I take a village

It had been nearly five years since I felt that way.

I sat paralyzed in front of my computer. The email notification box fading in and out over and over, my phone ringing, people scurrying outside my door. My to-do list wasn’t so much a checkable list, but a series of problems I didn’t know how to capture on paper, let alone solve. My thoughts raced faster than I could ever catch them.

Chaos swirled around me and inside me. And all I could do was stare at my computer. Sitting very still felt like the only way to restore balance.

I called my mom that night and sobbed. I told her that I couldn’t do this, that I was bad at my job. I had an overwhelming fear that I’d make some kind of massive mistake. After all, the last time I felt this way, I made a mistake that I thought would lose me my job.

She told me that I was capable and could do anything – just as any good mother would. I told her to stop. To stop saying I was capable, because I wasn’t and I didn’t want to hear that I was. And then she cried, and I cried harder, and…well…it wasn’t good.

This was anxiety. Not the anxiety that we loosely throw around when we try to make a point. This was crushing, confusing, overwhelming, panicky anxiety. It stopped me from sleeping and from eating. It made me cry on the phone, in the office, in church, at the grocery store, and in the car a lot. It made simple tasks feel like mountains. It told me I was incapable, that I would make mistakes, and to just give up because I wasn’t providing any value anyway.

Thankfully, the project that was causing this reaction was just that – a project. With an end. I just had to get there. Having felt this way before, I knew that once I got to the finish line, I’d be okay. But I knew I couldn’t get to that finish line on my own.

Because I take a village.

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Here’s the thing. When I told my people I was struggling, they wanted to help. They didn’t like seeing me upset, they wanted to make it better.

So I was honest. I was honest about everything that was happening and how my reaction to this project wasn’t “it’s stressful”, but “holy crap I can’t stop crying, and this is not normal, and I’m really not okay.”

And whenever I did that, I was lifted up.

Friends at work saw what was happening first-hand, and also understood the intensity of the entire situation. They found a balance between checking in and giving space to tackle this. And they made me laugh at just the right moments.

One friend prayed with me and gave me concrete ways to “cast my burdens on God” (1 Peter 5:7). She knew that’s what I needed – practical ways to invite God into this pain, while gently challenging me and encouraging me along the way.

Friends who have experienced anxiety gave me coping mechanisms – deep breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques.

My mom forgave me for making her cry, and let me vent at the end of the hard days. My cousin stopped her busy life when I called or stopped in, I felt like her only priority in those moments.

Whenever a friend asked how I was, I was honest: I’m not good, I’m struggling, but it will be over soon.

And because I was honest, my people followed up. As we got closer to the end, and the intensity was piquing, I would check my phone and there’d be a list of encouraging text messages. It was the most beautiful thing to see in those crazy moments.

I take a village.

We all take a village.

It’s okay to say you can’t do this alone. It’s okay to say you’re struggling. It’s okay to say you’re not okay.

Your village will surprise you. Your village loves you.

Let them surprise you. Let them love you.

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Today was a good day and here’s why

It’s almost midnight on a Sunday, and usually I am sound asleep right now.

But not after the Tonys.

After I watch the Tonys, I’m wired. I’m excited and happy and I have so many thoughts and feelings and emotions, and all I want to do is gush.

So bear with me…here goes.

For the first time ever, I had seen not one, not two, but three of the four nominees for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book – which all happened to be the same four shows this year. So watching the Tonys this year, I actually had opinions and thoughts based on more than just YouTube clips.

And that made it So. Much. Fun.

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Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

I waited in the TKTS line in the pouring rain during spring break (#badtiming) to get tickets to see Sara Bareilles in Waitress. But it sold out before I got to the front of the line. So as a runner-up, we got tickets to Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.

