On Okayness and Creative Nausea

This week I’ve got two quick snippets I’ve been wanting to share. I hope they delight you and make you go “hmm” as they did for me. First:

You’ve probably seen the phrase “World’s Best Mom” (or Dad) emblazoned on coffee mugs, greeting cards, and hoodies. A friend of mine has a twist on this idea: “World’s Okayest Mom.” This designation is for the times when we’re doing the best we can but need to give ourselves a little grace—when the kids are out of clean socks and have to go hamper-diving for the least dirty ones; when it’s fast food for dinner because there’s no time or energy for anything better; when you tuck yourself into bed early because you just can’t face the dishes/monthly report/volunteer tasks.

Lately I’ve been embracing the idea of World’s Okayest, even posting some of my own stories of good-enough on social media. I was recently tapping out one of those on my phone when I noticed that “okayest” had autocorrected to “plateau.”

What kismet!

As a recovering perfectionist, and someone who now coaches others, I’m naturally oriented toward striving, improvement, and moving forward. If there’s a mountain, whether figurative or literal, I reckon I’m supposed to climb it. But the heart of World’s Okayest is to be content on the plateau—to look around at one’s life and think, “Maybe things aren’t quite the way I’d like them to be, but it’s all right. It’s very much all right.”

Second:

I’m coaching the council of a church that is going through some pretty significant changes and has some decisions to make. I’d been asked to come in and lead the council in some conversation and play together. (Play? Yes, play. It’s one of the biggest things we neglect when life gets challenging and chaotic, and yet it’s one of the best ways to build community, lower anxiety, and encourage creative problem-solving.)

Before we started, I took a quick spiritual temperature reading, asking everyone to describe how they were feeling in a short word or phrase. Responses ranged from excitement to trepidation to hesitancy.

One woman apparently wasn’t feeling well—in between nibbles of baby carrot she said, “Nauseous.” No fun! (To her credit, she was a willing contributor to the day.)

As we closed our meeting, I asked people to check in again. Some felt the same as before; others felt more at peace with the process as a result of our time together; one person felt both excited and daunted by the amount of work ahead. But my favorite was the woman who’d been feeling nauseous. Apparently her stomach wasn’t any better, but with a smile she said she felt “nauseously optimistic.” Wonderful! It reminded me of this graphic:

When we’re in the midst of change, even if we’re hopeful about the ultimate outcome, there’s always a bit of seasickness involved. Life is unsettled, and we’re uncertain what lies ahead. Kudos to my new friend for naming that dynamic in such a playful way.

…Whether you’re looking at your life with nauseous optimism, or surveying the plateau—or anywhere in between, or far beyond—know that I’m grateful we’re all on this journey together.

~

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