Thursday, February 9, 2012

perfect

I am a perfectionist.

Unfortunately, I am not the convenient kind- obsessing with housework, laundry or organizing my car (just ask my husband...or anyone who even remotely knows me)

No, I am a perfectionist with the things that I do- such as performing a musical instrument or baking a cake.

This is why I have spent months following a musical recital in a constant state of moping because one note or phrase was missed...taking away from the ENTIRE performance in an unacceptable way (in highschool....ok fine maybe in college a little bit too...and grad school)

And then there was the infamous violin recital in 6th grade where I delivered a perfect performance of "Polish Dance" and then by mistake drew my bow over the strings too quickly for the final double stop- causing the entire last note to just be one very loud and embarrassing SQUEAK. When the audience began to clap, I stood there trembling and aghast thinking surely I wasn't allowed to bow now? I didn't deserve it- I had made a mistake. So of course I did what any levelheaded sixth grader would do- I glared in anger at the audience and stomped loudly off of the stage while holding my violin away from me as if it was on fire.

I have always struggled with requiring perfection of myself.

When I developed a pastry making fetish, this is why a batch of cupcakes went in the trash (more times than I would like to admit) because the decorated frosting didn't turn out exactly how I thought it should. And when having company over- if the layered chocolate cake turned out too short, I hid it in the basement and made another one because it had to be perfect.

I wouldn't do any sort of new activity that I couldn't automatically do perfectly. (yes, this was very limiting)

When Addison was born, my world was rocked in an unchangeable way. Who had time to worry about being perfect when you had to remind your body to pull that next breath?

I found that I needed to say some not-so-pretty things that I was feeling before my head absolutely EXPLODED. At the time writing seemed the best way to vent. My writing wasn't perfect or polished. It was tales from a broken mom attempting to claw her way back to sanity one poorly worded sentence at a time.

As Addison fought to live and then struggled for good health, I found myself inspired. She was working so hard for simple abilities that I had taken for granted my entire life- breathing, eating, developing normally. Why couldn't I then work hard to get better at this new skill of writing? Why couldn't I perhaps place my raw emotions on paper in a more eloquent way to hopefully help another broken mom who didn't know where to turn?

That's why I've been writing, writing, writing for the past two years and reading all the books I can get my hands on and forcing friends under duress to read my carefully chosen words and give opinions so that I could then revise yet again...(I love you all)

but through every novel draft and every blog post and every thought of the ebook, I heard a little voice inside me screaming "IT'S NOT PERFECT ENOUGH STOP STOP STOP"

So when I found an extremely negative review of my ebook Dreams Change last night, it hit hard, bringing back all of those insecurities and constant fight for the perfection that I temporarily abandoned in my quest to be helpful while still engaged in the classroom of writers-wanna-be (You know, taught by Dr. Yeah Right)

I take criticisms very hard- mostly because when one is whispered to me, I then turn on myself, magnifying the criticism in a crippling and all consuming way.

A meltdown might have ensued. I failed. Because my ebook is not perfect.

But then I remembered why I wrote Dreams Change
-to document our journey these past few years (putting together the relevant blog posts into one spot)
-to provide honest thoughts for the others that might be struggling to put one front of the other, unsure how this new diagnosis is going to affect their lives
-to show a small peek into life with a special needs child
-to be able to provide a small side income to keep up with the very expensive medical bills of a million dollar baby

and I remembered that the journey that I was chronicling was far from perfect. far. from. perfect.

I deliberately left some of those blog posts in very rough form- just as I originally wrote them, preserving the emotions with which I first typed them with shaking hands.

I deliberately included how God helped me through the hardest time of my life. Because he did. And I could not have made it without him.

Truly, this ebook chronicles the first time in my life that I was forced to throw away perfectionism and simply survive.

Since then, I have decided to live loudly- making mistakes- but really LIVING for the first time. Growing and TRYING- knowing that this means many failures along the way.

it's freeing to fail.

Mistakes will happen. My work will not be perfect. But I am no longer limiting myself the way I once did.

It's the smudge on the painting that makes it one of a kind.
It's the freckle or mole that's considered a beauty mark.
It's the lone flower surviving in that ditch that makes your day.
It's the wrong ingredient put in a recipe that gives you an idea for a new dish.
It's getting lost around town that shows you an awesome new place to eat lunch.
It's the wrong notes that puts a fresh sound into a composer's ear.
It's the stain on your child's clothes that inspires you to cover it with a fun button or patch
It's buying the wrong thing that helps make clear what the right thing truly is
It's the humbly worded ebook that helps a mom decide to keep the pregnancy of a recently diagnosed baby.

What's so wrong with imperfection?

You should see Addison work at new goals. Sister knows how to get it done, failing time and time again until that moment of success arrives in a blinding flash of pure genius. I want to be more like her.

I am a constant work in progress- learning, growing, improving every day. But isn't that what life is all about? If you're several steps ahead of me and want to look over your shoulder and judge me- judge away. Clearly you've forgotten that you were once here yourself.

I appreciate more than I can ever say the many kind things that so many of you sent my way about my ebook.

Thank you from the bottom of my far-from-perfect heart.

