Monday, March 18, 2013


It was the famous psychologist, Gestalt, who told us that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Without forcing you to relive my Intro to Psych class, here’s a brief lesson in case you need a refresher…
A lot of people use Gestalt’s principle when they are talking about holistic health. There’s the body, the mind, and the spirit. No one link is greater than the others, and when one link is neglected then the whole person suffers. Likewise, if each part is nourished, then the person is wholly satisfied.

I have been feeling pretty piecemeal lately. There’s Liz the wife, Liz the mother, Liz the student, Liz the housekeeper, Liz the runner, Liz the blogger, Liz the Army spouse, Liz the Texan stuck in the Midwest, Liz the girl who has owned her guitar for four years now and still can’t play it…
(I will stop there because I assume you get the point…)

There’s a lot to me. And while I would like to argue with Gestalt that some pieces of me are definitely more important than others, I am certainly feeling like the neglected parts of me are wearing down the rest.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I love LOVE Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. I am so outwardly excited to get my issue every month that even my kids shout “Woo Hoo!” when it comes in the mail. I am not for a moment knocking BHG, (did you not catch my love LOVE?!) but I do think it has warped me a little bit.

At some point between the time I open the magazine and the time I close it, I start feeling really discouraged. How am I supposed to make my house look amazing AND cook a prize winning dinner at the same time? How am I supposed to grow a sustainable garden using succulents AND create an English rose garden in the same space? And how can I do it all while simultaneously being trendy, stylish, and healthy?!?!

I can’t. One area or another (or all of them) will not get done. And, theoretically speaking, if those are all of parts of the home and some of those parts are not being attended to, then doesn’t the whole home suffer?
More importantly, if all of the parts make the Liz and some of the parts are not being focused on, then does the whole Liz suffer? Well Gestalt…does it?!

I think my problem with this Gestalt business is that I often confuse wholeness with perfection. And unfortunately, we live in a society that calls for us to be perfect…at everything. We can no longer settle for being perfect in just one area—oh no. We must be masters of all trades. (Our Pinterest boards say so!)

We must have the perfect job, and live in the perfect house, and wear perfect clothes that sit on the perfect-sized body, and make perfect dinners, and have perfectly exciting social calendars, and have perfectly well-behaved children, and must somehow take perfect pictures of all of it to use as evidence on Facebook.

Well, I won’t let myself buy into society’s view that I have to do it all in order to have it all. I know that balance comes from pairing down excess instead of tacking on extra. Furthermore, I have come to accept that my quirky imperfections are what make me wholly “Lizzish.” But some imperfections leave room for improvement. I just have to be sure to focus on the Liz’s that matter most to me.

So, with a little help from Gestalt, I have officially established some goals for myself for the rest of this year. (Nearly four months late—because lateness is a definite part of the Liz whole.)

Mind: I WILL learn to play my guitar…finally.
Body: I will complete my first half-marathon next month. (Yikes!)
Spirit: I will blog at least once a week.

Of course, there are like a bazillion other things that I would like to learn/improve upon. And with any luck, my paired down approach to goal-setting may lead me on to quick success and you could see more “Gestalt goals” before the year’s end.

Just don’t expect photographic evidence of my goal completion on Facebook. I am a horrible photographer…Don’t tell society.

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