Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Harder than it Looks

Welcome to the island of misfit candy canes. It's so much harder to make these than it looks on tv.

The behind the scenes tour at Hammond's Candies is humbling. And really really fun. My favorite part was putting about 30 pounds of soft, hot sugar candy onto the puller, and watching it go from coffee colored to white as it was pulled and stretched by three metal arms. Shaping the jacket for the candy canes was fun, standing at a table backed by a row of flames. The actual making of the candy canes - that's hard. The candymaker, who has been there for years, doesn't seem to be doing anything but running his gloved hands over the giant roll of peppermint candy. It somehow becomes a perfect cylinder of twisted red and white, cut to the perfect length, then expertly curved and sent on its way down the belt.
It didn't go that way for us. One misshapen mutant cane after another came from our inexpert hands. It's obviously quite a skill, one that can't be mastered in a 90 minute tour. So we laughed, and tried our best, and left with a stash of funny looking candy. It was great.
And I learned something today. I learned that I've grown a lot over the past couple of years. I have finally reached a point where it's ok to not be perfect before I've learned how to do something. I can try, and fail. Fail quite spectacularly. And it's ok. I don't have a meltdown. I don't beat myself up. I can laugh at myself and at the results of the attempt without calling myself a failure.
It reminded my of my surfing lessons. 3 agonizing lessons of not being able to stand up on the board, and hating myself for it. Feeling like a complete and total failure. For my fourth lesson, I had a different instructor. Jason watched me try a couple of pop-ups on the beach. "Ok, you have really long legs, which makes it really hard to pop-up right. So, how about for today, we forget about standing up. Let's focus on catching the waves, doing knee rides, and having fun. And I'll show you how to start reading the waves as they come in. How about that?" Jason, you had me at 'forget about standing up'. I had a fabulous time. I caught waves all by myself. I rode my board all the way onto the sand. It was two of the best hours of the vacation. All because someone gave me permission to change the goal, which changed how I saw myself. Instead of obsessing on perfection, my focus was on catching and riding the wave. So much easier. So much more fun.
It's not that I don't have standards, or that I don't want to do things well. It's just that I've finally realized that I am not exempt from the learning curve, and that's ok.
Pulling sugar and self-acceptance. Both harder than they look.


Jenn said...

Awesome, seriously good for you for getting to that place! As a fellow Cancerian perfectionist type I know just where you are coming from when it comes to (typically) beating yourself up over the things that don't go exactly right. The great thing from my outsider's perspective is that not only did you get into the water and play all day (you will SO have to tell me where you took lessons btw, I am dying to try this!) but I bet those canes taste just as sweet and wonderful as the perfect shaped ones. In this case, your learning curve was a literal curve and it sounds like you turned that corner just brilliantly! ♥

btw - "mutant" canes - giggle

kate said...

I went to the Nancy Emerson School of Surfing in Lahaina (Maui). They were super folks. There are some women-only surf camps around too in Mexico, Costa Rica, California, Hawaii......definitely recommend warm water surfing.