New Year's Resolutions for The Perfectionist!

What are my goals for this New Year, this new decade? I have several intentions in my heart right now and more than a few that have been yelling, “Pick me!” for as long as I can remember! Well, I can't have the tree without the roots, so, this week I asked myself, “What do I need in order to be able to grow and stretch and expand out to these dreams that are calling me and to the life that I most imagine myself wanting to live?” The answer came immediately. I thought," I'd like to share this in my newsletter because I can't be the only one who goes through this!"

I am of the breed of women who feel they must accomplish all of the “I have-to” chores and projects before they are allowed to do the things that aren't “technically” necessary…. Daily chores are peaceful for me and they connect me to the old days. I love this. I love to be home, straightening things up, cooking in my kitchen, hanging clothes outside on the line, brewing my herbal infusions and being, “Mama” to my thirteen-year-old son. Because of this love for the every-day simple life, I find it doubly-difficult to stop doing things around the house. Over time, though, I get so caught up in the doing of chores that all the other parts of me begin to feel ignored!

Suddenly I might find myself just a bit more haggard and jagged and edgy. I might hear myself melodramatically expressing to myself down the hallways, “I'm on sensory overload! I am so stressed-out! Why are those shoes there? Doesn't anyone care about how hard I work to create a peaceful, beautiful home for us?”

And I get hungry for something…anything other than the house, and my responsibilities. And all at once, it seems that the daily chores I loved so much last week have become the biggest burdens of the world to me, they are a monster-like presence with claws of responsibility that are hooked into my bones and they won't let me go. Oh, no. Why is this so?

It is so because I have lots more parts of me than this home-maker and Mother role can fulfill; many of which I don't pay nearly enough attention to as often as I would like.

These parts of me have names like, the Wild Woman, the Creative Artist, the Teacher, the Student, the Library Geek, the Hostess, the Writer, the Friend, the Volunteer, the Deep in the Forest Woman and there are many more! These are the parts I only get to see when I can break away from the household chores long enough to feel them, hear them and listen to what they want to be doing today, tonight, or next month.

Somehow, somewhere they got filed away with the things I want to do in an old manila folder with a sticker on its tab entitled, Guilty Pleasures. This folder calls out to me to sit with a cup of tea and go through it. So exciting and enticing and fun and nourishing! But I ignore it in my busy-ness….Months can fly by without my noticing and suddenly there’s this angst and upset in front of me!

Like a child who wants attention, these repressed parts of me will get it anyway they can. That irritation, that empty-within feeling, that mysterious hunger for something, anything, everything, is my sign that I am not paying enough attention to the whole of me.

If I can recognize this from the beginning I can open up that manila folder and get excited about all the different parts of me, my hobbies, my desires, my dreams and passions! I can set my course straight, have some fun, take a class, sing a little song, take a trip away to visit with friends, or do whatever I might need to balance myself out.

But…if I ignore the red-flag danger signs of a too-stressful, too-responsible, life….Look out.

Enter stage left from my past:

Mary Margaret Elizabeth O’Doole! (She of the old school ~ always the old-school ways!)

You should see what this inner, Old-school Nag looks like! She’s as scary as the hell she tries to scare out of me. These old school ways taught me to be relentless with myself! She comes from the ways of the tough-love, white-fisted, hard-core, hard-knocks, back-breaking, toughen-up, brow-beating, eye-brow knitting, eye-glaring, domestic warrior. She doesn't take “Stop and Rest!” for an answer....And She is part of ME.

At these times, I realize that I have entered into my “This must be accomplished now or the whole world will fall apart” addiction! I have entered into that horrible place wherein I begin to believe that my very sense of self worth comes from how much I can accomplish in a day in my house. Like any addiction, it takes me away from my center and it tells me lies; fast and furious lies that throw me right off center. Hold onto your seat!

~It’s OK to work so hard that I exhaust myself before I can reach step one of any heart desires I have.

~There are a million things that should get done before I can go off gallivanting here and there and traipsing through the woods, like:

Cleaning the house
Going to the market
Cooking healthy meals because God-forbid I eat anything quick and easy. It won't be as healthy
Straightening up the counters
Setting the bookcases up by genre
Organizing the craft closet
Putting my lifetime worth of photographs and journals in chronological order in case I die and no one knows what’s going on
Going through my sons Kindergarten through grade eight school papers and art work to save the best and release the rest, so I can sit down with him, laugh and remember with him, and do some bonding over our past together! He’s gonna be eighteen soon and gone forever off to college, you know! And time is running out!

I‘m sure you get my point.

When I live this way, I’m a well-worn pair of dungarees by 3:00. My son’s about to walk in the door from school in 3 -5 minutes and all I can think about is taking a nap. Being the Recovering Catholic that I am, I feel guilty for wanting to take a nap! Napping in the daytime is “a sin” when a woman has so much to do! Yes, a sin. Even though I am a Goddess-worshipping, crawl before no-one, celebrate joy and passion, release-guilt woman, that relentless Catholic guilt still lives rent-free in my head when I am not balancing her out with all the other fun, wise, joyful, forgiving, objective parts of me. Believe me!

So, instead of being caught dead napping I just walk around for the next hour with my head fogged up like London and then feel guilty because I should have begun preparing for supper by now…

Exhausted from the seemingly endless activities I force myself to accomplish and with so much to do in front of me, how could I then sit down to write the dreamed of novel or dance myself into ecstasy and communion with the Divine or plan that longed-for trip to Alaska to see the Aurora Borealis?!

