Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Telling the Truth Tuesday - what the Olympic athletes taught me

I am very hard on myself. Always have been. When I learn something knew, I expect to get it "instantly" and am very impatient with the learning curve. When I don't get it "instantly," I feel flawed and inadequate. In recent years, I have learned to "put down the whips" (a saying from the twelve step programs). But I haven't always been able to do that.

One area in which I am most critical of myself is my singing. I was never trained. I took voice lessons beginning at 55+ years old. Just for fun. Now I am in a trio and singing on key and sounding decent is important. When I had terrible stage fright, I went off pitch quite a lot. Now, not so much. But still, every once in awhile I go flat. I think it's an energy and breathing issue.

Anyway, I was watching gymnastics the other night and these young girls are such amazing athletes and have trained intensively for hours a day, every day, for years for this one moment in time. And even with all that training and all the skill and talent, they make mistakes. And I suddenly got that we are all human, and as such, unless we are recording something over and over until we get it right, when you are live, in the moment, anything can happen. But that doesn't mean they aren't extremely talented, skilled athletes. It just means something happened for them to lose focus or whatever.

Same is true for me. How about you? Are you too hard on yourself?
Let's all practice "putting down the whips."



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It is hard to watch mistakes at the Olympics, because it does all come down to one moment. Writers have it easier, as we can spend as much time as needed getting that moment right.

Claudia Moser said...

Interesting reflection today!

Karen Walker said...

Alex, I know, my heart breaks when it happens. Writers can edit and edit and edit. It's very different.
Thanks, Claudia.

Talli Roland said...

I am quite hard on myself, too. I'm afraid to ease up in case I get lazy and/ or complacent! But I hear you - it'd be great to slow down a bit and feel a little pride when I accomplish something.

Tracy Jo said...

I am way hard on myself too...learning to let that go a bit and something I work on. Even when I get my injections for my Dystonia, and I get nervous...I think I am being a baby. So silly! We all need to put down the whips. :-)

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I feel compassion for all of the young people.

Yep, often I can be too hard on myself, even after good preparation.

Thank you.

Suze said...

Karen, you are hitting your stride with these posts. This one gave me chill bumps. It's just so real and it really speaks.

I saw myself in it, my daughter, my friends. Chills.

fsmum said...

I think it's all the childhood conditioning that makes us so hard on ourselves! I am done with that! Well, I am trying to be....

Karen Walker said...

Talli, I don't think that could happen - you getting lazy or complacent.
Tracy Jo, oh yes, you do.
Paige, thank you for your visit and comment - nice to "meet" you.
Suze, hmmmm.....
fsmum, I agree - all we can do is become aware of those things as adults and try to change our attitudes.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen .. watching the Olympics and learning from their experiences, while absorbing some of the words of wisdom given by people who've succeeded and who've failed - it's important to be us at the end of the day ... and we all have frailties don't we - it's learning to accept them in normal life.

On the other hand that desire can drive us forward to be successful and to complete our goals ...

You're doing so much and it's great to come here and read your thoughtful words ... cheers Hilary

Sharon Lippincott said...

Interesting to read this post. A couple of days ago I revised a very old personal story for submission to a contest. The toughest part was inserting a "lesson" from the experience. That meant I had to derive one... What I came up with worked for the story, though it was only remotely related, and totally unthought of until now: some of my toughest obstacles are in my own mind, that is, fears and anxieties.

I've been chewing on that for a couple of days. My "whips" have two tails: production and perfection. I always have five or six pots awaiting turns on a four-burner stove. The fact is, I DO have time to smell the roses. It doesn't take that long, and I do it all the time anyway, so maybe I should thoroughly ENJOY it and BE HERE NOW when I do. Come back to task refreshed.

Whips come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Some are even perversely used for ... pleasure?

Thanks for the prompt.

Arlee Bird said...

I'm not hard enough on myself. I get too lax and lazy. My father always drove me to practice juggling and play my violin, but he was not a taskmaster either. He instilled the importance of practice in me, but at the same time allowed me to make my own decision about how hard I wanted to drive myself. I've often be stubborn and rebellious in times of my life and refused to drive myself and seek fun instead. It's been to my own detriment. Maybe I lacked the passion and the will for perfection. It's a tough call.

Tossing It Out

~Sia McKye~ said...

Of course I have those moments. I've had to teach myself not to be overly critical and I keep a list of things I have learned and do well. Balance if you will.

Writing is one of those things we have time to practice and learn. I still have problems with a critique--why didn't I see that? It balances out.


Unknown said...

I am often way too hard on myself. I over-edit my work, I keep changing everything even when it has already gone through the rounds with the editor.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm harder on myself when I'm not doing anything or trying.

But we should all take a day to put down the whips and look around at what we've all accomplished. :)