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Monday, November 15, 2010

Progress, not perfection.

Perfection is self-abuse of the highest order, Anne Wilson Schaef.
10 years ago, even 5 years ago, I would not have thought this to be true. I spent my 20’s and most of my 30’s looking for perfection…in myself, my job, my house and my children. I was under the misguided impression that life was about doing everything just right and to the very best of my ability. While a noble goal, it was also exhausting. My joy during those days came not from within, but from others. I glowed over the comments on the house and everything always in its place. I basked in the praise from bosses, coworkers and professors as they wondered how I managed to keep everything afloat. Little did they know that behind this seemingly calm, organized life, there were sleepless nights, headaches and poor parenting. I was exhausted most days from balancing so many things on my plate. While on the outside, all appeared to be perfect, inside I was falling apart.
I managed to keep this persona of perfection up for nearly 15 years and then one day, I just couldn’t get out of bed. Some days I managed to drag myself out and to the shower by the time the kids came home from school. I would toss together some dinner and be back in bed by 6 or 7 o’clock. This went on for months. When I did leave the house, it was only with the assistance of serious medication. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I simply could not understand how I went from an over-achieving, A-type personality, multi-tasking, fulltime employee, mother of 3 to a procrastinating, barely functional, unemployed, medicated mess. I had every medical test known to man, took every vitamin recommended and followed any remotely useful suggestion offered by anyone and everyone, all to no avail.
Then one day, I came to the realization that I had simply burned the candle at both ends until there was no more left to burn. For years my body had been giving me little hints that it was time to slow down. I was so busy that I didn’t have time to pay attention. I simply ignored the signs and went on. Until one day my body, my mind and even my soul just said NO. No more working all hours of the day. No more running in 10 directions at once. No more PTA, Scouts, Sunday School. No more Volunteer Extraordinaire. It was time for a break and since I wasn’t smart enough to take it on my own, my body was going to do it for me. There was no concern about being dragged kicking and screaming into a slower pace. I didn’t even have the motivation to lift a toe, let alone a whole foot to kick. It was as though my inner clock had slowly wound itself down.
Looking back to that time, I can see now that it was a necessary evil. It brought me to the realization that life is meant to be savored. Each moment in time has its own flavor. A flavor for your soul to wrap itself around and delight in. Enjoy those moments. Embrace them. Let them wash over you, drenching you in color. Allow the flavors to blend like a fine wine. Open yourself to the melodies in the twinklings of time.
Just ‘be’ in the fullness of time.
Our goal as we travel on this amazing journey is progress, not perfection. At the end of each day, if you are farther; emotionally, spiritually or physically, than you were the day before, you have succeeded.

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