The problem with good ideas …

… and yes, there is a problem.
Until recentlLight Bulby I did not understand the statement, “I am just not that creative”, I did not get what was so difficult. With Pinterest you do not need to be creative – just follow the directions.Recently, though, I found myself in a creative dry spell. I started to think that maybe I was not creative anymore. My friend and I were hosting a ‘Christmas in July’ gathering for our friends and even with a board on Pinterest dedicated to this magical event I could not get started. Nothing spoke to me. The snowflakes I tried to craft more closely resembled something pulled from the hose of a vacuum and the idea of baking cookies ranked alongside getting a root canal.

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and I arrived in July with nothing to offer my Christmas in July guests. I had lost the desire to blog and no imagination to create or decorate. You have reached a dark place when glitter cannot pull you from a slump.

Something change last week. I do not recall the moment but there was a turning point. I started having ideas. I thought of blog topics, came up with a way to refresh my kitchen, and the mere suggestion from my husband to move the love seat from our den to our living-room turned into a HGTV series where I was mapping out moving this here, and that there, and oooo a new paint color which turned into a new rug, table, chair, light fixture and I renamed the room – I FREAKING RENAMED THE ROOM! Then I had this insane idea that I could rent my house – weekly in the summers and as a seasonal rental in the winters. That turned into a mental list of what would need to be done 1) new appliances 2) add beds 3) talk to a property manager – all the while still mentally redecorating my den (now aptly named “My Imagination Room” – way cooler than “My Office”, right?).

It did not stop – the ideas just kept coming. At one point I thought it would be brilliant to start a YouTube Channel. Why- I have no idea. Not sure what I would do or say, but I swear in the moment it was utter brilliance.

I was on idea overload. There it is, the problem with ideas. They seep in. No harm. One or two thoughts pop in and you think to yourself, ah, that is a good idea, or oh, I should try that. You make a mental note to come back to it later. Just as quickly as the idea arrived, it is gone. Not forever mind you. Ideas float around like car inspections and registrations. You know they are there, waiting, they float in and out of your consciousness until the ability to plan for them is gone and BAM – they are upon you.

You know what I am talking about. Every year around December 14th you think, I should have (made a scarf for everyone, a Christmas wall hanging, made cards by hand, baked goodies for the neighbors, gone on a sleigh ride or fill in the blank with one of your own) but you didn’t so you will remember for next year. You think of it in June and maybe again for a moment  in September when the air turns cool, but you will not think of it again until December, when it is upon you.

Ideas are problems until they become realized. They clog your mind like old shoes and pre-baby pants stuffed in your closet. They are there reminding you of what you have not done, what you have not seen through and well, they hold you back.

To eradicate the problem you must put the ideas in to action. You must get them out of the proverbial closet and decide where they rank and what to do with them. Open a Google Spread sheet (or excel, or open office – I do not discriminate) and started naming the tabs: imagination room, vacation ideas, remodel, weight loss – whatever your ideas or goals are – right down the line. Then as you come up with related ideas  pop them in and rank them by level of importance. Weight lifted.

It is crazy that I had unknowingly caused myself additional stress with all of these ideas. Putting them in writing took away the subconscious worry that I will forget them, ranking them reminded me what was really important, crossing them off the list gave me a sense of accomplishment and as I have more ideas I can add them.

Problem solved.

Please pass the salt.

spilled salt In my younger years I used to harass my parents about their, what I perceived to be, excessive use of salt. They salted everything- steak, tomatoes, potatoes and green-beans. Hell, for all I know they salted the salt.

I had learned that salt could lead to hypertension not to mention their food always tasted like a bouillon cube (yes, I have tasted one, and that comparison is probably unfair to the cube). Their food was just gross. Salt ruins food.

 

Fast forward (quite a bit) to being eight months pregnant. I was the size of a Buick and I was craving beef -specifically steak – (which I had sworn off seven years earlier – a blog for another time) and the only way that it could be consumed was off the grill with salt (eeek). I blamed both cravings on the offspring.

 

For nearly 12 years that was the only food I added salt to (less all the baking that calls for salt). Until June 10th. June 10, 2013 I started a clean eating plan. No oils, no carbs, no grains, no dairy and limited fruits and veggies. The first phase of my clean eating was just long enough to rid my body of toxins and all the fantastic (said complete with sarcastic tone AND eye roll) preservatives that are just not necessary for your body. Long story short without all the sauces, marinades and seasonings I was left with just the food. Naked food.

 

Before naked food I actually thought I liked broccoli. For years I ate it raw – alone and in salads and I told people I liked it. Guess what- I like ranch dressing. Broccoli tastes good smothered in ranch. I now know that I do not like broccoli. I actually prefer dirt.

 

Broccoli was not the only thing I was trying again for the first time. If I was going to survive this I knew I had to experiment. I looked up what seasonings were okay to have and it turns out most spices are good to go- even salt.

 

Salt. The very thought of salt brought to mind stark images of a person dehydrating before my eyes – a shriveled pile of skin. There is no rational reason for this imagery, it just was. I thought I would give salt a shot, despite the imagery. A taste could not hurt. I bought sea salt and a grinder. My first experiment was salt on asparagus. Without anyone looking I tried the salted spear. It was magic. A home-run. It was not over powering; it actually complemented the asparagus. Without all the oils, marinades and fillers I was able to enjoy the fresh vegetable and the granulates of salt. A match made in heaven.

