December 29, 2011

Celebrating with Confidence

A couple of summers ago, I was visiting my parents with the kids and was sitting with my mom in her room. We got to talking about my life, about creativity and work, and suddenly my mom said, "You always had an issue with confidence."

After gaping at her for a second I said, "Yes, that's true! I was always either incredibly overconfident or incredibly underconfident." The truth of her statement hit me like a lightning bolt and the effects have stayed with me ever since. I wonder if the fact had only just occurred to her as well, or if she was just waiting for the right time to tell me.  For some reason, since I turned forty, I have made leaps and bounds in the confidence department. It mostly has to do with not caring so much about what other people think. Of course, I still do care, but I think it is fair to say it no longer rules my life.

Most of my life, I have struggled to stay on track with what I am supposed to be doing. I still find it hard sometimes not to compare myself to other people, not to think those with the better 'things' have the better life.  I have struggled to maintain a steady confidence in my abilities and when I was younger would often be crushed when I didn't succeed to my own ridiculously high standards. I sometimes even thought things were not worth doing unless I could be as good as the best at them. I honestly do not know where I got these notions, but I think my pride was at play a lot of the time. It was years of working on my nearly twenty year marriage, raising four incredible children, and seeing various projects through, both paid and volunteer which finally made the difference for me. I realized, at long last, that any success in life for me would be achieved by a slow and steady climb.

There is a lot to be said for confidence, and confidence in one's purpose in life is the most important kind of confidence. I am not talking about the self assurance that makes one walk around as if one owns the world, I'm talking about that deeper, intuitive knowing inside that I am steadily climbing toward the light in my daily work, whatever the result - which gives me a sense of calm when the going gets tough. I am much less liable to entertain rash decisions now or waste time worrying about things I have no control over, and that feels like an achievement in itself.

2011 was a good year for me. I joined a singing group and I wrote a blog post that got 187 views in two days. I did good work for the arts council and grew a semi-decent crop of garlic. I saw my eldest son off to Europe, and all but conquered my long held fear of winter driving by successfully getting my younger son and myself safely home during a snowstorm. I enjoyed many, many good times with friends and family, and good health overall. There are plenty of things I did not accomplish, but I choose not to think about those right now.

During these times of upheaval in our world, it is becoming more and more important to realize our potential for good, no matter how small the results. To discount, or lose confidence in our contribution simply because it may not bring us fame and fortune or big-bang results is to lose a bit of our humanity. True, life can be hard.  We do have to battle (mainly ourselves), but I believe if we keep at it even our small achievements will be well worth celebrating.

On a PBS station out of Seattle, travel guru Rick Steves made an excellent point during one of the episodes of his popular program Rick Steves' Europe. He said one of the things he noticed about Europeans on his travels was that, in comparison with North Americans, they really knew how to celebrate life. He said most North Americans were so bogged down by work and ambition that they forgot to take the time to celebrate the truly good things in life and the fruits of their labour, like food and family, friendship and love. This Christmas season I decided to think like those Europeans and make more time to celebrate. We worked hard to make our house 'fair as (we were) able, to trim the hearth and set the table' and then invited friends for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and this evening. Our friends seem to feel the same way, for we've had four invites for this weekend.

The following are the closing remarks in an open letter to subscribers from the CEO of, an organization that helps promote up and coming musicians. His words inspired this blog post today.

"In closing, I hope you get to take the time to share a few days with loved ones and tune out from all the stress, hardship, and worry of day-to-day life.  No matter the perfection portrayed in the media, the cold truth is that life is hard for everyone:  rich or poor, fat or skinny, old or young—no one rides this bus for free. We all have to earn it.  So, if you're in the game and still climbing the mountain, you are a winner.  I hope you can take some time in the coming days to relax and celebrate your achievements this year before you dive back into the battle in 2012."

I wish the same for you.

Happy New Year!


  1. Yeah, but you can go too far the other way also. I think the biggest problem we encounter is in the finding of that place where we are centred with a certainty. Put it this way. As kids we are biddable to the point where if we've parents that are off in some way can cause years of wilderness wandering later on. Our world is the family. Then as tweens we hit that need to be accepted by those in our wider group. Later women then have their very own methods to control each other that are totally foreign to men. Darn near a cult in fact with it's actions and sanctions. But all are imposed from outside.
    Now I grant you we all have our very own self-defeating button that we keep caressing, half pressing and sometimes hitting with both hands. But 'tiz as well to nail nails in their proper position. Remember as kids all our contacts with the wider world has an aspect of pass or fail attached, school music dance sport. And a bit like Catholic guilt, that worry about fail can streak through like the name in a stick of rock.

    Peace be with you and yours for the new year +.

  2. Hi Roaring...I did take those outside pressures into consideration, but I could only go on so long, make so many points. I have been blessed with many wonderful women friends, but yes, there have been a few who have done a number on my confidence. One of the arts of living is to know who your friends are!
    Wishing you a great new year, as well!

  3. I push a lot of blame where it rightfully lies: life is hard mainly because the ruling elite have rigged it so. I try to replace the word "comfort" with "confidence." I want to be comfortable with myself, to tell myself that it is OK to be unsure about my abilities in certain situations.

  4. A timely post, Rebecca as I am just into a great book called, The Gifst of Imperfection. Way past 50 and still trying to find that constant peace with myself in this life. Thanks for sharing and all the best to you and the "Schramily" for 2012!

  5. Anonymous: I think I may know your true identity by the words 'ruling elite', but I'll not hazard an identifying guess here :) I appreciate your point and I suppose there exist several words that could stand in place of 'confidence'. Thanks for your comment, and happy new year!

    Roxanne: I have to admit that spirituality plays a big part in all this for is good to keep 'the big picture' in mind when going through the day-to-day. All the best to you and and the Watsons, too!

  6. nice...i like that quote...and the thing is to stay in the game...i like the thought of celebrating life more as well...i wish you all the best for the new year! smiles.

  7. wise words i would do well to think upon...
    thank you. :)

  8. I like the quote you chose for the ending.

    "The grass is always greener," isn't it? I say that, because we can't help but be influenced by the people and the world that surrounds us, which effects our emotions and thoughts. We see what we feel is confidence and wish we had more of it, but those same people exibiting it, lack somewhere else.

    The quote mentions that life is hard for everyone. I prefer to say that life is challenging. Hard is not having a home, family, love, education, money, health, etc.

    Challenging as life is, we can become more confident; be it based on a biting remark from mom :) or simply maturing. I'm happy that you are getting beyond some nagging insecurities. It happened for me during my mid to late forties, and it is still a work in progress.

    Keep your excitement going!

    I'm rambling, so I'll say good-bye. :)


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