Perfectionism, Procrastination and WTH

This past spring and summer brought me experiences I felt deserved inclusion in my book, Inheritances, and my recent illness has placed me in front of my computer more hours than time spent outdoors on landscaping activities.  October 1st was to be end of landscaping/gardening and the beginning of writing, reading, website and crafts season.

I’m ahead of schedule, it seems.

I admit to being stuck.   As I add the new thoughts to the existing manuscript – I re-read the old and think, “Why on earth did I think this book needed published?”

A question I’ve asked a thousand times over the past 7 years.

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My years spent as a so-called efficiency expert (my real job was to find efficient ways to collect and disseminate data – a database builder with a glorified title) taught me one huge and important lesson:

I have monumental issues with ‘Scope Slippage.”

If you’re not familiar with this term, I’ll give you an example:

“Tamrah, go on over to Unit D and fix them up with a tool to more efficiently report on what they do.”

An hour or three days pass

“So, Tamrah, how’s it going?  Any idea on when you’ll have them up and running?”

“Yes, most likely next week.  However, I have discovered that Units A, B & C actually have already collected 97% of the data that Unit D is responsible for reporting – they are not collecting their data in a manner that is easy to share, so I’m building their tools, so they can electronically share the data with Unit D and all they’ll then need is a way to add their two cents to the data.”

“Fabulous, keep me posted.”

Another hour or week passes

“Tamrah, where are we at on the tool for Unit D?”

“Coming along nicely – I found out that if we added in a couple of fields to collect a few other stats, we could greatly cut down on the work needing to be performed by Units F, H & I.   I’m implementing that and building the tool to receive the data for the affected Units.  We should be ready to go by next week.”

Twenty minutes later, in the bosses office

“Honestly, Richard, the whole damn show, Unit A through Unit ZZ needs to all be in one grande database.   I can map the entire thing for you and it is the most efficient way to approach this – the $$ saved will ginormous and with cooperation, it can be built quickly.”

“Sure, I hear you.  But there is not budget for that and, can you please, please, just build the tool for Unit D?”

This example is what some people dub perfectionism – enough never being enough.

Or procrastination – finding something new to do to avoid doing something you already signed up for.

I dub it the height of laziness – why do something twice or multiple times, when, with a little thought, planning and up-front work, you can save hours of labor later?  I know how to track Return on Investment – I can spend hours on designing something that will be easy to maintain, later….if I ever finish it…

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Inheritances started as a way to communicate the gifts we receive when a loved one is terminally ill.   The blessing of knowing time is limited and grabbing all the time we can, while we can.   I started writing it as my dad battled first lung, then brain cancer.

It was a small project and quickly completed.   Then my oldest son died. Quickly and unexpectedly from bacterial meningitis.

And I thought about how different the grieving process was for me between the two.  And added those thoughts to the manuscript.

Then my marriage and financial health started slipping away – I lost work, husband and home in a short time – I recognized the signs of grieving and realized how grieving takes place anytime we lose something from our daily routines…

Into the manuscript the ideas, coping mechanisms and gifts went.

Then, feeling as if I had lost nearly everything, I had a stroke and lost much of what I thought of as me.

And though I did not write for more than a year, post-stroke, my brain pondered upon the new lessons I was learning, knowing they, too, must be included.

See?  Scope Slippage.

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Nothing in my book is new – people have been grieving ever since we learned to love and form attachments.  We all, to a certain degree, carry the scars of our losses, the wisdom gained from those trials and we trod on, doing the best we can with what we’ve got and where we’re at.  Why on earth would anyone need to read about it?

I spent two hours on the phone recently, with one who is a designated beta reader- who has yet to read a single page of the manuscript.

And another 30 minutes or so today.

We talk often on a myriad of subjects, but quite some time has been spent recently discussing the reasons I’m resisting printing it out and delivering the manuscript for perusal.

I know it is not because of perfectionism – this beta reader happens to be one of the most well-adjusted folks I know, whose opinion of my work, whatever it may be,  I will accept – good or bad.

I have no fear of delivering what I deem to be a final draft and my reader declaring, “worst first draft, outline or idea I’ve ever laid eyes on.”

Not because that may not happen, but because I know I will be enriched by the experience no matter what the verdict.

So scratch fear of criticism, failure or less-than-perfectionism from the list of whys.

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I’m well known for my procrastinating ways – I always have a myriad of projects in some stage of completion.   Soon, I will pull out the quilt I started 3 years ago in the attempt to have it ready for Christmas gifting this year.

