Tag Archives: Perfectionism

Something Good


1. This description of a good writer, from Isaac Asimov, “You are my idea of a good writer because you have an unmannered style, and when I read what you write, I hear you talking.”

2. Something you may need to hear today from Kat McNally.

3. To Succeed, Forget Self-Esteem, a post about self-compassion on, of all places, Harvard Business Review (?!)

4. On being copied from Andrea Schroeder, in which she says “people aren’t buying your product or service on its own – they’re buying your product or service animated by your creative essence.”

5. 36 Things You Will Naturally Understand If You’re From Colorado on BuzzFeed. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with all of these, and don’t get the childhood references since I didn’t grow up here, but it’s pretty funny.

6. Brave Love, “A love-based case for the what’s right in the world, curated by Brit Hanson.”

7. 30 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Die.

8. Sacred Love: 12 Things at the Bottom of Everything** from Rachel Maddox. P.S. There’s still time to donate to her Traveling Soul Circus project.

9. The Five Buddha Families and 10 Reasons why Buddhism is Better than your Religion on Elephant Journal.

10. Erica Staab shares a beautiful poem, Clearing by Martha Postlewaite.

11. From Brave Girls Club,

Beautiful, true, important things almost always take a long time to come to fruition. There are often very long stretches that are tedious, thankless, difficult and hard to measure. We get tired and that makes us weak and vulnerable to things that hurt our feelings or make us want to stop trying. There are often points in the journey when we feel absolutely alone, misunderstood and even cast out. There are sometimes points in our journey when we just want to be alone…and that is hard to explain to people we love. Making progress is not easy, is it?

With all of that in mind, however…think even more seriously about how miserable it is to stay stagnant. Think of how awful it feels to know in our hearts that we are meant for something, but to continue to ignore it, run away from it….or stay stuck just looking at it in fear.

12. The Well-Fed Woman: Tara Sophia Mohr on Rachel Cole’s blog, in which Tara describes something I know all too well, in a way I hadn’t quite figured out how to say it yet:

I grew up making art of all kinds – but when I went to college I couldn’t find a way to create comfortably in the highly competitive, hierarchical environment there. My center drifted over to my more intellectual, left-brain side, and that became my comfort zone. The more I was centered there, the harder it was to create. I became very, very afraid making art – so frozen in my creativity, afraid of failure, afraid of “not being good.”

13. Also on Rachel Cole’s blog, a brilliant reframing of perfection, The New (Im)perfection.

14. rodrigo y gabriela, and a lesson in passion on Chookooloonks.

15. your daily rock : love what you do

16. ZenPen: Body-Based Writing for Healing, Transformation, and Personal Growth, a great new offering from Courtney Putnam, a six week writing ecourse. I swore I wasn’t taking any more ecourses, needed to put my energy into creating my own, but this one makes that vow so hard to keep.

This microcourse, How to Create a Microbusiness that Matters, from Courtney Carver at Be More With Less, is also making this promise a tough one to keep.

17. “Often I busy myself trying to find the key – and fail to notice the door has no lock.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher

18. The August Break with Susannah Conway is back! I’m in.

19. how joy is a toughie for me from Jessica Swift.

20. My Dog Got Kicked Out Of Daycare Today.

21. Rachel Cole linked to a song in her Midsummer’s Joy post, and I was so happy, not realizing that Mary Lambert, the gorgeous female voice on Macklemore’s “Same Love,” had her own full song, She Keeps Me Warm. I bought her EP Letters Don’t Talk and have been listening to it on repeat (it’s only five songs).

22. Note from the Universe,

Dreams come true, Jill, that’s what they do. The only variable is when. For the slow approach: Resist. Attach. Insist. Deny. Stop. Second guess. Whine. Argue. Defend. Protest. Cry. Struggle. And ask others, when you know the answer yourself. For the quick approach: Visualize. Pretend. Prepare. Dodge. Roll. Serpentine. Do not waiver over intentions, but over methods. Show up, even when nothing happens. And give thanks in advance. You knew that.

