I bought a canvas.

This is a post that I started to write in October 2007.

I decided to try my hand at painting – it’s been a long, long time. So I pulled out my old sketch book and here’s my first drawing.

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We all have our insecurities. No? It’s been over 5 years since I told myself I wanted to start drawing again. Five years since I rushed out a sketch of Andrew. It’s rough. It’s clear I needed practice and focus. But I drew this and decided I couldn’t do it. And I set down the sketchbook.

Just set it down.

Thinking about this now, if it was someone else I’d have encouraged some lessons or some practice or whatever to see if he/she could get some enjoyment out of it. But I wasn’t this generous with myself.

I’ve recently learned that our county arts center has drop in drawing with live models. It’s inexpensive and unstructured. Pretty low risk, if you ask me.

Ideas.

photo credit Onatos
photo credit Onatos

You might think I haven’t posted much because I haven’t had many ideas. You would be quite wrong. I’ve had lots of ideas. Lots. Allow me to demonstrate. The following list is an actual – I mean no changes, actual, actually copied from my computer ‘sticky notes’ directly:

  • hairy legs
  • autograph book
  • china
  • elbow wrinkles
  • letter train
  • biting nails
  • reply all – appropriate for just a kind word?

So, yes. I have ideas. And from the list above you can see that they’re pretty darn great ideas.  (And don’t get the idea here that I’m not going to use those ideas again. I am. Trust me on this.)

I haven’t had a lot of free time. Ha. There’s an understatement! And the little time I’ve had, I’ve chosen to spend it with my guys. (Or to go to Stoop Storytelling.)

Always the optimist, I think I’ll be catching up soon. Maybe I’ll write a ton of posts and schedule them out.

Or maybe I’ll keep doing the best I can and write when I can and hope that anyone still reads. Doing my best over here.

xo

Awkward.

Maybe I’m alone.

Maybe I’m the only one who feels awkward and inadequate, at times.

I mean, it could be just me.

My world is so big. And that makes me smile.

Over the past many years (I’ve been hanging out online since the mid-eighties), I’ve had the good fortune to meet and forge relationships with so many wonderful people. I’ve met some of them in person, some I have not. But I’ve have spent hours on end ‘talking’ and ‘listening’ to them online. Some are among the friends I admire the most.

I’ve read what many of you have written about how online friendships are real. And about how much camaraderie you feel toward these friends – how much support you get and give.

I feel those things, too.

Deeply.

And yet, it feels so intrusive sometimes to know the really personal, the gut-wrenching, the traumatic goings on. I see it on my screen. I ache for them. I care. I really care. But were those messages and posts put out there for me to read? Or are they there for others – who are closer or more connected?

But I feel so unsure sometimes. Should I comment? Is it creepy or kind?

Do my comments read as sincerely as I mean them?

I’m so confident and secure in so many aspects of my life.

But sometimes, I just feel awkward. Like an outsider who is peering, and maybe even inserting myself, into people’s personal lives.

Confessions of a Good-Enough Cook

Guest post by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple – the authors of Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood (which I reviewed last week – how cool that they wanted to guest post for me. Thanks girls!)

This is Becky’s sad truth: She’s a terrible cook.

OK, maybe that’s not entirely true: She can boil water, roast a chicken and even make risotto. But despite a few attempts to truly master the skill, she’s never quite gotten the whole kitchen thing down. Often, when she hears Hollee planning some extravagant menu, she feels a tinge of remorse: Too bad my daughters don’t get to eat the kinds of meals Hollee’s sons do …

Becky remembers hosting a play date when her oldest daughter was a baby — back when she was still vying for that gold medal in the Supermom Olympics — and deciding that she needed to whip up an impressive lunch for the other moms. One was a vegetarian, so Becky did something involving grilled eggplant. She spent hours preparing the dish, both the night before and the morning of the play date. The process made her miserable, and the dish failed utterly. (Who knew eggplant slices could look so sad and limp — or make everything around them so soggy? Not Becky).

The problem, however, wasn’t so much Becky’s culinary skills, although those were obviously a factor; it was her attitude. She was trying to show off, even though she didn’t like cooking and wasn’t really committed to improving. She was determined to fit some mythical image of the Perfect Mom.

She hadn’t yet discovered the New Perfect.

Flash forward several years, and here’s what we’ve both learned researching and writing our book on working motherhood: Perfectionism is a liability. And, when it comes to juggling work and family, it may just be our generation’s greatest liability. When we looked at two types of women in our data — those who focused on “being the best at everything” (the Never Enoughs) and those who strived to be “good enough and happy, both at work and at home” (the Good Enoughs) — you know who found more success, both at work and at home? The women who cut themselves a little slack.

The women who defined success on their own terms.

And that’s what Becky eventually did with cooking. She embraced her culinary imperfections and focused on the easy, healthy dishes she could do well — and let her husband do the hard stuff. She let herself off the hook so she could focus her time on the things that truly mattered to her. We could go on and on about our findings on motherhood and perfection; some of them really surprised us. But, for now, we’ll simply tell you what happened when Becky learned to accept the Good Enoughness in her cooking.

She wound up happier. Evenings became easier. And she took all the time she might have spent furrowing her brow over the stove and devoted it to writing a book.

Some might call that perfect. We call it the New Perfect.

Becky and Hollee’s new book, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood, is available at http://amzn.to/newperfect . They blog about parenting and work/life balance at http://TheNewPerfect.com.

