Tag Archives: depression

30 Days of Brene Brown — Day 15: #self-talk #perfectionism #depression #luck #four-leaf clovers


Welcome to Day 15 of “30 Days of Brené Brown.”

Here is the quote:

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are


I was coming back from the private yoga lessons I give yesterday, completely unaware of the quotes until I write about them. I was thinking in the car that lots of people have these thoughts of inadequacy and not-good-enoughism. It’s almost an epidemic.

Then I came home and I saw myself in the mirror. I sneered at my thighs.



So then I started to reverse the self-talk.

“I love you thighs. I am grateful for your strength and your power. You hold me up, you help me run…” all that shit.

I say “shit” because I didn’t really believe it at the time I reversed. I just knew, rather than felt, through the woo-woo literature I read that our bodies absorb our self-talk. As how a plant hears us talk to it, our legs, arms, chins, face, skin, hands … all of it, they “hear” us and that negative energy can become toxic. It can actually mess us up to the point where we’d be grateful for the issues we had before.

So then I thought a moment and determined that changing course so abruptly and perhaps impulsively isn’t the healthiest; that repressing or suppressing or silencing that essence of dissatisfaction isn’t so hot either.

I don’t want us all running around and being pissed at ourselves, but I do think that a measure of ambition (not dissatisfaction, and that’s not just spin, my changing the two) is good for us.

There is nothing wrong with wanting better or different — AS LONG AS IT’S HEALTHY and REALISTIC. However, in the meantime, we need to dial back on the bad juju we’re throwing at ourselves or else we won’t be able to achieve the steps it takes to realize that ambition. For example: if I speak nasty to my thighs, eventually they won’t want to run for me, and then what good is that?!

If what life is giving us is dissatisfying, it is UP TO US to change it. Expecting the world to bring us a solution is utter piffle. Our goals should be reasonable and achieved in steps.

Back to Brown: “Research shows…” I hate that. Just start with what you’re going to say. If you don’t give me hard stats, it’s all noise.

The point she eventually makes is yes: perfectionism hampers success. Totally. How many times have I gotten waylaid because I wanted things to be Just So? If the Wright brothers had waited until their prototype was Just Perfect, we’d still be trying to walk to Greece.

Perfectionism is a myth and as far as I’m concerned, it sucks the fun out of everything. Screw “success.”

Do you have moments in your life when you’d pursued perfectionism like a dog on a hunt and it slowed down everything?

Case in point: that post I wrote Saturday, about courage with John Wayne references, took me FIVE HOURS. I got pissed at Brown because I accused her of not being a good writer. (My jury is still out.) But I got so wrapped around that axle that I missed the point in my personal account to drive the point home. When did I get that point? Literally: at the end. But I was so vexed and focused on making her quote work that I got lost.

NEVER will I spend five hours on a blog post analysis of someone else’s work. Nope. So I’m giving myself up to three hours max, including illustration time, to figure it out. Sometimes all I need is an hour.

A personal story (yes, again): One year, my neighbor dared to violate our neighborhood covenants had a patch of >horrors!< clover in her flawed, not 100% fescue front yard. I allowed myself to walk upon it in broad daylight when anyone could’ve seen me and found a 4-leaf clover amongst the clover masses. I plucked it (because why not?) and gave it to the first person I saw. I’m like that. I believe that my luck was assured: I’d found the clover, so it was time to share it. Truth: I gave it to a sweet little Asian woman who looked at me curiously and smiled in a way as if to say, “What the hell? Why are you giving me this weed?” Clearly, I’d surmised, she’d never been to an Irish pub.

On the walk home from school that day, I told my kids about the clover and they wanted to see the patch. They ran down to it and squatted down the way little kids do and scanned and scanned and scanned the patch. This went on for about an hour and a half. I sat with them and helped them a little. We found a couple, but each clover made them want to find more.

i seldom include a picture of my kids in my blog; but this one's quite old and it's so cute of them on the ground an playing i couldn't resist.

i seldom include a picture of my kids in my blog; but this one’s quite old and it’s so cute of them on the ground and playing i couldn’t resist.

In the background, neighborhood kids were playing tag, and then they had some popsicles, and then they played with the sprinkler and then they laid on their towels in the late afternoon June sun.

Aware of the irony, every few moments, I asked my boys, “Don’t you want to go play? Listen to your friends — they’re having a blast! The clovers will always be here…” (not if our lawn fascists had any say…)

“No, we want to keep looking. We want to find them all.” They agreed.

After a little while, the mirth in the background lowered and the other kids went in their homes. My boys gave up looking and when they stood up, they saw that no one was out anymore.

“Where’d everybody go?” my youngest asked, his strawberry hair was matted and his cheeks were rosy from keeping his face down seeking.

“I could use a popsicle,” said my older son.

