Wednesday, November 16, 2011

And now, for something funny...

Not from me, though -- I wanted to share with you a blog that I just stumbled upon. It's by a blogger named Serene, and the blog is titled "Serene is my name, Not my life!" She blogs about her imperfect parenting adventures and the posts I've read so far literally have tears running down my cheeks because I'm laughing so hard -- the situations are just so what we find ourselves in the middle of every day. I have officially wasted invested all my free time this morning into reading her posts and I can't wait to read more. My current fave is "A Man and His Business." If you're looking for a mommy blog that will help you shake off the "I have to be perfect at this" feeling for a little bit, check it out!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

See past what it seems -- a must-read!

A Facebook friend posted a link to this blog post today with the comment "You will be really glad you read this." Boy, was she right. It's from the Brave Girls Club blog, called "We must see past what it seems," and it tells a very powerful story about how we judge the people around us and why we must be gentle with others.  Please take a few minutes to read it today -- I know I will be a little bit closer to my best self today because I did.  Have a blessed Sunday!

P.S. This is my first introduction to the Brave Girls Club, but I am excited to explore it more. It looks like a great resource for women trying to live an imperfect-but-beautiful life.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Setting up roadblocks to intimacy...

I'm not talking about that kind of intimacy.  I'm talking about the kind where you open your self up, the very core of your being, to another person.  It's scary, because it's a very vulnerable position.  How much easier is it to put up a false front and keep others at a safe distance?  I recently saw this segment on our local lifestyle show and thought it was definitely worth sharing. Family therapist Julie Hanks talks about the things that prevent us from letting other "step in our shoes."

Or you can read the written article as well.  Just some food for thought!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Perfect is nice, but imperfect makes better memories...

The other night we had a joint birthday party for my little Eliza and my niece Amelia, who both just turned 3.  This is the first birthday they've really been old enough to "get" what was going on, and I wanted to make it big.  My sister Amy is an awesome cake decorator, and I asked her to please help me make a super fantastic girly cake, and she was with me all the way.

But, as so often happens, our plans got derailed.  With 40,000 other things happening, I didn't get the cakes made early enough to freeze (which would have made them much easier to decorate).  Then I was late getting to my mom's house to do the actual decorating.  Then, as my sister was hurrying over to teach me how to do the decorating, her tire blew out and she was stranded.  My brother went to rescue her, and by the time she got to the house there was almost no time left before the party was meant to start.  I said, "Maybe we should just forget the cake.  There's no way we can do it in time."  I was thinking we could just cover it with canned frosting and call it good, or steal the cupcakes my mom had bought for another occasion.  But Amy was adamant -- the cute girly cake was going to happen!  Moving at lightning speed, she leveled cakes, rolled out fondant, and did a bunch of other stuff that I didn't even see because I was trying to put up balloons and streamers.  I have never seen someone work so hard, so fast.

She was apologetic about the final product -- it was lumpy and bumpy and did not have the perfect finish that her other cakes have had.  But the little girls loved it.  I loved it.  Everyone at the party loved it.  It was really the centerpiece of the whole party!  

Do you think they're excited about the cake?

As I thought about it later, I realized how much more memorable that cake is now.  If everything had gone according to plan and we had come up with a perfect cake, when we looked at the pictures of the party in the future we would have said, "Oh, there's the cute cake Mom and Amy made."  Instead, we have this crazy cake that every time I see it, it will remind me of that crazy day and how much my sister loves me and Eliza and Amelia, and how hard we all worked to make that party a fun one for our little people.  It reminds me that my sister is willing to drop everything and do anything for me and my family.  It reminds me how much I love her.  It might sound silly, but now that cake stands for something.  Kerry Vincent probably wouldn't give it high marks, but that's okay -- it's about so much more than the decoration now.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The difference between "owning it" and "you're on your own."

The other day I posted this quote from Albert Ellis:  "The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own.  You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president.  You realize that you control your own destiny."  

Then I received this comment from a reader named Genevieve:  "I agree that it's up to us, but I also think sometimes we need help. I went to a funeral today for a woman who apparently didn't have help, and her "demons" got the best of her. So tragic."

It struck me that there is a disconnect here between what I read in that quote and what she got from it.  After  reading both the quote and her comment a few times, I could see her point and felt that I needed to address it.

