Donna Doyon
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  • Ep142: When Your Best Attempt is Abysmal

Sometimes I don't attempt a project because I don't think I can achieve the result I envision. This week I share my story of keeping what I REALLY wanted as my focus, instead of the less-than-perfect tangible result.

Read the Transcript

Note: This is a computer-generated transcript. That means it's pretty good, but not perfect. If you read something weird or confusing, first laugh, then use the time stamp to hop into the podcast to find out what I REALLY said. 🙂

[00:00:02.760] - Speaker 1

Welcome to another episode of Finding My Way, a podcast dedicated to sharing the scattered thoughts and muddled musings of this 50 something year old woman. Each week I'll share my experiences, challenges, doubts and fears, as well as the lessons I've learned that keep me moving forward toward my dreams. And yes, this is the podcast that was formerly known as Reflections of a Recovering Ugly Duckling. This is Episode 142. And I'm your host, Donna Doyon. My apologies in advance.

[00:00:38.760] - Speaker 1

This episode could be rambling more than usual. I tried I wanted to organize my thoughts about this idea that came to me as I was scraping my basement floor this morning. So I came over to my computer, jotted a few notes down in my Evernote app, went back to work on the floor. And then when I came back to it a little while ago to organize the thoughts into some type of an outline for the episode, I felt myself going into this emotional state that was more practical rather than more carefree and just going with the flow.

[00:01:19.770] - Speaker 1

And I am releasing a few episodes ago I talked about my one word for the year or for a certain period of time which was released and how I'm already beginning that transition into releasing release and easing into the word ease. So as I sat down to try an outline for this episode, I felt myself tensing up. I felt some of the magic of the insight and the inspiration that I received when I was on my hands and knees scraper in my hand, scraping a concrete floor.

[00:01:53.640] - Speaker 1

What's that noise? Oh, it is awful. It's very reminiscent of the fingers on the chalkboard sound. I'm hating it, but I am going to be talking today about this home improvement project to restore my basement to an area that I can actually use. So as I was trying to create an outline of some some very important puffed up lessons for you, it was feeling contrived. And so I'm just going to roll with the story. It's going to be very rambling as I go back a few years and come forward a few years.

[00:02:30.480] - Speaker 1

You may hear more about what's going on in my life than you care to hear, but this is all about this podcast is all about how I'm finding my way. And my intention with it, with sharing these rambling stories, is to let you know that your journey that you're on, you choose the direction, you choose the path you're going to take. You can choose whenever you want to take a different path. And sometimes like this restoration project, I'll call it sometimes it takes years for it to happen, for you to reach that point where you say, gosh darn it, I can't live this way anymore.

[00:03:07.170] - Speaker 1

It's time to take action. And that's what happened for me a couple of months ago. Apologies for the long, rambling ness of it. Hopefully you'll still find something valuable in it. I am just going to share what's going on in my immediate life right now. So here's the situation. When I purchased this condo that I live in in 2010, I was newly divorced and I loved this space. The moment that I walked into the front door, I felt like I was walking into my home.

[00:03:37.260] - Speaker 1

And I have loved this condo every day since then. This condo is a townhouse style, so it has the main floor, it has a second floor and it also has a basement. The previous owners finished the basement and it had carpeting on the floor and it was a very nice space. My vision for this basement area was to create a cool in the summertime, warm in the winter time, wonderful little refuge for myself. And so I painted the walls a nice bright yellow.

[00:04:10.530] - Speaker 1

I was setting things up. I had my computer down here. It was a nice place. I was making puzzles down here in the winter time and I really liked having this space. Then my oldest son moved in and some of his stuff he needed to put. He needed a place to put it. So it came down into the basement and then a few years later, Earl moved in with me and his stuff needed a place to go. Now, the difference between my son's possessions and Earl's possessions was that most of my son's possessions, as far as furniture fit in the bedroom, the small bedroom that he was using.

[00:04:47.700] - Speaker 1

Earl, on the other hand, he had a queen sized mattress and bed, said he had a couch, which was a sectional couch. He has some other pieces of furniture and they all got crammed in my basement. And to make space for both my son and Earl, you know, it was I understood it was a decision that I agreed to. Earl had offered to put his stuff in a storage space that made no sense to spend the extra money, the monthly fee for storage storage unit.

