Tag Archives: perfection

How to Beat Holiday Decorating Stress

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How to Beat Holiday Decorating Stress

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It’s October 1st – the official kickoff of the holiday decorating season. First it’s Halloween, then Thanksgiving (or simply the fall season), immediately followed by Christmas. I used to think holiday decorating had to be done all at once or not all. It was a huge deal to pull the tubs out of the garage and drag them into the house, wipe the heavy layers of dust and settled road grime off the lids, pull everything out of every tub and find the perfect location for every single item. Then I had to gather up all of the newspapers and plastic grocery bags used for packing, stuff it back in the empty tubs, and haul the tubs back to the garage. A month or two later, I had to find time to bring in the empty tubs, pack everything up, restack the tubs in the garage, and bring in the next round of seasonal paraphernalia to repeat the previous steps.

EXHAUSTING

JOY KILLING

It got to be too much – just another entry on the never-ending to do list. So I quit. For two years, I didn’t decorate at all. And guess what…

Nobody cared.

My family didn’t love me less. My friends didn’t refuse to hang out with the woman who failed to embrace holiday mania.

I love my home. It is truly my refuge in this wibbly wobbly world that keeps me so off-kilter. I enjoy surrounding myself with warm, comfortable, beautiful things. But the go big or go home mentality was killing me. It was a physical and emotional relief to skip the seasonal decorating hysteria for a while, but I began missing some of the small touches.

Fall is my favorite decorating season. I adore the warm colors of orange, deep red, brown and gold. Pumpkins and gourds make me smile. I have more tubs of fall decorations than all other holidays combined – even Christmas! I have learned, however, that just because I have a lot of stuff, it doesn’t mean I need to use all of it every year. Nor do I have to decorate all at once. Instead of creating a crisis of autumnal decorating chaos, I’m finding joy in creating these small oases of fall fun as the whimsy strikes me.

A couple of weeks ago I had coffee with friends after which we swung by Hobby Lobby for some casual browsing and cart loading of tiny artificial pumpkins, sunflowers, leaves and gourds. The trip resulted in three small seasonal touches implemented over the course of a couple of weeks. I didn’t make a mess of plastic tubs, packing materials, and 30 years worth of collected fake fall fruit and foliage.

So if you’re a Type A, overachiever, Martha Stewart wannabe, Better Homes and Gardens coveter like me, it’s okay. I’m giving you permission to take a break. Stop driving yourself crazy trying to be perfect and create the perfect holiday environment. Did you know there are people out there who NEVER decorate?

GASP!

I know, I have a hard time believing it too. Maybe they’re happy about it. Maybe they’re miserable wishing they had a “green thumb” for decorating. I don’t know. This isn’t about them. But we can learn from them. Trust me, you will not die or be abandoned by everyone you’ve ever loved if you refuse to stress yourself out over the holidays. In fact, your family just might think you’re a lot more fun.

Share your decorating tips, stress busters, and photos. I’d love to hear from you.

Best Laid Plans

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“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Robert Burns

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15

Obviously I am not the only one who watches my good intentions flit on the wind like wishes blown from a dandelion.

Perhaps it’s perfectionism breeding inactivity again. Or maybe it’s just laziness. Whatever it is, it’s an excuse. I’m full of those -things I tell myself are legitimate reasons for not accomplishing my goals. Sometimes it isn’t enough just to be inactive and not complete a goal. Sometimes I have to go out of my way to actually sabotage myself and set myself back. I am especially good at sabotaging my weight loss goals, but that’s a different blog post.

Today I’m writing about my best laid plans for this blog already going awry. I started at the beginning of vacation when hope and excitement were high. My intention was to use my trip to really kick off the blog and write my way through a solo adventure in Ireland. I started strong, three posts in and then the excuses started.

I was tired after driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road where I didn’t know what was around each corner.

I didn’t have very good wifi.

My brain was too full from the excitement of the day to write clearly.

Really?

I wasn’t too tired after driving to watch American reruns on Irish TV. I had good enough wifi in one bed and breakfast that I watched a movie on Netflix. My brain was really full, but from that wealth of thought I wrote several blogs in my head while hiking around the Emerald Isle. I even took a few minutes after breakfast one morning to write four pages of bullet pointed lists of topics to write about. How hard would it have been to type one up while NCIS played in the background and upload it when I had a good wifi signal?

I am a creature of habit and even though I want to do things differently, I allow myself to do the things I hate like Paul wrote about in Romans 7. I start off strong, then wane when I’m tired and let the old habits reach out and pull me back into inactivity. The key is making sure the paralysis doesn’t become permanent.

So the plans go awry. Make a new plan.

So I do evil today and watch reruns instead of posting on my blog or getting in a good workout or flossing my teeth or dusting the living room. Do good tomorrow.

There’s nothing wrong with having good intentions. There’s nothing wrong with our plans going awry. It’s only wrong when we give up, when we stop trying, when our intentions are no longer good and we no longer make plans.

“Tomorrow’s another day.” Scarlett O’Hara

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” Conrad Hilton

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

An Imperfect Start

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An Imperfect Start

I’m a perfectionist. Sometimes this is a good thing. When I’m cleaning house or completing a project at work, it’s good to have an eye for detail and do my best.

Sometimes it’s a bad thing. When I’m so concerned about doing something perfectly that I don’t even try to do it, that’s a paralyzingly bad thing.

Take this blog for example. I’ve been wanting to do this for several years. I used to write a regular column for the Chester County Independent and loved that creative outlet. I’ve missed it. So I thought, why not do something similar with a blog? But I put it off because I didn’t have the perfect title, or the perfect layout, or the perfect organization, or the perfect whatever the hell I thought needed to be perfect.

So I finally thought of a blog name. It was available and I was excited. I bought the domain and found an online class on how to use Photoshop Elements to create a beautiful blog and signed up. Then I got busy. And maybe a little scared. Scared that I wouldn’t have time to devote to a regular blog, that no one would read it anyway, that I wouldn’t be able to make it as visually appealing as some of the other blogs I’ve seen, that it wouldn’t be as cool or clever as my friend’s blog, that it wouldn’t be perfect.

My kids aren’t hung up on perfection or even the perception of or the drive for perfection. They just do what they want, when they want, and how they want. They try new things, they fail, they succeed, they have adventures! They are who they are and they accept that.

As a new empty-nester, I’ve been redefining what’s important and just how perfect everything really needs to be. I’ve started working out and eating better. I’ve completely dejunked and deep cleaned my house and turned my daughter’s bedroom into a comfortable guest room.

Now I’m waiting in an airport to leave for the trip of a lifetime. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland and I’m wanting to get back into writing. So what could be better than going to an immersive writing retreat in Ireland? I’m not sure, so I’m doing it!

I’ve had a long layover, so I thought I’d finally get started on this blog. Guess what! I waited too long for perfection and the perfect blog title I’d come up with has been taken. Someone who doesn’t even use capitalization or punctuation is using the title I thought would perfectly define what I was writing about and the message I hoped to share with my readers. Every variation I could think of has been used. Every synonym and alliteration is already in the blogosphere. I spent three hours plugging in ideas and seeing the red box stating this title has already been used.

Then I thought about talking to my 19-year old daughter about taking a spontaneous, solo trip to a foreign country. Leaning over and smoothing her waist-length hair into a ponytail, she flipped her head back up, twisted her hair into a bun and pinned it to the top of her head.

“You just do you, Mama,” she said as she looked me in the eye. “You’re perfect enough.”