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Watermelon is a parenting strategy

Go for the easy win today.

Some days we need our routines, our consistency, our predictability. But this week, today: may you see an easy win and go for it, even if it isn’t in the plans.

Spend all day at the beach, or the pool, or in someone else’s backyard. Don’t contingency plan, don’t pack for every possible outcome. Grab suits and snacks, and go.

Remember that watermelon cures all manner of ills, whether first thing in the morning or in the late-afternoon stretch. So does popcorn, for that matter. (Those are what we call “the two food groups of summer.”)

Hit the park after dinner and play until dark, or snuggle in to watch a movie on a weeknight.

Don’t watch the clock. Watch your people. Head to bed when they’re drooping, or let them all snooze on the couch. Worse things have happened.

Skip the clean jammies and the baths and the hair brushing. Wipe down their muddy feet and let them fall into bed.

We’re not talking about their whole childhoods. No one’s going to turn feral in a day. Let the rules go. Give yourself a summer break, even if you’re not going anywhere at all.

May you have a chance to say yes to the easy win this week. Seize the season.

I’m posting a few words of midweek encouragement here for you — and for me — over the summer.

Works in progress

Our callings and our SELVES will always be works in progress.

I’ve been thinking about perfectionism.

You know that saying, the perfect is the enemy of the good? I’ve been thinking that it’s not only the enemy of the GOOD — it’s the enemy of starting. (Because you’re not ready yet!)

It’s the enemy of finishing. (Because it’s not perfect yet!)

It’s the enemy of wisdom. (Because you don’t advice! YOU’RE WORKING ON PERFECTION, HERE.)

We never get there, no matter how hard we try — so we don’t need to try harder.

We don’t need to try harder to know it all.

We don’t need to try harder to do everything the right way.

We don’t need to try harder to pretend we’ve got everything together.

We aren’t perfect. We aren’t going to be. Chasing that goal is never going to work out, because it isn’t what we’re called to. It’s only going to distract us from doing what we ARE called to do.

And what we are called to do — it isn’t about US, anyway. It’s about the calling, and it’s about the caller. We don’t have to figure it all out first. We just have to get started.

I’m at Unfiltered this week, talking about how our callings, and ourselves, are always going to be works in progress, and why that is a freeing revelation.

Are you a recovering perfectionist? (No, seriously. I can’t be the only one.) Come join the conversation.

Weekly mashup: Being parts of the whole

Instead of a weekly roundup of links (lots of which you’d have surely already read, because other bloggers do the weekly link list so well), I’m going to try sharing a weekly-ish mashup of others’ thoughts and ideas that have been speaking to me. This post contains affiliate links. (More on that here.)

Being transparent about NOT doing it all.

Photo via Instagram.

About those magazines

This week I was reminded of an article about Why We Love to Hate Women’s Magazines, by Lindsey J. Palmer for She Reads.

(SheReads is where I go for book-club-fiction sorts of book recommendations. Ms. Lindsey Palmer is the author of Pretty in Ink.)

She writes about how, even though there’s helpful info in the glossies, reading them can feel like an exercise in flaw-finding.

This line caught me:

“En masse, these tips [in magazines] can come to feel like expectations.”

Sound familiar? How about:

En masse, all these pins can come to feel like expectations.

En masse, all these status updates — all the adventures and successes and fun other people are having!—can come to feel like expectations.

En masse, all these other bloggers’ posts — with all the beautiful gardens, and thrift-rehabbed furniture, and amazing photos, and recipes, and book lists, and projects — can come to feel like expectations.

(Expectations. Distractions. Hmm.)

I don’t think blogs foster quite the same sense of insecurity that magazines can.

Even the prettiest blogs are less about fantasy and more about tidied-up versions of real life. I like tidied-up versions of real life. Someone else’s pretty blog photos might be the tidiest thing I see all day.

They’re mostly inspirational, not aspirational.

It’s just that taken all together, they can start to seem like expectations.

But. We’re none of us supposed to be Doing All The Things, or Going All The Places, or Taking All The Photos. We each only have to do our one little thing. Tend to our one little (big) life. We don’t have to take all the tips.

C.S. Lewis (via Brain Pickings), referencing the apostle Paul, wrote: “A good toe-nail is not an unsuccessful attempt at a hair; and if it were conscious it w[oul]d delight in being simply a good toe-nail.”

We can’t all be toenails, you guys.

Some of us are hairs. (What the heck, C.S.? Those were the most charming body parts you could come up with for this analogy?)

Let’s pretend he said, I don’t know, HEART and EYE. A heart can do lots of things. An eye can do some other things. You don’t want either one to try to do ALL THE THINGS. They each have their own area to tend.

For those of us that write blogs, or post images to Instagram, or update our Facebook pages with great dedication — those of us who represent ourselves online — I think the challenge is to represent our eye-ness or heart-ness or hair-ness or toenail-ness well. (The body part thing just gets worse and worse the more I type it.)

As important as it is to be the best self we each can be, we also need to be transparent about the fact that we’re not ALL THE SELVES. We’re not DOING IT ALL.

No one does it all.

We’re not all planting gardens, pickling vegetables, driving carpool, making gnocchi, reading the classics aloud, hitting the yoga mat, painting landscapes, writing the great American novel, AND taking surfing lessons. For example. I think we should make that clear.

None of us is the eye AND the heart. None of us does it all.

We’re each just our own selves, doing our own thing. No one of us can do everything, but ALL OF US TOGETHER can.

And all of us together can still be stars.

A star does not get frustrated about not being the whole universe. A star just gets on with being a star. So does the next one, and the next one, and the one after that. All together in the night sky, they’re awe-inspiring.

We could let the lives of others, taken all together, become expectations on us.

Or we can expect that when we each contribute our own talents, then, taken together, we become part of a beautiful whole.

We can each be ourselves.

We just have to remind each other.

Bonus! What to read next:

Sarah Joslyn on SheLoves writing about being a Thumb, and asking which part you are.

Plus Biana Olthoff and Annie Downs at IF:Equip, on being parts of the whole — and not always understanding the other parts. (Watch the video.)