I’ll Have the Sampler, Please

~ Abbreviated Tales of My Own Mediocrity ~

Here is an incomplete list of projects I have started and abandoned (in no particular order):

·      Mt. Hood – I tried to summit a few years ago, but just a few hundred vertical feet from the top we turned around due to warm and avalanchey conditions. It was good to have not died. But I haven’t tried again. And the mountain is like, right here.

·      My best friend – In the 5th grade I became friends with the new girl in class. I always had to be the first to make friends with the new kids. This time, instead of being friends with both the new kid as well as my very best friend, I wrote my best friend a break up letter explaining how I needed to be the new kid’s best friend instead now, because she didn’t know anyone in town.  This was the start of a life filled with wonderful friends, but never with one lifetime best friendship. Because I love starting things ... including relationships.

·      Ballet and Piano – Somewhere around 12 self-absorbed years old I decided I should casually abandon my parents’ investment in my artistic education. My mom ironed a lot of shirts in order for me to take piano lessons that I quit once I didn’t want to ride my bike the mile to get to lessons anymore. And I stopped ballet as soon as the instructor – whom I adored – told me I didn’t have the arch support to ever EVER (!!!) go up on point. NO TOE SHOES?! I was heartbroken. So I bowed out.

·      Español - Soy casi fluido en español. "Casi" en este caso sólo significa "no fluido".  And yes, I double checked that sentence in translator just now.

·      Ukulele – The inclination to make music has always been with me. I love to sing, though I am a perfectly mediocre low alto who couldn’t hit the high notes even if they threw the first punch. So a couple of years ago I bought a ukulele and taught myself to play, just enough to be able to accompany my limited range crooning.  If anyone wants to join, that’d be awesome. I hope you’re cool with C, G, and D.

·      Photography – Everyone’s a photographer. And for some reason when everyone is a thing, I’m less inclined to be or try or do that thing. But I do love capturing a moment, someone’s expression, their eyes, little fingers touching squishy things, back lighting and bokeh, the infinite tiny world on a forest floor, the texture of flesh … I love photography as story, not so much as landscapes and eyeball candy. But in a photography world that's driven by Insta-likes, I don't know if I have a place in it. 

·      NeighborsPDX – A grand vision to connect the haves with the needs here in Portland. Like Craigslist or Rooster, but less scary (Craigslist) and less self-glorifying (Rooster). Worked on it for MONTHS, a friend helping on digital. Now I just pay for the domain registration every year for a never-launched project that may or may not have been helpful for our community. I think there’s still a Facebook page you can go unfollow …

·      Honestly Ever After – It was going to be a story. No, a podcast! No, a website! No, a live stage series! No … ALL OF THE THINGS. And then I took feedback from someone I respect way too hard and was derailed. And it was only me as the engine for the project. And I stalled. After some time I kicked in to first gear again by sorta launching a blog. And there it idles … taking up internet space.

·      My Garden – Every year.

·      Blogs and Journals – I’ve been writing a journal to my kids since they were babies. Most entries don't have the year on them, and I go MONTHS between entries. I haven't filled up one journal since I was 22, but I've started about 17 new ones. People are going to be so confused when I'm dead.

·      #HandsOn40 – To celebrate my 40th birthday I planned on completing 40 community volunteer projects leading up to my birthday in September. I haven’t been counting projects with my kids’ scout troop or helping furnish a recently housed neighbor's place, because I don’t think those should count. Regardless. I’m only at 12. And there are only 2 months left. I'll keep going, but I won't make my goal. And I have no one to blame but me for setting the goal in the first place, and then not living up to it.

·      The No Thank You Project – To be fair this one community action project hasn't been completely abandoned. Yet. But the trend suggests it’s just a matter of time.

I wanted to write this out not for self-validation (oh, but Kelli you wrote that one thing that one time!)  or for your-validation (though I hope maybe this helps you shine a perspective of success on your own projects!). I’m writing it out as personal therapy. This habit of starting projects, passionately, and then abandoning them quietly is one that I’m sick of, frankly. I am always willing to carve out time for a new interest, until that interest is de-prioritized, or criticized, or unsupported, or I slice my finger and can’t hold a fret for 6 months and so then I just give up on learning the guitar. I will make the time for what excites me. And then I will focus on it like a 3 year old staring at an ant hill. And then something will interrupt my momentum and it will fizzle. The wind will fart out of my sails and I'll be stuck again, without navigation. 

My urge to create and to build and to grow is always there. Not to make money (though that would be lovely). Not to be insta-famous (because that doesn't mean jack shit). But just to be a maker. A doer. And maybe to see a meaningful project actually have social impact, instead of living inside a PowerPoint Presentation that I never show to anyone. I’ve always been in the middle. Middle child. Middle of the class roll call. Middle talent. Middle effort. Middle results. Middle management. Perpetually hung up somewhere between the start and the finish. 

I have some personal work to do in order to dismantle my trend of starting projects only to abandon them, a habit that leaves me floundering in a forever state of "not good enough". But I do know one thing. I may be mediocre in so many many MANY ways, but this life -- these people, these places, these kids, these kind hearts who love me despite my laundry list of shortcomings -- this sampler life of mine is definitely not mediocre. This life of mine is excellent. 


I so relate, my friend. The beginning is so much easier than the maintaining. But what a full, rich life of sampling you lead!
Cheryl, it's a whole lot easier to stomach the start and don't finish trend when I know others are in the same boat. Thank you for relating. xoxo

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