Perfection Paralysis

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Some people’s conscience sound like their moms. For some, it’s their fitness coach. For others, Morgan Freeman (aka God). For me, it’s been Dana White (at least for the past week). From the cover, it looks like a book about how to stay on top of your dishes – which it is. But what I didn’t expect is how it surfaced some weird ideas about my significance. This book is night and day from other home management books/blogs/articles I’ve read because she gets the inner mind of slobs. Like millions of people around the world, I too have KonMari’ed parts of my home but for me, having fewer stuff did not translate into my home staying clean and tidy. I totally admire what Marie Kondo does, but part of me isn’t that impressed because she’s been an organizer since she was a child! It’s like watching Usain Bolt compete on Biggest Loser, Thomas Keller on Chopped, or John Krasinski on the next season of The Bachelorette. (Maybe that last reference a little too Candy-centric) There’s something magical about seeing someone go against ever fiber of their being. Enter Dana White.

Early in the book she confessed how she found out that people were actually selling empty toilet paper rolls on eBay. She was so excited that free money was literally sitting in her bathroom she devised a plan to get her family on board to help her save enough toilet paper rolls to sell. She cleared some space in her vanity to put an empty box and asked her family to remember to put empty rolls in the box. Two months passed and she only had 2 rolls in the box. However the space that box took up in the vanity caused a cascade of clutter. Was it really worth the $10 on eBay she would’ve gotten for all the hassle of collecting empty rolls? She also talked about how she often tries to wash her dishes perfectly – air-drying the items that need extra TLC. However this ended up with a pile of dishes that were perpetually being air-dried because air-drying takes time and putting away dishes takes time and eventually, it becomes easier to just pull from the pile on your counter. The knife hit my heart when she said “sometimes worrying about doing something the best way keeps me from doing anything.” UGH. YES. ME.

Being a self-proclaimed ENFJ, I had to dutifully dig into my soul as to why I felt so paralyzed by perfection. Yes, I’m sure it’s partly a neurosis. But as I thought about it more, I realized I had this unhealthy obsession about things being done consistently and perfectly. Somehow I must’ve believed that if it couldn’t be done consistently and perfectly, it wasn’t worth doing. What was even more peculiar was that I 100% own the fact that I am inconsistent and imperfect… so why is it so surprising to me that things I do are inconsistent and imperfect? Insert the emoji with the chin resting between the thumb and index finger here.

Once I realized this, I immediately saw how unnecessarily dramatic I was being about so many things in my life. Let me just name six.

  • I am now 7 months behind blogging about Charlie. Should I just start at month 9? That doesn’t seem right! Okay, I’ll go on a blogging marathon for months 3-8. Crap I can’t even remember what happened in those months. POOR SECOND CHILD. Insert Perfection Paralysis.
  • I want to read this new book! Yikes, I still have 10 books I haven’t finished.
  • I would love to make a photo book of our 2017 summer. But I haven’t done our 2016 photobook and our wedding images are still sitting on 2 DVDs. I am tired just thinking about this.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about Charlottesville. And the Google Memo. And diversity. And unity. I have a draft that I started after Ferguson. That was 2014. Where does one even start Equity 101?!
  • Hello laundry that needs to be folded. You know what will be perfect? Folding you after the kids go to bed while watching Black-ish. Perfection (or Optimization) Paralysis.
  • I need to get some fresh fruit. I have some time right now but you know what, I will wait for the Mountain View farmer’s market that’s only on Sundays from 9am-1pm. They have the BEST STUFF.

There is a time and place for precision and sure, we can call it perfection – like calculating the re-entry path for Freedom 7. No one would fault you there. However I think you would all agree with me that the things I listed above would not fall under that category. For 95% of the things I put off, my quality of life would be significantly improved if they were just done rather than perfectly done.

As a teacher, I would always have a major freak out every time I wanted to change a routine in my classroom after the first day of school. Whether it was as major as a grading system or pushing up/back a date I had committed to, in my mind, I imagined my students organizing a coup, overturning desks and burning papers because MS. SOHN CHANGED HER MIND AND NOW HER CLASS SYLLABUS IS VOID. Yet 10 out of 10 times I admitted to changing my mind, they would barely even look up and just rolled with it. Humans are incredibly inconsistent and yet incredibly resilient.

I want to come up with a better ending to this post, but that would mean saving and coming back to it later (which by now you should know means never). So here is me taking a baby step to ending paralysis.

Pressing the Publish button in 3…2…1….

