Tag Archives: Progress

Waiting Patiently, Part 1

We decided to try our hands at a bit of vegetable and herb gardening again this year after a several year hiatus.  We just got a few things and put them in pots because I still haven’t settled on a ‘landscape design’ for the back yard.  (There is the one in my dreams that includes a 3 season room/conservatory, a patio, a beautiful new fence and award winning plantings…)  The last time I tried to raise a tomato plant I put it on the west side of the house and it got burnt and spindly and we managed to reap a single tomato from the poor thing before it became compost.

 

I think that I’ve learned a bit since then.  We’ll see if I have learned enough.  Now our tomato plants live on the south side of the house and are currently full of promise – about 18 tomatoes are developing between the two plants.  We also have peppers, mint and oregano.  We had basil, but a random wind burst blew a chair onto it and now it is in the process of dying.

 

We are already realizing that the herb books we possess have gaps – like when and how to harvest.  Perhaps the writer assumes we know this part…  In which case he or she is wrong.

 

I am enamored of the idea of gardening – decorative and produce.  I have a stack of gardening books that I look at and reference periodically, some practical and some fanciful.  Reading about our founding father’s deep interest in gardening, as gentlemen gardeners I realized that is around my level.  I want to talk about it, think about it, enjoy it and just occasionally do the heavy parts.  Plant something here, pull a weed there, rely upon thick layers of mulch to prevent weeds and help retain moisture.  Unfortunately I don’t have the financial resources to pull off this sort of gardening.

 

Watering is a Zen activity that falls happily in my version of gardening.  Some days the plants have to wait patiently while I participate in other activities and interests, though.

DSC03847

Gardening is perfectly suited to the acquisition of knowledge – it is forgiving of novice mistakes if you start slowly and allow for changes in plans.  Gardening is helping me to practice the patience that I have mostly lacked in other parts and earlier stages of my life.

 

You’ll have to excuse me now, I feel the need to go take a tour through the yard.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Advertisements

Galloping or Inching

Progress is progress I tell myself on a regular basis – whether by inches or gallops.  I need this reminder because inches don’t feel like progress, especially when new things get added on faster than stuff gets done.  (Clearly this is on my mind, I return to some version of this theme quite a lot lately.)  Did I push it forward, or can I change the priority, or can I get some help?

 

Most people I know, particularly women, focus on all the things yet to do which makes it harder to feel like progress has been accomplished at all.  There is always more to get done, it doesn’t matter what you are talking about – personal, professional, family household, etc.  Relentless obligations.  Job security.  Life in our modern, complex world.

 

We want to gallop through our endless lists, but mostly we inch.

 

Inches matter and they do add up, but sometimes we have to remember where we started at to see how far we have come.  Reminding myself of the steps that I have taken that day to affect progress is a habit that I work to keep up.  Done, started, planned, researched, delegated, reprioritized.  Don’t spend all the time looking at what hasn’t yet been done.  Breathe, and then review what was accomplished at the end of each day – work and personal.

 

public domain image

public domain image

I admit to being better at sharing this nugget with others than I can be at following it for myself.  Although this is one of the ways that I put myself on the path to being a reformed perfectionist years ago.  (It is a path with no finish.)

 

A coworker came across a free webinar offering about remarkable women in leadership roles and sent out an invitation for anyone interested to join her in her office for this presentation.  A handful of us expressed interest and so spent an hour together listening and actively thinking about where we are and where we could be.  This aspect of accomplishment came up in relationship to confidence.

 

If a women is apt to focus on this things yet to do then she is less likely to feel confident in her abilities.  A rearranged focus that acknowledges the things completed or well on their way is a step toward confidence.  Doubt loses some of its foot-hold.

 

I wanted to ask my coworkers a bit about this and some of the other points from the presentation, but since we had spent an hour listening everyone felt pressed to get back to their lists of to-dos.  The march to inch forward.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Come Banging After Me

I have lost count of the number of times that I started to learn to play the piano.  My mom had an old black upright piano that moved with us from state to state and sounded beautiful to me whenever she played – but the years and the moves weren’t kind to the poor instrument.  It was a relic of her childhood, carried over into mine.  At some point during my college years she treated herself to a new piano that now lives at my brother’s house.

 

Mom was more than happy to teach us to play when we took an interest.  But she wasn’t going to come banging after us to practice, or in any way harangue us for this or any other endeavor.  She loved to play, but had her moments during those learning years when she had to be pressed to continue by her mother.  She had a picture of herself as a concert pianist, unrealized because she didn’t put in the necessary hours of practice and single minded dedication.

 

Mom at a piano, not the one I mention - and long before she was 'mom'.

Mom at a piano, not the one I mention – and long before she was ‘mom’.

