June Converse

My Journey from Awareness to Acceptance to Authenticity

My dad died last year. I miss him but he never really went away because I hear his voice – and not in a good way – all the damn time.

Today, I was rewarded with a publisher expressing interest (and sending a contract) for my second novel, The Unexpected Gift. This publisher is also interested in working with me on book 3. Great news! Exciting news! Daunting news!

My first extinct was to write an email to all my friends, my family and all the people in my writing world. I actually composed the email but before I could hit send, my dad joined me at the table with all his words of wisdom and judgment.

“Don’t send it. Every time you do something worth bragging about, you screw it up and embarrass all of us.”

And if that wasn’t bad enough …

“Who do you think you are pretending to be a writer? You send that email and you’ll be humiliated, and people will whisper and laugh. Oh, they will pretend to be happy for you but really they’ll be rolling their eyes and taking you off their friend list.”

And …

“You may have a publisher but once they actually read it, they’ll be tossing that contract in the trash and you’ll have tell everyone you failed. Again.”

And …

“People – especially those in your writing groups – will hate you. They don’t want to hear about success. They’ll talk about how you think you’re all that and then they will love watching you sink.”

My father had some wonderful qualities but his voice and his constant disappointment in me overshadows everything else.

So, as I much as I want to sing from the rafters, I can’t.

Instead I sit here writing this blog, fighting back tears, and expecting the bomb to drop – expecting my Dad’s words to be prophetic.

I hate this. I hate that his voice keeps me from ever believing in myself.

Shit, I wrote two books – that’s 200,000 words. They are for sale and people buy them. People say nice things. And you know what, Dad, I worked my ass off and that should be enough! But, it’s not, is it?

I’m fifty-five years old, my dad is dead, but he will not shut up and I cannot seem to stop listening.

I did eventually send that email, but I played the accomplishment down and sent only to a very few “safe” people. I want to call the email back – to delete it – to keep my damn mouth shut.

I want to be able to share and not care if people whisper or watch for me to fail.

As my dad used to say, “You can want {missing word] all you want but that doesn’t make it so.”

By the way, The Unexpected Gift has been officially optioned by a publisher – contract signed! I have written two books and I am damn proud of them. I plan to write Book 3 and I am proud of that already. Take that, Dad! 

I think it's important to add that my father had lots of good qualities. He was a hard worker and he always provided for the family. He was intelligent and could be funny. He was a master at card games. I do miss him.

“Doubt is the motor for failure.” ~ Professor T available on Amazon Prime

I’ve heard many cutesy quotes about doubt and about failure. But for some reason, this particular quote struck a chord and it keeps rolling in my mind. I decided to look at the ways I doubt and evaluate if these doubts are causing me to be unsuccessful. How are these doubts a motor to failure?

But I don’t want my blogs (or me) to focus only on the negative and the struggle. So, after I look at the struggles, I’m going to look at the successes. And – dammit – I’m going to have more successes than doubts.

Doubt and Failure

  • I doubt I’ll ever be satisfied with my body.
    • Motor:  I haven’t opened the Body Kindness book that more than one therapist has suggested.
  • I doubt I’ll ever be a great, bestselling writer.
    • Motor: I haven’t bothered to research, with any seriousness, publishers or self-published marketing techniques. If I don’t try, I might fail.  Yikes! That’s wrong. I need to think:  If I don’t try, I will definitely fail.
  • I doubt I’ll ever stop compulsive behavior (spending or taking on too much responsibility).
    • Motor: I often tell myself – “Go ahead and do it. You know you’re going to. So quit trying to talk yourself out of it.” – That is a LOUD motor.
  • I doubt people like me for me.
    • Motor: I have a tendency to buy things for people. Kind of a ‘buying their love’ attitude.

Courage and Success

There are many antonyms for doubt. But I think the opposite of doubt is courage. The courage to risk failure and find success. I may have areas where doubt drives failure but I have more where courage drives success.