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The Day After

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Two days ago when I posted on my wall, “I hope that I can get over my own biases and get to work tomorrow…” I 100% thought it would be from the position of someone whose candidate won the election and I would be extending an olive leaf to those who do not share my point of view. I imagined celebrating, breathing a sigh of relief, posting the picture above and high-fiving a vast majority of my friends either in person or on social media.

Needless to say there was no celebrating, no relief and no high-fiving over the new president elect. (In full disclosure, there may have been high-fiving over some urine making it into a potty.)

This morning I cried with Van Jones when he thought about how he was going to explain this to his children, read Trump’s acceptance speech, had a come to Jesus moment thanks to Cardinal Colbert, teared up watching Obama’s speech (mostly at the thought of missing him so much) and ugly cried when I watched HRC’s concession speech. I read a lot. Prayed. Thought a lot. Tried to pray some more. I also ate an almond biscotti, a bagel and a Costco polish dog all before 1pm. I must’ve looked like a mess all day because my son asked me every 24 minutes asking me if I was happy or sad. I have nothing new to add to the conversation. I do feel compelled to write to remind myself of what I’ve learned from this election cycle.

 

  1. I am in a bubble…. that I have created. Yes, I live in California. I also reside in one of the most liberal urban centers. Heck my favorite color is blue (Go Chargers/Bears/Warriors). I was sympathetic towards people who had their misgivings about Hillary, but I was sure that given the choice between the two, everyone would see that there was an obvious choice. My friends, Facebook feed and go to news sources confirmed this. I never felt like I needed to say anything because wasn’t it obvious? It wasn’t until the last couple months that I started to learn that maybe not everyone around me felt this way. In fact half of the nation doesn’t feel this way. I was completely blind-sided.
  2. The Trump Phenomenon is real. As Donald Trump won primary after primary, I stopped gawking at him and turned my attention… okay, my incredulity, to his supporters. Yes Trump has unapologetically exploited employees, admitted to misogynist discourse, spewed hateful speech against people of color, LGBTQ+ and women. There are people like that in the world. I have come to terms that I can’t help that. But what does it say about people who are willingly choosing him to become their president? It blew my mind. I started to form this picture of what a Trump supporter looked like – White, racist, gun-yielding, bigot, uneducated, unconvinced by facts, anti-immigrant and angry. And probably from a fly-over state. The more I read about people who have spent some time in rural America, the story becomes less sensational and more nuanced. Their pain and disillusion is palatable. These people who voted for Trump know that they are the butt of jokes. They see it on TV and all over media. I’d like to think that they are just as repulsed about Trump’s behavior, but perhaps they felt like he was the only one that heard them.

    Perhaps the biggest aha moment came for me in the shower today, when it dawned on me that I know what is like to be caricatured.

    Granted I’ve never been called a racist or misogynist simply because of who I voted for or my party-affiliation, I know what it’s like for people to assume things because you identify with a group. For me, it’s being a Christian. I love Jesus. I know that makes a lot of people really uncomfortable in the Bay Area. Just like I have a picture of what a Trump supporter looks like, many people have similar pictures of what a Christian is like, the things they care about, the people they elect and the platforms they hold so dear. When Evangelicals make the eleven o’clock news, I often squirm because, for better or worse, I wonder if my friends think that I support so and so’s behavior or even worse, share the same values as so and so. I find myself thinking, “Wait, wait. Please hear me out!” On the flip side, though I did vote for HRC, I am not on board with every single Democratic platform. I feel the “Wait! Wait! Hear me out!” on multiple fronts.

    I can only imagine that’s how many people felt this cycle about supporting a controversial candidate. No candidate is perfect, they’re just trying to make the best decision for themselves and one that echoes their values.

    For the record, while there is room in our democracy to disagree with one another, we should never make room for the oppression, hatred, marginalization of any person or group. We need to stand up against it every time. But the tricky thing is doing it with humility and resolve without dehumanizing one other lest we become the very thing we hate in others.

  3. I need to engage. If I want to work for the flourishing of my city, state and country, I need to be brave. I shied away from calling out racism because I was too chicken or assumed I couldn’t change anything. I avoided getting into controversial conversations because I’m freaked out by awkward. I chose silence because I was too lazy to type and think after a full day. Lord help me to engage in a way that is productive and builds bridges.
  4. Fighting for what is right is messy. I need to remind myself over and over again that I should not be surprised by messiness. Hills summed it up well ‘Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.’

Here’s to moving tomorrow a little bruised, but a little less prideful than yesterday morning. Let’s get to work America.

My first infograph.

