Monthly Archives: January 2015
Are you ready for the big game this weekend? I am! I can’t wait for the tough tackling, the teeth gnashing, and the tail wagging. What? You don’t think there will be tail wagging? Oh wait, I’m talking about the OTHER Bowl game on Sunday, the Puppy Bowl. I don’t care about the Seahawks and the Patriots–really, it pains me to say it, but I just don’t this year. I’m settling in with my fifty-five pounds of adolescent Labrador to watch bunches of puppies wrestle around on a 10×19 foot indoor football field as they tussle over a few chew toys. It may not be as sexy as NFL football, but it’s definitely much more adorable!
And, you can bet there won’t be any deflated footballs. Well, I take that back, there might be a few. Those puppies have mighty sharp teeth. And perhaps a few stains on the ref’s shoes. He’d probably better keep the golden cleats off the field.
TV’s Animal Planet debuted the Puppy Bowl in 2005 as a welcome alternative to all the pre-game hype of the “Big Game”. This is the eleventh year for the canine contest of might and it’s popularity increases with each game. Just like in Super Bowl XLIX, the Puppy Bowl XI will crown an individual MVP. In fact, three will be selected based upon online voting in the show’s back-to-back airings starting at 3 p.m. And, in a new wrinkle this year, the fifty-five participating puppies, who come from thirty-seven shelters around the country and Puerto Rico, will also be divided into teams with the names— wait for it— Fluff and Ruff.
It gets better: There’s a half time show. With cats. Twenty-five of them. And one of them–appropriately named Katty Furry–will be impersonating–you guessed it–Katy Perry. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. It’s really quite clever television.
Did I mention the cheerleaders? Yep, unlike at the Super Bowl, these cheerleaders will be performing nude. Hey! Don’t let your mind go there. They’re dwarf Nigerian Goats. The program is rated G, folks.
So let Tom Brady deflate his balls. Give Bill Belichick a sweatshirt with sleeves. Who cares if the Seahawk players mouth off on the sidelines? Not me. I’ll be tuned to the Puppy Bowl. After all, I can watch the Super Bowl ads on You-Tube later. I hear there are quite a few that feature puppies.
Which game will you be watching? Who are you cheering for?
I’m having one of those days when perfectionism hangs over me like a gray cloud. I look at all the things I have to do, and I’m filled with anxiety and dread. There isn’t time to do them all up to my standards, so I’ll either have to sacrifice quality, quantity, or both. Some projects will be rushed, some will be late, and some won’t get done at all. Meanwhile, the sun will continue to rise in the morning and set in the evening, and no one will care about my perceived failures but me.
I’ve been afflicted with perfectionism since I was a toddler, so I think it’s safe to say it’s woven into the fabric of my personality. It’s not something I can just get over. Rather, it’s something I have to learn to live with, like alcoholism or perkiness. (Seriously, who is that woman at Starbucks, and why is she talking in that chipper voice? Doesn’t she realize it’s morning?)
Perfectionism is the state of envisioning something so beautifully crafted in your mind’s eye that reality can never measure up. Like most things in life, it’s a blessing and a curse. It’s wonderful to have a rich imagination that drives you to work every day toward making your dreams a reality. But the achievement of them is always a bit of a disappointment. My accomplishments are never as shiny and pretty as I hoped they would be. So they don’t really feel like accomplishments at all. But isn’t that a silly and self-indulgent way to go through life? Feeling like your success isn’t good enough, because it doesn’t feel the way you thought it would?
I’m trying to embrace the good in my perfectionism—the drive to accomplish important things—and shake off the feeling that nothing will ever be good enough.
Thank you, Taylor Swift, for reminding us that when things don’t go as we hoped, the best thing to do is dance.
The fact is, I have a good life, and most of my problems are in my head. So I’m going to try to be more patient and forgiving toward myself, which will hopefully make me more patient and forgiving toward others as well. Also, listening to voices other than the one in my head reminds me that there are many more important things going on in the world than whether I’ll have time to send out an email today, or whether it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.
And if no amount of rationality and positive self-talk can get me out of this funk, I can always dance.
Are you a perfectionist, too? What do you do on days when nothing seems to go as you’d hoped?
This past weekend, I celebrated the life of my father. He passed away a week ago and the void he leaves behind is enormous, but one his memory will fill with time. I was fortunate to spend time with him before he died, quality time, meaningful time, and it is without regret or words unspoken that he moves on.
