Celebrating Successes Small and Large

At my last appointment with my psychologist, she challenged me to celebrate my successes, both small and large. But for me, this challenge was really about getting me to celebrate the small success in life.

I’ve never been one to think about small successes – I only do things big and right. Remember that old saying, go big or go home? Well, that pretty much summarizes my attitude to life. I’m used to big successes – obtaining my undergraduate degree; obtaining my master degree; completing a professional certificate; achieving my professional designation; securing new clients; winning new work through competitive bid processes; achieving a top bonus within my corporation; successfully completing large projects; etc. You’ll note there all these successes that I have always defined myself by are professional achievements. Anyways, this is now pretty much impossible, at least until I got back to the corporate world.

So, up until recently, the biggest failure in my life was when I failed a pop quiz in grade 5. And now, I’ve experienced some major failures, and life has been focusing on failure rather than successes (5 recurrent miscarriages will do that to a person).

So, in an effort to celebrate my small successes, I thought I’d write a list this week and share it at the end of the week.

So here is my list of successes for the week:

  • Write my blog hop post. I have no idea, why, but I had been procrastinating on writing it. So, it’s done and it’s posted. Thanks again to My Hope Jar for the awesome nomination.
  • My husband and I made coleslaw from scratch. Really not that challenging at all, but we had never made it before. I suspect we made enough to feed the entire Canadian Army.
Yummy Coleslaw.

Yummy Coleslaw.

  • I actually took daily #100happyday photos. This is awesome because it meant I had to remember to take my camera with me and get some photos. (FYI – another rule is that I’m refusing to use the camera on my Samsung phone. We own an awesome Digital SLR, so this gives me an excuse to use it. But, this also means it takes more effort to remember to get a photo). Also, I’ll share these soon.
  • I watered the gardens on a regular basis all week which means no plants died as a result of our current hot weather.  (They may drown from over water, but at least I tried).
I think this is the start of some delicious zucchini, but it might be cucumber.  I clearly cannot remember and now i have to wait until September to find out.

I think this is the start of some delicious zucchini, but it might be cucumber. I clearly cannot remember so I have to wait until September to find out.

  • I research and bought a new weed whacker so that I can actually weed whack from now on (the old one sucks so badly that I have refuse to use it for 2 years, and since the long grass along the garage and fence have taken over, I determined that my husband apparently has also deemed it too frustrating to use). I guess once it arrives next week, I have no excuse so weed whacking gets added to my weekly to-do list.
  • I received a Certificate of Appreciation from my professional organization for all my volunteering in 2013. Funny, I’ve been volunteering with them for the past 8 years, and it’s not until I stepped down, that they acknowledged all my efforts.
  • Our super secrete awesome project is proceeding very well. We’ve been working on it constantly for more than 2 weeks now, and have at least a few more weeks to go. (More on the super secrete awesome project later, I’m sure I’ll eventually do a reveal with before and after photos).
    • I finished cleaning our super secrete awesome project.
    • I found a hard to find part. I had not been able to find this particular part, so I was totally stoked when my search was successful.
    • We placed an order for parts from the US. The cost of shipping is nearly as much as the cost of the items, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! I’m so excited for the supplies to arrive so our work can progress.
  • I bought sandals. 2 pairs actually. One pair is for a cocktail wedding reception (i.e. standing for hours on end) in a few weeks, so finding flats to match my dress that were not ugly, was rather hard to do. The other pair was simply because it was time for a new pair of everyday sandals. I knew it was time when my husband suggested I buy a pair – it is not a good sign when you husband deems your sandals as ugly. This is a success because I actually spent money on something for myself. I never do this.
Sandals to match my dress.  A little girly for my liking, but it is a wedding, so I should dress it up just a bit.

Sandals to match my dress. A little girly for my liking, but it is a wedding, so I should dress it up just a bit.

  • I cleaned up dog vomit from my bedroom floor (how nice of her to puke on carpet right next to where I sleep) and 2 days later I cleaned up dog diarrhea from my living room floor (thankfully this time she stayed away from the carpet and went in a hardwood – so much easier to clean up).  Now if only I can figure out what is causing her to be sick, but since she hasn’t lost her doggy mojo I’m not too worried yet.
  • I made supper nearly every night without any major catastrophes (i.e. nothing was burnt beyond recognition and most things tasted decent enough). Poutine (the French Canadian version of french fries, gravy and cheese curds – as gross as it sounds, its pretty awesome); steak and potatoes; turkey burgers; etc.
  • I bought and mailed a gift to a very dear friend who just had her second child, a baby girl. For obvious reasons this one was a bit hard to do, but it’s done. And as an added bonus, by putting it in the mail, I’ve delayed the obligatory visit for at least a few weeks (I hope).
  • I put a new muffler put into my husbands vehicle.  By this I mean, I drove his vehicle to a muffler shop, where I then paid someone much more qualified then me to put in a new muffler while I waited patiently.
  • Folded laundry. I have no problem washing it, but I absolutely hate folding it. There is at any given time more unfolded clean laundry in our room then dirty laundry waiting to be washed. Anyways, I got that done and off my list until next time when I let the hampers of clean laundry take over.

