Planned Imperfection



I have an amazing painting at my house that is done in the encaustic style. Beeswax is melted and applied to the canvas and there is also some pigment. The artist must work quickly to work with the wax as it hardens. My painting is a black and white portrait of a woman gazing wistfully upward. It is extremely well done, almost perfect, save for one feature. The artist, Bigoudi, always lets some of the wax and paint drip down the canvas, on purpose. She told us that she lets this happen in all of her paintings, to remind us that life is imperfect and so is art and that it keeps us real, just like her paintings. I love that she is not striving for perfection, she is striving for art and beauty and story.

I was reminded of my painting today because of another experience. I have been trying out a new way of eating to see if I can “rearrange” some parts of me that have caused me grief for many years. The regime is quite strict and I was lamenting to my husband that I have lost my enthusiasm for it. I love nutrition and food and am always learning about what is on the cutting edge of information. I have experimented with many different styles of eating and tend to jump in with both feet, into wildly drastic change. Of course, I tire of the structure and abandon it when I feel too deprived. I have learned that feeling deprived is one of the worst ways I can feel. There is nothing juicy about deprivation!

So anyways, I was mentioning to my husband that I was feeling deprived and my enthusiasm was waning, even though I was seeing results after only two weeks. He replied that of course I felt this way, I was trying to do the shift “perfectly”. He suggested that if I were a little more lenient and gentle with myself that I would probaly feel better and less deprived. I have not been one for breaking many rules in my life, although I am learning that not all rules are good rules. So, the last few days, I have planned for some imperfection. Nothing really major, but just some little moments where I purposefully eat what I am not supposed to. So long Good Girl, I am having a blueberry today! How clandestine! You may laugh, and I do too, but it is actually a really big deal. I have never before planned for imperfection. It is really liberating.

Today I was at a health food store with my 7 year old daughter, Zoe, and there were samples out on the counter. I gave her a tiny piece of banana bread and then took a little forbidden square of pleasure for myself. My daughter raised an eyebrow and a big smile grew on her face. She declared, “Good for you Mommy!” She knew I had just broken a rule and that it was a big deal. She likes to follow the rules too, so I feel like I set a really good example today. Definitely not the original vision I had for myself when I was a new mother, but infinitely better and more powerful. I am teaching her that a little fun never hurt anyone, that being gentle with ourselves is a great investment and that planned imperfection can be really, really liberating.

I am so grateful for the lesson I learned from my gorgeous painting. The black drips run down the stark white canvas in places where they shouldn’t be. They are reminders that imperfection leads to deep, deep perfection within because when we accept ourselves for who we are and know that “I am enough”, life becomes infinitely beautiful and fun.

PS Although it pains me to do so, I left a spelling mistake in the 3rd paragraph, at my insightful husband’s suggestion.

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Compare Yourself or Inspire Yourself, You Choose

Anthropologists would say that women’s drive to compete and compare with other women is the primal procreational drive to deter our mates from straying to other eligible child baring women. Apparently it’s the survival of the species that keeps us comparing ourselves and watching out for other women who might steal our mates.

Well, as primal as I like to think I am, I disagree. Because you see, even though I wholeheartedly want and support the continuation of our species, and while I do believe that we are physiologically and instinctively wired to do that, I believe that comparing and competing have more to do with our compulsion and drive to grow ourselves, creatively evolve and connect.

I believe that women envy and compare ourselves with other women as a way to connect with other women. We need to connect for our own survival and sanity, and that competing and comparing helps us to get into each other’s skin and motivates our creative drive to grow and develop ourselves to fit in and in turn be sought out for connection by other women.

In and of itself this creative urge to connect and grow is a gift and opportunity. The problem starts when we decide that just because we like and want what another woman has, or the way she looks or acts, that must mean that our present circumstances must be pathetic, wrong, bad or not good enough. This in turn causes us the feeling of low self esteem, self judgment and self-deprecation. But Sisters we don’t have to spin that way. We could instead be inspired by what we observe in others, instead of being discouraged by it. And let’s face it, what you like about the world around you is what you aspire to become, so that’s how it’s going to play out anyway.

So instead of getting down on who we are today, let’s celebrate who we are now even as we aspire to who we are on our way to becoming. We are all growing and becoming and changing whether we like it or not. So celebrate the evolution by celebrating even what we leave behind because without each stepping stone in the journey, there would be no journey!

Flip it!

If you want to flip comparing and competing to make them work for you, (because you’re going to compare and compete anyway so you may as well make them work for you), use your comparisons to inspire you instead of beat yourself up.

The next time you find yourself comparing, take a breath and smile and say “thank you Sister for the inspiration!”

Love and sisterhood,

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