Now that I’m officially a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM), the questions went from “When are you going back to work?” to “So… how is it…staying at home.” I never know what to say. 95% of the time I respond with, “I am really enjoying it.” But to not to risk sounding like a total Polyanna, I do say that there are good moments and bad moments, but I am generally really enjoying the time I spend with Wes. This post is not about about whether one should work or stay home. I vow to never pen that post! This post is about how maybe I haven’t left teaching at all… because being a SAHM is eerily similar to being a classroom teacher. Let me count the ways.

(I was feeling extra motived last night so I tried my hand at making my first infograph! I had a lot of fun! Brought back fond middle school memories of searching through clip art for the perfect picture to put next to every copy block.)

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On not being a tech fogey…

One of my favorite teacher discipline moments was when I caught a student playing Guess the Word on his phone during class. I creeped up behind him and whispered “I know the answer to that.” He handed me the phone and I punched in the correct word (of course) and put his phone in my pocket and said “See you after school.”

Being a high school teacher meant that I was always surrounded by kids who were “tech” savvy. (Quotes are there because though they may be amazing at making videos, taking selfies and sharing music, they would be a deer caught in headlights if you asked them to create a two column Word document.) I would always know the latest hashtags, the newest social media app and the best people to follow. Now that I spend most of my time out of the classroom with a little human that has yet to have his own phone, I am more than a little out of the loop.

This realization really came to a head when I downloaded Snapchat a year ago when I saw my sister always on it. When I first heard about it, I thought OMG GROSS. An app that allows you to send pictures that magically go away in seconds? Clearly everyone is using it only to send nudes. Though I felt like an overreactive parent, I thought my concerns were legitimate. Why would you not fb, or instagram or tweet a picture! Obviously you want it to go away because it must be naughty.

I would take a few pics and send it to a few people but I didn’t get it. There were no pretty filters, no fancy bokeh and most of all no hastags. Just a silly text box with a MS paint tool that is so tacky. And in all honesty, I was a complete noob at it. I kept taking pictures of the floor/ceiling… could not swipe the right way… kept clicking on the wrong thing… I felt like a fogey. I thought “I cannot do one more thing! I can’t remember one more username and password!!” And just like that I became my parents.

I realized I cannot give up this quickly! Wes is only 17 months. If I can’t figure out snapchat, I will be hopeless when he’s 17 years old. Enter my attempt to get with it. Two days in, I am really loving it.

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Quick impressions:

  • Time and Space Saver. It’s nice to not open a camera, open a text, attach a picture and then hit send to share a moment. eg. I love seeing what people eat for meals… I don’t like it enough to take up phone space.
  • Feeling connected. I love sharing mundane moments. With Instagram and Facebook, I feel the need to be “editorial” – take a good picture, write a good caption, create a witty hashtag. I also don’t want to overshare. I also wonder if my friends are sick of seeing my baby.
  • No likes or hearts or comments. As we all know these things can be double-edged swords.
  • Kaitlyn and Shawn are freaking cute on Snapchat. Add them. Snapbackbean / Shawn_Booth Add them.

Let’s be friends!!

xo,

candiedscone

10 years.

Ten years ago, I got in my car and drove up the street to Tim’s apartment so we could have the “talk.”

A week ago over MLK weekend he had reluctantly (no exaggeration here) told me over the phone that he was interested in me. He was definitely not meaning to be in a relationship, nor did he even want to be in one, but as one paralyzed with love by Cupid’s arrow he had to make his feelings known. That and we had way too many study dates, late night AIM chats and midnight burrito runs to be in the friend zone.

When I got to his apartment, we had a super intense talk about our past relationships. I don’t even know why we felt like we had to say everything that night, but we definitely recreated our own little baggage claim that night. We discussed baggage after baggage, our mouths the never ending conveyor belt chucking out our worst fears and insecurity. At the end of the night we just looked at each other with looks of “(baby) can you handle this?” It was so unromantic, unhot and ungiddy. But what do you do when you see a future with the person in front of you, and beauty even in the both of you? After hours of talking, Tim gave into his exhaustion and said “Let’s go for it.” And had I known the words YOLO, I would’ve yelled it then.

Tim thanks for taking a chance on us and believing in what we could be. I love you and promise I’ll make you cheesy cards again like I used to before we got married (damn you Candy of 10 years ago for making me look bad).

Do you remember this TV show? Tim and I were OBSESSED with it so I had to make an envelope to pay homage to Sydney Bristow.

Do you remember this TV show? Tim and I were OBSESSED with it so I had to make an envelope to pay homage to Sydney Bristow.