  • I am courageous when I write and share these blogs.
  • I am courageous when I work on my novel and listen to my writing coach (tammyletherer.com) and work hard to get better.
  • I am courageous when I go the gym and let a trainer push me farther than I could ever push myself.
  • I am courageous when I let @EmilyAborn (emilyaborn.com) manage my social media and allow her to post pictures and problems that make me vulnerable.
  • I am courageous when I keep teaching classes and force myself out of my bubble.
  • I am courageous when I host a party every quarter so that I maintain the new friendships I’ve developed.
  • I am courageous when I don’t pretend to have faith or pretend to have it all together or pretend to be anyone other than who I am.
  • I am courageous when I clean my house but don’t make that more important than my family and friends.  (My mother was more concerned about having a clean house than anything or anyone else and I don’t want to repeat that pattern.)
  • I am courageous when I maintain my boundaries and self-respect even if that means I have to walk away from friends.

I did it! I found more courage than doubt. But that doesn’t change the truth:  I need to fight doubt with every fiber of my being.

Fighting Doubt

Actually, I believe this blog will help me fight because I’ve discovered and admitted these problem areas. Often, we don’t change because we don’t take the time to investigate. I won’t try to work everything because that might set me up to fail and failure will just add fuel to doubt. But I will:  Open that damn Body Kindness book.

Once I’ve done that for a few days (long enough to prove to myself I can handle and benefit from the information and activities), THEN I’ll tiptoe into publishing and book marketing. It’s an overwhelming topic with no clear answers or direction. There are a lot of frauds and bad information and people simply asking for money. It’s hard to navigate … Do you recognize those last few sentences as more doubt fueling more failure?  This one may be a harder nut to crack. I will find a way.

Doubt is the motor for failure.  AND

Courage is the motor for success.

Click HERE to download the Journaling Activity that goes with this blog

In yesterday's post, I talked about developing a campaign for myself.  I listed several potential goals that I want to analyze and consider carefully before I choose to apply "aggressive activities" that direction.  With that in mind, I created the following questionnaire for myself and wanted to share it with you.  It's a living document and will likely change once I start using it but I think it's a nice beginning. It might seem like a lot of effort just for goal setting but I'm thinking of it more as a road map for my future -- and that deserves all this effort.

Goal:

Category:

Analysis:

  • Is this more of a “should” than a true “desire”?               SHOULD         DESIRE
  • What five aggressive activities can I think of right now?  Am I willing to do these?  (note:  don’t spend much time on this – just throw a quick list together so that you can “feel” your readiness)
  • Am I willing to “go out there” – i.e., tell everyone and ask for true accountability?  What would accountability look like?
  • What resources will I need and do I have these?
  • What has kept me from being successful with this in the past?
  • WHY do I want this?  Be honest – be brutal with myself now or brutal on myself later!
  • Can I “handle” this goal – what about this goal scares me?
  • What obstacles will I face and what do I “feel” when I think of these obstacles?
  • When I think of this goal and all that it will require, what thoughts come up?  How does my body respond?
  • What do I picture if I “succeed”?  What do I picture if I “fail”? (another time for brutal honesty)
  • What does Dave think (discuss this after I’ve answered the above questions so that he has all the information to help me – ACCEPT that I need help balancing my goals and abilities)?
  • What else comes up when I think of this goal?

Will this goal make my FINAL CAMPAIGN?                        YES                 NO

While I won't bore you with all of my analyses, I will share a couple so that you can see how my brain and body are working together to chart a course that helps ACCEPT MYSELF and CHOOSE ABUNDANT LIVING.

 “….. he ran a campaign of discipline not impulse.” 

Do you campaign for yourself?  Before you roll your eyes at the absurdity of such a statement, read one of the definitions:

Campaign: a systematic course of aggressive activities for some specific purpose

dictionary.com

Let’s break this definition down. 

Specific Purpose

Do you have specific purposes for your life?  Or, like me, does your life often just happen? 

If I look at my life – how I spend my time, what I worry over, where my money goes – what campaigns do I support?  Do I run a campaign of discipline or impulse?  Do I run a campaign where I win or lose?  Are there energies, resources and efforts I need to shift or refocus? 

