Posts Tagged ‘mediocrity’

What a difference a day makes.  Also walking away from the problem offers such wonderful perspective.  That and a few friends commenting on fb that they know exactly how I feel.  And chocolate.  I can’t forget the chocolate.

But you know what the best thing I reflected on today was?  I ate supper with my family yet again this week.  We’ve been rocking the dinner time lately.  Doesn’t matter what the dinner is, it’s the time together.  My sons have finally gotten the swing of sharing something fun about their days.  And I’m going to admit it…write on virtual paper…we use the convenience stuff to make dinner.  Yes, there are fresh veggies (asparagus at the moment since it’s in season-though I don’t eat it).  But the main entrée was one of those skillet dinners.  If I didn’t have to work, I’d be cooking home-made stuff.  Ah, well…do the best you can with what you have where you are.  Teddy Roosevelt, not me.  I wish I could write something as pithy as that.

Perspective comes in many ways.  You just have to be open to it coming in and opening your eyes.  Be open to the other side of things and examining the issue with other eyes.  Turn it over and over.  Challenge it, question it.  Pray on it.  Focus on simplicity and grace to rise above the feeling of mediocrity.

So what am I going to be when I grow up?  I have no idea and realized today that part of the reason I feel like I’m floating and looking for my thing is that I refuse to grow up.  I still love learning and have a thirst for new experiences.  If a particular experience, idea, or goal doesn’t materialize, no biggie.  There will be another.

And until another shows itself, I have buckled down and examined what is on my plate and what I can do with it.  How I can do each project.  Why I am doing each project.  I asked myself if I still feel each one is fun.  Theater had become not fun, but when I gave it a whirl this past fall, it was a blast.  Why?  Because I was just an actor.  So I now know I’ll never be on a theater board again.  Takes the fun right out of it.

A very fun project coming up in the summer are the dino digs we’ll be going on for fossil hunting.  I think I may be more excited than the boys.  Older son still wants to find more substantial fossils than what we should find on these digs, but we’ve been talking about the fact that you need to start where you’re at and grow from each experience.  We talked about how he needs to learn how to dig and these three trips will help him do that.

I’m sewing again.  Other than Halloween costumes, I haven’t done that for a while.  It’s a costume for a friend who is going to a film-fan convention.  So far it seems to be going well.  I enjoyed making the patterns and they are working nicely.  We’re having a fitting this Saturday.

Of course, I’m in VBS prep mode.  We’re going to Babylon this year.  Oh yes, there will be a hanging garden.  I’ve been working on that for the past month.

Prayer, meditation, studying my Shakespeare and Grimm, reading some Uncle Stevie, it’s all good.  Just need to get off my arse and work out the issues in my legs.  This week’s been a less than stellar week, but it is still so much better than it had been for the past few years.

And it’s almost summer.  Now I do not do the beach thing.  There is sand at a beach and I don’t do sand.  We will go to the lake, and yes, there is sand there, but it’s not overly crowded.  There are pools we’ll go to and the boys will do a lot of swimming.  Maybe they’ll teach their mom.

I do attempt the garden thing, but have been horrible with it the past few years.  However, sons and I have already weeded and cleaned out two of them and are working on a third.  But I really need to trim the bloody holly trees.  They are a mess again.

What most of these have in common are my family.  Which reminded me that I’m not doing that bad if we’re doing all these somethings and even some days of nothings together.

Salieri, if only you had known to step away.  To reflect and take inventory.  To count your blessings.  And to not take it all so seriously.

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Recall if you will the scene in Amadeus when Salieri asks God why he gave him them ability to appreciate and identify beautiful music, musical genius, but only the ability to compose mediocre songs and operas.  He wonders why he is trapped between the two and not able to move to the next level.  He wonders then what is his calling.  What purpose he serves.  Once again I feel Salieri’s struggle.  I feel that trapped sensation.  And it’s nothing like the sensation of eating a York Peppermint Patty, I can tell you.

Still, there is progress.  I know I won’t become obsessed with killing Mozart…he’s already dead.  I am able to reflect on the situation and look for alternatives to finding fulfillment.  And it’s odd to me because I feel such fulfillment in being a mother.  It’s my favorite thing to be, and my sons always make me proud and offer me new and exciting challenges.

But…there’s always a but…I like to keep and maintain my own individuality and personal pursuits.  I just can’t remember what it was I’m supposed to be pursuing or can’t figure out what it is I’m meant to do now.

I’m not talking about a job, per se.  I’m talking about that thing you do because you love it (which I realize can be a job, but that’s not what I’m talking about tonight).  I’ve had several things over my lifetime.  I know I’ll find another.  But it’s been strange because what I keep zeroing in on doesn’t seem to work out.  So I will keep looking.  I’m sure I’ll stumble upon it at some point.

