It’s Going to be Great, Kid.

About 15 years ago, my parents and I tiled the sides of my driveway. Before our efforts, the sides of the driveway were just made of poured concrete and at 27 feet long and over 6 feet tall at the high point, they begged to be more artfully presented.

So I went and bought about a ton (literally) of slate tiles, a tile saw, 15 bags of thin set and a whole raft of other tools and started planning the effort. I sealed all the tiles and then anxiously awaited my crew (my parents) to arrive to start placing the first tiles. The driveway slopes down so I chalked a plumb line to follow for the design.

Our first morning of tiling, it was my mom, my (now ex) husband and me. My dad was coming after a meeting and wouldn’t be there until we were a couple of hours in. We mixed the bucket of thin set to adhere the tiles, prepared the spacers and then I set the first tile. It stayed in its appointed position for approximately 15 seconds and then proceeded to slide to an off-kilter position. At which point, I loudly uttered a four-letter word starting with F.

I clearly remember what I was thinking which was that I couldn’t do this without my dad. I was half decent (for an amateur) at tiling horizontally but I’d never tiled vertically. In this moment, all my preparation left me and I was completely crippled by self-doubt. As Deb quoted so beautifully in her post from Saturday, Lines and Barriers,The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath.

My dad and I shared projects as our love language. My mom is a tireless worker, my ex didn’t like house projects – but my dad, well, we could do anything when we worked together. No matter what problem we faced, he’d sidle up next to me, look at our project and say, “It’s going to be great, Kid.

And without him there, I discovered just how much I needed that belief to continue. To be shoulder to shoulder with someone who believed in me and removed my self-doubt. I had no idea how big that cloud of oozy suckage was until that morning he wasn’t there. And then I just wanted to repeat my four letter word repeatedly.

What my dad was so great at was starting. He wasn’t a perfectionist. Neither am I, and apparently nor were many of the people who built the walls, doors and structure of the things we worked on. My dad could shimmy up just about any problem into something workable. Knowing that it didn’t have to be perfect at the start was part of his secret – it helped push us into some action that we could iteratively improve.

On that morning of tiling, knowing my dad could fix it and needing not to waste a bucket of tiling cement finally cut into my gloom. I managed to devise some sort of system to hold up the sagging end of the tile long enough for it to affix. Once we got one on the wall, with my mom holding a corner, it was easier to continue.

These days when I touch my self-doubt, it lights up that same feeling of suckage from that tiling project. It completely paralyzes me until I repeat my dad’s mantra, “It’ll be great, Kid.” His forever gift to me were those words. Even when I don’t believe whatever my creative effort, whether it be a post, a project, a letter, will be great, it gives me enough mojo to start knowing that I can keep improving the system and results until it sticks to the wall. When I need an extra perk, I go out and look at my driveway walls. They aren’t perfect but they are done:

For more on my delightful dad and what he told me about how he maintained that glint in his eye for a lifetime, I’ve written a book, Finding My Father’s Faith. For more musing on the narrative voice that comes from our parents, I’ve written a post on my personal blog today, My Voice In Your Head.

37 thoughts on “It’s Going to be Great, Kid.

  1. I LOVE this wisdom and the connection back to your book about your wise and wonderful father, Wynne. I love that your description of how he delivered that amazing line, “It’ll be great” is just as impactful as the words. Dick Leon didn’t say it if he didn’t mean it and his conviction, belief, sincerity? It came through…and sticks with you still…just like those beautiful tiles!
    Thank you so much for sharing with us…and side note…but a BIG one? Great job on the wall. Wow! 🥰🥰🥰

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Crippling self doubt and paralysis. I can relate to this post for a number of reasons. I definitely have faced the fear of starting in the past. I like how you state it though. Just starting. It makes such a huge difference. Love the connection that you shared with your dad. Such a great blog. Thanks for the reminder, just starting is half the battle!!!!

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  3. As a man who was a professional “believer,” his belief in you must have carried great weight. We all need some people like that in our cheering section. Seems to me he did a wonderful job with his daughter named Wynne.

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    1. Ohh, you’ve hit me squarely in my heart, Dr. Stein. You are so right – we need people in our cheering section because we don’t accomplish much alone, do we? Thank you so much for the rousing cheer this morning!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, yes! What a wonderful mantra to use as motivation through the tough parts in life + a visual reminder. Like the old saying says: when the student is ready the teacher will come. Case in point here.

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  5. What a fantastic post, Wynne! I went to go look up the definition and “great” is used as a generalized term of approval. No perfection, just good enough. What a gift it must be to have your father’s voice whispering in your war whenever your need that reminder to show up and just get started. ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Yep, that self doubt thing has stopped me many times and then after a pause I just say “what the h*ll” and forge ahead because really what else can you do? I don’t like to admit I can’t do something if I set out down the accomplishment road so I fall back to remind myself that if I end up happy with the result that’s good enough, as Erin said. I can’t control what others will think or what their reactions will be. Your dad gave you a gift with the courage to control what you can- yourself Wynne. His belief in you was the key and, smart man that he was, he knew that was what really mattered overall. 🙂

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    1. I love that you say that you don’t like to admit you can’t do something. Yes, that’ll keep me working at something for quite some time as well. And you’re so right about controlling when we can – ourselves! Thank you, Deb! 🙂

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  7. Ok, first, that tiling job looks beautiful! It sounds like your dad was always in your corner 110%. I know that when I am feeling like I’m not doing enough or not doing it right, my husband already knows and asks me “Are you being too hard on yourself?” It sort of helps snap me out of my negative thinking and gets me back on course. Your dad sounds like a great coach and friend! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this Wynne – and that wall is beautiful. You should be very proud of your accomplishments. Your stories of your dad always amaze me. He really sounds like he was an amazing man and an inspirational father. I can see where his influences are in the things you do achieve and the way you live your life – and the two very well grounded and confident children you’re raising.

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  9. “What my dad was so great at was starting.” This really hit me. One of the things that cripples us sometimes is the desire to plan, plan, plan until things are perfect. But, guess what! Things are never perfect. Sometimes you have to just jump in and start doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Those are such wonderful lasting words to have inside your head of your dad. We all need to have that person who provides us that ongoing belief in ourselves, especially during the most trying times. What a gift this is you have, Wynne. And that wall looks great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ab! I think from the distance I took that photo, you can’t see the imperfections. But I’ve come to love those too because they make me smile!

      And you are so right – we need to have that person who believes in us! Thank God for our people! 🙂 ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh Wynne, what an uplifting and inspiring post, on so many levels! It touches on perseverance, faith, self-awareness and self-doubt, the acceptance of the less-than-perfect, appreciation for the process of getting to where you want to go, the power of positive thinking—oh, and love! Being an uninspired do-it-yourselfer, I am truly impressed. 💕👏

    Liked by 1 person

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