It’s 2018 and in last week’s post, I promised myself that I’d ACCEPT myself.  Acceptance is acknowledging that in this very moment, I am where I am.  Acceptance allows me room to choose a new place for my next moment.  Acceptance does NOT mean living a life I don’t love.  I ACCEPT that I suffer from bi-polar (or whatever juicy label I have today) but I can CHOOSE how to handle this.  I ACCEPT that I cannot eat what I want when I want if I want to be healthy.  I ACCEPT that I like to lily-pad and I need to structure my life so that I can do this (watch for a future post about lily-padding).

I ACCEPT that if I want to have a life I love, I must set a course.

Systematic Course

One of the things I hate most about political campaigns is that most candidates tell us why we should not vote for their opponent rather than why we should vote for him/her.  In other words, I want a candidate to tell me what platforms she supports – what are her agenda items, what systematic course is she committed to?

I’ve decided to develop a campaign for myself.  If I had to create a political ad, what would I promote, support, fight for?  But wait ….

The Skeletons In The Closet

Every candidate, every person, has skeletons in their closet.  For me, these skeletons will start to rattle the very second I decide to get serious about my campaign.  Past failures will pound on the door.  Unkind words will again have volume.  My negative side will get louder and louder.  Even as I write these words, one corner of my brain is reminding me that I’ve failed so many times.  The exact words I’m hearing are: 

  • “You always disappoint yourself and everyone else around you.  Just stop trying.” 
  • “Why should you have to give that up – it’s not fair that everyone else can have that and you can’t.”
  • “You won’t be able to handle this.  Look at how worthless you’ve been the last week.  You’ll fall into the abyss again and again.  Why don’t you just stay there?  Wouldn’t that be easier than climbing out over and over again.”   (this will be another post soon)

I ACCEPT that my mind is often my enemy, my opponent.  I CHOOSE to fight that.  I ACCEPT that I will lose some of those fights and will sink into the abyss from time-to-time.  I CHOOSE to keep climbing out. 

The Campaign Poster

If I designed a campaign ad, what would be on it?   Let’s make a list – don’t justify your list, don’t censor yourself.  Just write a list of all the things you’d like to have/do/accomplish/be.  Think small.  Think huge. 

I’m going to do this “real” time – I’m going to write a list for exactly five minutes (setting my clock now):

  • Get “Decide to Hope” published in April
  • Get “Journey to Hope” published in September
  • Start a 3rd novel
  • Start a “Better Accept & Change” Book Club
  • Learn how to market my book/myself (learn this social media stuff)
  • Lose this last 10 pounds
  • Stop drinking soda
  • Stop eating refined carbs
  • Keep this blog going and try to grow my audience
  • Continue to work on my mental health issues and management
  • Decide the best eating plan and become a FANATIC
  • Keep making the scrapbooks my family loves
  • Read read read read – anything and everything
  • Quit worrying about my weight – really get my eating disorder under control
  • Control other impulses
  • Keep my exercise routine (find a way to “shake things up”)
  • Find an accountability partner that really holds my feet to the fire
  • Find ways to show Dave love that fits my personality
  • Keep cultivating those 2-3 friendships that really matter
  • Hike Europe/Travel
  • Find the courage to join a writing group and stick to it (no matter what)
  • Actually get fully dressed whenever I’m leaving the house (or every day?)
  • Really evaluate my spending and make adjustments – look at this goal more carefully!
  • Start teaching (think outside the box)
  • Find a volunteer opportunity that energizes me
  • Continue to take classes/learn
  • Find some way to be spiritual
  • Financial goals – use a budget

Time’s up … these are the things that hit me at 8:15am on January 1.  Certainly the list is not exhaustive or all inclusive.  Because I want my campaign to succeed, I’m going to take the next week to refine my list.  Questions I’ll be asking myself:

  1. Is this a true goal for me OR is this a “should” goal?
  2. Am I willing to apply “aggressive activities” towards this goal?
  3. Am I willing to be held accountable for this goal?  If so, what would that look like?
  4. Do have the resources for success?
  5. Why is this important to me?
  6. Based on my mental health challenges, am I asking too much?  I have to find that balance.
  7. Do I have the support of my husband?  We must have aligned goals or I will fail.
  8. What does my body “feel” when I think of this goal?
  9. I'll come up with more questions once I start this analysis!  I will NOT avoid any questions that come to mind -- if my mind is sending me questions then they need attention!