I return to my theatrical roots as I keep going through this process.  I have “Corner of the Sky” from Pippin going through my head almost every day.  Ah, the theme song for performers, artists, and those looking for their thing.  Did you ever see the episode of Little Bill when he’s trying to discover his thing?  His dad loves jazz, his mom was reading, I think, anyway, everyone in his family has their thing and Little Bill tries them all on for size.  But as we know, you can’t make something your thing, you have to let it evolve.

Ah, Salieri.  If only you had found your thing.

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I had a thought today.  I know, there’s an accomplishment right there.  I reflected about mediocrity once again.  It’s not always a bad thing.  If one is mediocre in a particular area, you don’t have to achieve anything all that amazing within that area.  The bar is most definitely lowered and the pressure is off of you.  So as I reflect about my strengths and weaknesses, pressures are falling off in all directions.

I’m not saying I’m mediocre at everything.  I can’t think of anything at the moment that I excel at, but that’s besides the point.  The point is that the extreme pressures I put on myself all the time are not necessary.  People have been telling me this for years (my hubby in particular) but this is the type of moment that one has to come to in her own time.  I suspect it will take several weeks for it to really sink in, but at the moment it’s a nice realization.

One thing I’m good at that improves my lot in life in no way is pulling obscure quotes from movies.  I can’t actually do anything with this ability, but it does give me a good chuckle when I need it.  I’m also not bad at Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.  Years of video retail does this to one’s brain.  Years of watching movies does it.  I adore movies.  I stopped relaxing when I watch them over the past few years.  Don’t know why, I suppose I’ll ponder that soon enough.

Another thing I’m good at is reading.  Is that the dorkiest sentence you’ve ever read, or what?  But I recall the stuff I’ve read, like I do with quotes from a movie.  I can recall the story, details, and characters in almost a flashback by simply looking at the book.  It’s like a quick catch-up with an old friend.

I visited some old friends today at Tookey’s Bar.  I reread “One for the Road” and actually relaxed while reading the story.  It was nice.  I love Uncle Stevie’s vernacular in this story.  The one character uses “I says” a lot.  There’s a “since Hector was a pup” in the story too.  Plus the vampires don’t hurt.

Today I reflected on mediocrity, did laundry, drove Mom’s taxi, read a little.  I embraced the simplicity of mediocrity.  Today was a mediocre day and that’s not bad.

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Life never ceases to amaze me.  Simple declarations released into the cyber void can help shape one’s perspective.  While I have yet to officially scrape anything off my plate, my brain was swirling with wonderful, exciting ideas.  The overwhelming sense of mediocrity is dissipating and quickly being replaced with a sense of joy.  Simple joy…an achievable joy.

Simplicity is aided beautifully by the technology of today.  As I shape my goals, I am aware of the many ways technology could aid me in achieving the goals.  When I think of what we can use today, I realize I must feel the same way my great grandmother did when cars started replacing the horse & buggy.  The inventions my nana saw throughout her lifetime were life-changing.  From horse & buggy to cars, from radio to television to cable & VCRs, from ice box to freezer/fridge combos, the end of the milkman (which for her didn’t happen till the 80s…small, New England town advantage!).

I was introduced to many of these inventions along with her before she passed.  And I have returned to some of her ways of life (farm fresh milk…yummy).  I now know the meaning behind some of the cute and mischievous smiles that would spread across my nana’s face.  I enjoy the look of disbelief from my sons when I explain I only had five or six television channels (three that always came in, the rest depended on the antenna) and the same smile spreads over my face.  When I try to explain that you could only watch shows when they were aired, they simply don’t understand it.  Happily, library books don’t change and they are learning that the same way I did.  Imagination never changes-you either use it or lose it.  I share that with my sons.

We had a fun conversation during bedtime this evening about the donkey and elephant toys.  They were made by my nana for me so the toys are cultured (not old!) like me.  My son asked if used my imagination when I played with the donkey and elephant.  We talked about the differences in how I played and how they play.  They came to realize all the ways we play involve imagination.

Imagination is a key ingredient in shaping my goals.  Can’t tell you what the goals are.  Not because they are a secret, they’re just not fully formed.  Patience is a part of simplicity and I am actually being patient with myself, letting the ideas slowly mull in my brain as they take shape.  It’s exciting and invigorating.  At least for me.

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Do you ever have a day when you wake up and think it’s not going to be a good day?  You wake up and just don’t feel good about yourself?  Then you go somewhere and you hear something that makes you re-examine the whole thing?  You say to yourself, wow…it’s all good.  Life is good.  You are good.  You are as good as you need to be.  But then the day progresses.

Finally you find yourself sitting, feeling confused, at 9:30 at night and wondering if it’s too early to go to bed when you usually go to bed around 1:00am.

