Preparation Without Perfection

“If you follow this plan step-by-step you will be guaranteed success.”

I have bought into that pitch more times than I want to recall. Now I’m much more skeptical of its assertion. Following directions and paying attention to details are definitely two of my strengths, I’ve had success following plans step-by-step. The problem I keep bumping up against is that it’s not possible for me to maintain that rigor of attention forever and I start to gradually slip in my level of success. Then I notice that my perfect efforts, process, success, etc. is not perfect after all. It doesn’t matter if it has to do with weight loss, lesson planning, reading, decorating, organizing, or writing a blog post, as soon as I deviate a bit things start crashing down around me. At least that’s how it feels.

My head tells me that if I do everything I’m supposed to do all will turn out as I want. My head also tells me that if I DON’T do everything I’m supposed to do not only will it not turn out as I want, but also I don’t deserve to have it work out because I failed the plan. I allow my lack of perfection to derail me and send me back to where I started. Why? Why do I do that?!

One area of my life that I have experienced great joy and success while embracing its inherent lack of perfection is performing on stage. There I can accept and allow the imperfection of being human to coexist with the high standards and efforts I practice to be an authentic, accomplished performer – with the proper preparation it’s perfectly acceptable to allow myself to be who and what I am at that very moment.

If I imagine my life as a beautiful tapestry with unusual threads running through it I need to keep my focus on the whole object and not fuss and pull on the threads that don’t seem to fit it the right way. Placing my focus and energy on the unusual thread will only make me pull on it too hard and perhaps destroy what is truly beautiful about the entire piece of art. Breaking those threads will weaken the whole tapestry. The whole is much more important and meaningful than those few threads.

I can see and feel those unusual threads throughout almost every aspect of my life, it’s time I stopped pulling on them. My intention: Preparation without Perfection.

Goodbye Christmas Tree

Today was my last morning workout in the peaceful light of our Christmas tree. I’m sad that we needed to take it down. I loved working out in the dark morning by the light of just the tree. So beautiful. So comforting. It was a lovely start to my day.

My routine has been to do my yoga practice first thing in the morning – another beautiful, comforting, and peaceful way to start my day. My Weight Watchers leader introduced me to a fantastic yoga program that she found on YouTube – Yoga with Adriene (http://yogawithadriene.com/). I love it! I’m currently doing her “30 Days of Yoga” program from 2015. I love how my body is feeling. I feel more centered and I’m finding that there are times during the day that I can focus on my breathing and it makes a difference to me whether I feel in or out of control. Yoga is one of the things that I love and make time to do for myself.

Yoga by twinkling Christmas lights is fantastic. The Christmas tree needed to be put away until next year, but the yoga can and will stay out all year-long. My Weight Watchers leader commented that twinkle lights can be used all year – no Christmas tree required. That sounds like a fabulous idea to me!

Beautiful Snacks

I love to eat.

It’s really that simple. Now, if I could just negotiate that I eat only when I’m hungry I’d be well on my way to my healthy eating holy grail. I have no doubts that I will be able to figure this out for myself when I decide that it’s time. My first step will be to eat ONLY those things that I love and make me happy. I certainly don’t mean that I’m only going to eat pizza all the time – and I love pizza, there’s no doubt about that! So, I guess my pre-first step has already been that I do my best to eat a healthy, well-rounded diet. Now I can turn my attention to what I love and makes me happy! Here goes…

I started thinking about this when I made a tossed together snack of a toasted, light English muffin spread with 1 triangle of Laughing Cow Cheese and topped with a spoonful of medium salsa on each half. It was surprisingly perfect – crunchy, creamy, with a touch of spicy heat (3 SP). I had no idea I was going to love it so much. Another fabulous thing about it was that it was more than just one bite, I could reasonably savor it for a short while. That is a beautiful snack, in my opinion, and I smile just thinking about it.

Now I’m wondering what other items I can include on my Beautiful Snack list. What do I love? What makes me happy? Perhaps I can help narrow my view by recognizing a thing of two about what I don’t like and what makes me a bit sad. There are foods I’m not overly fond of and those are easy to identify for myself, but what I truly do not like is when the amount of food is very small. The idea of ONE bite of something delicious makes me sad – pouty┬ásad. I’m not a be-all and end-all type when it comes to chocolate, I can truthfully take it or leave it. So I will count my blessings that I don’t have to negotiate that territory! Chocolate is not on my Beautiful Snack list.

