Photo: Industry brings about bounty, or so they say. Ever impatient (and seeing quite a bit of fruit on the vine) I chose to pick a bunch of green tomatoes and fry them for snack. Little boys were less than enthused. I thought they were yummy! We are about to be up to our necks in tomato soon. I’m going to let the rest ripen and then free a bunch for soup in the winter!
My husband got up three times this week to workout and I’m writing that with a lot of pride. He got up forty minutes earlier than usual, quietly got downstairs, popped in one of my old workout DVDs, and rocked out his morning.
This is a man who isn’t a morning person. Never has been, never will be.
and this is a main who doesn’t relish working out. Not in the tedious, repetitive sort of way that normal routines usually pose. Talking about it over coffee before he left for work this morning, I tried to probe his brain: Does he like it? Could he get used to it, at least? How about the music? Does he at least like the music? He shrugged it all off with dispassionate answers.
Will he continue it next week??
He shrugged again, but nodded. “Yeah, probably.”
If he really does get up on Monday, I ‘ll know that it’s for real. Either way, I’m proud of the man for making a decision and sticking to it this whole week, even with the insanity at work and the visit of my in-laws. No complaining, no excuses, and no company from me, either!
The more I learn and experience in my life, the deeper I understand that discipline in anything and everything is half the battle. Not just the practice, but the disciplined practice of whatever it is that you want most is what makes the difference. Master Brown, my old Kung-fu teacher, used to have us students do a simple call and response after class, saying: “Practice doesn’t make perfect. What makes perfect?”
Us: “Perfect practice makes perfect!”
But you gotta commit to making practice a part of your day. Every time. No distractions. No excuses.
Now, this is an elitist mentality, to be sure. Mind-over-matter and “no excuses” is easy to write when you have the luxury of making yourself uncomfortable when your life is otherwise quite comfortable. My Quiet Thoughts about discipline aren’t really about telling everyone that they, too, can do better if only they choose to simply try. My Quiet Thoughts this week are about how profound making the commitment and sticking with it can be to begin with, and how powerful that commitment can be, even in the moments when you feel like you’re floundering.
I spent my week feeling guilty about staying home with the boys. I wondered more than a little bit about our finances. We are heading into the expensive back-to-school season, as well as our most expensive year of preschool with two full tuitions for our little boys (last year, Minor’s bill was slightly less because he was in the “lower” class). We’re going to take advantage of tax-free weekend tomorrow, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to get a particularly good deal out of Stride Rite, which is a big disappointment. The Husband and I are sleeping on the same mattress we had delivered to our first apartment in Beacon Hill back in August of ’06, and it’s really starting to kill us slowly. After the shock of two very expensive repairs on the Fusion earlier this summer, our budget is a bit… abbreviated… for the rest of the year. The Husband and I are looking at the things we need, not to mention the things that we’d like and we are feeling an almost physical squeeze… We’re not dying, it’s not an emergency, but it’s tight…
So I spent my week, as I cleaned and prepped for in-laws and shuffled my children from playdate to playdate, feeling terrible: Should I go look for work? Why am I not a good enough writer to sell a story yet? Why have I been so lazy about editing Vi and pushing it out there? Should I do something to my blog to get more views and maybe make money on it? Why am I wasting my time and talents on stuff that doesn’t bring us anything? What the actual fuck am I doing with my life?
I sat at this computer and read my Bloggy Fail post from Monday and felt even worse: why can’t I keep up with even this? Why didn’t I just stay up another hour and get that post done?
It’s been killing me, to be honest. It kept me up on Wednesday night. Not because we’re about to crash and burn. Not even because I feel like a failure. It’s because somewhere in my life, I decided that I get what I give. My commitment and discipline dictate what I get out of this life. There is truth in that decision, but it is also too simple. There are too many factors outside of my control.
Besides, life is a long con. Complete with moments of peril and doubt that are just as prevalent as the moments of triumph. We’ve been able to provide the boys so much. This summer, especially, is really showing the early fruits of our labors. Every time I sit with my notebook, write a post here, or show some work to my writing group, I can see my improvements. I’ve read some of my early posts around here. Wow, worlds of difference. Slow, steady progress… very slow, but ever steady…
I’ve been approached by a big-box store to put up links and banners and nonsense here on the blog for their various sales. You click the link here, buy their junk there, and they give me a small commission. It would be so easy… but honestly, I don’t even like that store and I don’t shop there. So why in the world would I tell you to do so?
I have to earn whatever my keep is, so I commit to the practice of blogging and writing. To keep the calendar and write with honesty and clarity. To write a little fiction every day, to finish the projects that I start, to seek feedback however harsh and to keep marching past the many “no thank yous” until I get to the “yes.” Patience, hard work and faith (not just in God, but the strength and abilities He gave me and my husband) are the essential tools needed here. Perfect practice, every day, is what I’m still going for. Especially on the days when such practice is difficult to do.
In your moments of doubt, Dear Reader, I hope you find strength in routine or commitment, holding fast to what you value most, drawing comfort from the people (or pets!) who love you without condition. even if a few dreams need to be deferred, I hope you still march to the steady drumbeat.
It’s a hot Friday with a technocolor-blue sky, Dear Reader. Here at the farmhouse, it’s the insects making the noise instead of the birds. It’s certainly still high summer, hot and heavy, but bearing gifts like juicy tomatoes and succulent watermelon. I wish you a bit of both, Dear Reader, while sitting at a picnic table in shorts and favorite flip-flops. I wish you shady trees that sing you a song in a steady breeze, a funny yarn over a candlelit meal and even a delightfully spooky tale told by the side of a backyard fire. I wish you a kiss on both cheeks, and someone telling you that “you look great!” I wish you quiet and a good book in an air conditioned room. I wish you a squeeze of your hand and a giggling “I love you” along with the confidence of knowing that it’s true. Near and far, known and unknown, you are loved and admired. Isn’t it wonderful, Dear Reader?
Until Monday, take care.