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Posts Tagged ‘persistence’

cake-batter-bowl

I spent most of the evening on a new Super Healthy Cupcake Recipe.

It didn’t go well.

Granted, it didn’t go well mostly because of things I did. I over-filled the cupcake cups. I forgot my vanilla is twice as strong as normal, making the vanilla frosting into VANILLA! (frosting).

My little boy was very excited to be part of the cupcake-making process. (The distraction being part of how I lost track of things like that.) He was very much looking forward to enjoying his favorite treat that we made ourselves.

When I got the results into edible-seeming form, he tried it, then tried it again. He was clearly disappointed, but brushed that off and went back to playing. He had been more excited than I at the project, and then I was more disappointed that it didn’t work out.

He did tell me he wants me to keep trying, and that maybe tomorrow or Saturday we can get it right. I told him I’d tweak the recipe a little and do better next time.

After tucking him in, I still kept feeling disappointed the recipe didn’t turn out quite well. It can probably still be a Mostly Healthy Cupcake Recipe, and maybe I can even get it back to Super after I get the hang of it. But I used to be pretty good at making things like this, so it was getting to me.

Finally, I realized that it’s been a long time since I’ve tried this sort of thing. I don’t have the knack anymore, and it took up most of my evening, but I still gave it a good shot. Plus, I’m not planning to give up over it. As discouraging as my time has been lately, that really means something to me.

So as I try to get ready to sleep, I’m reminding myself to take the experience for what it was: I tried something new. Soon, I’m going to try something new in a better way. And I’ll keep at it as I keep getting better.

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I’m wondering whether it’s time to again “make” myself post a thought every day, or at least every weekday. I’ve sat down to write something several times since my last post, but I haven’t brought any words out.

Tonight included.

So I’m writing about my reason for writing. Like most people, I write to share my thoughts. When I don’t really feel I’ve a thought conducive to sharing, or if I just can’t think of how to share it, I’ll tend not to write.

But when I made myself sit down and at least try my hand at a koan, I at least did it. The feeling of nothing to say or no way to say it still didn’t stop me from communicating. Whether it was much of anything worth receiving… I actually don’t much mind either way. The purpose wasn’t some goal or reward, but the process itself.

As I said, I write to share my thoughts. It’s likely time I get back to cultivating the habit of thinking to share.

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So, I’ve officially been slipping in my “writing every day” habit I’d been forcing myself to stick to for a while. I forced myself to do it because I knew if I didn’t make a firm commitment to keep a habit of posting every day, I’d fall into the habit of not.

I’ve been very draggy the past few days with the flu, so in the evenings I have wanted to just close myself up and rest in the solitude of my immediate family or my own thoughts. I haven’t really had an easy time thinking of words to share with others.

One thing I have learned over the past several months, though, is that when I sit down to write, I will usually find something to say. Not always something I’m fully happy with, but at least enough to make some kind of connection between my thoughts and words to express them.

So here we are. I’ve had a beautiful, frustrating-yet-rewarding day, even if I’m not quite finding the words to express it.  I hope you have had a truly lovely day, as well!

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I’ve likely shared this story somewhere in the early days when I was doing this right, but it’s time for a retelling, regardless.

In some ancient town, there was this master calligrapher and zen artist who received a visit from a pretty well-off local. The visitor wanted to hire the artist to draw for him a cat, in that zen way of communicating the cat’s essence in pure and simple lines. The artist nodded and agreed, letting the local know that he would inform him when it is ready.

Well, time passed. A couple weeks went by with no word, making the local think that perhaps his drawing wasn’t as high on the artist’s priority list as he’d have liked. So he popped in to gently ask if the drawing was ready, and was politely told no, but he would be informed as soon as it was.

So the local waited until the following month before visiting again, enjoying tea and conversation, hoping the topic of the drawing would come up, if not the drawing itself. No dice. So before leaving, he asked, “Oh yes, the drawing of that cat, I don’t suppose I could pay you for it now and bring it home with me?” The artist apologized, replying, “No, it is not ready, I will let you know.”

Month after month, the local paid a visit, sometimes asking, sometimes not, but never going home with that darned cat. Finally, he visited on the anniversary of the day he’d first commissioned the work.

“Master, you are a busy artist I grant, and I respect your work and your time. But it has been a year! I insist you produce my drawing of a cat, or I shall have to withdraw my commission!” The local had tried to be patient, but was concerned he had come across as angry as he’d felt.

If so, the artist had the grace to pretend not to notice. Instead, he nodded respectfully, then sat down to his table. He set upon it a fresh, clean square of parchment, and dipped his brush into the ink. With one fluid motion, his brush moved to form the lines that drew a cat.

It was beautiful. It was simple. It expressed the stillness-before-action that is the very essence of a cat. The soul feels a “click” of understanding that nature, just by its contemplation.

The local was taken aback at first by the perfection of the drawing, then he became more angry than before. “If that’s all it took, why did I have to wait a year for this? Why didn’t you do this that first day?”

The artist was unperturbed, his patience still firmly in place. Humbly, he replied, “Because I could not do this before today.”

He then turned to his work cupboard, opening the door. Out spilled hundreds of smudged drawings of imperfect cats.

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