[00:05:17.620] - Speaker 1

But I also missed this space, especially in the wintertime when I wanted to work on a puzzle, leave it set up, not have to worry about it getting in the way. And every time I came down into the basement and I'm squeezing through this two or three foot wide path to get to the laundry room, I was tensing up every time and I was really starting to feel a lot of anxiety and negativity about this basement setup. And I've talked about it a few times over the years.

[00:05:48.010] - Speaker 1

And finally, a few months ago, I just had it. I couldn't take it anymore. I wanted to reclaim the space. And so we tried to donate my mattress so that we could haul Earl's mattress up to upstairs to use that one. And the Salvation Army wouldn't accept it. Even though we had cleaned the mattress, they found the remnants of a little bit of a stain. Wouldn't take it. They wouldn't take my couch. So here we are.

[00:06:14.470] - Speaker 1

We have two queen sized mattresses and beds and we have two couches, one a sectional. And I'm thinking, what can we do? What can we do? Oh, and the other big piece of why I wanted the basement back is because it's quieter down here when I'm recording the podcast up in the other bedroom, because eventually my son did move out and we used that second bedroom initially as our hiking gear room and the computer was in there. So when I decided to do this podcast, I was recording it up there, but it was very noisy.

[00:06:48.100] - Speaker 1

We have a train that runs by this condo many times a day. The birds were loud and I loved listening to the birds, but you might not like listening to them on my podcast. So there were a lot of outside noises the past two summers. We've had a lot of construction in the area. And so the noise, the noise, the noise, it's driving me crazy. And the noise was keeping me from being able to create an audio version of my two books I had recorded.

[00:07:17.710] - Speaker 1

One of them submitted it to Audible and it was rejected based on the sound quality. And as much as I tried, I couldn't get the sound to come in to pass their standards. So that was a little bit frustrating. So a few months ago, I made the decision. It was time to finally just figure something out and we did. We move things around this place. The my whole condo was a mess for a little bit, but we cleared out enough stuff from the basement so that I could work one section of the floor, because one thing I didn't mention was that while my son was living with me before Earl moved in, my washing machine flooded and the carpeting got all wet.

[00:07:58.420] - Speaker 1

And so my son and I, we had to tear up the carpeting, cut it into two foot strips so that we could take it to the transfer station. So I had bare untreated concrete as my basement floor. It just is ugly, icky. It felt damp down here unless I had the dehumidifier running. And then with all of the extra furniture, the dehumidifier got pushed into a corner and I wasn't even using it. So we cleared out a bunch of stuff so that I had a wide open space and I needed to prepare the floor for painting because we wanted to seal the basement floor.

[00:08:38.470] - Speaker 1

Now, there were a lot of things going on in my head. They were things like, oh, well, how do you get up the adhesive that was remaining from the carpeting that we had pulled up? How do I pop out all of the nails that are running along the edge of the wall that was were there to hold down the strips that held the concrete, the carpeting? So as I started to get into this project, I started thinking, oh, my gosh, I'm just so overwhelmed.

[00:09:02.680] - Speaker 1

And I said, Earl, will you please help me? I will do the work. But there are so many options and I don't know what to do. And so just to putting some of that responsibility, sharing the burden made such a big difference for me. And so I was doing my Google searches on how to clean the concrete to get it ready to be painted. And there were so many conflicting things. And I said, Earl, what do I do?

[00:09:27.970] - Speaker 1

And he said, do this. And I did that. Now, as I was working, as I was doing the best that I knew how to do, I kept hearing my father's voice in my head. My father was a brilliant man. He was a self learned machinist. He built the house that I grew up in and he was very talented and very much a perfectionist when it came to home projects. So I'm scraping, scraping, scraping.

[00:09:58.600] - Speaker 1

And this is a very. Annoying noise, and I'm still seeing little bits of adhesive on the floor and I'm trying to get it all up and I wasn't successful and I finally reached the point of, OK, I'm not going to worry about that. This is the basement floor. It doesn't matter. It doesn't have to be perfect. And I'd hear my father's voice in my head. Oh, but if you spend just a little bit more time, if you just figure out how to get it up, no, it's not worth my time.

[00:10:26.300] - Speaker 1

It's not worth delaying this project. When we were taking the nails up that were along the edge of the room, they were used to hold the tax. The strips down the carpet could be tacked on to it. And Earl was popping them out and it created divots, you know, little it would pop up sections of the concrete. And I'm looking at those and I'm hearing my father's voice in my head saying, oh, you need to patch those beforehand.

