The other day I was at a meeting for one of my son's teams and we had pizza all around. One of the other moms sat down next to me with a piece of sausage pizza (what did you think the title was referring to?). Her 15 year old daughter came up and started picking off the sausage from the slice like a seagull. The pizza was stripped down within seconds to just the cheese. So I said something along the lines of "If you don't like sausage there are other kinds up there..." and the mom looked at me and said "No. I love sausage pizza but I don't get it very often because the kids pick off all the good stuff so I always just end up with cheese anyhow".
Now, I'm an only child so this just naturally seemed nutters to me. I mean I don't mind sharing but when I purposely get something I like I make sure I get some of it too. They might get one piece of sausage from my slice but after that man, get your hands off! I mean if I taste something amazing I say "here, try this" and I share a bite. I DO NOT take a bite and then say "This is amazing - here, I want you to eat it all while I watch".
Because that's as good as saying "I don't deserve something this good. In fact, your happiness is so obviously worth more than mine." And then we say "seeing them happy is all the joy I need", which quite frankly is a lie because I know that deep down inside I really just wanted to enjoy my piece of sausage pizza.
Don't gasp and judge me here - I know being a mother is supposed to be all about sacrificing things for your kids. But if you give away ALL of your sausage (or time or energy or money or whatever) you are not being a better parent or a better person. You're not nourishing the child - I bet the child already has plenty without taking all of yours. You're not teaching respect - a respectful person doesn't take everything, they know to give and receive equally. Most importantly, you're not showing yourself respect - self respect means you know that you deserve as much happiness as those around you. What you are doing is depleting yourself unnecessarily. Now I know that sausage might not seem like a big deal but it's indicative of a bigger picture.
It's part of our fatal flaw as women - we're expected to give and nurture and then give some more, often to the expense of ourselves. Think for a minute - how many other places are you giving away pieces of your joy to an excess? I don't mean sharing your joy because that feels great and it makes everyone happy - I mean stripping it all down until you're left with just the bread? Do you do so much in the service of others that you forget yourself? You make lunches for the wee ones but forget to eat yourself. You help others fix their computers only to find your printer is out of toner and then run out to get more so that they can print. You take the seat facing into the sun. You do the dishes when your favorite show is on tv. You volunteer for positions because no one else is stepping up to take them. You let your kids pick off your favorite toppings from your pizza.
At the end of the day, you're depleted and stressed and over-extended. And all it takes to stop the madness is shifting just a little from 'give it all' to 'sharing an appropriate amount'. An appropriate amount is always moving and shifting - a fine balance between sharing, being generous and giving it all away.
So start with the small things. Start telling yourself that you're worth as much as those you love by letting the gulls take one piece of sausage then slapping their beaks away so you can enjoy your piece of pizza. Ask for the good chair from time to time. Serve yourself first. The little changes in your attitude will start spilling into the bigger areas so that at the end of the day you just may have some reserve energy left.
I have a pet peeve - okay I have a few: toilet paper that's been hung backwards, people who shout on their cell phones in the store, bags of chips that haven't been closed. Those are just a few. But my biggest pet peeve (with the toilet paper thing a close, close second) is the statement "I don't have time". I have written about it before and I will write about it again because it bugs me that much. That much x10,000.
If you were to ask me what the #1 excuse women give for not doing something it would be that one sentence "I don't have time". Tell me that you love to read but you don't have time to because your life is just so busy and my bull-shit-o-meter goes off like fireworks on the 4th of July. Tell me you want to start a business but you're already working 65 hours a week for 40 hours of pay and you just don't have the time and I have to tell you that you're lying.
You're lying to yourself if you think you'd do something if only another magical hour appeared in your day.
You're lying to yourself if you think that the reason you aren't doing something is because you truly don't have the time.
You have the time. You're just CHOOSING to spend it on something else. And if you truly madly wanted something, you would find the flipping time - and you'd find it in the same 24 hours that you just said were too full.
See what you spend your time on really is up to you. No excuses, no boundaries - just your choices. Even spending time to go to the bathroom is a choice - one I fully support by the way, much better than going where you stand. And the minute we change our relationship with our time and day into something that we create is the minute we start understanding that it's not about the time at all.
