The Quest for Perfection

More Webs

“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.

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Count The Moments Precious

At Opa Opa Greek Restaurant, Sarasota Florida
Me (left), Mom, Cally (far right), and Mary at Opa Opa Greek Restaurant, Sarasota Florida.

Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments. Rose Kennedy

I just returned from a beautiful week in Siesta Key, Florida at the Crescent Royale with my mom and two sisters, Mary and Cally. It was a warm, sunny week with temperatures in the high 70’s and low 80’s. After months of cold and snowy weather in the Northeast, it was a welcome relief to be in the sun. My three aunts and uncles were there also (one being my mother’s brother Steve) plus my aunt’s sister and her husband as well.

On the beach! From left, Me, Mary, Aunt KC, Cally, Joanie
On the beach! From left, Me, Mary, Aunt KC, Cally, Joanie

It was a week of magical moments. There was the moment I first walked on the beach after an almost three year hiatus. I can’t tell you what it was like to put my toes on that powdery, fine white sand. I was one happy gal.

Then, day two and I am scanning my Facebook timeline.  I see that an old friend of ours from church (and our hometown of Ambridge, PA.) John D., was playing the bouzouki at a Greek restaurant just ten minutes away.

Mom and John Demas
Mom and John with his bouzouki. Photo by Mary Jamis

We ended up crashing the wine tasting party at Opa Opa Greek restaurant just to see John. There were red carnations all over the floor, delicious food was being served and John was the consummate host and welcoming committee. The whole experience felt surreal; like we weren’t really there and it was a glorious dream that we didn’t want to wake up from. My mom was thrilled with the whole experience, listening to the music, meeting the customers of the restaurant and reminiscing with John about his family.

Another moment was at the Oyster Bar  on Siesta Key. My aunt’s sister Joanie told us they had oysters for half price from 3-6pm, so we headed over the next day for happy hour. There were TWELVE of us! My Uncle Jim said he’d have bet his Cadillac that my mom wouldn’t eat oysters. I said I should have made that bet because my mom ate a whole dozen.

Mom at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar
Mom at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar

That was a fantastic moment.

There were many other moments- times on the beach and at each other’s condos, where we drank mojitos and talked about the old days. My mother reminisced about trips to Greece and relatives long gone. It occurred to me, and not just once or twice, that these will be the moments I will long remember. These tiny bits of time, with my mom, sisters and aunts and uncles, will be re-played over and over in my mind, the delicious parts savored and lovingly shared in the years to come.

Sunset on the Beach
Sunset on the Beach

On the day we left the beach, we drove to Clearwater to see another old friend from our hometown. It had been almost thirty years since my mom laid eyes on Alicia.

Mom and Alisha. Photo by Mary Jamis
Mom and Alicia. Photo by Mary Jamis

Another beautiful moment to count along with the rest! I’ve probably got one more post in me about other aspects of this trip. But for now, I am content to just remember how truly blessed I feel after spending this glorious week with my family.

My Mom and her brother Steve. Photo by Cally Jamis Vennare
My Mom and her brother Steve. Photo by Cally Jamis Vennare
Are we beach beauties or what? Cally, Me, Mom. Photo by Mary Jamis
Are we beach beauties or what? Cally, Me, Mom. Photo by Mary Jamis
All of us!
All of us!

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

My Unresolutions for the New Year

Calvin is Perfect! Nothing to Change! Photo Credit Decibel Magazine

Resolutions, ME?

Yes, I have to admit that in the past I was always reluctant to set New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I still am. But today I am thinking about what may be worthwhile to change as I go into this new year.

Being an over-doer and over-thinker, I hate setting goals that feel like more pressure. I already place too many expectations on myself and the thought of more pushing can overwhelm me.

But I am thinking that I can set some “un”resolution goals. This could be a good thing for me; a “restore-myself-to-sanity” thing and guess what- my word of the year just happens to be (drum roll please) – Sanity.

So here we go. I’m officially offering up my unresolution goals in the hopes you over-doers out there will join me.

1. I resolve to unhook myself from negative thought. As soon as my mind starts on the “you’re not doing enough, blah blah blah” I resolve to kick it to the curb and look at myself realistically. Am I really doing enough? If the answer is yes, well then, Good Enough is really Good Enough.

