practice is hard

I have a confession. There are things I say as a parent that come out of my mouth much easier than they sink down into my heart.

“All anyone can ask is that you do your best.” Every parent has said it, right? But when it comes to living it out myself, occasionally I want to scream at that sentiment. Because sometimes my best is not good enough.

I mentioned recently about practicing life. Which was very lovely at the time, but what I failed to mention is that when I am giving my best at practicing something I suck at and I don’t see myself improving to the degree that I think my best should be improving me, I feel incredibly discouraged.

And overwhelmed.

It’s exhausting.

Truly.

And these are the kinds of times when that nice little sentiment about doing my best just doesn’t cut it. Don’t get me wrong; I realize the reality and truth. All I can do is my best.

But my best is not always enough for the task at hand or the opinions of those around me. And before I know it, my best is not good enough for me, either. And that is a much bigger problem.

Because what I think of me affects me much more than what other people think of me. My nasty little perfectionism tries to take over my brain and push me down so that I forget my value and worth as a human being.

And this is when, for me, it comes down to sheer perseverance. Can I ride out the storm happening inside of me long enough to see the sun shine again? Even though my best isn’t enough right now, can I keep going because I know it is all I can ask of myself?

Can I offer myself the same grace I offer my kids when I tell them all they can do is their best?

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practicing life


What if I mess up? The heavy scarlet curtain was moments away from rising and my stomach was filled with a flock of nervous butterflies. Dress rehearsal was over. This was the real thing.

We had quite a learning curve, my fifth grade class and I, in all the practices leading up to now. But that’s what practice is for – to learn the material, work out the kinks and fix the mistakes so that the performance is…..flawless.

I’ve not changed much from that young girl anxiously waiting to deliver her lines in the school  play about P.T. Barnum. I seem to think that all of life is a series of scenes requiring my perfect delivery of choices. I huddle behind the curtain paralyzed by fear of my own miss-steps. I lament my foibles, swiftly pointing them out to myself and delivering how disappointed I am in me.

I have very little patience for my own mistake making. There are no do-overs in life, which I take to mean I must never screw up. Life is not a dress rehearsal. I convince myself every decision seals the fate of the next 50 years of my life.

But does it?

Would I take that fifth grade girl and put her in front of a crowd on opening night without a script or practice of any kind and expect a command performance from her? So why am I so hard on myself, expecting that I can face the barrage of new and never before experienced scenes of my life without learning my way through them?

What if I looked at life as a grand dress rehearsal of sorts? Change my paradigm so that instead of performing life, I am practicing life – learning who I am and how to be myself as I navigate my way? I think I would have more freedom to learn from my experiences versus torture myself over them. I might welcome trying new things, even if I am terrible at them and fall on my face. I think I would find more fun. Be more fun. Laugh more. Maybe even at myself.

There were many things I read that have stirred this shift in how I see life. I saw myself or was encouraged by someone else’s writing. Take a look for yourself and see what stirs in you….

Artistry by Francesca Zelnick (I cannot recommend her writing enough, she is fabulous)

138 by Kate McClafferty on her blog 365til30.com counting down her adventures the year before she turns 30   (fantastic fun – in my next life I want to be Kate)

Setting the Scene by L.S. Engler (including comments)

About Hilary by Hilary Billings on her blog The Nomad Grad (about a new graduate with a degree in psychology figuring out what to do with her degree and her life which I can totally relate to)

Potty Time by Katie K (including comments)