24. This wisdom from Henri Nouwen and his book Turning My Mourning into Dancing, (shared by Satya in Writing Our Way Home’s newsletter),

I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say, “Everything is grace.” As long as we remain resentful about things we wish had not happened, about relationships that we wish had turned out differently, mistakes we wish we had not made, part of our heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of us. It is a way we hold part of ourselves apart from God.


25. Your Permanent Record from Seth Godin, in which he says, “Perfect can’t possibly be the goal, we’re left with generous, important and human instead.” Also from Seth, People like us do stuff like this.

26. A birds-eye view of this right now {Just One Paragraph 4/30} from Christina Rosalie, in which she says, “Time is a trickster. A torrent one minute, then a slow as honey crawl the next.”

27. Amazing Plant Sculptures at the Montreal Mosaiculture Exhibition 2013 on Bored Panda.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Being highly sensitive is both a blessing and a curse. I was born completely porous, raw and naked and open wide. I had no defense, no barrier between myself and the world, myself and others. What you felt, I felt, and I felt it deeply. For years, I wore heavy armor (invisible yes, but heavy and hard nonetheless) and masks, cocooned myself, padded my body with extra weight, distracted with smoke and mirrors, hid myself away, anything I could to do to protect myself.

What I didn’t understand yet is that this sensitivity, this keen emotion, acute intuition, deep knowing, this tenderness was something that others spent their lives trying to achieve, that there were many ancient practices to teach one to be so openhearted, so present, spacious and awake. I had what others wanted, what they worked so hard to experience. I have slowly allowed my gentle self to peek out, have been working with being vulnerable and brave, keeping my heart open, but it’s so hard sometimes–the beauty and the brutality, the tenderness and the terror can be so overwhelming.

2. Truth: “You should put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help someone else with theirs.” I was chanting this silently last night as I tried to fall asleep. My worrying about Dexter wasn’t letting me rest, mind or body, and I was exhausted. That phrase was the thing that kept coming back to me, the only thing that was helping. No “he’s fine” or “everything’s going to be okay” or general allowing or accepting of reality or releasing of attachment would work, but the awareness that I needed to take care of myself or I wouldn’t be of any help to him did.

3. Truth: I can’t control everything, and perfection is impossible. I know this, deep down know it, and yet I keep acting as if it’s not true. I keep Dexter home from hiking, thinking I can keep him safe, and he hurts himself chasing after a squirrel in our backyard. I feed my dogs the best possible food, provide the best health care, give them tons of exercise and affection, take better care of them sometimes than I do myself, and still two of them have been diagnosed with fatal cancers. I obsess about Dexter’s physical therapy and medications and various appointments, thinking I can fix him, keep him safe, when no matter what I do, he will eventually die, as all mortal things do. I try to be so careful and prepared and diligent and alert, but bad things still happen. Things break, feelings get hurt, mistakes are made. I am not always responsible, and even when I am, I am forgivable, still loveable. I am trying to do as Karen Salmansoh suggests and, “Let go of what you can’t control. Channel all that energy into living fully in the now.”

One Wish: That we can approach our experience, our struggle and suffering, with great gentleness and a loving presence. That when we despair, are afraid and sad, we can experience some ease, remember our innate strength, have confidence and find comfort in our fundamental wisdom and compassion. And as Hafiz says, “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.”

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Trying to be anyone other than who I am won’t make me happy. In some cases, comparison kills–my creativity, my sense of self-worth, my well-being, my sense of direction. To imagine I’d be happier or more loved if I just had that hair or her thighs or drove that car or lived in that house or had that job or lost 20 pounds (again) is a delusion. Nothing I don’t have, nothing I’m not will make me happy if I’m unable to be happy with what already is, as it is right now.

