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“I was sitting in a deep-seated, leather chair in a place I’d only been a handful of times. I wasn’t yet familiar with the office, but I was comfortable enough to let some feelings and thoughts roll out. I was struggling to recount some stressful events in my life, when the counselor looked at me and said something that blew my mind. I wanted to knock some sense into him, but I was just speechless. He said, “you’re a perfectionist.” Time stopped. I was shocked and almost offended because it sounded so wrong. I contemplated walking straight out the door without a word.
Um, what? Pretty sure I need a new counselor, I thought quickly. Didn’t I just tell him how frustrated I was with how not perfect things were? Well, I guess he hasn’t seen my car. I should show him all the crumbs hiding in the car seats and empty Starbucks cups that ride with me. He’ll definitely re-track what he said.
Or, I could walk him through the various financial mistakes I’ve made, the student loans I have, or the commitments I never followed through with. Then he would definitely jump on the hot mess train with me.
These thoughts of imperfection swirled through my mind in a matter of seconds. Then he said, “You want everything to be perfect, then you give up when its not. You need to let go of things being perfect.” I just had to sit and let that sink in.The words really stuck in my tired brain. I am rarely speechless and completely caught off guard, and I was. As we went into more details of what that meant for myself, it was fascinating.
Turns out, you can be a perfectionist, even when nothings perfect. I always saw “perfectionists” as those who had immaculate homes, perfect finances, volunteered, went to church…you know, just looked smiley and perfect. I definitely wasn’t one of those people. But, you can still be obsessed with perfection, and not see anything “perfect” in your life. Holidays are a prime time to hop on the perfection plane – first class with champagne.
I have this creative drive to make all my decorations and food look just like the pretty Pinterest pictures. It never happens. I have two, all-boy toddlers who are also known lovingly by my family as, “The Destroyers.” Any fun and crafty projects are basically off limits for us. How does anyone get children under 4 to decorate cookies? This is a serious question. Mine sneak off with frosting on their fingers and wind up smearing their faces with “warrior paint.” So, I give up on perfection, and I am welcoming a new relationship with grace.
I’m going to focus on having grace in the moments that don’t go as planned. When all the tree ornaments turn into baseballs and never find their way back on the tree, or when I find my gold holiday sharpie all over the front door. Grace is my new obsession because it brings a peace and joy that can’t exist with perfectionism.
The Holiday season teases us with perfection, but this year, I’m letting go and embracing grace. Striving to be perfect takes up space in our minds and hearts, so joy and laughter can’t fit. Let’s be conscious to eat, drink and be merry this season. Celebration, joy, love, family and friends. That is perfection. Nothing more or less.