Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Perfectly Perfect

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Perfection. (I am going to try to stay on topic today.)
This is definitely something I strive for....and something I typically fall short of.
It's always interesting to observe kids.  Typically, they are pretty laid back, and really don't care too much one way or another about most things.  However, there are always the exceptions.  Those kids who literally freak out of their work is not absolutely perfect.  Sometimes, there is a parent demanding the perfection, but usually, it is just something inside that child that expects nothing less than the very best from themselves.  
I wonder where that comes from.  Is it something we are born with...or perhaps it began with something as simple as a comment someone made that cut us to the core?  Could it be an act of rebellion?  Our response to "You will never be good enough!" Or maybe just what we do to maintain the positive reinforcement we have gotten from our previous work.
Whatever it is...I think it can be more of a curse than a blessing.

I often try to remember back to my childhood when I was learning to play the piano.  I can remember going to both of my early piano teacher's homes quite clearly.  I remember my dad picking me up in his brand new pick up truck after a piano lesson.  I remember Mrs. Willen giving me a big piece of chocolate cake after a different lesson. (Seriously, who would forget that?!) But I don't remember actually playing.  I am sure I got frustrated.  I know I wanted to quit at some point. (My mother told me she forced me to keep going.) But for some reason, I have blocked all of that out.  (Maybe it was more traumatic than I imagine?) ;)
At some point, I got good at it, and during that time, something must have happened that caused me to demand perfection from myself.  I was terrified to make a mistake in front of anyone.  I started to play at church when I was in middle school (if you want to torture a child, stick them on an organ bench in front of all their peers, and make them play a really loud instrument that amplifies every mistake, or simple slip of the finger.)  I clearly remember at a Mass for all of the CCD kids, I was at the organ, completely mortified, of course.  I had no idea that during the week there was only one reading, not two, before the Alleluia.  So, I sat and waited for the second reading to happen.  It didn't happen.  Rather than just stand up, the priest,  known for his tact, hollers, "OKAY BETH! YOU CAN PLAY THE ALLELUIA ANYTIME NOW!!"
stage direction: Beth slowly melts onto the organ pedals and dies.
Luckily, as I got older, and had more experience, my obsession with perfection began to change.  I still had zero desire to make a fool of myself....EVER.  But, by this time I had mastered a skill that any good piano player should possess.  The art of "faking it."  If you combine that with great sight reading skills...you are golden.

The desire for perfection, unfortunately didn't end there.  It showed up in strange places. For instance...my hair.  I have had a love/hate relationship with my hair since the beginning of time.  I accept NO frizz from it, and that is a tough outcome to achieve when you have curly hair.  I won't even go into this, because it could be an entire post of it's own.  Let's just say that my hair has always had the ability to make or break my day.  And sadly, my desire for perfection disappeared in places that I wished it would emerge.  It became a control issue.  If I felt out of control in any area...let's say my college Biology course...my desire to be perfect would run and hide.  This is where my "all or nothing" personality would kick in.  If I felt like I didn't understand something, I wouldn't feel that need to work really hard at it until I "got" it.  Instead, I would give it a try, and if it wasn't happening, I would just say "screw it," and do a half assed job at it, because I knew it would never make any sense to me anyway.  I like to call this part of my personality "lazy."
Lazy came into play when it came to my college laundry as well.  I would give anything to have photographic evidence of my laundry piles.  Just so I could stare at them in amazement.  You know how it looks when you rake your ENTIRE lawn into one huge leaf pile.  That was my laundry situation.  It was ridiculous.  And overwhelming.  Let's move on to that word.

Feeling overwhelmed.
This is the evil entity that smothers my perfectionism.  Actually, it squelches my desire to do anything.  The reason that laundry pile grew so large is because I became overwhelmed.  
Fast forward to my adult life.  It's interesting how you really get to know yourself when you hang out with yourself for 42 years.  It is a little frustrating, though, that what I have realized is that I have 
A LOT of bad habits.  Maybe they aren't really habits...just things I want to change about myself.  
I have come to realize that I am not content unless everything in my house and life is clean and organized.  I literally feel a weight lifted, and can breathe better when I de-clutter my house, clean it up, and make it beautiful.  It truly makes me feel BLISSFUL.  The problem is, I am typically so overwhelmed with the work that it will take to get to that point, that I get stuck.  When I am stuck in overwhelmed-land....my heart rate goes up, I feel anxious and stressed, and I get really edgy.  Rather than just take on one small piece at a time...I retreat to my bed, and sleep. (You can see how productive this is.)

So, a few months ago, I ordered this decorating book. (I may or may not have a gazillion decorating books in my house) Typically, I will find a few things I like in a book.  Once in awhile, I feel like the whole book is fabulous.  This. Book. Is. Fabulous.  It's called "The Nesting Place" It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to be Beautiful.  By MyQuillyn Smith.
(Everything in the book is perfect....and beautiful)
Anyway, she does this thing called "quieting a room"...which is my new favorite thing to do.  Brilliant.  (If you really want to know about it...you will have to ask, or read the book)
I should totally get commission for this! 
She also has a fabulous blog called "The Nester".  (You can only read it if you promise to keep reading mine! ;)
The reason I mention all of this, is because she is holding this 31 Day Challenge for bloggers....where we choose a topic, and write on it for the 31 days of October.  I eluded to it on my FB page with a fancy little graphic that I made up...because I am pretending I know how the heck to do all that stuff.
Anyway, my topic is "Taking On the "to-do" List"....because this allows me a broad list of things to write about....and forces me to actually tackle all of those things that are overwhelming me.  

I thought it might be fun if any of you have a goal for October. (Since I just went to a goal setting workshop...lets do this!)  We can work on our goals together!  
If you want to join me (you don't have to do something new everyday like I am forcing myself to do! Just ONE goal that you want to work toward during the month!)
List your goal in the comments (here or on FB) and we can all be each other's support system!  
Like a bra!  lol
(Like that?   Just made it up.  I should TOTALLY do a goal setting workshop) ;)

October will be here in just over a week.  This would be the PERFECT time to do something just for you.

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