Progress, not Perfection

“Progress, not perfection” is something I need to repeat to myself often.

I’m pretty sure perfectionism is a crippling disease, not a positive character trait. It cripples the person striving to achieve it, and it is detrimental to those who live with that person as well. The standards that can never be met, the heights that can never be reached, the performance that is never good enough. It’s defeating and sucks the life right out of you, and everyone around you, yet we wear it like a badge of honour. I fight it, every frigging day!

  • In my head, I am never good enough. I could always be just that l-i-t-t-l-e bit better, do that little bit more.
  • In my head, I need to perform for acceptance.
  • In my head, I never meet the mark, always come up lacking, and if you’re my child, then my performance and success is measured by your performance and success.

I was robbed when my children were growing up. Instead of enjoying them and accepting them for who they were (like I, thankfully, am able to do today), I found fault, I always had to point out the one way that they could do better. “You did a great job, but……” and then would raise another bar, set another standard, and made them feel like they were never enough.

Without a doubt, this is my biggest parenting regret.

Perfection is an illusion, a mirage, and a trap.

Should you EVER manage to convince yourself that you arrived, there is always a person, a circumstance, or a Facebook or Pinterest post that will quickly, and mercilessly, burst your bubble and, in your head, send you right back to square one.

It’s taken years to begin my journey of becoming free from the tyranny of perfection… twenty, to be exact. Yet I still battle it every single day… my head. It has taken intentionality and perseverance to overcome. Some days I make it, most days I don’t, at least not in my head.

But I know, if I hadn’t begun this freedom journey 20 years ago, I would not enjoy the level of relationship that I have with my kids today. THEY would not have the freedom they have today…. The freedom to learn, the freedom to fall, and the freedom to fail, and the freedom to grow, evolve, and overcome the tyranny of perfection.

True freedom can be messy. It can get worse before it gets better. It can be a revolving cycle of failure (my F word) and progress, but never perfection. So stop looking for it.

Start celebrating your wins you do have them!!! Don’t let the failures pile up and weigh you down! Each day is a new day, start fresh!!

  • Be honest!
  • Be real!
  • Be encouraged!!

Be warned!!

  • You may lose people in your life….people you really love and care about!

You will also…

  • Find peace, performance is effing draining!
  • Retain the relationships that matter.
  • Have the people in your life that love you for YOU, however uncomfortable and screwed up that may look like THAT DAY!

You owe it to yourself, and to the people that you love, to break free from the tyranny of perfection!!

I am not okay – but I will be.

A few weeks ago, I posted about Randall in This is Us and his emotional collapse as life began to pile up on him. It was, in fact, exactly one month ago today – February 24, 2020. Randall was not okay. You can read my other post here.

Today, I have realized, that I am not okay either.

This was the picture I used for the former post …. today it is picture at the top of this post.

That little kitten who saw himself as a warrior tiger; big, brave, and strong……..yeah, that’s not me. I’m the hot mess,

I rarely sleep past 4 a.m. these days, regardless of what time I go to bed. This morning it was 3 a.m. when I awoke and after 15 or 20 minutes just got up so I wouldn’t disturb Glenn.

Yesterday, my one day off after working the weekend, I did nothing. Well, not exactly true, I played Nintendo Switch most of the day with my children and my granddaughter. Outwardly, I am sure nothing seemed wrong, but inwardly I was crumbling.

My husband prepared veggies etc., before he left to go to work. Me, I forgot to put the roast in the oven. So we ate frozen pizza.

Today I tried to remember the name of the ministry that I donate to every month to support someone out there on the streets working with the homeless and downtrodden, and I couldn’t remember the name of the ministry. I’ve been giving to them for a few years.

I cry at the drop of a hat, with no warning and no apparent trigger. I feel so helpless.

These are scary days.

There is much unknown. Many possibilities and no real guarantees.

