Monday, March 30, 2009

Avoiding the All or Nothing Trap

We had sunshine for awhile in Seattle yesterday! What a truely appreciated gift! The last several days had been downright dreary. Sunshine just lifts the heart. I found myself smiling for no apparent reason... all day long!

This burst of sunshine infused me with a deep desire to get started on some garden work I need to do. It's time to cut down all my perennial grasses. I leave them to dry in the winter because they are so pretty with their graceful silhouettes. At this time of year, it is important to cut them down to a short mound, so the new growth is free to emerge unencumbered. If one waits too long, it becomes a much more laborious task to remove the old, dead blades of grass while working around the new growth.

Last summer I injured (quite severely it turns out) a tendon in my right arm. I did this by overusing it while pruning in my garden. I had set a deadline for myself and worked many hours a day for an extended time to accomplish my goal. Usually, during 'the season' I work one hour a day in the garden. Mostly weeding and pruning. I use very few chemicals, so there is a lot of weeding to do! If I work for 1 hour a day, 4-5 days a week I can generally stay on top of the work I have to do.

This past summer, however, I set a really ambitious goal to have my garden cleaned up prior to a friend's visit. They hadn't seen my garden for 6 or 7 years and I wanted it to be in tip-top shape. So I put in 3-4 hours a day for the better part of a 2 week period. A lot of that time was spent pruning with clippers. When my tendon started to hurt in my arm, I assumed it was just normal muscle fatigue and I pushed through the pain. I wrote about this last summer! What a lesson I learned about respecting and listening to one's body!!!

It took a full 6 months before the pain in my tendon was completely gone. Even now it can give me a little twinge from time to time. I was nervous about returning to my gardening regimen. I do NOT want to aggravate that tendon.

Yesterday when I decided to tackle my grasses, I had to work with myself on my limitations. I have a LOT of these mounds of grass. I decided that the 'responsible' thing to do is to do a few at a time, spread over many days. Normally I would want to do this 'task' from start to finish in one day. That, however, could reinflame my tendon. Being aware of that, I decided to practice a little moderation.

So yesterday, I went out and cut down 5 of these clumps. It took me about 30 minutes. So-far-so-good with the tendon. It didn't even phase me! If the weather is nice tomorrow, I'll do the next batch of 5 clumps. Then take a few days off before tackling any more. I want to be extra careful, because when that tendon was hurt, I could not use my hand or arm for well over a month!

My 'all or nothing' thinking is what got me injured. It has caused me a lot of problems throughout my life. I'm constantly challenging that impulse and working on embracing moderation and balance!

I think moderation and balance always serve us better than 'all or nothing' approaches to our responsibilities. There's a great song out right now called, "Free to Be Me" by Francesa Battistelli that has a refrain in it I just love:

'Cause I got a couple of dents in my fender;
Got a couple of rips in my jeans;
Try to fit the pieces together;
But perfection is my enemy...

This is an AWESOME song for everyone... but particularly for girls and young women! From time to time I put together music collections to inspire and encourage the amazing young women in my life. This song is going in the next collection... for sure!

Listen to the song on Youtube!

I spent the better part of my life wanting and trying to be perfect... and to be all things to all people. What a pile of pooh! None of us will ever get 'there.' Perfection is not where it's at!!

I wish you (and myself) freedom from the tyranny of seeking perfection in anything... and from living in the prison of 'all or nothing' thinking!

As Francesa sings in that delightful song...

"I'm free to be ME! and you're free to be YOU!"

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