What’s So Perfect about Being Perfect?

100Seems like I need a daily reminder of the distinction between excellence and perfection.

Excellence is solid. It’s grounded. It comes from inside you. It calls for good posture, shoulders back, sharp focus and an inner smile. It summons your strengths, talents and gifts and it calls for you to SHINE. Excellence knows when things are good enough for you. It’s balanced. It feeds you a nourishing meal of satisfaction and fulfillment. It stands on its own and does not require accolades or pats on the back or Facebook likes. It sends you to bed happy and wakes you up ready to do it all over again.

Perfection likes to disguise itself as a drive for excellence. But the energy is completely different. Can you feel it?

Perfection is built on the fear of rejection and the need for approval. It’s cranky and fickle. There is no floor beneath it. It’s the worst kind of fast food meal, empty in its calories and leaving your belly upset and feeling gross. It pushes you when you’re running on fumes. It’s externally focused. It is scanning the landscape, playing out the reactions of everyone OUT THERE. All the THEYS. Only there are too many THEYS and they all have different critical points of views. It is hedging bets, trying to make sure that it gets the most amount of approval and least amount of criticism. It keeps you up through the night, circling and looping, trying to figure it out.

Perfection is telling me that I need reassurance from myself that the world is for me, not against me. It’s telling me that I need a hug…and a nap.

Let’s Lighten Up, Friends!

enjoyeverymoment.jpgToday I’m inclined to take my YogiTea bag message as universal truth. “The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment.”

What if it really were this simple?

What if we could experiment with life and play and help make the world a better place and enjoy vacations and love our kids and be present with them and work at jobs for awhile just because and then work at other jobs and have years mixed with great joy and crisis and miracles and days when we are just cranky and make lots of mistakes and get up and do it all again? But without suffering over it all?

What if we stopped making life harder than it needs to be?

Sounds a helluva lot more relaxing than the deep analysis that I tend towards. I like relaxing. How about you?

No one belongs here more than you.

miranda july
Eight years ago friends gifted me a collection of stories by Miranda July. I read the first story. It was good – quirky and real and good. Then work distracted me. Then I misplaced the book. But I never forgot the title.

It’s the kind of statement that stops you because you know in your bones it’s an absolute TRUTH. Those words strung together in that particular order disintegrate some layer of nonsense that you picked up in your life. And the words change you from the inside out. It’s the kind of statement that every child should be bathed in from the minute they draw their first breath. What a difference that could make.

Can’t Remember Facts? Me Neither. And I’ll Never Judge You.

 

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“Roller Derby” 1979

 

Like it was yesterday, I remember the day I realized that my brain does not retain facts.

Boston, 1995. I was 25. My new boyfriend at the time was the kind of person who could – and I’m sure still can – read an article or watch a show and file away the dates, statistics and progressions of events. Those little gems of information would just hang out in his brain until they are needed or until the end of time. Whichever comes first. And the same was true of all his friends and, by association, my new circle.

Quite innocently on this particular day, he asked me a question about an article I had read about the history of electricity. And I had no answer. Yes, I had read it. But for the life of me, I couldn’t spit out a single factual statement.

I knew the gist. But I couldn’t explain with any confidence what I had read and by no means could I pull out any numbers or stats or concrete anythings.

If I only knew then what I know now, the pools of sweat would have subsided. The pressure would have dissipated. I would not have silently chastised my A+ student self for being a dummy or for looking stupid.

I would have known that “hell, yeah,” I do remember facts – when they are tied to emotions.

I would have known that I’d remember that day and recount it 20 years later.

I would have known that it’s much more fun to watch movies a second, third and even fourth time when you don’t have instant recall of the movie plot.

I would have known that I really do not connect with people cut from the factoid cloth. And I’d rather sneak into the hotel kitchen to talk with the wait staff than discuss theories and history and topics that require recollection of facts.

I would have known that not all brains are alike. But it can seem that way when you are the “alien” in the room. It sure did for me.

