Monday, December 21, 2009

Stress-Free Holidays Embrace Imperfection.

My first real post of my new blogging life. A fitting way to start the new year I think.

So, I've been thinking quite a bit about the stress of the holidays for many people. I've never had to worry too much as this is not a big family time for us as Hanukkah observers, but I feel empathy for many of my students and friends. Time spent frantically running around trying to make things "perfect" for family and friends. Nothing could be more stress-inducing than that one word, "perfect". It sets my teeth on edge just typing it.

Perfect implies no room for error. Do or die to get it right. The perfect present, the perfect meal, the perfect hostess. In some ways, perfection even elicits a sort of inhuman robotic quality to mind. Martha Stewart has a lot to answer for in my mind. (Just kidding. Kinda.)

I'll never forget the few times in my life I thought my life depended on doing something exactly right. Bringing home a newborn baby was one such episode. For the first few weeks of her life I fretted and worried more than I ever have in my life. If anyone so much as breathed on that child I broke down into tears fearing that she would be irreparably harmed. I had the pediatricians office on speed-dial. I once called because her hands were too cold, "didn't that mean something horrible was happening?" I asked the poor advice nurse. My daughter's first few weeks of life on this planet were cooked into a stew of anxiety, worry, and fretting over perfection. I think of this now and realize that my child is often anxious, worried, and concerned with doing things perfectly. Hmmmm. Maybe the way we approach things sets the tone? Maybe if yoga and meditation had been a part of my life way back when, my daughter would now be a relaxed and fearless adventurer? I don't know the answer really, but I do know that since I've let go of being the "perfect" parent I smile more and worry less. I know that life is going to throw us curve balls and my husband and I will either catch them or let them go. The world won't end and we'll be happier at the end of the game.

So, this very long-winded post is really about reminding you to take stock of how you're feeling right now and deciding if it's worth it to feel stressed and out of control for a few days or if maybe setting the tone of "good enough" will make the memories sweeter for a lifetime. What do you think? I'd love to hear from you on this.

Sending you all wishes for a joyful and relaxed holiday season and New Year.

Namaste,

Jan

11 comments:

Holly Noelle @ Domestic Dork said...

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Martha. She has a lot of great projects that I love and have been inspired by. But she does fuel my perfectionism. :P

Kristina P. said...

I am so with Noelle! I do love her stuff.

Happy Hannukah, Jan!

Deanna said...

Nice post. I definitely think if we would be more relaxed about everything and not stress on things that in the long run are just plain unimportant we'd be much better off - and our memories would be just as sweet or sweeter.

With that said, I am stressed beyond belief trying to get things done! where is the balance?

Tay said...

My dearest friend always tells ms: "Perfect is good, but done is better". This always helps me in stressful times when my perfectionist heart wants to get everything just right. I don't celebrate Christmas, so it's not a tough time of the year for me, but I feel bad for others who are running around crazy. Great post!

bodaat said...

we have a poster at work which has the word "perfection" in big fat letters strapped across it. it drives me crazy every time i see it. it's not about perfection but about a journey of learning. as much as i hate the word 'perfection', i'm sometimes guilty of trying for perfection and it's sometimes a struggle for me to remember to just let go. i appreciate your message today!!

Linda-Sama said...

thanks for stopping by my blog....your first visit I think? lots to read so feel free to browse, have been writing it since 2005...

metta to you.

CambridgeLady said...

Good post. I must admit to feeling rather less wound-up than usual this year. I think when the kids were small I just needed everything to be perfect for them and would take that as my sole responsibility. Now they are older we are truly a "family" and they now recognise that we all should take a share in making this season a happy one for us and the relatives who visit.

Hugs and love, A xxxx

La Gitane said...

Absolutely! The quest for perfection - especially on a material plane - is another one of those modern myths that we can let go of! Great approach to the season - Namaste!

:)
La Gitane
http://yogagypsy.blogspot.com

phd in yogurtry said...

Even thought I "know" it's unrealistic and unhealthy to strive for "perfect," there is still a little motor running down deep trying for close to perfect. But I've been slowly cutting off fuel to that motor over the years, slowly giving up energy sucking traditions and attempts to "get it all done" (haven't sent out Christmas cards in three years, there's a great start!)

Jomon said...

Such an important topic -- leaving room for what is real rather than trying to match a life to some picture we have in our heads. A very good reminder -- THANKS!

Nap Mom said...

I am such the "perfect parent" when it come to newborns. The stress it puts on me is awful. Other women are so laid back. We are expecting our third newborn soon and my goal is to make a conscious effort to relax with her a bit more.