Me, Too

January 28, 2015

“Acceptance isn’t stagnation—you will change no matter what. You can’t avoid changing. The question is whether that change comes from a place of acceptance and love, or a place of self-dislike and dissatisfaction. I vote for unconditional love.”
—Leo Babauta


Happily Human

April 11, 2014

Beautifully imperfect
“It’s great to be great, but it’s greater to be human.”
—Will Rogers

I have a confession to make. I’m not perfect. No, really, I know you all thought I was and you’re probably very disappointed to learn otherwise. Oh, wait. You didn’t think I was perfect. I did. Or, more accurately, I hoped you thought I was, if not perfect, then very, very close to it. It gives me great pain—and also great relief—to finally admit, publicly, that I’m flawed. I can be messy, selfish, stubborn, controlling, I hate to admit I’m wrong… I could go on, but my ego is begging me to quit. I’d really prefer to list “faults” that are really virtues in disguise (as we’ve been told to do on job interviews), but I’m finally becoming too old wise not to accept all parts of myself.

I’m tired of being afraid of mistakes and missteps, of being paralyzed by fear of looking foolish or hypocritical. I’m tired of unreasonable expectations (my own and society’s). I’m tired of perfectionism when it comes to appearance or character or accomplishment. I’m tired of trying to force myself into even attempting to look perfect when—newsflash!—NO ONE is perfect. No, not even me.

Why am I so afraid of showing my imperfections, of looking foolish and admitting mistakes? One reason—I feel a certain shame in admitting imperfection. I should always be kind, warm, giving, an excellent writer, wife and mother, and, on top of that, perfectly fit and healthy. (Shouldn’t I?) My people-pleasing, perfectionist little heart doesn’t want to do anything “wrong” and risk rejection. At bottom, I’m truly afraid if I don’t present myself as darn near perfect, I am not “enough”—and I won’t be liked, let alone loved.

I’m not sure exactly where this comes from. Perhaps because I’ve been given so much in my life—in teaching, examples to follow, health, good fortune and opportunity. I feel I have no excuse for not being, at the very least, really, really close to perfection. I don’t want to waste what I’ve been given. However, just because I know better doesn’t mean I can always do better. I’m still human, and to be human is to make mistakes. I’m still working on feeling OK with that.

The funny thing is, pretending to be perfect actually keeps me from receiving the love I want. Sharing mistakes and weaknesses—imperfections—deepens intimacy between people. And keeping up an appearance of perfection means I can’t share my weaknesses with others, and perhaps receive the help and encouragement I need. It also may keep others from sharing their imperfections with me and allowing me to help them.

Life isn’t about being perfect. It’s about growing, learning from mistakes when we make them. My faults don’t define me. They are just threads woven into the cloth of my personality. I also have many good qualities, and it’s the unique combination of faults and virtues that makes me me. I am human, and learning to be happily so. I want to be loved in spite of and because of my faults. I can’t hide them, from myself or from others. I’m taking to heart Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton’s words: “If you wish to be loved, show more of your faults than your virtues.”

What have you learned from imperfection? How do you overcome your own perfectionism?

Beautiful moments


October 10, 2012

“There are few things more sacred than the moment you come to peace with your pieces.”

—Marney Makridakis


In Hiding

March 13, 2012

“We are so accustomed to disguising our true nature from others, that we end up disguising it from ourselves.”

La Rochefoucauld

For a long time, I’ve known that I reveal different aspects of myself to different people. There are certain acceptable activities and topics of conversation with each group of friends and family, certain facets of my personality, likes and dislikes, that appear and disappear as needed. Like a chameleon changing colors to blend into her surroundings, I’ve become good at fitting in. Only a very few get to see most of me, and possibly no one has ever seen all of me, even my husband of 24 years. I don’t go so far as to do or say things I don’t believe in, but I keep in hiding aspects of myself I feel either would not be interesting to the other person or that might make them think less of me—not because I think whatever-it-is is boring or unacceptable, but because I think the other person does.

There are times when this is acceptable social behavior. Every single person does not need to know every single thing about me. But what if I’m only hiding myself because I want people to like me? How can people like me if they don’t know me? I have to accept that if I allow others to see me, all of me, some of them won’t like me. But some of them will, and it’s much better to have people like you for who you are than to try to change who you are so they will like you. This sounds to me like a lesson I should have learned long ago—but somehow it has escaped my notice until now.  Why now? Because of something that “asked” to be put on my vision board for 2012:

 I’m not sure yet what this will mean for me. I think it might mean taking more chances in my writing life, figuring out what I want and asking for it instead of just making do, not waiting for something to happen but taking charge and making it happen. Guarding my inner life a little less closely.

All my chameleon-like behavior sometimes leaves me wondering what, exactly, I do want or believe. Like La Rochefoucauld says, too much disguising can cut me off from an understanding of my true self. In some ways, I am still figuring out who I am. There are many things I’m still learning, many points of view I’d like to understand. 

Writing for this blog has helped me expose more of myself to the world than I would have felt comfortable doing in the past, even though, of course, it doesn’t express all of me, either. It has helped me think through and express some of my beliefs and opinions—sometimes opinions I didn’t know I had or had not yet put into words. I expect I’ll continue to write my way out of hiding because that’s just something that I do. (Thank you for coming along on the journey!)

Do you hide parts of yourself? What is the cost and what are the benefits of hiding?


Attack of the Killer Lists

February 21, 2011

I use lists to help keep my life organized. I have to-do lists, lists of goals, lists of books to read, grocery lists and lists of items to buy the next time I’m at Target. Without my lists, I would feel lost.

However, I recently noticed my list making taking a troubling turn. A significant part of my day was spent making or keeping lists. In addition to the lists mentioned above, there was my “gratitude journal.” After reading Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance, I’d been listing five things for which I was grateful each day. In an effort to be more efficient (what am I DOing all day?), every now and then I kept a log of my activities to see where all my time went. Since I was also trying to lose weight, and I read that successful “losers” kept track of what they ate, I kept a food log several days a week.

Then I picked up Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. In one of their exercises to help “transform my relationship with money,” I started keeping track of every penny I spent. (I spent a lot on paper and pens. Hmm.)

And I realized that I was spending so much time recording everything I thought, did, ate and spent, that I hardly had time to think, do, eat or spend.

What was going on? Was I having a mid-life crisis? At the very least I was having a bad attack of self-improvement-itis. I was trying to improve my appearance and health and trying to handle money in a responsible and thoughtful way. I wanted to be more efficient, more creative and I hoped to find a deeper spirituality. I seemed to be trying to remake my whole life all at once!

I couldn’t go on this way. Frankly, I was tired. (I am woman, hear me snore.) It was time to accept myself for who I am. So I gave up all my lists, cold-turkey. (Is there a 12-step program for compulsive list makers?) Maybe eventually I’ll return to one, or some of them. But not all at the same time. For now, I’ll take it one day at a time. I’ll let go of my need to be perfect and concentrate on my need to Be.

Scout knows how to Be.

“No amount of self-improvement will make up for a lack of self-acceptance.”
Robert Holden