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The Paralysis of Perfection

Have you ever had a juicy goal or dream that went nowhere? Maybe it was because you couldn’t get past the perfect ending you envisioned. Getting stuck there is largely thanks to the hoards of mental critics that magically appear when you’re about to do something you’ve never achieved. They instantly perk up and fill your head with refrains of: “How are you going to do this?! You’re not ready! Who do you think you are?” They readily supply you with a constant stream of evidence of your imminent failure. That you aren’t smart enough, you don’t know the right people, you don’t have enough money, you have no clue what you’re doing…anything and everything is game.

In short order, you’ve talked yourself out of something you passionately wanted to do. You haven’t taken one step, but in your mind, you’ve pinpointed and played out all the ways you’ve already failed. Your dream suffered Death by Doubt.

Waiting for the perfect moment doesn’t get you anywhere. I’ve missed out on opportunities and experiences because I let my fear of “doing it wrong” stop me. I’m now in that camp that believes it’s better to have tried and failed than to never try and be left with a dreaded “What if?” Waiting until you’re completely prepared and ready will paralyze your dreams…because that time hardly ever comes.

Please don’t misunderstand me…I’m not advocating running headfirst into life without any consideration. This rally cry is for those who have a tendency to be too thoughtful, too cautious. It’s for the Type A personalities and perfectionists. You know who you are.

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I chose this picture I took in Utah as an example of nature following through with her desires without worrying about a perfect ending. This twisted specimen is not what we normally envision when we think of trees. I was grateful the trees had carried on despite whatever challenges and odds they had faced…and there had to be a few. Each tree had a massive goal, and it succeeded in my opinion, but in a way that couldn’t have been predicted.

Nike was spot on with its iconic slogan, “Just do it.” The thing about “just doing it” before you’ve got it “all figured out” is…at least you did something. There are only three things that can happen after you take a step toward your goal:

  1. You fail. Maybe even worse than you could have predicted. Now you know what doesn’t work, and knowledge is power. If you still want to pursue that goal, you can brainstorm another tactic or try again with a refined approach based on lessons learned. If you figure out that your awesome goal wasn’t as awesome as you imagined, great! You can move on, with more perspective in your pocket. 
  2. The result is what you expected or hoped for. Yes! You know what works and can continue. Rock on!
  3. The result is crazy successful, beyond what you thought was possible. Major celebration time! You see that the only limits are the ones you put on yourself. 

Remember, most of the success stories you hear are about a victorious end result following many failures. If you have a passionate desire, a dream that won’t leave you alone, a juicy goal that excites you as much as it scares you…take that first step, no matter how small.

Do your absolute best each step of the way, and let go of whatever is out of your control. Trust yourself, trust Life. Celebrate your courage to feel the fear and do it anyway. Remember WHY you are reaching for this big, scary, audacious ending. Let that vision light you up and keep your fire burning. But just DO something.

What better time to start than right now?

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Lessons from my “Balance Bootcamp”

It’s been a while since my last post (2 months and 4 days to be exact). I’d like to explain. Not because I think you’ve been offended or curious about my absence, but because I want to consistently provide valuable content and conversation here, and I’d like to share why Consistency took a side road.

During June and July, I wrote a book that has to do with personal transformation (a term I prefer over “self-help”). It’s for anyone who feels a little lost, is seeking more direction and fulfillment, and wants to live their juiciest, most awesome life! I can’t wait to share more with you soon, but in the meantime, I can tell you that my book will be back from the editor next week…whoo-hoo!

Another contributing factor to my absence was the start of graduate school. It has taken my brain a month to recover from the shock to my neural pathways, since it’s been [ahem] quite a few years since my last academic experience. It’s also been a significant challenge figuring out how to balance all the lovely moving pieces of my life.

While I don’t have it down perfectly–who ever does?–I have found my center once again. The last two months served as a lesson for how positive, powerful thinking is a daily practice. It’s not like riding a bike, where you never forget how to successful use it. You have to work at it by being self-aware, remembering the basics, calling upon Faith, and allowing time for quiet reflection (where our most enlightening moments lie). Balance is certainly not a one-and-done sort of thing.