The biggest heartache for me right now is that I can’t be with all my kids. It’s been nothing short of agonizing. They are in their homes, some with their own little ones, and we can’t be together. In times like this, I just want us all to be together. I feel like everything would be okay if we could just be together. Under one roof. In one place. Together.

I can’t see my parents. My mom is 93 and my dad is only home a. week or two from a 3-4 week hospital stay where he suffered a heart attack, a septic knee, a bowel blockage, kidney stones, and received stents in his heart. Thank God he made it home before this madness hit.

Yesterday I fired their housekeeper…………over the phone.

My concern for their well-being can not be understated, or overestimated.. I was angry. Angry at her for being there when we are ALL being told to stay home. Angry at the situation and worried because I know they don’t grasp how serious this is. And angry because I haven’t seen them in almost two weeks because I won’t put them at risk, yet there she was. And when they all started arguing with me that everything would be fine and it wasn’t a problem, I told them clearlyl that this was neither a debate, nor was it at all negotiable and if she showed up there again, I would be waiting at the door and/or would send the police!

I was crying and I was shaking, but I wasn’t begging or pleading, I was angry, or maybe it was just feeling desperate.

Or maybe I was just scared.

Needless to say, either way, the housekeeper is history.

I don’t know what to do. I can’t fix this, I can’t stop this, and I have no idea how we will all ultimately be affected by this. Already, I can’t sleep, I don’t care if I eat, I can’t think, and all I really want to do is to get the hell out of Dodge…….but I have nowhere to go.

I am thankful for my job, but it’s the last place I want to be.

My husband works at Walmart. There are a lot of people at Walmart, people who, as has been reported, have travelled outside of Canada, and returned to work or shop at the store. My husband has a trach, a direct opening to his airway, and is 68 years old. We desperately need the money, but at what cost? I don’t know….. It worries me……greatly.

Honestly, I’m not worried about getting the virus as much as I am about the society we live in if things turn really bad. It’s already nuts in many ways. The panic, the hoarding, the desperation….those that worry about their survival only. Shortages, closing, economic disaster…..there is a lot to be concerned about.

I want to be……………..together. With my family. With my kids. I just want us all to all be together.

And I can’t.

The turmoil is great, the anxiety is escalating, the “what-if’s” overwhelm me, and the solutions elude me.

I just wish we were together.

I have realized, I am not okay.

Today I woke up feeling overwhelmed. I haven’t felt that for a v-e-r-y long time.

And then I read this…

I actually closed the book and opened it again to make sure that the words I was seeing were the actual words on the page………it addressed all that had me tied up in knots and I knew this was exactly what I needed to hear.

Glenn, my kids, my parents…..I was carrying the weight of their wellbeing on my shoulders…….well, at least in my mind, and heavy in my heart. But I am limited, I have no control over what is taking place.

So I have to release them all to the only One who loves them as much as I do. I know, in reality, He loves them even more…..but, to be honest, I can’t even fathom that. Some things cannot be understood, they have to be revealed.

This too is not something I can make happen, nor am I expected to. Instead, the answer lies not in striving and struggling, but in rest. That place of rest, where the storm can rage all around me, but I am at peace.

Peace that doesn’t depend on the circumstances but rather exists in spite of the circumstances.

Peter walked on water, until he focused on the storm instead of the One that called him out to walk on raging waves.

There isn’t a “happily ever after” ending to this post. It’s not like TV where by the end of the show, all has been resolved and calm and order have been restored. This is a moment by moment pursuit. Some moments will hit the mark, some will fail dismally. But it’s okay…. It’s a journey. A pursuit of peace and rest.

I’ve never needed it more than I do right now.

Friendships that weather the years…..

We moved from the metropolis of Niagara Falls to a small northern town, whose economy sources were logging, mining, and the railway. We only knew one couple, a couple I didn’t know very well.

We bought a log house outside of the town on ten acres, 2.5 hours from North Bay on Hwy 11. It was only a little over a six hour drive, but for many reasons, it was a whole other world.

We had three children at the time. Our oldest was eleven, our second was two and a half, and our youngest was nine months old. We were excited about the adventure!!