I find myself in a place where I am so confused, wondering how and where to find the answers.  Then it seems like I’ve found some clues to point me in the right direction only to have them stripped away as quickly as they were given.  This was one of those days.  I felt like I had found some great resources to look into, where I might find a deeper answer.  Then the day totally turned around.  I feel more lost than ever.

I have snippets of seemingly everything going through my head.  In trying to make sense of it, I only confuse myself.  Am I doing what I should be doing?  Am I doing the right thing?

Searching for one’s passion when you already know what your passion is makes one slightly bonkers.  When you can’t pursue your passion full-time, what do you do to keep yourself from going completely crazy?  I am doing what I believe I need to be doing.  But which is the better route for me and for my sons?  I want to teach them to follow their dreams; yet if I can’t do it myself, how do I help show them the way on their journeys?  How do I incorporate my passion in to my everyday existence?  I can tell you that I’ve tried filling the hole with other pseudo-passions and man, I keep getting knocked down.  I think I may have finally learned that lesson.  Trying to force a non-passion into the space previously occupied by your true passion does not work and inevitably makes you feel worse.

I have attempted roles that I am not suited for in any way, shape, or form.  I knew it before I even started them, yet still went ahead and moved forward.  I’ve done this over the course of my life.  You would think I would have learned it sooner than this.  But no, I am only beginning to understand the mistaken choices I have made.  At least I stopped making big bad choices.  I made a few of them in my past and they are messy to clean up.

So.  Now realizing that I’ve been spinning my wheels and truly wasting time in some of these endeavors, I know I need to refocus.  This will, in theory, offer more time for me to pursue the endeavors that are a better fit.

What am I so afraid of anyway?  Okay, I know the answer to that one.  I’m not good with risk-taking.  I like to take risks that I know will work out in the end.  Granted, by definition, that’s not a risk.  And that is my exact point.  If it’s a safe risk, I’m your girl.  Therefore I will wholeheartedly pursue my safe risks and scrape off the pursuits that simply do not fit.


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Salieri said he was the patron saint of all mediocrities in Amadeus.  It is easy for a person to fall into the opinion that she is mediocre.  I’ve attended that pity party for too long.  I wrote of my desire to live simply and that is a much better place than a desire to live with mediocrity.  I took small steps yesterday toward that goal.  After adding a number of items to the recycling bins and filling a trash bag (some things just have nowhere else to go), I realized I am applying what I teach to others about procrastination.  Thirty minutes a day on an undesirable task and eventually it will be done.  If I can’t handle the thirty minutes I can surely handle the “Tolerable Ten.”  Any task can be tolerated for ten minutes.  I am also using rewards.  This may make me sound like a ten-year old, but these habits have been with me since I was about that age and I need rewards as I try to break the habits.

My reward tonight was to watch House without multi-tasking.  It was lovely.  I used to have several shows that I enjoyed and made a point of regularly watching.  I’m down to just House.  As shows have gone off the air, I haven’t found new ones to replace them.  I don’t like “reality” television because I know there is nothing real about it.  I went on casting calls for a few back in the day.  And yes, I’ll show my age, former shows included Cheers, Friends, X-Files and Monk.  I do enjoy the Wallander movies and word is that dear Kenneth will be treating me to some more even as the author announced he is done writing about Kurt.  I usually multi-task while watching television shows but tonight I waited to put the laundry in the washer till after the show.  I didn’t have the rhythmic spinning of the tub to distract me and I didn’t feel the self-imposed pressure to switch the clothes to the dryer when the cycle was done.

As House tried to remove his tumors, my boys were in their room reading the I-Spy book together.  They had already eaten dinner (stroganoff, crescent rolls, and tomatoes covered with mayo, salt & pepper-the favorite summer veggie).  We had talked about their school days and the fact the both had substitutes today.  Harrison and I talked about not faking “the sicks” and spending the morning at the nurse’s office anymore.  Hamilton tried to convince me he had milk with lunch and could have orange juice with dinner.  When I explained I can see every single item they purchase for lunch (including the extra snacks) he changed his tune and welcomed the glass of milk.  They cleaned up their train set-up, brought in the recycling cans and brushed their teeth.  I watched House, guilt-free and totally focused.

Parenting has always been a challenge.  It doesn’t matter when you were starting out as a parent, society was telling you how to do it.  Today seems to be a bit more hyper about telling folks how to do it (many more laws and way more vaccines).  It was so vogue to have your child in EVERYTHING by the time he was two.  We have bucked that trend since day one.  You can be a renaissance man over time, you don’t have to do it all at once.  A couple of years back there were a few articles about not over scheduling your children.  My husband and I said, great now we’re in style.  Our boys play in the dirt, sometimes eat the dirt, and collect bugs.  They “create” germs, write spooky stories, and howl like wolves most nights.  And they know how to entertain themselves while their mother watches her Monday night show.

