Mental spa day: Letting go of mistakes is OK

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.– Elbert Hubbard

Ever get overwhelmed? I think we all do. You might feel overwhelmed by questionable eating choices, or turning down the invitation to the Royal Wedding, taking on too much at work, or even underestimating situations. I’ve been bogged down lately with a glut of situations and stressors which have literally given me so much overwhelming incapacity to unction that, one by one, I had to let each go finally. Sometimes hanging onto these things is a little bit of a crutch, but bad juju compounds and makes for seemingly insurmountable times… and possibly skin in need of major moisturizer.

Maybe it’s time to sit down and think about what’s been harshing on your mellow lately. Are you hating bills? Life? Royal wedding hats? The Real Housewives? It’s time to make a list. Think each thing through individually. And then, like balloons, envision letting each thing go into the sky with a deep cleansing breath.

Here are a few of my balloons(and don’t tell me I’m full of hot air; it’s light air. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it):

Buying more clothes doesn’t make for less laundry
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.–Colette

I am the first to admit that when the domesticity bus pulled into the station, I thought they said “cuss” instead of “bus”, so I dropped enough bad words to make even Satan give me the no-no finger. I hate laundry. In an effort to do less of it, I encouraged the ownership of more clothes by family members. Now we have dressers and closets bursting at the seams and we still don’t seem to have enough clothes.

What I discovered: ten times the laundry the day you run out of 47.8 (the dog participated) pairs of underpants. I am swimming in a sea of underpants–and believe you me, that’s one body you don’t want to try treading water in.

Simplify: We’re going to start donating some of our clothes to the thrift store. People who need clothes are more important than my unwillingness to make time for the Snuggle bear. Less clothes means we can keep what we really enjoy and lose the rest without guilt. The amount of laundry won’t change, but the trepidation towards it will.

Teens are smarter than we think
The better a man is, the more mistakes he will make, for the more new things he will try. –Peter Drucker

Always the proud citizen of the Universe (I’m a science fiction geek), I applaud ingenuity and support the great strides former generations made to create a better society for kids today. It was then with great surprise when my sophomore came home and told me that for his history project he chose Harvey Milk. A lauded gay activist, my son said he was impressed with all the man did. I sat wondering if the child who wears pith helmets to school and yells out, “Are you freeeeeeee?!” in WalMarts in his Mr. Humphries trill was finally maturing into someone who cares about social matters as much as I do.

What I discovered: I was overthinking it. In typical boy fashion, he told me he likes what Milk did, but he also wanted to ensure chocolate milk made it to their class activist theme luncheon.

Simplify: Kids are their own people. Trying to form them into my likeness of activism isn’t a positive solution. In studying someone’s life and admiring him, a silent action made the difference. Sometimes an an open heart speaks more sincerely than an open mouth.

Not buying graduation announcements doesn’t keep them young
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. –Scott Adams

I’ve been in delicious denial for most of this year that my oldest is about to graduate from school. I’m one of those mothers who look forward to every school vacation because I live for my kids. The thought of one of them going into the world and leaving his mom behind is killing me. So I’ve put off too much. I put off ordering his senior portraits after the shoot. I’ve put off making any plans for graduation. I put off buying the graduation announcements.

What I’ve discovered: It’s now almost May and he’s graduating anyway. Get over it. It’s time to put away my swooning sofa and smelling salts and applaud the fact that I raised the most amazing kid I could. Sure, he looks like Jesus if Jesus was a Scottish linebacker lumberjack, but he has a good heart, is a smart boy, an will always be my little boo, even if he drinks all of his younger brother’s chocolate milk.

Simplify: It’s selfish to mourn to a point of excess. Now is the time to make positive memories that keep your kids wanting to visit you as they continue to get older, and isn’t the time to sob in a Carl’s Jr (I still blame the onions) every time Sinead Oconnor’s No 1 compares 2 u comes in over the piped music (onions!).

You can’t make everyone like you
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. –George Bernard Shaw

I think everyone has a deep-seated need to be liked. Especially when you were raised to respect other people, you just assume if you do the right things, people will like you. In return, I have been blessed so many times over with tremendous relationships. We don’t always get along, but because of openness and honesty, you could facepalm someone, have them facepalm you, get over it and move forward.

What I’ve discovered: Some people just won’t like you. It’s just the way it is. There are world view differences, and those won’t always be able to be bridged, no matter how affable you are. If you try to be what everyone else wants you to be, you won’t spend any time being who you are, and that’s a shame. Friends are friends, and they always will be. Acquaintances come and go, but your friends stick with you, no matter what.

Simplify: Treasure your true friends for the unique, amazing people they are and be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them for loving you for who you are.

Life is such a learning process. While we can’t avoid the thongs and arrows that the local pool and archery club sling at us, we can sometimes control how we react to those things… even if it takes a little bit of thought, and we make a few mistakes in the process.

I mean look at me: I overbought underpants, overthought the human condition, overlooked red flags, and over-mourned the future of my life without my oldest son (by the way, he’s single if any moms are looking for a brilliant boy for their gorgeous daughters who don’t mind he doesn’t like stickers or cardboard farm animals).

Letting go of those things you can’t affect and making the changes you can make allows you to free yourself up by simplifying your life and enjoying the rest of your days less encumbered by less important things (like laundry or chocolate milk essays). Full self-disclosure, the permission to express your emotions (and then get over it) allows you less excuses for tucking into a pudding, or crawling into bed overwhelmed at what life is lobbing at you.

And it’s OK to be who you are in the process. I mean, nobody’s perfect. If you were, li
fe would be essentially meaningless (or filled with plastic surgery). The destination of the journey isn’t the end; it’s the process of not giving up. Fall down ten times, get up eleven.  And even when you’re really tired and you don’t think anyone else understands, they do. We do. You’re deliciously human, and you have a right to be heard before you let your balloons drift off into the stratosphere and begin a better day.

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  1. Growing up is hard to do isn't it. We all do it, and it's OK to grow up. Welcome to adult hood.

  2. Just when ya think ya got it…..
    Up comes the Learning Curve!
    Good post!

  3. Wow, some heavy things to think about. Thanks for the fun to go with them. You don't know the lives you touch, I have been beating myself up lately, thanks for reminding me I'm human. *smiles*

  4. bayoubabe says

    THANK you for this post. Written with such direction. My last post on my blog was about this similar subject. Glad someone addressed the situation.

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