To me, this thought is all about the blame game.  There are so many times that we want to shift the blame for our problems to other people or to circumstances beyond our control.  "I wouldn't be so fat if my parents had taught me better habits." "My kid would do better in school if the teacher would just pay more attention to him." That may seem easier, but in reality it takes away our power to change our lives.  Taking responsibility for our lives can be scary, but it also means that we can make changes and decisions that will be true happiness and peace.    Other people and circumstances do affect our lives, but we cannot allow them to control us.  We "own" who we are, imperfections and all, in order to become who we want to be.

I think the danger in this thought, and what Genevieve was observant enough to pick up on, is if you just focus on the phrase "your problems are your own."  Believing that our problems are entirely our own affair can wall us off from the people around us, as I wrote about in a previous post "I thought I was the only one..."  We must be willing to let our guard down and let people in so that we can get help when we need it.  And everyone needs help once in a while.  Admitting that we need help empowers other to ask for help as well.  Sometimes we need a strong shoulder to lean on (or cry on), and sometimes we can be that person for someone else.  But if we keep up a facade of perfection, we are cut off from both roles.  We can't ask for help, and others don't feel comfortable asking it of us.

Taking control of your life should not mean that you are on your own.  It means that you face yourself and your choices with honesty, changing what you can and allowing yourself to ask for help where you need it.

Now, I'm going to go quit blaming the over-flowing closets on a mutant outgrown-clothes breeding phenomenon and do some de-cluttering.  Feel free to come over and help if you want... :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Who do YOU let in? -- a great link to check out.

I follow approximately a gazillion craft and DIY blogs, and one of my faves is Kimba's a Soft Place to Land.  Today she posted about the difference between "Upstairs Friends" and "Downstairs Friends."  It's really not about home decor at all -- it's about whether or not you let others see your imperfections, and about how doing so opens the door to real friendship and understanding.  Check it out!  It's a short little post, but it gave me a lot to think about today!  Click HERE to head over.

Have a great day!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Life is Too Short.

Last week a girl that I had known since junior high passed away without warning. One moment everything was fine, and the next moment she was gone, leaving behind a husband and three kids. I didn't know her very well, just enough to smile and say hello when I saw her in the hall at church, but the sudden devastation of her death has forced me to think about the fragility of life. To quote a line from one of my favorite cheesy chick flicks (Where the Heart Is): "Our lives can change with every breath we take." 

The overriding feeling I was left with is that life is too short. 

Life is too short to hold a grudge.  You never know when it will be too late to forgive, or to ask for forgiveness.

Life is too short to judge others, to deprive ourselves and them of what we could share with one another.

Life is too short to waste time on what matters least.

Life is too short to limit your own potential.  How much time do we spend telling ourselves we can't do it, we're not good enough, we shouldn't even try?

Life is too short to stay in your comfort zone.  We need to push ourselves, to take risks, to have adventures!

Life is too short to only see the darkness around you.  Yes, there is always darkness in this world, always hurt and hunger and injustice.  But there is also so much beauty and love.  Embracing the light gives us power to combat the darkness.

Life is too short to withhold love -- from our children, our family, strangers, any human being.

Life is too short to live in regret.  We can't go backwards, only forwards.  We have to be honest with ourselves about what we regret, do what we can to fix it, and live in peace with what we can't. (See #1 about asking forgiveness...)

And finally, life is too short to live in fear, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  This is a big one for me.  I am so paranoid that something catastrophic is going to hit our family, like losing a child or my husband.  It's as though I feel we are so blessed that something must be lurking around the corner, just waiting to broadside us when we least expect it.  And the truth is, it's probably true.  Every family is faced with loss or hardship.  That is part of our journey through this life as human beings, and none are immune.  But we can't live in fear of the unknown.

Yes, life is too short.  It's true whether we have another 5 minutes or another 50 years to live.  If we live with purpose, whatever time we are given will be exactly the right amount for us to create a beautiful, happy life.  If we don't -- if we let life pull us along without choosing to be what we want to be -- 1000 years wouldn't be enough.

P.S.  I just watched a video on TED by a man who survived that plane crash into the Hudson River, and what he learned from being faced with death.  It's worth a watch.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Motherhood Matters

Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful women out there, both those who are mothers in the traditional sense and also to those who bless the lives of everyone around them with their mothering influence.

