reframing failure

Today, I had a disappointment. It was big. And I’m okay with that.

Here’s why: I know that true disappointment, deep disappointment, means I’ve identified a goal and tried my darnedest to achieve it. Not getting it is almost beside the point: trying is the point. Failure means I’m trying, really trying, to achieve goals, even if they might be out of my reach.

So, what can I fail at next? I’m compiling quite a list of possibilities over here, things to aim at and — maybe, just maybe — fail.

Advertisements

little things

I love:

-clementines. I love how easy they are to peel, how tiny they are, how each segment is just the right size to pop into my mouth.

– spinning kids around: grabbing a child by the wrists and twirl twirl twirl, that little face beaming and giggling up at you, until you both get wobbly-legged and dizzy. Yesterday I spun the smallest child at a family picnic; by the time I set him down, all the rest had lined up for a turn. When you spin more than a few children in a row, you can feel it the next day in your shoulders, arms, and back. It occurs to me that I would get more than enough exercise every day if I could just spin children for 30 minutes or so, including the breaks so I don’t whoops.

– clear wine bottles. I soak the bottle in cold water so the glue softens, the label peels off, and I can easily scrub the glass clean with a sponge. Wash well inside and out. I use clear bottles to store grains, to fill with fruit-infused liqueurs, or to serve chilled water.

unconditional

I came down with a cold just before New Year’s Eve, and it persisted until, ooooh, yesterday. That’s more than two weeks of snotty, sniveling sickness — and two weeks of experiencing The Fella’s shining example of unconditional love. Some simple acts of love:

– insisting I sleep cozied down in the bed with him instead of confining my coughing, hacking, restless, contagious self to the hard sofa.

– gazing at my slack, shambling frame as I change from a sweaty, baggy pair of gray PJs to a clean, baggy pair of gray PJs and saying (in a voice ringing with sincerity), “You’re so pretty!”

– driving to the restaurant whose name and address I don’t know to order the soup I can’t pronounce.

resolving

I’m not a big fan of traditional New Year’s resolutions. Too often, I see friends commit to punishing life changes and ascetic regimes. This kind of self-denial is designed to fail, which only erodes morale.

I’m especially resistant to weight-loss resolutions. I’m frankly tired of hearing people deplore their bodies, and I’m sick and tired of them assuming that I feel the same way about mine. As I’ve mentioned before, my own relationship with my body is complicated, but it’s mostly a mixture of appreciation and tender protectiveness. I try not to deride my body despite the messages of inadequacy that bombard us all, and I try to take positive steps, not negative ones. When I exercise, I focus on getting stronger and feeling good, not on losing weight or looking different.

When it comes to resolutions, I focus on pleasure and self-care, not punishment and self-abnegation. Some of my oft-repeated resolutions from previous years: drink more champagne*; sing more; eat more eclairs.

I think I will make a resolution this New Year, and it’s one of celebration, not denial: dance more.

* I’m doing verrrrrrry well with this one.

emotional math

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about partnership and marriage, and especially about being married to The Fella, which is, y’know, awesome.

This Ask Metafilter comment gets to the heart of that awesomeness:

You know when you were a kid, and you’d get excited about sleepovers because you could stay up all night watching movies and talking to someone who just cracked you up and really understood you? Remember how special those nights felt?

Every day is like that now. Except we get to have really good sex, too.

Yup, that sums it up: I get to spend every day and every night with my very favorite person from now on, and we get to express that favorite-ness in every way we wish.

But I still haven’t really internalized that this is a two-way street of Awesome — that my very favorite person’s very favorite person is me.

Let me digress.

I had a rotten morning. You don’t need to know the details, but I made a small error that caused the not-sane part of my brain to castigate me and call me names (which A. is not productive and B. is NOT ALLOWED) while I flailed around trying to get dressed and out of the house in a hurry.

During this ridiculous few minutes of blistering self-loathing, The Fella kept interjecting helpful comments like, “You’re not stupid, you just made a mistake” and “How can I help?” and “Are these your pants?” When he should have been sleeping peacefully (and could very rightfully have been giving me grief over my meltdown), he was cheerfully pitching in to soothe me, to help me, to solve my problem.

And later in the day, I added some of those things together. I did the emotional math: I am married to my very favorite person, the person whose opinion I value more than anyone else’s, the person who I think is the downright AWESOMEST person in the whole wide world.

And he thinks I’m THE AWESOMEST, too.

I think he must be right. You don’t argue with the transitive property.

dream logic

All week long, I’ve been having what sound like classic anxiety dreams, what should be classic anxiety dreams, but Dream Elsa keeps stepping up and mastering the anxious situations.

– A dream replays a real-life conversation in which a loved one asks me to do something I feel awkward about doing. In the dream as in life, I tactfully and pleasantly say no, re-establishing my boundaries; in the dream as in life, the loved one graciously accepts my refusal and we chat about other things before saying “I love you, bye.”

– I find myself at a party where I know absolutely no one. Instead of freezing up or standing in a corner, I pour myself some punch and smilingly make my way around the room meeting people.

– I awaken in an unfamiliar and busy bank lobby without pants. “Huh,” I say to the tellers, “my pants have disappeared, along with my wallet. I’ll have to get new ones! See you later.”

– The bank building shifts, as dream landscapes tend to do, and becomes a shopping mall bustling with shoppers. Unsurprisingly, all of them are fully dressed; I am still trouserless. “Well,” I think, it won’t be the oddest thing they’ll see today. Hmm, I bet I can buy some pants in one of these stores!”

– I’m out with The Fella in a busy bar when I’m temporarily struck dumb. He looks at me quizzically; I calmly gesture to my mouth and shrug, smiling to reassure him. He understands completely, flashes me a loving look, and without words we fist-bump, clinking our wedding rings in solidarity.

I’m not sure what these mean, but I wake up each day nodding in appreciation of this Dream Me who sizes up each situation and faces it with calm confidence and competence. I half-expect to dream of showing up, naked and unprepared, at a final exam — and to get an A+.

little things

A few small pleasures on this gray rainy day:
– new boots, bought in the last days of spring and packed away for a rainy day;
– sugar cubes, bought for champagne cocktails but distinctly pleasant to watch them melting in a cup of tea;
– a whole basket of fresh tomatoes, bursting with juice and scent, too gorgeous to cook or gussy up;
– a brand new sketchpad and an excellent pen;
– a few minutes stolen with The Fella, bundled up in bed with blankets and books.

For the moment, I’m directing my writing energy elsewhere, but I’ll continue to check in with little things — and little things can be good.