Do you ever get so focused on your goals that you suddenly have no idea what you are looking at anymore?



You dream and hope and plan and then work hard, but sometimes you still end up careening right into your own viewfinder.  Face squished up, focus distorted.


What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups . 

~Margaret Atwood


Squished up doesn’t leave much room for growth, or seeing our ideas through to completion–and I think it might even cause wrinkles.

But take a step back.  Take a little time to discover the big picture once again.

Then breathe in deep.

 The bigger picture rock climb maine_opt

Better keep yourself bright and clean. You are the window through which you must see the world.
~George Bernard Shaw


How do you get unsquished?



39 thoughts on “On Getting Unsquished and Seeing the Bigger Picture

  1. Lisa Hall-Wilson

    Hmmm – lovely picture. I love to go walking with my dog – preferable in the country where I don’t have to use my iPod for white noise against the sounds of the city.

  2. Emma Burcart

    I have this problem too often to count. For me, talking to one of my friends always helps me get some perspective. Then I can actually see how far I’ve already come. I need to work on the stopping to celebrate part of goals.

  3. Susanna Leonard Hill

    This is so true, and such a timely topic! I feel like this past month I’ve lost my path and perspective. I know the causes, and they’re correctable, but still, losing your perspective and straying from where you really need to be are uncomfortable and stressful. I hope, during April, to get some real writing done!

  4. Stacy S. Jensen

    I used to get unsquished by taking a trip. Travel seemed to open up new areas of my brain and fill up others. Now, I think just stepping back, taking a break from my to do list and errands and just playing — real play not the “I’m doing this because I’m supposed to” kinda play.
    Stacy S. Jensen recently posted..B is for BirkenstockMy Profile

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      My son has been talking about wanting to go on vacation for the last few weeks–I think he’s been getting all squished up with the end of the school year rapidly approaching.

  5. Pat O'Dea Rosen

    You had to mention wrinkles? Now I’m really worried. Seriously, a walk outside is great for minor cases of detailitis, but a weekend away from home–and the laptop–helps with major cases of distorted focus. The weekend doesn’t have to be fancy, but it must include a new food, interesting landscape or city scene, people-watching, and time to kick back.

    I love what you did with the close-up/regular-sized picture–perfect example of show, not tell.

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      No worries, botox is the wrinkle unsquisher right? :)
      I’m glad you like my show not tell–I liked it because it made for a very simple post!!!

  6. Jennette Marie Powell

    Stacy pretty much nailed it for me. I don’t necessarily go on a vacation, but just stepping away from the to-do list for a day, or even an afternoon can do wonders! Alternatively, decluttering it can help too – I go through and delete the things that have been hanging around on it for months (like an unsolicited request for a critique) and give myself permission not to do them. Only the must-dos stay, and it makes for a much smaller (and less stress-inducing) list.

    Love the photo – I was really wondering what that red cap was before I scrolled down!
    Jennette Marie Powell recently posted..My Town Monday: Girls Rule… in the Air Force!My Profile

  7. Emily R. King

    HAHAHAHA! Have you been in my head lately?

    I take a few slow breaths and pray for perspective. It works every time.

    Thanks for your insight, Coleen!

  8. August McLaughlin

    Have I ever squished. 😉 I’m prone to those compulsive writing frenzies and have learned the hard way that over-fixating can go too far. I find that breaks help hugely, as does hiking, fresh air, food…

    Love the Atwood quote, by the way.

  9. Shannon Esposito

    Wrinkles…lol. I have to get out of my own head to get perspective and keep the bigger picture. Travel definitely helps! Getting away from being down in the trenches, remembering that there are other pleasures in life besides writing. Great analogy because we really do have to step out of the picture and look back at it with fresh eyes from a distance.

  10. Susie Lindau (@SusieLindau)

    I haven’t had that problem. I feel like I am working against the clock all the time since I started writing so recently and I havetocatchup!!!!!! I have always been a pretty organized person so that really helps. Breaks are good too! :)

  11. Natalie Hartford

    Beautiful pics. I find going on vacation and escaping away for the weekend always does the trick. Or getting out and getting active can destress me and leave me with a new perspective. Golf, canoeing, camping, swimming, walking the dog – whatever! It all helps…breath taking views also work splendidly! :-)

  12. Tameri Etherton

    Love. Love, love, love. I totally get squished and then have to take a deep breath and see the big picture. Your visuals are great. I had no idea what the first pic was going to end up being. Fun surprise. It’s way too easy to get so caught up in the minutiae and not even see the glory all around. Great reminder.