 

Had I opened Pandora’s Box; had I been missing out for years? Well, let’s see. I have since added salt to salads, which is spectacular if paired with a sweet vinaigrette, butternut squash (a nice alternative to cinnamon), and tomato soup. Just a dash and guess what? I have not become an addict but I have enjoyed some otherwise so-so foods. I cannot explain why it works or how it makes foods even more enjoyable. It just does.

 

I am not selling you on salt. Instead it made me think that maybe we all need to try something again. You may never enjoy brussel sprouts, but maybe you have a negative association with a certain food and it is time to give it another try. Maybe your great aunt dragged you to the theater when you were nine and a you swore it off; as an adult you may have an appreciation for the arts. Perhaps you went on a family camping trip and before the first nightfall you promised you would never subject your future children to trekking through the woods and bathing in a lake.

 

As we get older we mature, we discover who we are, what we like and what we value. As we get older we have the opportunity to experience new things and new places. Maybe there is room in there to try something, again.

The Dancing Guy Movement

What did you think about the video? Not it’s quality (because it is not professional grade), but what did you notice?

My first blog post, only a short scroll back, was titled “We, as humans, want to be first. We want to win.”.  Do we always want to be first, though?

In the video, along with the people around the man dancing, you notice a lone man embracing the music. It would appear as though he loves what he is hearing and was moved to express it through dance. As an observer you might even assume that he does not care what others think of his impromptu dance.

What else did you notice? There were people watching him. I would suspect that many thought he looked a little crazy, but then someone joined him, then another and another until people were jumping up and running to be a part of his dance. So, it begs the question, do we always want to be first?

Why are we okay with being first in traffic, first in line on black Friday or first to finish a test, but we are not okay with being like this guy?

I am not an expert in the human psyche but I would suspect that being able to beat someone to the stop light in traffic is a safe gamble. Maybe we got their first because our car is faster or we are a better driver. If we do not make it or someone beats us, we are in our car, sheltered- there is a getaway – a barrier. If we are first in line on black Friday everyone behind us knows that we are likely to get what we want, and let’s face it, we are in good company. Everyone behind us is there for the same thing. If we are first to finish the test it must be assumed we are the smartest, right? The only person who will know any different is the person grading it. There is little risk involved with these acts. They are, you could say, somewhat calculated.

The dancing guy was vulnerable. He took a chance that what he did would be mocked, but he did it anyway and the result was that others eventually shared in his joy.

Maybe instead of being first in line, first to own a new gadget (insert game system, music player etc. here) we should try being first at being vulnerable. How many times have we missed an opportunity to speak up at work, say something to a loved one (or a stranger), or take advantage of an opportunity because we were afraid to put ourselves out there?

That is all; just a thought for today. If you want to dig a little deeper I urge you to watch the following video. I was introduced to it about two months ago and it has had a profound impact on my life and how I view the world and people’s behaviors. In the video Brene Brown, LMSW and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, explores shame and vulnerability and her journey to wrapping her arms around such a largely misunderstood concept. I challenge you to watch it and not be affected by it.

We, as humans, want to be first and we want to win.

We, as humans, want to be first and we want to win.

I could be referring to a number of things, but I am talking about driving. More specifically, I am talking about those drivers that weave in and out of lanes treating cars like road cones and barely missing your side mirror as they careen by. They are the same drivers that were apparently never taught the correct meaning of merge – violators take note- merge does not mean lead foot and traffic assault to get “your” spot in line, and the drivers that cut you off in traffic and sweep in to nab the parking spot you were clearly (i.e. with blinker flashing) waiting for. Do these traffic assaulting, spot nabbing nuts ever have the decency to even make eye contact? Of course not. That would be personal and drivers like that treat driving like business. The business in being first and the business of winning.

These drivers make me crazy angry. They are dangerous and inconsiderate. I think it is the inconsiderate that gets to me. I could handle the crazy driving. If they are always ahead of me I should be safer, right? What I cannot tolerate is the trash bag that [just the other night] was sitting next to me at a traffic light. Before the light even turned green I had already seen the next 30 seconds play out. The trash bag in the truck next to me (along with a trailer hitched to the back of his truck) was going to put the petal to the metal and speed up because he had only a brief stretch of pavement before his lane would end and become my lane.

That isn’t what happened. He maintained a speed to keep us side by side. He could have sped up more, but he didn’t. He just drove next to me. I thought, wow I miss judged this. For a split second I thought he had realized his error, would slow down and get in behind me. Instead, he merged into my lane, not ahead of me, but next to me. He pushed me into oncoming traffic. Instead of coming up with an escape plan I had an Ally McBeal moment where real life paused and I watched myself slam my car into his truck screaming wildly “rubbing is racing”, just like in Days of Thunder. I quickly came to and assessed the situation and realized my only option was to speed up quickly and get in front of him. There wasn’t time for anything else. I managed to look at him and scream “whaaaaat are yoooou dooooing”? while I sped ahead.

When I secured my place in front of him I was left with the realization that I am the crazy driver. I mean, he is too – crazy on crack, but I saw the writing on the wall. I anticipated his behavior and instead of allowing him to go ahead I played his game.

Why?

I wanted to win. I wanted to be first and not be someone else’s pawn.

aggresive drivers