THE UPSIDE OF DOWN #4 Goals Will Get You Through

Fourth in a series about making the best of things.

When the doctor said, “No, no and no” to riding, martial arts and wall climbing, I could almost hear my heart hit bottom–kerplunk!

I recovered quickly. “Well….what can I do?” And some activities, like wall climbing, lent themselves to cool solutions. (see Learning to Belay )

But a larger issue was at stake. One that was a little harder to cope with.

I’ve been “drifting” in Tae Kwon Do class, waiting for the powers-that-be to figure out where to place me among my fellow students. I’ve got the training, but the years have taken their toll. And the curriculum has changed drastically since I first left TKD a dozen years ago. Am I starting totally over as a white belt? Or as a yellow belt? Or even a green belt??

I thought I could just hang out indefinitely until the decision was reached. I thought I could wait patiently, that I could simply show up and work hard, waiting for my body to heal, waiting to get my weight back down, waiting to regain some strength and flexibility.

Then I had to take two months off to recuperate from surgery. I was just starting to get back into the swing of things when this “month of aircast” was laid at my feet.

Going back to doing “not much of anything” in Tae Kwon Do felt like a huge step backwards. Like TWO huge steps backwards. And suddenly realizing, it might be like this for the rest of my life–one step forward, two steps back.

It didn’t help that a class the week before I got “the word” was one of the most strenuous and difficult I’d had all year. I actually left early, feeling humiliated and overwhelmed. “What the hell am I doing here, anyway?” I fretted. “I can’t do this!! Who do I think I’m kidding?? This ain’t gonna happen!”

Once I got home and cooled off, I felt pretty stupid for walking out. After all, I doubt anybody else had sailed through that session, either.

The telling point was how I felt when the doctor said, “No Tae Kwon Do”. Instead of relief (“Hooray! I’m off the hook!”) I felt that sinking feeling instead.

I don’t want to quit.

But I don’t want to wait anymore. Maybe it’s true that, at my age, it’s just going to be one damn thing after the other. So what? Does that mean I shouldn’t try?

I contacted my instructor, asking for some sort of decision.

And he gave me support, and a plan, and a goal.

It will be slow going, and I will have to make many modifications. But I’m not standing still any longer.

I am moving forward, with a definite destination in mind. And that has made all the difference.

So I’ve learned this:

Goals will get you through periods of inaction more than action will get you through periods of no goals.

How does this relate to my art?

The decision to take a year off from wholesale shows in 2008 is forcing me to think hard about where my energies should go, where my next steps should take me. It hasn’t hit me quite yet, as I finish off orders from the last show.

But come next year, when money is tight, I know I’ll be working hard to figure it out.

Instead of drifting and seeing what hits my plate next, I’ll be forced to come up with a new plan, a new goal. A new road map.

I need to think about what I really, really want to happen with my art. It’s time to look at old dreams, dust off some goals I’d set aside, and see if they still fit.

If they do, time to get busy. If not, time for some wonderful new ones.

Time to dream big!

It’s that old saying, more true than ever–you can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where you want to be. A map is no good without a starting point, an end point, and some idea of how to get from one to the other.

So much good stuff…..

Gosh, don’t you wish you spend a month in a cast, too?


6 thoughts on “THE UPSIDE OF DOWN #4 Goals Will Get You Through

  1. “Goals will get you through periods of inaction more than action will get you through periods of no goals.”

    Wow. How true! I’m printing this out and hanging it in my studio for a reminder. I’m not very good at setting goals but know I need to (for my sanity and also to feel more “professional”).


  2. I enjoy reading your blog, following the ups and downs in your artist life. I found your website (not obvious from your blog), loved the jewelry. For those of us who don’t live in Maine there is apparently no outlet to view, price or purchase your art.

    It would seem that many of us the enjoy your journey would also enjoy your art. Marketing to us would be strightforward such as “If you are interested in viewing or purchasing contact me at or contact for more information. Am I being to simpleminded about this? I am not a production artist so don’t know your parameters.


  3. Oh, yes, Lisa, sanity is important! :^)

    Patricia, thank you for the prod. No, you are not being simple-minded–far from it! I’ve been pondering have a (small) retail section on my site for awhile now. Just a small offering of one-of-a-kind pieces. Your words are just what I needed to get going with this!


  4. Thanks once again for your complete honesty…It’s somehow bolstering to know that you experience those doubts with your workouts too. For you to be able to come up with all the positives is very inspiring. Sometimes it’s good to be able to look at those dreams we’ve left behind. The Big Ones. And to ask the question: what do I REALLY want. Can’t wait to see what 2008 brings for you. (And me!)


  5. I did spend a month in a cast, a few years ago. It changed my life. I came to realizations about me, what I wanted and what I was going to do. Goal setting was exactly what I learned from that. I need now to get back to that same focus, so thanks for the good reminder!


  6. I’m just showing my “clay feet”, Melissa. We are all human, and yet look what incredible things we can accomplish if we only try. I’m glad that sharing my “moments” helps others persevere.

    Mandi, thank you for your thoughtful comments, too. I’m wondering if making people wear casts will be the “new therapy” for the 21st century! :^)


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