“Everyone went inside. They were done playing. They sure had a good time, look at all that chalk and all those puddles!” I said.

“It looks like we didn’t have such good luck after all,” said my older son.

“Yeah. We spent our luck looking…” I said.

“Instead of playing,” said the younger.

This is an important lesson to learn from the smallest of teachers who are often the wisest. Kids are so unfiltered and they see the balance of things. I ask my kids about my writing a book, about this blog and whether it’s of any value.

You know what they say?

“If it makes you happy and it helps just one person out there, then it’s a success. You just need to be happy and believe that.”

Worrying about whether what we’re doing is going to appeal to the masses is absurd. There are 7 billion people on this planet — get with the program — you’re bound to not appeal to one or two of them. Will that crush you? Will that mean you just throw in the towel before you even dip your toe?

“Life paralysis”: Feeling stuck. That can stop the best of sailboats. That can undo the strongest of plans. Yeah — ya gotta keep going. You just do, regardless of how it tastes or looks or feels. I’m in the middle of about 40 pages of my memoir and none of it is stringing together. None of the content seems to make any sense.

I was afraid that I’d never be able to recall anything or that my memories would be warped because of the fact that you are told you are an unreliable source when you grow up in the kind of world I did.

To this fear, this feeling of paralysis, my angel healer said, “Just start. once you start writing, one memory will spawn another and another will be spawned from that and they will all be true and then you’ll be at a point where you’ll be typing but you’ll need to record an incoming thought and so you’ll get out a pen and paper and that thought will go there… just get it down.”  She’s totally right. I’ve got four notebooks stationed and ready all over the house.

We do diminish our odds of success and we do rob ourselves of time, the only resource we will never recover, when we chase perfectionism. I can’t worry about whether my messages reach everyone; I just have to believe they will reach the right people.

Same goes for you.

It’s OK to not have all the answers.

It’s OK to get input from others.

It’s OK to rely on yourself.

It’s OK to need a hand.

It’s OK to step away for a bit: some of the best inventions and discoveries happened when they weren’t intended.

I want to be a part of THAT amazing and fortuitous irony.

Be ambitious, lay out plans and have goals! Absolutely! Just remember to have fun. Just remember that the clovers will always be there and that sometimes, you’re not supposed to find them all in one session.

Thank you.

Three Things Thursday 4 — Sixth Graders, Chemistry and Sharing


This is my weekly series about enriching our Mind, Body and Soul; or a recap of what has happened to me which enriched mine; or a chat about products I like which enrich those essential elements to our wellbeing.

Mind: Serendipity cloaked as a missing sixth-grade classroom science project directive

Yesterday my middle son, Thing 2, needed me to bring in ingredients to make bread. His class was running a science experiment, “The Chemistry behind Baking Bread.”

The night before, he said, “Oh, I just need a couple things.”

“What things?” I asked.

“A bowl. Or some yeast. Maybe a wash cloth. Just that.”

“One of each only, all of them? So one loaf or is everyone making their own bread?”

“Yeah. Whatever you have.”

“Honey, I saw a paper about bread baking, but I haven’t seen it lately. Is this about that paper? Do you know where it is?”

“No. I just need a bowl.”

I let it go. This is how he can be sometimes. It’s not shame or indifference, it’s something else. Oh yeah: puberty.

Yesterday morning, he called me from school. “Mom, can you bring in that stuff for the bread? Or … I just need a bowl.”

“Hon, where is the sheet? You must need more than a bowl.”

“It’s in the playroom.”

This is our playroom:


I didn’t find it. But I did in another room and here it is:

Just as it should be.

Just as it should be.

So because I’m off Facebook for Lent (except to share this post with the parents of the class because I set up an FB group for them), I had time to kill. I gathered all the stuff, brought it to him at school and ended up staying to help out. I am so glad I did. Those kids are so cool.

I opened bags of flour, gave everyone a tablespoon of salt, helped mix the dough, touched shortening (uch! I can’t believe that stuff exists) and everyone had a great time.


Here are just some of the kids in one of the several classrooms kneading and mixing. They made enough bread for each of them to take home two loaves, one for each teacher and one for the charity.

These teachers scheduled the day to the minute. When we were finished kneading, it was time for lunch. T2 invited me to join him, he’d “buy” me lunch using his card, but I demurred. I wanted to clean the dough out of my hair and off my clothes and blow the flour out of my nose.

Before I left, I asked the teachers if they needed anything else. They did: they asked me to deliver the bread to the food bank mentioned in the crumpled directive above. I was happy to do so, “but the shelter has specific hours, so you need to check out the website…” Ok. The delivery was going to have to wait until today.

There has been a tugging in my heart to be more helpful to our community and I leapt at the chance to have a “good reason” for getting involved. (As if simply breathing and being of sound mind and physically capable isn’t enough.)  

