the learning curve

by lizzie & isaiah on December 7, 2011 · 24 comments

After a night at The Usual and Olive Garden with friends, Isaiah and I got tangled in conversation in the car.  At some point, we leaned back in our seats and Isaiah’s head was resting in my hand.  We talk about the future all the time, but it’s more about the next couple of weeks, the next couple of months or the next year.  But five years?  Ten?  We don’t always see the future through the days.

I don’t know if it was the Unconventional Wisdom martinis or copious amounts of garlic breadsticks that brought on our mutual epiphany, but there we were.  Our voices were cracking and our eyes glossing and we were talking about how we felt our big dreams were slipping.

Isaiah has always wanted to be a painter.  When he was in kindergarten, his teacher called his parents in for a conference and dramatically revealed a recent drawing of his.

“Oh, that’s nice,” his parents said, nodding and waiting for the record of Isaiah’s bad behavior to come next.

“No. Wait. These are what the other kids drew,” the teacher pulled out finger paintings, stick figures and crayon-line-drawings.

In kindergarten, Isaiah’s understanding of dimension and shading surpassed even the next-best kid’s skills by a multiplier no less than four.

I have always wanted to be a writer.  I’ve been published a couple of times by accident in magazines and newspapers. I feel like I’ve always had a knack for it, but mostly, I don’t enjoy anything more.

But having natural talent for something hasn’t made it easier to pursue.

Instead, we grew up without “needing to work” as hard to get the same results.  I’ve watched people I thought were “okay writers” write novels and screenplays and turn their blogs into something big and Isaiah has watched previously mediocre classmates and friends pass him by in technical skill.

We talked for a little more than an hour about how we worked hard at everything else.  I would have an inkling to learn calligraphy and all of a sudden, I would enroll in classes, drum up a business plan and leave the dream behind in a few weeks.  Isaiah wanted to go on a juice fast and he researched juicers and smoothie recipes and grocery shopped and blended and forgot how much he loves sandwiches and rice and solid foods for a few weeks until he lost interest in puréed fruits.

I spent 17 years learning and playing piano – seven of which were to avoid riskier endeavors.  Piano was safe and I was mildly talented at it.  Isaiah spent the last nine years becoming a great graphic designer.  While he believes design is an extension of his art, his true passion is painting.

 But really trying to get thing you want most about is scary.

It’s scary as shit.

As long as you’re not actively trying to reach it, you can say you don’t have enough time.  If there were only more hours in a day.  You can say your family takes a lot of your time.  When the kids are in school, I’ll…  You can say you’re just about ready to make it big — you just need fifty more pages. 

But you’re as good as dead if you never try.  No one wants to give their true passion everything they’ve got and find out they’re not as good as they thought or as good as they need to be.  But no one is going to write a book for me.  No one is going to paint Isaiah’s masterpiece for him.  No one is going to _______ for you. 

So start with 300 words or the smallest canvas size they sell.  Quit making safe choices and dedicating yourself to treading water and take a chance on the thing you want most.  

Photo: Found on Ursa Major via The Salt Water Night

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo December 7, 2011 at 8:19 am

Oh man. Powerful. Heart stoppingly powerful.


lizzie & isaiah December 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Thank you, Jo. :)


Sarah December 7, 2011 at 10:31 am

I don’t have much to add, but I wanted to let you know that I’m nodding my head all through this post. I firmly believe that everyone has one great novel, one great painting, one masterpiece of whatever it is that is their passion, inside of them. Making the time to get the masterpiece out is the trick because there are never enough hours in a day to do everything that needs to be done. It’s all a matter of prioritizing.


lizzie & isaiah December 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Thanks, Sarah…and I couldn’t agree more. I think the biggest downfall to being amazing at something is trying to be good at everything, too…You can write a few crappy songs, paint a few mediocre paintings and design a couple of okay things…or you can be remembered for a contribution you focused on and worked for. Something like that.


Erin December 7, 2011 at 10:40 am

I relate so hard to this whole post. Why are we so scared of the thing we want the most? But what really gets me excited is the prospect of seeing what you and Isaiah create when you make your big dreams happen :)


lizzie & isaiah December 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Thanks, Erin…and I know…I do it too, ALL THE TIME. I’m afraid at failing at something I actually try to get. WHAT?! I’m excited for YOU.


Amma // Beyond Beyond December 7, 2011 at 10:42 am

All I can say is co-sign totally, I’ve read your work on here before and loved it. I have been really determined of late to live my dreams and knowing that I am taking steps, even though it might be a day at a time really feels good! Such a great post and good inspiration!


lizzie & isaiah December 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Thanks so much, Amma…that means a lot.