2. I resolve to un-counch-potato myself and get the heck to the gym. Yes, I’m signing up for a swim class and not making excuses about why I don’t like to exercise. Enough already- just do it!

3. I resolve to undo my own guilt trips about food. I noticed recently how much grief I give myself about any sweet treats and honestly, I’m tired of my own berating. If I want a cookie (provided I haven’t eaten ten of them already), I’m having it without guilt. If I work on loving my body for what it is (a beautiful thing!), the chances are I will make better choices anyway. (This may not always apply at Sunday’s donut fest after church services. 😉 )

4. I resolve to uncontrol my life more and give the big issues to the Universe. Honestly God does a much better job of figuring things out vs. my struggling and struggling.

5. I resolve to unleash my mind and let it live in the moment. I want to live more freely, more spontaneously, more enjoyably. I don’t need to plan as much, just go with the flow and enjoy what comes my way.

I’m smiling just looking at this list. I think I’ll print it out and hang it somewhere.

Will you join me? If you create an unresolution list, comment below and share a couple.

Happy New Year!

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

What To Do At A Party

What to do at a party

“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.” 
― Frederick Buechner

How have you been? It’s been a busy couple of weeks but I so wanted to say hello and touch base.

I have been blessed with lots of activity. My sister Mary visited from North Carolina and my cousin Christina is here with her daughter Arial. A beautiful reception to coordinate was dropped in my lap and two more weddings to oversee have magically appeared as well. God is truly keeping his eye out for me.

One of the summer events I had the privilege to attend was a memorial picnic in honor of a young woman who passed away five years ago. Her children were there as were many others to remember and cherish the beautiful person that Mandy was. It was while I was there that I spied the creative and inspirational poster of sorts that you see above.

Take a moment and notice which activities were already checked off the “What To Do At Party” list. Read books, tell jokes and jump on trampoline were already checked off. I wish I was there for the trampoline part, but then again, maybe not. 🙂 I especially loved make tambourines- wow!

This poster reminded me of what it was like to be a kid all over again. What things did I like to do when I was a child? I loved to color and make creative paper drawings. I loved to listen to music and pretend I was in a band. My friends and I would get together and go bike riding every day. We would definitely drink root beer floats.

In this age of too much, too soon, I think we can sometimes forget the simple things that are good and uncomplicated. A family meal, not elaborate, but eaten together. Time well spent just talking and walking on a trail or on the beach. A chance to get back to ourselves and get quiet.

I’m guessing it was Talulah, Izaya and Willow that made this poster. I have to thank them when I see them next. I really love it.

Blessings to you for a joyous summer! How have you been? What were some of your favorite things to do as a child?

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Surrounding Myself

Rose by Christina, my cousin, via Monet's Garden NY
Rose by Christina, my cousin, via Monet’s Garden NY

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher- Oprah

It’s been almost a year since I left my full time job. Hard to believe but here I am, Spring rapidly approaching and life completely changed.

How I can go from being employed full time only a year ago, to my now current state of underemployment (yes, that’s what I’m calling it!), yet still have a full plate of activities, boggles my mind.

I have filled my time with all the things I always wanted to do but had to squeeze in the time for before. Time with my mom, grandson and my own kids, phone and real time with friends, lunch with Jim, working on my business. I pinch myself daily and then say a gratitude prayer.

My event business is slowly gaining speed. I receive phone calls, follow up and then meet people. I have a couple of exciting things on the horizon and really, my cup runneth over. God is blessing me in many ways.

I’ve never been good with uncertainties but lately, I am learning to accept each day as it unfolds. Everything I need is being provided to me. I sometimes miss my full time income but in the next moment, I realize I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s really about what I can do for others.

Remarkably, the friends I am spending time with are lifting me higher. They so believe in me that even I wonder myself what they see. I have felt for a long time that God sees things coming. Perhaps (S)He is sending me the people who will guide me down this constantly changing path of mine. I know this- I will honor the path by keeping the faith.

Is there someone in your life who lifts you higher?

 

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Moments of Pure Joy

DSC_0042“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

I bought myself the most beautiful bouquet of roses the other day.

It was shortly after Valentine’s Day when I happened to drop by to see my favorite florist. His shop can literally take my breath away. There is always so much to look at, beautifully displayed and seasonally inspirational. There were buckets of flowers everywhere, mainly roses, in many gorgeous colors and they were perfectly open.

