One of my favorite writers in all the momblog world is here today, visiting from her AWESOME blog, A Teachable Mom! I just love how she writes, and I always find myself nodding and wanting to meet her for coffee after I read every one of her posts. So many amazing posts are written over there like this one: http://ateachablemom.com/2012/11/07/rushing-is-the-new-crack/ Mary will be your new best friend…promise.
My Big, Wide Road
Do you ever find yourself obsessing over decisions, turning seemingly small choices into life-altering ones? Does the entire future of your existence ever rest on choosing the right summer camp for your kids or picking the perfect nail polish color for your not-often-enough pedicure? No? Just me? Apparently all of you have actually learned not to sweat the small stuff? Miraculous!
As a recovering perfectionist, I often believe life involves making “right” decisions and that my job is to use all my brain power to figure out that one right way. While my intellect rejects this idea, my muscle memory doesn’t always get the memo. At times I long for the illusion of security that would come from never making mistakes, never pissing off or disappointing people I love and always making spot-on decisions.
Obsessing about doing “it” right sucks the life right out of me. And I can fill in the “it” blank with anything and everything: parenting, being a spouse/mom/daughter/sister/friend, writing, pursuing my dreams, brushing my teeth. In my lovely mind, there’s even a right way to “let go.” And I’ll be the first one to tell you I’m not doing that right!
Yesterday, at the suggestion of a friend, I tried an experiment. I committed to making all wrong choices for an entire afternoon. Whaaatt? (Yes, I do indeed have some crazy creative friends!)
Here’s my friend’s strategy: By committing to doing everything wrong, I free myself up to do what I actually want and what I would enjoy. For example, if writing for 30 minutes isn’t going to be good enough, I may as well only write for as long as I want to. If I am going to tell myself whatever I choose is wrong anyway, I may as well have fun!
I had the best afternoon! I made the following wrong choices:
- Exercised for 30 minutes (Right choice: an hour)
- Yelled at our daughters for leaving their coats on the floor (Right choice: no yelling; loving at all times)
- Let the girls watch one hour of TV while I wrote (Right choice: no TV on a school nights)
- Wrote a blog post before playing “Polly Pockets” with our girls (Right choice: kids come first)
- Threw away four plastic grocery bags (Right choice: hello! Recycling!)
- Returned two phone calls from friends (Right choice: return each and every one, damn it!)
- Made sandwiches and popcorn for dinner (Right choice: cook the chicken I defrosted and the broccoli that was about to go bad)
- Watched reruns of Sex & the City before bed (Right choice: have sex with my husband or read/comment on the four thousand blogs I’ve subscribed to)
While I wish I had chosen sex (and recycling!), this experiment helped me see that my decisions are fine, but my perfectionism is still alive and well. My thinking doesn’t always match the person I want to be and the life I want to live today.
I want to remember that my life isn’t a tightrope to carefully navigate with perfectly-spaced steps, but a big, wide road to skip down and enjoy. (Trust me, if tightrope walking was a viable career choice for me, I’d be queen of the circus. Fortunately, my skipping skills are slowly improving!)
On my big, wide road, there’s room for all of me – wise, mature and careful me and hot-headed, silly and impulsive me. On my expansive road, I trust the universe and believe I deserve to live an abundant, heartbreakingly beautiful life full of passion and sorrow, anger and joy.
And there’s room enough on my road for all of us – enough recognition, light, love and attention. And money, too! Definitely enough money for all.
On my tightrope, I’m small and clenched. There’s only room for me and my tiny, controlled steps. I’m easily thrown off balance whenever anyone else takes a step or gets on or off the tightrope. And the pressure? Forget about it! The pressure I put on myself paralyzes me; makes me unwilling to take risks toward a fulfilling, abundant life.
While I’m predisposed to tightrope walking, I’m slowly learning to breathe more fully, let go more often and skip with gusto. Trust for me means believing I am an amazing, worthy child of God on a gentle, forgiving road whose challenge is to imperfectly love myself and those around me. When I lead with trust, my life touches others in mutual admiration and support. And I get to skip! What could be better?
Jumping off my beloved tightrope into the open, snuggly arms of my God requires a leap of faith. I’m leaping.
Wanna join me?