[00:10:54.450] - Speaker 1

And my immediate thought was, oh, I need to patch those before I paint. And then immediately, it's like, no, it's the basement floor. You don't have to patch those holes. Yes, it would look better. But how much of a delay would that attempt at perfection? How much of a delay would that put into my project? And so I said, well, dad, they're not going to get fixed. And I'm hearing his voice in my head saying, oh, but, you know, the resale value of your home would be higher if you did a better job of it.

[00:11:28.590] - Speaker 1

And I'm thinking it's the basement. I only need this to be able to use this room. It doesn't have to be perfect. But still, as I was working, these voices are having this conversation inside of my head about how much better I should be doing. And I'm telling my father's voice in my head, I'm doing the best I can. And his voice saying, well, it's not good enough. And me arguing back with him, it is good enough.

[00:11:57.450] - Speaker 1

It's a basement. I only want to be able to work down here to record my podcast, to record my books. I only want to be able to make puzzles down here, watch TV. I want to be able to get out of the heat of the summer and down into this cooler space. I want to feel the warmth down here in the wintertime. It doesn't have to be perfect. The holes, the divots in the floor are not going to impact my comfort here.

[00:12:26.040] - Speaker 1

And I kept hearing that voice. It's not good enough. It's not good enough. And I'm agreeing with it in some level, too, because I know it's not good enough. I know that if I put the time into it, if I put the money into it, if I hired someone to do it, which I can't afford or I don't think I would want to pay someone for that anyway, it's a basement. So over the past couple of weeks, I have been working to clean and paint or seal this concrete floor and I'm probably about halfway done, a little more than halfway done.

[00:13:04.170] - Speaker 1

I've had to break it into four sections because there's still a lot of furniture down here. And so painted three coats on this first open space. Let that dry for a day and a half or so and then moved some furniture over into this space, which freed up another space of the room. And so then I'm scraping all that nasty, nasty sound scraping over there. Earl's popping the nails up, creating more little divots in the concrete. And I'm fighting with my father in my head, my father, who is deceased, by the way, fighting with my father in my head over.

[00:13:38.610] - Speaker 1

It doesn't matter. It's just a basement, knowing that the results were not going to be perfect and trying to find a way to be OK with that finished up that next section, let it dry, moved for more furniture over, opened up another another spot. And so there will be four total spots that will be painted. And yes, I look at where, you know, one section ended and another starts and you can see the lines of the overlapping.

[00:14:09.210] - Speaker 1

And I know that my father is rolling over in his grave. And I mean, no disrespect to him, but that's something that he really wouldn't tolerate. I did the best I could feathering at the edges, but still you can tell it's abasement. I want this to be a nice, quiet haven for recording audio books, podcasts, courses and just making puzzles. In the wintertime, the floor doesn't matter. So this morning I was working doing the scraping, all that icky sound urge to oh's your piercing.

[00:14:45.270] - Speaker 1

Got that done. Mopped it up. So now I'm in the stage where I'm running the dehumidifier so we can pull all the moisture out of the floor that I had just put into the floor as I was washing the concrete and it was while I was scrubbing this section of the floor, I have a little scrub brush, I had gloves on my hand and I had the water and I'm scrubbing to get some of the adhesive off of the concrete. I had already scraped it with that icky, icky sound.

[00:15:14.940] - Speaker 1

And now I'm washing the concrete and I'm scrubbing it with a brush, just trying to get a little bit more up. Oh, and I had vacuumed it before I started washing it. And I got this insight of sometimes. Your best attempt is an abysmal failure. Someone looking at your project or you looking at your own project, you look at it and you say, yeah, oh, that really sucks. But as I was thinking that I remember, I just kind of a smile appeared on my face as I released the tension and the pressure of this being a perfect basement floor and just allowed myself that ease of knowing that I was finally taking action.

[00:15:58.550] - Speaker 1

I was no longer holding on to that burden of wanting something, but not knowing how or not being willing to do the work to get it. Because remember, what I want from this space is a quiet place to record my podcast, my audio books and my courses and are cool in the summertime, warm in the winter time place to live and enjoy and build puzzles. Where does the floor, the quality of the paint job on the floor impact any of those things?

