Complicated Contradictions

Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash
Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash

“Every mind is a clutter of memories, images, inventions and age-old repetitions. It can be a ghetto, too, if a ghetto is a sealed-off, confined place. Or a sanctuary, where one is free to dream and think whatever one wants. For most of us it’s both – and a lot more complicated.” Margo Jefferson

 

I came upon this quote a few days ago while browsing for quotes to use on my art cards and such.

It has stuck in my head and bounced around in there and provided me with much fodder for thought as I pondered why I found it so intriguing.

Several blog posts about it have been started and abandoned since.

Obviously, more thinking was required…

Today, I realized, is Friday and I had promised my daughter that I would do a journal page.  We actually mutually committed and challenged ourselves to create one page each week.

As I was working on this page (using stuff found on the floor of my studio)

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all the thoughts about the quote came together and the meaning (for me) became clear.

You know, one of those “aha” moments when something perfectly obvious actually becomes obvious…

I’m complicated and a mass of contradictions…which does not make me unique because the same can be said of everybody…

But, I am a uniquely complicated mass of contradictions unlike everyone else in the way that I am a complicated mass of contradictions.

Yes, I know…complicated.

I continually struggle with reconciling the conflicting aspects of my personality.

Am I a minimalist or a bohemian when it comes to decorating? I seem to de-clutter and then re-clutter in an endless cycle.

Can you be a vegan who longs for bacon?  I mean, can you really love Esther the Wonder Pig (www.estherthewonderpig.com) and buy an Easter ham for your family?

and so on and so forth…

And what happens when reality collides with the ideals?

When neither the minimalist room or the cluttered room provide a home…

when perceived open-mindedness is revealed to be less than true…

when dreams wither and are lost because perfection inhibits their development

Then form has become more important than function and appearance becomes more significant than the goal.

I am a work in progress.

I am a story still being written and a canvas still being created.

I am my past, my present and my future.

Sometimes I huddle in the dark, afraid and sometimes I embrace the light and move forwards and often take a wrong turn and get lost.

Who I am right now will not be who I am when this post is finished.

The journey I am on requires patience and grace and acceptance.

Patience with my inconsistencies and missteps,

 grace for the fear and failures,

and

acceptance of my limitations.

We are all glorious creations who should find joy in this messy, complicated journey that we travel.

And I hope that we all, with patience, grace and acceptance, find peace along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progress, not Perfection

Third post I’ve started for today.

Reality and perfectionism at odds in a big way.

This has kept me from writing for so long already.

I kept it simple yesterday.

A part of me needs the connections that I find here.

I’d like to think that it matters in some small way.

I have big thoughts and dreams and ideas.

But I am a small person.

Fragile right now.

I’m trying not to confuse that with weakness.

For I am strong.

I’ve made it this far.

Full of emotions and fear and hopes

and plans

Committed to taking small steps

Progress not perfection

and art…

lots more art

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Nothing.

I talk a lot here about goals and dreams and plans.  Things I want to get done.  Things I need to get done.

I realize that I have a definite inner voice (or critic) that I am constantly trying to please.  Where that voice comes from doesn’t really matter anymore.  Maybe some of us are born with it attached to our perfectionist gene.  Maybe it is recorded in childhood from the voices around us – intentional, careless, or misunderstood language that we recorded as children and carry around with us.

Does it matter?  What’s done is done.  The past is the past and no amount of striving, obsessing, or analysis can change it.

All I know is that I have a choice.  I can choose to continue behavior that doesn’t bring me peace and joy once I have identified it, or…

I can change.

What am I striving for?

For everyone who comes into or might come into my home to think I’m doing a good job as a homemaker, wife and mom?  My family already loves me – just as I am with all my flaws and faults and potential. The love me even when there isn’t a clean towel or two vegetables at the meal (maybe especially then).

For the world to see me as a “real” artist?  I like to make stuff.  That should be enough – to create for the sheer pleasure of it.

For the world to acknowledge that I do enough, I am enough, I have enough…

Unrealistic expectations.  Stupid even.  This is not the first time that I’ve had this realization and I’m sure that it won’t be the last.

Affirmation from the people around you and the world at large is meaningless if you don’t believe in yourself.

What brought all of this on?  Yesterday, I started feeling ill – reminiscent of my emergency surgery almost two years ago.  I was scared enough that I went to the doctor voluntarily today.  It turned out to be nothing significant.

I now think it was stress.  I’m not good at relaxing.  I suck at it.  I always feel the need to be doing something productive.

I have a choice.  I’m going to make the choice to start practicing doing nothing sometimes – Scribbling, coloring, staring, thinking, telling the voices to be quiet,  just being.  Decluttering my possessions is not enough.  I need to declutter negative behavior and unnecessary stress also.

I imagine that this will take some practice.

I have enough, I am enough, I do enough.

 

 

Perfection Isn’t Necessary

Friends are awesome.  Even (let’s change that to especially) friends that live across the country and you’ve only actually met in person a handful of times, but still have in your life through the magic of the internet.

I realize that the internet isn’t magic, but it appears to be if you’re a liberal arts person with absolutely no understanding of how most things work.  It’s not just that I don’t understand how computers, television, telephones, radio or my microwave work – I don’t want to know.  I like to live in a world where a certain element of mystery and magic exist.

Words, paint, and glue, I understand.  That’s enough for me.

Anyway, back to friends.  This particular friend (who needs to move to Texas and live next door to me) commented on my post about decluttering the hard stuff.

She said, “perfection isn’t necessary for your emotions or for your storage.”

Whoa.  Let’s sit and think about that one for a minute…or forever.