This past week I have been participating in a challenge created by our local lifestyle show Studio 5 called Motherhood Matters, which they describe as "a campaign to inspire, encourage, and remind ourselves why motherhood matters." I can always use a reminder to find the joy in motherhood rather than getting sucked into the mundane, and I have really been enjoying completing the challenge each day.

The other day the challenge was to make a list of the skills and attributes that you bring to the role of mother, and for some reason I found that very challenging. What strengths do I bring to motherhood? At first, all I could come up with were my weaknesses. I get mad a really really lot more than I should be, I'm ridiculously disorganized and forgetful, I let them watch too much tv... the list could go on and on. So before I got too bogged down in berating myself, I decided that I would commit to posting here about my positive strengths and attributes so that I have it in black and white. I haven't really started coming up with anything yet, so we'll see how it goes:

1. I am willing to admit when I'm wrong and ask my kids' forgiveness. I try really hard to own up to my part when things go amuck.
2. I tell them I love them a gazillion times a day. So far they are not old enough to be embarrassed by this.
3. I try to tell them specific reasons why I think they're great and why I'm proud of them.
4. I try to give them lots of opportunities for creativity (both in the artsy-crafty way and also just in their thinking).
5. I believe in God and Jesus Christ, and I am working hard to create an environment where their Spirit can be felt.
6. I am not "too cool" to run around and play and be silly with them. (Of course, if you knew me you'd probably say that I'm not in grave danger of being "too cool" for anything...)
7. I will never, never stop trying to be a better mom for them.

I am not trying to toot my own horn here. I know that for every one thing I get right, I probably make two giant mothering mistakes. Or miss some huge opportunity to love and nurture the way I should. I'm sure we all feel that way. And Mother's Day, for some perverse reason, frequently just makes moms feel more guilty, like we somehow don't measure up to all the praise. But this Mother's Day, please stop berating yourself for all your mothering imperfections and take a moment to appreciate your mothering strengths.  You have them, I guarantee -- otherwise, God would never have entrusted His precious children to your care.  Give yourself the gift of actually thinking about it and writing it down.  I'll bet you'll find you're a pretty awesome mom after all. :)

Happy Mother's Day!

Oh, and if you need a little encouragement, please watch this beautiful video about our true value as mothers:

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Civility Experiment -- a video

This video really touched me today -- it demonstrates so well the power that comes from getting to know someone instead of judging them by their outward appearance or what you think you know about them. I believe that if more of us (myself included) took the opportunity to really get to know the people we are judgmental about (whether it's an individual or a whole group), we'd learn that underneath the surface we are all just human beings. Imperfect, yes, but all of us having something to give and share with each other. Worth the watch!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He makes it possible...

None of us, as human beings, are perfect.  That's kinda the whole point of this blog.  But today, as we celebrate the life, Atonement, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, I want to share my faith that Jesus WAS perfect, and that it is because of Him that it's okay for us not to be.  It's okay that we make mistakes and wrong choices and everything else that comes with being a human being.  HE paid the price for us, to give us the chance to learn and grow and take two steps forward and one step back.  He loves us more than we can ever understand, and He will always help us become our best selves if we choose to come to Him.  Through His power we can be forgiven for all those wrong choices and become who HE sees in us.

This Easter message touched my heart today, and I wanted to share it with you:

I wish you a blessed and joyful Easter!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In Honor of "You're My Favorite" Day...

 Yesterday marked the 3rd anniversary of the passing of my sweet little sister Carissa.  Words cannot express how much I love her, or how much I still miss her every day.  Carissa was 22 years old and had Down's Syndrome, and I truly believe she was an angel walking on the earth.  She had a greater capacity to love than any person I have ever met, and she used that capacity to lift every person she met.  She told everyone she met: "You're my favorite!" And she truly meant it every time. She made us all feel like the best version of ourselves. She smiled and hugged us and wrote us letters and made silly faces and told ridiculous jokes and always, always told us she loved us. 

My brother Dan of Single Dad Laughing has written a beautiful tribute to her here that everyone should read, and the main focus of what he wrote was about how Carissa was able to love people because she never thought of herself as better than another person.  This could not be more true. And while I could write for days about the things I learned from her, today I want to just write about the flip-side from what Dan wrote.

Carissa also never thought of herself as less than any other person.

Just think about what that means for a second.