In those days, (gee, that makes me feel O-L-D) you dialed the last four digits of a phone number to call locally, we were on a party line with three other families (our ring was one long and one short) and everywhere outside of our Englehart 544 exchange was long distance. There were no phone plans at the time with free Canada-wide calling. I think it was cheaper between 8 pm and 7 am, and maybe on weekends, but otherwise it was long distance, and not cheap.

All of our close friends and family were left behind….some in the Ottawa area and some in Niagara… one nearby. I was young, I was a mom with littles, and I was lonely, evidenced by the atrocious phone bills.

Only going six hours and still in Ontario, I hadn’t anticipated the culture shock awaiting me. Life was different up there and people were distant. I think they were so used to having people like us move there for a Northern experience, but very few stayed. So they held you at arms-length, unwilling to invest until they were sure you were going to stay, which often took about ten years.

Winters were long and cold. Our first winter there, it snowed September 20 and the snow never left til Spring, which didn’t arrive until almost June. Food prices were high, gas prices were higher, and well, you already know about the phone situation.

But little by little, we began to make our way.

About a year or two in, we connected with another family through church. Their family was young, we had our faith in common, and they too had lost a baby boy who was stillborn, as was ours.

Mike and Glenn talked hunting and fishing…..and being a farmer, Mike tried to teach us to raise chickens. That’s a whole other story!!!!

Janet and I birthed and raised our babies, gardened, canned, cooked, sewed, made quilts, took on homeschooling, and took shopping trips to North Bay,

On one of those infamous trips, we went out for dinner and made the impromptu decision to attend an event at North Bay Arts Centre. It was perfect timing!!! Buddy Wassisname and the Other Fellers were performing and to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard!!! My stomach literally ached, tears rolled down my face, and I came perilously close to wetting myself!!!!! It was a night I will never forget!!! It must have been the stress we were under, and the release we both needed, because although I’ve seen and heard this act since, it has never made the impact that it did that night.

We spent 15 years up there. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been away for just as many years, having moved back near my hometown.

Over the years, our girls have maintained their friendships and we have attended weddings and showers. This past weekend, I travelled the same familiar roads for a baby shower to celebrate the impending birth of one of Mike and Janet’s newest grand babies, and to visit our children that still live in that area.

It was so soul-nourishing to reminisce together, sharing our incredibly precious memories and to laugh together once more.

In days past, we have shared our hopes and dreams, joys and sorrows. We’ve walked on life’s mountain tops and through the valleys. This weekend we were able to sit together and watch children and grandchildren (the feature picture for this post is Janet being read to by her granddaughter, Elizabeth) and be reminded of the faithfulness of God, even though things didn’t always turned out as we’d hoped.

Life takes us many different places. People come and go, seasons change, we grow and evolve,, and time and distance have been the hill that many friendships die on. But then there are those go on in spite of the obstacles and challenges that life imposes.

These friendships are gold, a precious gift, and to be treasured forever.

Celebrating alone…..

As with just about every holiday…..I am always aware of those that celebrate (face) them alone, or in circumstances that rarely make it to a Hallmark card.

Holidays can be hard when everyone else around you is experiencing the picture-perfect moments and you are not, for whatever reason.

I know, I was alone.

When Glenn and I met, I had been a single, unwed mother for six years. Those years were some of the loneliest I had ever been. Always a third or fifth wheel, watching others walk away to go home together at the end of the night. It was hard.

There were a couple of things that I knew though, that kept me putting one foot in front of the other and weathering the disappointment and despair.

  • God took care of me in tender and timely ways. He promised to be a husband to the widow (person alone) and a father to the fatherless. We were in good hands, even when it didn’t always feel like it was enough.
  • I learned to be content in whatever circumstance I found myself, knowing that there were both drawbacks and benefits in both being alone and in a relationship. So trust and contentment in whatever I faced, became a priority.
  • It was better to be alone, than to be with the wrong person. .

