WhatsApp was blowing up today with all the back and forth messages celebrating International Women’s Day. A friend sent a message with the line “Always Awesome, Forever Fabulous’. I immediately told her I was stealing it. I’ve been lately feeling low and unworthy and this line just perked me up.
“Always Awesome, Forever Fabulous”, huh? I know I know, easy to say difficult to follow. And don’t I know it? Maintaining awesomeness and fabulousness is hard work. There are always competing priorities, emotional messes, and emergencies. The basics of daily life are hardly a breeze – our jobs are demanding, parenting is a challenge even on the best days, and relationships require effort. Then there are social obligations, family issues, office politics, career changes, planning for the future. And let’s consider the courage needed to live a life of one’s choosing. What about the bravery involved in standing up for yourself, making decisions, and dealing with the consequences of those choices? Hard work, indeed. But so worth it!
My friend’s words have inspired me to be kinder to myself in 2018. Just because I want to continuously improve myself doesn’t mean what I am now is not good enough. I am already awesome and fabulous!
2018 has started exactly as I expected – a runaway bullet train hurtling towards 2019 at record speed. We are half way through February; I’ve broken all my resolutions, but I have come up with several new plans for a less chaotic, more ordered life. I have accepted that my house, my head, my life has too much stuff. Stuff that did nothing for my happiness; it was just stuff that needed to be kept organised, updated or tended to in some way. I figured the easiest way to deal with it was to just simply get rid of it.
I have also realised that incremental change is the way to go. I find it easier to execute small, bite-sized projects, record a success and get motivated for more improvements. Here are some of the things I call “quick wins” that you should consider for a less cluttered 2018.
Yesterday my 7-year-old daughter stood crying in her bathroom. “Why do I take so long to shower?” Who knows what goes on within an exhausted and hungry 7-year old mind? Scientists! Forget the gravitational waves, genetic sequences, circadian rhythms, cell regrowth. The real challenge is trying to understanding a child’s emotion-fueled actions. My little girl’s tirade ended with “I will never be perfect!” My “be-who-you-are, love-who-you-are” instinct went on alert instantly. I hugged my little girl and told her nobody is perfect but we must try to always be our best, do our best.
Why are we so hung up on perfection? And what is perfection by the way? Is it Tartine’s sourdough? A sunny day at the beach? Kids snug in bed at 7.30pm? Burrata from Puglia? The third Brandenburg concerto? The structure and design of a single leaf? The beauty of the Himalayas? A girls’ night out complete with a party bus? Mom’s dal? Flight sequences in films by Hayao Miyazaki? A home cooked meal shared with friends? Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album? The Harry Potter books? The silence after snowfall? A coral wall?
Inspired by my daughter I went exploring on what people had to say about perfection. I guess the most famous quote belongs to Vince Lombardi – “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Hmm… I would settle for excellence any day.
Dali was a bit more severe. He said, “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
Some felt perfection was in the realm of the Gods (Carolina Herrera, Michael J. Fox), some felt perfection takes time and cannot be rushed (Voltaire, Alexander Wang). Some focused on the fallacy of physical perfection (Kate Winslet, Tracee Ellis Ross, Mila Kunis).
Nobody probably knows about perfection more than Nadia Comaneci and she says she never thought of the score. If she did, she probably would have messed up. She just aimed for perfection.
I belong to the group that believes perfection is an illusion and what matters is hard work (Drake). As Margaret Atwood says, “If I waited for perfection I wouldn’t write a word. But I would like to think I worked my hardest and gave it my best.”
I recently found myself in need of some fool-proof and positive coping mechanisms in my life. Ways in which I could independently deal with the physical, emotional and spiritual after effects of an unexpected life event. I realized that I need to have more than one way of dealing with stress/sadness/loss/ or any other unwelcome negative feelings. Also, that I needed to do this myself. I may have amazing friends and family to lean on but I would have to carry the responsibility for my own recovery and wellness.
I didn’t cry even though I felt it would help me. I didn’t lash out because really there was no one and nothing to blame, sometimes life just does what it wants to do irrespective of your plans, thoughts and feelings. I was surely in denial for two whole days and acceptance came slowly but when it did I was ready with a plan to move on. Here are somethings that worked for me.
This by no means an exhaustive list, just a few things that worked for me. Look out for the positive things that can help you deal with the uncertainty in life and the chaos it can bring.
When you are of a certain age, with a certain number of years of marriage under your belt, with children of a certain age, it is inevitable that a certain auntieness will creep in.
Auntieness? Some of you ask me. Some of you know exactly what I mean. Continue reading “Embrace the Auntie”