Finding Joy in the Imperfect

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I’m back after a bit of a blogging hiatus and I’ve definitely missed my corner of the interweb while I was away.  However, I spent a lot of time with family over the Holidays and we had some great adventures that I’ll be sure to write about soon.

2017 is now in our rear-view mirror and 2018 has made its entrance.  In my household, 2018 arrived with news that has shaken my foundation here at the Farmhouse.  While I’ve had this post about finding joy in the imperfect planned for awhile, the news I received this week has shifted the tone a bit.  I’ll get to meat of what the news is a little later.  First, I’ll delve into what I had originally planned for this post and then how this week’s news fits into that.

New Year’s Resolutions.  A lot of people make them and equally as many people break them.  I haven’t made a New Year’s Resolution in. . . .well, I don’t really know how long.  I haven’t had much success with making resolutions in the past so I just don’t make them any more.  But, that doesn’t mean I don’t ring in each new year with a goal or a focus.  It just means that I no longer set arbitrary resolutions I know I won’t meet.  Sure, I’d love to lose 15 pounds or save more money or clean out all the junk in my house (or barn!).  Most of the resolutions I see people making are either unrealistic or are accompanied by absolutely NO action plan.  To make matters worse, advertisers and marketing experts have caught onto this and shamelessly exploit it. Brace yourself, I’m about to pull out an old saying but I just can’t help myself. . .if I had a nickel for every advertisement on tv, radio, print or social media from Dec 26th – 30th for a gym, weight-loss product, fitness gadget or other “proprietary and top secret” weight loss magic that is blasted in our faces about how they can help us with our New Year’s resolution. . .well, the title on this blog would be The RICH Virginia Farmhouse!

Okay, enough of that tirade.  Instead of making resolutions, I try to reflect on myself and what I’ve accomplished in the previous year and consider where I could make small iterative changes in the upcoming year that could pay off in big ways.

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For 2018. . . I commit to increased focus on finding more joy in the IMPERFECT things in my life. That’s it.  That’s my 2018 focus.

While I’m incredibly blessed and live a life that many would dream of living, it is far. . .far. . .FAR from perfect.  On any typical day, this presents a problem for me.  I would never go so far as to call myself a perfectionist but I fall victim to the same pressures to be “perfect” that many working mothers fall victim to.

At work: be the perfect employee or teammate, promote quickly, be the best at what you do, get the highest ratings, be nominated to work on the best projects, etc..

At my son’s school: be the perfect mom, pack the perfect (organic, homemade, healthy, well-balanced) lunch, volunteer with the PTO, be on a first name basis with all of his teachers, be “in” with the administrators, etc. . .

At home: grow a beautiful garden, keep a spotless house, decorate like Joanna Gaines (shout out to my idol!), homemade meals cooked every night, laundry done, bills paid, dogs washed, etc. . .

With Friends: have the biggest house, the highest earning husband, most well-behaved children, biggest/nicest/newest *insert toy here* (camper, boat, motorcycle, vacation home), make the best appetizers, drink the best wine, go on the best vacations, be invited to the right parties, rub elbows with the most influential people, etc. . .

Don’t freaking get me started on Pinterest.  Scratch that. . .let’s go there.  Have you ever seen anything on Pinterest that wasn’t sheer perfection?  Every house on there is perfection.  Every recipe posted is perfection.  Every outfit assembly is perfection.  Every hack found on Pinterest is getting us one step closer to perfection.  Don’t get me wrong, I looooooove me some Pinterest.  I spend more time on Pinterest than I would ever want my boss or husband to know about!  But, you rarely see “normal” on Pinterest.

The struggle is real.  And even for someone who typically doesn’t fall too far into that trap, I still fall far enough in to feel inadequate from time-to-time.  What I realized when reflecting on 2017 was that I had fallen in enough over the course of the year to let it affect my mindset and outlook.  There isn’t a single area above where I can confidently check off all those marks.  You know what?  There isn’t an area there where I want to be able to check off every mark.  Chasing “perfection” is exhausting and is pretty much setting oneself up for failure because it’s unattainable.  Are there people that are further along in ticking off each of the areas above?  In my opinion, that’s all relative to one’s perspective and own definition of what perfection truly is.  Are there people who present like they’re further along that road?  Yes, sadly there are.  Society has created an environment where pressure exists to appear as if things are perfect (or close to it) even when they are not.  I can’t judge too harshly. . .I’ve been there more times than I care to admit.

For the past 3 years, we’ve been living in an old farmhouse that is far from perfect.  While we believe she’s a diamond in the rough, we are very much living in the rough sometimes.  That’s been difficult for me.  I thought I knew what I was signing up for when we bought the house.  I knew it was going to be a lot of work and I knew it would take some time.  What I (apparently) glossed over was that it was going to take a lot more time than we anticipated and it is definitely taking a shitload more money than I ever expected.  I’m frugal by nature and do pretty well at finding excellent deals on things.  The price tags on some of the projects that we have in the backlog aren’t small and when I start to add them all up, it takes my breath away.  What I also didn’t fully account for was the typical maintenance that an old farmhouse might need. Necessary routine maintenance trumps projects every time.  If the water heater goes out, it definitely needs to be replaced before molding in the kitchen gets installed.  If the septic tank needs to be pumped, that outweighs a new lighting fixture that I’ve had my eye on.  I suppose this is pretty typical of any household but in an old farmhouse, things tend to break more often than they did in any of our previous houses.  Plus, the man that we bought this house from hadn’t lived in it full-time for ten years so we’ve definitely found things that needed to be fixed/replaced long ago but didn’t become evident until someone was living here full-time.

