Category Archives: Humility

The Quest for Perfection

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“Who are you to judge the life I live?
I know I’m not perfect
-and I don’t live to be-
but before you start pointing fingers…
make sure you hands are clean!”
Bob Marley

I have been thinking alot about perfection lately. What I have been thinking about it would probably surprise you. At this ripe age of 57, I am relieved to find that I have very little interest anymore in being a perfectionist.

Why? Perfection is usually unachievable and based on perception. What I may think is perfect, you may not. And what you may think is perfect, I may not. To the degree that we differ, what lies in that gray area? (probably a big difference of opinion)

I will tell you this. I believe that only what is created by nature and the universe is rooted in perfection. When I look at the magnificent sky every day, a honeybee on my basil plant, the face of a new born baby, I know this is perfection. The sun, moon, and stars are perfection. The dew on the morning grass is too.

So what does this awareness do for me? It releases me from the quest of having to do things over and over, ad nauseam. It also gives me the permission to apologize- which I do fairly frequently- without guilt. After all, I am not perfect.

What this isn’t is an excuse. It is not a reason to not try harder; I must be alittle more diligent about my health, attentive to my family, and nicer and kinder to wait staff at restaurants. If I am to be a spiritual being living a human life, I need to not forget that all living creatures are deserving of unconditional love and respect.

Two people passed away that I knew in the last week. Yes, it was sad. I went to the funeral of Margaret (yiayia Teta) this past Monday. There was something at the luncheon afterwards that blew me away. Yiayia had nine grandsons. Seven of them were there. Before we all ate, they stood in a line and said their favorite yiayia memories. It was unforgettable.

I couldn't help taking this picture. Gorgeous- all of them.

I couldn’t help taking this picture. Gorgeous- all of them.

These were truly kleenex moments. What I loved best was each one of them said that yiayia told him he was her favorite. I need to remember that. It is priceless.

At the funeral before the luncheon, I actually listened to the words of the priest. He did most of the service in English and I don’t remember hearing SO much of it ever before. He said basically, you can’t take it with you. Wow, you really can’t.

I was reminded (again) this week how fleeting life is. It is over in the blink of an eye. Why waste another moment on the relentless pursuit of perfection, unless it’s the God created variety? My friend Shelly gave me a little plaque once that said “Good Enough is Really Good Enough.” It was the (haha!) perfect gift. I got it out the other day and set it on my dresser. It’s a good time to be reminded of it.

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”
Michael J. Fox

 Don’t forget to check out my sharings on the Orthodox Christian Network.

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Thoughtful Thank You’s

The Best Things are Not Things

The Best Things are Not Things

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Do you believe in the power of a thank you note? I do.

If it is anything that I love, it is a real thank you. It can be a “look you in the eye say thank you” kind of thing, but it’s much better with a pretty card and a heart felt note in your own handwriting.

In the business world, there’s much to be gained by a good thank you. No amount of text messaging or emailing can replace the real deal. A note or letter tells someone how much a working relationship means to you. It lets the recipient know you appreciate their time and effort to work together.

In personal matters, a graceful thank you will lift up and encompass someone in a hug. It sends a message of love and caring. It says you are appreciated and what you did means the world to me.

Yep, this made me feel good all these years later!

Yep, this made me feel good all these years later!

A couple of days ago I found a cache of forgotten thank you notes from a previous job. There they were, stashed in amongst a bunch of business letterhead in my closet. I took them down and sat in my recliner, ready to revisit beautiful memories. The card I have pictured above (top is the front, above is the inside) was from a mother of the bride. I helped her coordinate her daughter’s wedding. Here is what she said inside. “Dear Jo, Thanks so much for everything you did to make Stacey and Gene’s wedding so beautiful. I know all the hard work you did- you went above and beyond! You were wonderful to work with and I truly enjoyed working with you. All the best.”

Do I save these for a reason? You bet I do.

I have a box full of cards that people have sent me over the years. Cards thanking me for presents, for my time, for my energy, for ways I helped others. I read once long ago that it was a positive tool to save heartfelt cards. When you are feeling down, get out the box and go through it.

I read a book a few years ago that really touched me. “A Simple Act of Gratitude” was written by John Kralik. He told his own story of a life filled with unhappiness. In a moment of clarity, he thought that if he became grateful for what he had instead of lamenting on what he didn’t have, it could be a game changer. He set a goal to write 365 thank you notes in one year. He achieved this milestone. Did it change his life? It sure did.

Writing thank you notes is a way to express gratitude for what we have in our life. It is a way to combat envy, greed, and ego. A humble expression of gratitude when sustained, can be the difference between a life of grumbling and complaints, or a life of infinite riches.

