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About Cecilia

I am a Life & Clutter Coach and IST Practitioner. I LOVE helping writers, creatives and entrepreneurs just like YOU, make their homes and lives into supportive containers for their creative AND personal lives.  

Cecilia's sharp, crystalline insight has kept me on track in my creative life, my business life, and my emotional life for the past six years: she's a triple threat!

 - Sarah Selecky, author of Giller Prize nominated This Cake is for the Party

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Tuesday
Feb212012

Practice IS the Point!

I recently moved into a new apartment which needed to be painted BIG time.  I'm talking every single square inch, the insides of closets, every ceiling, the stairs...EVERYTHING.  

In my mind the painting couldn't take more than a few hours per room, right?  Wrong! Each room took three days to finish top to bottom.  Three days!!! 

This is what painting was in my mind:

  1. Roll the roller up and down the walls a few times
  2. Step back to admire my work

This is painting in reality:

  1. Move furniture and remove electrical outlet covers
  2. Fill in all the holes
  3. Wait for the holes to dry
  4. Sand the holes
  5. Wash the walls
  6. Put down drop cloths
  7. Paint the edges of the ceiling
  8. Paint the whole ceiling
  9. Wait for the ceiling to dry
  10. Repeat steps 7-9
  11. Paint the edges of the walls with primer
  12. Paint the walls with primer
  13. Wait for the walls to dry
  14. Repeat steps 11-13 (if the walls are really dark)
  15. Repeat steps 11-13 twice more with the paint colour of choice
  16. Tape the walls and floor around the baseboards, window sills and doors
  17. Paint the baseboards, window sills and doors
  18. Wait for the baseboards, window sills and doors to dry
  19. Repeat steps 16-18
  20. Take the tape off
  21. Pick up drop cloths
  22. Clean up little paint spills
  23. Vacuum
  24. Mop
  25. Move the furniture back in and replace the electrical outlet covers 
  26. (add several more steps for kitchen cupboards, closets, stairs, unforeseen trim, nooks and crannies as well as putting away brushes, cleaning brushes, running to Home Depot because you've run out of paint, tape, sandpaper, more paint, more tape etc... etc... etc...)

As I worked, I grumbled and cursed through all of the "prep" work and "clean up" work.  I just wanted to get to the "real" painting without all this extra noise.  I wanted it to be the way I thought it would be, with two simple steps.  Paint and enjoy!  It took me awhile, but room by room something started to dawn on me...

Maybe this is what painting is.  Painting is the WHOLE process.  Painting is not one step, it is ALL the steps!  Filing the holes is painting, washing the walls is painting, taping is painting, cleaning up is painting, running to Home Depot is painting.  It's all painting!

It got me thinking of all the things in life that feel like practice, like preparation:

  • The work that you do for a BA, MA, PhD  
  • The hours you practice for a concert/play
  • The writing you do every morning
  • The drawings you crumple and throw away
  • The veggies you chop
  • The recipes you test 
  • The dance moves you try
  • The seeds you plant
  • The clothes you sew/knit/crochet and rip out
  • The clutter you clear
  • The first draft
  • The boring photographs
  • The crappy meditations
  • The bad dates
  • Etc... Etc...

The years of prep work, of practice, of trying, of seeking, of seeding, of weeding, of waiting... 

You see, it's all the point.  Practice IS the point!  

This is life my friends.  Yes, there are the performances, the graduations, the great dates, the openings, the launches, the weddings, the births, the deaths.  But all that stuff in between, all the mistakes you make, all the prep, the learning, the clean up and the recovery.  THAT is living and living is the point...  

Take care,
Cecilia Moorcroft

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Reader Comments (11)

Thank you Cecilia -
This is a very helpful way to start my week. :)

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoel

I'm glad to hear it Joel, have a great week!

February 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterCecilia Moorcroft

This is so RIGHT ON. As always, you write the very thing I need to hear at the moment I need to hear it. Congratulations on the paint job, and the clear epiphany! And thank you so much for sharing it.

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Selecky

Hi Sarah! Yay, I'm happy to hear that I said what you needed to hear, love it when that happens.

February 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterCecilia Moorcroft

There is a book entitled After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. I've never read it, but I always remember the title. This reminded me of that!

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Schwartz

Thanks for the inspiring thoughts Cynthia. This has become very apparent to me as I train for a 5km in Mar. I've been grumbling every morning -- I can't run very long; how am I going to do this? why did I sign up for the run in the first place? what was I thinking? -- but step by step, minute by minute, I realize the 5km isn't the goal. It's the challenge of getting to the goal that needs to become the fun part. In other words, the practice, as you say here. So tomorrow, I'll head out again and practice -- and try to remember to enjoy it. :-)

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

hi Cecilia
this is so helpful! I am about to prepare to paint my kitchen and entry-way. Wow I can really use this list. Super super helpful !
Thank you
Samantha

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha Keen

That's great Samantha! It feels so good to paint (at least when it's all done).

ox
Cecilia

January 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterCecilia Moorcroft

I like to paint, but art work...and I imagine how it will look, the end result. Then I am often disappointed, and remember, to rationalize the failure to myself if nothing else, that I didn't paint for months, that to get what I expect to get takes practicing frequently, to be able to be accomplished. Then I go back to not practicing and get the same mediocre results the next time I paint, and decide that I don't like to paint, when really, I don't like to practice.

January 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbarb

Very interesting Barb. Is it true that you don't like to practice or is it that you imagine your practice to be more fruitful than it is? Next time you're around a musician, ask them to play scales. Really, really boring. It's totally true, practice is not often scintillating.

What if the paintings were allowed to be totally crappy?

I imagine there are many things you're totally happy to practice (and have!), but maybe painting is just not one of them. Or maybe this is the year. Paint a little something every day for a week/month/year, like your 'take a photo and blog about it every day', which by the way, is most definitely a practice.

January 21, 2013 | Registered CommenterCecilia Moorcroft

Thank you Cecilia, I enjoyed very much this post. You're so right ! :-) We are so often seing only the goal that we forget to be present in every step we do!

With my partner we are getting married for midsummer, it's in 6 months and I'm glad because this time I'm not thinking "oh it's in 6 months, I have plenty of time" (and then be rushing and stressing at the last minute), we are taking our time to think about all the details, feel and decide what we want and search for it.
There is so many things to think about even if it will be a very small wedding. :-)

Actually, I'm really enjoying all those steps, deciding wich kind of wedding ceremony we want, finding the personn to marry us, searching and finding the location, thinking about the clothes, finding the patterns, the kind of fabric (I'm going to make them, I will surely curse and wonder why I had that silly idea but yeah, I want to do it), searching for the rings (aouch the price!) and many other things... This time I'm not focused on "The day", I'm focused here and now on all those details, it's a completely different space and it feels really good, :-)

February 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIsabelle

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