Falling crockery


One of the hardest things for me to reconcile is the difference, often vast, between the world as I would like it to be and the world as it is.

I’m not talking about hippy-dippy, kumbaya-peace stuff or even fairness stuff: I’m talking about the physical reality of time, and how much stuff you can cram into it. Or can’t, as is the case with me. It has always been this way with me, I’m afraid.

Have I told you yet about the time I took on Uncle Tom’s Cabin for a book report in the second or third or fourth grade, not realizing how hard, oh, hell, how BORING it was, not to mention long? I don’t even remember what page I was on when I finally gave up, 87? 187? All I remember was that I was in my parents’ bedroom, and exhausted, and great waves of shame washed over me like dirty, freezing ocean water, and I cried, copiously, until I finally fell asleep.

I don’t know what I thought would happen if I gave in to reality and admitted then and there that I was going to fail: I would die, perhaps, or be expelled, or have to stand in a corner with my black watch plaid uniform jumper up over my head while the teacher (rightfully! rightfully!) humiliated me in front of the class. None of which would have been staved off, were they inevitable, had I just given in and gone to bed at a reasonable hour; I’d just have been better rested for my punishment.

Neither do I know what did finally happen to me that next day, but it wasn’t expulsion and my jumper stayed firmly about my little chicken legs. What was the end of the world to me was probably a blip in a burp of the day for whichever teacher had me in her class. Miss Puent? Mrs. Mackey? Sister Teshima? (Well, actually, if it was Sister Teshima, that fear of mine would not have been ungrounded, so it’s safe to say this didn’t go down in the third grade.)

I’ve been having panicky moments lately. It doesn’t matter that they’re born of self-created tasks and self-imposed deadlines. I’m falling further and further behind* with no sign of breathing room for catching up. I hate being that tool who doesn’t follow through on promises, and I’m dangerously close to it; curse me and my stupid mouth, writing checks my poor, wracked body can’t possibly cash.

So today, with the help of my beloved coach, Ilise, I made a hard decision: let go of the consulting push. Not the consulting itself, necessarily, which I really enjoy and which, unless they’re all lying to me, the people who have come to me for it have really enjoyed and found useful, inspiring and fun. But the Big Marketing Push to get consulting clients is on permanent hold. No standalone website. Not even a bona fide consulting “hire me” page right now. Just that crazy Super-Secret thing I’ve been sending people to when they inquire for months now, and whatever people continue to float my way, regardless.

It’s a little embarrassing, like having to wear a slightly old and shiny suit in public because you didn’t have the time or money to go out shopping for a new one. It’s probably also a little bit like admitting you’re up to your eyeballs in debt or an alcoholic or that you just got the axe at work (although I guess that these days, there’s not as much of a stigma there).

Ultimately, though, it feels right. I love writing. I mean, I love it like I’ve never loved anything else in my life. I love it even when I hate it. I love it even when I’m doing it kind of badly, like right now. (And that’s not fishing, it’s just fact.)

I also love going out and telling people about stuff that can help them. Social media and marketing and communicating for now, but who knows what else? Maybe the guitar playing figures in. Maybe performing has something to do with it. I trust that will take shape as I move forward.

It is hard to focus. But I can’t keep talking about it and not do it myself. That’s foolishness. Worse, it’s a lie. Better to break a few promises and come clean than to be a liar-liar-pants-on-fire.

Better to be the best me I can be, doing the stuff I’m best at the best way I know how, than half-ass it as some wannabe Wonder Woman.

I never did look so hot in cuffs…


Image by erikaflynn via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

*Which reminds me, gotta get those prizes out!


  1. WhooooooHoooo! Congratulations, Colleen. You know, when we select and focus, there is even MORE likelyhood that we’ll get what we want–really, really want (which may be avoiding plates crashing overhead.

    Trimming the fat to do what you Love, love, love does not sound like shinysuit-drinking-sterno to me. Sounds more like setting the bar where your true passions lie. The gigs will come: consulting, performing, speaking–general opps to spotlight how incredible you are. Trust it. Write your glorious heart out.


  2. Honey, that’s why I read your blog. You’re honest and hey! human!! :-)
    Besides, what’s with the “gotta work my tush off now so later I can get some balance”, anyway? Why not do the balance thing as we go along, huh? Less stressful all-round. Redefining what success means to US, not others, and all that. Integrity and congruence rate much higher on the inside-happiness-scale anyway, don’t they, in the long run?
    Good vibes, Dee xx

  3. *great post*

    Could totally relate to what I will now think of as “the book report feeling.” We can only do what we can do!

  4. For me, Uncle Tom’s cabin was 4th grade and we had to perform it. In blackface! And my ignorant yank of a teacher told me my accent was wrong even though all my relatives were from VA and I knew well their sound. When I parodied an offensive Southern accent for her, she was DELIGHTED! Can’t believe how offensive that was.

  5. I remember my mother calling me and informing me, with some trepidation, that she had something to tell me. That it was hard for her to say. By the time she spit out the terrible truth, that she had started eating meat again (she was vegetarian for 25 years, but I have always eaten meat) I was so relieved. I thought she was going to tell me she had cancer or something. The point is that we work ourselves up over our ‘failures’, and I’m not sure anyone else notices.

    Since then, I’ve been much better at letting myself off the hook for all of my shortcomings. They might seem big in my mind, but probably no one else really cares. And if I let them get to me, then it leads to stagnation as I try to cover up the Awful Truth. Better to be the best you, indeed.

  6. THANK YOU, all: Dy, Doris, BrooklynChick, Claire, Amber.

    And that blackface story is amazing–amazing! I would not have believed it if it wasn’t coming from you. (Even if you do write Taller Than Average Tales,” I’ve found most of them quite believable and true.)

    And Amber, that could be a sort of great tactical maneuver: prepare someone for the WORST, then drop a bomb that’s more like a hankie.

  7. OMG that reminded me of the three books I had to read on my first course at college:
    Proust’s “A La Recherche”
    Joyce “Ulysses”
    and “Death in Vegas”.

    I was like “I borrowed money to do this course and I can’t stand these books.”
    No wonder I ended up writing my disseration “American Psycho”. Still, I was young.

    Now I’d love to have the same time and space to read (or not read) those books again.

  8. My blog’s name allows for handy plausible deniability. ;)

    The blackface is completely true and objectively made sense to differentiate black and white characters when all the kids were white, but even in the 4th grade, I wondered, wtf are we doing?

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