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Ok, so it took forever, but here ya go–up close and personal with the pelicans! Today, I had a grand time speaking with the brilliant, dedicated young people of the Florida Society of Professional Journalists about burnout. Looks like these pelicans have mastered a major burnout prevention strategy–spend time just hanging out with family and friends. Do that this weekend, y’all!
So White Pelican Day 2021 at the Rez is 10/22/21!! About four huge flocks just wheeled around to the far right of the area you see in the last post, made their usual awkward-beautiful landings split seconds apart. Like giant white feather bombs falling out of the sky. Sky a bright morning pink, water still night-dark. Man. Some days are just better than others… photo when they get closer, I promise! Have a wonderful day! http://www.DebMD.com #debmd90ways
Y’all! I spent the morning with my friend Courtney at MAAP and had a great time connecting with friends both old and new. Trying to learn how to social media but forgot to take pictures–oops! So this will have to do….
My best friend from residency once told me that she knew a lot of people who dreamed of having a house on the beach but only one (me) who ever achieved it. The photo below shows my home in Bay St. Louis, MS before Hurricane Bitch swept the whole thing into the sea. Hurricane Bitch was my name for Katrina once I got to the anger stage of my grief….
My office was on the top floor of the blue house, in case you’re wondering. The title for today’s pondering is something I’ve said many times to people in psychotherapy. It came to me out of an experience in my first beach house,the “Wave House,” which had a small room with a big tub and a large mirror that reflected candlelight in the best of all possible ways for a meditative soak. The mirror had a crack in it. The saying came to me one day as I pondered how interesting it was that the crack did not detract from the pleasure of the space. Since I was in my writing-on-the-wall period, I painted the title of today’s piece on the mirror above and across the crack and it was soon in heavy rotation in my therapy office.
“Perfect is the enemy of good,” I’ve heard people say. I once had a bit of a debate on this point with an accomplished man I admire a great deal. Very much the perfectionist, he believed that not being a perfectionist encouraged mediocrity. I understood his point but took (and take) issue with it because of the harm I’ve seen perfectionism do.
Women and girls, in particular, have been damaged by the notion that they must be perfect in every way. Women with eating disorders die in the service of this impossible goal. Yes, I’m familiar with ‘shoot for the moon because even if you miss, you land among the stars.’ That’s fine for some things. (Greeting cards come to mind…) Dream big? Sure. But there’s a difference between having a big dream you work hard to achieve and thinking you have to be perfect in every single thing you do, every minute of every day. That’s what I call toxic perfectionism.
Perfect body, perfect clothes, perfectly groomed and turned out at all times, with the perfect husband, perfectly behaved children, perfect performance at the perfect job, perfect hobbies, perfect pets… it’s ridiculous. It’s also impossible. What happens when this mythical “perfect woman” misses a deadline, eats a piece of cake or finds out that “perfect” husband is having an affair? What goes through her mind? That he’s a cheating SOB? No. What she thinks is that she screwed up (i.e., wasn’t perfect) so, of course he cheated…. Look around in your life. Is toxic perfectionism hiding somewhere? Fairly often, in residential addiction treatment for women, there are women who are so focused on appearance that they can’t address the real problem–the illness that is apt to kill them. We sometimes ask these women not to wear makeup for a week just to practice letting something go. (The ruckus that often ensues is a story for another day.) Look around your life. See any toxic perfectionism? Pick something and practice letting it go!
Oh, and remember: Practice makes better, not perfect!
I’ve been a psychiatrist for a long time, which means I have “touched many lives,” as my dear friend and colleague VT used to say. I’ve listened to many stories. What happens when you do that, if you’re a pondering sort of person such as myself, is that certain things get distilled into a kind of shorthand that turns into a private language of sorts over the years. Maybe only one person and I know the real meaning of certain phrases, the feelings behind the words and the cost of whatever lesson that person learned in the process. Recently, some of my pondering took the form of looking back at the long, furrowed rows of this life I’ve lived. Today, meandering through some old scribblings, I came across a list of do’s and don’ts I created years ago and thought I’d share–today the list, next time maybe more about some of them.
I want to hear your stories, too! Perhaps you have your own list of do’s and don’ts? Life is short, but it’s also long sometimes so let’s take care of ourselves and each other.
The Don’ts: Stuff That Doesn’t Work, So You Might As Well Quit It…
Don’t try to change other people. It upsets both of you and wrecks the relationship.
Don’t insist on perfection or you’ll never finish anything.
Don’t be mean, especially to yourself.
Don’t sing somebody else’s song. You have your own. Learn it. Sing it.
Don’t wait for someone to read your mind.
Don’t attempt brain surgery on yourself.
Don’t. Ever. Give. Up.
The Do’s: Stuff That Works If You Work It… So Work It!
Focus on yourself sometimes. It’s all you’re in charge of any time.
What a great conference, right?! It’s always so great to see old friends again and make new ones. I can hardly believe we’ve done it for 11 years in a row!
Click on the link to get the slides I promised some of you. I thought I was gonna have to make an emergency call to a grandchild to figure out how to do it but Mamaw managed this time…. Yay!
Back to the conference, I learned something from every single person who spoke this year and am very grateful for each of you. I’m still smiling over the new term I got from Dr. Lloyd–“SWAG–Scientific Wild Ass Guess” (in case you were looking for coffee and missed it). And I’m looking forward to revisiting meditation, thanks to Dr. Dansiger.
This is a new blog so let me know if you think of ways I can use it to connect and help. Thanks for visiting and I hope the rest of your day is full of joy!