Body: Chemistry as Whole Wheat Bread


This is the bounty of bread the kids made. Each kiddo used probably an entire roll of aluminum foil to wrap their loaves. We brought about 40 loaves.

It’s a lot of work to make bread and many of the kids were talking about the arduous nature of the stirring and the kneading amongst the many inquiries of whether it was “time yet?” to bake it. All of them came away from the experience of wanting to do it again.

When I entered the school later on to fetch the bread, the front hallway smelled so good. It reminded me of the Italian bakery near  my childhood home in Buffalo, NY; that smell can mean only one thing: healthy delicious food.

Soul: Sharing the Bread with the Homeless

My youngest son is sick today. Shocker, I know. He has the sniffles, but I couldn’t not make the delivery. I promised the teachers as well as my Spirit it would happen. So I warmed up the car (it’s 28˚ and windy today), wrapped Thing 3 in a blanket, strapped him into his seat and invited Murphy to come along so he could keep T3 company while T2 and I dropped off the bread.

As long as he left the bread alone, he'd live to see another day.

As long as he left the bread alone, he’d live to see another day. He worked very hard and he didn’t touch it.

I had every intention of bringing T2 inside the shelter with me. I didn’t want to beat him over the head with the concept that he’s living an extremely fortunate life. That homelessness doesn’t always look like haggard and scary people wrapped in plastic bags sleeping on grates outside the White House. That homelessness and poverty and dysfunction look like you and me. It is clean, shaven, wearing a fresh shirt and a sometimes ready but weary and worried smile.

When we pulled up, I had to wrestle Murphy out of the way for the box of bread. T2 almost collapsed under its weight while I clicked on the key fob to lock my child and dog in the car for a few minutes. I had my trepidation: a child locked in a car outside a homeless shelter. But I believed in the Good that would overcome the Fear. I was doing the right thing. He was sick and T2 really needed to see where this bread was going. He needed his eyes opened. And I didn’t know it, but I needed my heart softened too.

When we opened the door to go in, it was plastered with flyers about masses, prayer times, AA and NA meetings, mental health counseling, shower availability and donation needs. I was humbled immediately. T2 is too young to understand the insidious domino effect that a bad step can have on the downtrodden.

We were greeted with smiles and gratitude and a plea to tour the place. I explained I had a child in the car, but the female minister won me over with her warmth and reassurances. I also wanted T2 to see what was going on in there. The entire place is the size of a 7-11 or a dry cleaner store. The room was almost packed; I would guess there were about 45 people in the public room and maybe 10 in offices or in counseling.

As I explained in a note to my best friend today,

that homeless center… DUDE. it’s the place. i think i’ve found our charity. they do a lot there. i don’t think T2 has been spiritually altered, but it had an impact. they have a room the size of your office for a chapel with post-card-size pictures of the stations of the cross on the walls, an assortment of odd chairs for people to sit on and pray; a gorgeous mahogany cross donated by a man who also used the same wood to make some tables for the center because that’s what they do: God is in the tables. they are nondenominational, but clearly Christian oriented without any head-bashing with a bible. they have a laundry center where you can bring one load a day and they will wash it for the homeless; they have storage room filled with paper plates, napkins, fritos and chips and coffee and powdered creamer. i said i had some blankets and she said she didn’t need them anymore because hypothermia was almost over… i loved how she was very frank but kind about it all in front of T2. she said, “because hypothermia is ending soon, the people can go back to the woods and [get this]: they bring back the blankets for someone else…” the homeless have a sense of charity. they have computers for people to look for work (i was thinking we should get our Dell up to snuff and give it to them…) when someone applies for a job, a special line rings and they don’t answer “homeless shelter” they just say, “hello…” so the pride thing, as you know, is very important. they had free mental health counseling. the director’s office looked like our offices… papers everywhere… there were a couple women there, mostly men, but they looked so sad. a very elderly man was giving a younger man a haircut. there were young men, early 20s there, offered to help me with the bread; a larger middle-aged man was reading a book to a table full of people who were listening; it wasn’t a bible, it was probably a self-help book or heck, maybe even a story… i was blown away; my heart sang and melted at the same time.
i have a pamphlet for you. wow. i am going to write about this. i can’t help myself. heck, i’ll probably just copy and edit what i shared with you.
we are so lucky… i know you know this.

When we got back into the car, I asked T2 what he thought; if he’d learned anything, if he had any feelings. He said, “Yeah. I am lucky. There are a lot of sad people in there who have nothing. We should give them an iPad and some of our chips we don’t like and maybe a book or two. I don’t think they’d like any Legos…” I think he’s getting it…  We will go back with all the kids to teach them to help their fellow man. I will honor the vibe I picked up from a couple people in there, I’ll never leave my child out of my sight when we work there, but this will be good.

So that’s what we did before 10am today.

So… yeah.

Click on the red link for last week’s Three Things Thursday.

Thank you.