Jim, the owner, is an old friend of mine. I asked him to make me a bouquet and it was a blend of white and pale pink roses. They were stunning and as soon as I got home, I searched for the perfect vase. A crystal decanter did the trick. The flowers changed my whole house and lifted it up a notch in cheeriness.

A few days later, it snowed like a blizzard and I began to wonder again, if winter would ever be over. But then the snow stopped, the sun came out and everything began to melt. The roses kept smiling at me from the table.

I can feel spring coming closer. The temperature is warming and I chuckle as I find Jordan’s hair in little clumps around the rug. She is shedding her winter coat- another sure sign of approaching spring. The heavy snow is melting in my yard and there are slippery spots. But thank goodness, it is melting.

I am feeling moments of pure joy. It is in the warmth of the sun and the smile on my husband’s face. It is in the smell of my morning coffee and the anticipation of the trip I am going on with some dear friends. It is in the emails from my west coast friend who by the way, sent me the most delicious fudge sauce I have ever tasted. I peeled a banana and spooned a little fudge on every bite. Yes, it was decadent.

I’m working on a June wedding and Cindy, my client met me today at the very same floral shop where I bought the roses. We were inspired by Jim’s ideas and his expertise was evident in the things he proposed. Afterwards, Cindy and I rode together to select linens to finish the tables. It was an amazing day!

I feel beautifully unencumbered tonight, as if the heaviness of this winter is slowly melting away, to reveal a new layer right below the surface. I can craft that layer anyway I want and as wonderful as I wish.

White roses

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Crimson Awareness

Morning Sun on my Trees
Crimon Kissed Trees

“The earth has music for those who listen.”
― George Santayana

I walked Miss Jordan outside the other morning just as the sun was starting to come up over the horizon. As the snow crunched beneath my feet, we made our way to her favorite spot.

Without thinking I turned around. And as I did, I caught a glimpse of barren trees at the other end of my yard, lit up like an orange flame. I clipped Jordan to her run and slowly looked up.

It was as if God lifted his paint brush and stroked those bare branches in the most beautiful shade of crimson. How long has this been going on, I wondered? How could I have never noticed this before? Was this the first time this ever happened in my presence? It is doubtful.

I ran back inside to get my camera and thankfully, the crimson light stayed long enough for me to capture a picture. It fascinated me, this snapshot of magestic color against the starkness of winter brown.

How many truly beautiful things do I miss because I am distracted or just not paying attention? I have to wonder. If I slowed down just a little more each day, became alittle less self centered, what would I notice?

There are of course, things I do notice. Slight things. My husband’s smile or the way his hair is slightly ruffled up in the morning. My grandson’s change in his voice lately, the deepening of it and the realization that he is no longer a kid but a young man.

DSC_0195The simplicity of the vibrant cardinals in my backyard, eating lunch at my birdfeeder. My mom’s healthy look as of late, compared to how sick she was last year.

What I am trying to be most aware of is the beauty that still abounds even in this frigid weather we are having. Like the crimson trees.

If I take the time to slow down and smell the winter, what else would I see? I think it’s time to find out.

What will you notice today?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Serenity on the Clarion River

Canoe

Jim and I spent this past weekend in one of our favorite places in the world- Cook Forest State Park, Pennsylvania. We meet up twice yearly with a group of friends and this time we occupied three cabins side by side with a grand total of sixteen people.

We ate all of our meals together and spent most of our time gathered around a perfect campfire. There were lots of good stories, marshmallows and too much food. Believe it or not, there was no alcohol on this weekend and yes, we had a very good time.

Before we left, Jim and I made the decision to head up a bit early on Friday and go for a canoe ride down the Clarion River. We did this once before but took the much longer ride. This time, we opted for a shorter river journey which took about ninety minutes.

Clarion RiverWe had a very nice canoe. I rode in front and Jim took the back seat so he could do the steering. It was one of our shining moments working as a team. Paddling around rocks, shallow water and little rapids, we never once got hung up anywhere. Jim threw his fishing pole in along the way, just for good measure, but the fish must have been somewhere else, probably taking a long nap.

