Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I ain't ever satisfied.

I am, and always have been, my own worst critic. It's painfully apparent to me, and even people who don't know me all that well have said, "dang, girl, you're too hard on yourself." While I've learned to be nicer to myself, I still have a habit of beating myself up if I feel like I didn't live up to my own expectations, whether it's cooking, knitting, fiddling, singing, dog training, whatever. I always think I could have done better.

I realize this is the bane of most artistic people, and the depression doesn't help. Artistic people are statistically more likely to suffer mood disorders, so there's the double-whammy. Chronic depression often orders up a side of anxiety, because the double despair burger with extra angst sometimes isn't quite enough. WHEE. And then? Then you find yourself having that Smeagol/Gollum conversation with yourself.

Gollum: I suck.

Smeagol: You don't suck. Sure, there's always work to do, and improvements to be made, but that doesn't mean you suck.

Gollum: I totally suck.

Smeagol: Think about what you're saying here. Why do you suck?

Gollum: I forgot a verse/repeated a verse/forgot the words/flubbed a note/my voice cracked/my D string was all fuzzy/insert random reason for suckage here.

Smeagol: You're the only one who notices those things.

Gollum: I suck. Suckatola. Suckorama. Makin copies. SUUUUUUUUUCK.

Smeagol: If you sucked, would people keep inviting you back?

Gollum: Maybe they're just being charitable or they can't find anyone else.

Smeagol: I know you don't really believe that.


Smeagol: What about the little kids? Little kids LOVE you. And they don't say things just to be nice.

Gollum: They don't know I'm not real.

Smeagol: Not real? If I poke you in the eye with a knitting needle, you'll squall like a little girl. You're plenty real.

Gollum: I'm a velveteen rabbit.

Smeagol: Nope. No way. Because all the Velveteen Rabbit needed to be Real was to be truly loved. And you are definitely that.

Gollum: Okay. But I still suck.

And on it goes. Sometimes reasonably content, but never completely satisfied with the output. I don't write this to elicit sympathetic "you don't suck" responses - I write this because I know many of us have this same struggle. Logically I know everyone has been a beginner, everyone has sucked at some point, and no one sprang full grown from the head of Mozart with immediate prodigious ability at anything. There's always work to be done - often the real challenge is taking the first step to Just Do It. And don't we have a plethora of excuses for not taking that first step? Too old, too tired, too broke, not enough time, blahblahblahblahblah.

I always tell people that excuses are crap. Why don't I follow my own advice? I know what I need to do to suck less. So why don't I buck up buttercup and DO IT? It's not like I have anything to lose.

Well. Till next time - think about what you have to do to suck less, and JUST DO IT.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Are you excited?

What gets you excited? I mean, really excited down to the ends of your toes? What makes you so glad to be on this big green marble that you just CAN'T STAND IT? Furthermore, can you answer that question sincerely without having to think about it?

Well, I can this morning. For me it's music and knitting. I know that's no surprise to any of you, and really no surprise to me either, but today is different. Today I am re-excited.

It's way too easy, in the midst of the mundane - the day job, the laundry, the cat box - to forget the things that excite you, and exactly why they excite you. Now, alla y'all know that I knit and play music all year long, but when you do something all the time, it's easy to revert to autopilot and forget to savor the moment. Oh hey, here's another gig out in the cold. Oh hey, another pair of socks. Woohoo. Happy happy joy joy. I can hardly wait. Y'all know what I'm talking about. You scoot right along on that autopilot and then, if you're lucky, you get a swift hard kick in the rear.

I got mine yesterday, thanks to a couple of strangers asking me about my knitting project (why, SOCKS, of course) in the doctor's waiting room, and from a gracious group of fine musicians who suffered this infant to play along with them last night. I can't tell any of them exactly how grateful I am, because the words don't exist. (Damn you, English language!) All I can say is Thank You, but I can express my gratitude by going forth with renewed enthusiasm about the things that have excited me all along. And maybe, just maybe, I can get someone else excited too.

Till next time --- GET EXCITED!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Other things to think about besides politics.

I can only speak for myself, but I'm tired of all the political weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Personally, I'd like to rest my brain on some other things right now, and I imagine some of you would too. So, in no particular order, here are a few things I think are worthy of your brain waves. (I'll start with the heavy stuff so you can't miss it, but if you stick with it, you'll be rewarded with the fun parts.)

