Cleaning out my fridge

Thanks to everyone who joined me for last night’s Facebook chat! If you missed it, don’t worry – we’ll meet up in the same place, at the same time next week.

I was looking for an onion. I found one, but I also found a squishy tomato and an oozing jalapeno. So much for that pico I was planning to make two weeks ago.

Luckily, this discovery happened the night before trash day, so I took the opportunity to toss a few more things from the fridge into the garbage. Sweet potatoes that I bought, even though I’m the only one who likes them? Growing spots. Whole wheat buns that I’d frozen back . . . a while ago? More stale than a bag of croutons. And then there was the frozen lettuce, the mystery leftovers and the many, many expired bottles of salad dressing.

A couple months ago, a friend mentioned how her mom is terrible about never throwing things – like expired food – away. I confessed that I had years-old boxes of bread mix in my pantry, and she yelled at me. “Mary! Go home right now and THROW IT AWAY!”

So I did. But even though we’d talked about salad dressings, too, I looked at my rows of colorful bottles and just couldn’t deal with it. Until this week. I finally found a spurt of motivation when I happened to have the fridge open and started chucking bottles.

I felt so organized after that! So accomplished. So responsible and together. I really do feel better about life in general when my pantry and refrigerator are somewhat organized. Like foods go together, things we use most often at the front and so on. I especially like it when I come home with bags of groceries to an organized kitchen. It makes putting them away a tiny bit less annoying.

Even though cleaning out my fridge was satisfying (and, you know, healthy), it’s not likely I’ll do it again for several weeks. And if you think that I scrubbed down every surface of the fridge after I tossed the bad veggies, leftovers and condiments, you are mistaken. Probably sadly. You are probably sadly mistaken, but most definitely mistaken.

See, that’s the thing about giving up on perfect and getting on with life. I’m not going to let my refrigerator – or any part of my home or life – spiral into total chaos. Or, if I do, it won’t stay that way for long. I’m going to do what must be done, but honestly? I’m not going to obsess over it. My house has cobwebs and cat hair and scuff marks. Not in the fridge – just to be clear – but you get my point.

Nothing here is perfect. But it’s not disastrous either. I’m trying to find that balance, and for me, that means tossing the rotten food but leaving the dishes for the morning.

How often do you clean out your fridge?

Perfect has officially been given up on.

So as it turns out, writing a 31-day series is HARD! That’s why, as you may have noticed, I kind of slacked off this past week.

(What? You didn’t notice? Then never mind.)

Today is the last day of my 31 Days series, and I’m just going to leave you with one thought. When I was brainstorming ideas for this series, Annalyn wanted to help. I knew she wouldn’t understand but told her what I was doing anyway. Then she surprised me with this wisdom: “God loves you no matter how hard you work and even if you’re not perfect, He’ll still love you.”

Seriously. She’s FOUR. Well, she was when she dropped that wisdom bomb on me. It’s possible that as smart, experienced, grown-up people, we complicate matters. Let’s just keep it simple and remember that God loves us no matter how hard we work. And even if we’re not perfect, He’ll still love us. The end.

This post is part of 31 Days of Giving Up on Perfect. All month long, I’ve written about my fight against perfectionism and my quest to get on with life, already. For more 31 Days, visit The Nester.

The conference is not the boss of you.

Listening to the Legal "LAWsome" Panel at Blissdom

Yesterday in her session about writing what you’re living, Annie Downs reminded us: “It’s your internet!” and “They’re not the boss of you!” As I thought about how to be a perfect conference attender (or not), it occurred to me that the conference is not the boss of me, either. (And for the 99% of you who aren’t here with me this weekend, whatever event you might attend isn’t the boss of you.)

I am far from a perfect conference attendee, despite the fairly high number of conferences I’ve attended over the past few years. I’ve hidden in my room. I’ve forgotten my business cards. I’ve cried when I met famous blogger people. And it was still okay. So, in case you’ve ever felt pressure at a conference or a retreat or a convention, I wanted to tell you something.

It’s okay if you don’t attend every session.
It’s okay if you skip the keynote to call your husband.
It’s okay if you sneak away to take a nap.
It’s okay if you order room service.
It’s okay if you make a second trip to the taco bar.
It’s okay if you stand in line for an hour to meet your favorite speaker.
It’s okay if you cry when you finally get to meet that speaker.
It’s okay if you take home every piece of swag you’re offered.
It’s okay if you leave all the swag with your roommate.
It’s okay if you take notes on paper.
It’s okay if you take notes on your iPad.
It’s okay if you take mental notes.
It’s okay if you hand out all your business cards.
It’s okay if you forget your business cards in your room.
It’s okay if you don’t have business cards.
It’s okay if you tweet soundbites from every session.
It’s okay if you forget what “hashtag” even means.
It’s okay if you schedule posts through your entire trip.
It’s okay if you don’t post for three weeks after the conference.
It’s okay if you make 157 new best friends.
It’s okay if you make one new friend.

You get the picture, right? Whatever you need to do to make this conference (retreat, seminar, convention, annual meeting, vacation) work for you – do it. It’s okay.

What’s your favorite part of attending conferences, seminars, retreats, etc.?

