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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are You Afraid of Success?

I think too much.  I'm convinced of it.  When all is quiet in the house and I'm awake, like now in the early morning, I get to thinking.  Deep thinking and reflecting.  I'm not sure that is always a good thing, although I've come up with some pretty good ideas in the early morning.  That's when I usually have an epiphany. 

Take this morning for instance - I was thinking about my life and all the successes I let slide into some corner of the closet of my life.  I'm a great starter.  I'm not very good at taking my passions to the finish line though.  I think I lack something in my brain for finishing things successfully.  I know I have it in me, I just clam up before it gets completely out of control.  Does that make sense?


"Jitterbug Quilt" by Mary Susan Vaughn
52 x 65 - 1930s Jelly Roll Cottons

One thing I know for sure - so sure in fact that I am going to share it with you and I want you to reflect on this in your own life - "what you focus on expands and grows - successfully."  This is true.  No matter what you focus on, no matter what you do, no matter where you go in life, including failure - if you focus on that one thing to the end, you will be successful at it.  Guaranteed.  A huge success.  I promise.

People often say "I'm afraid of failure."  I say "bull."  If you want something bad enough, or want to learn something or do something passionately, you can do it - unless, of course, you have physical limitations that prevent you from achieving your goal.  If you don't have the physical limitations or the mental limitations (due to illness, disease, or something critical - you know what I mean), you can do anything.


"A Charlotte Summer" by Artist Mary Susan Vaughn
18 x 24 Oil on Canvas

I don't think any of us truly comprehend what we are capable of.  Many of us listen to this voice in our head that tells us we are not good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough.  The truth is, if we want to do something passionately enough, we can do it.  We just have to have the will power, the drive, and the determination to see it through to the end.  Of course ...



Family picture - Easter 2003
Big Bear, Me, Sarah, Matthew & Glen

There is this "s" word at the destination that I believe prevents most of us from reaching our goals.  "Success."  Don't laugh.  I'm convinced of this - because with "success" comes responsibility.  It's like giving birth and becoming a mother, you can't take it back.  If you are like most mothers who love their children, raise them, nurture them, and value them as I do, like an extension of your own soul, then you know what I mean.  Having a child is erupt with "responsibility" and we pray day in and day out that our goals and hopes for our children come true, and that their successes in life and passions are realized.  It's the same thing with following through on what we love to do and want to do with our own life.


"America's Promise" by Artist Mary Susan Vaughn
36 x 54 Oil on Canvas

In my life, I can honestly say that being a mother has been my greatest success and my greatest failure.  I will never feel as though I did all that I could to be the best mother to my children.  I will always feel as though I failed them in some way.  If I look back on my life realistically, though, I know that I have done most all I could - all things considered - and still do (if I'm being completely honest here, which I am.  I'm not going to beat myself up over this anymore).  Okay, back to "success." 


Me, Kathleen & Kimberly - 1986

Success is like giving birth.  You have this child, this "element" of your life that is your passion, your desire, your path and hope for your life.  But with that "element," and to reach that "goal," you have to "commit."  There it is folks - commitment.  That's a BIG word and a HUGE responsibility.  If you are going to be successful at anything, you must commit - totally - to seeing it through to the end, no matter what it is.  Even laziness and failure takes commitment.  Do you realize that?  You must do all that is necessary to make it all happen and reach that goal that you visualized from the beginning.  Commitment takes work, and work takes commitment, and it all requires energy and responsibility to see it through.  That, I am convinced, is a failing in many of us, myself included.


Postage Stamp Quilt by Alex Anderson

I'm a mess when it comes to success. I love to sew, quilt, paint in oils, craft, and write.  And, I've been semi-successful at each of these things, but I have yet to be able to focus on one thing and carry it through to a successful conclusion. Every day, I look at others who have been enormously successful at these very things.  Let's start from the top - Martha Stewart, Alex Anderson, Nancy Zieman, Karin Wells, Ree Drummond ... these are but a few of the women of today that I admire for their successes.  They put their heart and soul into what they love and they have nurtured it to a "successful" conclusion - of which there is no real conclusion unless they stop nurturing and working at their passion and their goals. 


Martha Stewart doing everything

How do they do it?  Focus.  Commitment.  Passion.  I am certain that they don't look at commitment as a responsibility, but rather, as a challenge and a goal.  Instead of being afraid of success and all the responsibility that comes with it, they follow it like the light at the end of a tunnel.  They seek it out like water to the thirsty.  They don't sit back and think "Yeah, but if I get it all, will I be able to see it through?  Will I be able to keep up with success?  Will I be able to handle all the responsibility, bad and good, that comes with reaching my goals?"  Well, maybe they do think that, but they don't let those thoughts deter them from ultimately reaching their goals, and with that comes "success."


Gray-haired me trying not to laugh at Big Bear

I once had someone ask me "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  So what if I was 50 when they asked me this!  Heck, I don't know!  Can I take a nap now?  No?  Who asked you?!! 

No, I do not want to make quilts every day of my life.  No, I do not want to paint every day of my life.  No, I do not want to write or craft or do laundry every day of my life.  Yes, I secretly wish I had it in me to be as successful as the women I admire so much.  I told you I was a mess.  And I know that it is because of this that I have not been truly successful at anything, except maybe thinking.


Ree Drummond cooking up something good

Funny thing is, when I focus on something, I do a great job.  I love to paint and have been told by many that my paintings are beautiful (that's relative though and I know it).  I love to quilt and I know that I can create magnificent quilts if I want to.  I love to sew and I know I have just as much in me as Nancy Zieman (Nancy's Notions).  I know I will never be Martha Stewart.  I also know I will never be married to a sexy cowboy on a 100,000 acre ranch with beautiful horses and a desire to cook all things incredible like Ree Drummond, but I can dream.  There are, however, many things that I can do that they cannot, many things that I am passionate about that I could be equally successful at if I only stayed focused and committed to the very end.

How do I do this?  How do you do this?  Education, focus, determination, and commitment.  What am I afraid of?  What are you afraid of?  Success.  Yep, that's it - success.  Not failure, but success.  Failure is easy.  Anyone can "do" failure.  Not everyone can "do" success, because that takes a lot of energy and responsibility, nurturing and building, passion and devotion and time. I take that back (relatively speaking).  I think we are all successful - because to be good at something, even being lazy, a chronic complainer, self loathing, pain-in-the-backside, person who blames others for your problems - that takes energy, and you can be very successful at that too if you try hard enough.


"Ruth Mitchell Christensen" by Artist Karin Wells
20 x 24 oil on linen

From Congresswomen to Crafters, Authors to Artists, Seamsters to Sculptors - if we have something deep inside of us that we love to do, we have it inside of us to be as successful as we let ourselves be at doing that very thing. How far we go, and how successful we become, is limited only by how far we let ourselves go with our desires before we hit a wall. 

I still sit here thinking, though, "okay, so what do I want to be when I grow up?"  Then again, maybe I don't want to grow up - that would require being successful at something and I'm not sure I'm ready for that.  How about you?


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