My beautiful girl
I truly believe that Carissa never looked at another person and only saw her own shortcomings. She never thought to herself, "Oh, that person thinks they're better than me" or "That person is better than me/smarter than me/richer than me/more beautiful than me/happier than me/more good than me/etc." Carissa saw each person only as a brother or a sister, someone to love and someone who would love her in return.  She never doubted that everyone would love her, and as a result, everyone did.

I have written a lot on this blog about how we let our perception of our own imperfection stand in the way. We don't reach out in love or in service because we're afraid that what we have to give will never be good enough. We don't explore and expand the gifts God has given us because we don't think we'll be able to do it as well as others.

Carissa never let her imperfections hinder her from being who she was meant to be. And I'm not just talking about the limitations inherent to her disability.  She also had normal imperfections -- she was stubborn as a mule, and she got sad and mad and scared just like the rest of us. But she accepted those parts of herself and allowed the beautiful gifts that she'd been given to shine through.  Let me just tell you one story to illustrate this point.

I was with Carissa when she was admitted to the hospital for the last time. She was in serious distress from terrible pneumonia, and she was scared and in pain. A short time after she was admitted, a nurse came to insert a pic line into her arm so they could better administer her meds (any medical people out there will have to excuse my lack of medical expertise here). Carissa's veins were notoriously hard to find and I think they hadn't been able to get an IV in, so they had to go with the pic line.  The nurse told me that inserting a pic line was almost always very, very easy, but that sometimes it because very, very difficult.  Carissa's experience proved to be the latter. The nurse tried for what seemed like forever to get it in, basically digging a needle around in Carissa's arm trying to find the right placement. Carissa was in intense pain, tears rolling down her cheeks.  But that was not her focus. Carissa could see that the nurse was distressed about the pain she was causing.  Carissa started saying, "It's okay! You're doing a good job. Keep trying. I love you. It's okay," all while patting the nurse with her free hand. By the time she was finished, we were all in tears.  I actually don't remember if she was even able to place the pic line in the end.  But the spirit of love in that room was so strong that I will never forget it.

Carissa with my mom and my boys, just a couple days before she died.

Carissa was not focused on her own fear or pain or unhappiness, all things that would have limited her ability to reach out. Her concern was for the person she saw suffering in front of her. That was the suffering she wanted to alleviate. Throughout that last hospital stay, which lasted about a week, she continued to lift everyone who came in contact with her, despite her deteriorating condition.  Her hospital room had large windows facing out into the hallway, and she waved cheerily at everyone who passed.  We were told later that hospital staff and patients were going out of their way to walk by her room and see her smile. And to this day, the memory of her unselfish love pushes everyone who knew her to be a little more loving to everyone they meet.

Love conquers fear.  Love conquers every negative emotion or action in this world.  Because love for others -- others she saw as no better or worse than herself, only brothers and sisters -- was the greatest emotion in Carissa's world, she was able to lift and serve and be the best possible version of herself. 

I miss you, my sweet Carissa.  I will keep trying to remember your example every day.  You're my favorite!

If this post has touched your heart today, please feel free to share it wherever you share things.

***I just realized I never explained -- we call the anniversary of Carissa's passing "You're My Favorite" Day in her honor.  We try to celebrate the life she lived even as we still mourn her loss. I know that we'll be together with her again in heaven, and that even now she's with us in spirit, and I thank God every day for that blessing.***

Monday, April 4, 2011

What defines you?

Today I'd like to share a powerful little nugget to think about from Becky Higgins, who writes about how we define ourselves -- do we let others define us, or do we have faith in our own core self?  Click here to check it out!

I couldn't agree more with what she has written.  Letting others define us only limits our potential, but defining ourselves by our best qualities and beliefs gives us power to become who we really want to be.  Worth two minutes to read today!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Can I get a do-over?

This weekend is General Conference for the LDS Church -- twice a year the prophet and apostles and other leaders of our church come together to speak to all of us members around the world. It is truly my favorite weekend of the year, because it always seems like 90% of the talks focus on just exactly what I need to hear at that moment.

