January and The Joy of Good Enough

Hi, my name is Jolie and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

I have OCD and ADD, which means everything has to be perfect, but not for very long.

I will sneak into your living room and line up the pillows on your couch.

I will rewrite a sentence until it begs for mercy.

And I will definitely have some great ideas on how to organize a pantry.

If there’s one thing I love, is being bossy highly opinionated full of great ideas.

January is my achilles heel. I look at the rest of the months and I’m ready to make my lists of great ideas.

Self improvement. Home improvement. Be a better mom. Be a better Christian. Be a better wife. The month explodes with resolutions, challenges, goal setting, and trend setting.

I’m usually too busy starting things to finish things.

“Yes!” I cry, “I can do it all! I will finally stop being so darn lazy and inadequate!”

All I have to do is apply more mascara, lose five pounds, get up an hour earlier, have sparkling grout in the shower, meditate daily, call my mother….

Perfection will always lean on the doorbell.

Pour a cup of tea and sit with me for a minute.

I have learned to let it go.

Honey, a lifetime of fighting the uphill battle between a clean house and five kids should have taught me that. You will never call me a quitter.

But it was leaving the house and the kids that proved to me “letting go” was an option.

Did you catch that one thing I just said? The lie? The bit that snuck in here and acted like it belongs?

It was the whisper scream: “I will finally stop being inadequate”.

THIS is what I “let go”.

Believe me when I tell you I can be (if I wanted to) lazy, but the guilt of inadequacy drives a lot of us right off the deep end.

I should have folded laundry in drawers, not under the table in heaps.

My family should be prepared and cheerful on Sunday mornings, not filled with “Hurry!” or “Find your shoe…why do you only own ONE shoe?” or “I don’t care what you just put in the toilet, we’re leaving NOW”.

My marriage should be romantic get-aways and nurturing conversations, not stale chips on the couch, binge-watching Psych.

But it all happened and surprise! Not only was I not suddenly inadequate, but I was handed the key:

You are good enough right here right now. Even with one shoe missing. Deeply loved. Just for sitting there.

Let that just sink in like a baking soda paste for a moment.

What happened – in my quest to have and do everything I thought I needed to be a good wife, mother, human – was the recognition that I already had it. All along.

My self of ten years ago would laugh herself silly over this revelation and continue scrubbing the grout without skipping a beat.

And so I release you to discover these things as well, if you dare. I let (because I have this choice) my kids choose, cook, serve, and clean up many meals now. They boil frozen hotdogs, serve them on bread with a side veggie of ketchup, and tell me all about their day. I sit there exhausted and deliriously happy to see their faces and hear their chatter and not once question why my socks stick to the floor.

I look around and I am just so grateful. Over and over and over.

I’m getting rather good at it, because practice makes perfect…er, good enough.

Time for Tea!

Intention Retention

Yesterday afternoon, the Hubby finally broke down and “helped” me go over our finances.

It’s been sitting on my desk for nine months.

Time to birth the budget.

It’s a pudgy pile of paperwork that grew from a single sheet and is now looking more and more like us. And it’s colicky right from the get-go.

Money is the single most argued about item in a marriage they say.

We spent about six hours putting numbers into tiny boxes and then rearranging them until my eyes crossed. An additional two hours went into taking deep breaths and pacing around the kitchen and another hour devoted entirely to making tea and forgetting to drink it.

I simply cannot be held responsible for the things I think during labor pains.

But this morning I woke up and realized, “Hey! We tackled something! It’s not done and it’s not perfect but we stayed married!” I checked the bed to affirm that yes indeed, there was a husband in it.

I was so inspired, I decided to take a firm look at my other Resolutions and assess my progress with a critical eye.

Hmm.

There appears to be an occasional gap in my daily choices.

(If I managed to read one chapter from ten different books sitting in a pile next to my desk does it count as having “read” them?)

So I decided that today is officially “Anti Procrastination Day”.

I went early to a yoga class.

It’s been on my List for six months people.

I loved it.

I hope I go back again next Monday.

Then I drove straight over to the car wash and surrendered the taxi. It was a revolting combination of summer vacation debris mixed with teenage boy aromas, topped with a hint of campfire smoke.

While the car was detoxing, I walked across the street to Target.

‘Tar-jay’ is French for “come in for soap, leave with a new outfit and a VitaMix”.

But we have a budget now, so I stayed focussed and bought a table-top ironing board.

Because ironing is definitely on my List of Intentions and today’s The Day!

I was thinking long and hard about what I needed to address on my Resolutions List as I pushed the traffic light crosswalk button.

Waiting at the intersection, I noticed landscape rocks artistically placed along the sidewalk.

“Landscaping” has been on my List maybe ten months, since a friend offered us free rocks.

