Present over Perfect book club: embrace your life


For a number of years now I have been reflecting on my previous year and setting intentions for the year to come. In more recent years I have set aside a day to come and see my friend Amanda and go through those reflections in an intentional and structured way.


Because my life matters to me, and I am not of the opinion that life just happens to me. I am of the opinion that I can frame and plan and be intentional about my life.

Yes, sometimes we are blindsided by the unexpected. But I do not want to live my life just coasting along in the mundane, the everyday in and out of routine.

As I parent my children, as I watch them grow, I see their gifts rising up to the surface. One loves music, the other loves art, one writes pages of stories, the other loves to write little notes of love and affirmation. I see these gifts and I nurture them, I find a piano class for one, I provide reams of paper for the other.

I believe that my life deserves this sort of attention. That the gifts that are within me, the things that make me come alive are just as important as the gifts my kids hold within them.

It is easy to fall into the trap of ‘have to’. I ‘have to’ volunteer on the canteen, or join that group at church, simply because I have been asked.

It is lovely to be wanted. It is lovely to be asked. It is lovely to be thought of as responsible, and capable. But responsibility does not feed my soul. Being on umpteen committees does not feed my soul.

What feeds my soul is sitting in a room by myself just writing. And what feeds my soul is very different to what feeds your soul.

Your soul may be fed with decorating your house just perfectly, or by creating beautiful pieces of art, or by connecting people in a meeting room.

See the trouble with responsible and capable is that we can begin to believe the lie that they will feed us. But they won’t.

As Shauna Niequist says in this chapter on legacy, if you ignore your soul long enough there is a cost:

You were made by hand with great love by the God of the universe, and he planted deep inside of you a set of loves and dreams and idiosyncrasies, and you can ignore them as long as you want, but they will at some point start yelling. Worse than that, if you ignore them long enough they will go silent, and that’s the real tragedy.

Sometimes finding out what feeds your soul is an exercise in saying ‘no’. In stopping doing all the things, in order to listen to your soul and understand what it is you really want to do.

We have to ask the question of ourselves. But we often don’t, instead we listen to the voices of our parents, our friends, our colleagues or even our spouses. This is why I am having monthly think days this year. This is why I set aside time to intentionally examine my life with Amanda.

So the book club question for today is:

Are your dreams yelling? Or have they fallen silent? What will it take to hear your soul again?

Join Elaine, Amanda and I for the Present over Perfect journey,


Just a reminder all the posts are linked here

11 thoughts on “Present over Perfect book club: embrace your life

  1. Great, Jodie. I can relate to this statement: ‘you can ignore them as long as you want, but they will at some point start yelling. Worse than that, if you ignore them long enough they will go silent, and that’s the real tragedy.’ I find I get agitated when I’m taken away from my core purose—writing. It’s so easy to be dragged this way and that. It may all be good stuff, but if it’s not core, then it can be detrimental.

    1. That is so true Elaine, I think sometimes we have to listen to that agitation, rather than dismissing it. It can be so hard choosing the best things from the myriad of good things we can do.

      I like the idea of ‘core’, like we build the ‘core’ muscles in our body to support us, then we build our ‘core’ in our soul as well. Thanks Elaine xx

  2. It’s such a good question. When I read the book, I found that idea of “dreams going silent” so terrifying.

    1. So true Sandie, but the I think the point Shauna is making is that they are still within us, we just have to become quieter to hear them. I think that is why this part of the book and particularly the essay on Agency talk about silence so much.

      I love what Shauna says here about silence:

      ‘In seasons of deep transformation, silence will be your greatest guide. Even if it’s scary, especially if it’s scary, let silence be your anchor, your sacred space, your dwelling place. It’s where you will become used to your own voice, your agency, your authority. It’s where you will nurture that fledgling sense of authority, like a newborn deer on spindly fragile legs. Silence will become the incubator for your new-found spirit, keeping it safe, growing it steadily.’

  3. Phewwww.

    The hard thing I am realising is I may have too many dreams.

    Maybe my dreams are unrealistic in the season I am in and my dreams are drowning in my yes’s and are screaming for help.

    I think I need to give myself permission, to slow down and truly listen to what my life and dreams are saying, shouting, drowning in shoulds.

    Great thoughts Jodie.

    I so appreciate them.

    1. So hard to choose the good from the better from the best isn’t it Amanda. And what is good for our lives may not look good in someone else’s, I think my biggest struggle here is with comparison. A sense of ‘They can handle it, why can’t I’.

      I need to remain true to myself and what I know is on my plate for this season. I think you are right, that there are seasons for different dreams too.

  4. I have dreams…lots of them as Amanda was saying…I have been slowly working on them in this season of time. I didn’t use to think I had anything in particular as I would always give everything to whatever job I was in. Now in this season of slow with mumming I have been able to hear my soul and see what my dreams are.
    Being a driven person I want to accomplish them all quickly but I’ve had to say no or put them on hold at different times. I’m also a finisher so dreams hanging in the air are painful for me! Another lesson in slow…

    1. I love your thoughts Keryn. I know what you mean about ‘slow with mummying’. Having my children and being forced to slow down has actually been instrumental for me in discovering what I love.

      That said I also have a tendency to professionalise motherhood. Wanting to be perfect in that sphere like any other work place. It has been a huge realisation to me that motherhood is not a workplace but a relationship.

  5. Loved this reflection. My dreams are currently yelling yet I still find myself trying to bury them in piles of doing…doing other noble things.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    I love to set intentions for the year also. This year is the year of Less. The year of More margin. I tried want to be present enough to notice my children’s gifts, talents and the longing of their hearts.


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