Jackie | Sweet Little Thrills December 7, 2011 at 10:58 am

Yes, yes, and yes again! I feel like you jumped in my head and wrote this post for me (although I know you didn’t, I’ll choose to believe it anyway). Our priorities and talents get muddled with the “have to’s” like paying bills and other adult-like things. I, too, have forgotten or neglected things I truly love so that I can make money quicker, get home faster, catch a few extra winks of sleep, or spend more time with my family. Those things will never stop and wait for ME, so might as well go for the gold and try!


lizzie & isaiah December 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

MAKE MONEY QUICKER. That has been our greatest downfall. HOW can we turn our skills into money-making things…that’s what happens when you NEED money. Now that we are okay financially, we can focus less on turning a quick buck and sacrificing our big dreams that take work…I think shit will happen.


nikki December 7, 2011 at 11:42 am

You are one inspiring lady


lizzie & isaiah December 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm



Jill Tooley December 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm

You made me tear up a little bit on this one, Lizzie. Wow. Spoken like a true heroine.

Both you and Isaiah are incredibly talented people and I KNOW you’ll both accomplish your dreams. And regarding your concerns: on the contrary, I don’t think your dreams are slipping at all — just by reading this blog post I know it’s quite the opposite. There’s no way you could write something this inspirational if you didn’t have the drive to back it up! We all falter sometimes, but that creativeness only lies dormant in our minds until we find the guts to rekindle it. Passion is the first step on the road to kicking ass, after all.

I’m so happy you wrote this post. I’m in the same boat right now (putting off my personal writing dreams and goals because of X, Y, or Z) but I don’t want to do that shit anymore. NOW is the time, and damn it, we’re going to succeed!

If you need moral support or a brain to bounce ideas off of, I’m always here! :)


lizzie & isaiah December 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Thanks so much, Jill…I’m pretty sure my mind is a little more motivated than me at the moment. I wish we still lived close! We could do a writer’s workshop or something together…What were we THINKING moving to Texas!?


Jill Tooley December 9, 2011 at 8:53 am

I know, right?!? Darn you! ;)

If I ever figure out how to Skype, maybe we could work out a virtual workshop or something! I’m an old lady when it comes to some of these newfangled things…haha!


Lena December 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I just had a conversation with John about how I felt like my voice and I had different and opposite goals in life. I’m glad I’m not alone.


lizzie & isaiah December 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm

YES. Exactly


lexi December 7, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Thank you – I needed this post. I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I say the same stupid phrase, “if only there were more hours in a day.” Its really not an excuse.
xx Lexi
FASHION: Glitter & Pearls
WEDDINGS: Glitter Weddings


lizzie & isaiah December 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm

It’s definitely not an excuse. But you look like you’re KILLIN’ it, at least visually.


alexandra keller December 8, 2011 at 1:20 pm

you know, you have to pay the bills.
for the rest of it, we have to make time. i’m guilty as hell for not making the time.
but right now, my family and my kid come first. so i can’t make it a priority.
so work on making time now, BC [before children].
i’m not saying that all free time disappears when you have kids, but a lot of it does.
because you still want to spend time with your spouse, your family and friends.
i’ve made jewelry on and off for years, and it’s something i’ll always have.
so i don’t have time to create now as much as i’d like …. but as a friend reminded me,
i’m creating experiences and memories for my son. and to me, that’s more important than work, whatever that may be.


lizzie & isaiah December 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I should have had a caveat in there.

I know moms who sacrifice being a GREAT mom for following their dreams. It’s not the WORST. But coming from a girl who’s mom did the same thing…it takes its toll. I am all about following dreams and being independent and nontraditional, but kids are the one thing that, I think, changes that..

ALSO, I hate when someone says how much they love their partner and then THEY make decisions about what they want to do in life…whether or not they’ll move for a job…whether or not they’ll have any free nights for the next two years because of a master’s program…without consulting their partner?



Lauren of Better In Real Life December 9, 2011 at 11:21 am


Me and you, lady, same exact wavelength. Two nights ago I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t sleep. And finally I got up and started re-writing my novel, from the beginning, with a clear vision of how I wanted it and where I wanted it to go. I’ve been “wanting to get to it” for 2 years… and finally I thought, “what the fuck, Lauren! Get your shit together and stop fucking around!!” Because you’re right – their are less talented people getting published and moving forward with OUR DREAMS and we’ve got to take them back.


lizzie & isaiah December 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I’m so glad for you! I still haven’t figured out my “thing” to write about yet. But I’m okay with that for now – I’m working on practicing and finding my voice a little more lately.


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