The more I push myself, the farther away from peace and balance I get. Before I know it, I can be so frazzled and be-draggled that I don't know which end is up. This sounds quite dramatic I know. But it’s all true; every word of it.

I know that when I stop moving through the house like Amphetamine Alice; when I can put Old-school O’Doole out to pasture; I have a much better chance of breathing deeply, connecting to the center of myself, hearing the instructions of the heart, feeling happy and relaxed and then….

From that silent, being place I will emerge with wings and fly off toward the direction of joy and personal fulfillment knowing that the housework fairies will come in the night to do the dishes and fold the laundry for me....or I can let the chores wait until I do something fun and I can even ask for help from people if I need to…

Could it be possible that someday in the near future, the vacuuming can play second fiddle to the dancing? Organizing the spice cupboard can take a back seat to writing? Answering another email can wait until I am done reading the book I want to read? Can you imagine how good life would be?! How great to have a balance like that!

And lest I be in denial that parts of me will simply disappear and never bother me again, I will state aloud that Alice and O'Doole can still have their place in my life ~ the back of the line will do just fine and I'll call you when I need you!

Therefore, with humility and hope, I call forth the presence of Divine Love to witness my deepest wish for this New Year, this new, beautiful decade of hope and joy:

I wish to be free from the harsh and seemingly unending pressure I put myself under to perform on the stage of my life perfectly, to always have to do my best, be my best, strive, and suffer through it, to persevere without hope of rest and renewal...

I wish to deepen and nurture the relationship I have with myself; to love myself so much that I would not ever dare to self-appoint myself to Slave Girl of the Year; to find the comfort I am longing for, in my own, strong arms as I lift myself up and above the stack of to-do lists ~ not in making the kitchen look neat and orderly, not in straightening out that last pile of papers on my desk.

I do have within me (we all do…) the archetype and energies of the Divinely Compassionate Mother. I commit and intend to reach my arms out to this ever-loving presence, to call upon my Higher Power with humble requests for guidance and to sit at the beautiful altars I create, and pray at them more often (instead of making them just a little more special, a little more beautiful, a little less dusty.)

This year may I go in silence, in reverence, with flower offerings and apple pie trust down the spiral path to the caves within me, calling on Bear for her strong medicine energy. May I gather, along the way, raw garnet and soft earth to ground me, healing roots for my pouch, songs to sing to myself in the night.

I want the words I use on myself to inspire me like a pumpkin patch in autumn, like the smell of an apple orchard at night, like the wind in my favorite month of October, the quiet, snowy mornings of January; the scent of the sea in my August memories and the newly ploughed earth in spring, does. I want to be a very best friend to myself. One that says, “Never you mind the housework! Let’s go out and play!”

May the Blessed Mother remind me that I am so worthy of kindness and gentleness that I am able to believe it with all my heart and soul! (We all are!) May She bless me with the courage to release my need to do more, more, more so that I am a full cup flowing over with loving gifts of peace and relaxation for others. When I speak to myself, may I harness the unconditional love of that Divine Mother within and thereby encourage myself and build my self up with positive words like:

You are good enough.

You are ENOUGH.

You have done enough now go out and play…

Release what you don't really want.

Stop doing what you don't want to do.

Release your Have-to’s and Should-have’s!

Don't apologize for what you feel.

Be You, Sacred You. Be only you.

Move peacefully; take your time.

You know, it’s OK.

All is well and everything is unfolding as it should!

You may nap and dream in the afternoons. You will live longer!

It’s healthy to do nothing!

You don't have to suffer!

It's OK to not suffer.

You may learn the easy way...

I give you permission to live joyfully.

You are not being disloyal to your pain by being happy!

You are perfect just the way you are! Just being you, you are perfect.

You are the innocent, white, Maiden ~ adventurous, risking, brave and free, a woman unto herself!

You are the life-blood red of the earth. You are Earth Mother, nurturing, whole, creative and caring even if you feed them Annie’s macaroni and cheese!

You are the wise woman, the black and quiet night, Crone Mother, sage magic, blessing all you do!

You have all you need to be loving.

You have everything you need to be loved.

You are lovable even with a messy house.

I wish this for all of us ~ That we take that pressure off of ourselves once and for all and that we love ourselves in a way that is supportive and soft-spoken and powerful and strong all at the same time.

I hope this for all of us ~ That we stop long enough to feel what we feel, to hear the messages our insides are giving us, and that we then go out and do them!

I pray this for all of us ~ That one by one we begin to believe that whatever has been placed as a dream inside of us, whatever has been placed as a calling inside of us, whatever thoughts, hobbies, kinds of people, places, or things that are joyful, uplifting and exciting to us, inside of us, are there because we are being given permission and given the birth-right to have them in our lives – now – not later some other day when the time is right and the dishes are done. Now.

When we relax into our bodies, breathe deeply into those peaceful, all-is-well, faith-full places within us and follow the strings attached to our heart wherever they lead us ~ we will, collectively create the world we want to call home.

May we live fully, express ourselves freely, love whole-heartedly and celebrate joy with a free-spirit wildness of the beautiful souls we were born to be.

We're all in this together.

In Gratitude,

Melissa Potter