I honestly can’t tell you the plotline. But I can tell you it was an EXPERIENCE. There were people dancing on tables above my head in the balcony while playing fiddles. An ensemble member threw me a perogy and an egg shaker. I didn’t know where to look because there was something happening everywhere. Some of the audience sat on the stage, some got brought into the show. Josh Grobin sang and played the accordion and the piano. I loved the music and the acting and the dancing, and just the whole thing. But I seriously have no idea what it was about. And I’m okay with that.

It won the Tony for Best Set and Best Lighting, and I totally understand why.

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Come From Away, Mirvish Productions

I got to see Come From Away twice when it was in Toronto. To say I loved it is an understatement. Its message of kindness and hospitality and resilience was so…big. I was afraid this baby bird of a show wouldn’t be embraced by the Broadway audience like it was embraced in Toronto. It’s so incredibly Canadian and so different than anything else I had seen.

I’ve never been more happy to be wrong. I was really wrong.

Broadway people I admire started sharing how amazing it was. The New York Times raved about it. It was nominated for everything. I have no right to be proud of this show, but I am SO proud of this show.

And although it only won Best Direction (but in a super tough category this year!), the fact that it was nominated and was neck and neck with the powerhouse musical that did win (more on that later), is so much more than this show had initially hoped for. And that’s a big deal.

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Dear Evan Hansen

And Dear Evan Hansen. Oh this show. I actually wrote a really long, gushing, winding blog post right after I saw it (kind of like this one), but didn’t post it because I didn’t feel there were any words I could write that would do it justice.

But tonight, after watching the show win almost every major Tony Award, all I can say is this:

I feel so lucky to know just how well deserved these awards are.

Rachel Bay Jones tore my heart out in this show. So Big/So Small was one of the most painfully beautiful, cathartic performances I have seen. I didn’t know what to do with those emotions.

Pasek and Paul’s score is new and smart and fun and painful and oh-so-layered. I exerted more self-control than I knew I was capable of, and only listened to three of the 14 songs on the cast recording before seeing the show. I was so grateful that I got to hear the songs for the first time on the stage. And I now have the album memorized.

And Ben Platt. I walked in having read the seemingly hyperbolic accolades he had received – just Google his name and you’ll see. But there was no exaggeration in these reviews. He deserved every single one. As much as I tried to stay in the moment as I watched this show, my mind kept going to “how is he doing this??” And he’s only 23. Twenty-three. Good grief.

Tony season is always fun. It’s fun to see the thing I love so dearly getting wider coverage. But this was definitely a special year.

Yet again, I feel so grateful to have found something that brings me so much joy.

By the way, it’s also so fun to have a Broadway Best Friend Forever (a BBFF, if you will), who is just as nuts about all this as I am. Lyndsay and I have made annual pilgrimages to NYC to see shows for the past few years. We trade YouTube clips, articles, tweets and jokes that no one else in our world appreciates more than each other. Watching the Tonys with her is one of my favourite traditions.

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My relationship with “should”

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I have a complicated relationship with “should”

Recently, someone told me to remove that word from my vocabulary. It’s a word that our “self-critic” uses to judge ourselves.

I should eat better.

I should invite that person over.

I should say hi to that person I kind of know sitting at the other end of the coffee shop (which is happening as I write this).

I should work more, volunteer more, exercise more, read more.

I should feel more empathetic, more passionate, braver.

The list of things I should do or feel is long, and never exhaustive. It would never end if I didn’t consciously make myself stop adding to it.

I should stop making that list.

So I get what she was saying – the list can make us crazy. It can make us feel guilty and down on ourselves. We shouldn’t be doing things because we think we should do them, we should do them because we want to do them. The drive should be more than obligation, it should be a deep desire or need to do.

And there’s the “should” again…this is making my head hurt.

But actually…I’m not sure that I agree. I’m not sure it’s realistic. I’m not sure we can live in a world where we only do the things we want to do, or only do things because of a deep desire or need.