  13. Patricia

    I go on vacation. Vacation always clears my befuddled mind and when I come home I have to remember what I was doing before I left. I have to find my goals again.

    Very nice photo. Makes me want to escape right now.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  14. Lydia K

    I’ve got some serious squishing going on, so I’ll be making some room for myself this month. And wrinkles? Eep, get them away from me!
    (too late, LOL)

  15. Leigh Covington

    You have a knack for writing the perfect posts. Seriously! This is just what I needed. I used to be better at this and lately it feels like I’m all sorts of squished. No fun. Usually some alone time helps me work things out. Alone and quiet and if I can work nature into the scenario then that’s even better!

    BTW – this photo is beautiful! WOW! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Beth K. Vogt

    Sometimes I have to accept I am gonna be squished. Multiple deadlines back-to-back = squished.
    But then I plan for downtime afterward.
    And I also commit to saying no to everything else until I get past the “squished” stage.

  17. Lynn Kelley

    I love this: “Squished up doesn’t leave much room for growth, or seeing our ideas through to completion–and I think it might even cause wrinkles.” Those other quotes are great, too. Sleep does wonders for me or some good music. And watching a funny movie always helps. Cool post, Coleen!

  18. Sarah Pearson

    Honestly, this sounds like a cop out, but I have no big picture except for ‘finish at least one revision’. That’s it. It’s all I think about :-)

  19. Sophia Chang

    I really needed this. I’m all f’d up from my vacation – overstimulated by Vegas, feeling ashamed for not being as financially successful as my sister, feeling stupid for having been away from the goals I so desperately, DESPERATELY want. I need to just rebalance, or get unsquished as you say.
    Sophia Chang recently posted..Reality BitesMy Profile

  20. Lynette M Burrows

    Scheduling in me time is what helps me the most. An artist date, like a trip to a museum I’ve never seen before, or a walk focusing on taking pictures from different angles. Music – live or recorded. Reading a book outside my genre. A date with my DH – focusing on him, on us. In other words, scheduling time to re-focus on something or someone else.
    Lynette M Burrows recently posted..And the Answer is: Happy Rodents and a Lucky SnippetMy Profile

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      Me time–love it. Especially scheduling it, because that reminds me that it is important, necessary and ok to take me time.
      Thanks Lynette!

  21. Kristy K. James

    How do I get unsquished? I step back from everything related to writing for a couple of days. Sometimes I read, sometimes I watch movies, and sometimes I just nap a lot. :)

    Very good post, Coleen. We should all print it and hang it in front of our desks. And blow up the beautiful picture of the great outdoors. :)

  22. Debra Kristi

    My little one was talking about being squished last night. How funny. I have definitely been feeling it. I think you got it. We need to slow down sometimes and breath. Take a step back. Sometimes hard to get ourselves to do, but better for us in the end.

  23. Sheila Seabrook

    Taking the time to read a great book gets me unsquished. There’s something about being transported to another world that is so freeingand lifts the weight of the world from my shoulders.

  24. Karen McFarland

    Uh, I don’t know if I’ve ever become unsquished! LOL! I think I’ve learned to live in the in-between to tell you the truth! Although there are precious moments of sanity, thank God! What an inspiring post Coleen! Thank you! :)
    Karen McFarland recently posted..Wanted: Dead or AliveMy Profile

  25. M. x

    I like to sit in the woods, where no one can see me, with paper and a pen. That way, my imagination starts to flow and I feel very free because I am, for once, truly on my own. I usually take music with me because it changes my mood – so I play something – from Tchaikovsky to an upbeat, club song – and see what comes to my mind :)
    It also helps me to unwind and think about my life in private.
    I know this will sound weird, but the best time is when it’s raining because you know then that you are in the hands of nature and no one else.
    M x

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