I am thrilled, honored and humbled to bring this guest blog post to you written by author and awesome mommy Karen Evancic. I have known Karen for what seems like is forever because she is one of my dear friends cousins, and through that connection we became friends. Please check out the info after this post because she is an amazing woman. I have tremendous respect and admiration for Karen, I was thrilled when agreed to allow this to be used as a guest blog post. What she wrote resonated so deeply with me because we all struggle with the beast of perfection. So this is a perfect story about imperfection.
A Tale of Two (imperfect) Braids
As a little girl Corinna never let me do her hair. No braids, no barrettes, not even a ponytail. To say that I’m not great at braiding hair is an understatement. Well, times change and this morning she asked if I could part her hair down the middle and do a French braid down each side. Ugh. I looked at the clock and saw that she had less than ten minutes before she needed to leave for the bus stop. My first inclination was to say no, and that she should have asked me ten minutes ago because I suck at it, but how often does she ask me for help anymore?
So I said sure, knowing I’d likely have to drive her to school. I started braiding, and as I suspected, it took me awhile. And that was just the first side. The other side was harder for some reason and I struggled to keep the pieces in place. Halfway through I told her, “Sorry kiddo, this ain’t gonna be perfect.” Her response? “I didn’t ask you for perfect mom.”
I don’t know why that hit home so hard but it did. So often we moms and dads strive to be the perfect parent, checking all of the imaginary boxes that we think we should. We compare our kids and ourselves to others as if they are the measurement upon which we should gauge our success as parents. Are they getting enough sleep, are the exercising enough, are we guiding them well spiritually, do they know as many sight words as the three year old next door, are we teaching them the right morals, are they as smart as everybody else’s kids, do we take them out to do things enough, are they eating enough vegetables and are those veggies organic and was the beef we made the hamburgers with grass fed… You get the picture. We kill ourselves doing it too, leaving even less of ourselves to offer them. We’re so incredibly busy making sure we always say and do the ‘right’ thing. Because that’s what it’s all about right? Being the ‘perfect’ parent?
No. No it isn’t. It’s recognizing when your daughter needs a few moments of your time, even though you already had those moments planned for something else. It’s knowing that she appreciates you braiding her hair at all and that unplanned ride to school from mom? Bonus time for her. It’s understanding that she doesn’t need perfect. She just needs you to say yes when she thinks you won’t. Correction. She just needs you. Period.
I’ve been missing my kids lately, not because they’re away somewhere but because we’ve been so stupid busy. I’ve felt like less than a perfect parent and they’ve eaten chicken nuggets and tater tots on more nights than I care to admit. But you know what? They know we love them. They know we’re here. They KNOW we’re not perfect (if you think your kids think that you are you’re kidding yourself sweet friend…), but they also know that you’re the perfect parent for them because that heartfelt grin that they get when they check out the uneven and imperfect braids in the mirror and say they love it should tell you so… Should tell me so.
Perfection? They didn’t ask you for perfect.
I want to share a little with you about how amazing Karen is. Karen was born in July 1976 at Misawa Air Base in Japan and grew up traveling the world as a military child. When she was fourteen years old the Air Force stationed her father at Davis Monthan Air Force base in Tucson, Arizona and her family settled in and called it home. She attended Arizona State University for her undergraduate years and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1999. She was commissioned into the Air Force the day after her University commencement ceremony. Karen went on to spend five years on active duty and two years in the AF Reserves, all as an obstetrical nurse. She also completed a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice with an interest in forensic nursing and spent a short time as a sexual assault nurse examiner. She married shortly after college and has been married to her wonderful husband for sixteen years. They share three beautiful children together and have continued Karen’s transient roots while following her husband’s military career across the country. They have lived in Texas, Germany, Florida, Washington, Alabama, and Virginia.
She started writing a few years ago as a hobby. Her first and only novel was born of a foggy headed and sleepless state. She’d always had an interest in her grandmother, mother, and aunt’s story of how they came to be a family. Inspired by their perseverance, she had toiled with the idea of writing a fictional account of their story. Her father was in the hands of hospice at the time, after slowly losing a long battle with spinal cancer, and Karen was struggling with sleep. One night at three in the morning, after another night of insomnia, a simple line came through crisp and clear. “I wonder if her feet felt funny in her shoes.” She immediately got up and wrote it down and then started feverishly writing her story. The coming years brought many challenges but she didn’t stop until the novel was complete, a year and a half later. Karen’s first novel When a Red Bird Flies is brilliant and award winning. She wrote this through her family struggles, health struggles and her husband being deployed. She is simply a wonderful writer and an inspiring mom and human. You can find more about Karen and keep up with her latest work on her website.
