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“Toy” with Your Life

It's all in the shake.

Who dreams of an Etch-A-Sketch when they’re my age? And why would this game come to the forefront of my mind when I haven’t seen one since I was a kid?

If you believe dreams are hidden messages, this one was sent as a reminder to practice a skill I hold dear. And one I’d forgotten.

When you compare an Etch-A-Sketch to an iPad you realize how far technology has come. It has only 2 white rotary knobs, no color, virtually no artistic control, no memory, and no batteries. And this was fun?

Oh yeah, it was fun and frustrating as hell.

All kids people in America should put down their Wii’s, Nintendos, Guitar Heros, computers, iTouch’s and iPad’s and sit alone with an Etch-A-Sketch in their lap.

But only if they’re willing to be frustrated, challenged, and realize they’re only as good as their last show.

Remember, I’m in a dream playing with mine. Ever have one of those lucky dreams in school where you studied for your test during your sleep and woke up more prepared. When it happened to me in college once or twice it was the coolest thing ever!!

This night I would play in my sleep and wake up reminded of an important life lesson.

Simple is satisfying.

No noise. No flashing lights. Just 2 knobs. A decision which one to turn first. I chose the right one and began to see a line appear on the blank screen.

Cause and effectcool.

No plans.

I had no idea what I was capable of because there is no predictability with this red box. But I kept turning that knob and then the other until shapes started to form.

Progressfeels good.

A vision revealed.

I’m going to create a tree with a rainbow. What is a rainbow without color? Hmmm, I’ll soon see.

Goal setanticipation.

Went too far.

Dang. Turned the left dial too far and line is in wrong place. No rulers for measurement, no digital readouts. How can I tell when I should stop turning? I have no idea.


Keep going or shake.

Can I turn these squirrely lines into something different than originally imagined? Or do I cut my losses and shake? I shake. (clears the gray screen).

Challenging– requires effort and persistence.

Messed up again.

Line curves but I swear I didn’t do it. This thing took on a mind of its own. Now I’m frustrated. I hate this stupid red plastic cheap piece of crap.

Frustrationprojecting blame.

Shake with vigor.

Try again. I turn the right knob a quarter instead of a half turn because knob seems to be quirky.

AdjustI’m figuring this out. Yeah, I got this!

Mission accomplished!

Proudsuccess feels goooood.

Lines in black. Dream in Technicolor:)

What now?

No digital “save” button. No AirPrint feature.

I wake up.

I get on with my daily workout, shower, eat, and proceed to the computer to tackle my 2 jobs.

More testing to find bugs (glitches) in the redesign of our Photo-Graphics Co. website. Been working on it for months. This week of testing didn’t go well.

Yesterday I took some time off from writing to read more about blog marketing. I was so overwhelmed with information my head was spinning. My “to do” list was a mile long. I wasn’t sure which of the zillion items should take precedence.

With my eyes closed, I took a deep breath at my awakening computer hoping the heaviness I was feeling would drift off with my exhale.

At that moment the message of my dream revealed itself. I had been piling on ideas, to do’s, must do’s, and will do’s to the point that I was encased in them.

Shake. Wipe the slate clean. Shake hard and get rid of yesterdays lines. Every day is a new day and a new chance to turn a different knob and create a new picture.

Warnings you need a good shake:

  • Your “to do” lists are on different sheets of paper and where??
  • You need storage for your storage containers.
  • Unread magazines,”possible junk” mail, and coupons are old news and expired but still on your counter.
  • You ate a whole bag of chips but don’t really remember if you enjoyed them.
  • Your calendar has not been updated with tomorrow’s appointments.
  • Every invitation feels like a punch in the gut.
  • You can’t remember if you deposited your paycheck.
  • Your favorite line seems to be, “What’s the point?”
  • You wish there was a “I hate your great life” button on Facebook.

I may have been dreaming, but playing inside that red frame paralleled my current life. Except I had forgotten that important life lesson.

A lesson never revealed playing with my iPad. Too many easy way outs, easier levels, swaps, and way too many angry birds.

Sometimes it takes an all nighter just to get back to the basics.

Keep it simple. Dive in. Adjust. Keep going. Celebrate tiny victories.

Create a vision for YOUR today. Do your best. And if you don’t get your tree and rainbow, tomorrow….

Shake the slate clean. It’s a new day.

"I always said I wanted to grow up and be somebody. I just didn’t know I needed to be more specific. " Lily Tomlin

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One Comment
  1. Brianna Ortbals #

    Wow, you have no idea how perfect this was for me at this very moment. I’m sitting here so overwhelmed because I have a 12 page paper draft due in a couple days that I haven’t really begun, I haven’t gotten enough sleep, I’m moved into a new apartment with nothing but boxes and a desk, and boy do I need a new slate and a new attitude!! This article gave me the shake I needed, and I think I can now get through a couple hours of working on my paper before I pass out. Thanks 🙂

    June 11, 2012

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