I would have known that I have crazy recall of the names of the 70 or so kids from Saint Pius X Elementary School, eighth grade graduating class of 1984. And I remember where each of them celebrated special birthdays and that Joey Savarese had a party at Radnor Rolls Skating Rink – maybe his 10th.

I would have known that emotional connections drive memory storage. And for what I’m lacking in the cold hard fact storage, I make up 10 fold in emotional and relationship recall.

Today I am surrounded by a tribe of people who LOVE to spend time talking about feelings and the absurdities of the human condition.

And for fact finding and cold storage, we count on a little company called Google.

Want to learn more? Check out this fascinating article on how the mind and memory works: http://www.spring.org.uk/2012/10/how-memory-works-10-things-most-people-get-wrong.php

The Sweetest Week: Revving Up for 2016

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Wall inside the SPACES gallery in Cleveland, 2007, artist unknown. Photo copyright Beth Rankin, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

To borrow a sporting term, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is a “bye week.” As the rotation goes, it’s a week to watch the big game on TV, rather than suiting up.

For all intents and purposes, 2015 is a wrap. With a few exceptions, folks find themselves without significant work or goals of real substance. Or they are too distracted and D-O-N-E with 2015 to take on anything new or to put out too much energy.

Yet the bright and shiny 2016 baby new year has not yet been delivered by the stork.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

So, what’s a person to do during this limbo week?

REFLECT AND DREAM, PEOPLE. DREAM BIG.

I’m not going to get on a pulpit and tell you that you must do this and certainly not how to do this. I’m not going to tell you that I like to review the year in my imagination like I’m scanning chapters of a book that I’ve already read, oohing and aahing at all that’s happened. And I’m certainly not going to suggest that you consider how 2015 propelled your life forward as if you were looking back over the arc of your life.

But maybe you do all that. Or not.

Then after you do that or not, maybe you picture the year ahead and where you want to be at the end of 2016. What value you want to deliver to the world and how you want to feed your own soul. How you’d finish a sentence that starts with, “Hot damn, 2016 was the year that I/we ______________________.”

In the words of a dear friend who saw me struggling through the early months as a new mom to a colicky baby, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

Looking back and gleaning some wisdom to apply to a year ahead seems like the least we can do. After all, life goes by in a flash of an eye.

 

 

What Good Can Come Of This?

sunrise

Years ago when I was going through a really hard time, one of my dearest friends taught me a question that got me through sleepless nights and has since served me well.

“What good can come of this?”

It’s a hard question to ask yourself when things seem quite impossibly “bad.”

But it’s worth it.

Last week after the San Bernadino shooting…

Then the SoCal gas leak…

And this morning after reading yet another article that compares Trump to Hitler

I talked myself out of moving to another country and asked the question.

“What good can come of this?”

Funny enough, an answer came.

It’s not original, but it’s true.

As a sensitive soul, a dreamer, an empath, a writer, a mother, I have a habit of putting my head in the sand. Of letting my political cynicism take over. I check out. I lay low. I stop knowing what’s happening. On purpose. Because, really, it’s just too much.

Yesterday I saw this image floating around Facebook.

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I’m a Taurus. And, yes, 25 hours seems about right. It made me laugh out loud. My mom says that my default state as a baby was sleeping. I’d wake to eat and “do my business.” Then back to sleep!

But I wonder now about that need, desire, longing for sleep. Is it a way to escape being alive and out here in the world?

Um, yeah.

So, what good can come of this?

I don’t have any political aspirations. But I do know that I am a leader and an influencer.

All of this chaos is stirring up in me a desire to be a force of good. Not necessarily to go head to head with the “bad.” But to stand up loud and proud and take the lead on issues a little more salient than I have in the past. To slough off any doubts I’ve had in the past about whether my voice matters.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that there’s a certain amount of distance and buffer that’s healthy. But then it gets to a point when it’s just a way of hiding.

As long as we’re alive, we might as well be full out living. Right?

Guess it’s time for this Rumpelstiltskin to git on up.

(Periodic naps are still permissible.)