July 23, 2014

Under Construction


In 2001, I created my first webpage. Unsure of my work, I included a hard-hatted man next to the words "under construction." My initial viewer was Mark. (Besides being my husband, he's a software engineer with a good eye.) He gave many suggestions, but this was his first: "Every webpage is under construction, always. You needn't make that announcement." 

Thirteen years later I see that everything is under construction. Every idea, project, and relationship. We're all works in progress. It's impossible to wrap up life with a colorful bow and say "done!" Life is continual practice, sometimes on shifting ground. Everything is under construction. But this feels vulnerable, so we protect ourselves with explanations. This is only a first version, an initial idea and I'm in the process of making changes (read: these are all the reasons my work is imperfect).

I often provide unneeded words of clarification or explanation. This habit has stumped me for years. I assumed my behavior was unconscious armor against the judgment of others. Yet when I look deeper, I see it as distraction from my own self-judgment, which is far fiercer than external criticism. With this insight, I have a new practice: each time I feel my throat tighten around words of justification, I try to come home to myself. I notice my breath. I investigate and stay with difficult emotions. I treat myself tenderly. And I do this over and over again. 

6 comments:

  1. So timely. Today I was creating a fuel audit process for a client and made sure to put DRAFT in all caps, just b/c I had a feeling he'd find things that had been left out. As I read your post, I found myself wondering if it's more females that have these tendencies (kind of like not negotiating for salaries) - or if men also do this?

    On a separate note - where did you take this top pic? It's great.

    - Jenny

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    1. hmmm. that's a good question, jenny. if there are any men reading who want to offer commentary, we'd love to hear it! (i think men deal with the same self-judgment as women, but it presents itself in different ways.)

      the top photograph is from rovinj, croatia. i climbed all those stairs to reach the chapel bell-tower.

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  2. Thank you for this very valuable and perfectly timed advice. That first photo is a very intriguing one, making me think of the artwork by Escher and the complex and long ways we women sometimes oblige ourselves and our emotions and mind to take when taking decisions, before saying something to someone and the process of thinking it all over and over a 1001 times ... Life IS a process and we're constantly work in progress/process as well, just like every plant, every tree, every animal, the ocean, our planet, etc. etc.

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    1. beautifully said, elke. beautifully said.

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  3. I have sat here with my morning latte and read this post a few times now. I too give unneeded explanations, placing such importance on people agreeing with me or at least understanding. I see so clearly now that it is a deeply rooted need for myself and not them. It makes me wonder why I struggle with doubts so when I feel so strongly about my feelings and or actions. We are all under construction. We are all on a journey. We are all a work in progress/[process just as Elke says so perfectly. These words spoke to me so clearly today. thank you Joy...

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    1. you're welcome, cathy! i love it when you stop by. i'm glad my words resonated for you. and i send you a big, loving hug.

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