Sunday, February 17, 2008

Well, I guess I'll never write a biography on Leo Africanus


Or the Empress Theodora. It's time to stop kidding myself.

I have all these great ideas. They're ambitious, lofty, and often downright ridiculous. Like me writing biographies about Leo Africanus or the Empress Theodora. Let me explain.

About five years ago, a homeschooling publishing company put out a call for well-written children's level biographies on a wide range of historical figures. They were a start-up company, and were offering to pay $500 per book. I read down the list of obscure names and thought to myself, "Surely, I could do this. Let me just find two names that probably no one else will pick." I wanted to assure myself publication by trying to eliminate as much competition as possible. Having no real knowledge of either of these two people, I clicked on over to Amazon and bought some books about them, figuring I would read up, study up, and write up a nice children's biography on each. (I know I sound clueless, just hang in there with me.) All the books came. They looked BORING AS I'LL GET OUT and I tucked them away on the shelf, thinking that I would get to them.

I never did. The call for manuscripts came and went, and there sat Leo Africanus with his turban looking too disgusted with me to even make eye contact. The Empress can't even crack a compassionate smile, woman to woman. I shelved them among my other biographies thinking they would be more at home, but still they glared at me.

They became representative of so many goals I set out to achieve with great intention, but never got around to. You know what I mean. The sewing projects half-finished. The patterns for sewing projects that you never even opened. The cookbook with 101 seaweed and tofu recipes that you're really going to switch your family over to. The $2000 worth of rubber stamps and inks that will come in so handy when you scrapbook your entire family's history, or when you start making all your own cards. The pair of jeans that you know you'll fit into by 2003. Oh, wait. That passed.

I came to hate Leo Africanus and the Empress Theodora because they represented promises to myself that I never kept. A little jab at my personal integrity every time I saw the bright pink spine. The time came to clean house, and by that I mean my internal house. It's hard enough to keep the positive affirmations flowing through my mind each day. I don't need Leo laughing at me. So folks, Leo and Theo...they're in a box on their way to the library's donation bin. As is the crazy cookbook with nothing tasty anywhere. And the half-finished or never-begun projects are out the door too. I am a woman of my word! I want things around me that validate my worth and support my mission on earth and make me feel powerful. The truth is, I am not a biographer.* And that's okay! So, who's laughing now?



*I may be willing to make an exception for you, Dad. I have been bred for that task, and I'm carefully taking notes!

13 comments:

Julie Wright said...

I love this post. I have boxes of stuff I'm never going to do. I think cleaning the internal house is a GREAT idea! You're brilliant!

Momo Fali said...

Oh man, did you ever nail me on the head. I think I would feel so much better if I just got rid of all the stuff that nags at me every day. No more pressure. No more guilt!

Tristi Pinkston said...

You know what, this is great. Don't beat yourself up over the stuff you haven't done! I've been over here enough to know that you're phenomenal, and there's no reason to get down on yourself. Hang up stuff around you that reminds you of your awesome accomplishments and dump the stuff that gives you guilt.

Holly Homemaker said...

Good for you! I'll bet you just feel loads lighter now!

Great post.

bubandpie said...

Those decisions are so freeing, aren't they? Like when I realized that I don't have time to review books for my blog. Guilt gone, just like that.

Kimberly said...

So lovely getting caught up on reading your blog. You are so phenomenal, Jenna. You uplift and inspire without even realizing you're doing so. Thank you.

Scribbit said...

I had to say thanks for your kind comment today, you just made me blush! Only Mom says things that nice :)

Luisa Perkins said...

You crack me up. I remember looking at that same list and trying to figure out the least likely to be taken by others as well!

I didn't go so far as to purchase actual reference material, but that's only because I had flitted off to something involving knitting, gardening, green living, etc., etc.

Good for you for purging. I cleaned my desk yesterday, and it felt great!

Mom2My6Kids said...

This is a great post! But then I seem to enjoy everything you write. I'm beginning to feel like your biggest fan! Sorry! I just relate to you way too much. Way to go on cleansing your world! You're one step ahead of me. I was just looking at my piles of unfinished projects and goals thinking I should try to finish at least one thing. Maybe I should just dump them all and start over!

Jenna said...

Do you want to come and clean my house next? I have a ton of stuff like that and not one nth the courage.

Saint Holiday said...

O, I am so relieved by your postscript! All the blood drained from my face when I read that you would not be a biographer. If not you, who? Your angel mother? She would write the full, ungarnished truth about me and fail to exaggerate my virtues. Can't have that! Thank you for allowing this one exception. I'm thinking, if I got rid of everything in my life that reminded me of all the projects I never completed or all the ideas I never pursued, I'd have the largest yard sale in Arizona history. I'd have to sell my house, too. But we did add the 25,000th name to our Ancestral File last night! Yeah! Focus on what we are getting done. I love you.

The Dadlike

Annette Lyon said...

What a great feeling--to purge both the physical reminder as well as the mental and emotional garbage. Way to go! I feel like cleaning out a closet now . . .

Caresse said...

Good words.