Thanking My Way: Bright Spots – TToT #13

Imperfect Flower

This work is a derivative of this photo © 2009 Bui Linh Ngan, Flickr CC BY 2.0

For the past several months, I’ve been an occasional reader of Glennon Doyle Melton’s blog, Momastery.  You can read about her incredible story here.  In conjunction with the paperback release of her New York bestseller, Carry On Warrior (and no, I’ve not read it yet), she invited readers to take part in the Messy Beautiful Project.  It’s a compilation of hundreds of women’s real stories of faith, friendship, parenthood, marriage and life – the struggles and successes.  After reading many of the linked posts, I felt compelled to write my essay, The Nitpicker: My Messy Beautiful.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve mentioned my version of insanity – the pursuit of perfection. But I decided to share a bit more of its manifestation in my life.  I know perfection is unattainable, but that doesn’t stop the endless conversations in my head.  I must work to live in the present and to reframe my focus.  Any action is better than inaction.

Thankful quote

I recognize I’m blessed in so many ways. However, I often become stymied because everything is not “just so.”  Gratitude is about loving life as it is and about realizing that I have a choice.  I can choose how to interpret life’s events. Every situation has a silver lining or a bright spot.  That’s one of my primary reasons for participating in Ten Things of Thankful.

Here are my bright spots for this past week…

1.  Jackets/sweaters optional weather.

2.  Nature’s signs of new life and renewal..

3.  The joy I get in assembling Easter baskets for my young adult children.  This one may very well be my son’s last one given that he’s graduating from college next month!  Sigh.

4.  The companionship of my daughter this weekend.  Together we watched the movie, Frozen (my first time to see it) and went shopping.  Now she’s sharing her favorite versions of Let It Go on YouTube including the one featuring 25 foreign languages.

5.  Visited Whole Foods for the first time and purchased some staples – wine, dark chocolate and coffee.Ten Things of Thankful

6.  My house is in shambles now (and I don’t mind one bit = progress)!  There are remnants of my kids everywhere…dirty laundry, laptop on the kitchen counter, clutter on the sofa, etc.

7.  Yesterday I learned about another giveaway I won from Midlife Boulevard!  I am the winner of Becky Blade’s new book, Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone.  The author/illustrator/mother includes over 200 tidbits of wisdom or mom-isms she wishes to share with her daughter upon her departure for college.  I tried a free promotional download to my Kindle but found out it wasn’t compatible with my Paperwhite or iPhone. This more than makes up for that!

8.  My husband received some unexpected good news on the job front!

9.  The numbers on the scales are slowly returning to my pre-spring break weight.

10. Grace extended by others and that which I allow myself.

What were your week’s bright spots?

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The Nitpicker – My Messy Beautiful

lousy gifts

The book was a Christmas gift from my son alongside a new nit comb I ordered

I am a nitpicker.  As a school nurse, I assist parents in treating head lice and removing nits (eggs) from the hair.  Lice hysteria runs rampant despite the fact that the little critters pose no health threat.  Head lice are only a messy nuisance.  The quality time one spends with their child while delousing is “beautiful” (ok, that may be a stretch!).

Are you scratching your head yet?!

I am a nitpicker, figuratively speaking, as well; and I am not particularly proud of that fact.  Granted, there are benefits to being a perfectionist.  I am…a creator of order, deliberate, detail-oriented and am known for my printing.  I am conscientious, careful and value precision.  I can be highly efficient, motivated, disciplined and productive.  I was an honor student.  I am a good employee.

However, the satisfaction for any achievement, accomplishment or creation is often short-lived.

This constant pursuit of perfection causes dis-ease or inner turmoil.  I am constantly evaluating and comparing myself.  I struggle with the feelings of inadequacy and not being good enough.   I spend too much time worrying about things that don’t matter.  This insanity leads to anger, frustration and sadness.  I often feel overwhelmed and exhausted.  I have tunnel vision and can be blind to the goodness surrounding me.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life…”  Anne Lamott

When I’m feeling stressed, this trait of mine takes over and consumes my life.  It affects those I love.  I know I can be hard to live with.  I want everyone else to see all the incomplete, imperfect, disorganized, dirty and cluttered things needing to be ordered, fixed or cleaned.  I want things done “my” way and to “my” standards.  Others are at the mercy of my judgment especially when things unfold differently than I expect or envision.

I pray I’ve not irreparably damaged my kids.  My marriage has miraculously survived over 25 years.  I am very grateful for the grace and love my children and husband offer me.

