Doing Less Of What I Suck At

I’m back! I just wanted to let you know I didn’t run off to raise my family in Hawaii. Although, at times,  it was awfully tempting:

The house exchange with my close friend, who did run off to raise her family in Hawaii, was a huge success.  She is herself a minimalist and an artist and her home is one of the most relaxing and inviting places I’ve ever visited. In fact, it took her .5 seconds to spot the McDonald’s toy I perched on her well-edited bookcase as a test. And here I thought I was being so stealth!

So I spent a lot of time, as I usually do on vacation, thinking about what is wrong with my real life. Apart from the fact that it is not set against the backdrop of paradise, here’s what I came up with.

Too much stuff! And I don’t mean the kind of stuff you get at the dollar store for an Easter project, or the kind of stuff the kids get in birthday party loot bags, or even the senseless kind of stuff you buy yourself but regret before the ink dries on the receipt. I mean, I’m doing way too much stuff.

For instance, it’s 11:10 pm and I just took a loaf of bread out of the oven. It’s not the first time I’ve baked bread, but with any luck, it will be the last. I’ve just never come to terms with the fact that I’m not good at everything. Or, I should say, that I actually suck at doing certain things. Funnily enough, it is those very things that I take a run at again and again, hoping for a different outcome. My bread is hard as a rock, but I’m thinking that a pat or five of butter might make it edible.

And yet, there is a bakery not far from here that gets it right every time.

I struggle, as we all do, with certain things, but my real problem is that I never can seem to grasp the obvious solution. So, my resolution this year is to focus on what I’m good at and enjoy, and tailor the rest of my life to minimize time spent on the things that trip me up again and again.

This roughly translates to more yoga, writing and nurturing friendships and less baking, decorating, crafting and chit-chatting. That last one’s a tough one! I’ll be posting the details as I work out strategies to prioritize my time and, of course, there’s still some physical stuff to get rid of, so I’ll keep you up to date on that as well.

In the meantime, I’ll direct you to this video of the comedian George Carlin talking about stuff. I saw this several months ago in a post by the minimalists and I still can’t stop thinking about it and giggling inappropriately. Enjoy the belly laugh, I’m going to go try that bread.

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9 thoughts on “Doing Less Of What I Suck At

  1. Ha! You know, at one point in my life I concluded that my problem was that I just wasn’t organized enough. I figured that I must be procrastinating or working inefficiently or something. So I decided to write down all of the things that I needed to do on a daily basis, and assign a reasonable amount of time to each task. Then if I just stuck to it I’d get everything done with no problem.

    So I dutifully compiled my list, and when I added up all of my minutes I was shocked to discover that it came to 36 hours per day! No wonder I was totally frazzled all of the time!

    I think your plan sounds absolutely marvelous and right on the mark. I mean when it comes right down to it, your time is your most valuable resource. You either prioritize how you spend it, or else the only thing you get to do is be crazy busy all the time.

    • Happy New Year Eco Cat Lady!
      What a great idea to make a list. I’m sure mine would exceed 24 hours as well! It will take some creative chopping to get me down to a reasonable schedule, but I’m up for the task. You’re right, the alternative is insanity and I think I’m finally done with that old friend! I’m looking forward to having your input as I cut down on what might seem like essentials to some.

  2. Hi, Happy New Year – hope you had a good Christmas and it’s great to see you back. I’ve just watched the George Carlin clip and thought it was funny but very, very true. I read a post yesterday (Miss Minimalist) who talked about having ‘stuff’ relating to a ‘fantasy self’. The sort of person we would like to be but in reality we are very different. I know exactly what you mean about baking bread. I have 8 bread tins in various sizes and materials and I have NEVER managed to make a loaf of bread that was edible. But I still have the bread tins. Why? Probably because I don’t like to accept failure and I see it as a failure that I can’t make wonderful bread. I see it as a failure however my kids would see it as a positive result if I STOPPED trying to make bread as they wouldn’t have to endure the ‘taste test’ several times a year Here is the link to the article I read http://www.missminimalist.com/2011/08/declutter-your-fantasy-self/ I’ve decluttered 100 things already this year, and I have to say that since the Christmas decorations were put away (less went away than I got out) I can really see the results of my decluttering efforts. The house is starting to ‘feel’ calmer and certainly easier to keep clean and tidy.

    • I’m so glad you’re seeing the results of your efforts. There is nothing more satisfying. Thanks for the link. I read it with great interest and was about to comment when I saw that I had already commented on it. Love Miss Minimalist and this was a great post – my memory could use a little work though.
      I spent $20 on a bread tin yesterday. Maddening! The next time I do something this ridiculous, I’m going to start asking myself why I’m failing to do something that could turn out well. I hate the sound of it but I think a fear of success keeps me baking and crafting when I could be much more productive doing just about anything else. Let’s make a pledge to each other not to bake bread for a year. I’ll e-mail you when I get the urge and you can do the same.
      Squirrel and I quoted the George Carlin clip for the duration of our vacation and I realized something very curious about me. I pack a great big bag of stuff (snacks, water, wallet, sweater, hair clip etc.) every time I go anywhere. Squirrel kept trying to put this “suitcase” in the trunk for me but I wouldn’t let him. It seems I feel more secure with my “stuff” sitting my feet in the car. Ah, something else to work on…

  3. Happy New Year C !!!
    you do make me smile. bread baking is a little like you finding the perfect boot (remember the surfing one). ditch the baking but keep your sense of you. xoxox m

  4. I also keep trying the baking, not bread, but cakes, cookies, what have you. And really…even when I cook a box cake it somehow seems…..less than it should be. I should just stop.
    Chit-chatting though….I am sooooo good at that, and you know what, I LOVE it. So I think I’ll do more so you’d better run the other way when you see me!!!

    • We should start a “step away from the cake tin” support group. I don’t know why I can’t get it through my head that a bakery should be where I start not the last stop after a series of failed confections. Maybe we’ll save enough time to indulge in all the chit chat we want.

  5. Welcome back! I totally understand where you are coming from! However, I don’t exactly have things I’m good at other than watching a slew of shows on Netflix or getting rid of things or eating a lot of junk food. I keep thinking I’ll find that next thing I’ll be good at but often fail. It’s hard to know when to quit and went to stop trying altogether. For example, I SUCK at menu planning and cooking. But if I give those up, I give up hope of getting healthy. Who knows what the answer is. I say keep doing what makes you happy, whether it’s trying new things or staying with oldies, but goodies.

    Glad to see you’re back. And I don’t blame you for wanting to stay in Hawaii one bit!

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