I knew. I had done that

That doesn’t mean it was easy, but it was good. I learned a lot about myself, I learned to value myself, and I learned to focus on what I did have, not on what I didn’t.

I had, and still do have, an amazing family; parents that loved me, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents that always supported and encouraged me, no matter what.

I had friends…..friends that listened to me when I whined, held me when I cried – even cried with me at times, and when happiness came, they celebrated too!

So today, if you can, focus on the relationships you DO have. And if you have none, know that there is One.

Know your worth and value. You are strong, you ARE loveable, YOU are a masterpiece and someone needs you in their lives.

Do something for you, whatever that may be. A hot bubble bath with flower petals, candles, and wine, order out or cook yourself an amazing meal, take a long, leisurely stroll, see a movie…..maybe invite someone else who celebrates alone to join you (maybe not in the bath, though 🙂 ).

Whatever you do, do not fall into the trap of self-pity and self-loathing. Live YOUR life and live it well. Hold your head high and walk tall! Be your best self – for you first, and to prepare for whatever may lay ahead.

Reach out…..someone else is lonely too and you could brighten their day. I will be forever grateful for those who included me, and for the One who loved me enough to bring me His best.

There can be happy endings, but there is no such thing as fairy tales.

Bullet journalling…..have you heard of it?

I have tried journalling numerous times……too many to count, to be honest! So when my daughter introduced me to Bullet Journalling, it addressed many of the obstacles I had failed to overcome.

Even in this digital age, I still like to take pen, or pencil, in hand and jot down thoughts. But I don’t need more failures in my life, and the traditional journalling methods always ended up in failure.

I needed something that did not require daily entries, long-windedness (shocker, I know…) or obvious neglect evidenced by the distance between entry dates.

The beauty of Bullet Journalling is that it can be as simple or complicated as you like. It can contain anything you want from simply jotted points or elaborate doodles, etchings, or decorating of various sorts.

Anyone else intimidated by a blank page? Note the dotted lines.

Your journal should start with an index. You add to the index as you add to your journal. Let’s say today you want to enter a recipe to remember, then tomorrow you want to list birthdays in the family or ideas for gifts or a planner for meals, appointments, tasks to be completed for the week, you simply go to the next blank page and make your entry and then record it in your index indicating the page it can be found. The journals that I use have numbered pages, so it makes the location easy to find. When you need that information again, it is easy to find, and there are no more wasted pages trying to allow room for entries you think you may want to include later on.

You can add colour and design however it suits your fancy. As a perfectionist in recovery, I still mainly use pencil so I can erase anything that doesn’t go how I want, but if you want to be more adventurous, there are myriads of examples of how others embellish their journals beautifully. Just do a search (Pinterest is a wealth of ideas and examples) and then be as creative as you dare! As you become more confident and comfortable, you can let your ingenuous juices flow!

Some ideas for Bullet Journal entries are:

1. Daily tasks page

2. Bullet journal key

3. Books to read or movies to watch

4. Favorite quotes

5. Weekly meal planner

6. Savings tracker

7. Spending tracker

8. Workout log

9. Weight loss chart

10. Habit tracker

11. Travel Planner

12. Trip highlights and memories

13. A vision board

14. Favourite recipes, or ones you want to try

15. Meal prep and planning ideas

16. A gratitude log

Really, the possibilities are endless. Make this entirely your own and express yourself in whatever way is meaningful to you!!!

Click here to find the journal I use. They are available in a variety of different colours, with 249 numbered and dotted pages, titled index pages, an elastic closure, and two ribbon page markers.

Below is a great video to help you get started….

Discouragement….and lost hope

As I sat praying and pondering recently, I became aware that a deep discouragement has crept into my heart over the past few years……..subtly, but very steadily.

Unmet expectations, my own personal failures, the day in and day out drudgery of life and making ends meet…..(or not), it can really wear on you after a while. Then, if you’re a parent, you carry all the concerns and worries you have over the happiness and well-being of your children, even if they’re grown; maybe even especially if they are grown!!

