Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring cleaning? Throw out the "I can't" train

Spring cleaning is a good time to look at your stuff, figure out what you no longer need, and dispose of it. I went through this physical process a few years back when we downsized from a very large house to a more modest-sized home. In our current house, there's no room for extras. We're like a tight ship; everything has it's place.

But there are plenty of other non-physical things to consider while you're in the cleaning mode. Here's the thing that's uppermost on my mind. Traditionally I'm not one to readily adapt to rapid change. Give me some warning change is coming, let me trouble shoot, and I'll devise a way to deal with change. This is all fine and good when things go on schedule.

Life often makes a mockery of schedules.

When change comes fast, I go into lock down mode. The first words out of my mouth are "I can't." For instance, when my car pool fell through and I needed to drive to Miami by myself, an 8-hour trip from my home, I said I couldn't do it. But if I wanted to go to that already paid-for writers conference, I had to change my mindset. When I accidentally got a job as a reporter, I said, "I can't do that. I don't have any training." But I did it. And I took on a freelance magazine assignment that came my way because of my newspaper articles.

The whole time I worried that folks would know I was a fraud, that I would make a giant fool of myself. That was really the bottom line - fear of failure and fear of what other people thought. Come to find out, everyone fails and gets up and tries again. There's nothing wrong with that.

Heck, I do that all the time when I write new scenes for a book. I put something down. Mull it over. Make it better. Life is much life an ongoing story. There are few absolutes where you don't get a do-over. If you miss your turn on the expressway, you go down to the next ramp and turn around. You're not vaporized for making a mistake. You get to try again.

That's my mindset for the most part. But every now and then, I get caught up in the "I can't" mindset. So, I'm throwing out the "I can't" train.

Climb aboard the Can Do train with me!

Happy reading,

Maggie Toussaint

1 comment:

J L said...

You know, I used to care what people thought about me until about ten years ago or so. I quit worrying about it when I hit 40, I think. I decided life was too short to worry about 'them'.

Then when I started to write 'sexy' books (not hot by any means, but with the occasional explicit scene) I worried what my friends/family/{insert someone here} would think. But I needed to do it for the story, so {shrug}

You know what -- they think it's fine. Just goes to show you ... we don't always know what others are thinking, I guess, even though we're sure we do.