I can’t fully describe for you what the ride was like but I will try. The river was tree lined on each side; great big tall trees, still green but with the promise of autumn in their leaves. A clear, sparkly river with the sun glistening off the surface so much so that it appeared as though diamonds were scattered about. The sound of a red tailed hawk overhead; the sound of my paddle as it glazed the tip of the water.

A couple of times, the sun was warm enough on my shoulders and I angled my hand over the side of the canoe, into the chilly waters of the river. I left it there for a few moments and felt the cool wetness, the temperature of the water being just perfect for the beginning of fall.

There is truly serenity in being among the tall trees, in unspoiled beauty, with clean air and only the scent of pine or a good, smoky fire. My cell phone does not work well in Cook so it’s a good excuse to go unplugged for the entire weekend. The better to enjoy the beauty with.

Sometimes we have to stop and break away. Life is just too busy these days and more and more is expected of us. Making time, pushing ourselves to be in touch with nature should be mandatory, just to clear our heads and refresh our minds. I know it really works for me.

Where’s your favorite place on earth to wind down?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

The Penthouse Suite of My Mind

Isn’t it amazing what we choose to focus on?

The above image arrived on a piece of mail recently and I just had to take a picture of it. I stared at it for a time, had a good chuckle and then spent a few minutes thinking about it.

Here is my take on the image. There is so much that matters to me and much of it I do not have control over. This includes my family, my kids, my job, my volunteer projects, etc. etc. etc. It is impossible to keep my mind and attention on “everything” important to me, therefore I choose what is meaningful for that day or that moment.

My mind likes to work overtime on worry and predicting the future. Yes, I like to think I have a crystal ball in my head but really I do not. Taking the most mundane thought or concern and turning it into a ridiculous mountain is a part time hobby of mine. Thankfully, an article I read once compared the mind to a house with rooms. It said: if our thoughts are overwhelming us, we can get up and move to another room. We don’t have to “live” in the negative room of worry and self defeat.

I thought this was a remarkable concept.

Since then, when I get carried away in a room of negative thinking, I try and remember to get up and move to another room in my Mind House. Though I can still hear noise from the negative room, I only hear it as mumbling or whispering. In my “new” room, the style and decor is plush and comfortable. The sofa is very soft and has lots of pillows. There is a fantastic view of woods, a lake, wildlife and flowers through the window. I call this room the “Penthouse Suite” of my mind.

If you’re thinking this is purely a form of meditation, you are right. But I have to tell you, it works. The Penthouse is often times where I fall asleep at night. I have to put aside my worries about today or thoughts about tomorrow and imagine I am on that plush sofa.

Keeping my mind focused on positive things is a mental exercise I practice everyday. And, I believe it is possible to train my mind to head to the Penthouse when things get a bit hairy. I’d prefer the plush sofa over worry anytime.

What does the opening image mean to you? What do you “focus” on?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Fear Not

Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.  ~Bill Cosby

Photos by Michelene Cain

I am afraid of a lot of things. I am afraid of success, failure, ignorance and embarrassment. I am also afraid of spiders, the dark and of being in situations in which I do not have control. If I stopped to let my fears take hold of me, I of course think they would do me some serious damage.

There has been so much in the news lately to make us afraid. People have been committing unreal acts of violence to innocent people, without motive. No wonder there is so much fear in the world. It makes me think twice about going anywhere in public these days.

Fear came up in a conversation recently with some friends of mine. We talked about our worst case scenario and what would we do if it happened. I think we decided that we would just get through it. We’d muddle about, figuring it out. There are people who would help us too if we needed it. To rely on one another is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.

I heard a speaker once who said that when she is afraid she pretends she is a small child, and she runs and hides under God’s great robes. In there, she feels safe. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that mantra to get me through something scary.

A couple of years ago, I realized I was in a situation that was becoming more and more of a drain. I loved my job but the distance I was traveling had become a huge burden. It would have been easy to stay at that job until retirement but I wanted a better quality of life for myself. The fear of starting a new job all over again, at age 53, was scary.

I finally made the decision that I wanted the quality of life more than I was afraid of starting over. An opportunity opened up for me, close to home, that I had been hoping for. I took the job. A year later, Life is better. It hasn’t all been easy, but it’s definitely worth it. Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

Photos by Michelene Cain
Join me on my graceful journey.
1015