The Beauty and the Beast of Optimism

Posted by on Jan 7, 2013 in Life | 64 comments

eeyore optimism

Each week I aim for optimism in my posts.

But some weeks I feel like gloomy Eeyore.  I doubt the positive message.  I feel like a poser, or a Pollyanna.  I wonder if you’ll think,
 

Who is this woman handing me these rose-colored glasses?

 
Because sometimes behind that optimistic message I feel defeated, frustrated.

 

baking fail

These were supposed to be stars and other assorted cut out cookies.

 

This past week was no exception.  There was a moment where I found myself jumping up and down because I was so excited (news for a future post!), and then there was one where I cried tears of frustration.

Now before you write me a prescription, this wasn’t one big massive mood swing (although can’t say I’m immune to those either).  This week it was two unrelated things.

And way more frustrating than a crappy batch of cookies.

Enough to make me feel like I suddenly had no business writing about optimism.

Then while perusing the food blogs in my Google reader (never underestimate the power of a pretty picture of monkey bread), I read some posts from a blogger who recently gave birth to her second child.  In between posts on yummy confections she updated readers on the ups and downs of getting to know her infant. The sleepless nights, the tricks that work and don’t work, and the worry.

The opening notes to The Beauty and the Beast of Motherhood.

And in her story, I recognized myself and my daughter, how our first night home from the hospital (many, many moons ago) my daughter cried and cried no matter how many times I changed her, fed her, swaddled her, held her. I remember staring at her and thinking (and crying), just tell me what you want.

But we don’t always get the answers. Sometimes after life shifts, or plans derail, it takes time to figure out what works.  Eventually I figured out that my daughter loved her swing and white noise.  She’d sleep and so would I.  Then that would pass and there would be something new and equally exhausting to figure out.

 

parenthood joys

My daughter, the gift.  She also inspired me to write songs with lyrics like, Please go to sleep.

 

And as I thought about the new baby posts and the super cute photos of this tiny new baby girl and her mother’s face glowing with happy exhaustion,  I remembered the joy.  Eventually, light seeps through.   We learn to deal.

It reminded me that my current confusion will pass too.  Maybe I haven’t figured it out yet, but at least I know I’ve done it before.

And I hope that by focusing on the light seeping through each week, maybe I can inspire someone else to remember the joy too.

A big thank you to Kristan over at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen and her tiny new daughter. Their story was the one I needed this week to remind me to keep on keeping on.

Oh and just in case you’re wondering, this is what I did with that funky batch of sugar cookies:
 

messes to successes

Cookie dough truffles.

 

Where do you turn to get a dose of optimism?  

xoxo

Coleen Patrick

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64 Comments

  1. Thank you for this dose of optimism this morning. I’m excited and optimistic going into 2013, but I also hear this voice in my head saying, “It’s just going to turn out like 2012. When you look back at the end of the year, you won’t be any further ahead.” I think that voice needs to be stuffed inside a cookie dough truffle and coated with chocolate :)

    • Your welcome! The second I hit publish on this post, that voice started whispering, “You shouldn’t have posted this, you aren’t being optimistic at all . . blah blah blah . . ”
      I think you have the right idea Marcy–let’s stuff them inside of the chocolate truffle.
      :)

  2. Wow! Your misshapen cookies morphed into cookie-dough truffles? What a lesson in turning disappointment into triumph.

    Coleen, while you celebrate optimism and aim to inspire with this blog, I, as a reader, have never feel manipulated into false merriment. You may not address the dark side, but your posts acknowledge it and offer respite from it. Certainly, I’ve carried quotes you’ve posted and images of mountains, a flame tree, and shoes-turned-into-planters with me. When I play and replay the why me? tape, those quotes and images are reminders there’s a big world outside my own head.

