Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Life Lessons from a Pumpkin, a Jagged Knife & a Beer

Over the past couple of years, there's been an unusual amount of loss.  Personally I lost my beloved Gram, a cousin my age, my furry son Popper, my mom's cat Pooka, & some personal relationships.  Couples I thought were happy together are separating, friends' parents are dying too young & admired celebrities are no longer with us.

All of this, in combination with turning 40 this year, has made me reflect on my own life even more.  Statistically I'm at the dead center (no pun intended ;) of my life & have approximately 238,000 waking hours left.  Even if I beat the statistics & to live to 100+ the point is our time is finite.  I get that I'm an eternal spirit temporarily in human form but I do want to rock this earth thing.

I've decided to live my life as if death is at my door because it is, it's just a matter of time (Michael Singer writes about this so eloquently in The Untethered Soul).  I'm making a conscious effort to truly live each moment to the fullest & this required some serious introspection leading to the realization that one of my biggest blocks to joy & happiness is my obsession with perfection.  It took a pumpkin, a jagged knife & a beer to get me to realize what a hold it has on me.  If you're thinking, This ain't sounding so good, let me explain....

It all started with a trip to the pumpkin patch this fall with my niece Ella....
We picked out a bunch of imperfect ;) pumpkins & brought them back to my mom's house.  My nephews & niece wanted to carve them so my youngest brother James, who was in town from Colorado, drew a rudimentary face on one & starting carving & hacking away, beer in hand.  I was thinking about how he could have drawn a nicer face & what exactly would make for a perfect pumpkin face.

When he pulled off the lid & started to hack off the seeds & gunk I kind of went into a perfectionism panic because I knew he was in danger of chopping off part of the bottom of the lid & then it wouldn't completely align with the pumpkin when he put it back on.  As much as I was dying to warn him, I bit my tongue & (tried to) let it go.  Nobody likes to be told they're doing something wrong & who the hell was I, the pumpkin carving police?  It struck me that he was drinking a beer & laughing, the kids were cracking up at his pumpkin carving skills, & I was somewhat in angst.  In less than five minutes his pumpkin was carved (mismatched top & all), my mom put a candle in it, & it was fun & done...
Now me, I had no pumpkin carved because I was too busy thinking about how I could possibly carve a really nice one & knew it just wasn't my forte (for all of my supposed design skills I am not good at, nor particularly enjoy, crafty/domestic things).

The truth is I've been in denial most of my life about the dark side of my perfectionistic tendencies.  I'll never forget last Christmas when I went to visit my cousin, who is my spiritual soul sister, & she had two fresh, new personal growth books by Brene Brown proudly displayed on her dining table.  I ran over to them like a moth to a flame.  One...I could barely bring myself to even physically was called The Gifts of Imperfection.  I flat out diss-missed it & excitedly picked up the book next to it, Daring Greatly, thinking to myself, Now THIS is something I can relate to!

As I was ogling it & reading the description & table of contents, my cousin said to me, "You really should read The Gifts of Imperfection first."  I was having no part of it & in my head thinking, Whatevs, y'all can sing kumbaya & wallow in your imperfections while I go DARE GREATLY.  We kept talking & I said, "I just feel like I can never get everything done in the day that needs to get done."  & she said, "Read the first page of The Gifts of Imperfection."  I cracked it open & there, right on the first page, it said, "Wholehearted Living...means...No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough."  I shut the book & replied, "Umm....where exactly is the closest Barnes & Noble??"

My new mantra, which I heard from a great coach, is "Done is better than perfect." & I've also recently been hearing "There is no such thing as perfection."  I'm committed to letting go of my perfectionistic tendencies & enjoying the imperfect perfection of each moment...not getting caught up in the details & losing sight of the beauty of the big picture....moving forward & growing imperfectly instead of getting stuck in perfection paralysis.

What's one change you can make to bring more fun & joy into your life?

P.S.  Happy Birthday to my adorable niece Ella.  You light up my life & I love you more than words can express :)

photos: me

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