A few months ago, a coworker’s father-in-law passed away. Myself and another coworker went to the funeral. Not because we wanted to (does anyone ever want to go to a funeral?), but because we felt we should. And the second she saw us sitting in the pews, she smiled and teared up. She was there to support her husband, her son and her in-laws, but those two friends in the back? They were there to support her. No one else. She knew that, and that felt awesome.

I have another friend who is sick. She has asked us to call her…not just text her. So we do. And it’s hard every time. I’m not a phone person, and it’s extra hard to be a phone person when you’re on the phone with someone who is facing really hard things. But I call her because I should. And each time, it’s a blessing. It’s a blessing when we laugh and tell each other about our days. And it’s even a blessing when it’s hard and we both just cry on our ends of the phone. I call her because I should, and each time I’m grateful that I did.

I’ve gone to parties because “I should go” and met wonderful people. I’ve gone on runs because “I should exercise” and felt strong and healthy afterwards. I’ve said no to the fries and yes to the salad because “I should eat better” and I’m proud of myself when my meal comes.

We don’t live in an entitled world where we get to do what we want. We need to do things out of obligation. That’s just how this works.

But those “should obligations” that lead to meaningful experiences? Maybe they do actually come from a deep desire.

I want my friends to feel supported and loved. I want to meet wonderful people, and feel strong and healthy, and be proud of the decisions I make.

Those are deep desires that appear as should obligations.

I’m still not sure where I land with all this. Honestly? I posted this because I hadn’t posted anything in awhile and thought that I should. So I did.

Sigh.

I have a complicated relationship with should.

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Boxes, labels and shelves

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My condo is usually at least a little bit messy. Right now, two empty water glasses sit on the end table beside my couch amongst nail polish bottles, earbuds and a plate from last night’s dinner. My kitchen counter is evidence of a busy week…a mix of lunch containers, shopping bags, mail and dishes sprawl across it. All the shoes I’ve worn this week messily line the hallway in front of my door.

I’ll clean it up, but for the most part, a little bit of mess doesn’t bother me (sorry mom). I’ve never been a neat and tidy kind of girl. As much as I try, the “a place for everything and everything in its place” lifestyle is not my MO, and I’m okay with that.

But mentally? The way I process and figure out the world? I desperately want “a place for everything and everything in its place”. I want to put concepts and experiences and situations in a box, carefully stick a label on them, and place them on the shelf next to similar concepts, experiences and situations. I want to keep a log of all the boxes and cross-reference them.

However, much to my dismay, this isn’t how it works.

I can’t have a shelf for happy experiences and another for sad experiences. Because happy experiences can have twinges of sad, and sad can have twinges of happy.

My friend’s husband died five years ago. It was horrible and heart wrenching and one of the saddest stories I’ve ever heard. But when she was ready to date again, we bonded over being in the trenches of online dating, of awkward first date stories, of balancing loneliness with independence. We became really close friends.

Something really good came out of something really bad. It doesn’t mean I’m happy the sad thing happened – it still breaks my heart and I wish it didn’t happen. But I’m so happy for the friendship that developed in the years since he died. Those two opposite feelings can exist in the same box. It’s taken me a long time to reconcile that and package them together, and I’m still not sure how to label them or what shelf to put it on. But that’s okay. Maybe that box can be on the floor, with items spilling out of it. Something I trip over and, depending on the day, smile or cry when I do.

I also can’t have a shelf for “vital” and another for “Not vital”. Because sometimes what makes something vital is the fact that it isn’t vital at all.

Like writing or our own form of creativity. For me, writing isn’t vital. I will certainly still be healthy and be able to pay my bills if I didn’t make time for writing. But the fact that it’s not a vital part of my life makes me want to do it all that more. Making space for things that aren’t vital is actually a vital thing to do.

And this makes my head spin.