    Where do I turn for a dose of optimism? Here, of course.
    Pat O’Dea Rosen recently posted..Out with the Toxic, In with the TrueMy Profile

    • Thank you Pat. :) False merriment. That is the perfect description of what caused me to doubt. It induces visions of me frolicking in the meadow with baskets of monkey bread and truffles.
      I only do that on Fridays. :)

  3. Mmm…monkey bread. That alone put a happy on my face. Then a sad because I don’t have any monkey bread. Then a happy because I don’t have to think about the calories I’d have to burn if I had eaten some (okay, lots) of monkey bread.

    You’re awesome, Coleen. Thanks, as always, for sharing. I think we all feel some of what you were feeling, now and again. But optimism rules. :)

    • The monkey bread conundrum. *sigh* Thankfully there’s no calories in looking at my Pinterest food boards.
      Thank you Wendy!!! Your comment means a lot. :)

  4. Life is all about the ups and downs…I think looking back at the “overall” success, we can learn to embrace “this too shall pass…” even though at the time, it can feel like a pile of horse shit! LOL! It is true…thanks for the fabulous reminder!
    Natalie Hartford recently posted..Holiday Yum: Mocktail ManiaMy Profile

    • Life in 3D, right? The good, the bad and the horse shit. LOL!
      Thanks Natalie!

  5. Coleen, your posts always make me smile! If it’s an act, you’re doing a great job of it! And I bet those cookies tasted good even before you made them into truffles.

    When I get into a funk about something I try to find the good side: Ugh, I have to get up early and go to. work – hey at least I have ajob and I even like it! Or, my book sales suck – hey at least they’re out there and selling more than they would sitting on my hard drive, and I even have fans!

    • I think I’d make a terrible actor. For one my face would turn a million shades of red. Although it might be exhilarating and funny to try improv. :) Another metaphor for life, right?
      Thanks for sharing your funk busters Jennette. :)

  6. I love the surge! Sometimes I get it from reading posts like yours. :)
    Life is filled with ups and downs, I guess we have to keep moving towards the bright spots. When things aren’t going well, remember them like you said!

    • Yes, the bright spots. Although now I’m quoting Poltergeist. “Don’t go into the light.” LOL
      Thank you Susie!

  7. Such an adorable post, Coleen! I’ve no doubt that it’ll be the positivity dose someone (or many someones) reading it needs. When I need brightness, I usually turn to friends, music and writing. Getting out into nature can help, too, especially if it’s a gorgeous, sunny day.

    Hope your week’s off to a super bright start!
    August McLaughlin recently posted..#GirlBoner Sexual Fantasy-palooza: Part IMy Profile

  8. Love the honesty in this post, Coleen. Some days being optimistic comes easier than others, for sure, but we can’t give up. Where would the fun be in that?! Love that you found inspiration in another bloggers post and now you are paying it forward here by sharing the experience with us. Thanks for sharing your struggles and your joys! I’m always blessed by your posts.
    Ruth Schiffmann recently posted..The Muse’s DoorwayMy Profile

    • Thank you Ruth. One of the bright spots of the blogosphere is finding inspiration and friends!

  9. Very thoughtful post, Coleen. My daily meditative work helps me find that balance. Optimism is really the only choice. I think of my self walking a path where there are both joys and challenges, which test me daily. I acknowledge the challenges, shadows, negative, but don’t judge it. My goal is to not react, find my center and do the things that are good for me like reading, being in nature, listening to soothing music, and taking care of me. Doing something for someone else is always a way to get out of a funk. Great post, as you have inpired a lot of people to think about how they handle their own challenges.

    • I feel extra calm just reading your comment Patricia! Excellent advice, thank you.

  10. Coleen, this was the perfect post for me today. I’m sorry to hear that you were/are feeling less than ideal. I know how that is. But I have faith that the light will seep through and you will find your way. Things will be more than okay and 2013 will bring great things our way. I can’t wait to read the new that had you jumping up and down.

