What do you do when your dreams don’t match your reality and your best efforts don’t come close to resembling your expectations?
It’s 11:30 p.m. and I’m in bed. The dishes are done, toys put away, the little one is asleep and you would think after the day’s busy tasks I would be too. Instead my brain is going two hundred miles a minute and I’m already thinking about the projects and agonizing over the things that need to get done the next day. Sadly, this is the typical evening for me. I tell myself that if I get one more thing done before bedtime I’ll be able to completely relax, but I’m just fooling myself. The projects and tasks always find me. You see, I’m what they would call a perfectionist. A believer in the perfect space, the perfect dish, and the perfect party. I used to wear it as a badge, as though to prove I was hard-working, driven and desired the best of the best. It was a lie. What it really was, was a tired and frustrated wife and mom trying to hold it all together perfectly while sacrificing quiet time with God and quality time with my family. What I had always viewed as a gift that had created our beautiful home had turned into the very thing that was slowly destroying it.
I used to be so focused on the current project, whether it was painting, creating furniture plans, or writing an article for a big company, that I never allowed myself to really enjoy life. Life was for working and I was really good at working. I got my first job at 15 after all and have worked almost every day since, but why was I pushing so hard? Sure, I enjoyed the accomplishment of creating something beautiful, I loved checking another project off the list, but I realized that my passion for design was slowly replacing the part of me that was meant for fellowship, fun and rest. One can only stay on this road of creating the perfect home for so long before they hit their breaking point.
Saying Goodbye to the Lie That is Perfection
In the last few months the Lord has been showing me that not only is it okay to slow down but it’s something that I really needed to force myself to do. My health was suffering, everyday my little one was a day older and I was running around frantically worrying about getting my next home tour done on time. I was really starting to turn into someone I didn’t like. I don’t remember the exact moment that I knew I needed a break but I remember feeling so tired and indecisive, which is not me at all. I’m the girl that has always known exactly what color to use, what chair to buy, the girl with the complete vision for the space. All of the sudden I didn’t know what I wanted. It didn’t go over well, friends. I began to feel so frustrated and wanted to throw my hands up and quit! After this went on for a few weeks I stopped. I stopped decorating. I stopped worrying about social media posts and I wrote maybe only one blog post a week, if that.
It was in that time that I began to really focus on what truly mattered. Trust me, the perfectionist in me wanted to stress over the tidiness of the house and whether or not I’d ever get around to finishing Charlie’s room makeover, but the truth is those projects will always be there. What I was missing each day by being hyper focused on the wrong things were theses beautiful little moments happening right in front of me. I sit back now and I watch Charlie play and sing silly songs and think, how did I manage to miss a lot of this before? Instead of trying to crank out another blog post before bed I sat on the couch with Josh and sipped a glass of wine while we talked and laughed until the point of tears and I thought, why did I so mindlessly neglect this time with my hubby?
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Shortly after I began to slow down and rest I started to read regularly again. It’s amazing the simple things we give up in order to juggle an unnecessary busy life. While in Target one afternoon I came across “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Nieguist. I own a couple of her books and really enjoy her writing, so I knew I had to get it. This book hit home at just the right time for me. It’s awesome the words that God brings us the moment we need them. With every page I thought, this is me! This is my life. This book has been such an eye opener for me as well as a comfort. I’m not the only woman who struggles with this issue of perfection. It can manifest itself in different ways. Maybe for you it’s the perfect family or the perfect physical appearance. It’s ultimately the same struggle.
I decided to share a personal side of myself with you today because I truly believe that so much of what is happening in our hearts makes it’s way into our homes. My friend Jennifer from Town and Country Living created the Cozy Home series and almost every month I’ve shared a simple decor tip or recipe that has been part of creating this cozy home my family loves, but a cozy home is so much more than the decor in it. It’s more than the perfect furniture arrangement or the fancy French pastry we made last week. It’s a window into our souls. It has a way of revealing the good, the bad and the down right messy parts of ourselves that we hide. If you’re struggling with a mile long to-do list and you’ve snapped at your toddler more times than you care to admit today, let’s slow down together! If you’re not sure what that looks like here’s a few things that I’ve adopted over the last couple of months that have changed my life.
- Stop! Just stop. This just might be the hardest thing for a perfectionist to do. Take the afternoon off. Take the week off! There will always be another project waiting for you. As soon as you get that room just “perfect” you’ll find something to change. Stop focusing on what’s not finished. Rest, play and be present!
- Say “No”. I don’t know about you but I want to do it all, the parties, the design jobs with big brands, the play dates, the host of my friend’s showers. Those things are great, however they’ll also destroy your soul if you continue to try to be everything to everyone. By saying no more you’re saying yes to the things that are the most important and best things for you and your family. (Read “Your Best Yes“. It’ll change your life.)
- Invest in yourself. I’m not one to rest. As early as a young child I never slept well. Rest was always that thing I kinda did while folding laundry or while waiting for paint to dry to only then dive back into my project as soon as it was ready. I hate to admit it, but I had really started to let my health deteriorate. This year has shown me that I need to invest in myself. I started working out again on a regular basis. I carved out time each morning to read and spend time with God. I purposefully make an effort to create family time whenever possible. I’ve allowed myself to have fun again and to not stress over things that in the long term don’t fulfill.
I certainly didn’t mean to write a novel but I suspect I’m not the only woman who is a perfectionist to a fault and going through this same journey. It can be challenging to balance work, family, and faith. It’s something that I’m still learning to navigate. Last year before Christmas Josh and I decided to not pursue any more renovations for the next six months. It was a way for us to recharge and live again. For so long this house has consumed our time, money and efforts. I’m proud to report that we’ve stuck with that commitment and we’ve decided to live a little this summer. Instead of tackling a bathroom remodel, we’re heading to northern California next month for a week of fun and adventure. I can hardly wait! Perfectionist, I urge you to let it go, rest, enjoy life and heal with me.
Check out the ways my friends are creating a cozy home this month!