Embracing the Imperfect: The power and productiveness of accepting reality

This is our dead week without school, camps, or travel plans and it was supposed to be a fun and highly productive week full of adventures with my boys and major things getting crossed off my to-do list. I had a vision: we were going to explore new playgrounds and go for bike rides, we were going to go to museums, and the boys were going to help me with some house projects I have been longing to do. I was going to be a supermom and we were going to have an amazing time!

And then my 8-year-old got sick. For two days he didn’t leave the couch, which led my 5-year-old to get squirrely and crabby, and my plans for our perfect week to go up in smoke. Normally this kind of week would have made me grumpy, stressed, and anxious to get out of the house but I was shocked to find that, for the most part, I was able to just accept the reality that was my home-bound life.

So this morning, instead of going for a bike ride, we ended up at a local coffee shop, board games in hand, to eat a late breakfast of chocolate croissants and juice. Gone were my mealtimes and generally healthy food choices. Gone was my hope for some exercise and time outside with the boys. But when I stopped to notice, it was more than ok, it was actually fun. I didn’t feel anxious about the calories consumed, the sugar ingested, the lack of fruit or vegetables, or the fact that nothing was getting crossed off my list, instead I just embraced the reality of what was possible and enjoyed the time we were having.

embracing the imperfet

This is a big change for me. As my friends and family can attest to, it can be very hard for me to let go of my expectations and enjoy the moment. In thinking about why this week has gone as smoothly as it has, I think it comes back to this new thing I am trying: embracing the imperfect. Not accepting it, not settling for it, but actually embracing the imperfect.

One of the things I talk about all the time during workshops and with clients is that for many people the first step in starting to cook for oneself is to doctor something that is pre-prepared and make it healthier and tastier. For instance, adding vegetables to jarred tomato sauce, boxed mac and cheese, or frozen pizza is a great way to boost the flavor and the nutritional content. Is it as good as making it from scratch? No. But it is a nice way to boost your confidence and get into the habit of being in the kitchen and cooking.

I’m starting to learn that this same concept can apply to other aspects of life as well. Whether it is starting to get exercise by going for a walk around the block at lunchtime or working on keeping the house cleaner by making sure all the dishes are in the dishwasher before going to bed, these little things can boost our confidence and help propel us to better and better things. And so being proud of those small accomplishments and building on them can do us worlds of good as we seek to get stronger, healthier, happier, etc.

For me, this week I had to embrace the reality that this was not the week to accomplish large things but instead to celebrate the small victories of getting through a big pile of old papers, getting a bunch of recycling to the recycling center, and managing to keep my cool (for the most part) in the midst of cranky kids.

Will I get more accomplished next week when the kids are in camp? I hope so. Will it be perfect? Definitely not. And for now, that is just fine by me.

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