Truly though, even if everything is relatively fine and no major crises have arisen, just drifting through life, letting it happen with no real thought or purpose, causes a deadness to your soul. If I just go with all the thoughts and feelings that occur naturally, I slowly sink into dullness and despair.

It’s so easy to get into a rut. It’s easy to have no real vision beyond what you have to do just to get through a day, to just exist instead of really living. To dream, to believe, to hope……it takes energy that I don’t always feel like I have!

So I have decided that if I have any hope of not living in this state of discouragement and disappointment, I have to take time each day to be quiet, to listen, to reflect, to pause…..

I examine the thoughts that I have running through my mind. (Have you ever really listened to yourself think? You might be surprised at the diatribe rolling like a stock market ticker tape…) I need to take these thoughts captive instead of letting them run the show.

I remind myself of truths. The ONE resolution I made this year was to read my Jesus Calling devotional each day. The sentiments and bible verses included in these short devotionals, renew my focus and perspective and remind me of the truths that I can stand on, replacing the subtle lies and fears that I have unconsciously embraced.

I think about, and picture, the things I want to see happen in the lives of those I love, as well as in my own. I remind myself of the higher callings on myself and my family, beyond just surviving and getting by.

I start to imagine the endless possibilities to pursue interests and income opportunities for myself and my family.

I pray. I bring all of this before Father, knowing that He loves me and wants what is best for me, and for those I love. I (attempt) to leave it all in His hands.

So, before you form a picture in your mind of me just contentedly sitting quiet and spending an hour or more caught up in rapture and bliss…….let me remind you, I am NOT a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t get up any earlier than I have to, and I do NOTHING before coffee!!!

All those things I mentioned above, they may start with a minute or two of sitting quiet, maybe get my daily reading in, and then the rest often transpires throughout the day as I go about my tasks, my job…..just my real, everyday life. So though I don’t get up an hour earlier etc., just that few short minutes before I am thrown into my day, sets the tone for the rest of the day, mentally.

  • It doesn’t magically make everything go great that day
  • It doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated and impatient
  • It doesn’t mean I don’t think, or say, something I shouldn’t

It just means that when I screw up or something goes wrong, I have a mental/spiritual anchor point that I can go back to and launch again from there.

These other things, they don’t define me, and I refuse to let them derail me any longer.

I refuse to let the circumstances of life lie to me anymore about who I am, or about who God is.

I am going to release the things that are not mine to carry, and focus on living, really living

And hoping.

And dreaming.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

-Jeremiah 29:11

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. . . . Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

—Joshua 1:5, 9

Facing Fear, Finding Freedom….

Helping our children find confidence and courage.

I watched an amazing transformation the other night – from fear to freedom!!

My son’s dog is a 2+ year old Boerboel – a South African Mastiff bred to protect African farm animals from lions. So you would think fear wouldn’t really be an issue around the house here.

Our garage has been turned into a hang-out spot and the dog used to love coming out and sittiing with everyone. But there was an electrical issue and he got shocked a couple of times walking past the pellet stove. The issue was rectified, but that dog now HATED coming to the garage…..and when he did come out, he headed right for the door to go outside and when he came back in, he bee-lined it for the door going into the house.

This went on for months, and it was very sad because Gotti really wanted to be out there with us, but he just couldn’t bring himself to take the chance of getting hurt again.

So, we were out there the other night and my son called the dog out. He came hesitantly, cowering, practically dragging himself on the floor. Jeremy kept calling him and Gotti, so well-trained and obedient, came to Jeremy even though he would have rather done anything else but.

Jeremy praised him, played with him, threw his ball over and over……a. little further away each time. And, by the end of the night, Gotti was quite comfortable and happy, and now can come out and enjoy being with everyone again, instead of being stuck in the house by himself.

There are so many thoughts that came to mind…..