Somatic* Goal Setting

I can’t believe I’m going to talk about this … it’s so “gooey*”.  But, I have come to understand how much my body tells me.  As I think of these goals, I get an immediate bodily reaction.  For example, when I think of volunteering, my shoulders tighten and I have trouble taking in a deep breath.  For me, that’s a warning sign that I need to acknowledge and listen to. 

Taking My Time

Campaigns don’t start after one day of thought.  While it’s January 1 and I’d like to have my campaign poster on my refrigerator today, I’d much rather have a campaign that I can win.  In order to accomplish that, I’m going to slow down, do some homework and come back to this next week.

Take The Time To Refine

I can’t do it all – maybe you can but I ACCEPT that I have a limited amount of energy, time and resources.  I also ACCEPT that my mental health requires dedicated self-care that limits me to some extent.  For the first time in my life, I want a campaign that I can fully support and execute completely.  I want to win!

My list only took me five minutes.  I can’t and shouldn’t finalize my campaign based of a five-minute session.  I want the final outcome to be ME – the ME I CHOOSE to be … in order to accomplish that, I need to:

Monday/Tuesday: add to this list – make it as long as I want.  I will also go ahead and strike anything I know is a “should” or that my body rejects.   I will discuss this with my husband – he knows me better than I do and he also has some goals that I need to incorporate.

Wednesday/Thursday:  create categories.  For example, many of the goals could be categorized as “physical health” or  “mental health” or “career”. 

Then I’m going to do the hard work:  as I write each goal, I’m going to listen to what my brain starts to say and how my body feels.  I’m going to write EVERYTHING down – by doing that I can identify the enemy.  There may be some enemies so strong that I don’t want to fight them right now – and that’s okay!  I ACCEPT that I only have a limited amount of strength and skills at this moment in time.  If I choose battles where the enemy is too strong, I will fail and that will create a domino effect where all of my goals crash.  I’m strong enough to admit that to myself and structure my life accordingly.  Of course, one of my goals will be to continue to build my mental, emotional and physical strength so that one day I can fight any enemy.  But, I’m not there yet and that’s OKAY!

Friday:  trim the list and discuss again with my husband.  Then, I’ll trim it again.  And again.

Saturday:  FINALIZE my campaign platform.  I’m going to go so far as to design a poster – I’ll post that next week!

Sunday, I’ll begin to develop my list of “aggressive activities” for each goal.  This will be the subject of my next post. 

I’ve had a very difficult December (see my post from December 31).  What I learned during that time is that I need to be intentional in ACCEPTING myself and all my “issues”.  The abyss is a hard place to be and even harder to climb out of … I’m going to be more careful about avoiding the abyss and I think that starts with being realistic with myself about what I want and need out of life.  It starts with campaigning for myself. 

I hope some of you will join me and share your experiences with this LIFETIME project.

*gooey -- I prefer to live in my mind, so when I'm told to listen to my body (somatic experience) or to meditate, I think of those activities as "gooey" or "woo-woo".  I used to avoid them.  While I still don't like them, I totally recognize their importance in staying grounded and balanced.

Some recommended resources:  

Affiliate disclosure:  I wanted you to be aware that I am part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program where I will earn a fee if you choose to purchase using the links presented in this site. Please know that if I recommend the resource, I have personally read it.

This year, I will continue to write about my goals/ habits/ trials/ success/ anguish.  I will let you into a mind that suffers.  

I’ll continue to crack myself open so that YOU feel safe to be who YOU are, feel what YOU feel, realize YOU are not alone, trust YOU are valuable just because YOU exist.  I will strive to create a “non-judgment” and “authenticity” zone.

But on this first day of the New Year, I wanted to tell you my most important goal:

Accept Myself

Including….

