The K of Living Impefectly: Keeping It Real #atozchallenge


Being yourself battle

K Challenge LetterAs most of you know this is my third A to Z Challenge and every year this sneaky letter K causes me grief. This year is no different and I’ve really grappled with this K post. I’ve never thought about K as being a problem letter, but clearly this is a lesson in imperfection teaching me to park my expectations at the door.

Keeping it real has always been a big one for me. I have always firmly believed that building meaningful relationships is all about trust, of which one of the central pillars is meaning what you say and saying what you mean. Clearly this is not always the easiest path to take and at times can be quite a solitary journey. There are other times when I meet a kindred spirit on that road and that’s when I can really feel the friendship flow and that sense of connection. There are yet others when people at first blush appear to be the real deal, but scratch a little below the surface and you know you are dealing with a pretender.

Keeping it real to me also means:

  • not having to appear busy to increase my worthiness
  • keeping commitments that I have made, but being discerning about making them
  • not being afraid to express myself respectfully
  • trying new things and laughing at failure
  • backing myself and knowing I am the real deal
  • understanding my value proposition
  • rolling up my sleeves to get the job done
  • helping people when and where I can
  • owning my part in an outcome and not blaming others for my own failures
  • eliminating passive aggression from my life.

That last one in particular is a big one for me right now. I deserve crave authentic communication. Real discourse that gets to the heart of an issue/problem so we can get on with the business of fixing it or going our separate ways if that is an option.

What makes keeping it real also hard is that we don’t want people to perceive we are selfish when we practice it. However, the reality is that although we like to think we can control perception, we can’t because by its very nature it is derived from another’s thoughts.

duck authenticity

In the end, I believe it costs us more to be what others want us to be than it is to keep it real. It takes real energy to constantly mould and play into others’ expectations. I’d rather channel that energy in becoming acquainted with myself and to manage my own expectations.

The J of Living Imperfectly: Why There Are No Jewels in Judgement #atozchallenge


J Challenge LetterThe quote for today goes to the heart of what living imperfectly currently means to me. I’ve been writing about authenticity for the last nine days and I’m about to take a huge step in that direction by admitting that the weight of duty is currently weighing heavily. This is not an easy admission to make, because my sense of perfection is all wrapped up in duty, or more specifically the discharge of it.

I have never been the type of person who can ‘play” knowing there are things that have to be done. By things, I don’t mean housework things, I can happily let ironing, washing and cooking slide, except when they directly relate to family occasions. By things I mean work things, social obligation things, parental obligation things, wife obligation things and daughter obligations things. Seems like a lot of things to juggle before I can get anywhere near me time.

Except now I have started to become a lot more discerning in relation to those duties that really are to be given priority. This is largely because these duties involve being around people who don’t bring anything to my table. They judge, they gossip, they certainly don’t support and they don’t do things. It is extremely small-minded to comment on other people doing things from the safety of your comfort zone.  The way I see it, judging others is a past time for those who seek distraction from the mundane or who don’t have the courage to face up to the issues in their own life.  The gratification that comes from believing you are superior or from grading someone else’s life or performance against your exacting standards is short-lived and misconceived. It might kill time and serve as a bonding tool, but what kind of healthy relationship can you have built on negativity? Just look at female cliques as a typical example.

And that equally goes for judging ourselves and the relationship we have with ourselves. How can you have a healthy relationship with yourself comfort-zone-3built on negativity?

There are therefore no jewels in judgement.

If someone wants to be held hostage to their own fears that is entirely a matter for them. However, it does not mean that I have to be held  hostage to them as well. I have a choice and for the moment my choice is no.

Which means there is some unavoidable jettisoning of relationships and the judgements and negativity that go with them. Which also goes against the grain of my strive for perfection. The perfection paradox is multi-layered indeed.

Today I Give Myself Permission to Deal #atozchallenge

Letter DI started my first job at the tender age of 14 years and nine months, which in this part of the world is the minimum age without having to obtain parental consent.

It was a part-time gig working at McDonald’s. And I loved it. My gateway to teen financial independence, it also provided a social life (there were boys!) and (at the time) free food. I am grateful for the start that McDonald’s gave me, because say what you will about McDonald’s, it has one of the BEST employee training programmes I have experienced. And in the ensuing thirty something years I have experienced many.

Beyond the mandatory “Would You Like Fries With That?”, it tought me about systems, structures and teamwork and all at a tender age when knowing these skills made a huge difference to a young life.

One of our mantras at Maccas (the Australian version of the term, Mickey D’s) was:

Clean As You Go

The concept was that if you make a mess, you deal with it then and there or as soon as the situation practically allows.

Now, I would love to tell you that I have religiously applied that philosophy to every physical mess I have ever created. But sadly, that’s not the case as the pile of notes, articles and clothes lying around my house will attest.

However, I believe that I have made up for this physical deficiency by applying this mantra to my metaphorical piles. I clean my messes as I go, meaning I DEAL.

Avoidance is the opposite of dealing. The problem with avoidance is that it’s a chancy strategy. Whilst the possibly of the mess disappearing all of its own volition or by having someone else deal with it is there, it’s by no means a certainty. The possibility of the mess compounding into something larger and more permenant whilst we wait for others to deal or for a miracle is much more likely. What could have been dealt with at the start with a small amount of pain, effort or unpleasantness now requires way more pain, effort or unpleasantness because mess tends to attract mess. The avoidance strategy also means that you give the mess time to creep and ooze into other aspects of your life, making the dealing all that much harder when the time to deal actually comes. And in my experience, the time always comes.

The consequence of not dealing was sheeted home to me at the age of 23. Like most people, I hated going to the dentist. Really, really hated it… as in anxiety, the whole nine yards and so much so there was a period where I avoided going to the dentist for five years. I paid for my avoidance however, when I finally went to the dentist. Instead of an hour of unpleasantness every 6 months if I had dealt, I was rewarded with 6 hour long sessions in the chair at the hands of the torture master. NEVER will I repeat that experience, it was a lesson of a lifetime.

Dealing with emotional pain is no different. Avoidance of emotional pain will come home to roost. At some point you have to do the hard yards and deal. And to deal, you want mole hills, not mountains.

It has been said that Carl Jung once observed that more people enter therapy at the age of forty-nine than at any other age. This is because this is often a time of life and death struggle between the old and new. It’s time to decide on your new way of being, it’s time to deal.

mole on a hill

Today I give myself permission to deal.