2. Truth: Perfectionism is a form of self-aggression. Trying to be someone I’m not won’t work, but attempting to become a perfect version of myself is just as dangerous. Perfection doesn’t exist, isn’t possible, and isn’t even preferable. Think about it: do you love the people you love because of what they get right (her hair is always perfect, her wardrobe stunning, her house spotless) or for their flaws (how she’s always tripping over everything, his crazy cowlick, how easily she cries, how he can never find his wallet, the way she snorts when she laughs really hard)?

3. Truth: The best I, the best any of us have to offer is exactly who we are, in this very moment. Crazy, confused, uncool freaks. And totally badass. Every one of us a precious, brilliant, stinky mess.

One Wish: That we show up with an open heart, completely and utterly in the moment as we are, fully accepting and embodying this moment, this self. That we are able to relax, be gentle, and let go.

Resolve: Mid-Year Review

On this, the first day of the second half of this year of Retreat, I have been reflecting on what I’ve experienced so far, and contemplating what’s to come. My word for the year was Retreat, with the clarifying words being rest, practice, balance, and transformation. Retreat, a time to remove myself from the usual expectations and obligations, to study and practice.

My life, my experience, my path in the last six months has been 1000 shades of love, 1000 shades of weird, 1000 shades of magic. Sometimes, I feel like a starfish caught on the beach, moving as fast as I can but my progress barely perceptible to others, or like a butterfly just out of the chrysalis, slightly confused about my new state of being, sitting on a branch waiting for my wings to dry. I am utterly transformed, but exactly the same. I am as I always was, but suddenly awake, and in that way so completely different.

image by peter harrison

Through all the classes, blogging and regular features, writing and meditation retreats, workshops, books, challenges, practices, the genuine and constant effort of the past six months, I feel a little like I’ve been in graduate school, earning a Master’s of Arts in Wholehearted Living, a Master’s of Science in Applied Practice, a Master’s of Fine Arts in Loving. My teachers and guides have been Susan Piver, Andrea Scher, Susannah Conway, Brene’ Brown, Laurie Wagner, Jen Lemen, Jennifer Louden, Rachel Cole, Patti Digh, Geneen Roth, Anne Lamott, Julia Cameron, Jamie Ridler, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Pema Chodron, my dogs, and so many others, along with an amazing group of fellow students on the same path–many of whom I’ll be meeting and connecting with at the World Domination Summit later this week.

room with a view

I still struggle with perfectionism, with lack of self-care and self-love, with being gentle with myself and present with my experience, and yet so much has changed. I don’t suffer from the crushing depression I did for so long. I’m not riddled with anxiety and stress. My path is no longer muddled by confusion or lack of clarity. Surprisingly, much of the transformation has been remembering who I am rather than becoming something else, about getting clear about the purpose and superpowers born into the world with me, a repeated mantra of “This is me. I am enough and I have enough. This is who I am, wise and compassionate and powerful.”

I still struggle to rest. I know intellectually how important it is, that I can’t give what I hope to from a place of overwhelm or exhaustion, that self-care is really just another way of ensuring the quality of my offering–but I long to know this in my gut, in my blood and bones, deep in my heart, to embody it fully. To practice it in the same way I do so many other things that are essential, that I do regularly without having to apply any special effort, like making 1/2 a cup of coffee in the morning, feeding and walking my dogs, or writing morning pages, these things that happen each and every day, no question and no matter what.

dexter and sam know how to play

Since rest is still an issue for me, balance has not been achieved–I find it for brief moments, but it’s not yet sustainable. I still work too much, which means I don’t eat or sleep or exercise or play like I should. Practice, which is deeper and richer (yoga, meditation, writing, reading, dog, walking/hiking, and love) is helping me to contemplate, consider, creep my way towards a middle path, a middle way. I have confidence, curiosity, and more clarity than ever, so there’s no despair or smashing myself to bits about it, (most of the time, anyway).

I’ve experienced so many things I wished for, longed for, imagined and dreamed about–my sense of what is possible has been expanded and reinforced to such a degree that I can start to relax a bit, sink into being, into the present moment, into “this minute of eternity.”

