Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Irish Wisdom

You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.
~ Irish Proverb

This is one of my favorite Irish sayings. I need reminding of this on a daily basis.

Hi, my name is P. and I am an over-thinker.

I have a lot of ideas -- some darn good ones that never get started because they both begin and end with me merely thinking about them. Others get started but then get bogged down for lack of action.

Awareness is the first step to recovery. I don't think it was the Irish who said that, but I could be wrong.

In my favor is that I do like to finish things. So, over the years, I have learned a few tricks that help sneak past my own barriers, such as, "I can do anything for 15 minutes." Sometimes I literally have to set a timer. Usually though, I am more than willing to continue beyond the 15 minutes.

Yesterday, for example, I felt largely unmotivated to work on anything currently in process. I had a lot of random ideas swirling around but no sense of focus. Then I reminded myself of the 15-minute maxim and worked on pinwheel string blocks. Ninety minutes later, I had a few done.

What also works for me is "baby steps." What is the next step? Do the next thing. It sounds simple, and it is, but if you tend to think too much, like I do, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. If you break a project down to its elements, which usually have a logical order, by simply taking the next step, you will get there eventually. And, like the 15-minute technique, taking the next step usually leads to taking a few more.

Anger can be a motivator. Piss me off, and I'll likely get things done that have been languishing for months, all the while steam virtually puffing out my ears. Although I have some Irish in me, I am not that easily riled up. Therefore, this technique cannot be counted as reliably effective. I do, however, get annoyed with myself such that sometimes the old Nike slogan works and I "just do it," already.

Sir Isaac Newton, who could have been Irish for all I know, claimed that a body in motion remains in motion. To break the physical inertia, sometimes a brisk walk can get things going. That is, if I continue to walk on down the stairs and into my sewing room once I get home.

Does any of this sound familiar? Is there anything you do to get out of your head and into action? Coffee, tea, Diet Coke? Do share.

The top picture is of my great-great-grandmother, Ellen Frances Curley, born c. 1849 in Ireland, according to the 1880 U.S. Census, as were her parents. Other sources say she was born in Rochester, NY. One day I will delve into her genealogy to clarify. Right now, I am just thinking about it.

The second two photos are of Ellen's sister, Maggie Curley. The one on the right is a tin-type taken when she was a child (although she looks a little boyish to me; possibly my great-aunt misidentified it). The one on the left was taken when she was a young woman in St. Louis, Missouri.


  1. Oh gosh, did I need to read this blog. Yep, I can relate to the things you've stated. In fact, I can get so many ideas, sometimes new ones and sometimes those connected to something already in progress, that I just do most of the quiling "in my head". HA! (This can happen with other things too.)

    I've only got one more to add, I remind myself that I live in the "now" and can only do one thing. Then I ask myself what that the thing is. Surprisingly, I always know the answer.

  2. Wow, we do think alike. Thanks for the tips on getting all this out of my mind and directed into a project!

    The photos are very cool.

  3. I love the way you think. Being an over thinker is better than being a non-thinker. I know far too many of those.

    I go through the whole over-thinking thing and get bogged down and end up unable to do anything. It happens on a daily basis. I tell myself, if I just do it and get it over with, I won't have to do it anymore because it will be done. That's how I motivate myself.

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  5. Hi

    Your old pics are such a treasure!
    I just wandered over by blog hopping. I am exactly like you in the thinking not doing being a problem AND by blog is called 10 minutes each day in an unreasonable manner - which is exactly your 15 minute idea less 5 minutes. Great minds etc!

    I love your pinwheel so colorful blocks. I also like your aprons and vintage flower pots. I realize I've been here before when I saw your lantern quilt. Nice to see how its progressing!



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