Musings of My Mind

"To a great mind, nothing is little." Sherlock Holmes

Month: July, 2015

On Accepting What is Offered

If you’ve encountered me in person (or on Twitter) for the month of July, you know that I’ve been sick pretty much the entire month. I had a cold/allergy issues. I had a sinus infection. I had pneumonia. Correction, I technically still have pneumonia as it takes weeks to fully recover from.

No one likes being sick, but I especially hate it. You’d think that my overwhelming narcissism would love it. After all, being sick is an excuse for attention and sympathy and cuddles.* Except I don’t like pity, and to my mind’s eye, sympathy and attention look an awful lot like pity. Admitting that I’m less than perfect is hard for me. (See previous post and also the last 31 years of my life). So, I downplayed the sickness as much as I could. “I’m not sure I’m going to make it to dinner tonight. I have pneumonia and I’m actually kind of tired. Sorry!” This is an actual email I sent, you guys. I know it looks stupid. I would drive across town to shake sense into someone who sent that email to me. But it makes sense for my life.

My beloved friend family decided that being sick and quietly suffering while still working/volunteering/trying to run a committee/living life as normal was not an acceptable plan. So they banded together and did a number of wonderful things.

They banned me from church and social activities. Seriously. I was told in very clear terms that I was to stay home and rest instead of doing anything.

They reminded me that self-care is more than taking time to recharge after a day of extroversion and reading good books. It’s about saying no to things even if you want to say yes. And it’s about saying yes to the things you don’t want to say yes to. Like help. As my dear friend put it, I had to learn to accept the “kindness of the Kingdom.”

And then, dear readers, my friends and church family decided to feed me. For almost a solid week, a meal (usually enough for two or three) appeared at my door. Homemade soups and casseroles and fruits and vegetables and all the healthy things my body needed that I didn’t have the energy to make for myself. Every single time I felt guilty and tried to push away the gifts, the answer was always the same. “St B’s is family and you are loved.’ (I could write an encyclopedia on how much I love my church).

Some amazing and fascinating things have come out of this. I’ve realized that all my people still love me even though I’m actually human and get sick. That’s astounding to me. I’ve learned to expand my definition of self-care. I say yes to different things now. Things that bring me calm or joy. I am learning to say no to things even if they give me joy and fulfillment while I learn boundaries. Because I can’t give my whole soul to every endeavor. If I do, there’s no soul left for me. I’m learning to spoil myself in small ways. (Pedicures, anyone?!)

To all of you who prayed and cooked and chastised and loved me through a month of sickness and beyond, thank you. You are all my happy place. Now that I’m feeling better, let’s hug it out next time I see you.

*Author’s note: I always want cuddles but never ask. Feel free to hug me next time you see me. Seriously. I may make a sarcastic remark but I’ll actually be really chuffed.

On Being The Worst

*Author’s Note:  Hello friends! I have returned! I’m sorry for the long hiatus, but as I tired to explain in previous posts (and as you can imagine), mourning the loss of my mother pretty much took up all of my mental and emotional energy for the last year. That’s not to say I’m over it now that the calendar has flipped, but I’m finding my feet and myself again. So, thank you for sticking by and waiting me out. Those of you that are Sherlock fans are well-versed in hiatus life, so this was nothing.*

###

I don’t like not being the best at things. Like, I really, really don’t like it. At all. Not even a little bit. I don’t mind being terrible at things I don’t care about. I’m rubbish at most sports. I can’t craft to save my life. In fact, I might be a danger to some people with a glue gun and glitter. The things that I value? The tasks that I find important? I need to be perfect. All the time. Perfect daughter/sister/employee/friend/enemy.

As I was letting my mind wander recently, it occurred to me that at times, I’m actually the worst at everything.** Let me explain.

I’m the worst feminist because while I believe in equal rights for all people, I still want a man to help me carry heavy things or put oil in my car.

I’m the worst daughter/sister/friend because I can be selfish and withdrawn. I expect people to live by my exact rubric of life and when they don’t, I totally don’t understand. I suppose you could put milk in your cup before the water but YOU WOULD BE WRONG.

I’m the worst employee because some days I’m sick. Or cranky. Or I misspell the word “Regional” in an email to a major client.

Do you know what happens when I realize I’m “the worst” at a thing? I remember that I’m human. I understand that perfection is not actually attainable. I look back and see how different this mistake is than the last one. I see how far I’ve come and I see how far I have left to go. While it is a huge attack on my pride, knowing that I have not yet reached my fullest potential is actually so comforting. Guys, if the me right now is the best it gets?! Oh man. No thank you please.

Several people on Twitter today shared this quote,

“Only the mediocre are always at their best.”  Jean Giraudoux

Read that again. I’ll wait.

What I’m saying here is that I’m learning to embrace my moments of imperfection. Being truly terrible at something provides a spotlight straight on what I can improve. Well done, self, for sucking for the greater good. For you, it may not be letting yourself be less than perfect. It may be putting words on paper when you don’t want to (me again). It may be not being nice or being too nice. Maybe you knitted a sweater and it has three arms and no head. I don’t know what your thing is, but we all have impossible standards to which we hold ourselves. We see ourselves falling and want to give up instead of acknowledging the reality that falling on your face is still forward motion and all forward motion counts.

It’s possible that you don’t need to hear this and that’s great. I think some of you might. I know that I’ll need to hear it again and again and again in the future, so I might as well share with you.

I challenge you all to greet your “failings” with open arms this week as you rejoice that you are not done improving yet. Let’s continue to get better together, shall we?

**Note: I’m using “the worst” as a colloquial term to mean less than perfect. Also, these are the standards that I have for myself. I would never expect anyone else to hold themselves to these standards. You do you. That’s why I like you.