And eventually being perfect became like carrying a backpack filled with bricks every single day. And oh, how I wanted to lay my burden down. So if any of this sounds in any way familiar to you, if you have been trying to be perfect too, then perhaps today is the day to put down that backpack before you develop permanent curvature of the spirit. Trying to be perfect may be inevitable for people who are smart and ambitious and interested in the world and in its good opinion. But at some level it’s too hard, and at another, it’s too cheap and easy. Because all it really requires of you, mainly is to read the zeitgeist of wherever and whenever you happen to be and to assume the masks necessary to be the best at whatever the zeitgeist dictates or requires. Those requirements shape-shift, sure, but when you’re clever you can read them and come up with the imitation necessary.
But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great, ever came out of imitation. What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
More difficult because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no mask to wear. Terrifying, actually, because it requires you to set aside what your friends expect, what your family and your co-workers demand, what your acquaintances require, to set aside the messages this culture sends, through its advertising, its entertainment, its disdain, and its disapproval, about how you should behave.
. . . Begin with the most frightening of all things, a clean slate. And then look, every day, at the choices you are making, and when you ask yourself why you are making them, find this answer: Because they are what I want, or wish for. Because they reflect who and what I am.
I’ve L O N G since stopped trying to be perfect. That’s another post. That’s not where my mind went today when I read “Being Perfect” by Anna Quindlen.
Instead, I’ve been thinking about those last three paragraphs above. Last week I watched Facing the Giants – the entire movie, in 10 minute increments, on youtube. (I will definitely be purchasing this movie for my family.) It’s a football movie, sure, but it encompasses so much more. Since watching the movie, I’ve found myself thinking quite a bit about the overall messages presented.
I’ve written recently about being prepared for opportunity. In the Facing the Giants, a man tells a story about faith and preparation:
I’ve been preparing for opportunity. I’ve been taking action. But my goal has been . . . unfocused. I’m taking advantage of every opportunity I come across, but it’s all adding up to a big pile of puzzle pieces. I haven’t been able to figure out, as Anna Quinland said, “what I want or what I wish for.”
I think I’ve figured out what I want. The coach in Facing the Giants articulated it for me:
“I resolve to give God everything I’ve got. Then I’ll leave the results up to Him.”
So, I’ll continue to prepare for opportunity. Or rain, whichever is in my future. But my focus isn’t only on the logistics anymore. It’s on giving God everything I’ve got. And leaving the results up to Him. That means spending more time in my Bible. And in prayer. And not just in praise and thanks and petitions, but quietly as well. Abiding. (I’m not that good at “doing nothing,” so abiding is difficult for me.) And I’m going to start with a clean slate. I’m going to take my past into consideration, of course, it led me to where and who I am right now. But I’m not going to let momentum lead me into the future. Or be distracted by confessed sin and the past. Rather, in His promise of no condemnation, looking both forward to the future and, more importantly, engaging – really ENGAGING in the present, I’m going to focus on “giving Him the best I’ve got.” (oh, you just THOUGHT I approached life with intention BEFORE. Just wait. I’m going to be . . . tenacious.)
And I feel like I need to clarify. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of “finding” my “one” purpose or figuring out God’s “perfect” plan for my life. If one person misses God’s “perfect will” for their lives, it would impact too many other people and cause them to miss out on God’s perfect will for THEIR life. Just marrying the “wrong” person means their spouse didn’t marry the right person and so on and so on. I’ve written about it before in a post entitled “learning in flux” but basically here’s what I believe (in a tiny little nutshell):
If I am a God fearing, faith filled, honorable woman who makes choices based on Biblical wisdom, then within the moral will of God, whatever I decide to do, will be equally pleasing to God. And whatever choices I make, I know “that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose.” HIS purpose. It’s not about me. It’s about me giving Him my very best. Preparing for rain. And leaving the results up to Him.
This last clip is the one that compelled me to watch the entire movie. This is the clip that inspires me. And while many viewers may be inspired and encouraged by Brock’s determination to make it to the 50 yard line, I am inspired by the coach and his determination to show Brock how much more he could accomplish if he gave God his best effort.
My favorite Christmas movie was on the other night, and I had an epiphany.
It’s the department store window. That’s it. It marks the beginning of the materialistic Christmas. Evidenced first by all the little faces pressed “before a golden, tinkling display of mechanized, electronic . . . joy” and then in little Ralphie’s face at four and a half minutes into this clip.
Here’s the original trailer:
And I know, it’s mean to like this part, but . . . but . . . they didn’t really stick that kid’s tongue to the pole . . . it was done with suction . . . so it’s not really mean . . .
“How much is too much TV? I also realize it’s also important to monitor what they watch, so what do you think about The Disney Channel and other networks geared towards kids? All thoughts are good thoughts, so bring it on ladies. 🙂 I really want to hear what you think!!”
I started to answer in a comment until I realized I was hijacking her blog. So. I’m posting my response here and letting her know about it.
How much TV?
It varies. We don’t have a certain number of minutes per day. I have a feeling that if I set a maximum time limit, they would make sure to watch that much, when in fact, they have days where they don’t watch at all (so far today, nobody has been interested.)
