Imperfection is Part of the Art

If you look back at pictures of me in college, you’ll notice that I almost always had my nails painted. I used to spend two hours at a time giving myself a manicure just like you get at the salon.

I’ve probably painted my nails  five times in the past five years. There are a bunch of reasons for that, but the most troubling and prevailing reason I don’t paint my nails anymore is because I often don’t have two hours to spend doing nothing with my hands, applying coats and waiting for them to dry. So I resign to doing nothing, despite the desire to have my nails painted.

I realized last night that my perfectionism is seeping into the most mundane things in my life.

I do not paint my nails anymore because if I can’t do it correctly and perfectly, I will not do it at all.

I am so blindly type A that I will not paint my nails if I can not do it exactly like I want to. Like it will somehow mean something if I *gasp* apply one coat of polish to a bare nail.

*insert eye roll here*

I’ve been slowly realizing how often I get the urge to do something perfectly, and how often I painstakingly follow through with that urge. Or, I know that I cannot do it perfectly and decide not to do it at all because if you can’t do it right, you have no business doing it at all.

That kind of thinking should really be reserved for people making precise, life and death movements. You know, like surgeons or rocket scientists, or the bomb squad. Me? The most life and death I get is getting behind the wheel of a car or chopping vegetables with a very sharp knife.

I do not need to stay so tightly wound. I do not need to exist in a purely perfect state of being. In fact, that’s impossible. So the illusion I’ve been keeping up of needing to do everything perfectly is a joke I’ve been playing on myself for years.

I made a vision board for 2017 and one of my favorite sentences I pieced together reads, “Imperfection is part of the art.” If you want to create something or do something you haven’t done before, you can’t be afraid of a little imperfection.

Here’s to one coat manicures, crooked lines, and asymmetrical pieces.

Mindfulness Roundup – September

This is the second post in my monthly mindfulness roundup series where I share with you photos of the things I’ve noticed trying to be more mindful!  It helps me remember to stay present, not fiddling around in the past or the future.

It looks like I’ve had my head in the clouds for the past month. I dig it.

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Summer niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiihiiiiiiiights

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This is the floor in the Pittsburgh airport. I APPROVE

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Love me a good cloud

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I was trying to focus on the clouds, but this was way better

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Literally up in the clouds

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I am in love with this whole thing, from the design to the color

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Obligatory photo of Yogi

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Wouldn’t be me without a picture of flowers

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Yes please

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I’m gonna miss all the hydrangeas come fall

Yes I am an Optimist and No, I am Not Delusional

I come across a lot of things online that portray optimism like it’s absolute delusion. You know the stereotype: that constantly smiling, cheerful person who’s always in a good mood no matter how many parking tickets they get or the frequency with which the dog pees in their house. People who function like that are referred to as Pollyannas, and I absolutely can’t stand that optimists and Pollyannas get lumped into the same category.

I’m a pessimist turned optimist and I’m not here to live in a purely positive bubble, devoid of all things unpleasant and negative. You can’t have light without the dark. Balance in life is necessary and a life with absolutely no negativity would frankly feel weird. I like to remind myself that even the Dalai Lama has admitted to getting mad on occasion, because he’s *gasp* human.

Optimism is defined as “hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something.” In his book Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman outlines how optimists are fundamentally different from pessimists:

Pessimists see situations as permanent, personal, and pervasive, while optimists see situations as temporary, situational, and specific.

Optimism is not a dreamlike delusion- it’s a way of framing what happens to you that keeps it from being unbearable, inescapable, and crushing. I’ve been a full fledged pessimist, and I adopted optimism when I was 23. I can tell you first hand that pessimism will not help you grow, change, or connect to your full potential.

There are a lot of studies that detail the effects of employing learned optimism or a more positive way of thinking (here, here, or here for starters) and the results are striking: better health, less stress, a stronger immune system, more gratitude, and these people would say they are happy. They may even live longer.

So, as they say in Monty Python, “Always look on the bright side of life.” The bright side. Yes, there is and always will be a dark side of life (cue Darth Vader breathing). You can and will look in on the dark stuff occasionally, but if you can remember that there’s always an unlimited amount of hope and that you can keep it in your heart, you’ll be okay.

Life is full of ups and downs, good and bad, tragic and inspiring, amazing and devastating- but you get to decide were your mind goes, and you can choose your mood.

Life’s too short to spend in the dark.

-You can and will look in on the dark stuff occasionally. But if you can remember that there is always an unlimited amount of hope and that you can keep it in your heart, you'll be okay.- - Found on Jseeksjoy.com

If you’re interested in learning more about optimism and pessimism, I INSIST that you get your mits on a copy of Learned Optimism ASAP.

Mindfulness Roundup – August

Welcome to the first post in a new monthly series where I share with you photos of the things I’ve noticed trying to be more mindful! Mindfulness is really important to me and I try to consciously notice what’s around me. It helps me remember to stay present, not fiddling around in the past or the future.

This month I’ve been listening to Daring Greatly by Brene Brown on my mindfulness walks and it’s been an awesome refresher. I loved it the first time around and I’m really loving it again.

Why? I’ve been working on my NACADA presentation for the national conference in October and the feelings of inadequacy and my shame gremlins are out in FULL FORCE. I am having to constantly remind myself that I was chosen to do this by my peers, they believe I have an idea worth sharing, and that I am important enough to show up, take up space, and share not only my story but my ideas. Baby steps.

If I had to choose a theme for this month it would definitely be flowers. (If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen one or two of these already!) Summer, with all of its natural foliage, is my absolute favorite time of year. If I could live in one season, it would most definitely be summer. And if I could spend every day lounging in a pool reading in the sun, I would do that too. (Life goals). 

Enjoy!

Yogi looking cute AF in someone else’s yard

Yogi photo bomb

#NotMyYard

Let’s talk about stress, baby

I recently came across this video in my internet travels:

Stress is not glamorous.

Back when I was working retail, I was the most stressed I have ever been for every reason you can fathom, including not being able to find a job that required my master’s degree. (Pity party of one, please?) I gained 20 pounds, I had trouble sleeping, I was irritable and grumpy AF, and I had periods of severe depression and anxiety.

The weight I gained caused my cholesterol to skyrocket. I was also sighing a lot- I literally could not breathe. When I couldn’t sleep I would refuse to get out of bed, lying in the dark listening to my mind whir. When I did sleep, I would snooze my alarm for hours if I had nowhere to be that day. I would eat my feelings (and I would annihilate bags of veggie chips.) My body was trying its damndest to raise every red flag it had, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was too busy being a hot mess to realize that I needed to do something.

Eventually I figured it out (after almost two years), and I started this blog. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?

Today, I’m not necessarily less stressed, but I have learned to pay attention. To my body, to my moods, to my eating habits, to my cravings. I still experience stress (because I am a living human being (with an admittedly overactive amygdala)), but I am so much better at dealing with it.

And 75% of that is just being able to recognize the feeling of being stressed. If I know I am stressed, I can be gentle with myself when I struggle, and give myself a healthy outlet for all of my feeeeelings. Like reading, or going for a walk, or meditating, or watching an episode or two of something on Netflix, or getting a big, all encompassing hug from Mack. You know, the kind that makes you want to cry because you feel so safe and free to be quite frankly, vulnerable. (Here’s a really great article on ways to combat stress and anxiety with mindfulness. )

The moral of this story? Pay attention to your body. Check in regularly, and be kind to yourself if you find you are struggling. You are human, and you are going to be okay.