What’s this thing about being perfect?

Here it is fall again and I’m delighted that my husband’s niece and her husband are making their annual trip to see us.
Usually, they make the 1,000-mile trip by motorcycle. But this year is different. They’re coming by car via the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia.
So by the time they arrive in Kansas, they will have logged 4,000 miles.
When they arrive, I want everything perfect for their stay. My husband has already cleaned the carpet and spiffed up the stove. He has trimmed branches, and is rebuilding our small pond and waterfall.
I already have planned the menus and baked a delicious apple cake for the freezer.
But there are still lots of things to do during the next week. Tidy the bathroom cupboard, scrub the bathroom and kitchen floors, put more food in the freezer, plant new mums in my cottage garden, and polish the bathroom faucets.
And most of all, get rid of the stacks of folders and piles of paper in my kitchen office!
I wish I had time to really clean and eliminate the clutter. To give away or throw out everything we haven’t used in the past year. To get rid of all the broken items that no one has time to fix.
I would love to live in streamlined, de-junked spaces and have my storage rooms half empty.
For just once in my life, I would like everything perfect!
But when I think that way, it reminds me of an excellent therapist who helped me after my stroke.
She was with me when I first tried water aerobics, so we had lots of time to talk. I told her that I expected to be “perfect” in six months, because that’s what the neurologist reported to my family after seeing my brain scan.
But every time I talked about my expected perfection, her answer was always the same. “What’s this thing about being perfect? Nobody is perfect!”
Gradually, her words sunk in. I don’t have to be perfect. No one has to be perfect. No one CAN be perfect.
Some people have pimples, some walk with a limp. Some are messy housekeepers, some drive dirty cars. Some have silly ideas, some are too serious.
Even society’s idols have defects, although they frequently try to alter them through plastic surgery.
You don’t have to be a perfect “10” to be attractive. You don’t have to give the perfect gift, it’s the thought that counts. You don’t have to serve the perfect meal to guests—your friends are at your table for fellowship, not just food.
And I don’t have to have a perfect house when Janet and Brian come. They’re coming to see us, not our house.
In his book “The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook,” David Sobel, M.D., says that “good enough” is all that is required.
If you don’t do a perfect job, it doesn’t make you a bad person. No one is perfect. Just do the best you can. You’ll lead a happier, more productive life without the albatross of perfection hanging around your neck.
So always remember that perfectionism is a fault, not an asset. Indeed, it’s your imperfections that make you unique.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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