  • the trust in his master (so many spiritual implications here for me…)
  • the importance of facing the fear in order to overcome it
  • how often I let fear limit me
  • the importance of not waiting for there to be an absence of fear to do something, but to go ahead and do it afraid

I thought of our society, and our children. I’ve long felt that we are crippling our children by bubble wrapping them and trying to protect them from any hurtful thing in life.

I mean, we can’t even play the games or have the playground equipment anymore that we used to have as kids because someone might get hurt!!!

We reward for things that weren’t earned because we don’t want to hurt their feelings or damage their self-esteem.

We give everyone a medal even if they didn’t win.

We pass children on grade after grade, yet they never master the skills and knowledge that are required and were meant to prepare them for their future!

Where are they going to learn about real courage?

How will they experience the thrill of accomplishing something that they had to work for, try for, maybe even fight for?

Mom, Dad……I hate to break it to you, but you’re not always going to be here. One day, these kids are going to be living life without you and HAVE to fend for themselves. Do you really want them trying to figure all that out as young adults with the foundation of indulgence, entitlement, and coddling to build on?

They may have never actually worked for ANYTHING a day in their life!!!!

Their employer isn’t going to care about their self-esteem!

We HAVE to stop crippling our children!! They HAVE to learn to cope, to achieve, to earn, to work, to try, to fail and try again!!!!


We are not doing them any favours by ‘protecting’ them from the challenges of life.

Gotti was afraid of the garage… he owns it!!!!

Yet, here you are…..

Life often holds unexpected, unforeseen, and definitely unwelcome surprises.

The specific circumstances can be varied. Sometimes it is bad news, like a job loss, or a diagnosis, or the death of a family member or friend.

Our relationships can be difficult, maybe even fraught with unwelcome pain and heartache. In fact, just about any meaningful relationship, usually involves some times of discord or conflict.

You have been put in a position or situation you never wanted to be in.

Yet, here you are…

So what to do when these unwelcome events transpire?

For me, my bottom line is that I am not in this by myself, and there is Someone bigger than me that is going every step of the way through this, right along with me.

No matter how hard it gets, I have learned that as unwelcome as these difficult times can be, some of my greatest lessons, some of the deepest work in me as a person, and some of my greatest courage and strength, have come out of these difficult and painful times.

To say that I have felt overwhelmed by life some days, is an epic understatement, and I think you know what I mean. You don’t have to have lived very long before you are flooded with thoughts like:

  • This is hopeless…
  • I can’t do this…
  • This is too big…
  • This is too much…
  • I’m not going to make it…

We may want to run, we may want to isolate, we may even want to medicate but we all know, that though those coping methods may help in the moment, they do not provide solutions, and often only create bigger problems.

I don’t know how you will deal with whatever circumstance you find yourself in. Can you just hear though, that no matter how dark it seems, there is hope, there is light, there is healing, there is breakthrough…..if you just don’t give up.

Don’t overlook or underestimate the fact that in spite of everything

Yet, here you are!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The image we portray…

It’s so easy on social media to make life look perfect……….picture perfect.
I posted a picture of Glenn and I at a marriage retreat we are attending this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, all the positive comments mean a lot and are very appreciated. However…one picture doesn’t tell the whole story and I don’t want to leave anyone with a false impression.

Glenn and I struggle……..a lot! In fact, there was a season where I thought I might leave. This is in no way trying to lay blame, I’m sure the thought may have crossed his mind as well!!!! I just want to make you aware that we don’t have it all together, no matter how cute the picture is.
We have huge personality differences, conflicting work schedules, and after 33 years and nine kids, we have experienced a significant drift.

Don’t get me wrong, we love each other deeply, but maintaining the emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of our relationship began to take a back seat to years of stress, fatigue, and emotional distance.
Truth be told, probably the only reason we are still together is because Glenn is such an amazing man and puts up with a lot.

But he’s not perfect, neither am I.

I’m thankful for the material we’ve been given this weekend but on its own, it won’t do much. It’s going to require something from both of us and it will be a life-long pursuit of oneness and true intimacy.