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ~Rumi

Something Good

tide pool

Oh my, kind and gentle reader, after a shorter list last week, this week’s is extra long, so many awesome things I saw this week. My right eye is twitching anticipating writing this one up–and the tagging! Ugh…But every last thing on this list is worth it, otherwise I wouldn’t bother sharing.

One thing, there won’t be many videos shared while we are here on the coast, because I can’t really watch much of anything. While I am grateful to have the internet and my tiny computer, even a makeshift standup desk to use while I’m here, it’s not the same as home.

beach workstation

Specifically, everything just takes longer. For example, this morning I wanted to watch my latest Practitioner video from Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project, not because I had to, she lovingly includes a transcript with her email that I can read and get the same info, but I wanted to watch the video, wanted to see and hear her because I’m missing her, but for a five minute video, it took a half an hour to download on this internet connection, which is running on beach time, and because my tiny computer is slower, even working as hard as it can, I couldn’t really do much of anything else while the video downloaded.

So, all the fancy stuff on this list (whatever that means–do I even do anything fancy on this blog, or ever?!) will most likely be put on hold until I’m back in Colorado, mostly because I can’t watch anything to know if it’s good or worth sharing. But not to worry, because like I said, there’s lots of good stuff, even without the videos (and there is at least one video on this list).

1. Badass Courtney Carver and her post, People Will Think You Are Weird. I mentioned one of Courtney’s posts on this list last week, told you she was a badass, and she linked from this, her latest post, back to mine. I love this new one, it’s so true and such a good list, (many of which items would show up if I made a list of all the ways I’m weird–oh, good blog post idea! I must make a note of that…). She ends the post with this:

You will threaten some, but your weird, crazy, lovely, badass behavior will inspire and spread hope, joy, courage and change. Let go of the excuse that people might think you are weird if you make a change or try something new. They absolutely will and you will survive it. Maybe you are weird. Welcome to the club!

Yay for the weird club!

2. Where in the World Do I Start? from Leo Babauta on ZenHabits. I think Leo might just be the king of how to start. I know that he was incredibly helpful to me when I was starting again.

3. The Foolproof Way to Know You Are Loveable from Rachel Cole, a post which, interestingly enough, serves as the foolproof way to know that Rachel is loveable, utterly and completely.

4. How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love on Brain Pickings. So much awesome in this post.

5. This video touches and breaks my heart, The First 70 trailer shared in a post by Squam, and is too important to not pass on. And yes, I have been known to hug a tree.

6. Scavenger Hunt for Happiness, Live Lane on Your Heart Makes a Difference. Word.

7. How to Write a Book from Susannah Conway. Really good advice. She inspires me.

8. Dancing Matt. If you haven’t already seen these videos from this big hearted dancing goofball, I am so happy to introduce you to them.

9. Flab, Cellulite, and Dangling Arm Fat. Oh sisters, indeed: you are beautiful!

10. On What’s Wrong With You. Just read it.

11. 100 Things To Do Instead Of Procrastinating On The Internet! from Gala Darling. Now, to be clear, I obviously have nothing against the internet. Like all things created by and for humans, it has at its heart compassion and wisdom. What I like about this list isn’t as a list of things to do instead, but just as a good list of things to do.

12. Why the 21st Century Author is an Internet Entrepreneur. Oh, this is very, very interesting…

13. This quote, from the Dalai Lama.

Genuine peace of mind is rooted in affection and compassion. There is a very high level of sensitivity and feeling involved. So long as we lack inner discipline, an inner calmness of mind, then no matter what external facilities or conditions we may have, they will never give us the feeling of joy and happiness that we seek. On the other hand, if we possess this inner quality—that is, calmness of mind, a degree of stability within—then even if we lack various external facilities that are normally considered necessary for a happy and joyful life, it is still possible to live a happy and joyful life.

