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How do you make a good fire? Have you ever made a fire? We used to have a real fireplace when I was a child. The ash had to be taken out every morning (and put in a special metal dustbin), the wood had to be sawn/chopped after being collected from the woods (we took fallen trees – we didn’t cut any trees down); my dad made “briquettes” out of sawdust, coal dust and cement (?); also he made firelighters by plaiting newspaper. So, it was a whole thing.

I also made campfires with the Girl Guides and the Brownies. And coming up to date, I have made log fires to heat up big wooden jacuzzis when on glamping holidays (OK, I will never write a more middle-class sentence than that).

My point is: to make a good fire, you have to give it time to kindle (is that even a verb?) And now you see where I am going with this. To do anything well, so that you ‘burn bright’, excel, dazzle, fly high and reach your potential, you have to give yourself time to learn. You need to lay the foundations, starting with smaller steps (the paper and kindling) and build up to the big logs. Plus you need some sort of ignition (the match), something that sparks your desire to do the thing that interests you. You can’t just hold a lighter to a massive, damp log and expect it to turn into an inferno. Build up to it, lay the groundwork, do everything in the right order.

I have written about this before: how we need to give ourselves time to learn, even though we want to be amazing, Day 1! We are fortunate now because there is a tutorial for virtually everything on YouTube . Recently I was helping a friend get started on eBay and I realised how much (a) there is to learn, because it’s not ALL intuitive, you need to know the processes and tricks, and (b) I discovered how much I knew (both from trial-and-error AND from Googling/YouTubing certain tasks or functions). Now I am pretty good – but I have spent about 10 years learning.

So, “baby steps for baby feet” and don’t get too frustrated with yourself when you are a bit rubbish to start off with (actually I shouldn’t say rubbish, just inexperienced and working to get better). I am now much more forgiving of myself when I falter. I don’t just give up, thinking, “Oh, I’m no good at that”. For example, I am doing Music Theory classes online. It’s a slog, it’s not coming naturally, and a lot of it is over my head. But in every class, I pick up a little nugget that sticks – and that’s how we’ll get there: s-l-o-w-l-y. So, keep at it, whatever it is you’re trying to master (perhaps you have taken up basketweaving, dog obedience or campanology etc during the pandemic?) It’ll come – or it won’t – in which case ditch it – or at least pause it and come back to it. Or break it down into smaller chunks and s-l-o-w the pace right down. If you want it (like me wanting to get better at acting and singing) you’ll keep coming back to it. And get there in the end.

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