Spring has finally sprung. The sun shines brighter for longer, birds serenade us, and the very air is scented by a myriad of petals on the wind. I adore spring because of the anticipation it stirs in me. Spring means photoshoots and hikes with my children and husband. It means school is almost over and three months of sleeping in and lazy days are within view. It’s a time that is full of possibilities and potential, a time before expectations are either disappointed or surpassed.
It’s a time to start new things and to accept new challenges. I started a garden despite my morbid talent for notoriously killing all things green and pretty. Seriously, do you have any idea how neglectful you need to be to kill a cactus? I do. However, placing those little veggie seeds into newly tilled soil, carefully covering them up, and simply hoping for the best has been an exercise in mindfulness for me. I have no idea if I’ll reap any noteworthy bounty of parsnips, carrots, lettuce, and tomatoes, but I’m enjoying the process. My little seeds have been given good soil, plenty of room, and the right amount of sun and water according to their individual needs. The important lesson is that I can’t control the outcome beyond the work I’ve done and will continue to do. In the end, my little seeds will either grow or they won’t.
I’m finding that this new-to-me philosophy can be applied to various aspects of my life: I exercise and eat responsibly most of the time, but I’m in my late 40’s. The extra weight is going to come off as easily as I want or it won’t. At work, I treat my colleagues and students with respect and compassion, but that will either be fully returned, or it won’t. I can only control what I put in. I can be proud of what I put in. Sometimes that work will reap great rewards, but sometimes that end result that should be assured just won’t grow to fruition.
The same goes for writing. Publication is most people’s end goal, but should it be? Because, let’s face it, the odds are not always in everyone’s favor. After all, authors have complete control over what they pour onto the page, but not how others receive it. So, wouldn’t completing a manuscript that you are insanely proud of–something that is honest, raw, funny, cathartic, captivating, and memorable–be a better goal? This way, no matter what happens, whether you reap the rewards your hard work should guarantee, you know that you are a success.
Publication is a worthy goal, but it doesn’t need to be the only one. Dig deep, be adventurous, tell the story you can’t get out of your head, and tell it well. This way, whether your words feed the souls of many or just your own, you can be proud of what you’ve planted.
Courtney Annicchiarico grew up in New Jersey, where she was a high school teacher and a conflict resolution curriculum writer and facilitator. She moved to Pennsylvania with her husband and two children to be a stay-at-home mom—the best career move yet. Her story “Mis-conceptions” appears in A Christmas Sampler, and is her first published piece. Her stories also appear in Once Around the Sun, A Readable Feast, Untethered, and Fur, Feathers, and Scales
Holding on. Letting go.
Just met a photographer at a two hour batik/dye class who said she was there because she wanted to push herself creatively in areas where she wasn’tâ€”and couldn’t beâ€”in control. Because she knew she relished and enjoyed the control she exercised over her photographic imagesâ€”it was aligned with her natural inclinations. And she knew as an artist, she needed to challenge her comfort zone on occasion.
She did watercolor for the same reason. You can’t “fix” a “mistake” with water color. You have to listen to the medium and figure out how to reimagine your vision to work with whatever happened. Which can sometimes mean heading off in new, unexpected and eye-opening directions.
Then some years ago, walking into a group of office craftersâ€”knitting, crochetâ€”it seemed a homogeneous gathering of like-minded souls. But mention the word “felting” and the room divides, half enthusiastic, half appalled. Because for some, knitting is about choice and control of all the variablesâ€”patterns, colors, materials, tools and talent. And felting, with its ‘lets-just-toss-that-thing-in-the-washing-machine-and-see-what-happens’ attitude is utterly antithetical to what they do, what they enjoy. Because it’s out of their control. And for others, that’s the point and the fun.
Of course people aren’t all one way or anotherâ€”they usually have areas where they want and need control, and other areas where they are totally laissez-faire. Though some can be judgemental about another’s excessive (or shocking lack of) control in whatever area they differ on! But I will have to explain the Janci Curve in another post….
Do you have areas that you think are too tightly wrapped and could benefit from some loosening or experimentation? Or areas where you’re a little too experimental and need some focus and discipline?
My answer is…all of the above!
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