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Strain on the Brain: How tough stuff gives us the gift of giving up . . . on perfection

I struggle with my brain. It gets so full and weighs me down. Like, it literally stops me from doing what I love because it gets so heavy.

I have always been like that. It’s why I write books like, “You are gonna fail: A story about developing confidence” or “Prickle Stick: A story about life’s ups AND downs.”

I just need help with my thoughts and my feelings.

It’s never the THING that I’m doing that’s the trouble. It’s the THOUGHTS I have about the thing.

This past week, my city was hit with lots of rain. Back in 1924 we drained a lake and created an incredibly fertile valley. All the rain kind of filled the lake back up again, except the problem is that people live there now. Them and their families and their farms.

We live up near the top of a hill, so we were fine. Some roads were washed out. People couldn’t get to work. All the schools were cancelled. But we didn’t lose anything or anyone.

The farmers, on the other hand, evacuated their families and desperately tried to save their animals.

That’s all tough.

But you know what was actually the hardest part? The people. The people who got afraid and thought to themselves, “OH NO! There’s not going to be enough food because the trucks can’t get through” and then they posted it on Facebook, and then other people got scared and tons of people went to the stores and bought everything until the shelves were bare. I heard there were fights and stores had to close. I felt a bit of fear stab my heart when I saw the pictures of the empty shelves. We’d just bought toilet paper (PHEW!), but it was my shopping day and it looked like there wouldn’t be enough food for us. I wasn’t sure what to think or feel.

And then there were other people who posted pictures of empty shelves and wrote, “Those idiots need to get kicked in the shins for hoarding.”

And other people who were like, “We have space in our home. We’ve been flooded before. If anyone needs a place to say, send us a message. We have room for you.”

What are all those guys thinking . . . and feeling?

Our thoughts really, really, really matter. They create feelings.. And they determine whether or not we act compassionate, crazy or kind.

My thoughts drive me nuts. I wish I had fewer of them. The other day my head was so full of frustration and discouragement that I decided I needed to do some writing in my journal.

Voices in my head FEEL so true. They are loud and decisive. And they bring accompanying feelings along with them to make them feel EVEN MORE TRUE.

So I wrote for a bit, complaining, wondering, thinking and agonizing over all the incomplete, imperfect, and frustrating areas of my life. And then I asked myself, “What do I need to hear?”

Here’s what I wrote:

Here’s the thing-

It will never go away


It will never be done.

I will never be free. Not completely.

I will always be

Working with

Working through






No matter what I weigh

No matter what I make

Or whether my kids play

The right sport or make the right grade

Or have autism

Whether or not my friend remembers my birthday

I will always be


And dealing

And hopefully, maybe even healing

But I won’t be escaping

Everything that goes along with “being”

Not now

Not ever

It’s just going to be that way

And that’s going to have to be ok.

The idea that we will make or do something perfectly is … just a mean idea. It’s not real. It doesn’t work. That’s not meant to be discouraging, but liberating.

If you feel like you are failing and it’s giving you sad, angry and uncomfortable feelings, work through them. Read books like “You are gonna fail” or “Prickle Stick” or "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown. Journal. Listen to music. Close your eyes and sing. I found this AMAZING SONG called “A safe place to land” by Sara Barielles and John Legend. Breathe. Meditate. Talk to a real friend face to face. Tell yourself the truth about your feelings and thoughts. Walk. Run. Lift weights. Sit in a rocking chair and drink tea. Pet your cat.

Somewhere in there you’ll have to confront yourself. Just don’t quit in the middle of all the discouraging thoughts and fearful feelings. And when we get to the other side of the mess, and we still don't have it all together, hopefully we smile more easily and focus less on perfection and more on just BEING in the process.

Hopefully we'll all learn a little more each day, to be ok that way.

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