Thousands of women catch at least one Martha Stewart show during the holidays, including me (although I'm less likely to do so this year since she was so publicly mean-spirited in her comments about Sarah Palin. Whether you like Sarah or not, Martha revealed a side to herself I find distasteful), and I was reminded of the film about Stewart which I watched a few years back.
"Martha, Inc.," the movie of Martha Stewart's life, with Cybil Shepherd playing the part, based on the best-selling book by the same name, tells of her childhood with an extreme workaholic father who only acknowledged her when she accomplished something great; and of meeting her husband, falling in love, and having a child; then embarking on an all-out effort to succeed as a woman in a man's world.
Her empire which has inspired millions of women was built on hard work and at the expense of her family. The movie portrays Martha's perfectionism intensifying until she becomes "her father", the personality that many alleged to during her court trial and indictment, and which her own daughter has publically talked about.
I recommend viewing the movie for this reason: it brings a sharp focus on what perfectionism, striving to succeed, to be important, to be acknowledged by someone you want/need the approval of, can do...and ruin.
With Christmas drawing near, let me encourage you to let go of any striving you may find yourself in...let go of the preparations that don't really matter...and instead spend time with your husband and children and other family and friends. If you are living for approval you never received in the past, forget it! Chances are you will never get it from those you are looking for it from anyway. Instead, enjoy and be grateful for the those who accept and value you now. Decide to stop striving and instead, choose the peace that comes from living in the present and in the presence of those who love do you.
If you happen to be someone who is estranged from your family, find yourself in a new city away from those you know, or for whatever reason don't have people you are close to now, may I make a suggestion? Go to church. Ask around, look in the yellow pages, ask God to lead you to a good church. When you find it, you will find caring people that you will be able to feel accepted, included and loved by. It will take some time to develop relationships, but it will be worth it. You can think of it as developing your second family or 'family of choice.'
Whatever you do, don't let perfectionism ruin your relationships...ruin your life! You have so much to offer, focus on how you can make a difference in the lives of those around you, as you reflect on the real reason we celebrate Christmas this year.
© Sharon Hughes 2009