Tag Archives: Hobbies

You’re Better Than Some, Not as Good as Others

Striving for excellence is a worthy enterprise. But if you find yourself in distress because of real or perceived failures along the way, or you quit because you’re not perfect, then you have a problem.

I struggle with being a perfectionist. I work really hard to do everything well, and I get upset and distracted if I can’t. However, I don’t quit – I find another route.

For example, some of the jewelry I make is fine silver from precious metal clay. It’s not easy to work with and dries practically just by looking at it. I decided to take a three-day private lesson from an incredible metal clay artist, Lisa Barth. While training with Lisa, I made a number of nice things, but I had in my mind that anything I made had to look as good as what she made. After two and a half weeks of frustration, I ended up throwing away most of my work.

Why couldn’t I do it like she did? Was it because she had done it longer?

No, time was only partially the answer. The problem was that I am not artistic in the sense that Lisa is. For example, I could take painting lessons from Da Vinci all day, but I could never paint like him in 40 years of practice. There’s a certain quality you have to have.

I needed to accept the fact that I could NOT do Da Vinci (or Lisa Barth) – I could ONLY do Dr. Laura.

The minute I told myself that, I made a couple of things immediately! They weren’t complex, but they were nice. I freed myself up by recognizing that even though I didn’t have that talent, I did have a talent.

I don’t perceive it as any form of quitting or being negative about myself. I consider it being honest with myself. Things don’t make you feel bad about yourself; your ATTITUDE about those things makes you feel bad about yourself.

Here are some tips for the next time you’re struggling with the need to be perfect:

    • Realize you are limited – more limited in some areas and less limited in others. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just reality.

 

    • Accept that there are always going to be people better than you. Every day, say to yourself, “I’m better than some, not as good as others.”

 

    • Recognize that mistakes happen and they should happen. You cannot be on your game 24/7. People who are always down on themselves do not live as long.

 

    • Try not to get impatient with yourself when you are stressed out. When you are stressed, try to avoid activities that require an intense amount of concentration or focus. These types of activities can make the stress worse instead of better.

 

  • Have a sense of humor.

 

13 Things to Discuss Before You Marry

We all get nervous before big moments in our lives.  When you start school, graduate, or arrive for the first day of a new job, your stomach is sure to be doing flips.  So when you get married, it’s only natural and normal to feel some anticipatory anxiety.  However, there’s a huge difference between a few pre-wedding jitters and getting cold feet.

Getting cold feet is a message from the inside that you may be making a mistake.  Unfortunately, a lot of folks ignore this feeling because they think:

1. “It’s too late. We’ve dated for so long, and I have too much invested.”

2. “I don’t want to be alone.”

3. “It’s too embarrassing and/or expensive to call off the wedding.”

4. “He/she is really nice, and I don’t want to hurt his/her feelings.”

5. “He/she will change after we get married.”

How can you avoid getting cold feet at the altar?  Go through at least six months of premarital counseling.  Oftentimes people ignore doubts, red flags, and gut feelings because they don’t discuss their issues and concerns BEFORE they get married.  By seeing an expert who specializes in premarital counseling, you’ll go over things like:

1. Money. How do we spend it?  What about savings? What about budgets? Who takes care of the money?  When it comes to money, there are two types of people to varying extremes: those who like to spend and those who like to save.  It’s extremely important to discuss finances and prenups (which I think are absolutely necessary in second marriages involving children so that the kids are protected).

2. How alike are you?  People say “opposites attract,” but that only works for magnets, not for people.  The more you have in common with your partner, the better. You need to discuss your backgrounds, religious beliefs, values, and dreams for the future.  What are your views on loyalty, honesty, and dealing with anger?  What behaviors are off-limits?  You should talk about all these things and never assume they will change after you are married.  If you want something about them to change and it doesn’t, don’t get married!

3. Communication skills.  Many people come from families where they really don’t communicate.  They don’t sit down calmly and honestly speak the truth.   You and your partner need to be able to say to each other, “These are my expectations, hopes, dreams, desires, etc.,” and then ask if they are reasonable.  If your partner says, “I would like to have more freedom, come and go as I please, and not have to call when I’m going to be late for dinner,” then you know it’s a good idea to call it quits.
It’s vital to assess how someone communicates before you get married.  Some people use communication as a destructive tool to get what they want, and others use it to hurt their partner or justify themselves when they’ve lied or misbehaved.

4. Life outside of marriage.  Which hobbies and activities are you going to do together and which are you going to do separately with friends?  Am I not going to be able to ride my motorcycle because you don’t ride?  Some people are so insecure, possessive, or demanding that they won’t let the other person have a life.  Many women, in particular, don’t want their men to have guy time (which can be very disastrous).