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I like to always leave you with some takeaways, so here are some lessons from my recent Balance Bootcamp:

  1. Remember the big picture–why you’re putting yourself through (and enduring) challenges to reach your goals. Knowing why you’re doing something, and keeping your eye on your desired result, will help keep you afloat.
  2. It’s okay to feel crappy. Ignoring or pushing down your feelings will usually lead to a blowup or meltdown later on. So recognize the fear, doubt, and frustration, and feel them. But then…
  3. Allow yourself to move on from the drama. I relied heavily on this mantra: “All is well. Right here, right now.” It put things in perspective. 99.9 times out of 100, nothing is happening in the moment to cause the negative chatter in your head. You’ve got to get out of panic mode in order to see the road ahead. There is always a solution, you just might not be seeing it right now.
  4. You CAN find the time to do what’s most important. But you have to plan for it! If it’s important to you, schedule it. And do it first, if you can.
  5. Take time to practice self-care. The busier we are, the easier it is to neglect ourselves. Big mistake. Even a few minutes to do something that gives you joy, centers you, or allows you to relax is crucial for your well-being. Forcing yourself to push on doesn’t end well.

 

 

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Fabric Gift Wrapping

I love a nicely wrapped present.  I also love wrapping presents.  I take after my mother, the original fashion stylist for gifts.  Her adornments turn them into presents wrapped in presents.  I become giddy when I receive one of her works of art.  I want others to feel the same way, so I’ve adopted her inventive techniques for trussing and embellishing.

I must add that I haven’t bought wrapping paper in years.  So how the heck do I dress up my gifts?  I think outside the box, so to speak, by using fabrics and textiles.  Not only am I recycling–and saving money on fancy paper–but wrapping in this way serves as a surprising and beautiful way to present a present.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist the wordplay!  Using fabric is an easy way to deal with unusually shaped presents too.

If you’re a normal person and don’t have any bolts of fabric lying around, you can still take part in the fun.  I’ve used gently worn (and clean!) clothes with cool designs or fun materials.  This comes in handy when part of the fabric becomes damaged, the style is out of fashion, or you’ve grown out of it (either literally or figuratively).  I’ve even used gauzy drapes that lost their usefulness after a move.  Your imagination is the limit!

Note:  Inventive, beautiful wrappings will most likely be lost on children (of all ages) whose only goal is to beat their gift opening time from last year.  Regular wrapping paper would probably be best for them.  But I think the rest of the people on your list will delight in such personalized attention.

The easiest wrapping technique is to spread out the fabric, place the gift in the middle and bring up all the sides to meet above.  Tie the opposing corners into knots…

or use a rubber band and loop through as if you were making a ponytail.  In the picture below, I didn’t pull the fabric all the way through at the end in order to keep everything tucked in.

For this one, I cut a sparkly tank top down a side seam so it would open up, then wrapped as I would with traditional paper, but used a glue gun instead of tape.  The bow was fashioned out of one of the straps.

This is a bridal shower gift, but demonstrates how a tall present could be wrapped.  I used the ponytail tie method but kept the extra fabric for a different look.

I made a gift tag by cutting off a square from a magazine cover (I save decorative cards and pictures for this too) and gluing the inside of a Yogi Tea box on the other side so I could write my message.

Then I punched a hole in one corner and used a pearl twistie thing (probably from one my mother’s past gifts!) to attach it to the bow.

If you don’t have any little bits of string, ribbon, and doodads lying around your house, don’t despair.  It takes time and planning to amass a treasure trove of gift wrapping options.  But if this is the sort of thing you could get into, keep an eye out for things from now on that you could use to wrap and adorn future presents.  You might even see your wrappings or decorations turn up in next year’s presents.  In our family, it’s a big compliment!

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Yes, I’m still here!

Sorry for being MIA as of late.  Although I have good reasons, I’ve been feeling awfully guilty for being off the radar for so long.  This post is to catch everyone up so we can all move forward…ok, so I can move forward.

Reason #1:  We have new addition to the family…a furry one!

Bright-eyed Riley

We welcomed Riley, a glossy bright-eyed black kitten into our house on August 5th.  It took a lot of adjustment for my husband and I, who haven’t had to deal with a toddler-like bundle of joy for quite a while.  We’d forgotten how much time and energy it took, and how much sleep you have to give up.  It was especially difficult for 6-year-old Starsky.  His brother Hutch, who passed away last October, was the only cat he’d ever known.  Now there was a tiny terror in the house.  After several weeks carefully integrating Riley into Starsky’s home, all our hard work seems to have paid off.  Starsky is getting his daily workouts in again, and we foresee some serious snuggling in the near future.  Riley’s ability to transition from knocked out to cracked out in two seconds flat has presented a challenge for me.  Since I work at home, dealing with his boundless energy and my responsibilities has been a juggling act.   However, he and I are both getting better at our roles.