Everyone "reverently" listening to conference...
But yesterday was, I have to admit, not awesome.  In these parts they show the conference on TV, so we watch it from home.  We tried to keep the kids engaged and interested but they were tired and cranky and the day was mostly consumed with us nagging them to be quiet and at least let us listen.  In the evening we went over to my parents' house, and on the way home I was lecturing (again) about how important conference is and how they need to have a good attitude and blah blah blah... (I'm pretty sure that's how it sounded to them.)  But I suddenly had another thought and said, "But you know what, Sammy? [my oldest, who was definitely the only one even pretending to listen at that point] When I was your age, I thought conference was boring, too.  I had a hard time listening to it, too.  It's something you learn to love as you grow up and feel the Spirit more and more.  But it starts by having a good attitude."

There was a moment of silence, and then Sam said, "Thanks for giving me that advice, Mom.  Because for most of the day, I felt like I was the only one..."

His voice sounded so tender and almost tearful.  I realized that I had gone about things in all the wrong way -- just nagging and lecturing without really making an effort to understand things from the kids' point of view -- and instead of creating an environment where they could feel the happiness and peace of the Spirit (even if they didn't understand everything being said), they just felt bored and guilty for feeling bored.  And then I nagged them some more and eventually sent them to their rooms, creating a spirit of contention instead love.

Thankfully, conference is, in fact, a two-day event.  I'm up early preparing some different activities for them to do and also praying for guidance in how to make this the family-and-spirit-strengthening day that it's meant to be.  Thank heavens we do get a do-over once in a while...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Going with the flow...

The other night I unexpectedly had quite a bit of time to just sit and think, as I sat in bumper-to-bumper gridlock waiting to get off a freeway that had been closed to make way for the moving of the longest two-span bridge ever moved in the Western Hemisphere.

The sad thing is, I knew the freeway was going to be closed.  I was out partying late into the night as only scrapbookers can do, and my friends and I had discussed the freeway closure and alternate ways to get home.  As I got on the freeway I saw there was no slowing and thought, 'Well, I'll go down a few exits and get off at the one before the closure.' 

I drove a few miles down the freeway there was still no sign of slowing.  I approached the last exit before the exit I knew I'd be forced off, and I thought, 'I should really get off here.'  But the freeway had only just closed, and no one else was getting off there, and there was only a mile or two until the final exit.  I dithered long enough that the choice was pretty much made for me -- I had passed the last exit and I was committed.

Sure enough, as I rounded the bend there was nothing in front of me but a sea of brake lights.  As I inched forward I wondered why on earth I hadn't just gotten off when my gut feeling and just plain common sense told me I should.  It would have added an extra 5 minutes or so to the time it normally takes to get home.  Instead I was stuck on the freeway an extra half hour just to go about 1 mile.

But I was content to just follow what it seemed like everyone else was doing.  I wanted to get as close as I could to the edge before changing my path.  And by the time it became apparent I had made the wrong choice, it was too late and I was stuck.

How often do we do that in life?  We take the path of least resistance, we go with the flow.  We don't want to be weird or make waves, even when our gut is telling us that it is time to get off the road we're on.  Maybe we think that we can get closer to the edge without falling off than others can.  Maybe we take for granted that the path we're on is the right one, or we're just on auto-pilot.  Instead of taking responsibility for our own choices, we dither until the opportunity for making a choice has passed us by.

Sometimes we feel like that wrong choice (or that choice we didn't make) is permanent -- that we are now stuck on the wrong road.  Thankfully, real life does offer us a chance to turn around.  Or perhaps I should say that God offers us a chance to turn around.  No matter now far down the wrong road we go, he is always there, waiting to show us our chance to exit and get back on the right road.  It might take us a little longer to get to our destination than if we did what we should have in the first place, but God's detour is always going to get us safely to our destination.

So I guess I'm saying three things:

1.  Listen to what you feel inside and live on purpose.  Don't just go with the flow and allow life to make choices for you.

2.  If you end up on what turns out to be the wrong road, don't give up.  God will show you the detour to get back on track.

3.  If you know the DOT is moving a bridge the size of a football field, just get off the dang freeway.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Life advice from the Dr. himself -- a "Perfect" Thought for the Day.

Today (as anyone with an elementary school student or a Facebook account knows) is Dr. Seuss's birthday, and in honor of the day I thought I'd share some of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes. He truly knew how to appreciate differences, quirks, imperfections, and all that was good in people!

