Tag Archives: #perfectionism

January 8th 2014 The 88 Day Countdown

8 Jan
Kitchen Table Before

Kitchen Table Before

Kitchen Table After

Kitchen Table After

To listen along, click here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/betterlivingdaily/2015/01/08/the-88-day-countdown

Yesterday I began a countdown on the Better Living Daily Facebook page. I’ve done this before in other groups, and something about a countdown just energizes me. I don’t know if knowing there is a time limit or definite end helps me to focus, or if it’s the way a countdown feels like a game that appeals to me, but I’ve done it before, and it definitely helps. This particular countdown is to Easter Sunday, a holiday that I host for 40-60 people. To give you the quick math, my husband is the baby of nine children, all of whom still live in town. From there we have 29 grandchildren, and ours are the youngest three, and the grandchildren range in age from 14 to 47. Then we have the great grandchildren, who now outnumber the grandchildren. By the way, only one grandchild, who is single with no children, lives out of town. Everyone else is here, so if you add it up, we’ve got 9+29+43 plus my mom and anyone else who might tag along, which gives us over 80 but we know a few won’t show, so we count on sixty and enjoy the ride.

The biggest challenge is finding places for everyone to spread out. We have a nice home, and if the weather is nice, we have a long driveway and two porches for people to hang out. If it’s chilly or rainy, we have a few more challenges, so it helps my attitude and sense of peace if the basement is clear in case we have people, mainly children, needing to land there. It also helps to have my office clear because that is where all of the treasures for the Easter Egg hunts are stored. I have a lovely journal that I made to keep track of how much food and drink to buy, when to start collecting ice and even all of the little things I do like putting a disposable table cloth over the drink table so we can just throw it away. Remember, there are over 40 great grandchildren, and we learned years ago to put the drink table outside and just not worry about the spills. We have the day pretty much down, but there is definitely some prep work I would like to do before the big day, and since this is the time of year people seem to stay indoors more, it’s a great time to make some household magic.

Some of that magic will come from purchases, like new pantry doors and maybe a new sofa, if I save well. Some of that magic will come from elbow grease, like repairing and repainting my kitchen chairs and getting rid of the clutter. If you walked in my house, you really don’t see much clutter. Most of it is tucked away. It’s not the kind of clutter you haul out in a dumpster. It’s the kind that you decide just how much sentimental value it has and just how much you want more space. I’m leaning more and more toward space. Yesterday I started where I always do with my kitchen table. There is something almost magical about that space. When it is clear, I feel like I can conquer the world. When it’s filled with clutter, it feels almost hard to breathe. Maybe that’s because, when my kitchen table is covered, it means I’ve been procrastinating. Almost every piece of paper or item has a “to-do” item associated with it that I’ve been putting off either because I want to talk to someone in my family about it; I think it will require more time than I have, or I just don’t want to deal with it. Most of the time, it’s probably the last one. Today it took a couple of hours because there were bills to pay, papers to file and items to find a home for. I even read a magazine so I could recycle it instead of adding it to my already overwhelming list of unread periodicals. The only things left now are the napkins that belong there, the label maker I want to learn how to use and my sunshine in a box, a lamp my husband bought me to help me keep my mood up this winter. So far, the mood is staying lifted, and I’ll keep you informed as the winter wears on. The table looks great. If you would like to see it, the before and after pictures are on the Better Living Daily Facebook page and hopefully will be attached to the blog post I’ll be posting after the show. It was the logical place to start and I feel great about it.