    • Yes, the jumping up and down news. Hopefully I will post about it soon. Thank you Debra. :)

  11. One of the deals I made with myself toward the end of 2012 was to be more positive and optimistic — to start off each day with a positive thought. Now, as you can imagine, waking up at 4 every morning and drumming up a positive thought isn’t exactly easy-peasy. :) On those days that I can’t muster that positive energy I tend to find it through my kids, especially when they’re playing nicely together and laughing. Oh, the laughing. Hearing my kids laugh is THE best medicine.

    I think you’re very clever to turn your cookies into truffles. You’re a problem-solver. :)

    • 4 am is a hard time to muster optimism for sure. I barely feel human when I first wake up. That you do that is an inspiration to me! And laughing kids = awesome.
      Thanks Kate!

  12. Coleen, I can’t offer optimism other than you posted and God loves you. I can help with the crappy cookies. After you make the dough, chill it well. A couple hours at least. Chill the rolling pin and if you can the surface you’re going to roll it out on. Work quick and cut the cookies out and chill them a bit before you bake them. The reason they turned into amoebas is the fat (butter, shortening) was warm. Anyway, amoeba cookies are great with cold milk, especially with loved ones.

  13. Patience is not one of my natural strengths–which totally explains that I did not let that dough chill. Thanks for the note of advice!
    Amoeba cookies. Love it—a positive spin..

  14. Beautiful post, Coleen. I loved the Winnie the Pooh quote and your cookies turning into yummy truffles. Seeing your glass half full can be difficult but my kids, music and reading always help – especially reading blog posts like this. Getting hugs is awesome too. Here’s a virtual one for you for cheering me up :) *hugs*
    Reetta Raitanen recently posted..Link Feast For Writers, vol. 35My Profile

  15. What a great post. You sound optimistic to me!
    We all get those down moments – I’m certainly not a stranger to them. But as a wise man once said to me “If you didn’t have the down times, how would you know when you were up?!”
    Ellie at Emerald Pie recently posted..A new year begins, with Nollaig na mBanMy Profile

  16. Where do we turn? To you Coleen! After laughing hysterically over the photo of gone awry “Sugar Cookies” we finished up your post which we enjoyed thoroughly! One of the best we’ve read so far this new year. And we’ve read a lot!! Coleen, there’s a big difference in someone posing to be a happy person, and someone who has direction in their life and is trying to make this world better with a grandeur and more pure outlook on life. If only everyone had your attitude!

    You are one of the strongest people we have ever had the privilege to get to know! This life, especially now with so much negative news going on can really get you down. It is so important to stay positive. So….no perscription to you from us! As a matter of fact, we feel what you said was good medicine for us to take. And by the way, I totally love the concept of taking those cookies, and instead of throwing them out and yielding to a mess, making them into something incredible and better than the original idea. And Inion wants the recipe to your “Cookie Dough Truffles” Will be sharing this for all to see and come away with a beautiful message as we did!

    • Aw thank you! Can you see me smiling from over here?
      I didn’t use a specific recipe (this is why I’m a better cook, than baker). I pulverized the cookies in a food processor and then added enough softened cream cheese to be able to make dough balls. Then I put them in the fridge until they were firm–an hour maybe? Then I dipped them in melted chocolate and set them on wax paper to harden. :)
      Hugs!

  17. Weirdly, it’s when I visit others’ blogs that I get a dose of optimism. Stepping outside my head and into theirs helps me refocus. Also sugar–ice cream, cookies–provides a temporary fix. :) I try to remind myself the world exists in complements. No high without low. No happy without sad. So I’ll suffer through my sad to get to happy again. :)

    • I so agree about stepping out of my head. And that there’s no happy without sad. So, so true!
      Thanks Kourtney. :)

  18. When life gives you crappy cookies – make dough ball truffles! Perfect fix.

    Keep on keeping on my friend. This too shall pass and maybe some day you’ll even look back and laugh at whatever the angst is.

