I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it...Picasso

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sharpening the Saw

Sharpening the saw.  Remember that?  You know, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  All the rage in the 90's.  Give me a show of hands.  Who read it?  No?  Yes?  Anyway...

If you think about the phrase it is pretty self-explanatory.  You have to stay sharp in order to achieve and you have to do things to keep sharpening that edge.  Reading, learning, expanding your horizons and keeping what you have in shape. 

Picking up the thread of my last posting we are back in my serenity room in the upstairs of my house.  The window looks out onto a splendid patch of woods with a small river running through it and a feeder stream connecting a Y of water that is winding its way through the snow, all sparkling in the sunlight of this crisp, clear  winter's day.  A foot or so of snow remains on the ground with only a few critter prints marking the clean white sheet.   The stark simplicity of it all makes my chest fill up with joy.

I am about to turn on the music to move my body around and I am just not in the fucking mood.  Really.  I would rather be downstairs doing the laundry!  That is how much I do not want to bend my knees and lift my arms up over my head but there is a voice in my head that won't let me out of this room.  It's the voice of my 17 year old son.  He and I have joined forces and hands to tackle the hindrances of our respective bodies.  He, a young budding rock star who, after loosing the 50 pounds he gained while doing an extended stint in a wheelchair, is determined to get rid of the last 10 pounds that has dogged him for a couple of years now. I, as I have told you, am out to reclaim, not the body of my youth but the body that represents the youthful spirit I still experience, even in my middle ageness.  Part of this joint venture is that we have hung a huge erase board calendar in the kitchen and we have to write down all the pertinent information regarding what we do each day in pursuit of our goals. 

As I kicked off the year, I was gangbusters, like we all are with first of the new year resolutions.  The second week, I hung in there like the champ that I am and pushed through the sloth that begged me to do something other that work out.  The third week - well, let's see.  There was the 2 day migraine (ok, a pass for that) and then there was the doctor's appointment in the city that took all day.  Oh, and I had that long day of errands - Fairway, the post office, bank, cleaners, TJ Maxx, Starbucks...okay the last 2 were me stalling so that I could be assured that there would be no time left in the day for me to get my way-too-wide behind into gear. 

"Dude.  What's up with the workouts?"  (Yep, my son calls me "dude".)  Well...blah, blah, blah and then blah, blah, blah - "Mom!  WTF!"  (Yep, he said the whole phrase.)  "Excuses!"  What's up with that?"  I had no answer but just what it was.  Excuses.  Nothing real (except the headache) nothing acceptable, just a whole lot of blah, blah, blah.  "I don't know.  I just bagged out on it, I guess."  "On yourself, Ma.  You bagged out on yourself".  I have found that nothing makes me feel more naked and exposed than to be lectured by my teen aged son, and he nails me dead to the truth.  Damned you!  "I'll tell you why you're slacking off, dude.  You don't believe in yourself."

Uncomfortable pause.  "What did you say?"  "You don't believe in yourself.  That's why you didn't work out.  If you believed in yourself you'd keep it up."  "You're absolutely right, Monk."  (Yes, I call him Monk and not for no good reason.)

I walked away to think about this simple of statement.  Of course.  If I truly believed in myself, I wouldn't let myself down by not keeping my word to myself.   Hard and simple of questions were at hand.  Do I truly believe that I can shed this tonnage and be light on my feet again?  Do I really believe that I can bridge that gap between my kneecap and my chest?  Will I really ever trot down the long driveway to the mailbox or try to outrun the dogs around the yard?  Will I ever regain some of those dancing chops so that I can bust a move for my son that will make him proud and amazed?  I have the vision but do I really believe my own eyes?

I've been feeling a little lost in my NellsBelles business as well, since the holidays.  After taking time off, resting and doing all the things that are expected of me at Christmas, I felt at a crossroads with my work.  I've been at this long enough now, a little more than a year, and I have certainly come a long way in that time.  I am proud of what I have accomplished.  But the accomplishment of launching my Etsy store, building up enough stock to be in business and doing a few craft shows is a finite endeavor.  Selling, building a brand, gaining a consumer following- that is the business.  It requires an additional skill set and a renewed determination to step into the unknown of art in commerce.  Now I have to promote myself.  Now I have to present my work with pride and confidence and believe that others in the position to raise my profile will agree with me.  Now is the winter of my self promotion.  Do I believe my own eyes?

I'm attending the winter New York Gift Show next week and plan to attend a series of seminars presented by CRAFT (Craft Retailers and Artists For Tomorrow).  The topics include Moving to Inbound Marketing, Media Marketing and Using Facebook to Build Your Business.  I'm hoping that what I learn from these few days will give me some know-how and inspiration to move in the direction that I think suits where I believe I belong in the marketplace.  I am hoping to be inspired by other artists that are living their vision.  Mostly, I am hoping to be inspired to believe in what I do.  I want to live my vision.

So here we are, back in the serenity room.  Facing the window and its photo worthy view, Adam Lambert is playing on my boom box (don't judge me - we all have quirks) and I hear my son's voice.  Dude, you have to believe in yourself.  I inhale deeply, raising my arms over my head.  My palms come together and as I exhale they come to prayer position at my heart chakra.  (Okay, I spent a lot of time in the 80's at Crystal Magic and the Flotation Room.  We all have a past.)  In the moment before I inhale again, I feel it come over me.  Not the warmth of the sun but a wave of sureness and calm.  I believe.  I know I believe because I am here, breathing and moving and planning and being.  I can move forward because I simply choose to believe in myself.

To sharpen the saw can be like walking the razor's edge.


  1. Beautiful. The hands brought together at the heart center is called "anjali mudra". One hand symbolizes wisdom and the other compassion, so in joining your hands in anjali mudra, you are bring wisdom and compassion together at your heart. You do this all throughout your life, for as long as I've known you. Now, you are just bowing in to yourself and to the brilliant light that lives inside of you, waiting for you to be magnificent in all ways.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this Neely. I am at a very similiar place right now, both in my work and fitness,weight loss journey. It's nice to know that I am not alone in these struggles and now I feel inspired by You! Thank you :-)

  3. I too am at a similar place. At a cross roads as to where to go, and what to do. Well written!