I am not perfect... I’ve known this pretty much my whole life.
I don’t want to be perfect... This is a new revelation for me.
It is a truth that I am both sure of and unsure of at the same time.
While I have always known that perfection is unattainable, this logic has not stopped me from trying to attain it, or something close to it. Only recently have I realized the cost of this goal.
I have lost moments. Moments that can never be recovered. Moments of celebration, tenderness, and joy. Moments even of frustration, fear and failure.
I have lost opportunities to show my children, or truth be told, myself, the value of a struggle, of humility, or the success that can be found in defeat.
Along my journey in grief, I have found some solace in my quest for perfection. This solace comes only because the quest is familiar. It’s an easy pattern of life on which I can lean. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to admit that I am sad, or just off. I simply put blinders on and travel that well worn path.... but I’m realizing more and more that it leads no where.
Lately, I’ve noticed more frustration in this quest for perfection than comfort. I find myself longing to blaze new trails - to pause and seek out moments like those that I’ve lost. I find myself looking out, straying off to uncharted territories, or at least wanting to stray, more and more.
If I’m being honest though, it’s terrifying - taking a leap from the well worn path to the great unknown. On one hand, it sounds beautiful; it sounds freeing, but it also sounds somewhat impossible.
The other day, I found myself caught between these two trails. The well worn path, where I am in control. The one where I can power through anything. And the little hint of a trail that could lead to something beautiful, but it could be quite ugly along the way. This trail was littered with overgrowth. It had branches that could smack me in the face, and leave scratches on my legs.
I started the morning off in my usual way. A workout, a walk with the dogs, packing my lunch and taking a shower. It started off they way I expected. Then suddenly, while in the shower, I became ‘not okay’. I was sad and overwhelmed.
Per my usual approach, I pep talked myself - told myself to ‘get it together’, scrubbed my face, reminded myself of all the things I had to do, and the expectations I had for myself and others had for me. I hiked up my proverbial boot straps and sought out that well worn path of perfection - living up to expectations, exceeding them. It lasted all of about 5 minutes until I was out of the shower and trying to find an outfit for the day. I fell apart again - over an outfit! Over the course of the next 20-30 minutes, I continue that cycle: pep talk myself - tell myself to power through - tell myself that falling apart over minor things was ridiculous. I’d pick myself up and keep traveling down that path to perfection in little increments only to be brought to my knees by the lack of being able to control my emotions and desires. Ziggy found me - held me and then I fell back on my path - apologizing for “not being able to hold it together”...
I continued trying to travel the well worn path of perfection and holding it together, only to be pulled by the desire to blaze new trails and just let go no matter how ugly it got, for a short time.
I never quite got the courage to completely stray from well worn path, but I off-roaded for a bit. I reached out to my teaching partner and asked for some time. I admitted that I was having a rough morning. She respond with unparalleled grace and support.
I fell into Ziggy’s arms and let him console me. As he held me, I found hints of the beauty in straying from the path. He reminded me that I don’t always have to have it all together. I realized that the world kept turning without me meeting my usual expectations.
Later in the day, after stepping back and reflecting, I realized that my pep talks weren’t really pep talks. If they had been, they would have encouraged me to be okay with not being okay. They would have encouraged me to sit in the emotions coursing over and through my body.
As I’ve been writing, I realize that I strayed enough from the perfection path to find some beauty. I didn’t sit for long in those ugly, branch scratching emotions, but I acknowledged them and took a few more steps into the great unknown. I acknowledged that I wasn’t “okay” and allowed myself to hear that I don’t always need to be.
There was beauty in me straying, even just a tiny bit, from the path. There was vulnerability and support from so many. There was also the revelation that I can’t, nor do I want to, strive for perfection.
I may get scratched. I may trip and fall, but I think I’ll learn a lot about myself, my strengths and my weaknesses as I blaze new paths and seek out new truths. I will embrace that I am “perfectly imperfect”.
28 days – it seems so short and so long, all at the same time. It’s less than a month, but we all know when you’re waiting for something, it can seem like an eternity.
We spent 28 days in the hospital with Rylie. We spent 28 long days waiting for her to wake up – to see that fantastic smile. At the same time, we only had 28 short days to hold her hand, to stroke her hair, to read The Just So Stories, to whisper in her ear.
On April 29th, it will be one year since the fateful day that changed our lives forever. It altered our lives in unimaginable ways, but not all of them bad. We have learned so much about ourselves, about the power of the human spirit, about the importance of connection. We discovered that our daughter, at a mere twelve and half years old, shook the world in gentle ways. She impacted so many through her kind, fun loving spirit. Many of us never realized just how much impact she had, until she was gone.
While those 28 days were both too long and too short, we know that it’s a magical number. They say it takes 21 days to build a habit – so why not overachieve a little bit and go with 28 days?!?
In honor of Rylie’s memory, we are embarking on a 28 day journey of kindness. Each day, for 28 days, we will find a way to spread an act of kindness no matter how big or small. We will hold the door for a stranger, make eye contact, and make conversation. We will buy the cup of coffee for the person behind us. We will make an extra dinner and leave it on the porch for our neighbor. We will deliver a care package to someone less fortunate than us.
It’s not about the cost in time or money, it’s about creating a ripple effect of kind acts that honor Rylie, her spirit, and her desire to make people happy. It’s about building on that ripple and creating a kindness wave. Imagine the potential… Join us!
Let’s all start on April 29th. Look for a way to touch someone’s heart, to brighten their day. It’s not about the act; it’s about the IMPACT. Let’s commit to 28 days of kindness together. Who knows, we may very well build a habit that goes beyond that time – what an amazing tribute for a very special girl. #28daysofkindness
It's been nearly a year since the accident that altered our lives. Our lives changed in many unfathomable ways, not all of them bad. We have been, and will continue to be tested, but that has made us stronger.
We know that there is a choice in how we react to and accept the loss of Rylie. We have consciously decided to CHOOSE HAPPY! This is the way that Rylie chose to spend her days, and to honor her, it is the way we intend to spend our days.
Rylie's ARK is a labor of love...
It is our chance to spread kindness.
It is our chance to "gently shake the world".
It is our chance to grow.
I am continually amazed when I hear of how Rylie touched so many people's lives in such a short time. She had a knack for making people smile, making them feel loved, and brightening the world around her.
Through Rylie's ARK we will work to spread kindness either through ripples or waves.
Meghann and Ziggy Guentensberger are Rylie's parents. During their time in the hospital with Rylie and after her death, they began writing about their experiences. What started as a way to keep people informed of Rylie's condition, turned into a way for them to process all that was happening. After she died on May 26, 2017 they both continued to write as a way to process and heal themselves and occasionally inspire others. These writings are housed on the Rally for Rylie Facebook page.