  • All my emotions
  • All my eccentricities and idiosyncrasies
  • All my necessary boundaries
  • All my good habits
  • All my bad habits
  • All my awesome decisions
  • All my poor decisions
  • All my body – its curves, wrinkles, dimples
  • All my thoughts
  • All my struggles
  • All my successes
  • All my failures
  • All my fears
  • ALL of who I am, I will EMBRACE in 2018

Happy New Year!  Let’s get to work on ACCEPTING who we are while also BECOMING who we want to be!  

Have you ever failed?  Of course you have.  Maybe in small ways.  Maybe in huge ways.  Failure is as universal as anger, sadness, joy, tears and laughter. 

If you’ve followed my blogs, then you are aware that I had a mental breakdown in April 2012.  At the time, I owned and taught at a small school.  This school was conducted in my basement – imagine 30+ kids coming in and out all day!  The school lasted ten years and when it ended, it ended with a boom and a crash!  For the last five years, I’ve considered that entire school a failure. 

My failure.  ME the failure.  Do you see the difference – it wasn’t that something I did failed, it was ME that was a failure?  That idea continues to be paralyzing in many ways. 

I’ve been working in therapy, with friends, with my husband to reframe it – after all, rationally I get that it lasted 10 years and saw several dozen graduates go on to pursue their dreams.  But knowing it and believing are not synonymous. 

About six months ago, I joined a Pathfinder Group Coaching program.  This was NOT therapy – this was more geared towards career/personal goals/accountability.  As you can imagine, a lot of emotional stuff is involved in finding your passion and the courage to pursue it.   Last night the focus was dealing with failure.  Not a fun topic but more necessary than I realized. 

For the first time, I shed some of the school baggage.  I woke this morning feeling freer – not free – but freer than yesterday.  I wanted to share because what we did could be applied in so many ways – let’s just get started and you’ll see what I mean.

Please do the steps before you read my responses – this is your exercise.  I already did mine!

Step One: 

When you think of the word failure, what images/words/messages come to mind?

All of us had different answers – embarrassment, shame, personal expectations, societal expectations – for me, though, the idea that I AM THE FAILURE beat me over the head.  The idea of failure became a judgment ON me – my value/my worth – rather than on the situation or the facts.

Step Two: 

Take 2-3 minutes to list areas that you consider a failure.  Once you’ve done that, choose ONE to work with.

I’m not going to share my entire list – it was long.  She asked to choose one that still held some emotional pain.  I chose the school.  

Step Three: 

Take 3-4 minutes to make a list of all the things your Inner Critic tells you about this – how do you condemn yourself?

This list could go on for pages --- but here are some of the big ones:

  • You didn’t deserve that school anyway – you weren’t qualified.
  • It’s 100% your fault it failed – you didn’t set boundaries.  You never said no. 
  • You thought you were such a hero – that’s what you deserve for believing yourself to be so high and mighty.
  • You hurt more people than you helped.
  • If it was such a good thing, surely those people would still be in your life – you basically destroyed all your relationships too.  People only pretended to like you because you were doing something.  As usual, you have to buy friends.
  • You – the good Christian – God abandoned you for sure!
  • You let EVERYONE down – the students, the parents, the co-teachers, you’re own family, even your parents
  • You couldn’t even close it down with professionalism – you just went off the deep end!  You had to make VB and Dave do it!  So weak!
  • You always always always disappoint!  Just stay hidden!

Is that enough?  It was certainly painful enough!

Step Four: 

What were the negative repercussions due to that failure?

Think about your failure.  What were the lasting negative consequences?  This is my list:

  • Students were left hanging with limited time to find a solution.
  • I lost a lot of relationships that I believed were strong and felt very important.  (I actually listed those relationships)
  • I had to re-assess my faith – what I believed versus what I was taught to believe.  Does the difference make sense?
  • Years of wandering – it’s been 5+ years and I’m still not content/settled (but, I’m getting there)!
  • My house became oppressive – I lived every day in the place of my failure.  It became haunted.  I could not go in the basement.  We eventually just sold it and moved.
  • I lost money – income, tax breaks, plus all the stuff I’d invested in

I want to pause here for something that happened during this exercise that shocked me and started the healing – every time I wrote one of negative consequences, my brain gave me the other side of the coin.  For example, every child did find a place to be (thanks to VB) and I believe all their situations were positive.  I did lose relationships – but if they weren’t strong enough to withstand this trauma, did I need them?  Making faith MINE is a good thing.  You get the idea.  This may not happen to you – but be attuned – you just may not be letting that part of you speak loudly enough.

