In truth, this has been my pattern when it comes to anything remotely artistic. I was convinced that I’m terrible at all of it. I had even written in the text string a disclaimer that I had never carved a pumpkin and, if I did, it would likely turn out like my pathetic but hilarious attempted group selfie of our tribe. (The picture featured the selfie stick 😊). In psychological terms, my disclaimer was self-handicapping, a strategy used to excuse a potentially bad outcome.
Eight of us arrived at Kris’s, with armfuls of pumpkins, carving equipment, alcohol, and food. We were having such a good time catching up that I thought we would blow off the carving. Until… Lila stood up and announced “I’m going for it.” One by one, the gang grabbed their pumpkin, found a spot around the table, and got to work. That is, everyone except me.
But my friends were not playing along with my decision. “How have you never carved a pumpkin?” Renae asked. “Eric always did it and if he wasn’t around, Heather did it” I truthfully replied, nostalgically winking at Heather, one of the craftiest of the lot. “Show Shayna one of the easy designs” Lara encouragingly said. “You can blog about it” chimed in Lila. Then they proceeded to lovingly rib me, throwing around blog ideas while scooping out pumpkin innards. I love that this group knows me so well and, challenge accepted. I carved, my friends sweetly reinforced my efforts, and my pumpkin turned out kind of cute. But most importantly, it was fun.
So, here are my lessons about pumpkin carving:
- Clinging to limiting (and usually outdated and inaccurate) beliefs limits our experiences and possibilities for joy in those realms. Because of my beliefs about my artistic ability, I would not have attempted carving but for the encouragement of my friends. And I would have missed out on a fun and bonding experience. Any sentence beginning with an “I can’t ___,” “I am terrible at ___,” or “I’ll never ___” is a limiting belief which in turn can limit your behavior. Consider replacing an “I can’t” with an “I’ll try” and give it a whirl.
- Focus on the process, not the outcome. Our pumpkin carving was much less about our finished product than it was about the shared experience. Sure, we all wanted our pumpkins to look good but the joy was hanging out together. And this applies to many life experiences. When the focus is exclusively on the outcome, we miss experiencing the goodies along the journey. So, over Thanksgiving, remember to treasure the time in the kitchen (or at the table 😊) with your loved ones as much as the taste of your sweet potatoes.
- Girlfriends rock! During our carving chat, I asked the group one of my midlife research questions: “What do you think the most helpful tool is for women in midlife when we struggle?” “Alcohol!” three chimed in unison. “No, I mean amongst healthy tools,” I replied and rattled off some of the categories from my research, such as therapy, meditation, friends, etc.” “Girlfriends” two immediately said. “Yep” I smiled. In addition to pumpkin carving fun, I was reminded that girlfriend time is about treasured moments of connection, loving acceptance, and support.
Wishing you all a wonderful, fulfilling Thanksgiving, focusing on precious moments of joy and the opportunity to carve out some girlfriend time along with carving your turkey.