Perfectionism and Me

Or should that be “and I”?

I have never considered myself a perfectionist, and most likely those of you who know me well will be emphatically agreeing that I most certainly am not. I am somewhat disorganised, I have a fairly casual attitude to things like following recipes, when sewing I try to make seams match etc etc but they are generally not mathematically perfect. It was not until I married a self-identified perfectionist that I realised how subtle and destructive perfectionism is. It doesn’t sound that bad – what’s wrong with being perfect or wanting to be perfect? The problem is that perfectionists tend to want perfection or nothing, and it was Edith Schaeffer who commented that if you demand perfection or nothing, you will get nothing.

Looking back over my life I can see how this perfectionism has revealed itself particularly in things that are really important to me, especially spiritual things. I remember several times when I was living in Dubai. I used to go for longish walks around the university campus where I lived – at night because it was too hot in the daytime. Several times I would think it was a great idea to pray the entire time I walked round the campus. Inevitably I would get distracted after a few minutes (or seconds) and would then feel that I had failed and might as well give up and just think about whatever it was I felt like thinking about, and not pray at all!

I have also noticed tendencies to think that I have to do everything or nothing – so if a surface in the house needs dusting (happens a lot here, living in the middle of a desert) I can think “ah, I should dust the whole house, but I have no time now, so I won’t bother” while actually dusting the surface in question it would probably take almost less time than thinking that thought to its conclusion.

This isn’t something I’ve solved by any means, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of it. Its kind of scary how easily I can fail to do things that I really want to do because of this kind of thinking. Reading about ‘mini habits’ – google it, there’s a book and everything – was quite helpful. Basically I am trying to overcome this perfectionism by just doing something, however small. So if I only pray a one-sentence prayer, that is a lot better than nothing. Dusting the surface or picking up the random object from the floor right now is a lot better than waiting to perhaps do it someday. I have always known theoretically that it wasn’t a good idea to ‘let the best be the enemy of the good’ but I hadn’t realised until recently how much I was actually doing that. So I keep trying to remind myself to just do it now. Just pick up the sock. Just wipe the mystery spill off kitchen table. Just pray.


Crunchy/natural/healthy/petroleum-free/whatever alternatives that actually do work, tested by myself and family members

So I like trying to avoid what my mother always called ‘nasty chemicals,’ and so especially here in Peru where plain alternatives are hard to come across, making my own bodycare products seemed like a good idea.

I will write about how I finally got rid of my acne (no nasty chemicals involved) in a later post. However my success with that made me more open to trying out alternatives to commercial products.

  1. Shampoo alternative – Rye Flour

I have always had rather greasy hair and had read about how washing with shampoo continually strips the hair of grease and makes it produce more. Wanting to break this cycle, I had previously tried the classic ‘no-poo’ method which involves, as I remember, a paste made of bicarbonate of soda and a rinse of vinegar. It didn’t really work – my hair was a little less greasy but had a nasty kind of residue on it, so I gave it up after a few weeks. I then read about some kind of alternative where you use a particular kind of conditioner as a shampoo. That was an even worse failure; my hair was simply disgustingly greasy. I can’t remember where I read about mixing rye flour with water and using that as shampoo, but I thought I would give it a try and it actually works. The only real downside is that the rye flour is wholegrain (I don’t even know if you can find ‘white’ rye flour) and so it leaves dandruff-y looking flakes in your hair. But these are not difficult to brush out once your hair is dry, you just have to remember to do it! I have been doing this for several months now and my hair definitely is slower to get greasy than before – the rye flour seems to get rid of grease that is currently there without being too harsh. It has to be rye flour apparently so don’t try and substitute. And remember, if it doesn’t work out for you, you can always make delicious rye bread with the rest of the flour! Can’t say that for normal shampoo. Although actually come to think of it I now use my remaining shampoo for handwashing things that need handwashing.

2. Homemade deodorant

After trying several recipes I settled on one which was a mixture of coconut oil, cornflour and bicarbonate of soda. I usually add a little lavender essential oil but its not necessary. This is a deodorant (stops odour) rather than an antiperspirant (stops perspiration). Samuel and I have been using it for months now and we still have friends, so it seems to be working fine. It is not super-effective – as in you probably would want to wash again and reapply in the evening if you were going out, but its perfectly fine for everyday purposes. I definitely notice if I haven’t used it, so it does work.

3. Nappy rash prevention cream/eye makeup remover/ all-purpose moisturiser

Coconut oil. Works fine. Olive oil is also fine for the last two purposes but for the first one it needs to be coconut oil, apparently it has anti-fungal properties. I put ‘prevention’ cream because once the kid has really bad nappy rash (only happened once with one of our kids, where I accidentally used antiseptic handwipes instead of baby wipes. Never again) you might need to get something stronger, but if you apply it approximately half of the times you change nappies, before the kid gets nappy rash, you shouldn’t have any problems. This is with cloth nappies, I don’t know if would work better or worse with disposables.


I return

Hello all!