The other great thing about a countdown is the accountability it inspires. When you commit to something like a countdown, especially if you dare to post your “before” picture, you feel an obligation to follow through. You know people are looking for the “after” picture, and not that you should do the work to please others, but you can use that pressure to help you move forward in a positive way. My greatest joy is to see and read about others’ successes when they spend just 15 minutes making a difference in their lives, and they can see and feel their own success. String that along for a few days and to some, it feels like a miracle. I know because I felt that way. On my own, I would never make consistent progress for more than a day or two, but when I was working in tandem with others, I would make twice the progress in half the time, and there is so much empowerment in making progress, whatever the task might be. One of the people I worked with online wrote the better part of her novel 45 minutes at a time. I have read about people clearing out pantries, bathrooms and basements. I have worked in my yard or vegetable garden, and because I hate weeding, it is such joy to not only make the progress but also to have a time that I can actually quit, whether I am finished or not. Countdowns help me to parcel out the work over time so that I prevent burnout. I learn to be ok with progress and let go of perfectionism, and letting go of perfectionism is a beautiful thing.

I believe that perfectionism is what keeps most of us from living a much better life. We think we are too old, too young or too fat. We are not educated enough, pretty enough or smart enough. I know some of those thoughts hold me back. One of my goals is to speak to groups of women to encourage them to think differently and know their value. Another is to publish another book, and I realized that a publishing package I bought at a discount in October is set to expire at the end of this month. I have the material for my next book, but I haven’t begun writing yet. I guess it’s time to start that too. If I’m on a roll, I write about 1.000 words per hour, sometimes more. To have a decent book to publish, that would mean writing 1,000 words per day, each day of this month to have a 20,000 word book. Last month with Do Better December, I probably averaged 1,000 words per day each weekday and then took the weekends off, while I was preparing for Christmas. Writing a blog is so much different than writing a book, but I detest wasting money, especially the amount of money I spent on this publishing package, so it’s time to get to it. I have to tell you that it scares the bejesus out of me to put that out there, but I also know that announcing it publicly will again help me to push forward. There will be obstacles and challenges, but the possible rewards are so much greater, I’m willing to give it a go.

So what does giving it a go mean? For me, it means less TV. I hate to admit it, but TV is my biggest mind numbing escape from reality. When I don’t want to deal with life, I turn it on and watch reruns of shows I love and the time just slips away. Before I know it, it is dinner time or bed time, and I’ve wasted more hours than I care to count. I’m not saying that anyone needs to do what I do, but I will be much more conscious of turning the TV on because when it goes on, productivity generally stops. Now and then I can make it work with something that doesn’t take a great deal of mental focus. Those times, I play a game we call commercial roulette in our house. Every time a commercial break comes on, I, or we if my family is pitching in, get up off the couch and do something for two minutes or until the show comes back on. Last night, I cleaned up the kitchen during the breaks in a one hour show. I put food away, loaded and started the dishwasher, wiped down the stove, counters and kitchen table, and hand washed a couple of items. The kitchen looked great and all I missed were a bunch of commercials.

There are some other screens that will require less time as well. I have a few games loaded on my phone, and I spend a fair amount of time on social media. Some of it is beneficial, but some of it is to hide from doing the things I know would improve my life, like de-cluttering. I have asked myself so many times why I procrastinate about that and in addition to the perfectionism, I’ve discovered something else. As we begin to de-clutter, we unearth other issues; not just physical ones like home repairs that need attention, but emotional ones that we’ve ignored or covered over or allowed to be buried under mounds of stuff. I watch shows like Hoarders and My 600 Pound Life, and it becomes so apparent to me; those with the most pain cover it up with whatever works for them. Some people bury themselves under things. Some people build a shield of flesh and fat. Some people are wrapped in an angry and bold façade, and some lose themselves in hobbies or volunteering or taking care of others.

One of the most amazing things a mentor said to me was that it is easier to fix the world than to focus on fixing and healing ourselves, but that fixing and healing ourselves is the greater spiritual path. I’ve been on that spiritual path for a long time. Yes, I am, by nature, a fixer. If you present a problem, I will be looking for a solution even if you say you don’t want one. A friend shared a quote by Teddy Roosevelt the other day that said that presenting a problem without presenting a solution was called whining. I would agree with that, unless you are presenting the problem because you need input to find your solution, in which case I would say, “Bring it on” and let me help you find a solution that gives you joy.