Some people go hiking and take dance lessons and blog and generally do stuff that they love to do - because they have chosen to spend their time allowance on those things. So when you find yourself saying that you don't have the time, ask yourself if that's really true. If it's just something you don't really want to do (like exercise) then change that statement to "I choose not to take my time doing x-y-z" or if you find that it's really important then find the time. Shut down Facebook and take a bike ride or leave work on time so you can start building up your own consultancy business or put a book in your car so you can read in between other things. Get creative with your day and stop making excuses.
The time is there if you choose to take it. Tell me below in the comments what you've been avoiding by making the time excuse... and how you're going to change that.
And by the way, the toilet paper should hang over the top.
We have people all around us (who perhaps are us) who work all of the time to be perfect. From the PTA moms who have a full time job at the school volunteering to feel fulfilled to the person in your life who is a chronic do-gooder, always trying to fix other people's problems because only they have the right solution to them. I was at the park yesterday with a gal giving her 3 year old a Martha Stewart birthday party when all the kids really cared about was playing in the sand.
I recognize these women as aspects of myself - the self I've been trying to break down and get rid of that is. It's exhausting to always be right, to have things be 'just so' and to keep up with the Jones' and to keep up the appearance that I've got it all together. And the thing is, it also turns you into a ticking time bomb... like the 2 liter bottle of soda that got forgotten in your trunk, rolling around in the heat for a week.
It's going to blow.
This week both a client and I had someone (different someones) lash out at us. Unexpected and settling for sure. And yes, it was hurtful of course... and yes, here's the lesson I had to take from it.When people work so hard at being perfect all of the time, the perfect PTA/dance/girl scout/gymnastics mommy or the perfect community role model or whatever, their energy of who they really are backlogs until it starts exploding all of the place in the most ungraceful of ways. And they justify it by standing on their high moral ground, because clearly they are perfect and you should want to be more like that.
That's what we're trying to get away from - from trying so dang hard to be a perfect anything. We are by nature flawed. We are not meant to fit in cookie-cutter style. We look different and so we are. And the lesson for us is that the more we try to be that perfect person, the more we bottle up our essence like that soda ready to explode.
It's really easy to pass the buck on this one and blame others for their perfectionist tendencies... but it leads me to ask - where are you trying too hard? Is there a place where you are, well, just faking it? (Bedroom issues require a different coach - I don't want to know k?) You know what I mean... where you paste on the smile or judge others for not doing it the right way. I do it all of the time, but I'm getting better. I'm starting got recognize when I'm not being authentic because here's the thing, the more true to ourselves we become, the harder and harder it is to deviate from that. It physically doesn't feel comfortable, as if the gasses from the soda bottle are real.
So keep the cap off of the bottle for a while, let those imperfect tendencies spill out - because at some point, exploding is no longer the right way to go even if you look perfect doing it.
My day started with an email that simply said "You need not set out to create a masterpiece, Stacy." That one little sentence was a huge wake up call, a reminder of what coaching is to me. Permission to get messy and make mistakes without the fear of screwing up the whole vision of what things are 'supposed' to be. Do things for the joy of doing them, for the love of the process instead of the expectation of a product.
When I was in college I was an Art Major (long back story I'll tell another time). Painting was the one thing I could do where the process wasn't about creating an outline or ensuring I had a proper word count or the sums all added up just so. I didn't have to prove anything or please anyone. I would just make my canvas and grab the color that moved me and simply paint. I would get paint everywhere. I'd use my hands and my pants (to wipe my hands on people). My brushes and the canvas felt like a living breathing thing - taking on dimension and form in ways I hadn't fully expected when I was sitting looking at the clean white surface of possibilities. When something looked wrong on the painting I grabbed more paint and went over it until I liked it.
I didn't set out to create something perfect or amazing. I wasn't after a spot on a museum wall or even an 'A' in the class. I was there for the freedom. In other words, I found a place in myself where I was allowed to enjoy the process without judgement.
Do you allow yourself to be totally free? To not worry about making a masterpiece? Can you do something without judging the outcome before you begin? That's where the genius begins - in that space where you are experiencing the joy of creation rather than the pressure of perfection. The real way to create a masterpiece is to stop trying so dang hard. The beauty will come. Results created from a place of freedom and joy and love are so much more powerful than the most carefully laid out systematic plans that exist only to uphold a standard. Just take that next step, paint over your mistakes and for crying out loud - get messy.