    If it’s any consolation, I look forward to your blog posts – gloomy or otherwise.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt
    Patricia recently posted..To Infinity and Beyond!My Profile

    • Looking forward to laughing about it for sure! Thanks Patricia–always grateful for your support!

  19. thanks for the optimism this morning, Coleen. i’m afraid this year will be no better than last. weird.

    • Weird is definitely an adjective to describe the roller coaster of life. It’s great to have this kind of support in the dips. Thanks Louise!

  20. I’m sorry if your optimism is playing hide and seek with you this week, Coleen. I know the feeling a little too intimately! But just so you know, I look forward to your posts whether they’re optimistic or not – they are always interesting, entertaining, and usually humorous even in a week such as this where you’re claiming the sun is behind the clouds. You managed to make truffles out of funky cookie dough, so the optimism still wins! Whatever is getting you down, I hope passes soon. Whatever had you jumping up and down, I can’t wait to hear about. And meanwhile, I’m always here if you need a dose of 80s hair and denim to cheer you up :)

    • And chocolate donuts. Donuts now make me think of you (I will never forget when you used the letter “o” or zero for a donut graphic–makes me smile every time). One day we will have to have a party with lots of chocolate, donuts, denim and BIG hair. Or maybe just the photos of the hair.
      Thank you Susanna!!!!

  21. Your optimism is contagious and it appears the “cream cheese” struck again!! Once again your creativity is shining through. The pic of C made me smile inside and out and how I remember the challenges when she would cry. How about the “car rides” smiles………………Thanks for making the end of my day one of past memories of “just” yesterday. Hugs :-)

  22. Great post, Coleen. Yes, sometimes the doubt monster gets us all. I am guilty of that one, but sometimes it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, writing the post, making the deadline that re-inspires me. Sometimes I have to name the doubt – ‘it’s the dark side, Luke, er I mean, Lynette.” I also have a file on my computer I call my “Wisdom” file. It’s full of inspirational quotes, funny quotes, reassuring quotes. Usually I can find soothing there and return to optimism. And let me tell you, I’ve added a lot of quotes I found here, on your blog, to that file.
    Lynette M. Burrows recently posted..Going to Mars Word by Word with an Optimistic KnightMy Profile

    • Searching for quotes is one of my fave things when writing a post. Love when I find just the right one to match what I’m thinking! I like that you call it a Wisdom file. I might have to copy that. ;)
      Thanks (Luke) Lynette.

  23. Cookie dough truffles? Where have I been? Oh yeah, under a rock. LOL! Seriously. Colleen, I always leave here with a smile on my face. Your posts always warm my heart. When I hear your voice through your posts I can tell you are the genuine article my friend. You warm my heart and make me feel optimistic! Keep them coming Coleen! :)
    Karen McFarland recently posted..M. I. A.–Too Dog Gone Long!My Profile

    • I should’ve sent those truffles to your rock. But I’m glad you’re out from under it now!
      And thanks for your kind words, I feel the same way about you Karen!

  24. Wow, cookie dough truffles? You are seriously amazing. I stick to my strengths, I’ll clean the oven and leaving the creative foodie stuff to others.

    As for optimism, I’m usually a glass half full sort of woman. But there are times when life makes it very hard indeed. Great post!

    • I like a clean house, but can’t stand doing it. I like to cross things off my list and somehow housework multiplies. It seems neverending. Hence the truffles. :)
      Thanks Christine!

  25. What gets me through tough situations is remembering that there is a lesson in everything. I try to figure out what I need to learn and then just trust that everything will be ok. That works to keep me positive most of the time. But, there are times when we just need to cry or yell or do something to deal with our feelings. Pretending to be happy all the time doesn’t work, either. You are good at finding the positive. Cookie dough truffles sound (and look) way better than cookies ever could! Yum.

    • I’m with you on the meaning Emma. I can’t help but think there is a reason for everything. What trips me up is probably the trust part, gotta work on that. :)
      Thanks Emma.

