10 July 2009

Unlocking the Door...What is Your Key?

"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence." ~ Eddie Robinson

Chris Guillebeau writes some insightful stuff on his blog The Art of Nonconformity. I admit that I started following it particularly because of that title. But I keep following it because he has a way of looking at the world and distilling it to the most basic truths. I dig that.

He wrote a post recently that really provoked me. He wrote about “All the things you don’t need.” That title alone is enough to give you pause.

If you are like most you are always thinking about the next big thing that you need. Or rather, want. There is a big difference. I am no stranger to that sort of thinking.

I have an addiction to all things beading and jewelry. There are some who joke that we need to form a 12-step support group for this beading addiction (I say why? I like it and it makes me feel good!). Sometimes I just can’t stop myself from buying that really shimmery strand of pearls or that new clasp. And tools. Don’t even get me started. You all have heard about my $70 hammer by now (is that NASA calling? They want their overpriced hammer back.)

All those art beads that I am now seeking out on Etsy or through the blogs of some of my favorite artisans are achingly beautiful. I have even bought a whole treasure chest full of 'em. But I don’t use the ones I have fast enough and so I realize that I need to start editing myself (easier said than done). If that pretty component (like this one....from Urban Rose)

is still there when I really do want to use it, it will be meant to be.

I can lurk on Etsy, but that is all that I can do.

One of my other desire-addictions is virtual house hunting. I have been tired of my abode for some time. My neighborhood seems to be swinging in the wrong direction. I feel that we are bursting at the seams. The kids don’t have a space to call their own and my Tiny Dancer’s room is dollhouse sized. My kitchen is outdated and doesn’t function well. My master bathroom is far from a luxurious retreat. I discovered how easy it is to stalk the listings on the real estate circuit in my area.

I can picture myself living the good life in any one of a dozen homes up for sale (like this one that is completely out of my financial reach...but I have loved it from afar ever since it was built and now they have the audacity to put it on the market!)...

complete with their cool furniture and accessories (or maybe I would have Pottery Barn come over and just style my life...how much would that cost?). It doesn’t help that my own sister moved last year into a gorgeous home with lofty ceilings and granite countertops.

I will admit that jealousy can have a powerful grip. But what do I really need anyway? I may want a newer home with more amenities and spaciousness. But I don’t keep the one I have now clean (not when there's beading to be done and baseball games to watch) and I could certainly let go of some of my clutter and hording issues (don’t worry…I am not a candidate for “Clean House”…that show makes me feel that I am not nearly as troubled when I watch it). I am working on it.

I have a great studio and a comfortable place to lay my head. There are so many who don’t even have a roof, let alone a walk-in closet. Who am I to complain? Someday I might have that house that I dream of, and make enough money doing what I love to support that lifestyle, but for now I need to resolve to be happy where I am and with who I am.

Chris Guillebeau writes that there are but a few things that we absolutely need...

"My passions were all gathered together like fingers
that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as
purpose." ~ Bette Davis

Passion – for what you believe in and for something that makes your life worth living.

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without
vision is a nightmare." ~ Japanese proverb

Vision – to see where you are headed and to know when you get there.

"Too many people overvalue what they are not and
undervalue what they are." ~Malcolm Forbes

Value – for what you bring to the world that wasn’t there before and for how you can be an inspiration to others.

"The quality of a person's life is in direct
proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field
of endeavor." ~ Vince Lombardi

Commitment – to keep at it (whatever it is) even when you want to give up and walk away.

Very thought provoking indeed.

Passion. Vision. Value. Commitment. It cannot get more basic than this.

I think we sometimes feel that life could be great, if only....{fill in your own blank}.

But why not be great right now? (And stop with the "if only" mentality!)

My 11 year old son Sport-o is on a traveling baseball team. I have been watching the team up close as the 'dugout mom', taking pictures, recording it all.

What I see is that the kids who are most successful aren't the ones with excuses

...the mound is too low

…the ump can't make the ‘right’ call

… the other team is too loud

The successful players are the ones

...who rise to the occasion

…who look like they are having fun at all times

…who pick themselves up and dust themselves off when they have had a tumble in the dirt whether they were safe or out

…they are the ones who live, eat, and dream baseball

… see every pitch as an opportunity

…know their place on the team and perform it willingly

...pick their teammates up and cheer them on

…understand that sometimes you get a hit, and sometimes you get an out, but you always get to play the game

...they are the ones who know that there comes a time when you have to be the sacrifice in order to get the other runner in scoring position

...that you are part of the team (and there is no "I" in that).

Passion. Vision. Value. Commitment. That is the sort of success I hope for my son and all his teammates. And the sort of life I hope for myself.

What sort of keys to unlock the door to personal excellence do you hope to pass along to those around you? Do tell!

Check It Out::The Art Of Nonconformity

Enjoy the day!


Lance said...

Hi Erin,
We live in a society that is inundated with "things". And then advertisements for those "things". And that makes it all the easier to get caught up in wanting more. I know. I have several things I want. And that I see others who have. What I've found, for me, is that the more closely I am at connecting with "me", the less these wants surface. And I think that really fits so well with what you've discussed - passion, vision, value, commitment. If I'm "hitting my stride" in these areas, the wants become less. See, I think that we use our wants sometimes to try and fulfill our deeper true desires. But things don't end up buying happiness. That deep happiness comes from connecting with something within. Like for you - your real love of beads. I really believe that this is not just some surface want, but something much deeper, that moves you in special ways when your designing and creating. And the bigger house (while I agree it would be nice!) isn't going to get you any closer to that deeper happiness.

Erin, I believe this very deeply, that our happiness comes from within - and that's what we should be seeking.

And to your son - good luck with the rest of the baseball season! We have three kids playing baseball and softball - I think I'm off to a game or practice six nights a week!!

