Hospital Corners, Even!
“What do I do perfectly?” That question begs an answer and my first response would be, “Nothing.” But the exercise this week meant I needed to search for something I do perfectly or at least well so that I could focus on the positives and not the negative monkey voice that likes to chatter about how imperfect I am. So I thought more about it, and realized that I do not want to seek perfection for it gets in the way of just doing my best. So what am I good at?
One of the first things that popped into my mind was the mundane task of making my bed. I mastered this task as a girl and continue to make my bed on a daily basis with few exceptions. It also reminded me of a story that happened when I got a summer job between years of post-secondary education. After searching for work, the only job available was to be a nurse’s aide at the local hospital, something I had never wanted or planned to do. But I needed money for school and planned to do my best. As I began this new position, the nurse I was assigned to teach me everything I needed to know to fill my role asked me, “Do you know how to make a bed?”
That was an easy answer. “Yes I know how to make a bed with hospital corners even.”
I was confident in my abilities to make a bed properly since my mother had been strict in her teaching me the proper way a bed should be made. I think it stemmed from her years as a nurse. My answer needed to be proved. She watched as I demonstrated by making a bed to get it ready for the next patient. The nurse was impressed at my excellence in bed making.
Making beds quickly and efficiently mattered that summer. It enabled me to do this part of my job with excellence. Nothing has changed. I still have that skill and put it to use all the time but now in the grand scheme of things I wonder if it really matters.
So I continued to search my days for what I do with excellence. My thoughts settled on something I have done every day for over a year with my youngest daughter, Amee. It began with her request to read through the Bible in 2018 and to do it together. I agreed to spend the time with her. We accomplished our goal. Sometimes we were apart and each read the same passage but whenever we were at home we sat together and I read the passages out loud, especially any passage she thinks has difficult words or names. Her brain is damaged and the fact she can read is medically impossible according to every specialist who has worked with her. Now we are starting over to read through the Bible again in 2019 and once again do it together.
Reading is something I do with excellence, including reading out loud. This daily time of reading is a special time for my daughter and me. It is building connections and making memories. Reading well orally is a skill that helps at book reading as an author too.
As I continued thinking about what I am good at, what I excel at and can do every day, the word smile came to mind. I like my smile and use it as much as I can. So many advertisements on TV talk about people not wanting to smile because their teeth aren’t perfectly white or shaped. The ads remind me of striving for perfection and missing out on the best opportunity to improve your day or someone else’s with a simple smile.
I really believe that people want to see a smile that reaches the eyes and wreathes the entire face with compassion in the process. A genuine smile envelopes you in warmth and makes you feel you are welcome rather than checking for society’s glamourous view of a perfect smile that may seem pasted on.
Pursuing perfection gets in the way of excellence. I need to simply do my best in whatever I do and however it looks. I can’t compare myself to someone else who is working at doing their best too. It will look different because we are unique individuals.
So I will celebrate doing my best, striving for excellence in the mundane tasks like making my bed which I do very well. I will enjoy reading the Bible out loud with Amee and recognize my ability as excellent while I make connections and memories. I will smile and smile some more – real smiles that reach my eyes and welcome people in, offer them compassion and hopefully brighten someone’s day in the process.
Written by: Carol Harrison; Carol’s Corner