There are those in my circle who will tell you I never finish what I start.  This is categorically untrue.  I finish everything I start – sometimes decades after I started, and sometimes, finishing is accomplished by, “This project no longer contains any functionality for my happiness nor does it add to my daily routine.  It does not benefit anyone else, and will not detract from anything if let go.  therefore, letting it go is finishing it.”

I am a master at letting go.

To this end, I will admit, I’m not letting go of Inheritances, and cannot see ever doing so, though I’m sure I will go through the entire “Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary?” test many more  times before birthing my creation to the public.

And so, procrastination seems a no-go, as well.

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The past few years have taught me that if I’m resisting, there is probably a very good reason for doing so.   Case in point, I resisted getting out and pulling weeds from an area this past spring – always finding something else I’d rather be doing, all while the litany of “just get out there and get ‘er done” played through my head.

Thank heavens I did not listen to my own internal nag, for into the weed pile would have gone the seedlings of wild poppies that I would not have recognized as being something I wanted to keep, rather than throw away.

This is just one example in a lifetime of many that have proved waiting (or procrastinating, if you insist) often pays off for me – the deepest troubles I’ve found myself in over the years were the times I pushed to ‘make it happen’ because “I Should” rather than I Must because I simply must.

So here I sit, doing my part by self-analyzing my reasons for resisting hitting the ‘Print’ button and delivering it to another set of eyes.

If I cannot, soon,  come up with a character flaw to explain my resistance, I shall wait, for obviously something else is going on.

Or I might not – maybe I’ll quit editing, print out the pages and deliver them.   Just to see what happens.

Maybe, just maybe, that which is needed to become un-stuck is only a beta read away…

Speaking of Nutz

One of the movies I’ve watched recently was Changeling.  The scenes where the heroine, Christine Collins, is ‘Code 12’d” into the local psychiatric hospital, since she obviously was crazy for not playing the game the way her local police force wished, disturbed me greatly.  How awful to think that could really happen – to be locked away in a facility run by sadists, with no way of ever getting out.

Just think how hard it would be to prove you’re sane, when it becomes a question asked by those who don’t like you and wish you’d just go away.

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The very next morning, I read a blog post dealing with the Gun Control issue.  Well written and speculative on what could be changed to decrease the number of mass shootings occurring nowadays, there was mention and debate in the comments section about the advisability of giving broader powers to doctors and other professionals to commit someone to a mental hospital.  Which in light of recent events, does seem to make a certain sort of sense.

Yes, the synchronicity of how subjects pop up in my life astounds me daily.

I read through the comments and thought, “Wow! Our fear of mass shooters could plop us right back into 1929 and the possibility of being committed for observation without warrant, just cause and no hope of release, whenever we displease the powers that be.”

I’m not convinced we’ve completely wiped out corruption in law enforcement, judicial, political and medical fields just yet.   And while I understand the sentiments of those who believe freedom for those who are a danger to themselves and others is just nutz, I’m not sure broadening committing powers is the best answer.  We’ve tried it before and it didn’t work – have we really evolved so far that these powers, if given, would not be mis-used and abused?

Perhaps I’m being somewhat melodramatic, but I confess to being a wild supporter of the slippery slope thing.

My experience is that as a species, we rarely realize we are even sliding down the slope until we hit the bottom with a plop,

It is this part of my personality that tends to exasperate those around me the most.

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Mankind has struggled with the question of personal freedom vs. collective good since we formed the portion of our brain that allowed such thinking.    I would surmise that in the lifetimes of our ancestors, which made Survivor Man look like a city-slicker, it was probably a lot easier to decide which things were paramount to the collective good.    And most folks probably didn’t have much time away from survival activities to go around dreaming up new ways to express their freedom.

But we are successful now.   We have plenty of time to sit around and dream up ways to make our society better.   We swing back and forth, from one extreme to another, trying to find that middle ground where we’ve covered all the bases, we’re all healthy and happy, no one ever abuses power and no one ever dies.

Doubtful this clock’s pendulum will ever come to rest.

Either, Or, Both And…

Some years ago, a friend asked,

“Why is it always either/or with you and never both/and?”

I gave the answer I often do,

“What do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhino?   {pause for full appreciation of friend’s exasperated sigh}  Ell-if-i-no!”

No, I’ve never tired of that little joke…Know what you get if you cross an elephant with a unicorn? 

Hell if You Know….

