Using the Sunset to Restart

I pushed “publish” and walked out the door. I felt lighter, more buoyant than I have in a week as my boots merrily go click-click on the cobblestone street.

I had just announced that I failed.

I felt — feel — free.
Sunset and Balloon

Step 1: Admit it.

I’ve oft admitted — at least to myself if not publicly — that I am pretty poor at daily practice. I get distracted by the new shiny after a few weeks and chafe under the perceived pressure of daily work. It shouldn’t be an excuse for poor performance, I know it, but it is simply have accepted of myself.

Plenty of people have advice of forming daily habits that stick. I could easily follow their ways — it is just a question of willpower right? Follow the steps to achieving the goal and do it daily.

But I didn’t.

I had set the goal/aspiration/plan/daily-practice-dream of posting A Photo A Day starting back in July. APAD was and is a way for me to try to Be IN and retain my “fresh eyes” in my time in Italy.

I could go into further detail about all the whys and hows and intentions and blah blah blah but the simple fact remains:

I didn’t do what I said I was going to do.

There. I admit it. <whew>

Slippery Slope

I missed days of posting. I got behind… then I got more behind.

Suddenly this practice that was initially enjoyable was a source of stress.

Actual Reminder Post-ItsI took pictures… well… most days… but I didn’t take the time to post — despite the daily reminders on phone, computer and many post-its with “Tumblr” on the top of the to-do items.

“What, all of like 10 minutes?! Come on Jo!” my chastizy voice would pester. So I would make-up for the lapse in a flurry of posts, hoping no one would notice that they weren’t actually posting daily.

And I would commit to myself, yet again, to not slip.

Then I would slip up yet again.

The pressure would compound upon itself as the missed days mounted. Like a string of success, a string of lapses is that much harder to break.

After posting this tirade about starting and sticktuitiveness I was again almost a week behind. I was tressed, embarrassed, flustered and berating myself about it. Then I had a simple breakthrough: I asked myself “why?”

Why was the goal important to me?

This was supposed to be a fun project. It was supposed to keep me IN moments not putting pressure on myself to find them.

Reminding myself of my reasons for starting showed me that stressing about lapses and trying to “make them up” was completely counterproductive.

Shying away from stating the fact that I didn’t do what I said I was going to do doesn’t make it go away. So why not just admit it?

Begin (again)

Our lapses weigh on our consciousness and they begin to loom ever larger in the background of our brain if we let them. That only contributes to feelings of unworthiness which aren’t good for us or for the world.

I was the friend that I ought to be to myself: I gave myself permission to let the past stay there instead of carrying it with me.

Then I am free to make the choice — if I still feel it is important to me and something I want to do — to begin again.

I admitted my failure — small as it may be — and magically, wonderfully doing so defeated the boogyman it had become.

Public admission of a muck-up is tough, no doubt about it, but not as tough as the continuous stress of feeling like we have something to hide and make up for.

Shine a light into those corners, see the murkiness there and sweep it out. 

Then move the heck on.

Sunset and Sunrise

San Minato Sunset 2There is an idea in photography and videography of the “magic hour” — the hour just before sunset where the light is beautiful and indeed a little magical.

Far from being sad events, we usually enjoy sunsets. Why?

The sunset can be freeing.

We can use that magic hour to see more clearly, rosily, beautifully. We can then choose what to carry forward into the next day and what we wish to let go.

So we didn’t do what we wanted today? It is done. Finito. Arrividerci.

Tell the sunset of our troubles, our lapses, and our failures. Let shine that lovely, last magic light onto them, then let the stress, pressure, angst and worry be cast off below the horizon.

In the morning, we can chose to start anew.

Be IN it all,


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