Overcoming these perfectionistic tendencies is hard work.  Progress is slow.  I do believe I’ve improved in the last several years, but I haven’t specifically asked my husband for his opinion on the matter.  I am accepting/embracing imperfection more and trying to be more relaxed/unproductive.

I have to remind myself to…

Forgive.

Focus on the process.

Laugh at myself and with others.

Believe “Good enough is Good enough.”

And,

Surrender to the messiness.

(This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project.  To learn more or join us, CLICK HERE!   Learn more about Glennon Doyle Melton’s New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!)

The Messy Beautiful LIfe Project

 

 

 

 

Thanking My Way: In a Funk – TToT #12

seashells in florida

Searching for seashells on our first trip to the ocean

I’ve been in a funk lately…feeling a bit melancholy…missing days gone by.  Honestly, these phases are brief and infrequent.  But, they do occur and there’s usually a trigger of some kind.  This time it was spring break.

Spring break for area schools is always the first full week of April.  Unless you have kids in school or work in a school setting, this particular week is not unlike others.  For my family of four it often meant a long road trip down to a barrier island along the Florida Panhandle.  It became a tradition.  Sometimes we vacationed with family friends.  We made sure we shared our love of the place with our exchange students.  We “adopted” teen friends for the week.

Teenagers x 4

My biological and “adopted” children

Many images of these trips have been flashing through my mind…

Interstate traffic.  Driving through the night.  Looking for familiar vehicles headed south.  Breakfast at IHOP in Dotham, AL (same waitress three years straight).  Piggly Wiggly.  St. George Island Bridge.  House rental (among them Odyssea, Key West House, Snail’s Pace).  Empty beaches.  Sunscreen.  Shoreline fishing.  Sting rays.  Dolphins.  Sand fleas.  Boogie boards.  Reading.  Biking.  Rollerblading.  Aunt Ebby’s ice cream.  Games.  Puzzles.  Excursions to Apalachicola.  Tupelo honey.  The Grille.  Shrimp.  Two Gulls Gifts.  Blue Parrot Café.  Island Emporium.

I am thankful for all of the fabulous memories I have of our past family trips to St. George Island.

This was my second spring break since both kids left for college.  Sadly, college spring breaks do not coincide with that of our public school.  Last year, I carried on at home while my husband worked.  This year we tossed around several options, but decided to head to a new destination in Florida.  My in-laws just bought a small place in a retirement community further south.  They plan to spend the winter months in this location.

We arrived last Saturday in time for lunch.  I had every intention of posting my Ten Things of Thankful that evening.  However, extenuating circumstances made it difficult and I decided to let it go (which was not easy for me to do!).

Ten Things of ThankfulSo, I’m going to combine the last two weeks into this list.

It’s always a relief to have my 4th and 5th grade puberty classes behind me.  As a school nurse, these lessons are among my various responsibilities.  I finished them up right before spring break.  My limited classroom experiences make me ever so grateful for school teachers!

I appreciate my faith community’s commitment to providing financial assistance to college students who choose to attend a denomination-affiliated school.  Many of these schools have a matching grant.  It adds up to a couple thousand a semester!  I’m on the committee that helps distribute these funds and I’ve been working on students’ requests.

Thankful quoteI am thankful my middle-aged body actually tolerated 4-5 hours of hard physical labor two weekends ago.  It was my first demolition experience!

I am thankful that we experienced very little rain and no severe weather on our 18-hour trek south.  Over the years, we’ve encountered tornado warnings and torrential downpours.  I find driving the winding and, at times, steep roads of Tennessee challenging enough at night.

I won a pair of ThinOptics reading glasses and carrying case in a giveaway sponsored by Sheryl Kraft of My So-Called Midlife.  It’s been too long since I’ve won anything!  I can’t wait for them to arrive!

I am thankful for my earplugs, donut neck pillow and the Active Life seat cushion.  They helped me survive the long hours in the car.

I am thankful for the hospitality offered by my in-laws (to us and our dog!) and other relatives we visited on our trip.

I am thankful for the warmer Indiana temperatures!  I returned to find new growth in my flower beds and buds on my lilac bush!  This afternoon, I spent 30 minutes scooping up dog poo and then I went for a 45-minute walk.

I am thankful for two full days at home before starting back to school.  I am unpacked.  The laundry is done.  My car is clean inside and out!

I can be thankful in spite of my funk.  What thankfuls spring to your mind?

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