the pressure to be perfect and learning to be myself

EVERY year, my family and I go to a local greenhouse on the first weekend before spring.  It started a long time ago and has kind of become a celebration of surviving a “midwest winter.”  (It tends to drag on and on, teasing you every once in a while with a warm day, only to divert back to freezing rain the next.) So we go, and each year as our family grows we take in all of the things that mean spring.  The bright colors, the smell of dirt, all of the opportunities of our soon-to-fail square foot garden.  It’s kind of become a celebration. 

greenhouse trip

This year, I thought it would be fun to write a little post on this sweet family tradition.  This will be great.  I figured all the kids were off school, I’ll bring my camera, snap a few pictures…perfect!

greenhouse trip with kids

Well, in short, that was optimistic.  The reality I found myself in was actually more something along the lines of this: an hour drive of arguing and whining and ‘are we there yets”, followed by bad attitudes from not eating breakfasts and us all still trying to make it through daylight savings. There was rain, lots of rain. My children running: on tables, down aisles, over to fountains, into breakables and away from me.  And the worst part: me and my big fat need to get the best pictures for a post. 

planting succulents

My dumb attitude was the worst part.  As much as I wished it wasn’t about getting the perfect picture, that is exactly what that outing soon became all about. I snapped at my sister, at my kids, at my mom.  All because of the pressure I was putting on myself to get that great shot.  To look cute, but not stupid.  To pose my uncooperative kids, to get the right lighting and to make sure I was sucking in. 

I don’t know if you guys have ever felt this.  I tend to be a perfectionist and when everything out there already seems to be perfect and I am such a hot mess (even when I try so hard not to be) the pressure is too much.  Who am I trying to be anyways?  It’s just a dang picture.  But I think it’s more than that.  I think it’s the scary part of trying to put myself out there more.  Anytime you share yourself, in any way, it’s vulnerable.  And though I wish I was cool enough to rise above it, I fall hard into the struggle to be perfect trap.

spring flower planting
DSC

And you guys, in my chase for perfection, for the best photos, I missed the moment.  I missed my kids having a great time, smiling. My cutest little nephew who I do NOT get to see near enough and who is running now.  I missed time with my mom. Asking her about her work, their upcoming trip and her concern for a dear friend who’s husband was sick.  I missed my sister, who I treasure time with, and asking her about her growing business, and how mom life feels and what she’s looking forward to.  I missed Everett recognizing some of the plants and planning out what herbs we’re going to plant this year.  I missed Courtland’s dimple grin and the sheer happiness to be with the whole family.  I missed Isla’s first time really experiencing the flowers and how every single aisle was an opportunity to explore.  

family outing spring

On the ride home we stopped at a drive-thru for coffee and as we were paying, my oldest son shouted through the window at the barista. “I love your voice!”  So I rolled down my window so he could tell her again. Interpreting for him I said “my son thinks you sound like a nice person.” She smiled so big and through the suckers she gave them, I could tell it meant a lot to her. 

I kept thinking of that.  “I like your voice!”  I think I am learning. When I am just me, when I am “my voice” and not trying to be any one else’s, or trying to say/be what I think people want or trying to look how I think I should look, or be someone I think I should be, I am way more free.”

spring succulents

When Racheal and I decided to blog more this year, it was because of a pull we both feel to just be ourselves in hopes of encouraging others to do the same. We want to be human, along with other humans.  There is a lot out there telling us how to be someone else, but that’s not why we are each made so different and diverse.  Its nice to see someone just be themselves, don’t you think?  When I see someone else being “human” I feel like I get them.  I feel like “I can do that too.” We should be inspired and encouraged by other’s honesty and vulnerability because it creates a real connection.  No one is perfect, no matter how hard they try, so I’m gonna work on not trying.

-erin

i'm not perfect so i'm going to stop trying to be

friends.

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{photo credit: brighton road photography}

“There are some people in life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger and live just a little better. “

Spent today reflecting on and thankful for ALL of the dear dear friends I have been blessed with in my life.  Old, new, those in touch and those not, each of you have sweetly shaped my life.  I cannot imagine a world without friends.  *erin

a day late and dollar short.

It is still morning and it has already been one of those days.  I don’t wake up with birds singing, but I am definitely an optimist.

It’s the little things that poke the holes in my sails.

“Why don’t I own an umbrella?” I am drudging my little ones through the downpour as we arrive late to preschool.

I spent 30 minutes in an aisle at target, on my phone, trying to activate my new debit card.  I am miserably failing the multiple choice questions. “What is your father in law’s middle name?” “Uhhh..” “Which one of these astrological signs correlate with your husband’s birthday.”  I mean, I don’t even know my own blood type. I always forget to ask.  (Add it to my to-do list).

An iced coffee down the shirt, a text to the wrong friend (same name, different person) and was one dollar short at checkout.  After it all I forgot the one thing I needed from Target…

As, I sit here trying to re-boot my day, I keep coming back to a verse I have been turning over and over in my head this week.

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.” {Gal. 5: 13-15}

What the heck does that mean?  I don’t feel like I live a free life.  I picture freedom like standing at the edge of a cliff holding my arms out and my hair blowing in the breeze (Titanic style.)  I feel like I can’t get my act together.  My life seems pretty sticky and messy to me.  I am a disaster.

What’s that phrase, ‘the devil is in the details?’  That is my story.  I am someone who gets caught up in and trips over life’s minor catastrophes. It is a slow fade into despair for me. A day full of bank card calls and spilt coffee can truly do me in.

This verse has been rotating through my mind as I slowly have given in to frustration.  I think freedom is starting to become clearer to me.  The freedom I can have, if I choose to partake is simple and oh so sweet.  I think it might be grace.  Grace to be ok with the crazy, with the loss of control, with the annoyances that discourage my spirit.  Grace to say “It’s ok to not have it together.”

And then, as I allow my imperfections and chaos to settle and lose the weight they hold, I can begin to see I have the freedom to love.

That is the freedom I miss out on.  The freedom to love others.  I would bet I am not the only one who doesn’t have it together and it would sure be nice to know.

So I will go on with my day, choosing grace and love and I think I will make that phone call to an old friend who might need a little reminder she is loved.

*erin

jewelry, earrings, dangle earrings, dangleearrings, stud earrings, studs, earring, earings, earing, jewelry,, accessories{photo credit: freepeople}