Step Five: 

What are the lasting positive consequences due to that failure?

She had us think about what we gain, what we learned, what skills we acquired, what qualities were developed, what other possibilities appeared, etc.

I sure hope you’ve been doing your own failure analysis because here is where it gets good!

  • My health improved – physical, mental, emotional – I allowed it to become a priority
  • I was forced to make some life changes that needed to happen
  • I learned to say ‘no’
  • I learned to recognize when I’m feeling overwhelmed and how to correct my course
  • We love our new home and our quality of life improved (smaller, prettier and Dave’s commute is 45 minutes shorter!)
  • I have time to pursue MY interests (rather than figuring out Marine Biology, for example)
  • My marriage is much better
  • I think my parenting skills improved – if nothing else my kids feel comfortable discussing their own emotional issues
  • I no longer have to pretend (I’ll write another blog on this – the change was nothing short of miraculous)

Step Six:  

Go back to step one – how do you perceive failure now?

  • For me, failure means: 
  • Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate my path.
  • There is a deep meaning in failure if you take the time to look.
  • Failure is survivable and thrivable (yes, I know, that’s not a word) --- failure is not final
  • Every failure is an opportunity to learn new skills, gain understanding and perspective
  • Next time, I can change the conditions
  • Trying is never failing

My Real Epiphany

All of the above is great -- but, the one epiphany that changed my life was this:
It took incredible strength to go to rehab, to let others take control, to move into health.  Only because of this failure was I willing to learn new skills and become my authentic self.

NOW THAT’S SUCCESS!

Pathfinder Group Coaching

I will be asking the professional that runs this group to approve this blog – I do not want to “steal” her work.   I will also put a link to her website below – this Pathfinder Group Coaching was worth every dime/every anguish/every minute!  As I said above, this group was life changing in a different (but complimentary) to therapy.  If you feel lost in any area of your life -- take the time to check it out:  http://meredithwalters.com

At the end of last night’s session, one of the participants read the following poem.  Perfect!

I do not have permission to publish this – but I figure since it’s free on the web, I can share … here is the link:  http://sites.uci.edu/mindful/files/2013/10/Autobiography-in-Five-Short-Chapters.pdf

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

“There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk”

Chapter One

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in.
I am lost . . . I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault . . .
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place. But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there.
I still fall . . . it’s a habit . . . but,
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter Five

I walk down another street.

Last week, our daughter called to tell us she was struggling with a class.  She’d already dropped this class once so she felt some serious pressure to get through it.  And, she’s a people pleaser through-and-through so she is serious about getting good grades and keeping that GPA up. 

I take credit – and blame – for some of her need to do well in school.  As a former school teacher, I impressed upon both my kids the importance of doing their very best.  It’s not that I expected straight As ….but…. okay, maybe I did expect that.

As we discussed how best to get the necessary support, I heard myself say:  “Sydney, you will never use this class in your career.  Companies don’t look at GPA.  They want diplomas and graduates.  Just pass it.  Who cares what the grade is?”  Basically I told her not to push for excellence but to push for good enough.  Was I wrong?

I really thought about this over the course of the next several days.  I was not wrong.  The fact is we don’t have enough time/energy/resources to pour excellence into everything.  We must choose how best to channel our excellence.  It’s important she graduate.  It’s important she be able to find a job in a career that excites her and uses her unique talents.  It is totally unimportant if she makes an A in this class (or a B or even a C – she just needs to get the credit).

Sometimes we need to revisit our goals and values to remind ourselves how to channel our worries/efforts/focus.  Her goal is to graduate.  Her goal has never been to graduate with a 4.0.  If she can remember the true goal then the pressure in this one class will be reduced – and likely by reducing that pressure, she’ll actually do better.  Make sense?

