The Gifts of Imperfection
Mmmkay - this one is gonna come flying from my heart to my fingertips and since I'm writing about imperfection, I may just click publish without editing.
TODAY - while flying back from O'ahu, I had one of those smack-you-upside-the-head moments of complete clarity where the clouds literally part and divine revelation just comes pouring in. And before I go any further, I'll begin by saying that this post is inspired by Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection. #getit #now
Today's chapter was, Cultivating Self Compassion, Letting Go of Perfectionism. It was about how perfectionism looks amazing on the outside, but is rooted in shame - and shame holds us back from the gifts of courage, compassion, and connection.
Back to the plane.... As I'm reading this, I have one of those moments where I transport back and re-play tapes of me in my most important role in life - which has nothing to do with work and everything to do with being a mother. #Replay, Sunday night. Honey had a project due for school, and like many projects she is given, we lovingly support, and do her project for her.
Case and point: the last project (photo below) - make a canoe. Doesn't this totally look like it was hand crafted by an 8-year old?
Come on, you know exactly what I'm talking about. I don't even know why teachers give these kinds of projects, and on the directions showcase projects that were obviously not made by a child so then it becomes some kind of show-how-much-you-love-your-child-and-how-dedicated-you-are-to-their-education-and-their-entire-future-so-you-better-just-do-the-project-for-them-project. Okay, so, Sunday night, project directions laid out on the table, craft supplies on hand, Honey and I go in to start the project.
Step #1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Honey's eyes light up and she says with complete conviction, "A doctor". We flip through a magazine looking for a picture of a doctor to cut out, and holding the page at just the right angle, I tear the page out. "Wow, Mom!", she exclaims, "You're so good at that!". Success. She is impressed with my ability to tear out a page from a magazine like no other.
Honey grabs the little pink scissors, and before she begins cutting the picture out, I save the project from crooked edges by lovingly taking the scissors from her and begin cutting a perfect line. After my first cut, I realized that Honey was just watching me and looking quite bored, so I gave her back the scissors.
She cuts out the doctor and glues it onto the project.
Step #2 is a bit more involved. She draws out what a doctor does and how a doctor contributes to the community. I want you all to know that this project is so important, and I am so committed to her education and her entire future, I take out my new, expensive, fine tip, pack of 24 color markers. If love is sacrifice, this is a big, BIG, declaration of my love.
And she begins to draw. She draws a doctor with thinking bubbles and all around are body parts and little doctor looking people helping other little people. It's cute. I smile and congratulate myself for letting her do her project on her own. Then, she takes a purple marker, and starts shading in the background. Friend, the tip of the marker is 0.4mm. Tiny. I'm thinking, this is bad, but there's no way to stop it now. It's all shading going in different directions and straight lines mixed with circle patterns and not only is she ruining the project, she's using up all my purple ink. But there's no stopping Honey. When the purple runs out she just grabs another shade and goes for it, filling in all the spots where the purple pen didn't catch. By the time she is finished, she's used 3 different colors for shading and it's just an incredible mess of "gooji gaja". This is a real word from my childhood. It's a synonym of "scribble scrabble".
Honey looks at me, and mustering up all the positivity I can muster I raise my eyebrows, smile big and say, "We should've used watercolors for the background". Honey smiles back at me like I'm silly, holds up her project to examine it and declares, "No, I think it's good.".
Back to the plane. I'm sitting in the plane, pondering imperfection, shame, the clouds part, and it hits me. She wants to grow up and be a doctor. A friggin doctor. She doesn't want to grow up and be an artist. She doesn't want to grow up and be a painter. She wants to be a doctor and help people be healthy. Who cares how she shades in the background?. Yes, I'm getting it. And just as I am celebrating her doctorness and letting go of the shadingmess, I am transported again, back to a year ago when I spent a week with Benedictine monks at St. Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo, California.
I had been looking forward to the trip to Valyermo for over a year. The time at the monastery was actually part of a course in my Master's program - and I was so excited to be going. Until a day before the class started and I realized that when I got to the monastery, and would be surrounded by monks, that God was gonna be there too. And that terrified me. Because I had been running from God for a while, and heck, I was pretty much about to step foot in His turf.
If you are not familiar with Benedictine monks, they are the singing monks, which I absolutely love. They are also the praying monks, and while we lived at St. Andrew's Abbey, we were expected to follow and study their routine. The brothers wake early, very early, and begin with the first community prayer - I think it was called Vigils - maybe it was called Lauds. Either way, it's early.
After the initial prayer time in the chapel, everyone has time for personal quiet reflection, Lectio Divina. I can't remember what this translates to, but for me, it translated to go back to sleep until the bells chime again for the next prayer in the chapel. The result of my napping was especially shaming for me when we would gather after breakfast as a group to share the sensational, inspirational, celebrational, muppetational :) revelations that we experienced during Lectio Divina. I did a lot of nodding and "oh wow", while avoiding all eye contact and invitations to share my revelations.
Until the day I had one.
I am not a morning person.
I’m not really a night person either.
But I am ever attuned to the voices of my children.
Despite how I feel –
Though I may be tired to my bones,
I rise. I respond.
Out of love –
And in that act of love
I am met with supernatural grace.
Each of us is called to a
And fulfilling that purpose out of love
Is not so difficult.
I am not a monk.
I am a mother.
And so I rise.
So this is what I know about striving for perfection. First, comparison really is the thief of joy. Second, I get so caught up in and obsess over details, I completely miss the big picture. The big message. The big incredible. The big love. And life is too precious to miss out on any of it's goodness.
And last, I think I'm gonna save those fine tip markers for the day Honey has her own practice. Your grandchildren will receive their prescription scripts for vitamins and antibiotics written out in every lovely color imaginable.