Thursday, October 6, 2011

Out of Excuses

I am out of excuses.  And I am very close to deciding that the word "can't" should be excised from my vocabulary.

This is not the first time I have had this revelation, and I strongly suspect that it will not be the last either.  Like most important lessons, I relearn it from time to time.  Today I relearned it after posting something a bit whiny on facebook, and within half an hour the tiny voice of responsibility whispered to me, "There are no excuses".  

Now, I have heard it argued that there are all manner of good reasons for not being where you think you should be, for not being successful - that there are real circumstances that truly prevent some people from achieving success.  Furthermore, I have heard it argued that to say there are no excuses for failure is condescending to those who face enormous obstacles.  I do not deny that obstacles and challenges exist, and that sometimes people face many of them at once, and that sometimes these obstacles feel insurmountable.  I have had times in my life where I felt that way about my own challenges.  Challenges finding a full time job, challenges paying the bills, challenges keeping up with my work, challenges dealing with a difficult boss/coworker/subordinate/student, challenges maintaining my home - the same sorts of everyday challenges most of us face at one point or another.  I suppose my point is that just because something feels impossible for a while does not make it true.  Impossible is not the same thing as very difficult.  I try to remember that according to our current theories in quantum physics, nothing is truly impossible.  Some things are just very highly improbable given the current circumstances.  This is why I am close to excising "can't" from my personal vocabulary.

By saying that I am out of excuses and taking total responsibility for my own outcomes (good and bad), I am saying that I am bigger than my obstacles.  I am saying that I am more creative than my challenges.  I am saying that my options are more infinite than the paths that are blocked from me, even if I must imagine and create those options myself.  To say that I am out of excuses is not to deny the existence of obstacles and challenges - it is to deny them any power over me.  The challenges are real, and may be powerful, but not more powerful than me.  I have the freedom and the power to choose my attitude and my approach.  In my mind I think of the episode of the Muppet Show with Madeline Kahn, of the skit where she talks the very large negative monster "down to size"...about 6" tall, and then conveniently uses her umbrella to knock it out of her way.  And how did she talk it down to size?  By choosing to look at her situation - and the problem - from a different perspective.  I also think of Alice in Wonderland, and how differently Alice sees her problems from the different perspectives of her own size throughout the story.  How we perceive a problem is often more important than the problem itself.  When we imagine ourselves to be more infinite than the obstacles blocking our way...suddenly the way is more clear, a path past the problems is found, and we become free to move on.  In this way, we can move desirable possibilities from the state of being highly improbable, to being close to inevitable.

So before I sat down to write this, I told myself that there are no excuses for all of the dirty laundry and dirty dishes in my house, and promptly loaded the dishwasher and clothes washer instead of waiting for some mythical chore fairy to visit my house and do it for me.  And you know what?  It took about 5 minutes.  My usual excuses are that I don't have time or energy to do those on a weekday evening.  Turns out I've been lying to myself about that all this time.

And since I don't have any excuses for being out of shape either, I'm going to have a hoop session on my back porch as soon as I post this.

Personal responsibility doesn't have to be a burden - it can be a liberation.  To accept personal responsibility is also to accept your own power to affect positive changes not only in your own life, but in the lives of others.  That is a beautiful thing. :-)


  1. Amber, Good for you! My problem is that when I don't have an excuse....I just blatantly refuse to do it.....of course, eventually, I will need clean underwear but, hey, I'll deal with that when it comes.....jk....but seriously....

    Anyway, I posted a response on my blog but wanted to post one here too to ensure you got it. I'm more than happy to help with your craft room reorganization endeavour but I will warn you first. My obsessive, spastic control issues from childhood have grown to the nth degree which I do a pretty good job of hiding most of the time but it tends to show it's ugly face in organizational situations.

    So, good luck in your endeavors....all of them, not just the craft roominess. I wish I was as hard on myself as you seem to be.


  2. I'm actually not that hard on myself most of the time, I don't think...but once I reach that point of "I've had enough"...then I've just had enough of my own BS and stop putting up with myself.

    I think the concept of stretching suits me well - because that's what I do. I've always been one to test the limits of my own capabilities, right up to (and sometimes past) my breaking points. Always wanting to go just a little farther, to do something a little better (or a lot better). You know this, you've been around me long enough to have witnessed that cycle MANY times!

    We all have our little personality issues that follow us into adulthood...we just find ways to channel them productively (we hope!). You might say that this blog is partially about me doing that with my own tendency to push the limits.

    Yes, I would still like your assistance with my craft room - your organizational brilliance is worth the cost ;-)