I am not teaching them that television is more important than them.  I am teaching them that you have to unwind and relax.  You have to stop everything and let your mind be reflective.  Whether it is sitting and watching a show or movie, listening to music, or reading a book, you have to stop going, going, going so you don’t burn out.  And sometimes you need to do this by yourself.  So you can give of yourself fully to others the rest of the time.

After enjoying the episode, I tucked the boys into bed, we said prayers, gave goodnight kisses, and then I put the laundry in the washer.  The clothes are ready for the dryer.  Next I’ll practice my songs for Saturday night.  Then it’s to bed after today’s last dose of antibiotic steroid drops and an ice pack on my left eye for the allergic conjunctivitis.  I can fold the laundry tomorrow.  Ah, simplicity.

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No, not a reference to Sonny and Cher but rather keeping my own personal drummer alive.  This hollow feeling inside…this lack of a calling…did I stop marching to my own drummer?  Hubby and I truly want to support our sons in marching to their own drummers, but I wonder if I stopped listening to my own beat.

I think again of Salieri when he wondered why he had the passion for music, the ability to recognize unique talent, but didn’t have the ability to create that kind of music himself.  Salieri speaks of mediocrity, “I speak for all mediocrities in the world.  I am their champion.  I am their patron saint.”  Amadeus is a play and film that has always stayed in my head.  It’s a haunting examination of Mozart’s life, music, and Salieri’s envy.

I love when Mozart is asked where the score is and he replies, “Here. It’s all right here in my noodle. The rest is just scribbling. Scribbling and bibbling, bibbling and scribbling.”  Fiction loosely based on fact, inspired by true events, I love those plays and movies.  What I love about Mozart in Shaffer’s play is the pure love he demonstrates for music.  Perhaps that is what I am missing, perhaps that is creating the hollow feeling.  What is it that I purely love?

Perhaps also my wonder about callings relates to looking back from this point in my life and seeing the hills and valleys and the roads not taken.  I can’t imagine not taking the same journey because would I have my husband, my sons?  I cannot imagine my life without them.  Am I simply being whiny?

I should hum the Stones tune to myself, make it my little mantra.  “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.”

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The past few days have been filled with feelings of futility and mediocrity. In my previous job, several part-time gigs pieced together to create a full-time one,  each day ended and the job was over for the day. I had an easy way of checking my productivity. I could literally check my stats to see how many responses I had read that day. Very clear-cut and easy to see the purpose in the day’s work. My current job, not so easy. The specifics of either job do not truly matter. They are remotely related, but vastly different, to the point of making explaining them moot.

Yes, I still have stats to look at. I can still look at how many people had sessions in a day, the who, what, where, when and how…sometimes even the why. That is simply looking at numbers which is less the point of this job. The true point of my current job does not often seem to be appreciated by the higher-ups and the ones who attend the sessions typically don’t tell you explicitly how much it helped them.

Key differences in my life style with the changes in job are very easy to list (though I won’t list them all) and add to the feelings of futility and mediocrity. A lot less time at home. (Previous job was performed over the internet…yes, a thirteen step commute-truly missing that with the current price of gas.) I can truly say, without a hint of cliché, that my time at home is now more appreciated. It was always valuable-I just appreciate it more. I’m greedier with it now. The futility worsens on those days when I sit in my glorified cubicle seemingly making no difference whatsoever and wonder why I am not at home where I can certainly make a difference.

The sense of mediocrity is heightened by the sense that what I/we do in my department will never be enough nor will it ever be good enough. This judgement is passed down from higher-ups that don’t always fully understand what it is we do exactly. We try to explain, they parrot it back, but it’s off somehow. Like Brundle’s steak after going through the telepod, it’s their interpretation of what we do, but full comprehension is lacking.

One change in my life style that I cannot fix or find a balance for is the lack of time with my dog. He slept at my feet for seven or eight years while I would work. I can’t bring him to work-no “Bring Your Ancient Dog to Work Day” for him to enjoy. He has still not adjusted to Mommy’s new schedule. The cliché is true…you can’t teach an old dog a new daily schedule.  That’s one thing that I like about writing these musings. He has some time to simply sleep under the desk while I work.

Dogs don’t understand futility or mediocrity. He is always happy when I come home, when he gets a biscuit or when he goes for a walk. He’s content to have his belly rubbed. I need to figure out what it is about my work that is like a dog having his belly rubbed. The simple piece of the job that is always rewarding for me. I want my sons to witness a positive experience about work (or school). I suppose I need to pull myself up by the bootstraps and figure out the one thing that I can always connect with to have a positive day. Hmmm, wonder what that might be. It will be a fun mystery to solve. Perhaps that mystery alone will be enough.

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