So, as we move into this new year of 2015, I hope you’ll join us on the countdown to Easter. I hope you’ll find a reason big enough to make this your best year so far. If you uncover some pain along the way, I hope you find a healthy way to release it and be at peace, but most of all I hope you continue on the journey to being the best you possible so that you can share your gifts with the world. I am blessed to share your journey in whatever ways we intersect. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day, week, month and year.

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Do Better December 22nd 2014 Living in a House of Cards

22 Dec

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/7211857

Today is our first Christmas celebration, and it’s at my house. I’m not ready. My tree isn’t completely decorated. My dining room table still has a mess on it. There is food to cook, showers to take and so much more I could list, but the more I put on my list the more fragile I begin to feel. It begins to feel like I live in a house of cards, and one good gust could have it all tumbling down. Why do I feel like this? Why do so many I know feel such anger, frustration, depression and discouragement this time of year? There are so many answers, but I think the biggest one for me is wishing.

I wish I had been more consistent with getting ready for the holidays. I wish I had more energy and focus. I wish I had painted the ceilings, walls and baseboards and doors. I wish I was Donna Reed in It’s A Wonderful Life, but I tend to be more like Jimmy Stewart. I want to be grace under pressure and just sail through it all, fixing everything behind the scenes, but I tend to be more straightforward and direct. I never intend to offend anyone, but sometimes I do because I ask questions; lots of them. I’m open and honest and sometimes wish I could share less and be more private because wearing your heart on your sleeve leaves you vulnerable, but I also know I wouldn’t be happy being guarded and private. It takes too much of my mental and emotional energy. In the long run, it’s easier for me to love as much as I can and take my lumps, and thankfully, I have a husband that knows how to help me soothe the bumps and bruises of life and show me how they make me a better person.

On days like today, though, my life and my emotions feel like a house of cards. It feels like if one thing goes wrong, the entire thing will come crashing down, and maybe it will. So what if it does? I confirm what I think some of my family members think of me. I have a less than perfect Christmas. I realize, yet again, that I can’t do it all, especially by myself. Well, DUH!!! No matter what I do, there will be family members that will never give me credit for succeeding. I think every family has those who look to tear others down to build themselves up, and when you’re the target of those people, holidays just increase the stress level. I’ve also found that those people are either incredibly insecure or are so narcissistic that nothing you do can please them, so why do we even try? For me, I guess I think they may be right. Maybe I’m not as good at life as I think I am. I know I’m not as proficient as I would like to be, and when I sense my own vulnerability and someone confirms what I already doubt, the trouble in my head begins. I start doubting everything and make my life out to be a bigger mess than it is. Add a little sleep deprivation, lack of exercise and food that is unhealthy for me, and that house of cards folds like a bad poker hand. This morning feels like I have one of those bad poker hands, but I know what to do to make it better, and I’m in the process of lifting myself up. So far, I’ve cleaned one bathroom so it’s “good enough”. You cannot eat off the floor, although I wiped it up with a cleaning wipe, but why would you want a floor so clean in your bathroom that you could eat off of it? How gross is that? I’ve spent time in meditation, not because I have the time to do it, but because I feel like I don’t. There is a story of a troubled man who visited a sage and asked how long he should meditate. The wise man said that the troubled man should meditate for one hour every day. The troubled man said, “I don’t have time to meditate for an hour every day. I have too much to do.” “In that case,” the wise man replied, “you need to meditate for two hours every day.”

We can lose sight of what’s important so easily during this season. It’s supposed to be a season of peace. It’s supposed to be a season of caring. It’s supposed to be a season of love. It’s so easy to forget that when we’ve got a list a mile long, but that mile long list being completed isn’t what today, tomorrow or any day is really about. Yes, the tasks are important, but the people are too. If they judge you for some dirt on your baseboards, they would judge you for something else if your baseboards were pristine. If they judge you for something like that, their life must be pretty narrow. If they judge you at all, you can choose not to respond and not to even accept their judgment. Your energy would be much better spent praying for them, sending them good vibes or sending positive energy their way anyway. By doing that, you can hardly help but to have some land on you as well.