I said “yes” then and promptly forgot about the whole project.

Whoops.

I collected my car and dashed home.

Because today is the Day I Do the Things I’ve Been Putting Off.

On the kitchen counter were six rotting bananas, waiting to be turned into banana bread.

On the table was a pile of wrinkled laundry, possibly a decade out of date.

In my phone were messages from my mother (“Why haven’t you called me back? It’s been three weeks!”) three auto mechanics (“Here’s the price quote for your car alignment. When can we book you?”) my son (“Come pick me up now and by the way, I have volleyball at the gym tonight.”) and the Hubby (“We should research cell phone plans, our bill is way too high.”).

Serves me right for hauling out the budget.

No matter how much I attack that List, it expands like a hydra.

I heard the soft voice of my yoga instructor:

“Invite your breath to fill your body. Feel your heart lifting and your thoughts recede…”

I would rather invite the bananas into the trashcan and feel my income lifting so my hair stops receding.

But whatever.

 

Eat Healthier: A Regular Recipe

I’m hopping on the New Years Resolution Train.

I’ve attached so many cars that it’s not really moving anywhere.

It’s a beautiful train though, with cars full of optimism.

One holds plans for more exercise and fresh air. One has streamers off the top, holding ideas for more family fun time. There’s a flat car with stacks of bundled information that I’ll read and be smarter for the effort.

One towards the back there, which I’m sure I can procrastinate just a bit longer on, holds calculators, pie charts, tax forms and insurance files.

Because one of these days, numbers won’t scare me and I’ll be able to actually understand finances.

I’d love to hear what’s in your stack of resolutions.

If your resolutions include “eat healthier”, join the club.

My personal baby step in this arena would include “eat more often”. I tend to graze instead of eat single, large meals, and when days get busy I actually forget to eat. When my body starts leaning sideways mid-day I try to recall when I’ve last eaten. Not easy.

I try to always carry an emergency protein bar or snack with me.

Here is a recipe for when you want to feel better inside and out. It’s highly portable. It’s tasty and healthy. You could modify it to your dietary needs.

If you eat a couple with a large hot drink, it makes your body very happy.
If you know what I mean.

It’s what I bring folks when they come home from the hospital and their bodies aren’t quite “regular” yet. Ha. Hopefully, these will get your train moving.

I make and eat them because they’re moist and yummy.
And I hate raisins. These are the only exception.

 

Raisin Bran Muffins

Bowl A: Combine and let soak while you do the rest
3 C raisin bran cereal
1 1/4 C buttermilk
1/3 C applesauce
1 egg
1 mashed banana
5 shredded baby carrots
(or 1 shredded apple; I like Granny Smith)

Bowl B: combine these
1 1/4 C flour
1/4 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch each of: salt, flaxseed, wheat germ, nuts, spices
or whatever your heart desires

Gently combine Bowl B into Bowl A with a spoon or fork,
just until you can’t see any more flour dust.

Grease or oil your muffin tins. Spoon batter lumps into the tins.
I put an ice cube into any empty leftover tin.

This recipe makes about 15 muffins.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Cool on wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers in something airtight.

Pardon Our Dust

In order to create an awesome omelette, a few eggs must be broken.

I’m standing in front of my laptop with a few crates of eggs, determined to keep throwing them at the monitor until a decent meal can be served to you.

Here I was, all poised to jump into our New Year’s resolutions and realized that I left one of mine (okay a significant amount) undercooked.

I am incredibly good at generating ideas. I excel at starting things. I love to take what is, throw it into the blender and make something totally different with it.

Life is full of possibilities.

If the idea really floats my boat I will stay with it and have a great time.

But like most excitable types, I am easily wooed into the next great idea.

“Squirrel!” cries the brain, and off I run to the next big adventure.

I am surrounded with half finished great ideas.

A lot of them are still in the “scribbled down on sticky notes” stage.

Ask anybody.

If ever I was to have one goal in life it would have to be: Finish What You Start!

Taken literally, this is physically impossible, as the impulse to start things happens every five minutes or so.

But taken rationally, I suppose with some prioritizing I could get just a few main things actually ‘finished’ in a timely fashion.

It sounds painful, truth be told. And maybe messy. Definitely not ‘perfect’.

But really, where should we draw the line with ourselves?

I love myself enough to talk myself into doing the best thing for myself (like going to the gym), and I respect myself just enough to be able to sit through a little pain to accomplish it (“I was just there last week. Why should I come back today?”).

This is the last blog of 2014 and when I meet you on the other side, I would like it to be in the form of a fresher, slightly tastier version of a website.

I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m doing. It might be a complete disaster before I make something palatable.

But it’s the next step.

So be safe and have fun ushering in a Happy New Year!

I’ll be playing the egg toss game.

I hope I win!