I hope you decide to pick up a pen and write some thank you notes. Go to your favorite stationary store, pick out some pretty cards and go for it. Or have picture cards made with your favorite photos and use those. Then get to town and write. By the way, thank you for that beautiful card you sent me. I love it!

One of my favorite cards!

One of my favorite cards! It was for Mother’s Day- still counts!

Extra Special

Extra Special

Sweet

Sweet

One of my favorites

One of my favorites

Beautiful

Beautiful

Humble

Humble

Unique

Unique

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God Has Confidence in Me

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about minding my own business. It was called Keeping My Spoon in My Own Bowl. Since then, a few more things have happened that have me scratching my head in wonder.

I’m not sure if it’s this long winter and the toll it is taking on me or others, but honestly, I’m feeling like I need a long vacation. I seem to be ticking people off and not in a good way. It’s been a very trying couple of weeks.

So what do you do when your words or actions are fodder to the fire to another person? I know what I used to do. Admit to nothing, deny everything and counter accuse. I literally could do no wrong. Never looking at my own part in any conflict used to be the norm, even when I might have had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

What is the difference now? When I upset someone, even if I mean no malice or ill will, I will apologize. If I feel truly in my heart I did no wrong, I will still say “I”m sorry” if someone takes what I did as a personal attack. With this action, I pay attention to my side of the street. I keep it clean.

I do this because I know deep down, God has confidence in me. If there is a lesson to be learned, then let me learn it. Perhaps I am being used as an instrument for someone else’s lesson. Whatever the reason, my soul is restored through honesty and the willingness to look at the log in my eye instead of the splinter in everyone else’s.

The maladies I caused myself by my own past thinking, stinking thinking as I like to call it, were numerous. Sore back, restlessness, discontent, sleeping problems, irritability. It was because my slate was not clean. I carried around burdens and behaviors that I didn’t know how to get rid of. Only through deep introspection and revelation to trusted individuals were these burdens removed. And then apologies doled out, the sweet antidote to my troubled ego.

I fight this of course. Don’t think I go around apologizing and then feeling all cozy and warm. My head fights with me, I chastise myself for getting into situations and not thinking more clearly. But, who is to say that my challenges were not exactly as God planned them? Maybe they were meant that way for a reason.

DSC_0036So I keep plodding along, putting one foot in front of the other, waiting for spring, waiting for the promise of renewal. I will watch for the snow drops soon; they will begin to come up in my back yard. I embrace the sunrise and the sunset because that gets me closer to the beauty of a new season, a fresh start. I go easy on myself because deep down, I am keeping the faith.

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Keeping My Spoon in My Own Bowl

Bowl Stack

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very gradual progress, punctuated sometimes by heavy setbacks. Our oldtime attitude of all or nothing will have to be abandoned. Grapevine 1962

So as usual, God has an interesting way of teaching me a good lesson in humility.

Something I did recently, with no harm intended, triggered a domino effect of major proportions. This has served as a reminder to me that a desire for control will sometimes present itself in the most creative ways. And sadly, an issue that could have been solved in a quiet and kind way, ended up bruising my ego and yes I admit, my heart.

I am surviving this by remembering what an old friend taught me years ago. I need to keep my spoon in my own bowl. It is a hard thing to do but truly I think, therein lies the secret to serenity.

When I have my spoon in my own bowl, I cannot pay attention to what is going on in other people’s bowls. Minding my own business becomes easier. It helps me set boundaries and parameters that keep my head in line with my heart. I remind myself, “What other folks do, or think of me is really none of my business.” My own mental health becomes a number one priority.

Bowl SingleYears ago, I had a terrible falling out with a close friend. She was under a lot of stress and one day, called to read me the riot act for a good 5-10 minutes over something I did. During the course of the conversation, she continued to berate me even though I apologized several times. I almost hung up on her but out of respect for our long friendship, I held on until the end.

It took a week or two but I sent her a card. I thanked her for her honesty. I tried to think of that note as act of humility, not a humiliating act.

Our friendship suffered greatly because of this incident. Eventually, I let go of the pain. I didn’t spread any gossip nor did I try and get other friends to take sides. That would have been the easy road. I could have avoided our whole group of friends so I wouldn’t see her. But I was not about to give up my other friends because of what had happened. I continued to show up at get togethers. I just kept my distance from my old friend.

Years later, it was she who reached out to repair our relationship. I welcomed her with open arms. We are dear friends again and I would do just about anything for her.

While driving home today a thought crossed my mind. Could my own humility be a God lesson to someone else? Is it possible that in my own self centeredness, I fail to stop and consider what someone else might learn in a challenging situation? Who knows? I try not to really think about it because after all, my spoon is in my own bowl.

Bowl Multiples with Red Vase

(all photos by me and my lovely Android cell phone!)

How do you practice humility?

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