"If you're going to do something, then do it right."
I remember hearing that a lot when I was growing up. There was a correct way to do everything - mash potatoes, make a bed, trim the garden bed - you name it. My parents were both undiagnosed OCD, and order and organization were de rigueur. I didn't think it was odd because I knew nothing else. Didn't everyone have a lacquered basement floor which was clean enough to eat off?
Because my room was often a war zone, I always figured that I was polar opposite of my parents. Granted, some bizarre organizational ability allowed me to reach into the middle of "a pile" and find exactly what I sought, but I definitely couldn't identify with being a neatnik. Even so, the same "messy" person could not begin her piano practice until all the music was perfectly lined up with no offending pages sticking out, and still spends an inordinate amount of time organizing her backpack items into color-coded storage cubes which are always put into the exact same spot in the backpack. Given my druthers, I actually would rather live in perfect order. When my house was on the market a few years ago, I dearly loved that fact that it resembled a designer showcase by 9 AM each day, while my husband and sons found it inconvenient and unnatural.
In my later years, I've realized that this dichotomy is actually not unusual or unrelated. I would prefer to have perfect order and organization, but it doesn't usually fit into my lifestyle. So, what happens? When I look at a simple task such as organizing some papers that ended up on the kitchen counter top, it's like a domino effect in my mind: It begins in every other room in which those papers might go, which must be cleaned from top to bottom and organized, so that the counter top items can be put in their proper place. I don't have time for that!!! So as a result, I'm often "all or nothing" in that regard. I am overwhelmed by the thought of doing it "right" and decide to put it off until later. And thus I come back to the title of my blog.
I went to a seminar on Time Management a few years ago. In the first few minutes, the instructor brought up the phrase in my blog title. He asked if we were told that growing up, and most of us nodded. He said that it was DEAD WRONG. He suggested that instead we should substitute the following: "If you're going to do something, then do it." Leaving off the "right" alluded to the fact that it's better to get something done than to leave undone just because you can't do it "right" or perfectly. One would hope that this epiphany would have changed my life, but old habits die hard.
You probably think this blog relates to the idea of being less than perfect with nutrition and fitness. Accepting the idea that 10 minutes of daily fitness creates routine that is more successful than goals of 60 minutes per day that die in a month. Or that I refer to the idea that you can recover from a less-than-perfect day of nutrition without destroying your weight loss goals or feeling the need to binge. Nope. I have actually embraced those concepts really well through practice, over the course of my Spark life. So although they relate precisely to this blog concept too, my blog is about a different challenge I face.
I realized that I've been falling victim to this "all or nothing" mentality with the simple act of Sparking. I spent thirteen months with a targeted focus on my preferred Spark activities, in support of my weight loss, fitness program, and then maintenance. I hesitate to use the word "obsessive," but would be less than honest if I admitted otherwise. In my THETURTLEBEAR world, I had to read EVERY friend's blog, comment on most, read every friend's status, "like" if appropriate, etc. etc. If on a challenge team, I felt that I needed to be on top of every challenge or expected daily posting, or else I wasn't doing it "right." So what happened when I took a break from doing those things in mid-February while I went to take care of my mom for ten days? Well, I got overwhelmed with the idea of what I needed to do to catch up with my Sparking once back home. I felt the only "right" way for me to Spark was exactly as I had in the past. But I couldn't. So I mostly didn't Spark at all. I turned off everything except blogs in my Friend Feed, and then I even stopped reading blogs. I missed many days of nutrition and fitness tracking. I didn't remember to spin the wheel every day. None of this stuff is a big deal, except I let it build up in my head. I was doing the all or nothing thing again and it was filling me with anxiety.
Last week, after about six weeks of being a drive-by Sparker (or less), I vowed to at least come on the site each day. I started to read some blogs and send goodies. After a few days, I turned on status and fitness minutes in my Friend Feed. Knowing I wouldn't really be back to being "me" without some self-analysis via blogging, I wrote a blog about winning the lottery that had popped into my head on a walk a while back. But a week into the process, I still was not perfect. Over the weekend, I missed reading some blogs and statuses, and didn't comment on all I read. I started to feel that same anxiety building up again, wondering when...or if...I'd be able to go back and "catch up," i.e. make things perfect. And then I shouted, "STOP!" to myself.
It is OKAY if I can't always Spark "right" by THETURTLEBEAR standards. In fact, I probably need to revise the standards. It's better to participate at a level that is appropriate for the moment - a level that will be in flux - than expect that I can put Sparking at the same level of priority every single day. If my Spark program participation is not sustainable, then it's not realistic. I think this is another aspect of the learning curve of being in maintenance.
If I'm going to do something, then I need to just do it, including Sparking. My Spark friends don't hold me up to the standards I expect of myself. I certainly don't hold my Spark friends up to those standards. So why create unrealistic expectations for myself? Well, NO reason, as a matter of fact!
Okay...I am done with today's self-analysis. Did I ever mention how many blogs I write to myself and then erase without posting? Those help too!