Where do I put too much pressure on myself?  Where do I pursue Excellence when Good Enough will do?  In order to answer this question effectively, I must again look at my goals/dreams/desires and then compare that to how I’m spending my actual time and my worry time. 

Or… ugh … where do I put too much pressure on my husband, my kids, my friends?

Periodically Good Enough

Yesterday I did my Orange Theory workout.  I was tired from a sleepless night, it was really early, and I simply did not want to be there.  As I was pushing myself – and I mean pushing myself – this topic resurfaced in my mind.  Immediately, I lowered the incline and the speed.  I still worked but I didn’t reach for excellence.  Yesterday, good enough was good enough.  Instead of trying to “get all that I could” from my exercise, I decided to be satisfied with the fact that I moved.   One of my life goals is to be fit and healthy so that my husband and I can do some cool things together.  Excellence with physical fitness is important.  But, good enough is good enough from time-to-time.

Good Enough Has To Be Good Enough

I just sent my first novel out to ten beta readers.  It’s not perfect.  It will NEVER be perfect.  If I strive for perfect then I will never reach my life goal of being a published author.  Eventually, I will have to decide the novel is good enough.  If I hold out for perfection, then I’m basically using that as an excuse not to move forward – which I think is a form of fear.

As my novel sits on a shelf for two weeks and then as I receive and incorporate the feedback, I will complete one last re-write to make it as close to perfect as I possibly can.  Then, I will close the file, begin the publishing process and call it good enough.  I think my next novel may actually be titled “Good Enough.”

I’m going to force myself to embrace the old adage:  Perfection is the Enemy of Done

I hope I can instill this in my daughter – I’m a bit afraid that the perfection I’ve already instilled in her will be hard to carve out.  I doubt she’ll make an A in this class – maybe I can show her that the world did not cave in, that life did go on – maybe I can show her that good enough was good enough.

Fighting for Excellence, Too

Now, what I did not tell Sydney was that she shouldn’t work hard or do her best.  What I’m trying to say is that doing our best is the best we can do.  Doing our best is our excellence – regardless of the results.  And yet, sometimes, I don’t think we need to do our best.  I folded clothes just a few minutes ago.  I did not do my best – I threw the socks together in a loose pile, I tossed the underwear in a huge pile in the drawer.  Who cares?  Maybe you care – maybe that is important to you – cool!  It’s not important to me and I refuse to feel badly that I didn’t do my best.

In this blog, however, I am pursuing excellence.  But what does that mean anyway?

What is Excellence Anyway?

Excellence is not perfection.  Excellence is not even a test of quality. 

Excellence is a moving target … it’s about growth and maturity.  For me, excellence is mostly about authenticity.  Excellence for you may be something totally different.  But, whatever it is, personal excellence changes as you change. 

I’ve done some Internet research looking for a definition of excellence.  Here is my distillation:

  1. Your behavior should match your values
  2. Learn from your mistakes – failure is good!
  3. Use your mouth wisely (and, I would add, use your self-talk wisely)
  4. Live THIS moment (not yesterday or tomorrow)
  5. Dream and then ACT – complete any action, however small, towards your dream!
  6. You do it, you think it … you take responsibility for it … do not play the blame game for any reason
  7. Live a life of balance – all work and no play really does make you a dull boy
  8. Be willing to change … look at yourself, at what you’re doing, at what you’re thinking, at who you hang around with … THEN make whatever changes you need to be excellent.   (Pay special attention to how you spend your time, your words, your thoughts and your money.)

Excellence, then, has nothing do with an A in a class, a GPA, a best-selling novel, a clean house, perfectly folded clothes … it’s more than all of that … and less than all of that …

I think this may be a topic of several blogs … it’s pretty deep!

All of my novels, at least so far, have an element of mental illness within a character. Decide to Hope is the most autobiographical in that I struggle in many ways exactly as the female protagonist.
- J.C.
June Converse with purple hair
In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....
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