I am not a finisher – #reverb14, Day 2

My equation for getting it done.

My Desk, the Command CenterDay 2 – What unfinished projects from 2014 am you willing to release now?

That’s the “story” I like to tell myself, though it isn’t true: I am not a finisher.

I actually RECOILED at this prompt. It spun me down all kind of paths. Why?

Because my life is a veritable trash heap of unfinished projects.

I start all kinds of things — scrapbooks, craft projects, closet clean-outs, books, writing books, pet adoptions, sandwiches — and leave them in an abandoned heap.

The guy I married? He is a full-blown, obsessive finisher. Point of fact: On Thanksgiving morning, when I was running around trying to get breakfast made for the guests that would arrive at 9:30, he was perched at the end of the kitchen table with his reading glasses on the end of his nose — FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF — working on screwing in ONE SCREW in my daughter’s eyeglasses.

One screw. 90 minutes.

At 2 minutes before the guests arrived — after I’d made a full breakfast for 11 and set the table with the help of the kids — I said: “You have 30 seconds to put that away.”

The screw and the glasses case are on my desk, to this day.

A Single-Minded Idea

I admire my husband for his single-mindedness. When I see his ability to “stay on task,” I see a spotlight on my own failure to finish. I have not “gotten published” yet. I have not “succeeded” in life yet. He has. He’s a vice-president of something. He makes the beaucoup bucks, and I’m the stay-at-home artist and parent.

But hey! I’ve set goals for myself and achieved them. I ran TWO 5Ks, right?

One thing I’m tired of, though, is feeling badly for the way my mind works. 

After all, while my hubs sat at the end of that table, I DID make an entire breakfast for 11, and set a gorgeous table and corralled the kids who made place settings for the guests and even made sure the dog got fed.

As a mom, wife, volunteer, I invest a LOT of time in other people. It’s EASY to say “yes” to the stacks of requests that come home in folders. “Yes” to helping with the Rudolph T-shirts. “Yes” to organizing the fundraiser and to being the social media guru of, well, everything, and yes to editing someone’s manuscripts and yes, to this and that and those and these and …

Uh oh. Here comes the piles.

So I don’t see myself as a “finisher.” That’s not the idea of I have of myself anymore.

I’m am the Great Goll Darn Achiever, navigating my day using an equation that balances math, science and art:

 (Time + Energy / Kids to the Factor of Husband) Creativity + Love =  Me.

This post is part of the December group posting project, #reverb14, hosted by the wonderful Kat McNally. Follow reverb14 on Twitter.

 

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Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

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  14 comments for “I am not a finisher – #reverb14, Day 2

  1. December 2, 2014 at 10:04 am

    “Uh oh. Here comes the piles” –> I am not a finisher – #reverb14, Day 2 http://t.co/oEbEbvmZgP @_Kat_Mcnally_

  2. December 2, 2014 at 10:21 am

    This made me chuckle: “Because my life is a veritable trash heap of unfinished projects”, because I feel exactly the same. I just saw myself right in those words.
    I’m not a finisher either, but what if (as per suggestion of this lady: http://muminsearch.com/2014/12/completion-doesnt-always-look-like-a-finished-project/ ) letting go of projects is the completion? that our time with them is done, that we’ve learnt what we need to? I’ve left a lot of projects behind this year, but still want to work on my chronic self-sabotage.

    It’s great that you realised that you do achieve, and wow to set up a table for Thanksgiving and have it all done in time, that would stress me out!

    • December 2, 2014 at 10:26 am

      Since the kids came along, I have SO MUCH more stuff in my life! I can’t believe it! I used to be able to live in a tiny little apartment with so little stuff. Sigh. Also, I don’t understand craft projects AT ALL, yet I have an ENTIRE cupboard dedicated to the pieces that make them up. Oh well. My husband promises me that our house will not be like this when the kids are grown and I am enjoying it for now! 🙂

  3. Lisa
    December 2, 2014 at 11:13 am

    There are two big personality types- the rockets and the sparklers. We are all beautiful, but we expend our energy in different ways. The rockets are goal oriented, the sparklers shine in a lot of directions at once. I think your ability to be versatile and multi-talented make you a good mom. You’ll finish what needs to be finished when you have the time and desire. There is no deadline looming and you won’t be graded poorly if you need an extension 🙂

    • December 2, 2014 at 11:55 am

      Where did you come up with that Lisa??? That should be TMed!! I love it! I am a sparkler!

  4. December 2, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Great post! I too resonate with your idea “Because my life is a veritable trash heap of unfinished projects” – I begin MANY creative projects then leave them to simmer, sometimes for YEARS, before they are finished, so I am realizing that beating myself up over it is really NOT helpful for me. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this prompt!
    And a shout out to Lisa for her comment of ‘sparklers’ – that is a wonderful way to look at ourselves =)

  5. December 2, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    I totally celebrate you as the Great Goll Darn Achiever! And another round of thanks to Lisa for the terms rockets and sparklers – that’s such a fabulous way of looking at it.

  6. Tat
    December 3, 2014 at 2:51 am

    I love this story, because it had the perfect surprise ending. The finisher didn’t finish his simple task and the non-finisher came away with a completed monster of a project of feeding and entertaining guests. Loving your equation, go for it!

    • December 3, 2014 at 6:20 am

      Tat, that didn’t even really occur to me! That’s so true! It does further make the point that I *see* myself as a chaotic mess, and my hubs as the “great finisher”… even though that isn’t always the reality

  7. Frances
    December 3, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Because we live parallel lives…Alex finishes everything project i come up with and i cook dinner and I finish the wine. We make a good team

    • Frances
      December 3, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      I can’t even proof read my own comments….

    • December 3, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      Because WE live parallel lives, I can edit your comment for you and eat the dinner you make, while Colin plays sous chef!

  8. December 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    I love love love love this! This is so me. I like to say I’m an idea girl…I think starting is way more fun than finishing…I FEEL this post!

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