a season of good enough

if you’re like me, you really don’t have time to do it perfectly. Sometimes not even decently.

There is this thing I struggle with, and maybe you do, too.

I hit a roadblock of disappointment, and then I am faced with a choice. I can either climb out of discouragement, embrace what is and let go of what is not. Or, choose to stay and wallow in the what is not until it hardens around me and I am stuck.

I’m not talking about grief. I mean disappointment. Maybe frustration. Something that slows me to a grinding halt.

I’m realizing how much of an all or nothing sort of person I am. If I can’t do it well, or the way I envision it, well then, I’d rather not do it.

I wrestle with this all the time.

In my yard.

In my house.

On my desk.

In conversations.

With photo albums.

With Exercise.

With relationships.

With writing.

Volunteering at school.

Praying.

It’s a heavy expectation I put on myself. 

And if you’re like me, you really don’t have time to do it perfectly. Sometimes not even decently.

Sometimes, I have to skip the gourmet, make it from scratch dinners I love to prepare because in order to be able to eat together tonight, dinner has to be done in 20 minutes.

I need to master the art of making the most of minutes. And I don’t mean a constant flurry of busy.

What I mean is, being content with sliding those pictures into old fashioned sleeves instead of waiting for the week of nothing that will never happen, in which I will create gorgeous scrapbooks out of 20 years of over snapping pictures.

I mean cleaning the room even if I hate the furniture.

I mean saying something even if it isn’t worded exactly right.

I mean learning the discipline of just writing for a half an hour. Because I don’t have six.

And then let it be, and go to bed.

What about you? What keeps you from being satisfied with good enough?

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smallbutton64seasonstree

middle age, metabolism, and Monday

I figure I’m right in the middle of the August of life, which is still summer, if you know what I mean.

Someone used “middle age” to define my season the other day, and I have to say I was a little offended.

Although — to be fair — if I’m blessed to live for 90 years, and I’m 45, I guess technically you really can’t get any more middle than that.

It’s not so much denial as perhaps my failure to adjust to the change of seasons. I figure I’m right in the middle of the August of life, which is still summer, if you know what I mean.

Well, maybe I’m more like August 22nd in a perpetual last-week-before-school-starts frenzy of doing all the things, buying all the things, trying not to feel to awfully bad about all the things on your summer list you didn’t get to, and rushing to Office Max at the last minute hoping you get to the college-ruled composition books before all they have left is One Direction. And in front of me is September, when the Pacific Northwest weather’s suddenly rainy, then warmer, then cooler, then cold mornings and intensely hot 3 p.m.’s and you’re sitting on the sidelines of a soccer game in Seattle in October getting a sunburn . . . (don’t read too much into that).

So, half way through my 45th year, I suppose I should accept that I’m staring down autumn pretty hard.  And I think I’m finally okay with it. Except the lack of metabolism.

No. This is serious. I’m in a season where merely looking at sugar is the new actually consuming sugar.

I’ve got fat now where I used to be super smug that I didn’t. Watch out, young braggarts. Even after four babies I had a flat stomach. Had, being the operative word here.

And there really is only one solution to this problem. (Well, of course there are others, and I know them and need to do them, but do please hear me out here . . .)

Mom jeans.

That’s right. For the first time since the 90’s,  I bought a pair of pants that hits me at my natural waistline. Surprisingly, they’re far more comfortable than the hipsters I’ve worn forever, and they seem to have the side benefit of reducing the muffin top. Who knew?

Also, I could actually wear the size I still am in my head, which was quite pleasant because that never happens with low-rise jeans. And hey, if I don’t tuck my shirt in, no one will ever know . . .

Unless, hypothetically, in your rush to get out the door to work you accidentally leave one of the forty-six stickers of marketing brilliance on the jeans and walk through the office with a shiny Ultrastretch plastered across your bum.

It could happen . . .

And also . . . I just realized why I fit into the size I thought I should. Wow. Really — just now.

But seriously, last week was hard. I had to go buy clothes, and I would so much rather buy that cute little red-fluted crockery dish than try on thirty-six dresses that are decidedly NOT “all about that bass.”

It was so traumatic, I yearned to stop in Trader Joe’s and buy dark chocolate covered anything to make me feel better.

And then it hit me. Duh. That that’s part of the reason I’m feeling crappy about the shape I’m in. I can’t eat like I used to. And that is so sad. Partly because it’s just a bummer and partly because I have a houseful of men who can pretty much eat whatever they want and run it off.

I resisted Trader Joe’s. (cue applause)

I have to face the reality that at my age (yes, I said it) and with my metabolism it’s going to take long-term commitment and discipline. The for-the-rest-of-my-life kind.  Cuz if I told you how many calories a person my age and my height and tiny bone structure needs, you would cry for me. Or you would say, Oh Honey, learn to love running.  