It was great to have a little bit of a productive weekend. I was really happy to get to do a bit of a refresh at my Husbands office. I am not a decorator but I had a lot of fun getting things together to decorate. Everything I found was at Pier One or Home Goods. I have to admit though I love my luxury goods at times, I really love getting a good deal too. My Husband does such amazing work that the space his clients and team spend their days in deserves to be awesome.There is something about a few new things here and there that change the energy of a space. It’s like saying thank you for being our business, lets make you look awesome. Giving gratitude to your space isn’t a concept I was really familiar with until I read Mari Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tiding Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering. This book changed how I looked at space, and the things I choose to keep in them, and I think that goes for work spaces as well….but that is a story for another post!
I also had a chance to plan a little this weekend. It’s something I have been missing but since the spinal fusion I haven’t been able to sit for very long and planning with decorating takes some sitting. So we have been keeping it simple these days but I feel so much better getting the week down on paper. Hope you all had a productive weekend as well!!!
If you are curious about what the heck a Maxillofacial Prosthodontist is or does, what functional esthetic dentistry is or more information about his specialties in TMJ, TMD and Sleep Apnea check him out at www.southbaydentalsolutions.com.
Since starting the Bulletproof coach training program I’ve learned a lot about being present. This is a concept I had not heard of before. I had not contemplated. I had not lived. In just a few short months it seems crazy to me that this is been missing from my life. The ability to live from your intuition and from your heart and really connect with other people is something I was thought that I was already doing, and was pretty good at. It wasn’t until I started learning about presence that I learned that I was living in my head. I was filtering my connections through my own preconceived notions, my own head junk. When people were talking I was often analyzing what they were saying and thinking of how I was going to respond and not just listening, pausing and then responding. It’s so funny to me because I have a job wer connecting with other people, listening to them and asking questions is essentially what I do. So in the time I’ve been healing from back surgery I’ve been workin on accessing presence and really hearing what people are saying to me, not just the words, but what’s really being said. It’s change the connections that I have with my friends, family, and my children at least on my end. I know that I am better able to understand what my kids are going through when I’m really prescent to listen openly from my heart and not from my distracted head. This is something I can’t wait to explore more as I go through the coaching program we’re getting into a mindfulness section soon and I can’t wait to see what else I learn. So Better Lifers this week as you go forward remember to pause, take a breath and try to listen without thinking. Just listen, whether it’s to yourself or to someone who speaking to you, try to still your mind and listen from your heart. Have an awesome week !
How many times a day does your phone pull your focus away from what you are doing? Research indicates that the average person checks their smartphone 150 times a day, which broken down over waking hours is like every SIX MINUTES. I bet that if this is you, its because something has triggered you to check your phone. Those triggers are normally some kind of alert. So & So has posted a photo on Instagram…..Betty Sue has checked in on Facebook.
These notifications are dictating your schedule and your behavior. TAKE BACK YOUR TIME.
Turn off your notifications! All your notifications, but especially social media and email notifications.
The average smartphone user doesn’t adjust the notification settings on their phones. Don’t be average…make your phone work for you. By turning of notifications your attention won’t be pulled by the ping or buzz of your phone. You are in control of when you check your phone and when you want to take a moment to check Facebook, Instagram of Snapchat, do it. The only notifications I leave on are my health apps. I love a Stand Up Now….Take a Deep Breath…..or, a be present, reminder.
Turning off notifications should only take a minute and will free you from split attention. Part of the reason we feel stress is because we have too many open loops going on in our mind at a time. When you see a notification while you are doing something else it can spiral into a longer visit on your phone than you intended or it can trigger you to do something else, like commenting on photos, or wondering why you weren’t invited to lunch. Next thing you know it’s 20 minutes later, you are now behind schedule and the stress starts to build.
So take a breath, take the plunge and free yourself.
Runner Up Suggestions for less stress during busy times
- Do NOT check e-mail or social media for the first hour upon waking up. If your phone is your alarm clock or sleep tracker check those things then put your phone by the door so it’s ready to leave with you for the day, then leave it alone. Sixty minutes without you phone will set your day up on your schedule. When you check into your phone you check out of your life.
* Studies show that within the First 15 minutes of waking up, 4 out of 5 smartphone owners are checking their phones and among these people, nearly 80% reach for their phone before doing anything else.
2. Before picking up your phone write down, on paper, the top 3 things you have to accomplish today. This way your days priorities are set before there is any distraction
3. Set phone alarms that are a positive message for 4 times a day. Currently my favorite is a reminder of how I want to be each day it reads ‘Present, Energetic, Bold’. This alarm goes off at 9am; 1pm; 5pm and 8pm.
4. SLEEP! Get to bed by 10:30 at the latest! Our body actually gets better quality of rest between 10pm-12pm. Don’t short yourself of this benefit during this busy time of the year. Remember quality rest also boosts your immune system….no one has time to be sick during the holidays.