Present Over Perfect by Shauna Nieqsuist
Something I realized this past year that I really wanted to do in my life was to slow down a bit. I have enjoyed multiple books on this topic this year- reading about how other people have slowed down, lived more intentionally, and taken their lives back into their own hands. Reading nearly all of the other books I read on this topic led me to the recommendation every time to read this one- Present Over Perfect. I was on the wait list at the library for it for a few months, and it finally came to me this weekend. I blew threw it in one day- it was like the most delicious thing you could eat- wisdom pours from every page, and my soul just sucked it up. In so many ways, I could relate to Shauna. She writes about how she has always wanted to be seen as a highly competent person, a person who could handle (with aplomb) anything that was thrown at her, and how she based much of her sense of self-worth on this ability and her ability to be productive because she was competent. Wow- it was like she had snuck into my heart from a year ago and put my deepest thoughts into her book. I, too, like to be seen as competent, and have felt myself valuable because I can do good things. I used to save kids lives, for heavens sakes. Not in an abstract way, but by giving them life-saving medications, figuring out life-threatening problems and solving them, and performing CPR in those moments when life hung in the balance, and I did a good job at these things. I didn't realize until I stepped away from it how much I had based my sense of worth on my view that I was valuable because I did good things every day- I saved lives and made children better every day. Then I came across this quote from Sheri Dew that says "You don't ever have to earn your worth or prove yourself to anyone. You brought your worth with you from heaven." As I internalized those words, really internalized them deep down into my soul- that I am worth loving simply because I exist, that I have value and worth even on my bad days, or even on the days when I'm not saving lives and making the world a better place through my skillset- that was huge, and brought so much peace to my heart. Like Shauna finds in this book, I no longer felt the impulse to rush around, to be so productive and so stinking competent all the time because my self-worth was secure. Internalizing this for me and Shauna led us both to give ourselves permission to pursue joy for its own sake, to edit our lives down to what we want them to look like, and to be gentler with ourselves. It is a book that I bought after reading it from the library because I can't wait to read it again, and I know that it contains many quotes and truths that I look forward to living by in my everyday life, thoughts to give me courage when I'm having a rough time and doubting my worth. I highly recommend this book for everyone to read, but especially if you're life isn't looking quite like you'd like it to look right now, if you could use a little boost to help you find the courage to make the changes you want and need to make to create a more authentic, beautiful life for yourself. A true gem of a book!