But if I try to put the writing box onto a “vital” shelf or a “not vital” shelf, it would keep moving back and forth. Because it’s not vital, it becomes vital. (I’ve now said “vital” so much, I’m not sure it’s a word anymore…)

I think I need my mental space to take a lesson from my physical space. I think I need to be okay with a little bit of mental mess. Where things don’t necessarily have a place, and if they do, they’re rarely in them. Where things are on the floor, out of boxes and don’t spend a lot of time on shelves. And where I’m okay with this.

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What family looks like

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Recently, I was talking about the idea of “family” with two friends who were roommates. Both women were single. But if one of them met someone and got married, the other would move out.

“But why? Why couldn’t we keep living together?” Someone said. We played around with that concept for a while. It would certainly involve upfront communication and some ground rules, but if it works for those involved, why not? It’s certainly not conventional, but is that enough of a reason to shut the door on the idea?

“I think we need to use some imagination when it comes to what family looks like,” one of them wisely said.

I recently came across this CBC article about a brand new kind of family that recently set a precedent in Canada. A single woman found a sperm donor and got pregnant. Her best friend offered to be her birthing coach, and quickly fell in love with this child – who was born with profound special needs. Long story short, both friends now have equal legal parenting rights of this child.

Two straight friends who are not in a romantic relationship with each other have equal legal parenting rights. #mindblown

“I think we need to use some imagination when it comes to what family looks like.”

I had always assumed I would meet a nice boy, we would get married, and we would have children. But as I’ve recently officially entered mid-30’s territory, I’m starting to use my imagination when it comes to what my future family might look like.

Maybe I’ll still meet the nice boy and we’ll have kids.

Maybe I’ll meet a nice boy who already has kids and I’ll embrace being a stepmom.

Maybe I’ll meet a nice boy and we’ll adopt kids.

Maybe I won’t meet a nice boy and I’ll still adopt kids.

Maybe I won’t meet a nice boy, and instead of having my own kids, I’ll keep being a fun aunt to the various kids in my life. Which are some of my most treasured relationships right now.

Maybe there’s a whole other possibility that I haven’t even dreamt up yet.

And while I sometimes mourn the idea of a “traditional family” in my own life (though it could still happen, I know that), I’m slowly becoming okay, if not a little excited, about how a non-traditional family might exist in my future.

We just need to use a little imagination when it comes to what family might look like.

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Why I care about Heart Month

Oki

Camp Oki

Before 2010, Heart Month would’ve been another awareness day/week/month that passed me by without more than a “There’s a day/week/month dedicated to that?” and then I’d move on with my life.

But in 2010, a few years into the corporate world, I wanted to do something meaningful with my vacation time. Specifically, I wanted to volunteer at a camp for kids who were sick, and I told a group of friends this. One of those friends was a nurse who said, “I actually volunteered at a camp for kids with congenital heart disease. Do you want me to connect you?” And I said, “Sure.”

Then after a few more conversations, saying “Sure” a few more times, documenting my vaccine history back to the very beginning of my life, and a panicked “what have I gotten myself into” email to a random camp volunteer, I was driving up to Camp Oki.

This was probably the biggest Butterfly Moment I’ve ever experienced…and this was before I even knew that Choosing Butterflies would be a thing in my life. I was absolutely terrified the entire time. And it changed my life.

Today, the fact that February is Heart Month hits me hard. I read all the articles and watch all the videos. Heart Month stats are so completely personal to me now.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the world’s leading birth defect. About 1 in 80-100 Canadian children are born with CHD. (source)
For me, these 1 in 80-100 are real people. They make friendship bracelets, sing camp songs, and stay up after I think they’re all asleep. They put on bathing suits that reveal the scars they usually hide. They giggle and argue and cry and solve problems and hug. They love Justin Bieber and they hate Justin Bieber. They try new things with trepidation and they try new things with more enthusiasm than I know. Their late night conversations cover topics such as hospital food and exhausting stress tests and MRIs. They answer the question “do you have a heart transplant?” with “not yet.”

