Day: December 27, 2012

Facing the Fear

This morning I sat in Howard’s office while he worked on painting a miniature. His hands are busy, his ears are available, and he’s likely to stay put rather than wandering off to go work on a project. I enjoy talking to Howard while he’s painting. I’m not sure whether he can say the same, because the times when I’m likely to sit down and just talk to him are usually when I need to sort my brain about something. Otherwise I’m off and running around tending to projects. We’re a pretty good pair.

I wanted to talk about one of my intended projects for January. I’m planning to run a Kickstarter for Strength of Wild Horses and the thought frightens me. I’m not at all certain that I have enough skill or social media reach to get a picture book project funded. I think what I hoped for was that Howard would take the role of cheerleader, that he’d pour encouragement on me and I could use the borrowed energy to proceed. Instead Howard stayed firmly in the role of business partner, discussing options and likely outcomes. He’s not sure we can pull it off either. He also spent time as Good Husband, expressing his intention to support me through all of it. Even the parts when I go neurotic or weepy because things are hard. I had to walk myself onward into the day because there was no tide of borrowed enthusiasm on which I could surf. I really wanted that tide, because the day just seemed hard and all my projects of questionable utility.

I was supposed to focus on shipping, accounting, and house cleaning. Instead I sat and thought for a bit. I came to some conclusions. I can either be a person who depends upon others to help her believe in her work, or I can proceed as if I believe because I probably will at some point in the future. Also, fear of failure is a bad reason to give up something I want to do. Howard is willing to follow me through this Kickstarter venture and catch me if I fall. That is a huge expression of love and trust. I need to see it.

Thoughts sorted, I went to my computer to begin accounting. Except once I got there, I opened up my 2012 One Cobble book instead. This is the layout project where I print all of the 2012 blog entries into a book for my own reference. While doing so, I was also collecting stories for our 2012 family photo book and for the 2012 edition of my blog sampler book. I happened to be working on the months of April and May, which were just about the craziest months out of this year. I took a trip to see my sick Grandmother while simultaneously remodeling my office, I taught at a conference, hosted my mother as a visitor, went to the Nebulas, helped my son through a diagnostic process for learning disabilities, managed the end of the school year, managed pre-orders for the latest Schlock book, and sent Howard off for a trip. It was the craziest mish-mash of business and personal that I could possibly arrange. Yet, as I placed the entries onto their pages, I began to see how books I’ve created in the past made a difference and how me continuing to make books will play a part in our future business. I remembered why this project matters and why Kickstarter is the best shot it has to succeed. I found, not a tide of enthusiasm to carry me, but some firm ground to stand on while I continue forward.

So, come January I will make a video of myself talking enthusiastically about Strength of Wild Horses. I will feel awkward and will dislike the result, but I will post it anyway. Then I will be sure it will all fail even while secretly hoping it will succeed. It will do one or the other and I will manage the aftermath, which will either be scary or sad. I’ll do all of this because I think it is one of the right next steps for me to take. There are other steps for me to take: finishing a novel, continuing this blog, supporting Howard in both his prose and his comic, teaching and guiding the kids, fulfilling my spiritual responsibilities, submitting for publication. All of these steps together are taking me places. Hopefully there will be wonderful places after the hard and scary ones that I can see. I’m scared, but that won’t stop me from moving forward.

The Things on our Walls and What they Tell

Our decorating scheme for this house has been pretty haphazard in the fifteen years since we moved in. The walls are white because we’ve never spent the time or money to change them. We hung up some portraits and a picture of the temple because that is what one does with the walls of a house, also because I believe that sometimes we need visual reminders of the important things in our lives. There is a large picture in the kitchen of a gargoyle leaping to catch bubbles. I still love that picture. Howard and I bought it together one day after we received an unexpectedly large tax return. However the wall hanging we picked up in Africa thirteen years ago was a purchase made because we were in Africa and felt the need to bring something home with us. Then once it was here we needed to display it. Many of the other ornaments in our home have lingered for similar reasons. Our whole decorating scheme centered around things we acquired or inherited randomly that were sort of cool. Yet this past year I’ve placed more focus on noticing how small shifts in our surroundings can add to the general happiness in our lives. The African wall hanging long ago stopped causing us to feel happy. It was time for something new.

Our walls don’t just speak to us about places we’ve been and what matters, they also speak to those who visit. Mostly what our walls have been saying lately is that we are busy people who don’t take time to clean or to create a cohesive feel to our spaces. Howard had an idea to fix that, at least for the family room. He used some reward points to get Nintendo game posters. They showed large images of games that we’ve loved. Looking at the posters made us happy. We talked of having them framed to hang on the walls. Yet we didn’t. Mostly the delay was due to concerns about the cost of framing, but I confess I also worried a bit about what our walls would say to others.

Our family room is set up for video games and movies. The big TV is mounted on the wall and the cabinet below it is stacked with multiple game systems and shelves of the games that we have accumulated. Sometimes I feel very aware of all of these things when a visitor walks into the room, particularly if that visitor is one who has expressed the opinion that video games are a waste of time. That room makes it very obvious where much of our discretionary money is spent. Do we sometimes spend too much time and money on video games? Yes. But I know that the games bring happiness to our lives. We have as many happy memories and shared experiences over video games as other families do over soccer matches or trips to theme parks.

I have been trying lately to add small happiness to life, to recognize which things add to that happiness and which subtract. For Christmas this year I measured the posters and bought frames at Target. They were relatively cheap, simple to assemble, and did a good job of displaying the posters. This afternoon I took down the other displays and hung the posters. The room no declares clearly that the games do not just belong to the kids, but also to the adults. Not only that, but that we consider the games to be art worthy of display. With this one simple act we truly own the room, the games, and ourselves. Even more important, I when I watch Howard or the kids enter the room, their eyes flicker to the pictures of Zelda or a Skyrim map and their mouths quirk in a smile. A tiny piece of happiness has been added to our lives. We are glad to walk in that room now. It is good.

We’re not done. I expect that we’ll trade out the posters periodically as these ones begin to feel stale and new ones arrive. I also know that a particular pairing is not quite working right. It would also add to the room if we were to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. These things will come, and they will add to our happiness.