Facing Failure and Shooting for the Moon!

Posted by on Apr 6, 2011 in Family, Inspiration, Motherhood, Photography

Big Moon Rise over Harbor Island, just south of Downtown Seattle.

I fear failure. Parenting has been a process of learning to face failure.  There are all these expectations society and well meaning family and friends place on parents. Then, there’s my own ideals of what kind of parent I want to be, providing more room for me to fail.

The funny thing about trying to sort out my fear of failure is teaching my kids to keep on trying when they fail. When our son was learning to dress himself or put a puzzle together, he’d get really frustrated and want to give up. Somewhere between learning to walk and age 3 he picked up the idea that failure = bad. So, my husband and I started to encourage him with phrases like, “Everyone makes mistakes.” or “Try again, I know you can do it.” Or, I’d actually remind him that he learned to walk after falling down all the time. Then, one day I let out a vocal cry at a mistake I made, and my son looked at me and shrugged, “It’s Ok. Mistakes happen every day in my life.”

The Plan: Going to the Moon.

I keep on reminding myself of that truth, the idea that failure is a part of success, but it still stands in my way of doing what I want sometimes. Parenting is a consistent reminder that I need to live my own advice. Our son has been writing up plans for going to the Moon “when he is a Big Man with Dad” – they are going to put not one, but two American Flags on it.  Instead of telling him this is a silly or nearly impossible idea, we listen to his plans and explain that he’s got to work hard to get there someday.

As you may have already seen around here, I love photography. I love looking at it, taking my own and talking about it.  One dream I’ve had for a few years now is to do a coffee shop Photography Show here in Seattle. It might not sound like going to the Moon, but it felt that way to me. I just didn’t think my photography was that good. But, I decided to try to book a show within the year. And I did!  It will be at one of my favorite places, Coffee To A Tea With Sugar.  My first show will be in January  2012. At first I was super excited that the lady liked my work.  But when that started to wear off like a sugar high, I felt disappointed about the fact that the show is that far off. The reality is that the timing is perfect. It allows me time to really get things figured out (like archival printing service, matting, etc). And I can push myself to do more photography.

Thanks to the “Failure Celebration Week” post on Puttylike.com, I decided to share my fear of failure and how I am facing it.

What fear is holding you back?

8 Comments

  1. Emilie
    April 6, 2011

    This is such a beautiful post, Holli. I love when you write about your kids. It seems like you learn as much from them as they do from you.

    And congratulations on the photography show! I love that you took the initiative to set up an external deadline, even if it is a ways away. There are plenty of things you can do in the meantime that will help the exhibit take off, like set up an online presence for your work, get practice and feedback, develop as an artist. I think this long term goal will really give you vision and help push you in the right direction when it comes to making all the small decisions along the way.

    I look forward to working with you too, and being a part of your success.. in whatever way I can. 🙂

    Thanks for your #failweek contribution Holli. 🙂

    • Emilie
      April 6, 2011

      p.s. I just saw a Chinese herbalist in Montreal and he knew exactly what was wrong before I even told him my symptoms or anything. It was quite impressive! Now I’m drinking this crazy tea-like concoction for a week. Super excited. (It tastes surprisingly delicious!) Anyway, I know I didn’t use your recommendation- wanted someone local. But I still really appreciate your encouragement to give it a shot.

      • holliwithani
        April 6, 2011

        That is wonderful! I am really excited for you. It is a really different experience from going to a traditional doctor, and proves how powerful are bodies are to repair with a little natural help:)

        I am tickled that you enjoyed this post. And, you are right, I learn probably just as much from my kids as I hope they learn from me. Which is kinda crazy but fun.

        Your work on puttylike.com gets the credit for giving me the final kick in the pants to start working on my “someday” goals. I look forward to working with you too!

        Thank you for the encouragement and inspiration.

  2. JoAnne
    April 7, 2011

    I know what you mean about being the kind of parent you want to be. I had all these images in my mind about that, and ridiculously enough I still do. But not much of anything went according to that image. I usually felt like I was kluging my way through everything. Since my daughter turned out to be a responsible, kind, and wonderful adult, I should probably feel like I did a good job, but I just feel lucky.

    And your photos are definitely “that good.” I thought the timing of the show was perfect. It will probably take a year to get ready, since it’s your first show. You’ve got to figure out which ones you’re willing to sell and price them, probably need to do some framing and/or matting, arrange for safe transport…possible insurance issues….it can all add up to a lot of time.

    • holliwithani
      April 7, 2011

      I definitely think parenting is a life long role…you are more than lucky. In the short time I’ve gotten to know you, I can see you are smart and loving. And you are willing to do your own research to make informed decisions, which I believe is crucial.
      Thank you for your encouragement! I agree, the show timing is actually perfect.

  3. kaarisa
    April 7, 2011

    It felt like a privilege to parent my two daughters and son. You learn about yourself as you learn about each individual child. No two are alike, just as no two parents are alike. Not one of my siblings or I parented like our parents or each others parenting style. That is the privilege, discovery. Yes, there is no such thing as a perfect parent, child or family because our perceptions will always differ. Such is the art of living, learning from your mistakes.
    As the joys of grand parenting are upon my husband and I, we are learning to navigate a whole new experience together. It is the work of grand parenting to just be grand, let the parent be the parent.

    • holliwithani
      April 8, 2011

      I like your idea of just being grand:) But, I do think grandparents play a vital role in setting the tone for how parents chose to be the kind of parent they want to be.
      Your phrase, the art of living, is perfect, because life is more of an art than a science, even if we try to direct it to understand it.
      Thank you for your thoughts.

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