These 1 in 80-100 are faces in my life. They are faces that I spent a week with each summer for four years. Today, they are faces that occasionally show up in my social media feed, that look back at me in photos, and twice they’ve showed up in real life when the stars align and we unknowingly are in the same place at the same time.

And the sad reality is that these faces can be very sick, and some are gone too soon, like Candace. And out of something so tragic, comes strong bonds between heart kids and a support system that I don’t think adults are capable of forming.

Sixty years ago only about 20% of children survived to adulthood; that number has since increased to about 90%. (source)
Because of Oki, two of my closest friends are adults with CHD (one of which was the recipient of that “what have I gotten myself into” email). For the most part, they live completely normal lives – working in exciting jobs, planning weddings, having kids. But things I take for granted are a little more complicated for them. For example, one had to commute from North Bay to Toronto to give birth to her son. The other has to avoid alcohol completely. This is their reality.

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Sandwiched between two friends with very special hearts

And I also got to meet Maya. Maya had cancer when she was a baby, had a heart transplant when she was 21, and just last month was diagnosed with cancer. Again. She’s kind of amazing and an awesome writer and you should read her blog.

Despite the physical and psycho-social benefits associated with physical activity, the majority of youth with heart disease are inactive. (source)
Side note: this research paper was conducted by Dr. Fiona Moola, my dear fellow Oki volunteer and crazy smart friend, and Dr. Joel Kirsh, the Founder of Camp Oki

Oki campers would tell us over and over again, “I can’t do that, I have a heart condition.” Capture the Flag, climbing to the top level of the high ropes course, swimming in the lake… “I can’t, I have a heart condition.” To which we responded, “so does everyone else here, and I think you can.” And they did. Kids with CHD are fragile, but not as much as their parents, teachers and coaches might think, and in turn, as much as they might think.

At camp, there were doctors and nurses to be there “just in case”, there were encouraging friends who somehow knew how to implement just the right amount of peer pressure, and more than 100 other people that cheered for them when they did the thing they told us they couldn’t do.

At Oki, I witnessed kids swim in a deep lake without a life jacket, discover they were really good at archery, and could, in fact, eat 12 pancakes at breakfast. I saw kids cautiously start a game of ultimate Frisbee and finish the game running full speed into the end zone.

I saw so many first times…first time wakeboarding, first time playing basketball, first time sleeping away from mom and dad. And when heart kids do a lot of firsts in a safe place with fellow heart kids also doing firsts who are all cheering for each other? That, right there, is the magic of Oki.

Because I randomly told a group of friends about a very specific idea I had, and then acted on it when the opportunity presented itself, I am a Heart Month advocate. Not because I was forced into it by circumstance, but because I chose it.

And if there’s one message I can share as a Heart Month advocate, it is be a donor. I can tell you stories about kids (and adults like Maya) who have been given more life because of a heart transplant. They’ve gotten to go to camp and make friends and have experiences that they wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for a heart donor. Organ donation impacts real people with real stories that might have more chapters because you’ve registered and let your family know.

So when you hear it’s Heart Month, I hope it won’t be an awareness day/week/month that just passes you by. I hope you’ll think of Oki and my campers, and Candace and Maya, and all the people living more life because of organ donation.

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Legitimate Artists Can Work in Cubicles

I was four years old when the tour of Peter Pan came through Toronto. I sat in one of those theatre booster seats in my fanciest dress and travelled from the Darling home to Neverland, and back again.

When the lights came back up, I turned to my mom and asked, “Is it over already?” She laughed, afraid two hours was too long for a fidgety little girl. Apparently she was wrong.

That was just the start of my musical theatre mania. I listened to Broadway cast recordings on repeat, I convinced my parents to take me to any musical theatre production within driving distance. I even took musical theatre lessons, where I always played characters like “nun #2” or “munchkin.”

Around this time, my fourth grade teacher had us browse through career books to help us figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up. Each page was dedicated to a career: Teacher, Lawyer, Firefighter, Broadway Actor.

