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?