i paint i write

Live boldly, laugh and make art

Say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.

Say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.

It’s hard to say no to the good.

If you  read my story from a few weeks ago, Risk Failure and Try to be Aunt Harriet, you know I auditioned for a part in a play, and I didn’t get the part.

I wish I hadn’t auditioned.

It would have taken more courage  to not audition than it took to audition. It is hard for me to say no to my desire to be on the stage. Yes, risk failure, try. Be brave.


What are you risking failure for? The good or the best?

The play was good. I enjoy acting.

I would be lying if I said, “Oh, I really didn’t want the part.” I didn’t get the part, so I could pretend that I don’t care.

The truth is, I did want to be in the play. But, it wouldn’t have been the best.

We are our choices.
― Jean-Paul Sartre

Life is about making choices.

Steven Pressfield in his book “Turning Pro,” talks about Shadow Careers. The careers we pursue because we are afraid of pursuing our true calling.

In the shadow life, we live in denial and we act by addiction. We pursue callings that take us nowhere and permit ourselves to be controlled by compulsions that we cannot understand (or not aware of) and whose outcomes serve only to keep us caged, unconscious and going nowhere.
Steven Pressfield: page 18 Turning Pro

Do you know what you want to do? How do you like to spend your time? Steven Pressfield, in his late twenties and early thirties, drove trucks for a living.

What I was really doing was running away from writing. I wasn’t writing books. I wasn’t facing my demons. I was speculating at life through the movie screen of a cab-over windshild, while every mile I traveled only carried me farther away from where I needed to go and from who I needed to become.”
Steven Pressfield: Turning Pro- Tap your inner power and create your life’s work

The play I auditioned for was a shadow career. I wanted to be chosen. The desire to have someone say, “I choose you.” The addiction of an audience. Waiting for permission to be in someone else’s play, playing someone else. The play I want to be in now, is one I am writing myself. The play of my life, as a writer and a painter.

There is no one to say, I choose you. There is no one to say, “You have to get my permission first.”

You decide.

Give yourself permission to choose your part in the play of your life. Don’t ask for permission. Take it. [Would you like to tweet that? Here is the link. tweet tweet]

Do you want to be a writer? Then write. Do you want to paint? Then paint. Do you want to compose music? Then compose.

Every time you get an opportunity, take time to decide, “Is this good? or, is this the best?”

Sit quietly and ask yourself, “Hey, self. What do you really want? Do you want to paint napkin rings and sell them at a craft fair or do you want to write and illustrate a story about a woman who was stung by a bee and turned into Weed Woman, a super hero?

Write done your feelings if it helps you clarify your goals.

Say no to the good, so you can yes to the best.

Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.
John C. Maxwell

How do you spend your time? Are you pursuing a shadow career? Please share in the comments.


About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

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  • La McCoy

    I live these last two posts.
    So what do i clean with the tooth brush?

    • Laura,
      Thank you Laura. I am glad you liked them. Please clean all the sidewalks in your neighborhood. Do you have time?
      Will you say yes? or no?

      • La McCoy

        We don’t have sidewalks. Hmmm

  • Mary Helen Gensch

    John Maxwell’s quote makes me think. Thanks for the reminder that time must be given to what we are passionate about.

    • Hello Mary,
      Maxwell’s quote made me think too. I want to do everything, and then I don’t end up doing anything well.

  • Elsie

    An interesting thought, shadow careers. I don’t think I’ve ever had a shadow career. Right now I am very happy with my life. I hope it continues.

    • Elsie,
      You are a wise woman to boldly have a career, and not a shadow career. So happy you are happy, happy with your walks and strawberries, cars and bikes and birds and life.

  • Pamela, where were you when I needed you? Or, more precisely, why didn’t I read these words years ago and pay them heed? Life’s shadows have thrown all else into dark confusion for more years than I can remember and any semblance of a career (shadow or otherwise) drained away once I succumbed to chronic health problems.
    Now? I think my shadow career just might be reading and commenting on other people’s blog posts. But my REAL career as poet/writer is so fledgling it hardly dare speak its name. So I whisper it soft. Hush..you won’t tell, will you?

    • Joy,
      You are a poet writer. Speak your REAL career loudly. Reading and commenting is kind. Remember to take time to be Joy Lenton. Your words are like poetry. Wait! They are poetry.

  • writekimwrite

    I am somewhat content with most of my choices but you have given me some food for thought. Maybe I am not listening carefully. This might be an opportunity to reevaluate and choose more wisely!

    • Hello Kim,
      Food for thought is always good. As long as we take time to digest and chew slowly.
      Sometimes I forget to listen carefully. Or when I listen I don’t pay attention. And proceed to try hard for the good, ignoring the best. Because the best is harder, or more scary.
      How is teaching this year? I hope you are well.

      • writekimwrite

        It is impossible not to love teaching those fabulous First graders. They are all about hugs, love and telling me they think I am the best teacher in the world. I am pretty sure not one of them has actually MET all the teachers in the world but nonetheless they encourage me. It is the sweetest thing!

        • Kim, you are the best teacher in the world. Your students know.

  • Kate Schwarz

    I love it! I would also throw in something about that annoying little word called “should.” Perhaps we should give him a name, draw him up, and throw him away because he (is it bad I think he’s a he?) sure gets in the way of the simple question-answer you’ve outlined.

    I definitely am doing what I want to do: mothering. It’s too big a part of me to be a shadow career, yet every year I try and take a step back and let my kids take more of the responsibility. More of the to-dos. And I want to write, so I’m writing. With every spare moment, every spare shred of energy.

    • Yes, the word should. My least favorite word too.

      Mothering is not a shadow career, it is a career where we shine light on little seedlings that grow into trees. The extras, are shadow careers, the ones that sideline us from writing. The good things that keep us from our best.
      What are your writing Kate?

      • Kate Schwarz

        I have a children’s book blog, mostly journal-style memories so that one day I can print it out and give it to my kids as a collection of stories and memories and books of and from their childhood. http://www.katesbookery.blogspot.com And I’d like to write children’s books–picture books and juvenile fiction.

  • You have put words to what I have been struggling with since August. Thank you!

    • Hello Juliann,
      I still struggle with this. But each day I get better at seeing what is good and what is best.

  • Meredith Sings

    So inspiring. Thanks for the reminder that we have to actually USE the gifts we are given. 🙂

    • Thank you Meredith. Yes, let us use the gifts we are given.