Saturday, November 1, 2008

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

Most of my life, I've wondered how on earth I could be a perfectionist, when my life and surroundings are so far from perfect.

And what of the mess in at least one room of my house at all times? Years ago, I wouldn't have believed it was due to perfectionist tendencies.

Alas, I am an all-or-nothing person. Since I was a child, I would start cleaning my out-of-control room by pulling everything out of my drawers or closet and begin organizing from the inside out. But I always ran out of steam long before I even put my drawer/closet contents back, and the ensuing mess was all-the-more discouraging, so I would not try to clean my room again for quite some time.

I am not proud to admit that my life today is not much different. Tuesday afternoon, as I was cleaning house, I caught myself organizing two drawers in an effort to fit a blanket that I wanted to put away (all-the-while, my house is aflame with a dozen visible "hotspots"--a term for horizontal surfaces that call me to pile more and more stuff there). I don't even realize how far I'm going out of the way of my first intentions until I find that one thing that started the cascade of insanity hours later, while wondering how I can be so tired and yet cannot point to one thing I have accomplished today. "And why isn't that blanket put away, either? I should have at least done that!"

My friend once told me I reminded her of the farmer who went to plow the lower forty (but he noticed the barn door was coming off its hinges, so he went to fix it, but then found that one of his tools wasn't working right, so he started to fix that. . . on and on until the sun had set and he realized he did not do anything all day). My friend was so right! I have to keep on top of myself, or I will inadvertently start doing this; it's in my nature.

Which is why I have decided to take up FLYing once again. (Of course this comment from my husband helped: "You were at the top of your game a couple years ago when you were doing FlyLady.")

As much as I don't agree with the whole "F.L.Y." thing (the theory that the reason we sidetracked people have problems is because we haven't yet learned the art of "Finally Loving Yourself." LOL! As my friend, LC says, "I was pretty fond, actually.") it is what has made a difference in my "if I can't do everything, I won't do anything" thinking, which is (for me) where most of the battle lies.

No, I really don't think it has to do with needing to love myself. That is an inborn human trait that is nothing to be proud of and is certainly not necessary to work toward. (Can I get an amen?) Rather, my problem is about having skewed priorities and overthinking, instead of just doing. You people who know me are smiling at how true this is, aren't you?

I am starting with even babier steps than she gives to help my thinking be more and more "can do" instead of "I don't have time to clean the world, so I'm not going to bother sweeping around the table." Just setting the timer and doing her fifteen minute challenges is so helpful and keeps me focused. "I am emptying the dishwasher, not making tea for dinner or hanging up Ruby's jacket. I am emptying the dishwasher," I remind myself in my head.

Any born organized person is probably perplexed at the need for a system to get me to start something. It might sound strange, but people like me go about ten steps ahead (in our minds) of what we're about to do and get discouraged before we even start.

This is how my mind works in regard to cleaning the house: "I need to vacuum (the entire house), but I want to dust (the entire house) before I do that, and there are toys and things all over the carpet (in the entire house) that I need to pick up. If I vacuum, it only makes sense to not allow dirt to be tracked from one kind of flooring to another, therefore I need to clean the hard floors, too (of course all the hard floors in the entire house: if I'm getting out the mop and water, I need to make it worth my time). So I'd better make sure that I sweep the front and back porches so we don't track in dirt from the outside, but I simply do not have hours to do this, so I'll have to wait till later."

This is actually a simplified list of what goes on in my head. All cleaning ends up being connected, and I hope it is understood that I was not joking about my all-or-nothing thinking. I literally think that way.

So Flylady helps get my rear in gear and when I start to see that one thing actually does make a difference, I am encouraged to do more here and there, which, when added up sure looks like a clean house!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

If You Weren't Aware That Home Decor Is Not My Forte

I give you

Duplo Guy
He has been standing in the niche at our stairwell since my brother built him and put him there 3 weeks ago.

We have been in this house for 8 months now.

The niche used to look like this before we moved in. (BTW: we also have absolutely nothing on the overlook where these lovely plants once sat.)

And yet, I am unmoved to fill this lonely niche with something actually decorative. (Although blogging about it keeps it on my mind enough that I just might!)

I can appreciate beautifully decorated houses, but I have no idea how to go about doing something beautiful to mine.

And I'm strangely dead-set against looking in a magazine and copying something. Too unoriginal. I guess I'd rather have no decor than something I copied (save, of course, the guest room paint job in our last house. Thanks for the tips, Mom!). I am not opposed to others doing such things. In fact, I mean it as a compliment when I say someone's house looks like it came out of a magazine. I just feel like my fraudulence is waving a huge banner: "Look at me! I'm pretending I know something about home beautification!"
As I alluded to earlier, my family visited a few weeks ago. It feels strange saying that, since it was only three people, but I guess I can still say "my family" visited. My parents watched the girls for us one evening so I could take Casey to dinner for his birthday (paid for out of his gift fund--perhaps I'll post about that someday).
Right before we left, Case took this picture of everyone being way into the children's movie. Good times for all!

Is it me, or do my children look scared of bubbles?

Haley (five months now!) just figured out the reaching and grabbing thing this week. Until now, this is how she's been teething on things. Poor girl. Babies this young shouldn't have teeth. They simply do not have the resources. (Or knowledge of what is okay to teethe on and what isn't, if you get my drift.)

Ruby is enjoying her dance classes. They are doing a Christmas show and we aren't signing up Ruby. She is the only girl in her class who is not doing the show. She, fortunately, is not aware of a Christmas show and does not have pressure to be in it. (Ms. Diedre is so good about just teaching them things and not telling them what it's for--at least for now.) I, however, am asked by other moms every week if Ruby is doing the show. I can't believe how much peer pressure there is to deal with as an adult!

As fun as pictures are, there's nothing quite so entertaining as a bunch of two-and three-year-olds tap dancing! (Ruby's in the black/leopard leotard.)