Throughout the course of his funeral service, I was struck by the number of lives he touched during his seventy-six years. Born with a defect in his heart — Tetralogy of Fallot, also known as Blue Baby Syndrome — my father wasn’t supposed to live beyond the age of ten. It was a prognosis his mother would not accept and searched relentlessly for a doctor that would help her son. Her determination was rewarded when she found Dr. Alfred Blalock. A pioneer of modern-day cardiac surgery, his innovative methods saved my father’s life–and are depicted in the movie, Something the Lord Made. Dr. Blalock was the miracle my grandmother had been praying for. His success also proved to be inspiration for my father’s lifelong career as a Cardiothoracic Surgeon.
As I listened to the many tributes to my father, heartfelt comments shared by friends and family, I was struck by the incredible outpouring of love and gratitude. I couldn’t help but think about my own mortality and what it means. Personally, I feel there is a very fine line between the physical and the spiritual. I haven’t lost many people close to me, save for my father’s mother, so my experience is limited, yet despite her passing, I’ve felt her presence in my life in very real ways throughout the years. I expect the same will hold true with my father. When you share a special connection with someone, it can never be broken. In fact, I’ve already received several signs from him to reassure me of this truth.
And while I mourn his physical presence, I celebrate his memory. He lived life to the fullest and taught his children to do the same. Fear nothing, experience everything and love deeply. It is this lesson that I take with me going forward. Focus on making connections from the heart, do not succumb to fear, and try everything (most everything!) once. I will embrace this thing called life, and I will love those with whom I share it. It is the connections we make here on earth that carry us beyond.
So. We’ve been living in Amsterdam for almost three weeks now, and (dare I say it out loud?) the transition has been pretty seamless. My daughter has a new school, new friends, a completely new life. I keep waiting for the dip to hit, for the bottom to fall out and the homesickness to begin, but so far… Nothing.
Part of what helps is that Holland doesn’t feel foreign to any of us. My husband is Dutch, I lived here for twelve years, both kids were born here. We speak the language and know the culture. We have friends and family down the street, around the corner, and a short bike or train ride away. We feel as at home here as we do in the States.
Yet my daughter has always been more American than Dutch. She prefers English. She watches American shows. The American culture fits her to a T. There are other American students at her new school—an international one boasting fifty-four nationalities and dozens of languages—but in an ironic twist, she’s proud to be considered one of the Dutch kids. She goes to school smiling, and she comes home smiling. It’s been a nice…well, not a surprise, exactly, but I never expected it to be this easy.
Is there pixie dust in the water? Is it the calm before the storm? I don’t know. Maybe things will be different by my next post, we’ll see.
But in the meantime, I’m enjoying the peace.
I can’t believe 2015 charged out of the gate days ago. I’ve been holding onto its horns ever since, trying my best to be completely alert and engaged, all while enjoying the ride. It’s how I want my whole year to be.
The way life seems to speed along—and continually gain momentum—isn’t a new phenomenon for many adults. (Though even my two tween daughters mind it once in a while.) Neither is, I suspect, the acceptance that the faster time goes, the more significant it becomes, and how much bigger our job is to make the most of what we have.
Yada yada. I could go on about how important perspective is, how it fluctuates for us, about how life over time is cyclical, but instead I’ve compiled some of what I found to be the most insightful thoughts related to the passage of time.
In 3… 2… 1… (See what I did there?)
“I know this much: that there is objective time, but also subjective time, the kind you wear on the inside of your wrist, next to where your pulse lies. And this personal time, which is the true time, is measured in your relationship to memory.” — Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
“She knew that this day, this feeling, couldn’t last forever. Everything passed; that was partly why it was so beautiful. Things would get difficult again. But that was okay too.” — Lauren Oliver, Panic
“Time does not pass, it continues.” — Marty Rubin
“Life is defined by time, appreciate the beauty of time.” — Lailah Gifty Akita
“Life’s impermanence, I realized, is what makes every single day so precious. It’s what shapes our time here. It’s what makes it so important than not a single moment be wasted.” — Wes Moore
“Everything turns slower when she’s not around, but when she’s with me, an hour feels like a blink of an eye.” — Rea Lidde
“Time has this way of slowing down and speeding up, depending on how it feels.” — Carol Lynch Williams, Waiting
“Time is your only enemy, it disappears very quickly and never gives you a second chance.”– Steve Douglas
This, you might say, is our time.