Take a moment right now to send those prayers, vibes and energy to every difficult person in your life. Wish them joy, because the more joy they have, the less venom they have to spew on you and others. Wish them great success in every positive endeavor. Wish for them to be surrounded by love and light and all that is good. While you’re at it, send some of that energy to yourself, your community, your country and the world. Make today and the rest of this year an exercise in blessing yourself and those around you in the best way you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be perfect, and you don’t need to expect perfection from anyone else. Do your best, and if you do it with joy and love in your heart, your best will be better. Do every task with a positive intent to bless someone, especially if doing that task blesses you, and that task will seem easier. Put some love into every moment and before you know it, you’ll be surrounded by love. Give a hug, even if it’s to yourself. Wish yourself a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or just Happy Monday every time you look in a mirror today and smile while you do it. Bring peace and love to your heart so you can share it with others, and eventually, you’ll realize it doesn’t matter if the house of cards blows away. You’ll be left with what really does matter; peace, love and the joy of the season. That is what I wish for all of you today and the rest of the year, so thanks for being you, and have a great day.

Do Better December 12th 2014 Time to Reboot

12 Dec

To listen along click here: http://tobtr.com/s/718591

Have you ever left your computer on for days on end without restarting it? Have you ever left it on overnight with internet windows open? Just in case you’re one of those people who hasn’t, I’ll tell you what happens. It gets slow and cranky, or maybe it gets slow and I get cranky, but in any case, it doesn’t perform at the same rate it did before. It might be ok for a day or two, but eventually you have to shut it down for a while because even restarting doesn’t help. Do you get the metaphor yet? If you’re in the midst of holiday hustle and bustle, you may not, so let me tell you that you are like that computer. You can keep drinking caffeine and energy drinks to keep yourself going, but eventually you need to give your body the opportunity to rest and recuperate just like your computer. That’s what this weekend will be for our family.

We have been on a roller coaster ride for a few months now. My younger two children are in marching band and that is a huge commitment. It makes family time very difficult and with the older of the two working a part time job as well, it really cramped family time. The reward for all of that dedication was a trip to Disney World. Because of our youngest son’s medical condition, we decided to make the trip to Orlando on our own just in case we were needed. Thankfully we weren’t, and all four of us who went had a great time. The reality check when we came back was a shock. Physically we were riding on a boat in 85/29 degree weather one day, and we were shoveling out of 4-6 inches of snow the next. Mentally we had to deal with trying to catch up on work whether at work, at home or in school. Throw in a day long craft show fundraiser, a late Thanksgiving with family members who had to work every day of the supposed holiday, a business trip that included 60 working hours in five days and the onslaught of the Christmas holiday, and the stress levels rose for everyone.

This weekend we get a bit of a break. We only have one party on Sunday afternoon and one of my sons works on Sunday. Yes, we have Christmas cards to order if we intend to send them this year. I have gifts yet to buy or order online. We have cookies and other confections to make, but our time is mostly our own this weekend, and we intend to use that time wisely to sleep well, eat healthy and enjoy the ride. Even writing that relaxes me. I am looking forward to a weekend of quiet and calm because it’s so rare for us these days. I’m looking forward to a weekend of enough sleep enough to reboot my body, enough shopping (mostly online) to reboot my holiday cheer and enough meditation and exercise to reboot my energy and attitude.