Me, trying for perfection?  Oh yea.   I am a perfectionist.  Sometimes I’m aware of it and work hard to control it.  Other times I get so caught up in what I’m doing that I don’t even notice that I’m working in a impossible manner towards an impossible goal.  Perfection isn’t necessary.  Good enough is good enough.  I keep trying to cut all the way through this process of decluttering and simplification.  There is no shortcut and there is no fast way to work through this process.  It’s a process…

I’ve read blogs where the writer says, “I got rid of 90% of my belongings and now I feel so much lighter.  My life is so much better.”  Yea for them – really and seriously.

What I want to know is how they got there.  It’s not so easy.  Especially if you’re trying for perfect!

Today, I’m not trying for perfect.  I’m going to take care of my chickens and dogs and family.  Not necessarily in that order.  And I’m going to take care of myself.  I’m going to sort through the rest of the hard stuff and make the best decisions that I can.  Some stuff is going to end up stored away.  I may deal with it at a later date.  Or it may stay stored away for awhile or forever and my kids can deal with it.

What’s important is that some stuff will leave and that’s a step in the right direction.

Festivities

Hello!

Did you miss me?

I’ve thought about writing many times over the past days, but was busy with the festivities and then recovering from them.

But, I’m back (sorta).

We had a great Thanksgiving celebration.  We sat nineteen celebrants at one long feast table that my son helped me create out of tables, desks and a door.  The food was plentiful and almost all good. Nothing is ever perfect, but it was close.

It was a fun mixture of family, old friends and new ones.  We played games, watched football, may have decluttered the inventory in the booze cabinet and…

for entertainment we had a guy breath fire and twirl a fire staff.  Betcha can’t top that!

I was fairly successful at keeping my perfectionism at bay and controlling my stress level.  Lots of cleaning didn’t get done and the house is a fair disaster now.  I do think the decluttering helped a lot.

I think I’m going to continue on with the game of decluttering five items.  There is definitely stuff that I have in readiness for a big meal or lots of guest that I never used last week:  dishes, linens, towels and the like.  Those can probably go.  And now that we are fully into cold weather, I’m finding some clothes that I don’t wear.  I pull them out, try them on, and take them back off again.

My health is moving to the forefront of my attention now.  Over the last six months or so I’ve been paying less attention to what I eat and one day of not walking become two and then a week and then a month.  During the holidays I ate whatever I wanted and can really tell the difference in the way I feel.  The fitbit is back on.  The veggies are back in the fridge. The carbs are going into someone else’s mouth.  I miss feeling good.  This tired, sluggish feeling sucks.

Celebrations are good.  Normal (boring) routine is also good.  I’m actually ready to cook a small meal, do some school, make some art, and read a book.  And definitely take a nap.

But first, I need to go finish the Thanksgiving dishes – don’t judge.  Most of them are done!  There’s just the odd glass here and maybe a few pans that needed to soak.  Maybe not for five days, but hey, I’m trying.  Remember, we are all works in progress.  Imperfect, but making an effort.

Decluttered today:

  1. 3 sweaters that are itchy (and ugly)
  2. 2 dessert plates
  3. some socks with no matches
  4. a wooden gate that is missing pieces and therefore doesn’t actually work as a gate at all.
  5. a box of thumb tacks

Be the Change…

I had several ideas for writing today, but one has very clearly floated to the surface on this Wednesday.

It could actually have been titled:  Perfectionism, Part 2.

Background information here!  For Christmas, I was given a beautiful journal with the Gandhi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, stamped on the cover.  I had an epiphany of sorts…I had been pondering a “theme” to use for the New Year.

Resolutions just haven’t ever worked out well for me.  Does anyone really have any luck with them?  Who makes it to the end of January without breaking the resolutions?  Certainly not me!

Anyhow, in 2014, I decided it would be my year of “No Fear”.  I consciously decided to face things that I was afraid of instead of avoiding them.  For example, I started this blog (which had actually been started previously, but abandoned because I was afraid).  I publicly shared my art.  I battled my tendency towards agoraphobia.  Whenever I became reluctant to start or do something, I thought it through and tackled it.  Much better than resolutions!

Back to January 2015…I decided to play with Gandhi’s quote a bit and came up with:  “Be the change you wish to see in your world”.  Instead of worrying, perseverating, whining, or giving up on the things I’m unhappy with in my/our life, I decided that I would take action.  Taking steps, even baby-steps, even steps in the wrong direction, is preferable to doing nothing and being miserable.

The thing that I’d most like to change in my/our life right now is our financial situation.  It might be classified as dismal except that’s depressing.  Let’s just call it “a situation that has room for improvement”.

And that brings us back to the beginning of this post…

I’ve been sitting here at my desk for well over an hour.  It’s been a busy month with lots of distractions and I’ve totally let my money management system get out of control.  That’s a fancy way of saying that I’ve just been shoving the unopened bills into a big pile on the shelf above my desk.  Let me tell you, procrastination is no way to get your money woes under control.

Lesson number one:  Remember the theme from 2014 (No Fear) and stop avoiding that which you are afraid of.

Lesson number two:  Don’t forget to  “Be the Change”.  Doing something is almost always better than doing nothing at all.

One of the reasons I had avoided dealing with the bills is that I couldn’t pay them all.  I couldn’t do it “right”.  It wasn’t going to be finished.  Some bills were going back in that pile.

It’s so hard for me to take steps in a journey when I know I can’t get where I want to go; at least right now.

I’m trying to learn to let go of the expectations…that I can somehow be perfect, please everyone, have control of the journey, or change things as quickly as I’d like.

Most importantly, I’m trying to be kind to myself when I can’t seem get my act together…when the fear never fully goes away and when I feel like giving up instead of trying to change things.

Life is hard sometimes.

Life is always wonderful.