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."
Dr. Seuss (Happy Birthday to You!
"Be grateful you’re not in the forest in France
Where the average young person just hasn’t a chance
To escape from the perilous pants eating plants
But your pants are safe, you’re a fortunate guy
You ought to be shouting how lucky am I"
Dr. Seuss (Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
"My uncle ordered popovers
from the restaurant's bill of fare.
And, when they were served,
he regarded them with a penetrating stare.
Then he spoke great words of wisdom
as he sat there on that chair:
"To eat these things," said my uncle,
"You must exercise great care.
You may swallow down what's solid,
but you must spit out the air!"
And as you partake of the world's bill of fare,
that's darned good advice to follow.
Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
And be careful what you swallow."
Dr. Seuss 
"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."
And my personal favorite for today, which I've heard many times before but never knew it came from the good Dr. Seuss, is this: 
For more awesome Suessisms, visit the GoodReads or ThinkExist Dr. Seuss pages.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

7 Ways to Be Your Best Self...

Okay, the blog post from Becky Higgins that I'm linking you to is actually called "7 Ways to Increase Charity," but as I read it I couldn't help thinking that if I applied any of her advice to myself, I would definitely have a "best self" kind of day.  So check it out!  How do you think making little changes like what she describes could help you be your best self?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Perfectly Imperfect?

When I was trying to figure out what web address I could use for this blog, I came across a lot of variations of "perfectly imperfect."  You hear that a lot, too -- the slogan for Nick Jr.'s "Parents Connect" forum is "Perfectly Imperfect Parents Like You."  And I think it's great that people are embracing imperfection and trying to help others embrace it, too.  The more people out there sharing that message the better!

But it hit me the other day (when I heard that Nick Jr. slogan for the 45th time as my kids were glued to the TV all morning) -- I'm not even perfect at being imperfect.  Seriously.  As much as I try, I still get sucked into perfection mode sometimes.  I worry about appearances too much.  I judge people in ways they don't deserve.  I beat myself up about not doing or being everything I expect from myself, or everything I think someone else expects from me.

So with all that I write here, please know that I am just working on it, like everyone else.  Not perfectly imperfect, but getting kinda-sorta good at it... :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"I thought I was the only one..."

Have you ever been in a pet store?  You see all the little hamsters and lizards in their glass cases, all stacked up so they're together, but separated from one another.

Have you ever felt like one of them? 

Buying into the idea of "perfection" puts each one of us into those little glass boxes.  We can see each other, but we put up walls that keep us apart. This can happen in all sorts of ways.

We look at the people around us and think, "Oh, they're so perfect.  They must think I'm so awful."  So we never climb out of our own glass box to extend a hand of friendship, just assuming that the other person would have no use for us.  When I first started writing this blog, my dear cousin Tiffany sent me this email (which I use with her permission):

     "In my ward [that's what LDS people call our congregation], there is a beautiful, petite woman with an incredible body that decorates and dresses well and eats healthy food...  I automatically assume that there is no way these seemingly perfect women would want to befriend a chubby, out-of-control with clutter, working mom that is constantly-exhausted and needing-babysitters, kind of girl."

Now, this is exactly how I would describe myself, so I was really surprised to find out that Tiff put me in the "perfect women" category.  But that's the truth of it -- we all see our own faults like we're looking through a magnifying glass, but we see others through a lens that only makes us suffer in comparison. 

But Tiff has a very good head on her shoulders, and her next statement really struck home for me:

     "Sometimes, I pretend that perfect ladies like this are incontinent or have thirteen toes or something.  I always need a reminder that no one is the best of the best all the time.  I imagine it's so hard for _____ if she knows how envied she is and thought she had to keep up to such insurmountable standards."

When we look at someone else's lifestyle or body or well-behaved children or job or whatever, we put them in a glass box as well, so that neither one of us can reach the other.   We feel like we can never measure up to a standard that we've usually imagined up ourselves, and they feel like they can never admit to any weakness without disappointing people. 

When you are in that glass cage, you can't ask for help, because that would be acknowledging that we are somehow not perfectly capable.  You can't build meaningful relationships with the people around you because you have to hold back what makes you human.  You can't appreciate the deep, complicated beauty of the people around you because you are too busy expecting perfection from them. 

