Lessons of the Road

I have returned from an adventure.

A wonderful, yet challenging, adventure. With my family.

I am grateful for the abundance of time and energy to have been able to go on this adventure. I am so glad that we all took the time to be together and to explore new-to-us places and to experiences new sights, sounds, tastes and smells.

The challenges were all out of anyone’s control and totally unexpected.

They included outgoing flights that stole a day from the majority of our group. Record-breaking heat everywhere we went. An absence of air conditioning in these places because they usually have no need for it.

Two of our lodgings were not at all as they were represented, which was disappointing and uncomfortable. A space markedly smaller than the photos appeared. A stairwell so steep under a ceiling so low leading to the one common space and second bathroom that it was unusable. A stove with no manual that we could not figure out — no way to heat water for coffee. Another place having no window coverings, infested with bees and flies.

(I suppose these could be considered “luxury” problems if you look at it. For me, as I had been the one to book the lodging, they were challenging, and disappointing. It also really enlightened me to my own “Americanism” – to how used I am to traveling with and to all the comforts of home. Take a way some of those, and I felt uncomfortable. But isn’t the point of travel to leave home behind?)

The real challenge came when one member of our group (the person whose trip it was) got very sick for two days. And then another of us got sick right after that one, requiring an emergency clinic visit and rendering them housebound for the last leg of the trip (three days.) This family member, I am sure, was counting down the seconds until they could get the hell back home. They were really sick and could not sleep due to the illness and the heat.

I cannot recall a trip from my life that had so many issues. Everyone valiantly moved through it all as well as they could. But there were moments of discomfort and when spirits waned and were tested to the limit.

Still. We had laughter. We saw some amazing parts of the world. And we were together.

I know that down the road, we will, for the most part, only recall the good parts. (Except for the really sick person, who, I am sure, will never forget how bad it was for them.)

I struggled mostly with just giving space for everyone to have their response to the challenges. To not feel totally responsible for everyone’s happiness. I was, after all, the instigator of the whole trip. For a recovering perfectionist and people-pleaser, this was daunting.

As a result, I was stretched in ways that I did not at all expect. Perhaps that is the very nature of travel: to go beyond one’s known terrain into foreign territories.

So as I leave the trip behind and reenter everyday life, I let whatever lessons were contained in this journey sort of simmer, low-level, trusting that some day I will look back and realize the gifts contained within the turbulence that the trip presented.

I trust that my memories of the difficulties of the trip will fade in comparison to the joys.

And I refill my spiritual well for the next adventure.

Stalled

There is such a thing as sitting on the fence too long

If you wait too long to make a choice to go to one side or the other

You might lose the impetus to move altogether

The impulse that got you up on the fence in the first place

Might die a quiet but painful little death

At the very least

You risk getting splinters in your bottom

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: fence

In Recovery

I am a recovering perfectionist.

(I write of this often.)

One of the most helpful tools I have learned to use to work with this -ism is the following mantra:

“Done is better than perfect.”

― Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Boy, has this helped me make great strides.

Before this quote found its way into my psyche, I would procrastinate out the wazoo, or sit on and spin out over a project, desperate for it to be “complete” enough to put in the public eye.

Problem was, nothing was ever “good enough” to be complete.

It was hard at first, but by now, I am much better at just getting it done and out there. Through practice, I am learning the value of getting it done and letting it go.

I can always make changes and improve later.

Better done than perfect. Because perfect never comes.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: perfection

The Power of Now

“Don’t be a crank,” she murmured to herself, catching herself for the thirtieth time in as many moments raking herself over the coals for the oversight she had made during the afternoon board meeting.

Two equally vocal self-parts were at war within: the part that finds any slight error a reason for killing oneself out of shame, and the part that longs to forgive and generously allow for such things, eager to defend well-intentioned human error at any moment.

Somewhere in-between those two internal parts sat a third part watching the whole thing, a part knew that both defense and crucification over such a thing as an error were sheer wastes of precious life energy, and so patiently awaited their voices to lose steam to get back to the moment at hand, which this part knew as the only moment that really mattered or even existed anyhow.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: crank*

*Crank describes me after I realized that I totally spaced last night. I was studying for a job today, and somehow, I thought I wrote a blog post when I didn’t.

My internal Perfectionista is truly berating me for the oversight. But thankfully, no one’s like is at stake if I forgot for the second time in many, many months of fulfilling my commitment to myself to create at least once a day.

I guess yesterday I did create — I created a state of confusion!

Perfectionista Blues

“You don’t have to get all frantic about it,” she said to herself soothingly as she realized that the gel manicured nail of her right forefinger had just come un-gelled and fallen off.

“Life will go on. It is not the end of the world,” she continued, though somewhere inside was a part that did indeed experience such an event as life and death, and no amount of coaxing was ever going to change that part of her mind.

And so it was that she stopped the car and ran into CVS pharmacy to buy a box of Bandaids to use one to cover the naked nail, and to appease that part that simply could not move forward without it.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: frantic

Gone Fishing

I was so relaxed yesterday here in a beautiful old house on the shores of Cape Cod that I forgot to blog!

I slipped! Oops!

But instead of beating myself up, I choose to celebrate this little break from my drive to “get it all done,” this break from my goal of a blog a day, this break from perfectionism.

Just as it feels good to show up for my drive, it also feels good to show up for my need to “be.”

The Urban Dictionary defines “gone fishing” as:

Gone Fishing

1. To checkout from reality. To be unaware of what’s going on.

2. To drop the duties of daily life and go do something else, something nice.

I hadn’t intended to do that, I always blog no matter what. But you know what, it was nice to “slip.” I think I have always feared relaxing my grip, my drive — that if I do so once, I will slide into some kind of lethargy. Lose all will.

Yet here I am, right back on schedule. Happy to write.

May you give yourself a little break today – some change in your regularly disciplined routine, some shift in your thoughts.

It really is OK. The sun will rise again.

It did this morning.

Messy Is As Messy Does

Messiness has gotten a bad rap.

From childhood on, I was taught to value tidy and clean over cluttered and dirty.

Being seen as a “mess” is something to avoid at all costs today. There is shame in being seen as messy.

Look at any social media feed. Selfie taking has been developed into an art form. There’s been an increase in nose jobs, and the reason for them? It is people wanting to look better for their selfies! No one, for the most part, is proudly posting their mess. Unless it is an apartment reno in process or a confessional “staged mess” to make a humorous point of some kind.

With such socio-cultural pressure, it is no wonder that I learned to strive for perfection in all things, especially the presentation of my self.

I literally dreaded being seen without makeup or with a hair out of place.

And God forbid I was to have a negative emotion! Shove that way down, baby! Slap a grin on it and pose.

Trouble is, the very nature of life is change. And change, my friends, is messy.

Ergo, life is messy.

It has been quite an unraveling, this perfection mechanism. I’ve had to unpack a load to get to my mess.

And once I found my mess, I had to come to love it.

I will be honest. at first, all I wanted to do was get rid of it!

Thankfully, I have some teachers in my life who are artists. Artists know the value of mess. They helped me understand that it is in my mess that my talent lives.

And so began an embracing. Of my mess. Of change. Of life.

It has been challenging at tines, sure. This is not an overnight process.

But boy is it incredible.

My home is neat and tidy. I am an organized woman. I crave order.

But I relish getting messy and allowing myself to be seen in my mess too. And the most fulfilling parts of my creativity are gloriously messy!

Today, I am a love-able mess living a messy, wonderful, creatively fulfilling life. And I say that with pride, not apology.

Messy is as messy does is more than fine for me.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: messy