This is for those of us who power-wash our power-washers

brene i am enoughIt takes great courage to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, imperfect, ourselves.  To set boundaries and to let go our our ideas of perfection.

Brene classIt’s not really a revelation to me that I could use some self-compassion.  I’m taking Brené Brown’s e-course on The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are and am trying to give myself some love.  I found a photo of myself as a 4-year-old… she was comfortable in her own skin, curious, playful, sweet, imaginative (exactly how my sweet girl is now, actually).  And I remember myself as a 20-year-old college girl striving so so hard for the approval of others so that she would feel she belonged.  I want to tell her:

“You are already enough.”

“It’s ok to be afraid.”

“There is untapped strength within you.”

“You are never really alone.”

Brené says that perfectionism and self-compassion are inversely proportional.  Perfectionism is about gaining the approval of others.  Huh.  See… I think I am mostly trying to gain my own approval.  There’s nobody here but myself telling me to go, go, go.  If I spent a few hours on the sofa watching a movie one morning, it would not be the end of the world.  And yet, I don’t do it.  It would be lazy.

I got a massage a couple weeks ago because I had wound myself up so tight that I had a tension headache for a week.  It’s probably from running running running, mind whirling constantly, never at peace.

You will probably laugh at this, but I had a piece of paper and a pencil on the massage table with me so that when an idea or task popped into my head, I could quickly scribble it down.  I thought it would relax me to know that it was all there and I could let it go from my mind.  I guess it wasn’t a usual thing because the massage therapist thought I was nuts.  (I already keep my phone on during the session in case my daughter’s school calls, and we hear a lot of e-mail “dings” throughout the hour… not exactly relaxing either.) I ended up with a page of chicken scratch because it was very dark in there.

FountainThen toward the end of the massage, the knots finally gave way to space.  I could rotate my head and roll my shoulders without hearing any popping noises.  I felt I could breathe again.

The questions is: WHY??? Why do I do this to myself? I am exhausted.  No wonder I look forward all day to curling up into bed with a book, just relaxing, letting my frizzy hair wind itself into a rat’s nest as it does every night.  (I envy women who can get out of bed and go exercise or drop their kids off at school looking pretty ok.)

I definitely am a perfectionist though.  On the near horizon: Turkey Day at my house and my daughter’s 5th birthday party.  Of course, I overdo it with wanting everything to look “just so.”  I’ve been painting over smudges on walls, ordering cute throw pillows, vacuuming cat litter and crumbs almost every day, planning menus… trying to see our house (and our life) as someone else would.

Is the perfectionism, as Brene suggests, a shield to protect my vulnerability? What would it matter if I were seen as I am in any moment, messy or cluttered or blah? Who would really care if there were a pile of my daughter’s artwork in a corner somewhere? Wouldn’t it be fine if someone, looking for the restroom, opened the door to the hall closet and found it to be an enormous mess? Aren’t we all just doing the best we can?

I am calm.  I am weary.  I’ve surrendered.  I’ve accepted.  As we declared on the first day of class, I am imperfect and I am enough, just like this.  I choose to let my imperfections sparkle.


* * * * *

The card pack giveaway winner is Susanna Gross. Congratulations, Susanna! I have a few packs of these photo cards left so if you’re looking for some pretty blank notecards, come check them out.

* * * * *

I won’t be following my usual blogging routine this week.  Let’s say I’m trying to practice cutting myself some slack! We have lots of family plans for Thanksgiving and Chanukah and I hope to soak in as much joy as I can.  I have so much to share with you in December – fun books, art projects, the rest of our home update, and some final Alaska photos.  I’ll be back on Sunday with the One Little Word blog hop.

I hope you all have a wonderful week.  Even if you aren’t observing American Thanksgiving, I hope you will focus on how much simple abundance you have in your lives and all around you.


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23 Responses to This is for those of us who power-wash our power-washers

  1. This was wonderful and nourishing, friend….I so get this.
    Thanks for each yummy word,

  2. Wow! Thank you for the card pack. As a fellow lifeclass member I really appreciate your essay. I have enjoyed it very much, but there are also parts of it that I feel don’t apply to me. More than anything, it’s made me feel like a therapist, which is very strange. In order to get contact information for me, do a DNS lookup on my domain.

  3. Becky says:

    I promise I will not care if I see a messy closet or pile of artwork … you’ve seen my house!!!