Wait. Broadway Actor? This was a career? In all my obsessing, it never occurred to me that these actors were performing as their job.

On some level, I knew it would never be my job—I only needed to be cast as “orphan #3” so many times to know I was better in the audience than on the stage. But my world was suddenly opened up to creative arts as a career. People had jobs like “actor”, “painter” and “writer.” It wasn’t just a hobby.

Yet over time, this evolved into thinking that creative arts are only legitimate if they are your career, if it’s what sustains you. Actors were only real actors if they were on a Broadway stage. Writers were only real writers if they were on The New York Times Best Sellers list. For those of us who lean to the creative side, that’s the dream.

Continued at That First Year

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2016 in four words

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At the end of last year, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the past 12 months. I had the idea of coming up with single words that described the year. It was easy to do because 2015 was intense. That intensity resulted in a lot of personal growth, so reflecting felt natural.

2016, however, has been the opposite. This year has felt anti-climatic and normal, so it’s hard to reflect upon.

(I should specify that it’s felt this way on a personal level only. On a worldwide cultural and political level, 2016 has been everything but anti-climatic and normal. But I don’t understand all that’s happening in the world. So I’m just going to reflect on my 2016 for now.)

I haven’t posted anything on here in six weeks. I’m in a weird paradox where the stuff I’m working through isn’t stuff I’m willing to share, and the stuff I’m willing to share is just plain boring.

But in an effort to reflect on the year, and my compulsive need to keep traditions going, here are four words that capture 2016 for me.

Creativity
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic changed the game for me. I read it twice in two weeks and wrote a lot of posts inspired by it. I learned I am creative simply because I love to create. I learned to make time for creativity, and the result of most creative activities probably won’t be awesome. And that’s really okay, because the result isn’t what matters.

Longing
There have been times this year where my current situation and my desired situation do not overlap on the Venn diagram, times where I want to roll those two circles into each other so that more area is overlapped. I’m learning to be content when the overlap is just a sliver, and to be patient. I have a long way to go with this one.

Reconfigure
My overactive imagination draws up scenarios for my life. When and how I should get married, how a big trip should play out, the direction that my career path should go. Sometimes I hold onto those too tightly and I can’t wrap my head around the scenarios going any other way. But I’m trying to loosen my grip and reconfigure these scenarios. Sometimes the reconfigured scenarios are better than I imagined, other times they’re just a different version that’s completely and beautifully okay.

Joy
Joy feels different than happiness. I think happiness can be a general state of being, while joy is a peaked blip of something more than happiness – fleeting moments where I can’t be still. My shoulders bob up and down, I smile so much it hurts, my stomach tingles (in a good way). I’m sure scientist would call this adrenaline or some kind of chemical release. Regardless, I’ve pinpointed these moments and can embrace them while I’m in them – wandering the streets of Sydney, watching the Tonys, my brother’s wedding.

There’s my 2016 in four words:
Creativity
Longing
Reconfigure
Joy

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The creating and the created

This is the last post in a series inspired by Big Magic by Liz Gilbert. Read the IntroCourageEnchantmentPermission and Persistence.

I’ve believed a lie for most of my life. In fact, it’s only as I’ve read Big Magic that I’ve seen just how big this lie is. And I think there might be a chance you believe it too:

Creativity means you’re good at art.

Creative people write, paint, dance, draw or sing well. Creative people come up with new ideas and get them out in unique ways. I think there’s always a qualitative value attached to the word “creative”. In fact, we often think the word is synonymous with another word: “talent”.

So I’ve never considered myself “creative”. I guess I can write decently, but I would never say I’m talented at it. I just like it enough to do it often and hope the outcome is somewhat decent.

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But when it comes to creativity, the outcome doesn’t matter.

That’s been a jarring thought for me.

As cliché as this is going to sound (and it hurts to write this), creativity is about the journey, not the outcome. I really had never considered this before.