I’m so glad I named this blog Summer Candy

Years before, whenever I would blog, inevitably there would be times that I would not blog for a long time. Either:

  1. There would be so much that would happen that writing about it would just be impractical. But completely ignoring it would make my NF would cry from my lack of authenticity while my   would be ruffled beyond despair because I am not blogging in a chronological manner. In my mind, there was only one rational solution to this solution to this: stop blogging all together.
  2. My life was so uneventful (or at least so it seemed) that simply thinking about blogging would bring on the onset of yawning and eye rubbing.

Thankfully I had the foresight to anticipate this ebb and flow and named my blog Summer Candy to dispel any ideas that this blog would be remotely alive after August. (This is one of the perks of being older: being unapologetic about your shortcomings – at least the ones that are relatively innocuous)

Well so much has happened since August!

  1. I started my 7th year of teaching. I decided to take on a student teacher which has been great because….
  2. I am 24 weeks pregnant! And THANK YOU LORD for this student teacher because he provides the much needed bathroom break throughout the day. Now that I am more than halfway through with this pregnancy, I can safely say that I do not feel extra feminine or beautiful like some women report. I do feel like a beached whale. I even make low frequency vocalizations whenever I have to get out of bed, get off the couch or pick up something from the ground.
  3. I am in Book 7 of Harry Potter and I love it more than I did in August. Current HP angst I think about: Whose side is Snape really on? What’s his deal? Will Ron and Hermione get together? Will good really triumph over evil??
  4. My wardrobe has significantly changed. I used to love tailored jackets and pants… now they are instruments of torture. If it were up to me, I’d wear leggings that go up to my bustline and stretchy tops EVERY DAY. I haven’t tied my shoes in 2 months. These shoes are my current faves:
    I used to make fun of people that wear Toms... I humbly eat my words. These are my favorite ones I've ever owned. They are lined with fuzzy goodness that keep my feet warm in the sub 60 degree California weather.

    I used to make fun of people that wear Toms… I humbly eat my words. These are my favorite ones I’ve ever owned. They are lined with fuzzy goodness that keep my feet warm in the sub 60 degree California weather.

    My Christmas present from Tim 2 years ago. Still my faves as they are incredibly comfortable and dress up any outfit.

    My Christmas present from Tim 2 years ago. Still my faves as they are incredibly comfortable and dress up any outfit.

    Aerosole pumps. The brand definitely takes the sexy out of them but they're SO comfortable. I don't wear them much because every time I do, I get yelled at by at least two students every hour. "MRS. SOHN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE WEARING HEELS."

    Aerosole pumps. The brand definitely takes the sexy out of them but they’re SO comfortable. I don’t wear them much because every time I do, I get yelled at by at least two students every hour. “MRS. SOHN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE WEARING HEELS.”

    I’m not really sure how this blog will evolve, but come what may, it’ll be an adventure!

Boredom Diversion Strategies

Yesterday afternoon I found myself sitting in a training bored to tears. I have to confess that I try hard to be a good student in these trainings and engage but yesterday was a bad day for several reasons:

  1. I had already spent two weeks last year going over the material we covered that afternoon so my neurons were seriously lacking any desire to fire.
  2. It was after lunch.
  3. We were going over a hand out. Basically the trainer was reading the handout to us which one can imagine, was incredibly stimulating.

Usually on the off chance that I am bored, I have my routine:

  • Scroll through fb until I reread something
  • repeat the process with Instagram
  • check email on Mailbox and archive, delete and save until I am content with the number of emails in my inbox
  • read news on my cnn, nytimes or npr app
  • play 5 games of Candy Crush
  • text Tim
  • eat a snack

Unfortunately I could not employ my usual boredom coping strategies because we had talked about being mindful about technology use during our norming section of the day and I had eaten all of my snacks I had packed for the day. I had to resort to my backup plan.

Paper and pencil diversion activities.

Here are some things I did yesterday:

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 Listing all 50 states. This is my go to activity.

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Once I was done with that, I started brainstorming what I wanted to put on my Bachelorette Bingo Board.

These are especially wonderful because it looks like you are taking notes. I think this beats doodling because if you have to think really hard about which M-state you are leaving out (I always forget Minnesota) your eyebrows may furrow which adds to the façade of engagement. Other mental diversions I have done in the past include state capitals and NFL teams. I have tried MLB and NBA teams but usually I can’t name more than 10 teams in each league which makes for a pretty sad mental game.

Here is the final product of my Bachelorette Bingo Board!

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