling trip to the grocery store, bags of not-so-perishable items remained on the dishwasher staging area.  For some reason I decided this was unacceptable sabotage by aforementioned darling husband, and I allowed dishes to accumulate in the sink. In spite of the fact that he had done the shopping and brought in the bags (when we actually had an agreement that my task was to put away), I got caught by the idea that he should have put these groceries elsewhere.  And I didn't tell him.  I just stewed in my own juice.

It was annoying enough that I consulted/whinged to my wise daughter and Happiness Project/Better Than Before partner.
"Have you talked to him about it?" she asked.

Darn.  I hadn't.
So I did.
After a rather uncomfortable conversation I realized that with some things, if there was the teensiest obstacle or set back, I had a toddler style melt down and went on a sort of resentment binge.

There are times to say NO! and there are times to say "Let's GO!"
 In this case, I thought I should already have learned to keep the kitchen spotless and felt ashamed that I was still inept, unsuccessful and a mess when it comes to housekeeping.

It came to mind that there were other times when a tiny obstacle stopped me in my tracks.  Think of a twig on the garden path.  Not a boulder.  Not a big branch.  Not a bear or a lion. A twig.

I realized that even I could navigate over or around a twig.  I have done so in many other arenas.  In those areas, I  learned to overcome setbacks and even failure.  To "get on the horse again," as they say.

And in talking to my husband, I re-discovered that if I HAVE perceived a boulder, branch or bear, I can ask for help.  Even though he correctly pointed out that putting the groceries away was my part of our "deal," he pretty much leapt up to clear the dish washing staging area, AND then put the dishes in the dishwasher and rinsed the sink. I felt so much better.  The problem of my messiness, failure and resentment was gone.  I felt loved. Absolved. Like I had a second chance.

It was kind of heart-breaking to realize how desperate I have to be before I ask for help.  I have clues as to how I got that way, but for now, I choose to ask for help sooner.  It's actually a way I can be nicer to myself.  AND, I can check around and see if a little bit more effort would allow me to get past the tiny twigs.

What help would you like to ask for?

Friday, August 31, 2018

So, what's enthusiasm got to do with it?

 I've tended to think that I'd be happy if I were really good at something.  If I mastered something. Preferably with fame AND fortune. But, guiltily, I've more often succumbed to the partial satisfaction of being a dilettante.  Present me with a subject, craft, or task and if it seems interesting, I'll get passably good at it.  Piano playing. Knitting. Art history & criticism, drawing, painting, and many more.

But I just found out there are some who believe that
Enthuiasm is more important to mastery than innate ability,
 because it is enthusiasm that gives one the oomph and willingness to practice.

Who knew?
Personal Pitfall No. 1: Since so many subjects and tasks were presented to me by others, I seldom considered whether it was something I was really enthusiastic about. My practice (and results) tended to be perfunctory, even if they met with moderate success.

Personal Pitfall No. 2: I hadn't a clue that one could choose to enjoy the fun of failure. Insight! Happy Accidents! Improvement! I grew up in a nest of critics.

Personal Pitfall No. 3: I never knew if or when it was safe to ask for help.  Because those critics naturally tended to criticize rather than help. 

Apparently Autumn colors are just around the corner.I exaggerated them with a new App!
But with these relatively new insights, I'm practicing, failing, and "reading the manual" for the iPad program Procreate.  It's rather like photoshop... but NOT QUITE! For now, I'm quite happy to practice fiddling with photographs and making drawings from scratch. And curious about whether I can enjoy the failures, keep reading the manual, and maybe even asking for help.

Creating from scratch is fun in an entirely different way.
 So a goal for now is to notice what I'm enthusiasic about, find fun in failure (cross your fingers), and ask for help.

What are you enthusiastic about?