Sunday, April 1, 2012

Trying New Things

"Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things.  The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have." - Louis E. Boone

Surprisingly, I just found this quote on a random Internet search.  I have never heard of Louis E. Boone, and yet, I have lived by his words for over a year.  Greg and I had talked for the past five years about taking a sabbatical to spend more time with the kids and try new things: personally and professionally.  Ironically, it was trying one new thing that started the ball rolling.

My book to be released June 2012
In a teacher's workshop less than two years ago, I presented technology-based curriculum that I had developed over six years teaching gifted children.  A few of my esteemed colleagues encouraged me to write my curriculum into a book and have it published.  Here's where trying something new came in... I actually did it.  For the first time in my professional career, I didn't just dream about it, talk about it, or think of all the reasons not to pursue it.  I wrote it up, sent it out to publisher land and didn't stop there.  After receiving a couple of rejection letters (which I proudly pinned to my bulletin board because receiving a rejection letter meant I had actually tried something, right?), I got a publishing offer from a small company in upstate New York.  But I didn't sign it.  I didn't want to sell myself out too soon.  When I hadn't heard anything from a couple of the more prominent publishers, I called them.  After a two hour conversation with the head of The Critical Thinking Company, he sent me a contract.  My passion for my topic convinced him that my curriculum worked.  Signing the contract, no one could have been more shocked.  I had tried a new thing and the world didn't open up and swallow me whole.  Instead of being eaten alive by the words: could have, might have, should have, I had accomplished something!

I'm a contributor!
Continuing my momentum, I have taken new writing classes and submitted articles to small magazines.  In the new April/May issue, I am a contributor to Beaufort's local publication, Fit and Family.  I have three short pieces or tidbits about family travel.  Small, but definitely a step in new direction.

What a thrill it is to see my name in print!  The question I keep asking myself is: Could I be a writer?  I'm having a book published.  Does that make me a writer?  I'm in a small magazine.  Does that make me a writer?  I have chronicled our year opening up about my thoughts, experiences and dreams. Does that make me a writer?

While I've been more tempted by professional pursuits, I have tried some new, personal things, too.  Remember my baking bread blog?  Baking bread is now my go-to, de-stress activity.  Nothing has made me feel more in touch with the spiritual than the simple act of producing this basic necessity of life.  I feel quite certain that I could live by bread alone... with butter and a nice Pinot... and share it with friends, of course.

Not all new things I've tried have been a success.  Some, I'm proud to say, failed miserably. Take pottery class, for example.  Since getting a plastic potter's wheel for Christmas when I was 10 years old, I have always wanted to take a real lesson.  With home school art in mind, I signed the whole family up at Coastal Art in Beaufort.  We met many interesting people who all helped our instructor, Pat, attempt to teach us the subtle art of clay pottery.

Here's what I fantasized I would create:

And here's what I actually made:

Yes, it is as uneven as it looks.  Feel free to laugh.

Stop staring at me, Pablo!  I'm trying!
Trying to keep my failure in perspective, I turned to words of advice from a great experimenter. Pablo Picasso said, "I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."  Great words of advice, Pablo!  We're learning.  Unfortunately for me, I think his and my learning curves are a little out of sync.  Picasso's experiments created completely new art forms.  (Ever heard of Cubism?)  

Picasso's Cubist painting: Femme En Pleurs
My experiments created new... junk. So why am I proud?   It's my junk.

I'm also proud to say that the rest of the clan feels the same way about their junk, I mean art, and the other new things they've tried this year.  
Wyatt's candy/chip dish

Anabel's pencil cup and Emma's dog and Mickey Mouse

Wyatt's ?... we're not sure what it is...

We planned this family quest to discover new things and appreciate the joy in our lives.  Having planned our one year off the grid, we almost backed out at least twenty times due to fear.  Fear of going broke; fear of alienating the kids from their friends; fear of spending too much time together and thereby alienating our kids from us; fear of never getting a job again; fear of rejection; fear of judgment; FEAR OF FAILURE.  Ultimately, the fear that won out over every other was the fear of regret.  We knew we would regret not taking this sabbatical with our kids... the alternate fears were just conjecture.

Emma trying something new.
So trying new things proved to be a great success even when we failed.  With less than three months left of our big experiment, I have never felt less regretful or more excited about life.

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