It Doesn’t Need to be Perfect

A common “meltdown” time for me is the hour before the ______________ fill in the blank. It could be my daughter’s birthday party, company for dinner, or anyone coming to stay.

The day generally starts out fine. I have my list. I have the allotted amount of time for each item written next to it. But somehow it often takes longer than I think it will. As the deadline gets closer, I start going into scarcity mode. I start shouting instructions at my family and getting more stressed when they don’t seem to be urgent enough in completing their given tasks.

I am doing better with this now. I hope my family would agree. I am realizing that people can come to my house even if I haven’t vacuumed. People can enjoy the party even if I haven’t dusted. No one will die from this. Including me.

I have learned that my panicky feelings come from panicky thoughts. And panicky thoughts are optional.

I am learning to let go of them. Learning to adjust my thinking has been a little vulnerable for me. For many years I have believed it should “appear” that the bathrooms are always clean, the sheets are always washed and waiting for guests. Letting go of that has been a very healthy thing for me. I try to be ready for my guests, but sometimes they help me put the clean sheets on. I feel okay about that. It’s a more accurate view of my life.

I remember going to stay with the friend once. She picked me up from the airport in her minivan. When the door to the backseat opened I was so happy to see that there were cold French fries on the floor. My first thought was, “Oh good, this looks like my car.” I was so glad it wasn’t perfect.

Allowing myself to be more human instead of trying to appear “super human” has helped me be kinder, more present and, I think, ultimately a better host.

Allie

This morning my husband and I had the most beautiful conversation with our daughter, Allie. She is in Costa Rica on a humanitarian trip for three months. Living in a third world country has broadened her view of the world. Her insights have opened new light to me as well.

Before leaving for Costa Rica she was attending BYU. She was knee-deep in school, work, a hard break-up, roommates, and juggling all the responsibilities that come with college life. She felt she wasn’t measuring up to all the “perfection” she saw in others.

Today she shared how seeing Jesus in his role as Creator has changed her. Living in the jungle has opened her eyes to all the little creatures that God created: the variety of trees, grasses, and plants; the constant motion of the clouds, the earth, and the stars. We are all constantly in motion; growing and learning.

Looking at the patterns and creations of the earth is a way to see what God is trying to teach us.

God could have created one kind of tree and put it everywhere, but that wasn’t the plan. He loves diversity! He loves motion and growth. He loves new birth and new life and resurrection. He didn’t want all the trees and the flowers to be the same. He doesn’t want us to be the same either. He wants each of us to be ourselves. He wants us to create and contribute in ways that enhance our talents and capabilities.

When we truly tap into who we are and the creativity that is within us, we can share those gifts with each other. We are less worried about comparing ourselves to others and more in tune with what we have to share.

Ziplining Grandma

We took our kids ziplining in Mexico to this great place called Xplor. It has two courses with seven zip lines connected together. You start by crossing a tropical forest high above the trees, then run up the stairs to the next landing where you zip off again. As we raced up the stairs to wait in line for the next run, I remember feeling so alive and so glad to be with my kids. We zoomed across the forest, then ran up the stairs to the next one, over and over again. It was October and there weren’t many people at the park that day. We felt like we had the place to ourselves.

We came off one set of ziplines and were headed to the next when I saw a Grandma. She was talking to her grandson and telling him, “Come back and tell me how it was.” She sat by herself, waving goodbye to her family as they went off on their adventure.

I decided then and there. I’m not going to be a grandma that says, “Come back and tell me how it was.” I’m going to be standing in line to zipline with my grand kids. I know I don’t have complete control over that, but there are many things I can control.

I can choose to take care of my physical health.

I can choose to be open to adventure.

I can choose to say yes to new things.

I can choose to try.

Those things don’t happen on the day you get to the adventure park. They happen every day starting today. Every day I make choices about how I’m going to take care of my body. When I make choices that lead me to good health, I’m ready when the opportunities come.

Now is the time to prepare. No one can do it for me. No one can exercise for me, eat healthy foods for me, or learn tools that increase my mental and emotional health for me. These are decisions I have to make for myself.

Putting off the effort to make those patterns part of my daily routine makes me less prepared when opportunities arise. If I’m working at it every day, I’m always ready.

It’s works the same way with spiritual preparation. When my kids are sick I can ask my husband to give them a priesthood blessing. He doesn’t say, “I’m going to have to wait a few weeks to get myself spiritually aligned. He is preparing for that every day. He is taking action each day to be ready.

I want to take action every day to be a ziplining grandma. I hope you’ll join me!

Expectations

We can have expectations of people. The problem lies in how we tie their behavior to our worth.

If my child keeps her room clean, then I am a good mother.

If my husband loves me, he will know what I want for my birthday.

If my friend cares about me, she will call me right back.

That would mean our child is thinking, “I would clean my room but I don’t have a very good mother, so I guess I won’t.”

Or our husband is thinking, “I know exactly what she wants for her birthday, but I don’t really love her that much so I don’t think I’ll get it for her.”

Or our friend is thinking, “I would call her back but I don’t really care about her that much, so I think I will wait a few days.”

Letting people be themselves and not making it mean anything about us is very freeing.

We can share all our hopes and desires for how we would like those we love to behave.

Sometimes they will do the things we want them to.

Sometimes they will not.

And we can still love them either way.

Practice

I was diagnosed with severe dry eyes several years ago. My ophthalmologist gave me eye drops to put in my eyes multiple times a day. I was given special ointment to use before going to bed. I was told to wear an eye mask while sleeping to keep my eyes moist. I told my husband I may need to move out and live on my own so I could direct all my attention to my dry eyes. It was very labor intensive. Eventually, I found another doctor who introduced me to hard contacts. When filled with saline solution they looked similar to small bowls of water. I could put the little glass bowls in my eyes and the saline solution would keep my eye hydrated all day long. It was a miracle. The problem was: how would l learn to get those little bowls in my eye? They were far bigger than any contact I had ever worn.

It took a great deal of practice and patience to use the little plastic applicator to insert them and the miniature plunger to pull them out. In the beginning I wasn’t sure it would ever be possible. But over the next few weeks it became easier and easier. I had to set aside less time to practice. It eventually became second nature to me.

This same experience has happened over and over in all of our lives. Remember when you wondered how anyone could possibly fall asleep while driving? There were WAY too many things to think about to ever fall asleep.

As we adjust to anything new in our lives, it’s important to remember that it takes time. We have to practice. These are things we have never done before. We aren’t supposed to be good at it.

So as you adjust to having an adult child, a new daughter-in-law or more time alone with your husband, remember that it takes practice, adjustment, and more practice. At times it may feel impossible for you to adjust. But keep practicing. Soon you’ll be able to do it in your sleep!

I talk more than I listen

Dr. James Gills, a renowned ocular surgeon and philanthropist gave this advice when asked how he was able to do back to back triathlons on six different occasions. He said, “I learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself.” He continued, “”If I listen to myself I hear all the reasons why I should give up. I hear that I’m too tired, too old, too weak to make it. But if I talk to myself I can give myself the encouragement and words I need to hear to keep running and finish the race.”

This is such powerful advice. If I see myself as a friend, someone I love and care about, I can kindly offer encouragement on a hard day. Instead of listening to a long list my brain wants to offer me about how I am doing it wrong, I can talk to myself. I can be a true friend. When things haven’t turned out exactly like I had planned I can treat myself with compassion and understanding.

This allows me to recover faster from my setbacks, forgive myself and move on. If my goal is to “keep running and finish the race” what will help me most: beating myself up or gently encouraging myself to keep going?

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.