Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living
by Shauna Niequist 
Read by Shauna Niequist
4 hours, 44 minutes
Published August 2016 by Zondervan

Publisher's Summary: 
A few years ago, Shauna found herself exhausted and isolated, her soul and body sick. She was tired of being tired and burned out on busy. It seemed like almost everyone she talked to was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, and depth, but settling for busy.

But then something changed. She decided to trade the hustle and bustle for grace, love, stillness, and play, and it changed everything. Shauna offers an honest account of what led her to begin this journey and a compelling vision for an entirely new way to live: soaked in rest, silence, simplicity, prayer, and connection with the people who matter most to us.

As you witness Shauna's journey, you'll be inspired to embark on one of your own. She gives you the encouragement you need to:

Put an end to people-pleasing tendencies
Embrace moments of simplicity, quiet, and stillness
Accept that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy

Written in Shauna's warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

My Thoughts: 
One of my coworkers is going through very similar situations with some family members as I have been going through with my dad and through the same work environment. We've had a lot of conversations about the mental, and even physical, toll it has taken on us. She is also a big reader so we often exchange book recommendations. I have never disagreed with her about any book she has recommended to me (although she was not a fan of Lone Women, which she learned about from me; but, in my defense, I told her I liked it but I did not recommend it as something she might like!). So when she came into work one day, excited about this book and already putting Niequist's recommendations into practice, I immediately requested it from the library. 

One thing I immediately realized was that Niequist leaned heavily into her religious beliefs through her journey. I am no longer what I would call "religious;" rather I would say that I am "spiritual." So I did have to adapt what Niequist was suggesting regarding prayer and turning things over to God into something that I could relate to and use in my own way. In some places, that was harder to do than others. Those of you who are religious will find that Niequist recommends what so many others have done - turn your life over to your god and believe that they will create that outcomes that are right for you. For me, that means acknowledging that some things are simply out of my hands and that my higher power will be there for me regardless of the outcome. 

Niequist has a lot of famous friends, Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Doyle among them. As I'm fans of both of those folks, their praise of Niequist makes me appreciate that her ideas might just work for me. Saying "no." Cancelling when you need to do so. Making your life easier.

I'd like to tell you that, when I was finished, I stopped worrying about how clean or cluttered my house is and just decided that I would learn to live with what I could do with the time and energy that I have after I've done the things that have to be done. I haven't. But I have given myself permission to not do things simply out of guilt or a need to prove myself worthy of love and respect (ok, I'm doing that some of the time; it's a work in progress). One day that may mean the end of this blog. It's work to keep up and I'm not getting the interaction I used to get out of it (that's on me as much as anyone but it's a fact) which makes it less fun than it once was. I may even learn to say "no" to my kids one of these days.

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