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This morning I’m caught in that mysterious phase of getting better – – I fell well enough to depart from the couch, books and dvd player remote, yet not quite well enough to be all inspired and motivated to work on any of my in-progress projects.

The pneumonia has, of course, given me plenty of time to revisit questions dear to my heart and a few times, at 3 in the morning, while desperately trying to quiet my cough long enough to sleep some, I despaired that I may ever know the answer to some of Life’s little illogicalities before I die.

Yes, I made that word up – no, I’m not ashamed, people do it all the time – how else do you think our dictionaries got so big?

Then it struck me this morning – the WordPress community is such a rich, smart and vibrant one – why not post my unanswered questions here?

*Note – I realize that some of my questions may cause pain for some – I usually manage to offend someone when I’m en quest for information – I get too focused on the question at hand and forget the other person may not realize that I truly am asking, not purposefully poking around to see which button of theirs hurts the most – Proceed at your own risk.

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  1. There is a collective worry about over-population and diminishing resources – and yet, we still seem bent on keeping everyone alive for as long as possible, even when the quality of life is so small, no amount of quantity could ever compensate – Why is that?   If medicine were not patentable and insurance companies didn’t exist, would this change?
  2. When our pets are terminally ill and in extreme pain, we view ourselves as compassionate when we ‘put them to sleep’ but become outraged when doctors aide patients in the same quest or when someone takes their own life.  I confess to not understanding this.
  3. I could write about my opinions on what’s what, in language that creates divisiveness, discord and hatred – I’m covered by Freedom of Speech.   I could cause deadlock and entropy by refusing to compromise on any subject, publicly humiliate and insult those who think differently from me and still be okay…   But let me loose the F word just once and it’s all over….  Why is that one little word so powerful?
  4. The same technology and manufacturing practices that have allowed electronic prices to fall enough for most families to have multiple  TVs, computers, tablets, cell phones, xBoxes and Playstations was heralded as the breakthrough that would make solar panels affordable for everyone (yes, this occurred nearly 6 years ago) and yet, converting a home to be powered by the sun is still out of the financial reach of many.  What happened?
  5. Being a gambling addict is despicable and not to be tolerated by society.   Losing nearly all your 401(k) in the Stock Market is to be expected – you’re in it for the long haul, just keep making your contributions.  I confess to not seeing the difference, except that gambling keeps thousands of casino workers employed while stock market fluctuations tend to result in mass layoffs.
  6. Business expenses result in adjustments that lower taxes owed – yet, business owners will, 9 times out of 10, purchase a new vehicle every year for their managers rather than spend the same amount of money to provide benefits to their employees – can someone please, please! explain this to me.
  7. How do you heal yourself through deep-breathing exercises when you can’t breathe deeply without sending yourself into a coughing fit?
  8. Why is being a shop-aholic more socially acceptable than being a wino?  Don’t liquor store owners count in keeping our economy going?
  9. If people couldn’t smoke, drink, gamble and cavort while naked, would there be even more meltdowns and mass shootings?  Why are some vices more socially acceptable than others?
  10. If there were no professional sports or violent video games, would we have more wars to give vent to the competitive, violent streak that seems to reside deep within us?
  11. If we did re-distribute the world’s wealth, exactly how many years before the same people had it again?  10? 20? 100?   Inquiring minds want to know.
  12. Was the Biblical 666 really the Hebrew way of writing Nero’s name in code, or does it refer to our Credit Score System?
  13. With all the power to create beautiful stories of courage, truth and strength in the face of adversity, with happy endings for all, why do we have so many tales of horror and mans inhumanity to man?   Are we just not wired for Utopia?
  14. Is it better for me to donate $5 to the local food bank or $5 to help some international charity organization?  Has anyone ever done a study to show the difference between the communities who invest in their own back yard and those who invest anywhere but?
  15. If I am dedicated to thinking Positive and refuse to give any vibrational energy to that which is not working by talking about it, asking questions and exploring the issue, how does that thing I’m ignoring get fixed?
  16. Are houseplants really happy, or are they wishing we’d left them where they were at and came to visit them in their home once in awhile?
  17. If we could only eat what we gather, hunt or prepared for ourselves, would anyone really eat caviar? hot dogs? Twinkies?
  18. If I drink a case of beer and you drink a case of diet soda, at one sitting, who will be sicker?  Has anyone actually tried this?
  19. If I could hook my brain up to a generator, would I even need solar panels?
  20. If you’re still reading, this list, don’t you have anything better to do?