FunkyMonkey Girls said...

Thank you for this! Had one yucky week (which is putting it mildly) at the day job and reading this relaxed me and refocused my thinking!


mairedodd said...

awesome post, erin... have to go read the one you reference as well... 'heroism consists in hanging on one minute longer' - norwegian proverb... sticking with something in this 30 second sound bite world... having a code of ethics... knowing what really matters... thanks for this wonderful post to carry into the weekend...

Sherry said...

Great post. Thought provoking and soul searching.

I agree...we need to think more about what we need vs. what we want. That's not to say that what we want has no place...we still need to have something "fun" to look forward to. But your words, "editing yourself" ring so true. It's all about paring down and knowing what matters vs. what doesn't.

As for house wanting...I too went through that for a while. Since my breast cancer? I'm content here. It's by no means perfect but my children are older and moving on and there are things I can do here to make it "lovlier" and then I'm content.

Thanks for a great reminder.

sandi said...

Absolutely great post today! So many truths to ponder. Our society is too focused on 'things', and while the broken economy has caused (almost) everyone to take an inward look at themselves, there are still way too many 'things' that people 'want' and don't 'need'. The ultimate test is losing your job when you think it'll never happen to you. Thank god I never overextended myself and I'm okay for the time being...at least no big mortgage to fear a foreclosure. (So, do you really want/need that big home that comes with big maintenance, big taxes, big repairs, big utilities, big mortgage, more rooms than you need, more furniture to buy?? For what?)

However, beads are another story. I used to buy all those little "wants" and "must-haves". My inventory is over-abundant and now keeps me sane in between job hunting. Best part is pulling out something that I bought so long ago I feel like I'm shopping again, but this time they're free!!

As you get older, it becomes clearer that happiness is what comes from within and those caring people around you, and not the 'things' that surround you.

Have a great weekend!

sharon said...

Erin, please check my blog if you get a chance.

Wonderful post, you are always so thought provoking and eloquent ! I have found myself many a day, and still do , when I am beside myself with WANTING something, and not really needing it. So I try and stop and think first, and if it is not financially feasible, I try to wait 2 weeks, to see if I still have that PASSION for it! A lot of times, the passion has left. I sometimes beat myself up over spending too much on beady things! I try to remember that these are just THINGS, and usually the happiness is short lived. The THINGS that really matter are not tangible, love, health, family, friendships.....this is life.

Mellisa said...

Erin, a wonderful and thoughtful post as always! I feel fortunate to have very little that I need at this point in my life- I have a strong marriage, a roof over my head, a steady income and the opportunity to do work that is fulfilling. Despite that it is difficult to not "want" sometimes, especially when a sibling has it! (I can totally relate to your house stalking- my sister is building a brand new behemoth of a house)

dragonflydreamer said...

This is a very powerful post and I really needed to read it right this very moment. Thank you for sharing this because I have trouble with the vision without action since my kids became adults. It's scary sometimes and I really need to scale back and work on action. Have a great weekend.

xo dragonflydreamer xo

stregata said...

A truly thought provoking post, Erin! Important to focus on these truths more often. Thank you for sharing!!

Dosha said...

Dear Erin,

Such a beautiful introduction to your blog! I happened upon your delightful jewelry space recently and cherished the opportunity to peruse it at length this morning. It is an absolute pleasure to make your acquaintance! Ahhh, your latest entry is so very timely, for I was recently faced with a fork in the road which led to a life-changing decision. I've made the cuts and snipped the strings necessary in order to move my life and dream forward. I've moved to another city, live in a much more affordable home, and have begun my full-time journey as mixed media artist / jewelry designer. And, I've never been happier in my life. All those little things I thought I couldn't live without have been forgotten entirely, and I'm left with such peace. It is marvelous to wake up before dawn 'just because' you can't wait to begin the day. Projects seem to fall into my lap from nowhere, and I end up interacting with the most interesting and uplifting people (such as yourself)! I receive daily confirmation that I've made the right decision. I can't believe I didn't do this earlier. I wish you much continued success on your artistic journey -- you have such a wealth of support both online and off to spur you on!

Warm Wishes,

Life After Dark

Stacey said...

As always Erin - just a beautiful post - that makes me think think think. :) I soooo try to find my happiness within and not get caught up in the if only I had.....it would be easier or I would be happier. I find myself slipping into the negative outlook - of oh whatever it might be - like today I thought - our back yard doesn't have enough trees and we have to many neighbors too close and then I QUICKLY remind myself - that we have a beautiful backyard and we are so lucky to have the space that we do, in a neighborhood that is safe.
Or woe is me I am not making friends here like I had back in Wyoming. I am so lonely - but I am so so so blessed that I made the friends I did in Wyoming - they will be my forever friends - they love me and accept me even all these miles apart - they make me want to be better - and thank goodness they are only a phone call/text away and when I do see them we will pick up right where we left off.
I just need to stay focused on the tremendous blessings we have been gifted. WOW we are so lucky and have come so far in the past 10 years. I just need to be thankful and be OK with me so I am not looking for it in things.
Relish in the small things - they make life GRAND!

Beverley Baird said...

So very thought provoking - thank you for this post.
Too often we mix-up our wants and needs. As you pointed out there are really very few needs.
I always wanted a lovely home, large and bright and new. When we moved here a few years ago we ended up buying a small, older home. It took me a long time to realize its value and the wisdom of my husband to chose it.
I am in the process this summer of downsizing and getting rid of "things". Clarifying what I need vs want is an ongoing valuable process.

Denise Yezbak Moore said...

I love your baseball wisdom. Isn't it funny how Mom's go into the sport knowing really nothing, at the end we could have a Master's Degree in baseball. You are truly an articulate writer. I love reading you blog posts.


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