We stay pretty busy, even in the summer – with the (near daily) rain, swimming, play practices, basketball camps, podcasting camp, clay animation camp, “play dates” with friends, familyoutings, guitar practice, computer time, video games (we play together) . . . and OF COURSE (in this house) reading! We’ve been so on the go this summer, it seems like we only had one week without anything on the schedule – and then we filled it with a beach trip to Daytona. I admit, after a stint of fast pace scheduling, we have “lazy days” where we completely veg out. Overall, TV is watched more during the summer than during the school year. During school we have extracurricular activities (we limit each kid to two things at a time – if their grades stay up) and youth group/children’s ministry starts back up on Wednesday nights.
Given all that, we don’t necessarily have “rules” – more like TV “habits.”
1. MOST of the time, we watch shows recorded with our DVR. NO commercials – saves time and sensors the junk.
2. The kids mostly watch Disney Channel, some Discovery. We have no idea what shows are on Nick. No interest at all. When Brittany’s sister got pregnant, my kids had no idea. Didn’t care. On the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX) the only show we DVR for family viewing is American Idol.
3. TV goes OFF if nobody is in the room, watching it. TV background noise is like Chinese water torture for me.
4. The layout of our house is such that I can see and hear everything being watched. It’s made for some good conversations about choices and communication. We’ve also adopted a few family jokes and quotes we use on a regular basis. Basically, there’s not a show the kids watch that I don’t know the content, the characters, the plotlines . . . I love the layout of our house. (NO TVs or computers in the kids bedrooms.)
5. On school nights, all electronics are off at 7:30 p.m. – TV, computer, cell phones, mp3 players – ALL electronics off. NO TV in the mornings before school.
6. Shows get paused OFTEN for chore and homework breaks. Chores and homework get done very quickly when a TV show is paused.
7. We also have a library of family oriented DVDs, many of them Disney movies. One of my favorite? The Emperor’s New Groove.
This post has prompted me to do a little TV watching “inventory.” I went to each of the following network websites and looked at their listing of shows. Here’s what we watch:
Family – Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Hannah Montana, Life with Derek, Phil of the Future, Wizards of Waverly Place.
PinkGirl – Phineas and Ferb, Cory in the House (Personally, I HATE Cory in the House. FavoriteSon says “me too.”)
Family – MythBusters
FirstHusband and I – Deadliest Catch (LOVE the editing on the beginning of the opening sequence! The timing with Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” is great.)
Family – Every once in a while we catch an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition or a SuperNanny.
FirstHusband and I: Grey’s Anatomy.
Family – American Idol. Every once in a while, we catch “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader.”
FirstHusband and I – Nothing.
Family – Who wants a CLEAN HOUSE! PinkGirl and I love Niecy Nash. PinkGirl LOVES “How Do I Look?”
FirstHusband and I – Nothing. (But he and FavoriteSon will watch Clean House with us sometimes.)
Family – Nothing
FirstHusband and I: The Closer and Saving Grace (both are summer series).
On Friday or Saturday night, FirstHusband and I watch TV. Sometimes we “rent” a Movie on Demand from Brighthouse. I think the last one we saw was “Fool’s Gold” with Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. What can I say. I’m a cheap date.
We also own a few series on DVD and will watch episodes (in order, of course) on weekend nights. TOTALLY giving away my geekiness here, but we actually own the entire Farscape series on DVD. And our favorite, all time show? Sports Night.
It’s got the fast paced wit of Aaron Sorkin. (The best part of this clip is at the end.).
Every show, a BEAUTIFUL view of the twin towers is shown (its last season was in 2000).
I got FirstHusband Quantum Leap for Christmas, and we recently started watching, so those will take a while to get through.
Oh! FirstHusband and FavoriteSon watch sports, mostly college football and pro basketball. (I watch enough sports to be able to ask intelligent questions and I understand the terminology enough so that when they are watching one sport on tv and listening to another on the radio, while switching to a third during commercials – I don’t get too confused anymore.)
If I remember something else, I’ll edit the post to add it, but I think that’s it.
I need a little dose of “Krunk” (Patrick Warburton).
I need a little comic relief. This is one of my top favorite Disney movies. In our house, it’s not uncommon for us to reference or quote this movie.
For instance the phrase “Why do we even HAVE that ___(insert something here)____?” is often uttered when something exists and we don’t use it. Like when I’m calling FirstHusband on the cell and he doesn’t answer, I will say, “Why do we even HAVE that cell phone?”
And I frequently say “Weird” in my attempt to imitate Patrick Warburten’s voice.
The kids often do the “uh huh!” “nuh uh” banter that Pacha’s kids do.
We also call FirstHusband “Krunk” when he ends up carrying . . . EVERYTHING.
I need to watch this entire movie (The Emperor’s New Groove).
It’s Palm Sunday and find myself singing – as I do every year on this day – the song “Hosanna” from Jesus Christ Superstar. The CD recordings are much better, but here’s the youtube link to the 1973 movie clip of the song: Hosanna. I know some people may not be comfortable with the movie, so I didn’t embed it.