I know this is a time of year when people miss loved ones who have passed the most. In our home, we do what we can to honor them and uplift their memory. Maybe because of the medical conditions in this house, we spend very little time on grief. I mean no disrespect to anyone going through the grieving process but my husband and I lost our fathers four months apart in the same year and we gave birth in the middle of that. We know grief, but we both have a deep faith that our fathers, who suffered greatly upon this earth, are much happier where they are and someday, we’ll join them again. In the meantime, we have important work to do here raising our family and honoring their memory. We do that in the simplest ways. For my husband, baking peanut butter cookies is an homage to his father. Peanut butter cookies were his dad’s favorite, and my husband bakes them first to honor his dad and kick off our baking season. We bake approximately 100 dozen cookies each year. In addition to what we nibble on here, we give some away and we supply our family Christmas Eve gathering with most of them. Our Christmas Eve gathering, thankfully at my sister in law’s house, includes some variation of my mother in law, her nine children and their significant others, their 27 children and some significant others and their thirty plus children, most of whom are too young for significant others. The numbers vary from year to year, but if everyone shows up, we’re talking between 70 and 80 people. It’s chaos, and it’s something we all look forward to every year.

I think the biggest challenge of the holiday season has to do with expectations and perfectionism. We expect each holiday season to top the last one, but that doesn’t always happen. We expect our table to look like those in the commercials, but they don’t and we are disappointed with our perceived lack of culinary expertise. I got really angry recently when I was watching some Thanksgiving cooking shows. One show in particular was driving me crazy because this woman was dressed beautifully, with perfect hair and makeup and she was cooking a Thanksgiving meal for a houseful of people. She made the entire process seem effortless and so simple, and I wanted to reach through the screen and smack her. I started lecturing the TV and that woman about the disservice she was doing. I don’t know anyone who makes Thanksgiving dinner dressed like that. Making Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is hard work. Most people I know get the bulk of the work done in clothes they can mess up and then get dressed for company later. Pretending you can do it all looking like that just sets other women up for failure. Remember something as you watch all the holiday cooking shows that produce the most amazing looking meals on TV. Remember that those people have a team to get that meal on the table looking beautiful. In some cases, the food isn’t even edible. Turkeys and hams on TV commercials are covered with things you would never eat to make them look appetizing. Butter pats don’t melt because they’re not butter, they’re wax. Steaming food is sometimes steaming because there is a little dry ice in the bottom of the bowl or some other concoction that makes the food look steaming hot. It’s all an illusion.

I used to buy into the illusion but not anymore. The illusion makes us feel bad because we think our reality doesn’t match up. Please stop buying into the illusion that you, your finances or your life doesn’t measure up. Reboot your thinking. Reboot your expectations. Allow this to be the season that you enjoy what you have and give credit to yourself for doing your best. If you need a reality check, help out in a homeless shelter or take a warm cup of hot chocolate to a homeless person on the street. You will know that you are blessed. Share your sorrow with someone safe, even if it’s someone on a hotline who is trained to listen. I’ve seen people share their grief and pain in a safe environment and open themselves up to the support of others and just being able to let it out sometimes relieves so much of the negative emotion. Know that there is no such thing as the perfect Christmas. Even those you remember as perfect as a child probably weren’t as perfect as you remember them, you just didn’t notice the stresses and challenges of others, but if you are lacking in holiday spirit I do have a suggestion. Get yourself around children. Children embody the Christmas spirit with ease. They practically glow this time of year whether their parents can see it or not. Get yourself around children and ask them about Santa. If they’re Christian children, ask them to tell you the Christmas story. Watch them as they answer you and see the joy and innocence of childhood before you. It will lift your spirit like nothing else.

So what do you need to do to reboot yourself? Do you need to get some sleep? If so, put clean sheets on your bed, take a shower or bath and slide into that clean bed with a clean you and allow yourself to sleep and wake refreshed. Do you need to eat healthier? Grab some salad from the grocery and add that to your lunch and dinner. Eat some organic fruits and veggies when you’re not at a party. Guess what? You can eat veggies for breakfast if it’s the only meal you’ll be at home to eat. Do you need to get more exercise? Park further away from the mall if you have shopping to do to get some extra steps. Call a friend to walk the mall with you before you shop. Dance around the house to Christmas music if you have no one to walk with you. Dance like no one is watching and then imagine that someone is and that someone is you. Do you need to reboot your attitude? Watch a funny movie. If you celebrate Christmas, there are countless comedies to watch. If you don’t, there are even more. There are Christmas comedy shows and non-Christmas comedy shows online and on the comedy networks of cable and satellite providers. Another suggestion to reboot your attitude, start a gratitude journal. Every morning and/or evening write down five things that you are grateful for in your life. In the beginning, you might struggle with it, but I promise you that the more you look for things to be grateful for, the more you will find. Have you ever noticed that when someone you know buys a certain kind of car, you begin to see it everywhere even if it’s one you never really noticed before? It works like that.