This post is part of 31 Days of Giving Up on Perfect. All month long, I’ll be writing about my fight against perfectionism and my quest to get on with life, already. For more 31 Days, visit The Nester.

Don’t I know you from somewhere?

L'artiste perfectionniste : Danger!

Normally, I am really good with names and faces. But the brain is a funny thing.

A few weeks ago I spoke at a women’s conference in St. Louis. A few minutes before my last session began, I noticed a woman walk in the room and sit in the front row. Immediately I knew I’d seen her before.

She asked me a question about blogging and after I’d answered her, I said, “Do I know you? You look so familiar!”

She said I looked familiar, too, and we began the “Where do we know each other from?” game. She lived in St. Louis, not Kansas City. But then she said she used to live in Kirksville. “Oh! I went to college in Kirksville,” I said. I asked if she worked on campus. She said no, but then asked if I went to church while I lived there.

Aha! That was it. Mark and I had gone to her church, and we actually had mutual friends. (And, as I remembered as soon as she said her name, her husband owned the pancake place in town that was open all night.)

We laughed about what a small world we live in. And then I kept laughing, to myself, about how weird my brain is.

I hadn’t seen this woman in at least 11 years and may not have even ever talked to her, but the second I saw her, I knew I knew her. And yet, just a month before, I’d completely forgotten a woman I’d met and talked with.

This spring I hosted an (in)RL gathering. About 15 women attended, and we had a great time talking, eating and drawing names for tons of prizes. With such a small group I was able to meet everyone and had every intention of following up with them in the days following the event.

However, the night after the event, my husband and I had the worst fight of our entire marriage. One week later, my brother-in-law was killed in a motorcycle accident. And two weeks after that, I went back to work and threw my entire family into [temporary] chaos.

As it turns out, my brain couldn’t handle all that and the result was the complete loss of memory regarding some of the wonderful ladies who attended my (in)RL gathering. I didn’t realize this, though, until about a month ago.

A woman from my church came into my office a couple times to print things for a women’s event later that week. We talked while she was there. But it wasn’t until I saw her stand up and speak at the event several days later that it hit me. Like a brick. Between the eyes.

I’d met her before! She came to my (in)RL event! And then I acted like I’d never met her when she came to my office!

Ohhhh, I felt so awful. After the women’s event, I went up to talk to her. I wanted to apologize, to acknowledge how rude I had been by forgetting her, to explain that my life had exploded and it wasn’t personal and I didn’t mean to offend her and – but I didn’t. I couldn’t think of words that didn’t sound lame, honestly. So instead, I told her how much I enjoyed what she shared with us (which I did!) and awkwardly patted her back.

I patted her back! WHY did I do that? I’m not a back patter! Then again, I’m not usually a name or face forgetter, either. Clearly this entire year has thrown me for a loop – a forgetful, awkward loop.

At this point I’m not even sure how to fix the situation – or if it needs to be fixed at all. Maybe she didn’t realize that I’d forgotten her, or maybe she’d forgive me quickly if I explained that my brain spazzed out without even giving notice. Maybe – just maybe – I’ve blown this whole thing out of proportion.

This story has no life lesson, no clever analogy, no witty conclusion. It’s just an excellent example of how I am so far from perfect that pretending I can ever achieve it is ridiculous. I am messed up and messy. And, aside from possibly offending a very nice lady, I’m mostly okay with that.

I might just be working on some memory devices, though. Just in case.

Have you ever forgotten meeting someone? How did you recover from it?

This post is part of 31 Days of Giving Up on Perfect. All month long, I’ll be writing about my fight against perfectionism and my quest to get on with life, already. For more 31 Days, visit The Nester.

The winds of change messed up my hair.

Waterfall Glen

You know how they say to never change your hairstyle in the midst of emotional turmoil? Well, they should also tell you to never get a haircut four days before going to a conference. Or after enduring a few big changes in your life.

Unless, you know, big changes don’t equal emotional turmoil for you.

Last week I unexpectedly got a new (to me) car. And then I got a new pair of glasses for the first time in nearly a decade. Yes, I realize these are not bad changes, nor is at least one of them big. But to me, it kind of felt like a lot at once and I threw caution (and good sense) to the wind yesterday.

I took my coupon and signed up for a cheap haircut.

This might sound familiar, as I’ve lamented this very same decision more than once. The problem with getting your hair cut at a place that accepts $7.99 coupons is that every other cut is, actually, a great one. And that makes you forget how truly awful the other 50% of the cuts you get there really are.

And that is the story of how I ended up with a lady mullet.

[Side note: My husband has educated me on the many different types of mullets, including the Kentucky waterfall. Hence the picture above. Feel free to comment on my clever wit.]

I probably should’ve just read the manual to my new car and left my hair alone. But much as change throws me into a tizzy, it also thrills me. A little bit. So once I get into the mode of change, it’s sometimes hard to know when to stop. New car? Sure! New glasses? Why not? New haircut? Screeeeech! [That's the sound of brakes I should've heard. But didn't. Cue the mullet...]

*SIGH*

How do you handle change? (And have you ever ended up with a mullet?)

This post is part of 31 Days of Giving Up on Perfect. All month long, I’ll be writing about my fight against perfectionism and my quest to get on with life, already. For more 31 Days, visit The Nester.