Creativity is about the act of creating, not about what is created. The magic lies in the act not in the what.

And “fierce trust” is required to keep creating when an outcome isn’t guaranteed.

“Fierce trust asks you to stand strong within this truth: ‘You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to be creative, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome.’” – Liz Gilbert, Big Magic

So I might create things that are decent. I might create things that are horrible. I might create things that I think are decent, but everyone else thinks are horrible.

But I have to trust that the magic is in the creating, not in the created. I have to trust that God works through me while I create just as much, if not more, than He works through what I create.

Because it’s fun. Because I learn. Because I want to create things. Because creating feels different than everything else.

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Rolls Royces and Honda Accords

This is a post in a series inspired by Big Magic by Liz Gilbert. Read the IntroCourageEnchantment and Permission.

I once had a boss that valued common sense above almost any other trait.

She would categorize projects on a sliding scale between Rolls Royces and Honda Accords.

Rolls Royces were big and important projects. They’d be seen by a lot of people or the stakes were high. They took up a lot of our time and we’d work extra hours to make sure they were as close to perfect as they could be.

Honda Accords, on the other hand, were small projects that wouldn’t have any kind of big impact. Only a handful of people would even know they exist and the stakes were low. Our goal was to get them done, not to get them perfect. It wasn’t worth it for an Accord.

As a sidenote, my boss had nothing against Honda Accords. In fact, she drove an old, beat-up Accord at the time – which she used as the example for a project that really just needed to get done. She was also one of the most humble bosses I’ve ever worked for.

But anyway…she could not fathom spending lots of time and energy on projects that didn’t need that kind of investment. Some projects just needed to get done.

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I think this concept translates to creative projects – there are some Rolls Royces that need to be perfect, but others don’t…most don’t. And I actually think it’s more freeing to, at least, consider almost all creative projects Accords.

When we put pressure on creative projects to be Rolls Royces, we’re either too afraid to start them or we’re too afraid to finish them.

When I’m too afraid to start
I have an idea, one that taps me on the shoulder and doesn’t stop. But it seems so big or important, I think there’s no way I can do it justice. Someone else could do it better. I’d probably mess it up. No one really reads or sees what I do, my platform isn’t big enough. So I ignore it, I never start a Rolls Royce project because I don’t think I’m good enough to handle that kind of project.

But if I consider the exact same project an Accord, I take the pressure off. I just need to start and do a decent enough job. All of a sudden, I’m not worried about impressing people or making it perfect. I just write for the sake of getting the idea out of my head. And sometimes, it ends up looking something like a Rolls Royce.

When I’m too afraid to finish
If I can figure out how to take the pressure off and write a Rolls Royce project, I’m afraid to finish it. I reread it over and over again and each time I find something to fix. I rewrite and rearrange, then reread it again.

Except I don’t admit that I’m doing this because I’m afraid to finish. Instead, I call myself a perfectionist. That’s a good term, right? We want it to be shiny and polished and, well, perfect.

A few years ago I was cleaning my room and stumbled upon this little card. I still have no recollection of where it came from or why it was hiding between my dresser and my bed. But isn’t it true?

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Even “anonymous” is spelled incorrectly – this creator really wasn’t a perfectionist!

When we refuse to let something we’re working on be released to the world until it’s “perfect” – are we actually concerned with getting it right? Or are we just refusing or afraid to let it go and move onto whatever’s next?

When we put pressure on creative projects to be Rolls Royces, they’re never going to be good enough to finish.

But Accords? It’s okay if they’re not perfect. They’re not supposed to be – they’re mid-range family vehicles. They just need to get you to your destination – nothing more.

Can we just agree to consider our creative projects Accords? Can we agree that they’ll never be perfect because that’s not possible, and actually they don’t really need to be?

Just start. Just create something and then finish it. Release it into the world. And then go create something else.

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