Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Attaining Perfection

We all know people who seem to live life with a bit too much perfection. Everything seems to be easy for them and it isn't fair! Women compare themselves a lot to each other and we see how easy and carefree someone else's life is and not the work that it takes to make it that way. Perfect hair, body, clothes, children, husband, home, cooking, canning, homeschooling, gardening, yard, car don't come without a price. Sometimes the person might just have better genetics than me or more money than me, but other times I think it is effort and attitude.

While looking at pictures from my most recent photo shoot, a sweet little 4 year old guy, I realized how much perspective can change a picture and a life too. I took quite a few pictures of Jackson on this window ledge before I realized there was a reflection in the window from a red sign that said "No Smoking." I could probably Photoshop it out without too much work, but why when I could just move over and erase the imperfection?

I moved my vantage point over a few feet and the sign was not in the frame any more. I physically had to move in order to change my perspective to have a perfect picture.

Changing my perspective on real life also takes effort. It is easier to sit in one place and complain about the literal or figurative "No Smoking" sign than to actually move and see life differently. Could I actually have the perfect life in my grasp and not even know it? 

This thought was reinforced when I read a post on Resolved to Worship. You can read the post here called "Happiness is Not the Absence of Problems." The writer of this blog appears perfect to me! She is beautiful (even 10 months pregnant with her 7th), an amazing photographer, decorator and mother. Yet even she was talking about how a shift in attitude makes all the difference in her own life.

I was struggling with a bad attitude yesterday when I woke up. Summer holidays are the hardest for me to get through as a farmer's wife and yesterday was a holiday, but not for my husband. He was busy raking hay, "making hay while the sun shines" and I was bored and irritated. I thought of all the people with their perfect lives having perfect camping trips with their perfect families or having BBQs with their perfect friends. And I was home alone while my husband worked, yet again.

I thought of my great "perspective epiphany" and wondered if I could make my life perfect too. It would be my version of perfect with happy kids, entertainment, blue sky, no yelling, shopping and eating out. And did I mention no yelling and happy kids? I could have probably made my perfect day at home too, but I was in the mood to go somewhere.

I packed up and headed to the beach and was there by 10:30. The weather was PERFECT. There was no wind and my kids were happy, happy, happy. My plan was going swimmingly. I began to think that having the perfect life wasn't so hard after all.

We played in the sand and I took pictures. I resolved to think only of the positive and deal with the negative and move on if necessary. I was amazed at how happy I was because of this change. An older lady came by and said, "Enjoy them while they are young. They grow up so fast!" I really was enjoying this moment in time. 

As the morning wore on, the girls got dirty and wet. Mandy ate sand, a lot of sand. And I forced a smile on my face and a calm tone to my voice.

And you know what? My good attitude remained with a lot of work. My children were incredibly sandy, I had to pee, and Mandy decided she didn't know how to walk while I was carrying too many sand toys, a towel, and backpack. I kept going and dealt with each situation much better than I would have ordinarily. My first reaction would be to get frustrated, yell, and try to hurry everyone along. Slowing down and waiting for my sand collecting children didn't kill me and my bladder didn't even burst. 

There was still sand in diapers and whining for food I didn't have. The children didn't stay happy, happy, happy. But I think they did really well on our adventure with their happy mom. We ate at Burger King and we even made it to the crowded outlet malls and found a few good deals.

I am the first to stand in the "imperfect" line. My little paradise here is not always sunny with palm trees, but I think I am on to something with this perspective thing. I may write a book and become famous and then I'll be rich and will be able to buy the perfect life. I'll be able to hire someone to hose off sandy, hungry children after fun at the beach while I go to the bathroom by myself -- what a novelty! This idea has a lot of merit to me: sitting in the same spot complaining is easier than moving to make the perfect frame. But isn't the effort worth it? Maybe all of us could use a little attitude adjustment from time to time.


Melanie said...

Thanks, Alysun. I've been thinking about this some lately, as I keep hearing the women in Boston complain about their lives, saying they cannot wait until their kids go to school and they have their life back. I was thinking about this and realizing that I too am not appreciating the gifts given to me. I need to focus on enjoying the people God has put around me at this stage in my life, and not just wish for different circumstances.

Kari said...

As another farmer's wife who's usually "trapped" on this holiday weekend, I decided to go to the beach as well, I took along my parents and I resolved not to hold it against my farmer. We had a grand time and hubby got lots of work done. He even got me petunias to plant upon my return!! Perspective is definitely about US shifting, nice post.

Dan & Hillary and little Russell said...

...obviously, you still haven't got a "Pee Can" like I suggested;-)

Wish I could have been there with you and the girls- sounded like a great day- and I'm sure Jeff was happy that you got to do something fun!

Stacy said...

My pastor, Mark Batterson, always says, "Change of place + Change of pace = Change of perspective." Sounds like he's on to something. Glad you had a fun day with the girls.

Kellie said...

Sounds like you had a great beach trip and the change in perspective did you all a world of good. I like what you wrote about changing perspective because it totally rings true. By the way, if your girls enjoy baseball (and even if they don't...Grace refuses to have anything to do with a ball!) you should come to our Baseball & Barbecue next year. It's a lot of fun!

Shawna said...

I find it hard to comment when you give us so much to think about. The timing of your post couldn't have been better for me. As I started reading, I thought to myself....I see Alysun has 'having it all together' and that I find myself falling short. I can't imagine being able to do all that you do, with two tiny ones, let alone one on the way! You are a true inspiration to me and it helps me put it into perspective as you say, to see that you too have struggles and work to change your own perspectives. You are a wonderful teacher.

I went out of my comfort zone this weekend and attempted a FINGER PAINTING adventure, how hard could that be. Well I learned I don't like to be messy and at the same time I learned that I need to teach my daughter that it can be fun and worth it!

Perspective is everything and we all see the same story through different "lenses" and your analogy was awesome.

~Babychaser~ said...

What a great reminder! I've had similar epiphanies recently... if only I could say I've remembered to apply them since! :)

Lindsay said...

I like this post. I have had those days, too. It's pretty awesome you were able to change your perspective and make it a great day. Just keep doing what you're doing!

Michal said...

i loved this, aly sun! we have so much power to change our attitudes and thus, our experiences, even though there are so many things in our lives that we can't control. i think that god gives us trials so that we will learn to rely on him, but he is also hoping that we will learn how to be happy in the midst of our trials and to see the blessings amidst the anguish. and i don't think that just means the huge, tragic trials of our lives. motherhood is full of everyday trials that can help us grow stronger, more faithful, more reliant on him, and happier, if we will only let them. and yet how often to do i find myself slipping into impatient, frustrated, grumpy mommy mode? too often.

i loved the analogy of moving a bit to get the no smoking sign out of your picture. sometimes changing our attitude and perspective takes only a little effort, sometimes a lot, but it is always worth it.