5. Do you want to have kids?  How many? What does discipline look like? Who’s going to take care of them? What happens if one of you has fertility issues?  Are you open to adoption? Having two people cooperate to raise a child is a huge deal.  Compatibility issues in how you parent can lead to big problems down the road.  This is why it’s important to look at each other’s family dynamics.  People develop a lot of neurotic tendencies from their childhoods that may never change, such as how loving or attentive they are. Observe how your fiancé/fiancée is with other people’s kids.

6. Employment.  Do you travel a lot for your job? Do you plan to relocate often? Do you stay at the office late? Do you have any time for family?  Certain jobs (trucking, medicine, law, military, etc.) require a lot of commitment.  You have to analyze yourself and ask, “Do I want to marry somebody who isn’t going to be home at seven every night?  Do I want my spouse to be just visiting when he/she walks in to the house?”

7. Sex! Find out what each other’s fantasies are.  If their fantasies include small farm animals, you know to hit the eject button.

8. Daily life: Who’s going to be responsible for which household chores and bills?  Are you actually going to raise your kids, or are you going to farm them out (so that when you’re old and decrepit, they farm you out)?

9. How committed are you to the relationship? With looks, health, abilities, kids, finances, and family, there are many changes, phases, and challenges in life.  Are you committed in the relationship, or are you just a fair weather spouse?  I would say that about 70 percent of divorces result because people are not committed to a relationship – when it’s not going good, they find another place to go.

10. Personal space.  Everybody needs time to be alone with their hobbies and thoughts.  A lot of women have trouble giving their husbands personal space.  Guys are generally relieved when their wives want to go spend the day with their girlfriends: “That’s wonderful honey, are you sure you don’t want to go for the weekend?” = “Yes! No nagging for six hours!”

11. How are you going to keep the marriage exciting?  What’s your idea of a good time together? Is it hanging out with a lot of people? Watching sports? A candlelight dinner? A walk in the park? Soaking in the tub together?  After they get married, many people say, “My husband/wife doesn’t do anything.”  Well, perhaps that’s because you guys never talked about what would be fun.

12. Family.  My advice: If you really, really, really can’t get along with his or her family, move 3,000 miles away.

13. Know your odds.  Statistics show that couples who live together before they’re married are more likely to get divorced. Couples who have been previously married and divorced are also more likely to get divorced.  Don’t learn the hard way by thinking “Well, we’re different.”

Shooting Pool is Great Therapy

I’ve been taking lessons in shooting pool now each week for two years.  My teacher, Al Vafa, is a pro:  an interesting, funny, smart, thoughtful guy, and a magnificent pool player.

If I am in the right mindset, the average “not that serious” pool player would have a hard time beating me.  Again, that is if I am in the right mindset.  It took the better part of the first year of lessons to stop saying “I suck,” to stop crying, getting angry, and even once actually breaking my costly pool cue.

This was not just about pool.  This was a metaphor for my life.  My dad was ferocious with me.  I remember the day before a science project was due for a school science fair, I went into the back yard, picked out some flowers, pulled them apart, glued them onto a poster board, and named all the parts.  It wasn’t very neat, and it wasn’t very brilliant, but it was something to hand in so I wouldn’t get into trouble.  My dad came home, took one look at it, and went ballistic.  I was up most of the night with him, tears streaming down my face the whole time, redoing the project in HIS image.

The next day at the science fair, when the judges came to my “perfect” project, I said…nothing.  They asked me questions.  I remained silent.  They prodded me some more, but I remained silent.  Finally, writing on their pads, they moved on.

One of my teachers called my parents that night to find out what in the heck was wrong.

My dad, furious we had done all that work and then I hadn’t presented it properly, demanded to know why I said nothing.  Fearfully, I answered, “Because it wasn’t mine.”  I honestly don’t remember what he said after that, but this was the atmosphere during all my “growing-up” years.
 
Two things came from that experience:  one really good, and one really bad.

The really good part was I became highly motivated to prove to him I wasn’t “stupid” (as he constantly called me).  That gave me self-motivation and a drive to work very, very hard.
 
The really bad part was I found it hard to forgive myself the realities of a learning curve (i.e., it takes time to master things).  I was hard on myself when I couldn’t do well quickly.

What does this have to do with shooting pool?  It has been magnificent therapy.

After the breaking of the cue stick, I struggled to remove my emotions and accept the learning curve and the reality even pros miss sometimes.  I learned my mind had to be clear of self-recrimination in order for my body and brain to work on the strokes.  I learned I could have fun while not being perfect (something my dad never learned in his life).

I also got this lesson from learning how to sail:  doing my job (steering) and working with a team (the boat’s crew).

This is one reason hobbies are so important:  they help you learn life lessons in a safer environment.

I am grateful for all the friends and teachers who have helped me appreciate life more and enjoy myself in a deeper way.