Starsky and Riley, early morning bird-watching

Reason #2:  I’m writing a book!

So far it’s been exciting and depressing and thrilling and scary and fulfilling and arduous all rolled into one big ball of emotion.  And it’s not nearly done yet!  Right now I’m finishing up my (hopefully) kick-butt proposal to send off.  I got some interest in April when I pitched the idea to agents, but now I’ll be in better shape when I pitch again in October at the IWWG’s Big Apple Conference.  More details on my book soon!

Reason #3:  I’m writing an article that ties in to an upcoming television series!

Have you heard about ABC’s new series Pan Am?  Well, it just so happens my grandmother was a stewardess for Pan American Airways in the 1940’s.  And she wasn’t just a stewardess, she was the ambassador of the airline, greeting dignitaries and historical figures, as well as appearing in magazines and advertisements.  My grandmother has enjoyed recalling her whirlwind years, and had her first on-camera interview by a news reporter a few weeks ago.  Her story has always been amazing to us, but seeing that others would now be interested in it got my cousin and I thinking about pitching her story to newspapers, which we’re in the midst of.  So no more details yet, but if it gets published I’ll post the link here…and if it doesn’t get published, I’ll post the article here.  Either way, you’ll hear about it.

So you see, there are reasons why it’s been quiet around here.  But all the while, I’ve been cooking up some tasty posts to serve you very soon.

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Green Cleaners That Really Work!

We spent the better part of last week painting our kitchen.  In the process of giving this room a much needed face lift, there was a lot of cleaning of stuck-on dust and grime, sticky residues, and paint drips.  The experience reminded me how much I love my cleaning products!  I wanted to share some of the miracle cleaners I use that not only work like a charm, but contain no harsh or toxic chemicals.  It’s cleaning that’s mean and green!

2 all-purpose, 1 for scrubbing, 1 for polishing

Second scrubbing and polishing sides

Explains the uses of each sponge

Unger Microfiber Sponges (pack of 4, $5.00)

I found these at Home Depot in their green cleaning section.  The package has 4 dual-sided sponges: one for polishing, one for scrubbing, and two all-purpose.  These sponges are amazing!  The first time I used them, I ended up cleaning for hours.  Not because I like to clean, but because I was getting stains and grime out of crevices I’d never been able to get out!  They can be used with just water, but I usually spray the surface with Thieves Household Cleaner (below) to zap any germs.  I highly recommend getting a second package so you always have some sponges ready to whip out if the others are in the hamper.

Thieves Household Cleaner from Young Living (14.4 fl oz, $28.29)

This is a fabulous all-purpose cleaner that kills germs and bacteria with a mixture of therapeutic-grade essential oils of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary.  It’s super concentrated–only a teeny tiny bit is needed–and you can adjust how much you add to water for different uses (glass, light to heavy degreasing, carpet, fabric/upholstery, hands).  Don’t worry, there’s a ratio chart on the back of the bottle.  For stubborn surface spots, I spray the solution right on there and let it sit for a minute.  Bye-bye spot!

Lemon essential oil from Young Living (15 ml bottle, $12.83)

One or two drops of this oil is great for removing stubborn, sticky spots from gum, adhesives, paint, and glue.  You can also add a few drops to a spray bottle for general cleaning that leaves the house smelling of fresh lemons.  Oh, and a drop in a glass of water is like squeezing a lemon wedge in there.  Yes, it’s very multipurpose!

Good old white vinegar  (at any grocery store for about a buck)

Vinegar might smell nasty, but it shows mildew who’s boss!  I pour distilled white vinegar (5% acidity) in a spray bottle, spritz generously on the inside of my shower curtain liner, and watch water stains and scum disappear with the help of a sponge.  It works well on bathtubs, sinks, and toilets too.  The odor doesn’t last long, just open the bathroom window, if you have one, and let the breeze take care of the rest.  I use this cleaner for bathroom duty only; although the smell isn’t too bad, I’d rather not have my whole apartment smell like a bottle of vinegar!  For more ways to use white vinegar (1001 to be exact!) visit Vinegar Tips.

Happy green cleaning!  Have any natural cleaning tips?  I’d love to hear them!