14. From Miss Minimalist, Minimalist Philosophy: Not-To-Have and Not-To-Be. Yes, yes!

15. Against Positive Thinking: Uncertainty as the Secret of Happiness on Brain Pickings. This is good, essentially is arguing the same thing a Buddhist would tell you: “In order to be truly happy, it turns out, we might actually need to be willing to experience more negative emotions – or, at the very least, to stop running quite so hard from them.”

16. What Is Art? Favorite Famous Definitions, from Antiquity to Today on Brain Pickings. Something I think about a lot.

17. Violence and Moral Dystopia on the L Train from Bindu Wiles. This falls into the category of “hard to think about, but important to try.”

18. How to Be Perfect from The Chick Blog. I need this message over and over until I finally get it.

19, This quote: “Maybe you don’t need the whole world to love you, you know? Maybe you just need one person.” ~Kermit the Frog

20. And this quote:

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security. ~Albert Einstein

21. Leo Babauta’s Guide to Overcoming Self Doubt.

22. This quote: “Be just the way you have always been, with this difference: do not believe any of it, and pay close attention to all of it.” ~Cheri Huber

23. 12 Habits Standing Between You and What You Want from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

24. This quote: “We rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you have to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.” ~Fred Roger

24. Guest Maven: Susannah Conway on How to Survive the Crash on The Maven Circle. Sometimes, Susannah is so awesome, it makes me want to cry.

25. How To Survive When Everything Sucks, an oldie but a goodie from Alexandra Franzen on Unicorns for Socialism.

26. And this quote, from Pema Chödrön, shared by Patti Digh:

Instead of struggling against the force of confusion, we could meet it and relax. When we do that, we gradually discover that clarity is always there. In the middle of the worst scenario of the worst person in the world, in the middle of all the heavy dialogue with ourselves, open space is always there. (to which I [Patti Digh] would add: let’s
resist the urge to fill up that open space).

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: There’s no such thing as perfect, no such person or place. It doesn’t exist. The very nature of things is that they are constantly coming together and falling apart. In the West especially, we cling to the idea of perfection, a fixed and permanent ideal. We value things more highly the closer they are to perfect–cars without a scratch, homes completely updated and shiny, used books in mint condition, bodies–don’t even get me started on bodies. Collectors know this, the less used or worn the item, the more it’s worth–and if it’s still in the package, never been used, that’s the best. And yet, perfection = impossible.

Perfectionism is self destructive simply because there’s no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal. ~Brené Brown

2. Truth: I know this, and yet I keep trying to get there, to be that. I think that if I just try this combination of steps, push a little harder, read this book, sign up for this program, I’ll learn the secret, I’ll figure out how, I’ll get to a safe, happy, still place where I can stay forever, me and my super fit body and husband with whom I never disagree and our dogs that never behave inappropriately in our perfectly clean house–happily ever after.

Maybe the most dangerous thing about this desire for perfection is that typically when we are judging if something meets the standard, we are comparing the worst we’ve got with an illusion. Like if I were to compare my messy bathroom in my older house with the picture of the bathroom in a celebrity’s mansion that’s been staged for a home decor and style magazine layout. To say it like that makes the confusion so clear, and yet I do it all the time.

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~Pema Chödrön

3. Truth: Perfectionism will suck all the life out of your life. You will keep running, pushing, working, smashing yourself to bits, but you will never get there, because you’ve set yourself an impossible goal. You will never feel enough, never get done, never be satisfied, and you will be so exhausted, you are on the verge of illness or collapse. There will be no joy, no peace, no stillness, no calm…there will never be enough and you will never be enough. It won’t work, and you are missing e v e r y t h i n g.

I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it. ~Anne Lamott

One wish: that we give up striving for perfectionism, that we stop, let go, give up, surrender, relax. As Anne Lamott said, may we “notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.” And, in doing so, may we have confidence as Susan Piver describes it, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.” And finally, may we

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
~Leonard Cohen

Amen.