Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Experiment - Day 28

It's barely Day 28 of The Experiment where my 10-year-old daughter Rebecca assigns me tasks I must complete. I say barely, because it's just after 6am. I've been awake since 5, thanks to a warm night and allergies.

I woke up and made stealth espresso (with my HandPresso because it's quieter than the electric machine), so I wouldn't wake up everyone in the house. Then I sat at the computer and started checking my favorite news sources. I'm enjoying following the Occupy Wall Street protests, but I was quickly diverted and before I knew it, I was watching an Italian documentary that demonstrates how the official story about 9-11 could not be possible. In other words, I had started my day with what Rebecca would call "something dreadful". I caught myself and stopped watching, choosing instead to turn things around and check some of the websites in my "Inspire" bookmark folder. I found a great article on a blog called "A List Apart" about banishing your inner critic. That's a much more productive way to spend my time before the sun - and my girls - rise.

Here's how yesterday's tasks played out:

I spent some time painting my work shed, so I didn't get around to my walk around the block until almost dinner time. Rebecca had wanted me to include a traipse down to the community garden behind the Methodist Church across the street, but they were having a memorial barbecue, and there were a few people milling in the parking lot near the garden. I did not want to intrude in their festivities. Rebecca disagreed, and tried to pull me in that direction, but I flat-out refused. Afterwards, she said that the walk counted as fulfilling the task, but the tone of her voice said otherwise. I started questioning my decision to not intrude at the church, but Beth agreed that not going to the garden was the considerate thing to do. Why do I question my decisions so much? Why can't I believe in myself more firmly and stick to my guns? I know I was conditioned to mistrust my gut instincts when growing up, but I'm grown up now. That inner doubt no longer serves me.

I peeled garlic last night for dinner - actually more than the 6 cloves specified in the task. I don't know if it slowed me down or not. Afterward, I became impatient waiting for the sink to wash off the papery garlic skin that was stuck to my fingers.

Tangent Arc Above A Parhelion
After cleaning up all my painting tools, and moving the firewood behind the shed (so I was ready to paint the rest of the wall the following day), I sat on the top step outside the door of the shed and surveyed the back yard. Birds were flitting from tree to tree. The thin smear of clouds overhead revealed a tangent arc overhead, indicating a parhelion around the sun. The red leaves of our neighbor's huge maple tree glowed in the waning rays of sunlight. I realized that I sit in that spot often - sometimes when I need quiet or a break from the interactions in the house - sometimes, just to slow down and enjoy the microcosm that is our back yard.

I realized that I knew no better place nearby where I could feel like myself and simply chill out, or reflect. I decided that sitting on that top step was my special place. I called Rebecca out from the house to announce my decision. She accepted my decision, but was not enthusiastic - probably because she had expectations that I would find a place that was a little more secluded - a place I could go to completely extract myself from the usual life routine.

I started questioning my decision - had I chosen this place to take the easy way out? Should I keep searching? I stopped myself. This was a natural, comfortable place where I come to sit and be with myself. It wasn't what I pictured in my mind's eye when Rebecca first gave me the task, but it felt right. That was my special spot. I stopped doubting myself; I stopped worrying about how my decision was received. That's the spot - end of discussion (both internal and external)!

I chuckled as I thought of a line Albert Brooks delivered in the movie "Broadcast News": "Wouldn't it be great if insecurity and self-doubt made us more attractive?" Well, they don't - so it's high time I shed those limiting feelings!

Here's today's tasks:
  1. When we go up on the Blue Ridge Parkway today, don't just drive. Get out of the car and feel the ground under your feet. Take a nice trail and let your inner child lead you. Have fun and enjoy yourself along with being with your family.
  2. On "your" trail, find 5 cool artifacts to take home with you (not pictures).
  3. Have fun!
I'll let you know tomorrow how it went!

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