  26. I’ve been making cookie dough truffles, aren’t they awesome! Been feeling same way too except for the good news, *hugs*

    • My daughter is the one who turned me onto making truffles. They are relatively easy and quite the crowd pleaser!
      I’m sorry your down Catherine. I’m sending good thoughts and HUGS.

  27. When life gives you misshapen cookies, make truffles! I like that a lot better than lemons/lemonade. *grin*

    I look at my last year, and there is much that was simply life (and death) happening that I had no control over. But I also survived what I got myself into, and the word for this year is BALANCE. I wish you the same, with control over what you choose to balance in your life. Keep your chin up, and keep making truffles!
    Jennifer Jensen (@jenjensen2) recently posted..New Year’s Resolutions – Who, Me?My Profile

    • Balance is a good word. I could use more of it for sure! Cheers to that Jennifer. :) Thank you!

  28. Just the pick-me-up I needed, Coleen! I also had one of those kids for whom I wrote “go to sleep” lullabies. (I bounced so much for that first year trying to get him to sleep, it was like my feet were on springs.)

    • My husband was the one who bounced. He had more energy and could bounce them to sleep in half the time I could! :) Oh the lengths we will go to sleep, right?

  29. I already copyrighted the song “Please go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep before I stab my eyes out; you are cute, so freaking cute, why do you sound just like a banshee?” Awww, motherhood.
    Prescription for optimism: Eat one smooshed-cookie-truffle. Laugh at self. Write.

    • My song also had the line, “Mommy’s so tired . . . please go to sleep.” I like your reference to banshee–very accurate. :)
      Oh and any prescription with chocolate sounds good to me! Thanks Lauri.

  30. Optimism can be so elusive sometimes. You’re so right, Coleen. :o| I love your “please go to sleep” lyric… :D

    I guess friends, family. Sometimes Facebook. Sometimes I’ll get an encouraging email from a reader-fan when I least expect it. That’s always so nice. Sometimes I just pray.

    And hey! We haven’t had an earthquake in a while… ;o) <3

    • I know, sometimes just being glad things aren’t worse is the only thing that works. So yay no earthquake. LOL
      Thanks Leigh!

  31. Coleen, I so feel what you’re saying here. I can actually be quite a negative person in RL, and when I described that to an online contact the other day, they were really surprised. It does make me wonder if I have a right to the blog optimism. And yet, it seems to help me in the process… We’re here cheering you on, Coleen… through the ups and downs.

    By the way, on a lighthearted note, you may or may not be aware of the book written for parents called ‘Go the F to Sleep’? Good for a laugh… here it is, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CseO1XRYs9I *hugs*

    • I want to say I’m surprised too but then I know how much of me doesn’t show up online. :) Sometimes I think I need to be on my blog behavior for my family–they get the irritability, the moods. I think I come here and blog about this stuff because like you, it helps me in the process. I know from experience that a negative focus usually snowballs.
      I’m going to check out that link. I’ve heard of that book, but the idea of Samuel Jackson narrating sounds extra intriguing! Thank you Alarna!

  32. Aww, big hugs my friend. I totally get what you mean and dang! If I could turn all my sorrows into cookie dough truffles, that would be fantastic. Somedays, it’s hard to find the light in anything, but you are so right, it eventually returns. I’m looking forward to hearing your fabulous news!

  33. Once again late for the party – Monday school restarted and I needed a dose of optimism, too. Thank you for reminding me that when given messed up cookies aka lemons – it is time to step back and rethink.

    • Yeah, Mondays often need an extra kick of optimism!
      Thanks Clay. :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Link Feast For Writers, vol. 36 – Fascinating Edition | Reetta Raitanen's Blog - [...] The Beauty and the Beast of Optimism by Coleen Patrick [...]
  2. Faking It for Real | Alarna Rose Gray - [...] But the whole exercise reminds me of an issue raised in Coleen Patrick’s recent post on blog optimism. [...]

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