Sunday, February 21, 2016

Short Stuff

Sunday Gus
Every Sunday before the sun comes up, I listen to playlists with names like "Dissolving Clouds," drink coffee and watch Gus sleep while I think about stuff. 

I think through the past week's unresolved questions or problems, people I love who are enduring a rough ordeal, others who may just be coming out of one. 

I think about the twenty-something man who took a very elderly woman to see Maggie Smith's movie last night, and the guy I saw later on in a restaurant who all but stood on his head to cheer his sulky girlfriend.  

I think about what I'll make for dinner, and if I can maybe put the top down on the car if I also turn the heat up, and why Donald Trump can't do something about the white space his tanning goggles leave around his tiny eyes.

Stuff like that.

More than anything, I think about our kids and what I'm going to write about in the coming week. Today, I decided that I miss posting, but enjoy posting shortstuff and think that's what you'd rather read anyway. .

Today, since I have both raising children and writing in common with some, but have either of the two in common with many, I thought I would offer you a chicken or beef post of things worth mentioning in either category. 
Raising children
My four different people.
Raising four children who are as similar to each other as trees and fish and motorcycles and books, has taught me that I am better at foreign languages than I thought.
Every once in a while, I lapse into the wrong one when I'm communicating with them, and I get the same look you'd give someone who tried to tell you a joke or give you advice using words you've never heard before. 
I realize, this work in progress - to learn the unique language that came with each of them - joyously, has no end.
It is the easiest and the hardest thing I know about being a parent:  to explore the depth of our ability to know and love another person, whether or not they are like us, one fathom at a time. 
Maybe I would focus
better if I moved the cat.
It takes me about twenty minutes to come around to what kind of writing I'll do for the day. And yet, if I interrupt that process to open a work in progress, I'll fall in until dinner time. If I could just learn that for keeps, I could spend that twenty minutes each day planning a dinner to reward my efforts. 

Ever since I read the Anne Lamott quote below, I am more mindful of what I want to accomplish in my writing life, and aware of when - and why - I'm avoiding the work of it. You just have to walk so far into that forest of thought and imagination. But I've also realized that the things I do while I'm putting it off, are things I'm bringing back to the page. So only some of the time does writing take place on the actual page, babies. When you don't want to be a writer, but need to be, that's what you do. All the time. 
Strange how mindful living works, but it does. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Living life for realsies

I am a recovering perfectionist. It's okay, don't worry. 

Are you worried? 

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to worry you.

I feel terrible.

I'm sorry.

Are you one of those? Do you know one of those?  

A while back, when I was a wee perfectionist, I saw a therapist to figure out why every day seemed "just out," as they say in tennis.

We only had a few sessions before he compared my way of living to the way rodents behave on a wheel. "The perfectionism thing has to go," he said.

He gave me a wrist clicker and told me to use it when I had that "perfectionist thing." He explained that seeing the number drop would be reinforcing and suggested I prepare a reward for myself. I said, "How about not having to see someone about my perfectionist thing anymore?"

We worked on it, things got better, we said goodbye and I walked to my car with his parting words in my head:

"You'll have this again. Remember, when you do, that perfectionism is about the way you make life look, not the way life really is."

In a conversation recently with someone who would also like to become a recovering perfectionist, I was reminded of another important thing I've learned since driving away from that parking lot years ago and it is this:

The more you do, when less is required, the less you're living for realsies.
The less you do, when less is required, the more you're living for realsies.

Godspeed, recovering perfectionists, and everyone else. 
Life is good, when it's realsie.