The very real pain of not giving up

Dear one, It’s not like you thought it would be, is it? To put it mildly, this past year did not go to plan. It was a reckoning, in every sense of the word. We’ve seen just how tenuous our “normal” is, just how quickly life as we knew it can end. And so perhaps you’re looking ahead to this new year and feeling a strange mixture of terror and anticipation. Will things get worse before they get better? Will COVID be a memory by this time next year? Where are we in the scope of this struggle? Of course, ...
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Embarrassing Secrets of a Recovering Perfectionist

During my first month as a freshman at Vassar College, one of my hallmates caught me folding my dirty laundry. Yes, you read that right – I folded my dirty laundry before placing it in the collapsible navy-blue mesh hamper at the foot of my bed. It was a nervous habit that gave me a sense of control in an unfamiliar place. Of course I didn’t want anyone to know about my odd practice, so I flushed with embarrassment when my hallmate said, “Caroline, did you seriously just fold those pajamas before putting them into your hamper?” My hallmate’s tone ...
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They Tried to Make Me Go To Rehab, and I Said Yes.

Friends, do you remember back in March when I wrote to you – albeit indirectly – about the blizzard that hit my life? I’d prefer to keep that crisis vague and metaphorical; it suffices to say that I went through something tough. That’s one reason why I’ve been quieter than usual on the blog this year. (That, and writing a book.) When I wrote about the hard time, I described it as “a slow-motion train wreck with no end in sight”, and it was. But there was still hope. I just couldn’t see it. First, I needed to take a ...
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Feeling Judged and Controlled? Question Your Inner Cruise Director

When Jonathan and I went on a cruise to Bermuda with my family several years ago, the piped-in, controlled voice of Cruise Director Carlos drove me crazy. Now, this was a lovely cruise. It was a privilege to relax and have my towels folded into animal shapes every night. However, the oft-repeated, overly-enthusiastic announcements just did not work for me. (I’m an introvert who jumps like a startled deer at the sound of a ring tone.) Several times a day, Cruise Director Carlos would blast over the loudspeakers, reading the rundown of social events with forced good cheer. After a ...
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Stop Believing Shame’s Lies (and a Giveaway to Help!)

Let’s face it, shame is sneaky. You want to stop believing shame, but it engulfs you like one of J.K. Rowling’s Dementors, those terrifying wraiths that drain happiness. Soon you’re locked in what author and researcher Brené Brown calls a shame spiral. …
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Feel the (False) Guilt and Do It Anyway.

You know what’s difficult? Questioning the ‘should dictator’ in your head. Standing up for yourself and your needs. Deciding not to let false guilt boss you around. If you dare to do these things, then you’re my hero. Seriously. It’s hard to be “selfish” enough for your own good. I’m quoting my own judgmental inner voice here. Whenever I consider making positive changes on my own behalf, she screeches, “But isn’t that SELFISH?!” …
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It is OK to Choose the Heart of Gold Instead.

Tis the season for a slew of blog posts about the importance of slowing down and savoring. It’s that time of year when writers feel compelled to publish essays on what really matters. Don’t get me wrong; I love these posts. I’ll link to my current favorites throughout this essay. But it’s easy to read beautiful, elegant sentences and then revert to my usual habits. So this Advent, I’ve clarified what I don’t want: I don’t want to lose sight of beauty. I don’t want to be a moving target, to look up after New Year’s and wonder, incredulously, Where ...
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You Are Meant to Rise Again.

“This is not a competition,” the TEDx organizer told us. “We’re calling this Salon an audition for TEDxBirmingham, but remember that this is your TEDx talk … and one or two of you may be invited to present at the larger event.” I nodded, feeling a blush creep up my cheeks. I’d been caught red-handed, thinking competitive thoughts. Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself that it was a tremendous honor to give one 4-minute TEDx talk. …
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In Which I Break the Rules & Go Cold Turkey

Nobody likes being sick. A few weeks ago, I faced a fourth case of shingles, my least-favorite and most-recurrent illness. And my body was in great shape compared with my thoughts, which surrounded perfectionism and blogging. You see, I was struggling with a scarcity mindset regarding our readership here. I’d become overly attached to the goal of reaching 1,000 subscribers, so much so that I couldn’t feel the tremendous abundance that is already here. To be fair, this 1,000-subscriber fixation didn’t come out of nowhere. It was fueled by the advice of myriad big-time bloggers, many of whom actually say, ...
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Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

Have you ever had your life get flipped, turned upside down? No, really, my fellow recovering perfectionist – I want to know. This isn’t just an excuse to quote the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song. I want to know if you’ve had every shred of confidence swept away. I want to know if you’ve stood in the clearing, terrified of the emptiness around you. And most of all, I want to know if you’ve come through stronger than you were before. …
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