I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
I grew up mistakenly believing:
If it isn’t perfect, there must be something wrong (with me).
I do not entertain this notion any longer. First of all, there is sincere beauty in imperfection.
“Imperfections are not inadequacies;
they are reminders
that we’re all in this together.”
~ Brene Brown
Instead of striving for perfection, I try to check in with the hidden expectations that are taking my breath away. Where am I on the spectrum of what is expected? Am I living outside of my borders to reach something unattainable? If so, I try to step back, find my breath, and sit still for a moment or two.
What if it is not about attaining perfection? What if it is about the benefit, the lessons learned through acknowledging my weakness, my struggles, and my inherent inability to reach perfection? I think this is where true authenticity meets life: recognizing the hard parts as the door to being open and raw–to let grace happen.
Consider how many times you’ve noticed an oddity or an imperfection in nature. Isn’t it beautiful? Doesn’t it draw you in instead of repel you? Aren’t you intrigued? It is the intersection of grace that you are observing. Why not extend the same grace to yourself?
If you did not have something to strive for, you would not have anything to aim toward–but the goal must be attainable on some level. The trick is to align your goals with where you are headed–where you want to be. Perhaps you can sit down with pen and paper and jot a response to these writing prompts as you anticipate the next season:
Open up to door to creativity and see what happens. There is no perfection in creativity–you just do it. Consider making a vision board, or doodle, collect some leaves, or rearrange the furniture in a room. What comes up for you? Make some tea, get a snack, light a candle, burn some incense, open a window, and get to it! The point is to get to the place where perfection is not even on the horizon, so you can access your heart and truly listen to what it’s telling you.
I take reading seriously, which is why I like to read things that make me laugh. So, I offer you a list of what has made me laugh–all awesome, some laugh-sad, others bittersweet-happy–all heart-filled and real.
What are the things you know but have forgotten?
It could be something along the lines of a spiritual truth, a self-care reminder, or simply something practical (such as not washing socks with the fitted sheets…).
I was recently getting my oil changed, and as I was sitting and waiting I had all of these thoughts that I had to capture in my journal–quickly! When I returned to my desk later, I sat down and felt wildly productive with all of these new ideas I was processing. Once I got my bearings, I felt the pull back to the “old”; back to the “oh, but I really need to (fill in the blank)”. I started to feel my productivity dwindle.
What I had forgotten was that I need to be away from where I am comfortable–away from where I produce, work, write, grade, pay bills, so that I can get in touch with those ideas and thoughts that hide behind the daily stuff–to get to the newness that transcends the every day minutiae.
Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, she writes about going on an “Artist Date”. Here is an excerpt from her website, “The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly ‘artistic’ — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the
imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play…. they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, ‘what sounds fun?’ — and then allow yourself to try it.”
The purpose is to take yourself out of your ordinary and to go somewhere different and to listen, to observe, to be. Capture what is around you. If you are at a diner, what conversations do you hear? What do the new noises, sights, and sounds bring up for you?
Why not travel to the next town and find a coffee shop, a park bench, a town square, or maybe it is time for that renaissance festival you’ve always wanted to attend?
Perhaps it is time for an oil change… but don’t forget to take your journal.
“I have come to believe that by and large the human family all has the same secrets, which are both very telling and very important to tell. They are telling in the sense that they tell what is perhaps the central paradox of our condition—that what we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else. It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are—even if we tell it only to ourselves—because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier that way to see where we have been in our lives and where we are going. It also makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being a family is all about and what being human is all about.”
Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets
If you are interested in joining me to process life, to be authentic in a supportive and safe way, to make connections with yourself and others, to
find your best self, ask me about the Women’s Writing Circles forming in Athens, Georgia.
Storytelling, you know, has a real function. The process of the storytelling is itself a healing process, partly because you have someone there who is taking the time to tell you a story that has great meaning to them. They’re taking the time to do this because your life could use some help, but they don’t want to come over and just give some advice. They want to give it to you in a form that becomes inseparable from your whole self. That’s what stories do. Stories differ from advice in that, once you get them, they become a fabric of your whole soul. That is why the heal you.
~ Alice Walker, in an interview about her work in Common Boundary, 1990