birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

High Standards

I am a recovering perfectionist. The thing about being a perfectionist, is, that one knows the rules and lives by them religiously. We get good and perfect at it. The trouble is, I was not a slave to external authority, I was enslaved to an inner task master that insisted I do everything perfectly. The perfectionist is wondering about verb tense change in this paragraph.

The major influences in my adult life have been my therapists. My first, Barbara "Babs Blabs" Mullen had a lot of groundwork to do with me. Barbara earned her nickname before she became a therapist. She was a bartender at a dive in Humboldt County, and wrote a gossip column for the local newspaper.

Barb was Jungian, and I didn't know it at the time we were working together. One of the issues she was relentless about was my perfectionism. Image vs. authenticity. I was too tight. Too girdled. Afraid.

We got far together. And though it sounds like something out of a sitcom, I experimented with breaking rules. My rules. Notoriously groomed and coifed, I let myself go. I would leave the house to drop off a work application in this state. No make up, no hair done. Bra less. My equivalent of running with scissors. I reported this to Barbara like a kid seeking approval from a proud parent. She was pleased.

Next, in my most adolescent psychotherapy phase, I practiced with being late. I was always early, prepared--the one who knew. I taunted and tested friends and acquaintances with my new sassy-tude. Wow, I was really going for broke. Eventually, the teenager softened into an adult without too much serious fall out.

Marion Woodman has published a book about this, maybe not rules so much, as the perfectionism piece: Addiction to Perfection. She taught me much about how to detect my inner rule mongers. They still have voices, but are much quieter now. Who are your inner rule mongers?

As Marion said: "It is easier to try to be better than you are than to be who you are."

Rules Are Meant For Breaking

One Pot, High Heat