  4. I hope I am not being too obscure in my explanation. Whois is a command line utility available under unix and linux that searches DNS records so you can use to find the actual people associated with most domain names. It’s used by network administrators and network solutions has a handy web application that offers the same service:

  5. Patti says:

    Taking a paper and pencil with you into a massage reminded me of something I once heard. I think I may had heard it in an Elizabeth Gilbert TED talk. A singer/songwriter was driving and an idea for a song came to him. It would be really dangerous for him to try to record the idea at that time. So he spoke to God or his muse or whatever words you use and said, “If you want me to remember this song, you will have to tell me at a more convenient time.” Maybe you could try that before the massage.
    I too have a difficult time relaxing, although I think it is for different reasons. I am sending you a prayer for peaceful feelings.

  6. christina says:

    oh, dearest love–you are now and have always been perfectly YOU! and that is perfect for me and for all those who live and care about you! and i am thankful for you every moment of every day.

  7. Naomi says:

    Your words always form the most perfect substitute for a hug. I love you.

  8. Naomi says:

    I remember her telling that story! So true and perfect idea. It’s so hard to just let it all go, but when I am able to, it’s the most freeing feeling of trust.

  9. Naomi says:

    No worries. I knew exactly what you meant. I’m finding more and more of us are taking Brene’s class. So funny. I used to want to be an adolescent therapist, until I realized it was because I NEEDED one. 🙂 I’ll send your cards asap.

  10. Naomi says:

    I knew you would get it. Thank goodness for you and those like us!

  11. Deborah says:

    How lovely to See you! Brave girl, courageous friend. Perfect just as you are.
    Sending you lots of love and hopes that your holiday week will be just what you need.

    Deborah recently posted…Happy Thanksgiving!My Profile

  12. Naomi says:

    Thank you, Deb! Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

  13. Naomi, me and you could be twins I feel. So much alike. Only exception I never thought of taking a pen and paper to write during my massages. 🙂 I have been going for regular massages which are helping me release the knots and stresses accumulated in my body. I have also picked up my daughter’s copy of Brené’s book… I appreciated hearing about your e-Course with her that you are taking. I just subscribed to the updates, to find out when the next class will be. So it’s on my wish list.

    PS I loved the series you did with Amy Putkonen… and really appreciated being the winner of your beautiful photo card set on Amy’s blog. Yay!! xo
    Suzanne McRae recently posted…Time in nature to fill my soul!My Profile

  14. Perfectionism can be such a hard one to release, and yet I think when you realize by striving for “being perfect” you’re actually saying I don’t want to be who I truly am, it can be a huge shift. Wishing you lots of peace Naomi, plenty of rest when you’re weary, and recognition that imperfections are delightful sparkles.
    Deborah Weber recently posted…Gratitude: V is for…My Profile

  15. This is so very timely Naomi. I’ve got friends coming for lunch tomorrow and I am planning on spending today getting ready. Cleaning, vacuuming, dusting, shopping, cooking …. I’ll try to cut myself a little slack but it is hard. It is hard.
    Kelly Mckenzie recently posted…Lessons Learned in the Returns Line at CostcoMy Profile

  16. Caroline says:

    Perfect is so overrated and boring! I love the selfie with the written message on your hand! Good stuff. Just so you know, I retired my Constantly Evolving blog. It was time for a new beginning. You can find me here:

    Caroline recently posted…Like a breath of fresh airMy Profile

  17. Thanks! I came home and opened the package of cards this evening. They look very nice, great pictures, large and well printed.

  18. Glad that you are taking time out for Hanukkah and Thanksgiving – hope the birthday party went well too. Cutting ourselves slack is something that many of us find hard to do… I realised that a lot of my perfectionism – or wanting to do so many different things was due to wanting other people to see how much I could do, even though I thought it was just me. Hard to work out tho’ and to ensure my usual enthusiasm doesn’t move into perfectionism.
    Missus Wookie recently posted…OLW December Blog Hop (November’s Projects)My Profile

  19. I use what Patti said. “God if you’d like me to do this, you will need to remind me when I’m sitting at my desk working….thank you” I’ve learned to trust it will be there when it’s suppose to and have surrendered to what’s in the moment. This coming from me a long time ago needing to match up all the colors of my drinkware in order. LOL.. 3 pinks together, 3 reds together, you get the picture.

  20. Naomi says:

    Letting go is something I’m now trying to do too. So hard for some reason!

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