[00:16:32.000] - Speaker 1

It really doesn't. I was at a workshop on Sunday and I was sharing this story and I kind of got this flash of insight that what I should do is go around and all of the little divots from the nails that are along the wall is I should take a contrasting color or a bright color and paint those holes to call attention to them instead of trying to make them blend in and try to hide. The imperfection is just accept them. Call attention to this abysmal attempt at home renovations, home restoration, and just have fun with it.

[00:17:14.390] - Speaker 1

And I don't know if I will actually do that, but the idea is amusing and entertaining, and it makes me think that maybe this abysmal attempt will actually be a brilliant piece of artwork. From the time that I had that thought in the class on Sunday until this morning, when I was actually scraping the adhesive from that section of floor, my attitude and my thoughts about this project have become lighter. I'm not looking at it with such a critical eye.

[00:17:45.810] - Speaker 1

I'm looking at it from the perspective of what is it I want this room to be for me. And you know what, if I'm honest, which I always try to be, but sometimes it's easy to lie to ourselves. Isn't it another story for another day? But when I'm being honest with myself right now, when I look around at this floor and I will post some pictures, check out Donna Doyon, dot com forward, slash one for two.

[00:18:14.520] - Speaker 1

And I will post some pictures of this project in progress for you. It won't be completed by the time this is published, but it will be in progress. I have to say that I am really proud of myself for what I've done. Number one, because I've made so much progress, this job is going to be finished. My goal is to have it finished by the middle of September, and I'm really excited that I'm doing this myself. Originally, I was trying to put the burden of this onto Earl and he's very good at refusing these types of chores.

[00:18:53.670] - Speaker 1

He's really good about setting his personal boundaries that way. And I doubt he even thinks of it from that perspective. But I do. I was trying to infringe upon him to do something for me, something that ultimately was my responsibility. His refusal to rescue me, to help me to take over means that I got to grow into a better person because I did this on my own. It was my project, my vision, and being the one to complete it as imperfectly as it has been completed.

[00:19:27.840] - Speaker 1

It's pretty powerful because I did the best that I could do as the person that I am today. And isn't that all we can ask of ourselves? It isn't always about the results. And I just realized last week's episode, I talked about that. I talked about setting a goal and then letting it go. Disconnecting emotionally from the results from the outcome, enjoy the process and I have been enjoying this process of redoing this floor. Oh, one random thought and all of these random thoughts.

[00:20:07.690] - Speaker 1

So when we were at the Home Depot to pick out the paint, I thought my choices would be like gray, light gray. But they had a whole color chart. And so I picked a color called inviting veranda because this is an indoor or outdoor concrete paint and we had picked up the base color. We're asking the Home Depot associate to mix the paint. I said inviting verandah is the color I want. And then I looked at Earl and I said, Oh, or do you think this color would be better?

[00:20:41.740] - Speaker 1

And Earl just shook his head and he said, You made a decision, stick with it. And then the store clerk looks at me and she says, Do you want to change it? It's like no inviting Buranda. I like the color. It is bright, it is light. And when things are all finished and furniture is moved where it needs to be, this will be a very inviting space for me. Now, I called this episode when your best attempt is abysmal.

[00:21:12.400] - Speaker 1

For some reason that just came to my mind and it stuck with me. I think it stuck with me because so many times I don't start a creative project because I know that my attempt will not be what I envision in my mind. I don't have the skills, I may not have the talent, and I don't have the knowledge or the experience to create what it is I want to create. However, sometimes we just need to get started. And when you can start a project and know and accept and smile about the fact that the results may be abysmal, it still may be a functioning and well done, well crafted result when you can look at any first attempt at something and start with the baseline of, yeah, this could be abysmal.

[00:22:10.720] - Speaker 1

It takes some of the pressure off and it allows you to make mistakes and it allows you to keep moving forward to accomplish what needs to be done. You don't have to assign more value to the task. Then it's worth it doesn't have to mean anything except that you made a living space livable for yourself because with a concrete floor down here unsealed unfinished. Nope. This wasn't going to be a comfortable place to come down here and build puzzles and watch TV.

[00:22:45.070] - Speaker 1

But having the painted floor that finishes it up and it may not be a perfect job, but it serves the purpose. And when it's time to sell this condo, well, we'll deal with it then, because who knows what other changes may have happened, whether I sell in three years, ten years or it's part of my estate and then it's someone else's problem. And they'll look at the floor and say, gosh, who painted that floor? And maybe the person will be thinking, what a great job, what a beautiful color.

