“Done is Better than Perfect”

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Dear Reader:

How many of you, like me, have never finished a particular project because it wasn’t “good enough” in our self-inflicted perfectionist eyes? Some times these experiences just re-enforce how hard we are on ourselves…to the point of  self-under-appreciating any attempts we make to use our natural talents for others?

I think the reason I have enjoyed reading Laura Bradbury’s French memoirs is that I have seen a lot of me and my writing struggles within her. Laura has written the four “Grape” books as a personal memoir to her three daughters so that one day they will have a way to see and remember their mother as she was in different stages of her life…see her in another light outside of just being a mother.

The blog is that avenue for me….it is a collection of shared thoughts on life but it is also the closest thing to a photo/scrapbook (which I am not disciplined enough to do for each child/grandchild) as I will probably come. Hopefully my adult children and their spouses will be able to read back through the years and see me growing (hopefully) spiritually while the grandchildren grew physically. It is my gift to them.

Here are a few excerpts from Laura about when she decided to become a “finisher” and self-publish her “Grape” books for her children (most of whom are now teenagers)

Immediately after I was diagnosed with PSC I called in the cavalry. I set up appointments with acupuncturists, spiritual healers, RMTs, therapists, as well as bought a juicer and eliminated sugar, grains, dairy products, and caffeine from my diet. My whole life became about curing myself from this bizarre, rare, and unpredictable disease.

It didn’t work. Not only did eliminating every pleasurable form of sustenance and living off juiced kale start to make death seem like a not (entirely) unappealing option, but my days were so full of appointments that my battle to stay alive left me no time to actually live.

Many of you, readers, know, how the morning after I was diagnosed with PSC,   I began writing My Grape Escape and didn’t finish until I self-published it about nine months later.

*A simple Google search (FYI: NEVER a good idea with health stuff) will tell you that PSC kills off its victims in a myriad of inventive and heartless ways. Early on, a specialist in Vancouver said to me, “You have to accept that you have a life-threatening disease. You could die of sepsis tomorrow, or be diagnosed with liver or bile duct cancer next week. That is your reality now.”

Blunt, to be sure, yet effective.

No doctor, however, could ever tell me exactly how one goes about “accepting” such a reality. Probably because such an existential question of reconciling life and death strikes at the heart of the mystery of our human journey – a mystery that people have been grappling with ever since they made handprints of their own hands on the wall of a cave in Chauvet, France 32,000 years ago.

…I wrote feverishly, telling the stories of how I decided to leave behind an Oxford law degree, a prestigious legal career path, to throw myself into the unknown, how I struggled with panic attacks and anxiety, how it slowly dawned on me that life didn’t need to be perfect to be wonderful.

fullsizerenderThese were things my three girls needed to know. I had no desire for them to read my books immediately – once they were published my stories would be there when they needed them. That is the magic of art, and writing, and books. They give us a sliver of immortality in a finite world.

However, an unexpected thing happened on the path of telling my stories. It was only when I was about half-way through my latest book, My Grape Year, that I realized how creating – in my case writing – was the best course of therapy I had ever embarked upon.

…………..

And so I, too, have discovered that it is my daily routine of writing little stories, or a surprise I experience during the day, or a beautiful flower calling me to it, a conversation, a piece of dialogue on television, a song, a photo…anything can spark the next blog. …And it is the not-knowing that makes life worth living.

thumbnail_fullsizerenderHaving written that thought on the epiphany of not-knowing… I had a God Wink in the waiting room at the Charleston Cancer Center yesterday.

(*Will update you tomorrow on the latest medical developments.)

I had finished the blog before leaving for my appointment at 2:45 and then, as I skimmed through a Good Housekeeping magazine in the waiting room, I saw there was an article in it written about Kaitlin Roig-Debellis, the heroic teacher from Sandy Hook, who saved 15 students in her first grade class by rushing and putting them in the back bathroom of the class when the shots rang out.

img_4352-1Reflecting back on the incident and how it changed her life she said, “Being comfortable with uncertainty makes us kinder, more creative, and more alive.”  (Exactly what I was feeling!)

It is faith that something will appear during the day to ponder and wonder aloud in each day’s blog that reassures me God is still right beside me, some days, even writing the blog for me. I am just His instrument typing away at a feverish pitch.

So until tomorrow…Thank you readers for putting up with my (sometimes) scattered thoughts or family album photos and other clips of my life…because you make my life worth living. If I could not give back whatever craziness I possess while on this Earth, it would be time to pack my bags, get dressed up in my finest, like the Fall leaves, and let go of it all. But somehow I feel that is not the case right now…there is still something else left to do. Time will tell.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

15203239_1205546306179323_1536561469816273250_n*I told Mev Shieder that she has a wonderful talent for words…especially a twist on words. She said she loved Laura Bradbury’s statement…”Being alive is a terminal condition; whereas Mev thought about it and responded: ” Being alive in Christ is an eternal condition”!  Perfect!

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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1 Response to “Done is Better than Perfect”

  1. Jo Dufford says:

    I am so glad that you have chosen to share so much with us. So often I find something in your blog (still don’t like that word to describe something so beautiful) that validates something I have felt. Not only your writings, but also your photography starts my day off with an upbeat feeling. Loved Mev’s turn of the last thought to “Being alive in Christ is an eternal condition”. Wow!

    Like

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