So it’s been two months since Baby David made his appearance. He was born here at home (future blog post material) at 8.43, weighing 3.3kg (exactly the same as Elisabeth). It was a long labour but only really hard right at the end. After a really difficult pregnancy I am already feeling a lot better energy-wise, hence feeling able to return to blogging.

He is super cute but I’ve started to be a bit more concerned about my children’s online existence so I won’t be posting pictures where they are clearly identifiable. However he has relatively thick dark hair, eyes that are clearly going to be somewhere between blue and grey, and gorgeous chubby cheeks. He feeds like crazy and often gets a gassy tummy but is not overall a huge crier, for which I am very grateful. If you’re somebody I know and you want to see pictures please write in the comment section and I will see about sending you some.

I will attempt to be posting once a week from now on, so we will see how that goes!

Pregnancy and a blogging break

Well the title about sums it up! Baby Kofoed-Nielsen Number 2 is on its way, due some time late January or February next year. We’re very excited about having a new family member but as with last time my energy levels are super low. Prayers would be appreciated that the baby and I would keep safe and I would be able to get through the pregnancy and work and look after Elisabeth on the small amounts of energy I have.

I haven’t been posting much on this blog recently. Its not because I don’t have much to say but almost because I have too much to say but can’t seem to find the words at the moment. I am therefore going to take a break from blogging for at least several months and hopefully I will have time to formulate thoughts without the pressure of feeling like I have to keep posting. I will look forward to blogging again and hope you all keep well in the meantime!

Thoughts on Three Languages I

It’s kinda funny that for my whole TCK childhood I never learned more than about 5 words of another language apart from some school French, and then within three years I had learned two new languages and was at least partly understanding a third (Norwegian). I always thought of understanding another language as somewhat like a magic gift or a superpower and I have to say I still think its actually pretty cool! The question of fluency though is more complicated. I feel like my Danish and my Spanish are about on an equal level in terms of how much of the language I know, but I can talk Danish for quite a while and maybe only make a few little mistakes, whereas with Spanish while I can understand most of what I read and hear and while I can make myself understood, I am painfully aware that I hardly get through a sentence without making at least one error.

Spanish is just a big old complicated language. First there’s the gender (I remember this from French also) – everything in the universe is either male or female and either plural or singular, and so not only do you have to remember which gender the noun is but you also have to make everything connected to it also either plural or singular, male or female. Then there are allllll the tenses – there’s two past tenses, and also two ways of saying ‘to be’ – so in English “I am a woman” and “I am in the kitchen” both use ‘to be.’ However in Spanish the first would use the ‘to be’ form ‘ser’ which refers to identity things, like being a woman or a lawyer or whatever, while the second would use ‘estar’ which refers to location, emotions, and other impermanent things. Then there is the dreaded subjunctivo, the curse of all Spanish language students. The subjunctivo is like a tense but it is used to refer to things that may not be real or about which you are not sure. If that sounds confusing, welcome to my world….

The one easy thing about Spanish is the pronunciation. Danish pronunciation is difficult because they have unusual sounds. I struggled at the beginning ¬†and English pronunciation is difficult because it is largely predictable. If you have never thought about this before, just think about how you pronounce the syllable ‘ough.’ Now think of the words tough, through, cough, bough, and thorough. See my point? However with Spanish once you’ve figured out the hang of the pronunciation you can basically pronounce any word.

In the the next post I will discuss important words which Spanish and Danish are unaccountably missing, and discuss the strange indirect vagueness embedded within Danish.


Hello all,

Life is continuing mostly as normal over here – we are keeping on teaching at the Bible School but have a holiday this week as they are on a trip around different parts of the country partly to do evangelistic-y things and also to visit different churches. We practiced two songs in the choir for them to perform but we didn’t get them as perfected as I would have liked.

The current slow cooker has been such a success that we have bought another one – I often use it for making yoghurt and bone broth/stock which need to be in there for a while, which takes it up when I want to make a meal in it. A really good recipe I would recommend to any non-American readers who may not have heard of it is apple butter. Basically you make stewed apples and then just keep on cooking them for ages more (this is where the slow cooker comes in handy, but you could just do it on the stovetop. It goes all thick and concentrated and slightly caramelised and ends up being this nice thick apple-y stuff you can use as a spread on break, or to fill cakes or top cheesecakes or whatever. I highly recommend it. Some recipes (in typical American fashion :P) call for cups of sugar but someone on the internet said it really didn’t need it which was what I found myself. You could always add a bit near the end if it really needed it.

Elisabeth continues to be super-cute. She has just gone through a growth spurt and has started to look more little-girl-ish and not quite so toddler. Her favourite things at the moment (apart from raisins) are being wrapped up in quilts and blankets with only her head showing, and singing to herself. She also really likes listening to music and often dances to it. She still doesn’t say many recognisable words though the other morning when I wasn’t in the right position for her to feed she said “Mummy” very clearly, in a reproachful tone and with a British accent. This made me realise that I am the only English speaker she will regularly hear, which means she will surely pick up my accent. Poor thing….00