Let’s see…here are some things that would make my cut:

  • A crisp, sweet apple – cut into wedges. Sometimes I will add 2 tablespoons of PB2.
  • A juicy, pear – cut into quarters, eaten on a plate with a fork.
  • A light English muffin toasted and spread with 1 tablespoon of hummus on each half and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
  • Starkist Tuna Creations Hot Buffalo Style Tuna with 2 tablespoons of Skinnytaste blue cheese dressing (http://www.skinnytaste.com/low-fat-creamy-blue-cheese-dressing/).
  • Homemade, roasted red peppers or beets or Brussel sprouts.

That’s definitely a start! YUM! Big flavor and a variety of textures seem to be my leanings. Let the search continue.

What’s on your Beautiful Snack list?

People Pleasing Perfection

I’ve been absent for a while. Why? I have many excuses but truthfully it’s because I didn’t have the time or energy to do it perfectly. HA! My performance background has taught me in no uncertain terms that there is no such thing as perfection and that if there were it would not be worth anyone’s time to appreciate it. I can completely accept that as a singer and I even teach my young students that they should embrace making mistakes because it makes them smarter and more interesting, but personally, when I’m not on stage singing, I struggle with my desire for perfection.

It’s time I focus on overcoming this annoying and unhelpful waste of my time and psyche. So here I am. I am writing this blog for ME. The only perfection it will hold is that it will speak what is in my head and heart. Am I hungry or should I sing? I’m highly suspecting that the answer to the question is that I should sing. When I sing – in performance – I go to a place that is abundant in feeling and expression, I can let go of the hours spent practicing and seemingly fly into a magical place of communicating. My emotions are honest and sincere and IT FEELS SO GOOD. I relax just thinking about it.

It seems that it’s time to sing!

A Milestone and a Goal

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In 80 days I will be celebrating my 50th birthday. 50! I’m not angry, upset, embarrassed, or in denial, I am a bit perplexed, though. The concept of being 50 years old baffles me – how did I get here already? I know who I am and how I feel and that doesn’t jive with my previous understanding of what being 50 is. The laugh must be on me! The truth and reality of being 50 years old is not rigid and set in stone, it’s not any one thing for all people. Yes, it is a fixed number and that is how many years I will have inhabited this body, but I am absolutely certain that each of us is much, much more than a number – if we want to be. Now, if I can just wrap my mind around BEING 50 without falling into a wide-eyed stare I’ll have a much better appearance heading into this next year. Anyway…

My goal to achieve in the next 80 days is to reclaim my goal weight. I know that I can reach this goal. The challenges I have within this timeframe are rooted in my emotions and past experience. This Friday begins my summer vacation from school, which means many exciting and rejuvenating things but it also signals a complete change in the structure of my day. I long for this lack of structure, but I am acutely aware that I depend upon it to keep me in check and on track as far as my eating and moving are concerned. It’s time I reason out a new form of structure to guide me through the summer.

Another challenge heading my way as the summer commences is that I’m heading home to Wisconsin to take a class in World Drumming and visit my family. I’m looking forward to all of this, but my history with heading back home has had me quickly returning to my not so healthy eating and exercise habits of days gone by. I know I can’t control everything heading my way in this setting so I must keep my birthday goal fresh in my mind and gage what it is that I want most in the moment.

And yet another challenge that will present itself soon after I return from Wisconsin is a fabulous Eastern Europe river cruise vacation Mark and I have planned for mid-July. It’s going to be luxurious and grand, and the sites we will be seeing will be new and exciting. Once again I must keep my goal front and center and enjoy the sight-seeing excursions more than those involving food. I will enjoy the local fare as I might not encounter these fresh options again, but I can enjoy it and enjoy feeling satisfied rather than stuffed after the fact.

Front and center: I will reclaim my goal weight by my birthday in September. I will focus on the moment and remind myself of the goal I want to achieve. I will enjoy the new structure and experiences my summer vacation has to offer. I will try new things and be conscious of how I feel.

50, physically and emotionally healthy, and at my goal weight – that’s exactly where I’m headed.

What are your summer goals?