My nieces’ dance recital has brought this and other creative efforts to mind, as it does every year.  I am enchanted by the growth of their skill, poise and grace each year.  I don’t have to be there for the moments when they just don’t have it in them to go to a particular class.  When they have to make a choice between practice and another activity.  I just now realized that I haven’t ever asked my sister how much effort she puts into banging after them to work through a momentary dip in interest and effort.  I know that she puts a lot of her own time and effort into making their ability to dance a reality.

 

I took dance classes too, here and there – now and then.  We didn’t ever have the facility and the talented people that my nieces have had the pleasure to be exposed, that perhaps they don’t recognize as a gift.  The other gift that they may not recognize is the time and expense that my sister puts into their pursuit.

 

There are so many options, so many interesting pursuits that we could take on – intellectual, creative, etc.  A whole lot of factors have to convene just so to create excellence – dedication and a support system being just the start.  Regardless of dedication, sometimes the difference just comes down to having someone to come banging after you when your energy and dedication flag a bit.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Directionless Progress

Let’s face it, sometimes it really isn’t clear what our next step should be – in our career or in life.  We can ask friends, coworkers and family for assistance or suggestions and we will get varying opinions and conjecture but it is up to us to create the direction.  Since we expect life to be ever advancing and improving we put a lot of import on making the right decision about direction.

 

Maybe it is our years in school that give us this impression of life as continuing advancement.  We have to learn the basics to build on with later, more specialized classes – calculus won’t make sense until we know the fundamentals of math.  Each grade builds on the information gained in previous grades, and school goes on and on for what feels like forever.  But life doesn’t really work this way, so in that respect school hasn’t prepared us at all.

DSC03746

If only it were as simple as a video game where the arrows show up ahead as you drive to tell you the next stage of your route.  Instead we have to explore, experiment and experience occasional false starts.  Or seem to stay in place while the world moves forward without our active participation.

 

If we don’t have clear direction, can we really make progress?  If we decide to change direction does that negate everything that we did toward our old progress?  Who is to say that all of us are meant to click into a certain track in our early twenties and follow it through thirty odd years of a career without any pause or deviation?

 

I haven’t taken anywhere near a traditional path (assuming traditional is that set 30 year career track).  I think that I’ve done all right with my progress despite some meandering directions – mainly because I have learned so much along the way.   In fact, since learning has been a main goal, I could say that I really didn’t meander in my direction in that respect.

 

How do you define progress for yourself?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Catching Up, Keeping Up, Staying Ahead of Things

A New Year starts a fresh calendar, but the slate isn’t wiped entirely clean.  There is much that gets carried over, all of the open tasks on your lists – wherever you keep them.  And snow.  We are having a much snowier winter than last year here in the Midwest and perhaps even snowier than average.

 

Whatever you thought you might do on a given day, show removal gets added in – almost every day of this New Year.  This also means adding in longer travel times, altered routes, changes in plans.  Instead of ticking something off of the endless lists, snow might mean moving it back days or weeks so that it lurks undone instead of smartly checked off.  Harder to catch up, keep up or stay ahead.

 

In our house this year, it is my son who is taking point on snow removal here and for an older neighbor.  He is both happy to help her out and weary that it has been so frequent.  Snow and cold make me want to hibernate.  I am happy to live in modern times with central heating, wicking fabrics, and the internet.

DSC03719

But home isn’t entirely solace and a cozy den from the cold.  I have once again neglected to pour treatments down the drain regularly so that the main drain that is meant to efficiently and silently whisk used water from our house is calling attention to itself.  I haven’t ever had this problem with any previous house so I can’t help but wonder if there is a design flaw in this particular drain layout – an awkward spot that narrows too quickly or bends too sharply and allows for difficulties if not given regular attention.

 

A few years ago, at great expense, I discovered that collusion between the long ago builder and some housing inspector allowed for the brilliant installation of heavy coated cardboard – called Orangeburg pipe, I believe – as the piping which connected all the houses in my neighborhood to the city sewer.  Not surprisingly, this pipe fails to stand the test of time.  The pipe for my house had lasted amazingly well, the house being in its 40th decade.  Lucky me, I was the lottery winner with a prize to pay out and new pipe to dig and lay out.  With the bonus of a messed up front lawn for a year as things settled and grass reestablished itself.

 

Sometimes I feel like a maintenance person with a push broom.  Push this personal thing along, push that household thing along, push this professional thing along.  Go back to the beginning and start again.  Replace the broom with a shovel and push that snow out of the way.