I guess I say all this because the need for discipline is hidden around every corner of my life right now. And I see value in the daily and the mundane — as much as my flibbertigibbet spirit resists it.

So here’s my simple prayer for a new week:

God, help me to accept that my body is not what it once was, and please help me take good care of it now. Help me embrace a season of discipline without becoming obsessed. And please help me resist the free M & M’s  at work, you know how much of a temptation they are on Mondays. Amen.

Happy Monday!

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P.S. What’s your favorite thing about your current season of life and what’s the thing you could really just do without? Write it here in the comments. I would love to know!

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the healing power of daily discipline

We’re all in a season of something, we might as well live it.

You can do anything for 30 days.

I said this a few months back — before I’d really thought it through.

I’m a great starter. I’ve got vision, enthusiasm and energy for something new almost always. But finishing takes every ounce of discipline I don’t have.

Take the “30 Day Shred” for example . . . I enthusiastically accepted a friend’s challenge  and kept at it for approximately ten days.

And then we went camping. And then I had to write a website for a client. And then, no matter how much Jillian yelled there is no modification for jumping jacks! I make 400 pound people do them you can do them, too! my ankles and knees began to tell me things I’ve never heard my body say before . . . things I really can’t repeat.

I’m a big thinker. A dreamer. But the daily grind, the day to day . . .  it takes everything I have to fold my clothes and put them away. It’s so daily! That’s why cooking is my favorite home chore. I can create, dream, and delight my family. Frankly, no one is all that delighted by my tidy room. I’ve asked.

To be fair, it’s not that I’m completely unable to do anything consistently. I brush my teeth every morning and every night. I’m just not so disciplined.

Over the years, I’ve embraced this freedom and turned it into an art:

  • I’m spontaneous, creative, I do my best work at the last minute. (All true.)
  • There are more important things than having a clean house. (Also true.)
  • I’m a Mary not a Martha. (Not so much true. I’m more of a daydreaming Mary who decides at the last minute to be a Martha and then pleads for all the Marys in the house to help.)

This “procrastinating perfectionism” has worked for me for years. Years. In just about everything.

At least I was. Until I hit a wall.

About a year ago, I ran out of words and writing became a chore. The problem is, writing is my job, so I had to find a way to recharge. Plus, I love to write.

I read books. Memoirs about writing. Self-help books for writers. I did exercises. Nothing really worked. I was deeply discouraged and it affected everything. I withdrew. I gained weight. I became listless and apathetic.

And then I came across a book about monks and acedia:

The desert monks termed acedia “the noonday demon” because the temptation usually struck during the heat of the day,  when the monk was hungry and fatigued, and susceptible to the suggestion that his commitment to a life of prayer was not worth the effort . . . .

. . . . I have come to believe that acedia can strike anyone whose work requires self-motivation and solitude, anyone who remains married “for better or for worse,” anyone who is determined to stay true to a commitment that is sorely tested in every day life.

Acedia & me  – Kathleen Norris

That was it. Acedia was what ailed me.

Anxious to discover the secret to defeating this demon, I devoured the book in a week. If you’re anything like me, you are not going to like the answer I found. To battle acedia, monks turned to simple, daily discipline serving through the doldrums. Working with their hands while talking to God, creating a rhythm that renewed their passion for prayer.

I know this to be true. If I was writing at home, I washed dishes and carefully cleaned the kitchen, praying as I cleaned. I spent four hours deep cleaning my bathroom. I washed everything in the house and folded every piece. I went for walks with my boys. I said yes to invitations and activities. After a while, I needed a pen and a notebook next to me while I was making dinner again.

I wrote and wrote. And it felt so good to be writing again.

About that time, I ran across another month long challenge: writing every day for 31 days.

I mentioned it to Dave — who is very happy that I’m writing again. But he said, “You’ve never done 31 days of anything. The last 15 days will be a surprise.”He’s right. So I’m taking lots of pictures just in case I give up and this becomes 31 Days of Cats.

But I figure, maybe I’ll have to clean something every day in order to write every day. In theory, if I am successful, I should end up with a spotless home. In theory.

So I’m taking the challenge. Because discipline really is reviving me.1500 size Live the Season

I settled on a theme, wrote out a list of posts and ideas, tidied the blog, played around with graphic arts and I’m ready to go.

My theme for the next 31 days is contentment: Live the season. I expect I’ll write about parenting, recovery, being 45, and relationships among other things. Some days will be serious and others not. I mean, I’ve never done anything like this before. Who knows what will happen?

No matter what season you are in,  I hope you’ll follow, add to the discussion and share posts with friends.

We’re all in a season of something, we might as well live it.

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