Why did this one criticism tear me apart so much? Because they said that my work wasn't perfect. And that's a constant inward battle that I fight.

But I do think that I won this inward battle.

Because I'm OK with with the criticism, and I'm keeping on keeping on with my slow growth as a writer because the reason why I started doing this in the first place is far more important than my hurt little pride.

Here's to living loudly. Making mistakes. And reveling in imperfection.

Because how else will we learn?

16 comments:

  1. don't let haters get you down...
    we all love you

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  2. Can you hear me cheering??? I give you a standing ovation, lady. A thousand curtain calls. :)
    Being imperfect is actually pretty fun once you get used to it.....this said by someone who turned on the wrong burner on the stove while making dinner tonight. which then caught the pan that was ON the burner on fire. while I was engrossed in facebook. lol No worries though, hubby was on the job. And I'm pretty sure I will laugh at this later (heck who am I kidding? I'm already laughing since my house is still in one piece). I rather like imperfection. :)

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  3. Can I say "hell yeah" here? Oh well, I just did!

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  4. "it's freeing to fail."

    Indeed, it is. Bless you.

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  5. I can relate to this so well. A couple of months ago, I started writing a blog post, that turned out way too long to be just a post, so I decided to make it a chapter one of an non-existent book that I may or may not write. If I don't continue, it would only be because I'd be afraid that people won't think it's good. But that would be ok, I guess. Thanks for the encouragement : )

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  6. "I am a constant work in progress- learning, growing, improving every day. But isn't that what life is all about? If you're several steps ahead of me and want to look over your shoulder and judge me- judge away. Clearly you've forgotten that you were once here yourself."

    Perfect.

    And, yes, kudos to you for wanting to be a serious writer.

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  7. yay, deanna! so proud of you! i appreciate this post. you are "learning,growing and improving every day". God bless!

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  8. How dare someone take your honest, heartfelt work of love and run it under her skewed microscope. Who made her the book review queen anyway? You keep writing, Deanna. Time will tell. And one more thought on that review: “Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.”

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  9. That is a hard one to learn, but so empowering once you do! I tell my students all the time how important it is to make mistakes...they never believe me though ;) I have to tell you...my husband wrote a piano solo for me in college, and I kept playing a wrong note at the end..so many times that he changed the harmony, and the end was waaaay better :) And I think you a very good writer (and I'm kinda a perfectionist when it comes to the written word too, comes from how many books I read) Write on my friend!

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  10. Your words inspire me everyday and put my life into perspective. Write your little (imperfect) heart away!

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  11. You go girl!,! If we were all "perfect" we would all be boring. And we wouldn't have our beautiful children because most peooke don't consider them "perfect". They don't know how wrong they are because they are too caught up in themselves. Keep writing, I get so much out of it and i check my email several times a day hoping to see something from you.

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  12. Loved your post, Deanna!! Isn't a wonderful thing that God loves us ALL in an unspeakable way in spite of ALL of our imperfections! Each and every one of us. You've reminded us all that NONE of us has "arrived", and that it's OK not to be "perfect"! By the grace of God, we press on and we get better, just like you said. Thanks for sharing your heart!! I LOVE your blog!

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  13. Beautiful post, Deanna. I'm hardly a perfectionist, but I can just imagine how hard it is to read that one negative comment (even if you've received a gazillion positive ones!) when you've put your heart and soul on the line releasing those words into the world. I think it's absolutely imperative that you didn't try and edit your early thoughts and left them raw - just as you were at the time - for us to read. Your ebook was amazing, just the way it was, and I really appreciate you taking the time to put it together - for all those reasons. It was certainly a comfort for me, who is yet to meet my little one. Thank you for sharing your journey and living loud x

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  14. I have still not purchased your e-book.Though I still plan to soon.I have enjoyed reading how Addison has changed you and even though I have never once doubted that if God ever sent us a "special" baby we would know he or she was a special gift ,reading about your journey with Addison has made me realize that we would be totally fine.:)Thank you for sharing it all with us.
    Have you ever thought about giving private violin lessons?Just curious?

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  15. Deanna, you have talent, incredible talent...And I am not just saying that cause I love you. You truly are an amazing writer, cause you write from your heart...People can feel your story because of the way you tell it...You pour your whole heart and soul into your writing...People like to read a story they can feel, not over thought and perfectly worded.

    And this post was great to read because you really did win this inward battle :) Good for you!

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  16. First of all, I am the inventor of the word perfectionist.........Every book I read I look for spelling errors and bad grammer. In your writing I have never seen one mistake. EVER! That being said, if one person says it's not perfect, but ONE person(me) says it is perfect, and life changing, and a blessing, and now I have a friend to me in my heart for life, THAN IT MUST BE PERFECT! I have loved every story, one of my favorite the jogging Halloween story, to Addison skiing, WHAT???? Once again I will tell you when I see Addison eating Klondike bars, cake, playing with her brother, I weigh what I am doing as a mother and then I go from there. Get use to the world judging but guess what I have learned 4 kids later, WHO CARES??? Not me! To my very favorite blogger, your perfect to US don't change a thing!

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Thanks for reading about my Everything and Nothing. I would love to hear from you!