 

As thankful as I am for modern conveniences, is it an illusion that life was simpler and therefore easier to keep up with things in past generations?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Procrastinating Resolution Planning

Do you make New Year Resolutions?  Do you plan them, or are they usually spur of the moment ideas?  Do you make the same one every year?  Do you make progress on it?  Sorry, I don’t mean to seem like I am grilling – you have someone in your life for that, I have no doubt.  I am merely curious, really.

public domain image

public domain image

I remember in my childhood that we spent plenty of time at the dinner table talking about New Year Resolutions this time of year.  My mom would be captured by the idea of renewal and self-improvement on a mass scale for the first few weeks of each year and want to get us involved.  I don’t remember any of the actual resolutions that any of us made, of course.  The resolutions themselves were rather secondary to the intrigue of so many people embarking on new plans at the same time.

This was of course long before today’s media fascination, or should I say obsession, with Resolutions.  Maybe the media has just picked up on mom’s drum beat.

Dad was the list maker, and the head down, plow forward, get your chores done before fun kind of person.  He didn’t want to talk about getting things done, he wanted to get to it.  I’m pretty sure he mostly just listened to these conversations about resolutions.

I stopped making resolutions when I started to realize the repetitiveness involved and how few resolutions are actually acted upon.  I had a friend resolve last year to sparkle – I do hope that she came through on that one.  And I have a couple of other friends who have made big changes like healthier lifestyles and I admire their success.

It isn’t that I don’t have any need to improve aspects of my life, just that I don’t use resolutions to create progress on those fronts.  I have plenty of room for improvement.  I regularly resolve to keep on top of things, particularly finding ways to get myself to do the ones that I don’t like.  I just don’t do it around New Year with a capital R.

“We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

That Moment before the Moment

Christmas is hours away, ready or not.  This is the moment for the deep breath, the step back, the last survey of status.  Time for a last minute tweak here, an addition there, perhaps small changes in one or two things.  And then enjoy what rolls out.  Whatever it might be.

 

I used to be one of those people who melted into tears when the slightest thing started to go awry from how I had pictured.  (Now granted perfection is something that you reform from endlessly – there is no such thing as a reformed perfectionist.)  Oddly, it was my wedding that taught me the alternate beauty in planning and then letting the event unfold as it would.  The stories are in the unplanned moments.  Even the mishaps.

 

Right now I am working my way through my least favorite part of the holiday – wrapping gifts.  You’re with me on this, yes?  Even with favorite Christmas carols as back drop, exasperation is ready to pounce.  Once I struggle through to the end, I also know that I will have that feeling of dismay at the small array of gifts after weeks and hours of careful effort.  Every year it seems as if the resulting pile doesn’t quite match the time and thought I put in.

DSC03063

This moment before the big moment happens all the time – before an interview, a big dinner, a presentation, a date, a party…  We shouldn’t miss this chance to review, but neither should we use it for recriminations, or to build fear.  We have done what we could – this time – and can make note of improvements for next time.  Then breathe.  And enjoy.

 

I hope that you have many moments to enjoy over this holiday season.

 

© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Sarcastic Muse

Writing. Information. Inspiration. Sarcasm guaranteed.

Stefanie O'Connell

Just another WordPress.com site

Retirement - Only the Beginning

Retirement Planning Beyond Financial

Voices In His Head

Recognized as Blog Of The Year! (unfortunately, it was given the year 1910, the start of the Great Depression)

O at the Edges

Musings on poetry, language, perception, numbers, food, and anything else that slips through the cracks.

Chicago Guy 14

Chicago's Street Corner Spirits

BAReed Writing, Business Writing

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Dancing Beastie

Seasonal living in a Scottish castle

The Middlest Sister

There are 5 sisters. She's the middlest.

Eyes Like Carnivals

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Blog to Work

Blogging your way to a job.

r a r a s a u r

frightfully wondrous things happen here.

Stephanie Raffelock

A good story can transform the way that you see the world.

Always The Write Time Blog

Ramblings and Rhetoric

The Art of Non-Conformity

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

xplorenorthshore

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Medievalists.net

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

The Creative Penn

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Gifts Of The Journey

The Fearless Pursuit Of A Life Worth Living

Betty Generic

Through the glass darkly

an interconnected life...

Discovering the threads that connect us, one story at a time.

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

animatingyourlife

A great WordPress.com site

Second Star to the Right

and straight on 'til morning

CAHOOTS

Success is meant to be shared

Daniel Nester

essayist, poet, college prof, hubby, dad, Queen fan

Bob Mayer

Write on the River

Farmlet

Living cheaply and richly on an acre in Puna, Hawaii

J T Weaver

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose. — Dylan.

Homepreneurs

Work From Home

inspirationenergy

be inspired to greatness

Gen Y Girl

Twentysomething. Annoyed with corporate BS. Obsessed with Gen Y. Not bratty. Just opinionated.

Jenna Dee

....living with a following wind

David Gaughran

Let's Get Digital