Every year at this time, I say goodbye to the zen and relaxation of summer and gear up for work again.

Every year at this time I make a mental note to try to hold onto the person I am in this moment because I am so much nicer when I am relaxed like this.  I usually don’t make it very far.

There are a lot of changes at work this year.  A lot.  None of them are under my control and, as a control freak, that bothers me on a couple of levels… but I’m doing ok with it for the most part.  I have a lot of changes in mind but I haven’t solidified anything and that should bother me more than it currently does.  Next Wednesday is go time and I have no desire to hammer out the details of the changes I plan to implement.

And you know what?  I think I’m just going to go with it.  I need to relax more.  I need to be less rigid.  I need to be more of the person who can go with the moment.  Planning is great and I am an excellent planner… but planning isn’t everything.  Sometimes, in my profession, what you really need to do is learn to be spontaneous and go with the flow, relax about covering absolutely everything and focus more on making the experiences rich.

I have several goals for this year.  One of them is to learn to relax and take things as they come.  It’s going to be a challenge for sure.

Closer to Normal

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to step into the life of another person?

I’m not talking movie stars or famous people as I think we all do that from time to time.  I’m talking your average, ordinary people.  I only ask because every once in a while I find myself trying very hard to imagine what other people’s lives are like.  I don’t take xanax very often, but I do have a prescription.  Yesterday I took a couple to ease me into this golf outing I’d be talked into participating in.  As I drove down the road toward my destination, totally relaxed and a little bit excited about the prospect of being social I started to wonder if this is how normal people feel every day of their lives.  I’m sure it isn’t.  Xanax is a wonderful drug and it kind of makes you not give a damn about much of anything and it’s my assumption that most of us worry about something sooner or later.  It’s just… it would be really nice to go through life without being constantly plagued with anxiety about the stupid things I shouldn’t care about.  I’m great at my job.  I take charge of things.  I like being in control of big projects, etc.  But ask me to go and do something others might perceive as fun and I’m instantly trying to find excuses.

Part of the above comes from being an introvert.  I’m not necessarily energized by being around people and social outings can really wear me out.  Being an introvert does not, however, mean I need to be riddled with anxiety.

Seriously.  Before the xanax yesterday?  I had a million moments of “they’re all going to laugh at you” inside of my head.  I even asked my friend if I could drive to her house and follow her to the event.  Why?  Well I didn’t know what the protocol would be for check-in once I got there, I’d never been to this location before, and I was afraid of standing around a bunch of people who might not talk to me.  Yeah.  Had I driven alone and not followed my friend I might have just kept on driving and made some excuse of having a migraine.

Part of me just wants to shake myself and tell me to just grow up and get over it.  But I can’t.  It’s very real.  And trust me, until recently I didn’t open up about it.  I never sought help for what I felt was me being a stupid, insecure, idiot.  One of the positive things to come from my car accident?  I had PTSD for a little while and riding in a car would send me into a shaking fit.  So my shrink suggested I ask my doctor for some xanax.  And then, one day I thought about popping one prior to a social event I was anxious about.  And then I went to the event and had a great time just like everyone else there.  Groundbreaking stuff, yanno?

Add another year to that startling revelation and I start admitting to my friends that the reason they can never count on me when I make social plans with them is because I get anxiety.

And you know something?  Those friends?  Well gosh darn it would you believe those friends turned out to be real honest to goodness friends and accepted me anyway and are always willing to do a little bit extra to help me out.

The sky did not fall.

Nobody judged me.

I actually have a bit of a social life now.

One step closer to normal?  Possibly.  But what is normal, anyway?

I’ve always had the urge to create stuff.  In high school I dabbled in painting (in a cheap acrylic paint on poster board sort of way), I knitted a series of scarves in college, I tried writing poetry at various stages of my life, and I’ve always enjoyed writing in general.  I would say I’ve attempted drawing before but I really haven’t given it a true effort.  My drawing attempts are rivaled by those of a kindergarten student and I wind up terribly embarrassed and hunching over my paper afraid someone will see.  Seriously, it’s that bad.  And in all of the above endeavors I haven’t really had anyone helping me out.  I wasn’t taking a class, I wasn’t consulting a professional, most of it was all done in the privacy of my own living quarters and hidden from the world.  So I guess it isn’t any wonder I missed out on some of the lessons being creative can teach a person.

Example?  Of course.

Today I started working on some cookies for my largest cookie order to date.  Six dozen cookies, pale green onesies with pink owls on them.  Sounds adorable, yes?  And the owl is your basic no frills easy enough shapes owl.  As I have no drawing ability I went to the internet to find a piece of clipart or drawing of the cute little owl to trace.  Yep, I find an image… resize it on my screen so it fits my cookie cutter and then trace it onto a piece of paper from my computer screen.  (This is where having a printer would probably come in handy, eh?)

What I failed to do before I drew out 100 of those little buggers on a sheet of paper is make sure the drawing I was using was even.  I mean, sure, he LOOKED fine.  Adorable.  Cute.  But as I was tracing one after another onto the sheet of paper I began to notice his wings didn’t seem evenly sized.  So, instead of stopping and trying to figure out a way to make this thing super precise and then start all over… I just trudged on and figured I could fix the issue when I was laying down the icing.  (For those of you confused at this point I put the sheet of paper in a sheet protector then use icing to make what’s called a royal icing transfer.  Once it dries, I can lift it up and place it on the cookie.)

So here I am this morning working on my royal icing transfers and trying to figure out the best way to go about it.  And as I’m working… I’m getting concerned.  I rarely outline anything and for some reason I outlined everything this morning first.  Then, when I put in the wings with a different color… OMG my owls started to look like crap.

 

These are three of my owls where you can clearly see I was trying to figure out what to do about the wings.  Starting from the left… I added MORE icing on top of the old in an attempt to make it poofier and less noticeable.  Fail.  Then skip to the far right because that’s the one I did next.  I thought maybe outlining the wing would make it look better.  Fail.  In the middle you see me wonder what would happen if I did some brush embroidery and, while it looks like crap there (wrong consistency and same color as the base) I totally saw the potential.

And in a matter of seconds my 100 owls went from beyond repair to….

owl transfers 2

 

…. totally adorable.  (I know they look weird without the black parts of their eyes right now but I have to wait for everything to dry properly first.)

My lesson of the day?  There are very few things in the world that are beyond repair.  I have had similar situations so many times with my cookies I can’t even begin to estimate how many.  And each time I find a solution?  I’m totally amazed at how something so small can have such a dramatic impact.

And isn’t it the same with life?  I mean… sure things are messed up… but adding a few tweaks here and there can take something I currently find unable to be salvaged and make it into something I can totally live with.  I think the creative people in my life already know this awesome secret.  They’re the ones who are always saying “Oh, I’ll make it work” when I’m freaking out and running around crying out “OMG I HAVE TO START ALL OVER.”  Maybe I don’t have to start all the way over.  Maybe all I need is a creative tweak here and there.  Maybe I am able to be salvaged after all, eh?