[00:23:18.100] - Speaker 1

Or maybe they'll be thinking, oh, that needs to be redone. None of that impacts who I am today. None of that matters. So this week I invite you, I encourage you, I challenge you to take on a project that has been niggling you in the back of your mind, driving you a little bit crazy every time you expose yourself to it and whether it's writing a book or redoing a room, cleaning a closet, and allow yourself to make your best attempt with the understanding that it could be less than what you would truly desire.

[00:23:58.480] - Speaker 1

And being OK with that, giving yourself the permission and the grace to try something new, develop a new skill and not focus on the results of it. Just get it done. My space in this basement is coming together beautifully, not perfectly, but beautifully. And it's all because I was willing to give it my best attempt with who I am in this moment, with the time, with the financial resources, with my abilities, and not keep delaying, waiting for better circumstances, better situation, more knowledge.

[00:24:39.400] - Speaker 1

I jumped in and just started to get to work and this result is beautifully abysmal. A postscript to this episode is that after I recorded this yesterday morning, I just kind of been having a good time thinking of being intentionally abysmal, not looking at the results as anything more than just getting something accomplished. And I was at work last night and I was clean. I work in a bakery and a grocery store. And I was cleaning what we call the bolt case, which is where the individual donuts and bagels and pastries are located.

[00:25:17.640] - Speaker 1

And I was cleaning that and it popped into my mind. Abysmal is in the eyes of the beholder. And it brought me right back to this topic of other people passing judgment on our efforts and our accomplishments and our results. And when I look at this floor, part of me looks at it and says, oh, it could be so much better. But as I said in the podcast episode, part of me is saying, yes, I did it, I got this accomplished.

[00:25:47.520] - Speaker 1

I can meet my goals of having this cellar as functional space again. So coming up with that idea that abysmal is in the eyes of the beholder, when you're looking at something that someone else has done and you're shaking your head and saying, oh, not the best, just remember, that's your opinion. That's how you're looking at what someone else has created. Your job now is to be sure that you don't ruin their enthusiasm for their own project.

[00:26:18.540] - Speaker 1

So if you catch yourself noticing that something isn't quite perfect or someone comments, oh, yeah, but you know, my basement, I wish I did the floor better encourage them to appreciate the abysmal Solarte of their own project and remind them of the purpose that it's serving of what they've accomplished. To get it to that point, I think abysmal is my new favorite word. Maybe abysmal will help me in my journey to find more ease in my life.

[00:26:48.990] - Speaker 1

So it's something I think I'll be able to have some fun with. So don't be surprised if you hear abysmal in the future, but always know that when I'm saying abysmal, it is in the most joyous and fun sense of the word. Have an amazing week. If you enjoy listening to this podcast and you are ready to overcome your own doubts and fears so that you can step out of your current limiting roles and responsibilities and into your whatever venture potential you have to check out, walk with me.

[00:27:24.630] - Speaker 1

It's additional guidance on finding your way to the delightfully imperfect life of your dreams. Check it out at Donna Doyon. Dot com forward slash walk. I'd love to have you walk with me. The music for this podcast is Drifting Upstream by Hyson.


Show Notes:

Here are a few things I mentioned in this week's episode:

Ep138: Revisiting My One Word - I talked about transitioning from the word "release" to the word "ease." 

I didn't mention it, but that conversation started back in Ep107: Choosing One Word as a Lens to Your World.

Ep141: Set a Goal & Let It Happen - I talked about setting goals for the direction they provide, not necessary the outcome we envision.

Here are photos from my project.

The middle of the beginning stage of clearing space to start this floor painting project.

Ugly, fuzzy, adhesive remnants from the pulled up carpeting.

Ugly, fuzzy, adhesive remnants from the pulled up carpeting.

First coat of paint has been applied. It took three coats to cover the darker adhesive stains/stripes.

First coat of paint has been applied. It took three coats to cover the darker adhesive stains/stripes.

Transition to Stage 2 of cleaning/painting. The sectional sofa still needs to be move over to where the floor has been painted.

Transition to Stage 2 of cleaning/painting. The sectional sofa still needs to be move over to where the floor has been painted.

Painting the middle section of the floor.

Painting the middle section of the floor.

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Be sure to click on the active player.

The music for this podcast is Drifting Upstream by Hyson. The music was slightly remixed and fit to needed duration.

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