Finally, make peace with the fact that this may not be your best holiday season ever but that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the season or with you. December 25th will come to every calendar whether it is celebrated or not. If this isn’t the holiday season you want, what can you do this year and next year to make it better? What can you do for the next couple of weeks to end this year the best you can and start the New Year with at least a glimmer of hope? What benefit are you getting from staying stuck or unhappy? Do you know if you didn’t get some kind of benefit from it that you would change? Of course, that’s a big subject for another day, and until that day, I’ll be signing off for the weekend to spend time with my family and reboot for the push next week. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to do the same, not just to relax, but to renew yourself and find yourself in a better state on Monday than you are today. If you do something to reboot your life in any way, I would love for you to share it in a comment here or on our Facebook page. Nothing is more inspiring to me than knowing how others find their inspiration and motivation. The message of this season for Christians is hope and love. I think those are two noble causes to spread around the world no matter what religion you practice or if you don’t practice any religion at all. For this weekend, my hope is that you found something in this post to make you smile and just in case no one told you today, I love you, not in a creepy stalker kind of way, but in a deeply human, you are valuable and I’m glad you’re on this planet kind of way. It’s why I always end my posts the way I do because I really do thank you for being you and I truly wish that you have a great day. Happy weekend everyone!

Practice NOT Perfect

20 Jan

Anything worth doing is worth doing right – Hunter S. Thompson

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well – Steve Brown

Hello everyone, my name is Karen and I am a recovering perfectionist. For the better part of my life I would have absolutely agreed with the first quote by Hunter Thompson. Ironically, Hunter Thompson was a writer who committed suicide after a tumultuous life and a long battle with multiple illnesses. As I grow, hopefully with grace, into the second half of my life, I am much more inclined to live by the second quote from Steve Brown, a jazz musician and educator. He’s still around, making music and living his life.
Having to do something right stifles creativity and new ideas. It also creates procrastination, as my mentor, Marla Cilley, says. Sounds crazy, I know, but think about this. We put things off because we don’t have time to do the whole job, or to do it the way we really want to, or give it the time it deserves. We keep putting it off and putting it off and as we do, the bigger the job seems and the more energy it sucks out of us as we look at it and wish it was finished. We make ourselves angry and sick because we create this idea of how something “should” be done. Stop shoulding on yourself. You don’t need to be perfect at anything except being you. All you ever need to do is your best, and your best is enough no matter what anyone else says. So what if it takes you a week or a month to do a project 15 minutes at a time, that you could have done in 4 straight hours or 2 long days? The job still gets done, and you don’t get worn out in the process. Trust me, there’s magic in 15 minutes of focus. Don’t believe me? Pick a project and spend 15 minutes per day working on that project with focus and determination and walk away when the timer runs out. If the project involves getting rid of or creating something, take pictures every day so you can see your progress. I promise you that within a week you will make a difference, and you’ll still have energy to do other things.
Think about this. Being a doctor is one of the most demanding professions in the world. It takes years of schooling and on the job training. A mistake could cost someone’s life, and yet they call it the practice of medicine, not the perfection of medicine. Yoga is a type of exercise that makes great demands on your mind, body and spirit. I mean, have you ever seen some of the more difficult poses? I often wonder if I’ll ever be able to twist my body like that AND look serene doing it. Yoga is also called a practice. Hmmmm. Maybe we should all give up the idea of doing things right and living the right way and being the right person. Perhaps it would be better to just do our best always, get better and practice living well. Have great day!

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