First, let me say just writing this list has been a huge challenge for me all week. I’ve never viewed these types of things as successes. I found it hard to acknowledge something like cleaning a success. To me that’s just a requirement of life, nothing to celebrate.

So, when I look at this list, I think the wrong conclusion for me to draw, is…well isn’t that pathetic. I think my psychologist would be disappointed with me if I left it at this – although, she probably wouldn’t be surprised that this is the conclusion I’d reach.

So, I’ll dig a bit deeper and force myself to think a bit harder about what this list really means.

  1. I think the list is about helping change my perspective on what a success really is and what really matters. About lowering the insane standards I’ve put in place for myself. (I completely acknowledge that I have astronomically high standards for myself, and until this whole baby thing, I’d done a pretty good job of meeting and exceeding them).
  2. I’m sure there is a lesson in here about not defining myself by my career, and looking at life more holistically. Living a more balanced life where work doesn’t always matter more than everything else.
  3. I think this definitely relates back to my work to accept living messy. Accepting that not every accomplishment has to be enormous, and giving myself space to have small success when life is a bit messier.
  4. Oh, and there has to be some sort of lesson in here about focusing on positives and not always being surrounded by the negativity that recurrent pregnancy loss creates. Yup, I’m absolutely sure this is part of the take-away lesson from this exercise.

Honestly though, I’m not sure how I feel about this, because if I look at this list, I don’t see anything really meaningful. I see things that are just a normal part of my life. And more than anything, in the process of writing this list all week long, I really did look the list as pathetic. I simply don’t consider things like cleaning up dog vomit, making supper or mowing the lawn to be a success. I am not meant to be a homemaker (kudos to those who are, but it’s just not for me). I am meant to be part of the corporate world, and to hire someone to do my household chores that I deem undesirable.

So, what did this actually result in? It pushed me to apply for a job – I have been eying it for a few weeks, and the closing date was approaching. It was time to act. I’m not one to watch life just pass me by, and this looked like something too good to pass up. It looks really cool and on the very fringes of my profession, and something I have loved in the past. I’m not stressing about it either way, but I figure I better at least throw my name in and see where the cards fall and make decisions accordingly.

I think applying for a job means I failed the exercise….

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16 Comments on “Celebrating Successes Small and Large

  1. I am currently dealing with the transition of being career oriented to staying at home and it is a struggle for me. I related to a lot of what you said. Hope you get that job 🙂

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    • It definitely is a challenge to transition to staying at home, and I am hoping I can figure out a way to be okay with staying at home for a while longer. Which of course makes the whole job thing a bit difficult – I’m still not sure that I actually want the job, but I want to at least have the option to get the job. Does that make any sense?

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  2. I completely understand what you mean about placing high standards on yourself. I am the same way and have let infertility define me for the last few years. I have felt like a failure (especially to my husband) because of it. During that time being successful at my job was the only thing I felt I could do to not completely feel like I have failed at life. A couple years ago I had a great year – great review ans great bonus. Last year there was no way for me to stand out so I got a good review and a crappy (in my opinion) bonus. This year I started out in the same boat…no way to stand out but I recently just got put onto a project that could change things. Problem is, now that I’m expecting, I don’t have that drive I once did at work. I’m practically counting down days until the due date and when I get my 3 months off. I’ve proven to myself that having a family is my priority in life and that has been the standard which I judged myself against. Now that it has finally happend – nothing else really seems important. I think recognizing the small accomplishments in life is important because for me, it would have made me realize that I wasn’t defined by my inability to get pregnant. I need to start recognizing the small things as well and accept they important also. Thanks for the post – you definitely gave me something to think about today!

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    • Thank for sharing your experience! I have always assumed that I would stay at home once we had kids for a year (we get a year long maternity leave in Canad), but it just doesn’t seem the same to stay at home without a child to take care of. Its very weird to go from 60+ hours a week to 0, so I’m really not sure what will happen next.
      Anyways, thanks for your encouragement on recognizing the small accomplishments in life. I really hope I can start to see small things as mattering. It will be a big mental shift for me, so it will likely take some time, if it ever actually happens.

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  3. There’s something to be said for getting all the little things done and feeling good about it, but I totally get needing to feel more useful too. Good luck on the job application. It’s great that there’s no pressure. If you get it great, but if not, just remember you don’t need this to be amazing and accomplished. You already are 🙂

    P.s., I had a bit of a hard time getting the blog hop post done too. Funny!

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  4. The part about over-watering the plants tickled me! Personally I think it’s a great list, yes home stuff seems to just be part of our daily life but you are taking care of your dog, house and husband – it’s more than what some stay-at-home people do!!! And I love that you are embracing the 100 days of happy, I really think a little bit of focus on something else goes a long way.

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  5. small or big, it meant movement. That is a good thing. I am trying to do little things now in life just to move, sometimes without a purpose. You have accomplished a lot on your list. I look forward to read more of your done list. 🙂

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    • Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness. I do hope that I can start to see small movements as worthwhile, and I would love to be able to accept doing something without a purpose. I think it is amazing that you are able to!

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