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I hope this phase of healing ends soon – I may just drive us both nuts…

Yes, I really, REALLY, like you

Between bouts of coughing and feeling sorry for myself, I’ve been getting caught up on my reading here at WordPress.  And added a few new blogs to my Follow list.

And have gotten a few comments from those I follow:

“Wow!  Thanks for all the likes!”

I’m engaging in my usual behavior – I’m a Lazy Liker, as I’ve confessed to before.  You probably didn’t notice it, because I used to stay caught up on my reading everyday. A little like here and there is par for the course.

Now, because of my hiatus from WordPress for landscaping projects, you log in to find me liking your past 20 posts (or more, if you’re an avid poster) all on the same day.

What can I say?

Yes, I’m still wading through the archives racked up during my absence – – sorry, have to run, while I posted this, 15 new posts to read have shown up in my reader –

Sigh, I may never get caught up

🙂

Red Tuesday: Idea for Boosting * Your * 4th Quarter Book Sales

Re(a)d Tuesday – just had to spread the word – I’m in and here’s my submission to get the brainstorming session started! 🙂  This submission is, of course, in desperate need of those who know what they’re doing in the Photoshop and Ad Jingle worlds – but came to me and couldn’t let it go….

🙂

chrismcmullen

Fourth Quarter Pic

This idea came to me this morning. It has the potential to help you sell many books in the fourth quarter. It’s a simple idea; it’s free; and it will be easy. It just involves a little marketing, but, as you know, marketing is exactly the kind of work that can move books.

I’m not talking about marketing for a few sales. I see potential for a great deal of exposure.

THE PROBLEM: Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge days for holiday shopping among retailers. However, booksellers probably won’t reduce the price of your book any more than usual, they probably won’t advertise your book as part of the sale, and you might even sell fewer books than normal because all of the customers are too busy buying electronics, toys, tools, and clothing.

You can discount your book significantly on these days and promote your sale to help…

View original post 1,709 more words

Obviously, the calendar is wrong…

I was a big fan of the whole Maya 2012 thing – mainly because the years preceding 12/21/12 were, for me, filled with illness, death and multiple forms of loss –

I was praying the date was right.  I was tired of it all, but not quite ready to skip out on my obligations by taking matters into my own hands –

Though my life has improved vastly and I seem to be on the road to recovery, I’m starting to think perhaps the Mayans were right and our calendar is wrong – I got caught up on my reading today and here’s a list of why we may not be out of the woods just quite yet, though 2012 has passed:

  1. Locally, we’ve had drought, massive forest and grassland fires, followed by 100-year flooding, loss of enormous amounts of infrastructure and wonderful toxic spills and run-offs.
  2. Nationally, every area seems to be having their own problems – sink holes, tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, flooding, fires….
  3. A snippet indicated TED has aligned with Monsanto – say it isn’t so….
  4. Poverty levels continue to rise, more people than ever will qualify for Medicaid in January, but apparently, no doctors will take new Medicaid/Medicare patients.  So we’ll all have insurance bucks to spend come 2014 and nowhere to spend ’em.
  5. Mortgage rates continue to increase, Real Estate is moving back up, interest rates are climbing while savings account rates stay low, wages are frozen or decreased and food prices climb.
  6. The latest, greatest in new school building makes Leavenworth look like a community park –
  7. Political representatives are more accessible than ever through websites, email, etc.  And never fail to respond to your, “Are we really certain Fracking is as good an idea as we think and do you think I’ll be able to find work anytime soon?” email inquiry with, “I take your concerns seriously and because of this, I’ve voted to allow the whole state to be Fracked, so we bring jobs home to Coloradoans.  Would you like a ticket to my $10,000/plate campaign dinner?”

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I realize sometimes it may seem  as though I’m rather self-absorbed – It’s not intentional – I don’t watch TV or the news, rarely listen to the radio and so, it takes a day of reading the 241 blogs I follow to get up to speed on what all has been going on with the rest of the world while I putter away in La-La-Land…

And, I must admit, after thoroughly educating myself today, I almost wished I hadn’t – Being by myself a lot and shielding myself from a constant barrage of media means the shock factor of just how outrageous things have become tends to hit me a bit more than the average bear.

I will say this…If the calendar was wrong, and it’s all over come 12/21/13, I’m going to be pissed that I half-killed myself building infrastructure for a garden NEXT YEAR – when I could have been lazing around partying all summer….

🙂