While my focus for 2018 certainly extends beyond instances related to our house, that’s the most tangible area I can envision this shift in mindset paying off.  I have so many things to be thankful for and find joy in.  Instead of looking at a circumstance and pointing out to myself what needs to be fixed/improved, I am committing to reminding myself what I have to be thankful for.  Essentially, finding joy in the imperfect vs. letting the imperfect reign king.

Grabbing a few pictures that I’ve snapped over the last year around the property itself.   In the photo below (even though you can’t really see it very well on account of that sweet face!), instead of focusing on the fence that still needs to be finished (after a YEAR!) and painted, there is joy to be found in those sweet pups, Hercules & Luna, who protect our chickens and our property overall.  They are the sweetest most gentle puppies and lap up any attention that they get but they have a job to do and they take that job very seriously.  Without them, our entire flock would likely be wiped out by any of the number of predators that we have out here in the country.  Thanks to Luna & Hercules, our chickens and our property are safe from coyotes, fox, snakes, neighbor dogs, raccoons, possum,. . . falling leaves, moonlight, stars, blades of grass that are too long. . .I told you, they take their job seriously!

Oh, how I love that sweet face! Hercules (a.k.a. “Herky Berky” when I’m baby talking to him) is such a beautiful and sweet boy!

 

And in this picture below, see how there’s a big ole mess on the other side of the fence?  That’s a slab of concrete that was once used as the base of a dog pen.  We’ve been using it as a catch all storage space for bricks, bags of fertilizer/soil, extra wood, pieces of slate pavers (we keep finding slate pavers when we dig around our property.  It’s really weird!), bales of straw, etc.  This area bothers the devil out of me.  There’s no rhyme or reason to it.  Heck, I’m scared to get too close to the piles of stuff there because I have a deathly fear of snakes and they tend to make homes in piles of things.  However, when I look at the picture below, I could extract joy from the row of tomatoes sitting on the fence.  I grew those with my bare hands!  And I grew a lot of them!  

 

Or this picture taken in my kitchen.  This is a space that I spend a lot of time in. It’s also a space that causes me so much frustration because this kitchen so desperately needs to be renovated.  The cabinets are old and they don’t all close right, the drawers are crooked, the counter tops (although granite) are a very weird pattern which makes them always look dirty, the hardwood floors are scratched and scuffed and . . .ick. . .they need to be redone so badly throughout the entire house, the dishwasher (which you can’t see in the picture) is at least 30 years old, and the layout is just weird as there is extremely little counter space.  Unfortunately, the money involved in doing an overhaul on the kitchen is just too much for our budget right now so I try to make what I have work.  But, it’s not easy.  All of those things are what would run through my mind on most days upon seeing this picture.  What I would normally miss is our sweet girl, Penny, basking in the sunshine for a nap on a lazy laid back afternoon.  
imperfect 

Allowing myself to focus only on the things that need to be “fixed” in my life isn’t working.  By doing so, I’m missing the opportunities to find joy that are literally right in front of my face.  And that, my friends, is a mindset that I am focusing on shifting.  I don’t want to miss the joy in my life.  It’s too precious.  It costs too much to miss out on.

That’s the message that I’ve had floating around in my head since roughly the middle of November when I started thinking about how I wanted to start the new year.  As we headed into 2018, I could already feel the effects of finding the joy in the imperfect all around me.  I was genuinely starting to feel the positive outlook uplifting my spirits.

I returned to work on the 2nd of January after almost 3 weeks of being out of the office.  Friends, that was rough!  I had gotten pretty accustomed to lazy days and the no meetings schedule.  Getting up that morning and getting dressed to head into the office was hard.  Normally, I would have grumbled about needing another day of vacation or wishing I could work from home or something.  Instead, I found joy in getting back to see colleagues I hadn’t seen in a few weeks.  I found joy in the fact that I even had an office and job that I enjoy to return to.

The very next day I was informed that, due to restructuring, my job and the jobs of my teammates were being eliminated.  As of the beginning of March, I will no longer have this job that I enjoy with a company that I love.

Here is when I could tell you that I’ve found the joy in the imperfect and that this is the start of a new adventure.  But, that would be a lie.  I’m crushed.  I’m heartbroken.  I’m scared as hell.  And I’m feeling very inadequate.  While I know that my job elimination is in no way my fault, it still hits my identity and that hurts.

I don’t know where this will lead me.  Perhaps we can make it work financially that I could focus on the blog full-time or maybe I’ll open my own business of some sort.  I may also be able to find another role within my company that I could move in to.  There are always roles at other companies that I could look into, too.

Is this news that I got this week perfect?  No, it’s imperfect.  Very very imperfect.

So, where is the joy in the imperfect?  I’ve only had a couple of days to process and try on this new outlook but here’s what I’ve come up with so far — my company is offering an amazing package of financial support in the way of advanced notice (60 days), severance and outplacement counseling; I have a pretty incredible background full of rich experience in the L&D field and a fabulous network of incredible people; I have friends around me who will support me once they find out (so far, I’ve only told my mom & my husband); and I am confident that I have untapped skills that I haven’t even found yet which will carry me through should I decide that I want to open my own business and try it out on my own.  I didn’t intentionally leave my husband out of that list but right now I think he’s nervous too.  He has every right to be.  Once we have a chance to really consider all of our options, I know he’ll be supportive of whatever direction we head in.

What does 2018 hold for us?  That’s yet to be determined but one thing is for sure: I’m excited to see what’s ahead.

 

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