“And I don’t even know where to start looking.” I heard that on a show & I felt this overwhelming feeling of “EXACTLY”! Because no matter how hard you try, the years of being an employee, a wife, a mother can be so frantic & exhausting it can smother the person you were or dreamed of becoming. The life of women (and men) can become so busy & overwhelming, especially when you have kids, that it can be hard to find time to take a breath … literally! I think that’s why I became “addicted” to yoga because it was the only way to escape and breath and have an hour of PEACE and quiet. Over the years my friends who’ve known me for “forever” have said to me “where did the Shannon I used to know go? What happened to THAT girl?” There’s a song “That Don’t Sound Like You” …”that ain’t the girl I knew, gimme the girl I knew, if you wanna come back, you can come back to …” Lee Brice. You CAN come back to you. I want to come back to me.
I told my friend I’m tired of trying to be perfect, I just want to be me (whatever that means) and she recommended a book to me “Present over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist, I told her it’s only taken me to age 50 to not care if I’m not perfect … perfect hair, perfect body, perfect house, perfect wife, daughter, mother etc. and to truly feel like “if you don’t like it, you can try to find a better one, well maybe not mother!? My kids are kind of stuck with me! My husband would say I still care a lot about my hair 😉 & that I let the “perfect house” go long ago. 😂
“In many ways, I loved this life—loved my husband, adored my kids, was so thankful to be a writer. But it’s like I was pulling a little red wagon, and as I pulled it along, I filled it so full that I could hardly keep pulling. That red wagon was my life, and the weight of pulling it was destroying me. I was aware that I was missing the very things I so badly longed for: connection, meaning, peace. Who wins, then? I handled it all! I showed them! But who is “them”? Who cares? Whose voice am I listening to? What am I trying to prove? What would happen, what would be lost, if I stopped, or if I slowed down to a pace that felt less like a high-speed chase all day, every day?” “If someone gave you a completely blank calendar and a bank account as full as you wanted, what would you do? The first thing that leapt into my mind: stop. I would stop. I would rest. I would do nothing at all. I would sleep. The thought of it almost made me weep.” “Stop. Right now. Remake your life from the inside out.” Shauna Niequist “Present over Perfect”
Get back to you, is how I interpret that statement.
What if …
“I Allow myself to stop, to rest, to breathe, to connect. That’s where life is, I’m finding. That’s where grace is. That’s where delight is. Years ago, a wise friend told me that no one ever changes until the pain level gets high enough. That seems entirely true. The inciting incident for life change is almost always heartbreak—something becomes broken beyond repair, too heavy to carry; unmanageable.” Present over Perfect
Well I’ve done that, I “retired” two years ago and I’m getting closer to finding “that girl”. I’ve “rested” a lot! What I’ve discovered and rediscovered about myself is I love reading & writing, I hate cooking, I love baking, I love napping, I love art & poetry, I love learning about yoga, I love being by myself, I love traveling. I’m trying to do my “work” (aka chores) during the day and not feel guilty folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, going to the store etc. while everyone else is at work. When I first quit working I would race around all day long being “busy” because I felt guilty being at home, but then my evenings were full of chores ,just like when I was working. Instead of running myself ragged trying to get everything done in a day, I’ve learned to slow down (maybe too slow for my husband 😂)! What if I don’t get all the laundry done, or go to store, or empty the dishwasher … for a day? Would everyone survive? I think so, I KNOW so, but the key is to not beat myself about it if it doesn’t all get done TODAY. I’ve been much more pleasant to be around (I think, I hope🙏) because I’m not completely exhausted & spent by 7p.
At the same time I was reading Present over Perfect & working on this post. One of my yoga teachers, Sukhraj Kaur, sent the following in her weekly newsletter …
Cold Depression is our single biggest challenge as we enter the Aquarian Age. It affects vitality of spirit and leads us to behave in ways we would not otherwise. Yogi Bhajan, the Master of Kundalini Yoga, cautioned us that as we transition into the Aquarian Age, that is, through 2038, humanity would suffer from a phenomenon he called Cold Depression.
What is Cold Depression?
“Cold Depression is when the external demand is greater than the internal capacity to deliver and we have spent our reserves. We are depressed but we are so numb and insensitive to our own self, we do not feel it. The depression is therefore “cold.” This leads us to inner anger and isolation from our soul.