What is perfection?

Like many women, I was raised to believe that I could have it all. My parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be – accomplish great things – and be a wife, mother, sister, friend.

And I believed them.

I watched the younger moms in my neighborhood (including my Aunt Phyl, my across the street neighbor whose children I babysat for, and others) look happy and balanced with exciting careers and families. Honestly? It didn’t look all that hard.

Fine, I was young and naive. How could I have known?

So I grew up, went to college, and started working. I loved my job in advertising and quickly rose in the ranks. And in 1994 (wow, that’s a long time ago!), I was made a partner at Bozell Worldwide. I’d made it! The job was terrific, the people were amazing, and since it was just Andrew and me, it really wasn’t an issue that I worked 60 hour weeks and read trade pubs over the weekend.

In Fall, 1994, I was pregnant. How exciting! Now, I’d have the perfect career, a loving husband, and a cute little munchkin!

I toured daycare facilities and realized that I’d be happier with a nanny coming to the house. It’d be a breeze. So I started interviewing. While I was a little shocked and dismayed by some of the applicants, I found a young woman who seemed a perfect match. She started work when Davis was seven weeks old.

One day, I came home from work to nurse (I lived so close!) and found the nanny out back smoking while Davis was in his crib crying.

You can imagine my dismay.

My next hire was a dream. Jinn was wonderful, loving, sweet. (We’re still in touch! She rocks!) But, still, I cried like a baby when I came home one day and she told me that Davis’ first tooth was coming in. Why didn’t I know? It was so unfair that she made the discovery. And it was that day that I realized that I needed something to change. If I was going to be the mother I wanted to be, I could not be working long, long hours and traveling. So I gave notice and worked for months to make a smooth transition at the firm and then started my own business. The rest, as they say, is history. I have work that makes me happy and fulfilled, but I’m a mother first and foremost. Sure, my kids are teens now and the demands are very different. But I have built a world for myself where I can be their mom and feel great about it.

I just finished reading Good Enough Is the New Perfect by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple.

Oh, how I wish I could have read this years ago! I found real comfort (and did a lot of head-nodding) reading the first hand accounts of some really remarkable women – women who struggled with the same issues, the same struggles, the same frustrations that I did. What amazes me is how isolating it is to be in the throes of trying to balance (what is balance anyway!?). It feels as if no one has ever had to deal with such stress and angst. But it’s not the case!

Reading the stories in the book, I began to evaluate my current choices in a different way. Becky and Hollee talk about moms who think they are “never enough” or “good enough” and you know what? They’re right! They have

“discovered a paradigm shift in motherhood today: more and more mothers are losing their “never enough” attitude and embracing a Good Enough mindset to be happier, more confident and more successful. Filled with inspiring firsthand accounts from working mothers and drawn from the latest research, is a true roadmap for the incredible balancing act we call motherhood.”

So sure, I love research and love that it’s a big part of this book. But the reason I’m glad I read it and the reason my life will be enhanced is because I now know that I am good enough.

How do you calculate the area of a circle?


I’ve been sitting here in complete and utter agony for over an hour now watching one of my charming boys do his math homework. It’s 12 questions. Just 12. Each shows the radius of a circle. He needs to find the area. No calculators.

I remembered how to do it. In fact, he knows how also. Simply multiply the radius by pi and square the result. No big deal. Except that when you write it out, it takes time. And patience. And accuracy. Oh, and writing neatly enough that when you go to add the columns, you know what the numbers were.

He’s been at it for a long time now. I did one to see how long it would take me. I don’t do a lot of multiplication these days without a calculator or computer. It took me about 1.5 minutes. Multiply that by the 12 problems and that’s 18 minutes. Add a little slop time and let’s say it should be able to be done in 1/2 hour.

I’d be more annoyed with him for lolly-gagging on this. But, I remember.

I hated doing math homework. I’d moan and groan and stall. I’d think of everything else I could do first. And then I’d sit crying with my homework unfinished — crying because I was so tired by that point that I’d never get it done.

I did get through it. And so will the kid. I hated math in school. I never thought I was good at it. My brother would help me sometimes. He was extremely patient. But still, I’d cry in frustration. Not a pretty picture. You might wonder why he’d offer to help the next time. But he always did. Thanks for that bro.

I thought I was a failure at math and yet, I placed out of all my required math in college. Clearly, I didn’t suck that badly. Maybe it was a lack of confidence.

And now, much of my work involves numbers. I do statistical analyses and stuff like that (stuff is the technical term for it) on a regular basis. Funny.

So I’m sitting here listening to the kid moan and groan and I know what’s coming down the pike. I’m not looking forward to it.

But all this procrastination brings me to some self-reflecting….

I’m working on a presentation. I might have mentioned it? Right. The same one. I cleaned my office. I filed. I put it off as long as I could. But now, it’s almost finished! Yeah… WAIT A SECOND!

That’s not how you find the area of a circle. Not at all. Oh my! It’s been almost 2 hours and it’s all wrong. All wrong. How to tell him?

It’s the radius squared TIMES pi!

So he’s a little teary now. But I explained that this is much easier than the other way. (As if that’s a consolation at this point.)

He’s on the third problem. This is going fast. Now.

I supposed this will teach him not to ask me for help with his math homework.

(And here I was thinking I really didn’t suck at math.)