1. There was a big-ass hurricane on the East Coast, followed by a big-ass snowstorm. This hasn't gone away yet, y'all. People still need your help.If you don't want to give to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army, spend a few minutes on the Google and find a charity that suits you. It's cold up there and people are homeless and hungry. Give them a few minutes of your time. Every little bit counts.

2. Did you know human trafficking is the second largest organized crime in the world? Yep. Slavery. Still happening. And in spite of its status on the organized crime scale, it gets almost no press. Children and adults are sold into the sex trade or held for forced servitude around the world - including the United States. Yes, I said INCLUDING THE UNITED STATES. You want freedom in this country? Let's put the smackdown on human trafficking:

Now for the fun parts.

3. Celtic music. No, Celtic Woman does not count. Just because a pretty Irish girl sings "My Heart Will Go On," that doesn't make it Celtic. I'm talking about music so hot you'll need a cold shower when you get home. If you are lucky enough to live in or around Nashville, you have McNamara's Irish Pub:!our-music . If don't live around here. . . well, that's your misfortune, but I'm sure you can find something pleasing to your ear. Visiting your local establishments and supporting your local artists is always a worthy goal. Slainte! (p.s. - go vote for McNamara's at Urban Spoon so they can be #1.)

4. Puppies. With devil horns.

6. Cats. In grocery bags.

7. Cider.  Strongbow, Magners, Fox Barrell, Crispin, Woodchuck, Woodpecker, homemade, whatever. Cider. It's what's for dinner.

8. Movies. Lincoln, Les Miserables, and The Hobbit. WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO! Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, and Martin Freeman all in new movies. That's some of the best acting in the world right there. If you can't get excited about any of that, well, I'm sorry, but you can't be helped.

9. Chili. Beans, no beans, meat, no meat, hot, mild, Cincinnati style, however you like it. It's time for chili. Preferably with Fritos and shredded cheese. Goes well with cider.

10. The Holidays. Well, it had to be said, didn't it? Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and Christmas is the day after. (okay, not really the day after, but it kinda feels like that sometimes.) For all the hassles they tend to create, I still love the holidays. I love cooking for the meals and I love making gifts. Heck, I'm all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.

See? Plenty of things to busy your brain with besides political rhetoric. Take a break, y'all, before somebody has an infarction. And till next time ---- keep calm and drink cider.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is it worth it, part 2.

Oh, Election Year. How do I detest thee? Let me count the ways.

On second thought - no, I don't have time for that. But let me ask you again: is it really worth it?

I think all of us on Facebook have seen our share of acrimonious exchanges regarding political views amongst our friends. Now, I have no problem with intelligent, civil discourse; in fact, I enjoy it. A good debate with a worthy adversary is always welcome. And when we're finished, we say, "well played," and leave it at that. But sadly, that doesn't seem to be the way of things right now.

Here's a typical exchange. A Tweedledum supporter will post a link/story about Tweedledum and how he's the best man for the job. Tweedledee's supporters then begin chiming in with things like "that's not true because I read something on the Interwebs from a tertiary news source that says so" or "you're crazy if you support Tweedledum because he's a communist/fascist/religiouswingnutjob/whatever," then supporters of both candidates jump into the online fray and it ends with someone shouting "I'm not going to be friends with you anymore WHAAARRRRGAAAARRRBL."

Really? Not friends anymore over POLITICS? Come ON. I can think of a few good reasons to tell someone to take a hike, but politics isn't usually one of them.

Look. I have a lot of friends. Many of them have different opinions than me on a variety of subjects. A couple of them even make me wonder from time to time what they've been smoking. But here's the thing: we're friends because we agree more than we disagree, and the things we disagree on aren't nearly as important as the things we do agree on. If we can have a good time swapping stories and sharing laughs, then I'm sure as heck not going to disown you because you voted for The Other Guy.

I can honestly say that my life is so much the richer for knowing people who have different opinions and ideas. Do you really want all your friends to be just like you?

So the next time you get the urge to go all WHAAAARRRRGAAARRRBL on someone because you don't appreciate their political jab/opinion/newslink/whatever, ask yourself if it's worth it. Is it furthering your mission in life? Is it right? Is it kind? Is it true? No? Then DON'T DO IT. Go do something positive instead.

Till next time --- Kinky Friedman for President.