We instinctively counter the numbness of Cold Depression with behavior that fulfills the need for stimulation. A person experiencing Cold Depression does not seem depressed to herself or others. This is because she is busy, active, and appears energized. They may overwork, create “emergencies,” or drink 6 energy drinks a day. They may engage in extreme sports, risk taking, or substance abuse. The insensitivity of Cold Depression leads to reactivity, impatience, and drama. Do you know anyone like this?”
Yes! ME! This is what my doctors diagnosed me with years ago, they just didn’t have a name for it, when all my tests came back “negative”, meaning there was no medical reason for my racing heart rate, insomnia and panic attacks, they both said we think you’re depressed but you are so busy, being busy & exercising so much, you don’t feel depressed, you have put yourself in a constant state of “fight or flight”, but there is no saber tooth tiger chasing you, you don’t have to build a fire with two sticks to keep warm & you and your children are not on the verge of starving. I think It’s because someone told us (women) who are now in our 40’s & 50’s that you could & SHOULD “have it all” but you really can’t, not without running around like a chicken with its head cut off! I do believe our mother’s generation, telling us girls “you can have it all” had the best intentions, but sometimes I think it did more harm than good, because we all think we have to be perfect, but really we just need to be “our own perfect”, flaws & all! Let something go or ask for help (or skip a workout & take a nap ;)). It doesn’t mean you’re a failure it means you’re human! I used to lie about taking a nap because I was scared people would think it was a weakness & self-indulgent. Only in the last few years do I proudly admit & announce “I need to lie down for a few minutes”. My son said in the days of headstones mine would read “she just had to lay down for a few minutes… this time she didn’t get back up”😊
“There has to be another way. And I’m going to find it. I’m going to make the space to taste my life once again. I’m going to find a new way of living that allows for rest, as much rest as I need, not just enough to get me through without tears, but enough to feel alive and whole, grounded and gracious. Things I haven’t been in years. What I ache for these days is space, silence, stillness. Sabbath. I want to clear away space and noise and things to do and things to manage. I want less of everything. Less stuff (that we are just going to throw away). Less rushing. Less proving and pushing. Less hustle.” Present over Perfect
Periodically I will declare “a ban on saying yes to more than one thing a week” and my husband rolls his eyes, but then I say it doesn’t mean we can’t do more than one thing in a week, but it does mean we are not OBLIGATED to more than one thing! He usually thanks me later ;)! One morning after being out late the night before (and maybe a bit hungover), we woke up to a snowy, cold morning and my husband was talking about going to the gym and everything he had to do that day and I said “what if for one day we did what some people do on a cold, snowy Sunday and watched a movie (something he would NEVER do) and he said, a bit reluctantly “ok let’s watch half of a movie”. I was SO happy! We watched “This is 40” and snuggled on the couch & giggled, halfway through I said “ok I better take the dogs and you should go to the gym” and he replied “what if we watched the whole movie?” I was over the moon! ☺️
“Richard Rohr says the skills that take you through the first half of your life are entirely unhelpful for the second half. They made me responsible and capable and really, really tired. They made me productive and practical, and inch by inch, year by year, they moved me further and further from the warm, whimsical person I used to be . . . and I missed her … the opposite of pride, one might say, is vulnerability—essentially, saying this is who I am . . . not the sparkly image, not the smoke and mirrors, not the accomplishments or achievements. This is me, with all my limitations, with all my weaknesses.” Present over Perfect
My friend sent me this the other day & said “this is so you” …
I took it as the biggest complement .. my husband says that’s why I’m no longer the best housekeeper!” 😂
“Trying to be perfect is a toxic journey. We are not perfect. We have to love and embrace our shadows. Sometimes, good enough is good enough” Jane Fonda
“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts” Winston Churchill
The author of “Present over Perfect” says towards the beginning of her book “My prayer is that this book will be a thousand invitations, springing up from every page, calling you to leave behind the heavy weight of comparison, competition, and exhaustion, and to recraft a life marked by meaning, connection, and unconditional love.”
That is my hope, wish, mantra, “prayer” for all of us, especially women in their 40’s & 50’s
Present over Perfect
It may have taken 40 or 50 years but …