A couple of months ago, at a family function, my sisters and I were chatting with some of our girl cousins and revealed some little imperfection.  Nothing serious or earth-shattering -- I would never have given in another second's thought -- but one of my cousins (not the aforementioned Tiff) was literally shocked at what I said.  She said, almost to herself: "I thought I was the only one..."  The moment passed quickly and the conversation turned to other things, but her comment has stayed with me.  How often do we think we're the only one?  We think we're "the only one" who struggles, who makes mistakes, who feels bad or lonely or misunderstood.  We assume others are judging us, or definitely would be judging us if we gave them the chance by revealing our imperfections.

Isolation.  That is the sad by-product of the myth of perfection.  Instead of accepting and loving and helping each other, we lock ourselves away and try to be content with solitary confinement.  It's all part of the prison we create by believing in "perfection." 

Don't let yourself be isolated by creating some imaginary standard you'll never live up to.  Don't isolate others by believing their perfection will never allow them to accept you.  Break down those glass walls -- you'll be amazed how well you can love and be loved, just by being the "real you."

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Thinking Errors" -- A Video Worth Watching

I saw this segment on our local "lifestyle show" the other day, and I thought the ideas in it were really worth sharing. I especially liked the part about not assuming you know what other people are thinking about you...

Click here to see a written version of what the presenter talks about.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wishes and Resolutions

I hope everyone had a really lovely Christmas season.  Our Christmas was nothing out of the ordinary, but it was just full of sweet moments.  At one point on Christmas day, I thought to myself, "I wish this could just last forever.  Or that at least my kids could take twice as long to grow up as they are."  Because seriously, it seems like I must have ordered the fast-growing variety of kid by accident.

Now, I know that it's not a realistic thing to wish for, but it got me thinking about what I could change that might help.  And that made me start thinking about New Year's Resolutions.  So here are my Christmas wishes and New Year's Resolutions, mostly for my own benefit, but I thought they might give others food for thought as well.  (This got a little long, but I hope you make it to the last one -- my feelings won't be hurt if you just scroll to the end :oD )

I wish my kids could take twice as long to grow up as they are. 
     But for some reason, despite their many amazing qualities, they don't seem to be able to defy the laws of time and space.  And so...

I resolve to be more present in their lives and to make the most of the time I have with them.  I want to spend more time being really with them, and not just around them.

I wish I could be perfectly Christlike and perfectly in tune with the Spirit.
     But that's not likely to happen in the next 12 million years or so. (Give me time, though, I'm getting there...)  And so...

I resolve to be more aware of the needs around me, and to follow the impulses I have to do good.  Sometimes I think, "Oh, I should call this person," or "I bet that person would appreciate a visit," but then I allow everything else to get in the way until it's 11 p.m. and a little late to be calling or visiting (or whatever).  I am going to try to be better at acting on those impressions when I have them.

I wish I was perfect at reading my scriptures and going to the temple and doing all those good things God asks us to do. 
     But this one much too often goes about like the one above, with good intentions being overwhelmed by the mundane until the chance has passed me by.  And so...

I resolve to devote some time to my own spirituality each day, to be consistent in nourishing my own soul with the good word of God.  I also want to commit to going to the temple once a month, because I know that I need it.

I wish I was a super healthy eater and was always in control of my food intake, and that my kids could see from my example the joy of taking care of your body.
     But I'm not there yet.  I am definitely making progress -- in 2010 I really discovered a love of exercise, and I'm also working on my relationship with food -- but it's still a long row to hoe.  And sometimes I let my kids eat way more junk than is good for them.  Then I sometimes freak out that they are going to grow up with the same messed up relationship with food that I have struggled with, so I get too extreme with the no-treats.  Not awesome.  And so...

I resolve to continue working on my food issues.  I will treat my body with respect and love by exercising and by feeding it good healthy food, yes, but also not depriving myself of the occasional treat.  I will model that respect and love for my children in word and deed.

Just one more... I wish I could stick to all these resolutions perfectly.
     But I already know that's just not possible.  Don't we all know that when we set these New Year's Resolutions?  And so...

I resolve to not beat myself up over my weaknesses, my inconsistencies, my bad days, my slip-ups.  I won't let one "failure" make me fall off the wagon entirely.  I know that I am imperfect, but I also know that I will never stop trying to be the best I can be, for myself and my family and all the people I love.  I will keep these resolutions as a goal to strive for to help me become the person I want to be, but I won't despair over not being there yet.

This year, just like this life, is a work-in-progress.  I'm sure it will be crazy and messy and happy and sad and beautiful, and I am going to find the joy in every minute of it.