PinkGirl caught my germ. And she was NOT happy about it. She caught it on Wednesday. Wednesday is play rehearsal day. Wednesday is the day she and two of her friends (sisters) play and sing in the car all the way to rehearsal – and back. Wednesday is usually a REALLY fun day.
Except this week PinkGirl had a fever of 101.2 and a really bad headache. She went to the school office at 2:00 p.m. and they called me on my cell to tell me. I was in the car pool line to pick up one of the play rehearsal friends who goes to another school. I had to call the friend’s dad and tell him, which threw a major monkey wrench in his afternoon because he then had to drop everything and come to school to pick up his girls and take them to play rehearsal because I couldn’t. I had to take care of PinkGirl (and try to keep the friends from catching the germ).
When I got to PinkGirl’s school, she immediately began crying when she saw me. She knew.
“Can you just give me medicine and let me go anyway?”
“I don’t get to ride and play with FRIEND1 and FRIEND2!”
“But my head is only hurting, I can still sing and dance!”
“I’m going to miss EVERYTHING!”
and many more tearful pleas as I continued to wipe her tears and say, “I’m sorry honey.” over and over again.
We got her brother out of school a little early and headed home. I had already made an appointment with her doctor for first thing Thursday morning (just a few hours before mine). We spent the rest of the evening curled up in a chair together, with breaks to take FavoriteSon to youth group and back.
Thursday morning, I scooped her up at the last minute, wrapped in a blanket and tucked her into the pre-warmed van to take her brother to school and then her to see the doctor. Everything went like clockwork until we got into the waiting room. We were the second patient to be seen and were sitting comfortably – until I looked at PinkGirl. I had just enough time to push her jacket in front of her before she ralphed. Only the jacket got it. She hadn’t eaten anything, but she did drink some water in the car. I walked her in the bathroom, and after a few minutes, she seemed stable, I washed out the jacket, and asked for a bucket on the way back to the waiting room. I ran out to the car and switched out the wet jacket with another one (it’s a minivan, there’s an entire wardrobe in there). I didn’t even have time to sit down before she lost it again. I tried to convince her:
“Honey, let’s get a room by ourselves for some privacy.”
“Come on, sweetie. I”ll carry you.”
“NO! I’m not going!”
She was not going to move in case she ralphed again. I ran back to the bathroom for wet paper towels and to ask for a room on the way. They were smart and called us in. She laid down on the examining table, shivering, so I spent the few minutes waiting on the doctor by wrapping her in my jacket and putting my arms around her to keep her warm. She had a pretty good fever going on.
The doctor came in and examined her while I told him what I’m just getting over. He says it’s a virus, but he wants to give her an antibiotic to prevent any secondary infection. And she should have a shot for nausea to prevent more vomiting.
Tears. Pleading. More Tears.
This is the same girl who, twice before, when she was 4 and 5 years old – actually CHOSE the shot because she didn’t want to vomit. I try to talk to her, but she’s starting to freak out. I tell the doctor I’m going to hold off and if she vomits again, we’ll be back. PinkGirl immediately calms down.
So we left. She buckled up in the middle of the backseat and laid down with a pillow and a blanket (it’s a mini-van, there’s an entire linen closet in there). We drop off her prescription, I pick up some breakfast at McDonalds, and with a few minutes to kill before the prescription is ready, I stop at Target to buy movies. I left her in the van alone for the first time EVER. I locked her in and I actually ran into Target, grabbed 4 movies, paid for them and got back to the van in less than 8 minutes. She had fallen asleep. I picked up her prescription and drove to my doctor’s appointment.
In the parking lot at my doctor’s office, I wake her up and she immediately ralphs again. Perfectly calm, she says, “I want the shot.” I take a risk and give her the anti-biotic and a dose of ibuprofen with pseudoephedrine (it’s a mini-van, there’s an entire pharmacy in there). I dump a plastic container and hand it to her, just in case (it’s a mini-van, I had my choice of plastic containers – it’s like a dishwasher on wheels). I call my doctor from the parking lot to cancel my doctor’s appointment, drive back to HER doctor, get the shot, drive home.
I get her tucked in on the couch and put Ella Enchanted (movie #1) in the DVD player. We get to Ella’s rendition of “Somebody to Love” and I peek. Sound asleep. I pause Ella, mid performance and PinkGirl and I crash for two hours.
I have to wake her again to pick up her brother from track practice. We drive through Sonny’s BBQ for take out and, although she still has a fever, she EATS! We go home and finish watching Ella Enchanted, follow-up with a movie-long snuggle while watching Aquamarine (movie #2) and then more medicine and off to bed.
Today is Friday and PinkGirl woke up with a fever of only 99 degrees! Just in time to be better for daddy, who’s been on a business trip since Monday morning. He’ll be home tonight. I’m keeping her home today even though the medicine makes her seem completely fine. We are honoring the school rule of not brining a child to school within 24 hours of a fever.
Right now, two red blankets are on the floor (red carpet), the costumes are prepped and the fashion show is about to begin.