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I believe, every day, you should have at least one exquisite moment.

- Audrey Hepburn

I used to bristle when people talked about the importance of loving yourself, of accepting yourself, of not being too hard on yourself. In my mind, that was just an excuse to not try harder, to not be a better person, to not excel, to not behave well, and to basically be morally lazy. 

The problem with my approach is that my obsession with being perfect (not only in school but at home and at church and in my private life) mutated into the expectation that everyone else around me try just as hard to be perfect and good. Even when I knew that I was far from perfection, I consoled myself with the knowledge that I was trying hard, as if that somehow made up for my failures. My compulsive need for the approval of others made me critical and judgmental, not only toward myself, but also toward others (and yet a work in progress). 

What a mess! What a horrible, miserable, exhausting mess I eventually found myself in.

While I still think that society tends toward encouraging narcissism and self-importance, I now have a better understanding of the need to offer ourselves compassion, kindness, and grace, especially when we have already asked for those things from God and received them. For the last couple of years, I have shifted from worrying about what people think to caring about what people think. I have found freedom in trusting that, as long as I'm living in obedience to God, I don't need to worry about the approval of others. And if He's forgiven me, I can forgive myself, too. 

Now that I've stopped constantly berating myself for not being / doing / performing better, two wonderful things have happened: (a) I'm stumbling and failing less in the areas I was anxious about because my motivation is no longer to prove myself and (b) I've become a lot less critical of other people. 

Jesus said, "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:31). If you don't love yourself, you're not going to be able to love your neighbour, are you? Take it from someone who's been there: It just doesn't work. If you think being a perfectionist is the right approach, I urge you to try a little tenderness...first with yourself and then with others.


P.S. For those of you interested in creative mindfulness, I highly recommend A Book That Takes Its Time by Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst. The last chapter was about self-compassion and that inspired me to share my thoughts above. This is what I wrote in my GoodReads review: "If I could give this book ten stars, I would. I took my time with it and savoured it and it was just lovely. My personal philosophy is that life needs a balance of whimsy and wisdom (hence the title of my blog and e-newsletter) and this book embodies that. It is colourful, creative, warm, deep, fun, serious, calming, and invigorating all at the same time. This is one of those books that I wish I'd created myself. It's just wonderful!"

It's the first Monday of the month, and that means it's time for another giveaway!

But first, let me announce the winner of last month's prize draw. Eighteen subscribers participated (and six of them got their names entered twice because they shared the newsletter with friends) and told me some of the best advice they've ever received. I may share with you a few of those morsels of wisdom in future issues. Now, using this fun Random Name Picker website to help me pull a name out of a virtual hat, I declare that the winner is Carolyn Wilker! Woohoo! Carolyn, I'll be in touch with you to get your mailing address and send you your prize.

This month's question is simple: What cheers you up?

When you're sad, tired, discouraged, sick, or just bored and unmotivated, what is something that will inevitably put a smile on your face? 😊 I'd love to hear about it! Answer the question here for a chance to win a special prize. And if you share this newsletter with others, I'll enter your name twice (you can indicate that you did so when you answer the question).

What might you win? I'm glad you asked! I've started doodling with some fun glossy gel pens on blank bookmarks and recently created these six prototypes. They're not perfect and there may be tiny ink smudges on the back but they're originals (I'll sign the backs) and they're a lot of fun. (The colours are actually more vibrant than how they appear in this photo.)

The winner of this month's draw will get to pick TWO of these—one for themselves and one to give away. 

(In case you hadn't guessed, creating colourful art cheers me up!) 

whimsy & wisdom from the world wide web

Why this old post (part of a series on creativity I offered a few years ago) is by far the most-viewed one on my blog is a mystery but, since it seems to be so popular, I thought I'd share it with you too. If you have kids or a young class or a small group, consider coming up with your very own personalized flag. Check my blog post for tips on how to start.

If you love art, you will enjoy this database of over 480,000 works of art, courtesy of The Louvre, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, textiles, jewellery and finery, writing and inscriptions, and objects. 

A few weeks ago I shared about how I have to resist the temptation to slip into regrets about lost time in my past (and touched on that a bit today, too). If you can relate, this article may encourage you. (I love that the article closes with a reference to the resurrection, which we celebrated yesterday. A few weeks ago, when I chose this article for today, I hadn't noticed the coincidence!)

OPSIMATH

(n.) A person who begins, or continues, to study or learn later in life.

Put your slippers way under your bed so when you get up in the morning, you have to get on your knees to find them. And while you're down there, start your day with prayer. Ask for wisdom. Ask for understanding. Don't aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.

Denzel Washington, GQ interview, 2012

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